Dad encourages preteen to lie

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Wonderfails

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Dad encourages preteen to lie
« on: March 25, 2021, 07:38:19 PM »
Hi,
So I'll keep this short. I'm 32F.
I have DD12 with Xh35 (suspected narc/undiagnosed). We have been separated since 2015. Coparenting is a flaming dumpster of course. Custody has been a mess since day 1. He filed multiple fake accusations of kidnapping DD12, coaching her to talk about how I cause her anxiety (not allowed to take her to therapy though).
Eventually the court ruled in my favor in 2018 but things haven't been any better.

Since separating my XH has repeatedly has had DD12 lie, withhold information and refuse questions about her time spent with him, amongst other things.

Started shortly after with lying about having a dog (dad said I would be angry if she got a dog) and where she was at when I would talk to her on the phone. Lots of small things I'd catch her in and she would freak out and say that dad told her I would punish her (never did that).
She also feeds him a near constant stream of information about our life at home, like where I go, who I'm with, what my job situation is like, large purchases...she's his tiny spy. No matter what I do I can't break her of this behavior.

I'm in therapy and  Co parenting is strictly through an app due to a history of harassment and multiple police reports against him.

My Therapist has suggest that I start linking punishments to her lying/spy behavior. I'm so hesitant to do that but their behavior plus the near constant stress of dealing with this is breaking me. I can barely parent at this point.

Please any advice or thoughts on this would be so appreciated.


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Lauren17

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Re: Dad encourages preteen to lie
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2021, 11:09:27 AM »
This is a tough place to be.
I am not yet divorced, but I do have a daughter about that age and a uBPDh who encourages her to lie. Also with the rationale of ďDonít tell Mom or sheíll be angryĒ.
Donít want to alienate Dad. Donít want to raise a deceitful child. What to do?
Iíve said to my daughter, in front of dad, ďLying is never ok. Even if Daddy says otherwiseĒ and then I try to explain why. Iíve also told her that Iím her mother, so itís my job to help her learn right from wrong. I donít have that responsibility for Daddy.
Iíve tried to be straight with daughter about boundaries and expectations. ďI wonít be angry if dad gets you a dog. I will be angry if you lie about itĒ Or ďthe next time you lie, this will be the consequence.Ē
Good luck. Iím interested to see what others say.
ďIím no quitter, but I finally quit living on dreams. Iím hungry for laughter and here ever after, Iím after whatever this other life brings.Ē
-Kenny Rogers

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Penny Lane

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Re: Dad encourages preteen to lie
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2021, 12:34:03 PM »
Hi Wonderfails and welcome. It sounds like you're in the right place and I'm so sorry this is happening.

We've seen the same thing with my stepkids especially DSS13. I don't think there's a good answer or a perfect solution. But there are some things you can do to mitigate the damage (both to yourself and to your DD).

First of all I think it really helps to start from a place of realizing, your daughter is really hurting. Your ex is putting her in an impossible position and doing exactly what divorced parents shouldn't - trying to force her to choose between her parents. Either she listens to him and lies to you, or she tells you the truth and disobeys him. Even if it seems like she is your adversary in some ways, she's really not, she's a victim of her dad's manipulation and bad behavior.

So if you think about how, really deep down you are on the same side (just like how making rules like curfews is you being "on the same side" as your kid, even if they don't think so) then the question is, how can you help her navigate this?

I think Lauren makes a really important distinction. You won't be mad about the dog, but you WILL be mad about lying. In our house we are really big on natural consequences. So when the kids lie to us, about their mom or about anything else, we explicitly tell them, this ruins our trust in you and you will have to build it back up. And then when they next ask for something that requires trust the answer is no, because they have not shown themselves to be able to handle the responsibility of our trust.

I think this is a very important lesson for your daughter anyway. PDs often like to create us-and-them scenarios and her dad will probably encourage her to treat other people badly as well. You can teach her that if she does something bad because her dad asked her to, it's HER that will experience the consequences. If she lies to someone for her dad, it's not him that will have lost trust - it's her. Same deal with, say, rudeness - if she cancels plans with a friend because of her dad, the friend is going to think of her as flaky.

Another thing to note is that her dad is lying to her. Of course you wouldn't be made she got a dog (right?). So you can gently and lovingly point that out. Sometimes my stepkids will repeat something that BM says that's so bizarre that I will be genuinely confused. Like, why on earth would we be mad that they got a dog? So if you react like that, with puzzlement, and then reinforce that it's not ok with you that she's lying to you, she can see that her dad is lying to her. That's another good life lesson - her dad will try to triangulate her with other people, and hopefully she will see that she should take things he says with a huge grain of salt.

There are some things that you can do internally too. You can internalize the idea that you are never going to have a reasonable coparent. He is always going to put your daughter in the middle. And there are things that you should know about her life (like that she got a dog) that you might not know. It is very scary and unnerving to try to parent a child over whom you have no control half the time. But you can't really change that; what you can do is try to give her life skills so that she can be responsible with this amount of control over her life (which she shouldn't have).

This is really sad, and I hate to recommend it, but we have largely stopped asking my stepkids about their mom's house. This has actually gotten us farther. Often they will volunteer things they did with her whereas before we were learning nothing. Like literally DH used to say "how was your week, what did you do?" and they would say "I feel like you're always interrogating us about mom's house!" Clearly that didn't come from them, it came from her. But it was putting them in such a bad position, and we weren't getting anything out of it, so we stopped. And like I said we probably know more about their mom's house now.

The other thing that DH has done is that he has stopped asking his ex about things he hears from the kids. They will share with us that she did something incredibly reckless and neglectful and he will just ... not do anything about it. He used to always say something to her, but what would happen is that she would keep doing the reckless thing, but on top of that she would put extreme pressure on the kids to not share anything further with us. So the kids were still being neglected but on top of that they were then also being manipulated and put in the middle of parental conflict. The better solution for us has been to work with the kids on what skills they need, like being about to call 911 in the event of a fire or make themselves a sandwich if their mom is gone all day.

I think it helps to think about, what are you really in control of here? And what is out of your control? Then really focus on changing the things that you can control. His behavior and to a large degree your daughter's behavior is out of your control, but you can control your own actions. About the spy thing, I think that is largely out of your control. But what you can control is: how much you share with your daughter, and to what degree you care what she's telling your ex. Basically our strategy was twofold. 1. Don't tell the kids anything that we didn't want their mom to know and 2. DH ignores any messages from her about things that aren't her business. At first we wouldn't tell them about anything that had to do with finances or my or DH's health, because BM would behave so badly about it. (Notably once she emailed DH to ask him what she should tell the kids if he died at a doctor's appointment). Over the years, more and more we've just decided to not care. So she can interrogate the kids and learn about our lives, and it's unpleasant to know that a person who is stalking us has access to this information, but she can't really do anything about it. It is sad that you can't have more open communication with your daughter. But again, her dad is putting her in an impossible position and withholding things is your gift to her, trying to take her out of the middle.

These strategies will start to mitigate the damage he's doing, but it's not going to cure the underlying problem. We've been doing these things for years, and yet just a couple months ago DH asked DSS if he'd been taking his medicine at his mom's house. He said yes, it quickly came out that the true answer was no, and then all of a sudden we had a SOBBING teenager on our hands wailing "I just didn't want mom to get in trouble!" So these aren't all the answers, they're just the very beginning of a strategy to maintain your sanity and to minimize the impact on your daughter.

Good luck! I think you can make things a little easier even if you can't solve them. I hope you'll come back and let us know how things go.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2021, 01:27:07 PM by Penny Lane »

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Wonderfails

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Re: Dad encourages preteen to lie
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2021, 03:52:18 PM »
Thanks for weighing, I have a lot to think about.
I am so stressed with how this is going and the impact this is having on DD12.
I think I am going to stop asking about her time spent at her dad's and just see where that goes. Obviously, it's putting her in a position where she feels the need to hide/lie about her life there. I've tried really hard to explain to her I'm not mad/upset about whatever she felt she had to lie about, I'm immensely upset that she lied and at her father for putting her in that space. I've told her you are not required to keep the lies of adults or friends... I think it's a good start but with her being so wrapped up in his life already I just wonder if I'm doing enough.

You guys had amazing advice and I really appreciate it.