As you go through the divorce process, continue to prioritize your children. Be honest with them and know that while the coming months will be hard, you can make it through. Trust yourself and demonstrate your love to them every day.
My divorce never hit me. I was contently past all the stages of grief on the day of my divorce. I was free and so eager to start anew. (I even agreed to attempt reconciliation with my ex post-divorce, but that’s a story for another day.)
Some months later, I moved back to the town I had grown up in. My boys, then seven and eight, moved with me. It felt great to be starting fresh and to be surrounded by family and my childhood girlfriends again.
My boys and I did get the I’m-so-sorry-face from everyone we knew. But despite the catastrophe that others saw, I was relieved, happy, and shame-free to be divorced. I could breathe again, and my life was my own again. Or so I thought…
Given my move, I had agreed to my ex-husband, aka WASband, seeing our boys virtually every weekend and agreed that he could have the boys visit him at his home 400 miles away on any given weekend.
Child Visitation After Divorce
My ex abused my trust.
My WASband turned our flexible visitation agreement into a nightmare for my boys. He insisted that every visit be in Los Angeles in his world. I had agreed to this and he had a legal contract to enforce it.
So, our children traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles and then back again three to four weekends each month during the school year.
He didn’t care that virtually every Friday his children spent four hours or more traveling to him and four hours or more on Sundays traveling back.
He didn’t care if the children were sick.
He didn’t care if they missed the one and only birthday party they got invited to.
He didn’t care if they weren’t making friends at their new school.
He didn’t care if our son cried and cried over not being able to compete in his once-a-year Tae Kwon Do championship.
He didn’t care if their Friday flight was canceled by the airline. He made them take the 6:00 am flight on Saturday morning only to fly back on Sunday.
He didn’t care if the children were exhausted from all the travel.
He didn’t care if they couldn’t join the basketball team because of weekend games.
He just didn’t care. It was a zero-exceptions contract that I had agreed to.
My WASband’s words were, I am NOT willing to spend my custodial time in Northern California. There was intense hatred towards me in that single sentence. Each time I asked for some flexibility for our children, those words were written back to me in bigger, bolder font along with, My position hasn’t changed.
I had made a huge mistake.
I had willingly given a narcissist full discretion to decide where and how he spends time with our children assuming that he would be reasonable when it came to the children.
I don’t know if he saw their tears. I wiped them.
I don’t know if he heard their screams. Some days that’s all I heard.
He denied their pain. I couldn’t.
I don’t know if he realized their isolation. I saw it.
Over and over I begged a father to accommodate his children’s needs. Each time he refused.
There came a time when my children cried, I know the answer is no. The answer is always no. Then came a time when they no longer asked.
My ex now controlled the boys with custody.
Spending his time with his children in Los Angeles trumped all else. He was blind to their physical health, their social development, and their emotions. He had to have control: It’s okay for [our son] to miss a birthday party in order to spend quality time with his father.
Of course, nothing was preventing this father from accompanying his son to this one and only birthday party that his son had been invited to all year.
And my ex also controlled me with custody.
When I mailed out a birthday card over summer break and asked my WASband to give the card to our son, my ex responded, “You should do that personally, meaning during your own custodial time.”
This was emotional abuse at its worst.
The control and emotional abuse I thought I had escaped resurfaced like a newer, stronger virus. This time, while aimed at me, it was infecting our children. The children weren’t doing well socially or emotionally. Despite multiple pediatricians’ recommendations for immediate therapy for our children, my ex refused to consent.
Since the divorce and move my older son had begun to break out crying and screaming for no apparent reason. Of course, I knew the reason; he wasn’t coping well with his parent’s separation.
He was eight-years-old at the time and completely non-verbal about our divorce. He didn’t want to talk, or discuss, or listen to anything related to his mom and dad no longer living together.
Over the course of a year and a half, even after two pediatricians independently witnessed my older son have such an emotional meltdown including throwing himself around the room, my WASband maintained that my son didn’t need therapy.
The emotional outbursts became more frequent, became more intense and shifted from crying and screaming to also verbally threatening his family and physically hurting those around him.
Family court was a game of poker.
With no other resolution in sight, I turned to the Court for help. My children were in danger if nothing changed.
That journey through Court was long, expensive, and made unreasonably longer and more expensive by my ex on the other side. (During our eight-year marriage my ex had been in constant litigation all eight years; he sued all his business partners from multiple businesses, a dentist who voluntarily admitted a mistake, and an employee of a Fortune 500 company knowing the company would pay him damages just to avoid litigation).
I should have known better. My ex had no qualms or limits in abusing the legal system. He was an eye-for-an-eye man once he convinced himself that you had slighted him.
So, my ex showed up in Court with thick, oversized, zero-prescription eyeglasses and a bow tie to complete his geekiest Caltech persona. A charming serial entrepreneur with 20-20 vision (the one I had married) now sat disguised as a nerdy engineer in an effort to explain away his complete inflexibility in co-parenting his children.
He claimed he was an engineer who was scrambling to make ends meet and whose employer had been loaning him money for personal expenses. The fact was that he owned the company he worked for!
He showed virtually no income and no assets all the while affording private flying lessons, affording aircraft rentals, and paying his parents and extended family from business profits.
And so, a game of poker with the judges ensued. The first judge had enough common sense and provided temporary relief for the children from all the travel. This judge saw the thousands of pages of written communication between my ex and me as a complete breakdown of communication.
But he retired. Then a second judge with a completely different common sense, had me pay my ex’s attorney fees and didn’t bat an eye at the amount of travel our children were doing between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This new judge wanted proof to correlate sickness to excessive travel. Common sense wasn’t good enough. This new judge saw the thousands of pages of written communication between my ex and me as normal negotiation.
This judge saw my wealth against my poor Caltech-graduate WASband with his fake glasses and bow tie, who had no car in his name, no property in his name, who for years had paid his company’s profits to his extended relatives.
In retaliation to me going to Court, my ex had convinced himself that he needed $30,000 per month to support our children. And since he could afford neither a car nor housing, he wanted me to now support a new lifestyle for him, complete with private jet travel, five-star hotels, and much more.
A third judge put an end to my ex’s non-sense; my WASband got his child support but an amount which I proposed to the Court based on facts instead of exaggerations. Disappointed with this outcome, my ex filed two more cases trying to get exorbitant amounts of money from me.
Those cases, while dismissed, still took an emotional and financial toll. I’ve learned now that it’s a matter of time before my WASband sues me again.
Court was a two-year war. And war is never good.
One of my sons got therapy after two years of jumping through all the Court’s hoops. My children’s travel was slightly reduced and many smaller issues were resolved. Yet the Court was fooled by a narcissist.
The Court didn’t approve therapy for my younger son because I didn’t have any evidence for its need. So, now a year later when my younger son says, “I will kill myself,” and my WASband still refuses therapy for him, am I to return to Court?
The Family Court that deals with divorced families and children couldn’t see this coming? I could.
This Court that also ordered my ex to spend the first weekend a month in Northern California because it coincided with the Tae Kwon Do schedule didn’t think to make it an order that my WASband actually take the children to these Tae Kwon Do events.
The Court couldn’t catch the narcissist in disguise. How am I to point out this mistake to the Court? With another trial and 2-year battle? No thank you.
Life, Uh, Finds a Way.
For nearly three years now, my children have been traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles nearly every weekend. Yes, it’s hard and unheard of, but the one weekend each month we have together is better than ever.
We miss most of the special school events, but we did go to one dance last year and I caught my boys on camera doing the Floss with their classmates!
We do miss most of the special Tae Kwon Do events, but every now and then the stars line up and we get to go to the one we get to go to!
We do miss most family get togethers, so now many of my nine first cousins go out of their way to have our children meet.
For over two years now, my WASband has been telling our children: Your mom is a liar. Her entire family lies. It’s her fault; she’s the one that divorced me. He shows them snippets of court documents to prove his story with evidence.
Sadly, my nine and ten-year-old children are versed in court vocabulary including evidence, exhibits, credibility, and legal contracts. My WASband tells my older son: You go to therapy because you have mental problems. Your mom forced you to go to therapy.
You’ll be in therapy for your whole life.
You need to lose weight. You need to get in shape.
Are you trying to gain weight?
He tells our children: Do you have any Indian friends? I’ll arrange a playdate [on my visits to San Francisco] if your friends are Indian.
This type of abuse attacks every aspect of their lives. There may never be a respite from this.
My children began coming back to me on Sundays, especially after long holidays, and telling me: You’re a liar. A big fat liar because you don’t have any evidence. Daddy has evidence. I was caught off-guard, hurt, and defensive.
My co-parenting counselor (not to mention others) advised me to open up to my children, but mostly all I could say was: These are adult issues. Children shouldn’t be worried about these things. I will tell you when you’re seventeen or eighteen. Your Daddy loves you, but some of these things he is doing and saying are wrong. And he may never change. You have to be stronger.
After two years of this, there are still new frustrations, more confusion, and deeper wounds but my children are finding their way. They tell me: Mommy, you have to be stronger!
And I am stronger because I chose to be free. My marriage was bad and the aftermath of my divorce worse, but I am free. I’ve begun to learn to allow myself to resign all outcomes to a higher power when I need to.
I’ve learned that there’s nothing that can break me. I’ve been shattered more than once, and I’ve gotten up to collect and put myself back together each time. I don’t hate my ex; it’s as if my body or mind or soul has decided that this person doesn’t deserve even my hatred.
I pray for his peace of mind, I tell my children to send love towards Daddy, and I’ve never been one to pray. Whenever I remember, I tell my children to say something nice about someone else each night.
I’ve learned to hug and cuddle. My children wonder: Why have you gone all lovey-dovey. I suppose it’s because love is all that remains for me.
The post Child Visitation After Divorce: How My Narcissistic Ex Is Using It Against My Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause
Narcissistic parents harm their children whether there is a divorce or not. Add divorce to the mix and the narcissist become vindictive, suffers a narcissistic injury and goes full-force vindictive.
It’s almost as if they are hell-bent on making their ex and children pay for the suffering they are experiencing do to the narcissistic injury.
With a lack of insight into their behavior the narcissist is either unable to see the damage they do, or, due to their lack of empathy doesn’t care about the damage they do. If you’re the other parent, I’m sharing insights into their behavior plus personal experiences from my son’s relationship with their narcissistic father.
8 Ways the Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Harm
1. Your Child Won’t Be Heard or Validated
As I’ve said in the video, the narcissist doesn’t consider consequences before acting and if he doesn’t something that hurts your child, he doesn’t consider your child’s voice or opinion. He doesn’t care or take into consideration how his actions impact his children. Only he deserves validation, everyone else will be immediately shut down by him.
2. Your Child Will Learn That Being Real Isn’t Safe
The narcissistic parent defines what is and isn’t real. If your daughter is uncomfortable meeting his new girlfriend, he will dismiss her discomfort and something she is making up because of what she has heard from her Mom. If your son writes an email that is grammatically correct with no spelling errors he will accuse the son of letting Mom write the email. The narcissistic parent deflects what is real to your child onto what is real to him.
3. The Narcissist Will Share Too Much With Your Child
No information is sacred to the narcissistic parent. No child’s emotional state is of importance to the narcissistic parent. If it’s information that can make you look back, it will be shared with their child and the child will be told it’s a secret. “Don’t tell Mom.” This puts the child in the precarious position of having to carry around harmful information and no one to soothe their emotional upheaval.
4. Your Child Won’t Be Emotionally Nourished.
Asking for or expecting emotional nourishment from a narcissist is like asking a 2-year-old to carry on a conversation about quantum physics. They don’t have the emotional IQ to offer other’s emotional nourishment. And, if it is offered, it’s only because the narcissist is in a situation of trying to look good in front of others.
5. Your Child Is Expected To Be There For The Narcissistic Parent
The narcissistic parent won’t be there for the child. My ex goes 6 and 7 years at a time without contacting or seeing his sons. Why? Because he thinks it is their place to contact him. It is their place to be there for him, not the other way around. It’s sick!
6. Your Child’s Needs Won’t Be Met
The narcissistic parent cares about no one’s needs but their own. They will plow right over their own children if it means getting their needs met. They, at no time, put any thought or effort into meeting their children’s needs. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness in your child and it’s imperative that you take up the slack when it comes to meeting their needs.
7. The Narcissistic Parent Will Shame and Humiliate Their Child
If it will make the narcissist feel better about themselves they have no qualms about shaming and humiliating their child in front of others. They will compare your child to others, disparaging the way your child dresses or even looks. This can lead to low self-esteem in your child and I, personally have no problem with you telling your child that their father is sick and twisted and unable to behave like an adult.
8. Your Child May Suffer Mental Health Issues
There is a high probability that exposure to the narcissistic parent will cause PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in your child. My youngest was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder at 17-years-old. After my ex had a session with the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist told me this, “That fucking narcissist has nearly destroyed his son’s life.”
Please, at the first sign of distress, get your child into therapy.
Parenting The Child With a Narcissistic Parent
The narcissistic parent, parents without empathy. They have no ability to feel empathy so it only makes sense they would parent without it. You have to do the opposite and parent with empathy and love.
To maintain a close bond with your children, it is essential for you to focus on being lovingly responsive in your interactions with them. You want to relate well with them, sense what they are feeling, help them put their thoughts and feelings into words, and anticipate their reactions as well as their needs.
Validate Their Feelings
Validating a child means letting them share their thoughts and feelings without judging, criticizing, ridiculing or abandoning them. You let your child feel heard and understood. You convey that you love and accept them no matter what they’re feeling or thinking.
Coach Your Child Through Negative Emotions
Emotion coaching is the practice of talking with children about their feelings and offering kids concrete strategies for coping with emotionally difficult situations.
Get Them Into Therapy
In the video, I advise parents to get their children in therapy at the first sign of distress. If you’re 100 percent sure your are dealing with a narcissistic ex, you may not want to wait until you see signs of distress.
If you can do the 4 things above you have a very good chance of countering the harm the narcissistic parent will do. You have the opportunity to counterbalance and fill up the gaping holes the narcissistic parent will leave in your child’s heart.
The post Divorce Tip Tuesday: The Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Their Children During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.
After my divorce, the biggest thing I worried about was being able to raise my children after such a traumatic event in their lives. How could I possibly provide a positive and healthy atmosphere for them when I’ve just gone through something that I never saw coming and never intended to happen?
Even though it seemed impossible in the beginning I have now come to a place where I know that just because I have separated from my children’s father doesn’t mean I can’t raise them to be happy and motivated children. My goal is to help other mothers understand that your child can thrive even after divorce.
Here’s How I Helped My Children Thrive After Divorce
I was there for my children and made them a priority.
I wasn’t the only one whose world was turned upside down by my divorce their world was changed drastically as well. I took this into consideration and made sure they knew they were the most important thing to me. I put them first!
I gave my children time to heal and process the divorce.
It’s important that they understand they can express negative feelings and questions to you without feeling censored regardless of how long it takes.
I respected my children’s father.
Although, divorce is due to unresolved issues within the relationship under no circumstance do I speak negatively about my former spouse. Sticking to this principle is crucial because the last thing you want to do is have your child feeling like they are stuck in the middle of being forced to choose sides.
I made sure they had a regular routine and schedule.
Working together with my former spouse as far as creating an effective schedule for our children is what keeps my kids happy. Our children understand we are no longer together but still enjoy seeing us come together for their benefit.
A strong co-parenting relationship can remove the stress from your child’s shoulders when it comes to spending time with you or your spouse. Successful co-parenting also allows us to change our schedules and be flexible without unnecessary tension and arguments.
I assured them that the divorce wasn’t their fault.
Another hard thing that I had to do was to help them to understand my divorce was not their fault. I neglected to do this early on and it wasn’t until they came to me and asked was it their fault that daddy and I couldn’t live together anymore.
It broke my heart that for so long, unknown to me, they were walking around thinking that the divorce was their fault. So I urge all of you to take the time and let your children know that no matter what the situation is there is nothing they did to cause the split.
I don’t introduce new relationship partners to them.
I’m currently not involved with anybody but have had to deal with my former partner’s string of new partners. I think it is important to not introduce new, partners, to your children until the relationship has become serious and has been serious for some time.
Children don’t need to see a revolving door of partners it teaches them lessons that will be harder to undo in the future. And I don’t know about you, but if rather not have to teach my children later on in life that they need to be in a relationship to feel whole or get fulfillment out of life.
And lastly, I respect my children’s boundaries.
Being that they split their time between two places means there are some things they feel more comfortable talking to your former spouse about than you. And you’ve got to be okay with that.
As long as it is not something that can be harmful to them, it’s important to not overstep or breach their privacy. That can cause them to lose trust in not only you but also your communication line. And can end with them closing themselves off to you permanently.
I hope that reading my story will help you to get through your journey easier than I did. Remember, children need to feel heard and seen by their parents especially during a time where a life-changing event such as divorce has happened.
The post Here’s How I Helped My Children Thrive After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Every year many adult children of divorce have to make a decision: Should they spend Christmas morning at Dad’s and Christmas afternoon at Moms? Should they spend Thanksgiving Day at both homes so as not to offend either parent? For some, it comes down to avoiding the holidays altogether. It may make more sense for them to plan a trip to a far-off location or to visit a friend’s home.
Most of the adult children of divorce that I know feel that the holidays trigger negative childhood memories, or they may feel stuck in the middle between their parents’ contrasting worlds.
Kendra, a 20-something child of divorce put it like this: “If I’m honest with myself, at the end of each holiday I feel much like I did when I was a kid, split between two houses and trying to make both sides of my family happy.”
For adults who grew up in high-conflict divorced families, the holidays can be an especially challenging time. It can make adults feel like children again, torn between two parents, not wanting to disappoint or hurt either one’s feelings.
Although adults who grew up in divorced homes know they are allowed to choose how they spend their time, they may feel a sense of obligation to spend adequate time with all members of their families, which in many cases is impractical or impossible. In the end, if members of a divorced family feel anxious, let down, or upset about how they spend their holidays, nobody wins.
Holiday Tips for Adult Children of Divorce
1. Change Your Perspective
Even though your parents divorced years ago, the holidays may be a reminder that your family is not the way you would have wanted or imagined it to be. As an adult, it’s important to remember that you can control your thoughts and actions, and you are not the same person as when your parents first split up. Thankfully, neither are they.
When you start feeling anxious about Thanksgiving and Christmas rolling around, it may be comforting to realize that your divorced family hasn’t cornered the market on dysfunction. There are plenty of people who haven’t been touched by divorce but are dealing with equal, if not harder, realities.
Families can be affected by death, disease, addiction, poverty, and a number of other problems. Remembering that you are not alone and that others face challenges far worse than you, can help change your perspective.
2. Learn to Forgive
It’s amazing how even when a divorce is many years behind you, it is an event that can cast a dark shadow if you allow it to do so. Dealing with divorced parents and stepparents as an adult never really becomes “easy.” After a while, it just feels like the new normal.
However, when you make a decision to let go of past hurt and resentment, and when you realize your parents should not be in debt to you for any decisions they may have made, it can be incredibly freeing. The holidays provide an opportunity to put this mindset into practice and to move toward forgiving your parents.
Forgiveness is not about condoning or accepting your parents’ actions, but it can give them less power over you. It can help you accept small and large transgressions and to take them less personally.
Often people equate forgiveness with weakness. But forgiveness can also be seen as a strength because it means you are able to express goodwill toward your parents and others. Studies show that forgiving someone is a way of letting go of your baggage so that you can heal and move on with your life.
3. Create New Traditions This Holiday Season
In learning to handle the holidays, one of the most helpful approaches is to develop your own traditions. For instance, hosting a meal at your home or going to a relative’s or friend’s home is a good alternative. Invite family members to join in and let them know that you are trying out new traditions – they might be delighted to join you.
Although your family is no longer intact, you have a family in a different form. Accept the limitations of your divorced family, and accept that you cannot ask them to be something they are not. Having realistic expectations of the holiday season can help you cope with any disappointments or negative memories from the past.
Most of all, maintain hope in your own life and know that your parents’ choices do not need to be your choices – you can create a new story for your life. Creating new holiday traditions that work for you can help you move on with your life.
This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com
I’m not sure why it happens, but I know many grown children of divorce who still feel this way—make each parent happy first, deal with your needs second. And, still, it’s never enough.
The post Adult Children of Divorce and Thanksgiving: The “Giving” Never Ends! appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
Why not replace some of those old, pre-divorce Thanksgiving traditions with new Thanksgiving traditions?
It only makes sense, especially if thoughts of the traditions you had as an intact family bring up negative emotions.
One of the best and most rewarding things about having kids is introducing them to your favorite traditions. And, building new ones that will turn into their favorites.
Show them that things like divorce and the change that comes with it can be good by building new traditions to carry with your family in the new life you’re building for yourself.
18 New Thanksgiving Traditions to Create With Your Children
Draw Your Thanks
Cover the holiday table with a white tablecloth. Place glasses filled with cloth markers around the table. Ask your children to draw what they’re thankful for or just something fun—like their favorite Thanksgiving memory.
It’s All about the Pumpkins
Place a small pumpkin at each place setting. Around the table, leave small bowls with glitter, markers, stickers, etc. and ask your children to decorate the pumpkins like their favorite Thanksgiving character–a turkey, pilgrim, Plymouth Rock … whatever.
Gather Fall Foliage
Ask children to gather up acorns, pinecones, and other outdoor foliage to make fall wreaths. You can either have these made before people arrive for dinner or make it an art project for everyone to do together while the turkey cooks.
Decorate Everything in Sight
You can find everything, pumpkins (candles, centerpieces, wreaths, etc.) and turkey (chocolate, ones that gobble) at local craft stores like Michael’s. Get everything you can, and decorate each and every room of the house with turkeys and pumpkins—even the bathroom!
Watch the Parade
Before the food and the stretchy pants come out, put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Everyone can pick out their favorite balloon and float, and you can all marvel at the new giant balloons that appear each year.
Make a Pin-Up
Hang up a large picture of a turkey and play pin the feathers on the turkey. Whoever gets the feather the closest, gets the first helping of turkey or the wishbone to make a wish.
Lend a Hand
Have your children make handprint turkeys. You can put children’s names (and the date) on them and use these as place settings. Keep them after the holiday, and bring them out each year to compare hand sizes.
Save Room for Peanuts
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, there is no shortage of fabulous movies and TV specials to watch. On Thanksgiving, pop on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. There’s nothing more fun for kids and adults than watching Snoopy and the gang.
Have Game Time
In between courses, bring out old school board games from Monopoly to Scrabble to Candyland and hold a board game tournament. This will give your children plenty of time to digest in between the main meal and dessert.
Toss the Ball
Besides turkey and pie, nothing says Thanksgiving like football! Grab the pigskin and enjoy the great outdoors while the turkey is cooking. And of course, watching football on TV is a time-honored tradition, too.
Jingle Those Bells
While cooking, blast some holiday music (Yes, it’s OK to start Christmas music already) and have a dance party with your children. They’ll remember those fun times more than the meal!
Make It Your Own
Formal isn’t always better. Our family tradition is that every year we all wear crazy Thanksgiving themed hats … some light up, some make noise, but everyone–even the kids get one. Some look like a turkey, while one is in the shape of a pumpkin pie complete with a dollop of whipped cream. Every year, my children look forward to picking out their funny Thanksgiving hat.
Get Some Air
People tend to eat a lot on Thanksgiving. Why not take a big family walk after dinner but before dessert? Get in some exercise, family time, and unplug from everything.
Write It Down
Instead of just saying out loud what you’re thankful for, have everyone write down what they’re more grateful for. Then you can put it in a big bowl, and people can pull out the slips of paper and then try and guess who wrote each one.
Give Something Back
It is the season to give thanks but also the season to give back. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or sign up to with your children to do Toys for Tots to teach them about the season of giving. Another great idea is to ask your Thanksgiving guests to bring a non-perishable and/or canned good to donate to a local food pantry.
Run for a Cause
Get your Turkey Trot on! Raise money (and get healthy) while participating in a local turkey trot race. And get your kids involved, too!
Remember Loved Ones
Share special memories of those who have passed: stories that make you thankful for your family, both past, present, and future.
Pack Up Some Holiday Cheer
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be with their loved ones during the holiday season. Try putting together boxes for our military men and women to send overseas. Bring some joy to their holiday season.
Most of all, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
The post 18 New Thanksgiving Traditions To Create For You and Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.
In this second of four videos, I continued my conversation with Nathan Brooks about the issues of divorce and Title IV-D courts.
In part one and part two of my story, I discuss how I no longer feel responsible for his behavior and, how I found it so easy to fall in love with him. Today I want to discuss how my covert narcissist destroyed our children.
I guess I should say, nearly destroyed because, thankfully, for them, I was always there to guide them through the damage he did to them. Even with my guidance and love, the damage is there and will last their entire lifetime.
There is nothing more heart wrenching than having no recourse against someone who is doing grave emotional harm to your children. If a stranger had done what their father did, I would have had recourse. But, since it was their father, the family court system turned a blind eye to his behavior.
It started from the beginning, the very beginning before I even knew there would be a divorce.
I’m sharing this information in bullet points in order to keep my thoughts straight and not running together. We’ve been divorced for nearly 2 decades, there is no way I can share the entire story but, these are issues I remember as being the most damaging.
How My Covert Narcissistic Ex Nearly Destroyed Our Children
- He made the decision to divorce without a discussion with me. One day he was there, the next he was gone. Here is how he told our children before he ever told me. He went to our older son’s school and checked him out of school. He told our son, to not ask him any questions, to get in the car and he would explain after they picked up our younger son. He then went to our younger son’s school and checked him out. Once they were all in the car, the boys in the backseat, he turned, looked at them and said, “Your Mom and I are getting divorced. I’m leaving and never coming home.” Needless to say, our sons became very emotional. They thought they came from a happy home and family. He had just dropped a bomb on them. They begged and pleaded for an explanation, but he refused to look at or respond to their questions and evident distress. He pulled up into the driveway or our home and told them to get out. He left them standing in the driveway, crying with our youngest who was six at the time, writhing on the ground.
- He didn’t see the children for a month after that and when he did, he was only interested in spending time with our youngest. When our oldest son, asked him why he never invited him to visit his father told him, “because I have a deeper bond with your little brother. “I think I love him more than I love you.” I told him he couldn’t take one without taking both, that I would not allow him to ignore the needs of our older son. So, he began visiting with both boys. The problem? Both boys had questions about why he left, why he was doing what he was doing. He refused to answer their questions or allow them to ask questions. He said, “I won’t have my time with you marred by unpleasant conversation.”
- Our oldest eventually stopped going on visitations with him and requested his Dad join him in therapy to work through their “relationship issues.” His Dad refused therapy together but said he would see our son’s therapist on his own when he had time. When asked by our son why he didn’t want to go with him, he responded with, “I don’t owe you anything, not my time, not my feelings, NOTHING.” That’s when our oldest son gave up on his father.
- It’s been 14 years since he’s had a conversation or spent any time with our oldest son. My ex has a DIL and granddaughter that he has never met and, given his actions must not have an interest in meeting. He also has a grown son who is in therapy to deal with the damage done by a father who abandoned him.
- My ex continued to visit with our youngest son. He saw him once a month. No phone calls, email or contact between those once a month visits. Our younger son would email and text him, but he never got a response. He asked his Dad to call on Tuesday nights to help him study for spelling tests. His father refused. He asked his Dad to help him build a car for the Boy Scout’s Pinewood Derby, his father refused.
- Three years after our divorce my ex became seriously involved in a relationship with a woman who had an older daughter. That is when he completely cut off our younger son. He had no communication or face-to-face contact with your youngest or oldest sons for six years.
- When our younger son was 16, he had a psychotic break. He was hospitalized and diagnosed with PTSD and Bi-Polar Disorder. His medical records state “Psychosis due to parental abandonment.” According to the Psychiatrist our son needed his father. The Psychiatrist called my ex and my ex told him that there was nothing he could do to help. That what was going on was my fault, not his. How could it be his fault because he hadn’t seen the kid is six years. The psychiatrist told him that, that was exactly why our son was having issues. My ex hung up on him.
- It’s been another 8 years with no contact from their father. Since the day he left the marriage he has not sent a Christmas gift, Birthday gift, attended a graduation, wedding or acknowledge the important things in their lives.
I’m happy to report that both sons are flourishing. They are stable, ethical men. Both have great careers and one has a lovely family. The majority of their day-to-day lives are lived without thought of their Dad and what he did to them.
They both, however, are in therapy. One is on medication he’ll take for the rest of his life and neither will be rid of the scars left by a covert narcissistic father who discarded them as if they were dirt on his shoes.
The Family Courts and Emotional Abuse of a Child
You can protect your child via the courts if they’re being emotionally abused. You can request a custody evaluation, get a Guardian Ad Litem for them, or a psyche evaluation. There is nothing you can do via the courts to protect a child from abandonment by a father.
Google, “Legally forcing a man to visit his children” and you’ll come up with nothing. I came up with one article that said, “visitation is a privilege, not a legal responsibility?” Since a man who abandons his children isn’t breaking any laws there is no way to hold them legally responsible for the damage done by their abandonment.
That’s why I tell other mothers who are dealing with the damage done by such fathers that it’s up to them to clean up the mess to the best of their ability. It’s up to all us mothers who’ve watched a narcissistic father damage his children to do our best to cushion the damage being done.
We can’t fill the hole left by an absent father. That isn’t within our power. We can let our children know that we are their “ride or die.” We can promote their emotional wellbeing by enlisting friends and relatives to show them love and support.
If you’re lucky you’ve got a brother or father who can step in and take up some of the slack and become surrogate fathers. It still won’t fill that hole left by the father but, there is never too much love and caring given to children who’ve been abandoned.
I was thinking about the Catholic church the other day and how suits can be filed by people who were molested by Priests. My hope is that one day, adults who were abandoned by a parent will have the same right to sue that parent for punitive damages. It won’t make them whole again or undo the damage but, I can think of nothing better than legally punishing a parent who skipped out on their children.
Protect your children, Mamas! You are their lifeline. You are their hope. You are all that stands between them and their narcissistic father.
The post Maddie’s Story: How My Covert Narcissistic Ex Nearly Destroyed Our Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Let’s work on making holidays better for children of separated or divorced parents.
The post 4 Tips to Help Children Enjoy Their Post-Divorce Holidays appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
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