Did I say too much?

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Whiteheron

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Did I say too much?
« on: February 01, 2019, 11:13:38 PM »
The kids are with stbx this weekend. It's been unusually cold and dry in our area. DD tells me she desperately needed chapstick because her lips were cracked and bleeding. She asked stbx to take her somewhere to get chapstick on the way home from school. He refused.

They were sitting around at home, and DD tells me she thinks she might have talked back and made him mad or something because when she asked were the chapstick was stbx said to her "it's somewhere in the house." He refused to tell her where it was even though she was crying and in pain. An hour and a half later he decided to tell her where it was.

So she's (understandably) upset and asking me questions about this over the phone. She directly asks me "isn't it part of being a responsible parent to take care of your kids when they need something?" I told her yes, it was, that "her feelings were right. That even if her dad was mad or upset with her, the responsible thing to do would have been to set aside his feelings and help her if she was in pain or needed something. That's part of being a responsible parent."

Of course, now I'm worried I said too much or said the wrong thing. Stbx loves to accuse me of alienation...so I'm overly cautious about saying anything to the kids. Part of me wants to say that and a whole lot more. The other part of me is thinking that if stbx catches wind of what I've said to her that I'm screwed. He'll go running and tattle to the court. I feel like I can't win no matter what I do. I want to validate her feelings, but at the same time I feel like I'm walking a tightrope. Part of me feels really silly for posting about this, but I know how he is, how he gets.

And yes, apparently there is only one tube of chapstick at his house (gag, ick). To remedy this, I told DD we would make sure she has a tube in her overnight bag and one in her backpack so that this doesn't happen again. But I won't see her until Monday.

Was there a better way to handle this? Please, share your advice and stories because this kind of thing seems to be happening with more frequency. I'd like to have a few phrases in mind so I'm not caught off guard next time she or DS asks me about his behavior .
Thanks in advance!
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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sevenyears

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2019, 11:49:25 PM »
White Heron - finding the balance between validation and not saying too much is hard - especially as kids start to understand what their PD parent is doing (or not doing). When that happens in the future, can you validate her feelings without referring specifically to her dad? just about what responsible parents in general do? She will see the difference between responsible behavior and that of her PD dad. She already sees it - that's why she was telling you about it.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2019, 10:22:16 AM »
You aren't silly about posting about this at all!  This is what PDs do, they get into your head and make you question everything you say and do.  I personally keep chapstick within arms reach basically at all times, I have it on my desk, nightstand, in my car, my  purse.  I absolutely can't stand when my lips get chapped and I don't have chapstick, so I really for bad for DD's experience! 

Whether  what you said could be twisted into PA or not, I wouldn't stew about it.  Even if he finds out and runs to the court, the question I would ask is, "why wouldn't give her the chapstick!?".  If it's helpful, you can always validate her feelings without specifically answering her question, although it feels a bit weak.  You can just say, "I am sorry you have had to deal with this, when you come back we will make sure you have several tubes of chapstick so you don't have to ask for it in the future. "  This passively answers her question, and shows that you will make sure she doesn't have to experience this again.

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D.Dan

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2019, 03:45:02 PM »
I'm sorry, I can't tell you if what you said was too much.

What I can say is there's a very good chance you helped your daughter successfully dispell the confusion she was feeling at that moment.

I know I would've liked someone to confirm that what I was experiencing was strange/not right while growing up with my uPD mom. But I didn't have that, and it took a lot longer (decades) to figure things out.

So my feelings and thoughts about what you told her are  :applause:. Good job!

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coyote

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2019, 04:52:30 PM »
I don't think you said too much. You did not tell her that Dad was not responsible, you just agreed with her on what a responsible parent would do. And anyway, does it really matter? He is likely going to twist whatever he can anyway. I would not worry about being too careful; just take care of your and your kids.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
 Wayne Dyer

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
Capt. Jack Sparrow

Choose not to be harmed and you wonít feel harmed. Donít feel harmed and you havenít been. -Marcus Aurelius

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openskyblue

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2019, 06:01:34 PM »
 :yeahthat:

I think three great things happened here: 1) Your daughter sought you out to get comfort and validation about her feelings during what sounded like a difficult time; 2) You validated your daughter's feelings. In my book, this is exactly what a parent should be doing -- especially when a PD parent is involved in behavior that is hurtful to kids; and 3) You made sure your daughter's needs will be met in the future (her own chapstick). I'm betting that all of this combined was a relief and comfort you your daughter.

My adult children still call me to ask me if how they are feeling about something is okay. Much of this is because of the repeated lying and gaslighting their NPD dad has engaged in their whole lives. I've found it helpful to respond by asking them "How are you feeling right now?" or "How did that make you feel?" Usually, by just listening and letting them know that however they are feeling is valid really helps. I started doing this when they were young.  Usually the discussion then centered around how they were feeling uncomfortable and what that was about for them. IMHO, even though the difficult situation might still be in play, that they felt secure in themselves, their feelings, and their own judgement helped them feel more secure. And, like your excellent chapstick plan, we could get to some possible solutions to help them feel better and/or feel prepared for the future.


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athene1399

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2019, 11:33:40 AM »
WH,

This is not a silly question at all! :) Don't feel bad about asking us anything. We're here for support and advice for any doubts that you may have. I think you did a great job.

IME the PDx will twist anything you say. IMO, if this occurs only a few times (where you imply that you feel he was being irresponsible) than that's fine. If it's every time you have your child then that's more like alienation. But it sounds like this is the first time you ever had to hint that your ex chose to be irresponsible. And as someone else said, if your ex says that to someone in court I have a feeling they will ask "Why didn't you give her the chapstick"? I don't think this reflects bad on you (from a non perspective).

You also validated your child's feelings and helped to alleviate some of the gas lighting she was experiencing. That is huge! And you problem solved for the future. I cannot think of anything you should have done differently. I think dancing around it would have added to her confusion. Maybe next time just add something like "Daddy still loves you even if he has trouble putting his feelings aside at times...." I feel that reassures her that even if he has disordered thinking he still cares for her, even if it may not feel like that at the moment.

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openskyblue

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2019, 01:42:04 PM »
Wanted to add....and I realize this may stir up many feelings here...

There is quite a body of opinion that parental alienation is much more complicated and less prevalent than it was once thought to be. Some psychologists maintain that it may not really exist at all in children, but more in the parents. An accusation of parental alienation from a PD may also be a defense of their own gas lighting. In my experience, that has been the case.

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Rose1

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2019, 08:30:01 PM »
It may not be prevalent in the "normal" population but from what I've seen its a pd tool. I have seen it repeatedly in a number of cases. In my own case exbpdh did it, his parents did it. Repeatedly, every chance they got. (Example, d says mum's not very well, exh sneers "something fatal I hope" often said not just isolated case, or you don't have to do what your mother says etc)

Did it affect my daughters? Yes. It made them angry and contributed to nc as they got older. However in my case they didn't see the pds in the family regularly and there was plenty of association with non pds to counterbalance. Was there permanent damage? I think so. She also has some poor boundary setting. Not as bad as I was but still there.

In other cases, like my dhs children who were constantly with the pd influence the alienation has resulted in a poor relationship with their father because of the continual belittling and put downs. Especially the sons. As they are getting older they are starting to see it but seem to be still heavily invested in protecting their mother or minimising the issue.
It doesn't seem to have served them well.

So sadly while it may not be too prevalent, in some circles it is constant and damaging.

On a side note, I personally never told my kids their father really loved them despite what he was doing. I think it would have set up cognitive dissonance and sent the message "this is how you show love" when it isn't. I believe it's up to the pd parent to develop a relationship and express their love. I saw some of this when his upd and en parents tried to tell my oldest that your father loves you, after a nasty event. And saw the eye rolling. The kids can see hypocrisy a mile off.

It's very difficult to deal with. If it's constantly reinforced by weekly visits I'm not sure it can be counteracted sufficiently and counselling might be essential.

Btw I think what you said was great and validating.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 08:32:09 PM by Rose1 »

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athene1399

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 11:34:02 AM »
Quote
On a side note, I personally never told my kids their father really loved them despite what he was doing. I think it would have set up cognitive dissonance and sent the message "this is how you show love" when it isn't.
Good point. I didn't think of that angle.