How do I deal with DS's fleas?

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Whiteheron

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How do I deal with DS's fleas?
« on: August 12, 2018, 03:21:18 PM »
Lately I have been noticing DS's behavior is becoming very similar to stbx's. I understand that he will have similar traits to both myself and his dad, but this goes above and beyond.

We were on a beach vacation last week and there were a few times it was especially noticeable. To the point DD11 asked me why DS14 was acting just like dad?

The example I have to share is the following:
We were at the pool and it was past lunchtime. Everyone was hungry, so I tell the kids time to get out of the pool so we can grab some lunch. It was time and they were bored. DS looks at me and says 'no.' I tell him it's lunchtime and that he can get back into the pool or go to the beach after lunch. He looks at me again and says 'no, I'm not getting out of the pool. If I do, I will dry off and there is no way I'm eating lunch soaking wet, then drying off just to get back into the pool again. I refuse to get back into the pool once I'm dry." I just looked at him. This made no sense and was completely unlike him. Using my best mom voice  :angel:, I told him it was time for lunch, let's go. If he didn't want to get back into the water after lunch then he could sit on a lounge chair. We ate at an outside cafe (dried off under the warm sun), then went down to the beach.

As soon as we were sitting down to lunch, it was as if the episode never happened. DS was his usual self, ravenous, anxious to get back into the water. Once we were at the beach, he jumped right in and had a blast. I'm sitting there thinking...wtf was that all about? Then DD comes up to me and asks why DS was acting "just like dad?" The lightbulb in my head went off (on?).

We also had an issue where we were inconvenienced on the way to dinner and DS made some comments that mirrored his dad exactly. I did say something to him right there on the spot, letting him know who he sounded like and that I didn't appreciate it. But I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do? When this happens, what do you do/say? I want him to feel like he is his own person and is entitled to get upset/angry/stand his ground, be a typical teenager, etc. But I can't have him parroting stbx. For my own sanity, it's too triggering.

This may be part of it, or may belong in a separate thread, but I notice stbx is doing his best to isolate DS. stbx has a diagnosed mental illness (bipolar II, but I firmly believe his T got it wrong). DS has been diagnosed with depression. While I was still living under the same roof, I caught stbx telling DS that he was mentally ill, just like him (!). I told DS's T, who tried to emphasize to DS that he was not mentally ill, showed no signs, etc. I have also told DS that he shows no signs of mental illness. He constantly questions his sanity, I told him that if he was truly mentally ill, he wouldn't be questioning himself, that he would have no idea.

I caught wind that on an almost weekly basis stbx is reinforcing the idea that DS is mentally ill. They have "shared (mental) traits," familiar patterns, if DS complains of a stomachache stbx will ask if it's physical or due to mental illness. I see this as stbx trying to form a type of bond with DS - a "we're in this together, look how much alike we are, we are the same! it's us against the world, no one else understands what we go through" kind of thing and it really makes me angry. I see this as a form of attempted isolation - them against the world. I am at a loss. I know I need to talk with DS about this and tell him it's not ok, that it's harmful behavior...I feel my hands will be tied unless he opens up to his T or the GAL, but that's unlikely.

Does anyone have any advice? What do you do when one of your kids imitates the PD? How do you handle it? Thanks. I am so worried about saying the wrong thing and having it get back to stbx, who will try to use it against me in court. It seems these eggshells will never go away.

You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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Medowynd

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Re: How do I deal with DS's fleas?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 07:25:38 PM »
I would bring this up to the GAL.  EX can be setting your son up to take drugs or do other things because they are mentally ill together.

I look at it as a version of Munchausen by proxy.

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athene1399

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Re: How do I deal with DS's fleas?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 11:03:05 AM »
We have the same issue. BM says things like her and SD are "twins" and they both have "an immune deficiency disorder." Mind you, SD grew out of her disorder back in 2013, but if you talk to BM she still has it (" look how alike we are..."). [all quotes are paraphrased].

I think as far as PDs goes, it's a form of emeshing. The PD parent can't tell where he/she ends and the child begins. Our BM also exaggerates any illness (like a cold) that SD has for attention. We've gotten this in control a bit by having me take SD to the doctor instead of mom. Last year when the doc asked how her immune disorder was doing since we just had an apt at the immunologist, I made sure to tell her that SD's tests have been coming back normal since 2014 per the immunologist. So being a part of the appointments and hearing from the specialist what is really going on has been huge. You would think the doctors would communicate with each other, but they don't. The pediatrician was believing everything BM was reporting back to her.

Some of this sounds like what is going on with you. I would definitely tell the GAL what you have been seeing in case it starts turning into Munchausen's by proxy. It sounds like it is on its way.

We have a hard time getting SD17 to think original thoughts and not parrot back things her mom says. Sorry I couldn't give much advice on the subject. I'm at a bit of a loss myself.

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athene1399

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Re: How do I deal with DS's fleas?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 11:06:18 AM »
I think part of the behavior with DS stems from that may be how he bonds with and gets attention from dad. Dad accepts him since "they are so much alike". Not sure how to diffuse that. But maybe when DS says he feels crazy or is questioning his sanity, ask him why and what is going on to make him feel that way. See where that goes.

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Penny Lane

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Re: How do I deal with DS's fleas?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 10:19:48 PM »
Yikes! The stuff about convincing your son that he's mentally ill is really alarming.

I'm going to start with the other stuff first because I have some concrete advice.

My older stepkid is almost a teen and is starting to pick up some teen traits. And BM basically acts like a teenager, so when one of the kids acts badly in a very teenager way, SO gets kind of triggered. And we really worry that they're turning into their mom.

I brought this up with my therapist (I think the specific issue was lying, which really bothers me anyway) and she basically said, it's normal for kids to do this, it's the parents' job to teach them not to do it. So I guess the question is, how would you handle this if he wasn't acting like his father, just a teenager who's being kind of bratty at the moment? Do that. It sounds like you handled it well. I don't think you even need to get into the stuff about whether he sounds like his dad, just let him know that kind of talk isn't acceptable to you. (Or whatever works ... if you find a magic bullet that makes adolescents act respectful please let me know before we have a full blown teen in our house in a few years). And model good behavior, I really think that goes a long way with kids in the long-term.

On this stuff:
"we're in this together, look how much alike we are, we are the same! it's us against the world, no one else understands what we go through"

That's really scary. I would definitely raise the flag to his T and the GAL if you haven't already.

It sounds like you've addressed it head-on with your son. Can you now try to work it into conversation more subtly? It sounds like his dad is on a full-on campaign to make him doubt his perceptions. I'm wondering if you can just make little comments here and there that bolster his feelings of his own sanity? Even like, "wow, you really have such a good head on your shoulders," stuff like that.

And between this and your other post, it sounds to me like your ex might be gearing up to prove in court that your son is mentally ill, so the more prepared you are for that, the better.

I'm so sorry. There's no good, easy answer here. Be the best mom you can be and be assertive about your ex's gaslighting of the kids.

 :bighug:
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 10:33:08 PM by Penny Lane »