Need feedback from parents who went through nasty divorces

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Please read, then I have questions. I greatly appreciate your interest.

    My poor liltle four year old grandson is acting out, crying a lot, melting down, and refusing to do anything asked of him. This was a difficult child with non-stop energy BEFORE the divorce. Now he is a mess. I rarely make suggestions to my grown children, knowing that prefer I listen rather than tell them what to do, but I did suggest thst Son take J. for counseling, but apparently neither he nor ex-daughter in law think they can afford counseling. Son makes a good salary so he is locked out of any lower price breaks, even though, because of the divorce, he really doesn't have much money left over after paying lawyers and his ex and taking care of J. plus keeping up the mortgage. Ex-daughter in law thinks he's loaded and refuses to pay anything. Maybe she can't. I am not privvy to her finances.

    I think Grandson has ADHD at the very least. The kid is never still, never quiet, manipulative and smarter than most kids his age (which doesn't help things). Frankly, J. is a mess right now and I'm really afraid that this is going to set a pattern of negativity and anger...and once school starts next year...whoa. He is already acting out for babysitter.

    For those of you who divorced when the children were young, did your kids act out like this? IF so, what did you do about it. Do you have anything...any wisdom...I can pass along to my son. Yes, I know therapy is very important. If I push too hard, it won't work though. Is there anything else you did that helped your child? This kid is shifted back and forth like a ping pong ball. He spends five straight days with Mom and her new Honeybuns (J. always tells my son he doesn't want to be with the new honeybuns; just Mommy) and then J. spends five straight days with my son. There is no communication between Son and his ex. I have to give my son credit. He tries to talk to her without sounding angry. He has broached her about maybe not bringing J. to see Honeybuns all the time, but all she does is scream at him for talking about that. Then she turns everything around to how Son is doing this and that wrong and it is not helpful. I'm sure Son is not perfect either, but between the two of them, he is calmer, smarter, and more rational MOST OF THE TIME.

    I guess this is partly a vent too because, since son took off to Missouri there is little I can do to help. I am never going to move to Missouri. Chicago was so much closer (sigh). Maybe I can spend a month there in the summer and help out, but basically J. is alone in Missouri with Mom and Dad and no other family from either side. So...all suggestions are welcome. I can't bombard him with them, but I can neatly fit good common sense (which all of you have) into my conversations with him.

    Frankly, son's neediness right now is wearing me out emotionally. There is nothing I can do from this distance except listen. And it breaks my heart to hear about J.

    Thanks for reading this and adding advice, if you did :)
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Most important thing that can happen, in my opinion, is for your son's ex-wife to stop screaming at him and being angry and abusive in front of your grandson. This is the single most damaging thing you can do to a child after a divorce.
    Of course how you yourself get her to stop it, I do not know...
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Ouch. There is no way to get xDIL to stop the koi. WHY do some parents do this I wonder. I can see Onyxx and Jett in this... Ugh, ugh, ugh.

    There IS counseling available for kids. I realize your son may have no additional financial resources, but many churches do have "donation-only" counseling services. I found this out when I was in OK with my ex, we had NO money and I was miserable.

    He could maybe call Children & Family Services and explain his financial situation and ask for help getting counseling for J. It can't hurt, if anything CFS will see it as good parenting that he is asking for help. Honestly I am shocked that it wasn't in the divorce decree...
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    In some places the court has divorce counselling available to kids - on a "no questions asked" basis - they don't care what the income, background, or anything, because it's all about the kids. They run it as a group thing - with kids the same age, on a regular basis, and each kid also gets private counselling. CPS should at least know what is available.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    No court counseling here.

    daughter in law is NOT reaming out my son in front of J. I give her that much. However, J. is not ready for nor interested in J's new love interest. It really bothers him when he has to spend time with him, but nothing anyone can do about that.

    Missouri is not the most resourceful state for counseling in the world.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    For your grandson........

    Dad should be consistent, not just with rules/discipline/praise but in how he has always been with your grandson. He should strive for "normalcy" to give him a sound foundation, something to rely on, somewhere he can take a deep breath and relax. Dad shouldn't be the fun guy, the disney dad........he needs more than anything for this little guy, to be a real dad. Spend as much time with his son as possible, find normal things to do together from preparing a meal to yard work whatever.

    This is what my grandma did for me. When I went home I never knew what to expect, what would be going on, if mom would be sane or off on a tangent, new guys came and went at the speed of light....... But grandma gave me the stability a child needs, the consistency, the time and attention, the quiet and the normal. And that made an enormous difference in my life.........I look at me and then my sibs who did not have that.........and well, yeah........ENORMOUS.

  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I'm sorry MWM,

    I'm also sorry for your grandson because ALL the things that you are seeing now? Is a glimpse of the future. The ONLY thing that is going to really help your grandson is IF his FATHER (with or without his Mother) gets into therapy and takes the kid with him. IF he starts NOW? At age 4.....He may be straightened out by the time he's in High school......seriously. The kid has been through hell. AND it's changed how a 4 year old NOT put under those circumstances would think - and thus even at 4? He has developed patterns and thinking, and logic based on his world.........changing that is HARD, HUGE and takes a LONG time..with the right people and ONLY works if the people arund him (ie MOM and Dad) REALIZE things like "Well you know what? It WAS NOT ALL her, or him.....and I do have issues that are affecting my son, his behavior, his personality...and they can yell in the bedroom all night and think that kid didn't hear it......But that's a load of manure. He's heard. AND based on his fears, his insecurities? He has developed COPING mechanisms ON HIS OWN....that are what you see in his "bad" behavior. At 4 years old - he's not really responsible for the things that went on around him that he couldn't escape --------he just did the best he could, with a 4 year old mind and created a place he could deal with - and the acting out - is the fall out from the rest of it. Getting him to change? DOOABLE......not easy - even at 4.

    Take it or leave it - but I know this is fact.....and I know that ALL the talks in the world aren't going to make a hill of beans to him. It's not that you're not good Grandparents ------You're just NOT a therapist. AND trust me KNOWING WHAT I KNOW NOW???? ABout MY SON???? Holy smokes - I would flippin move if there hadn't been any resources for him.....because even with 15 years of therapy, conseling, group homes, RTCs, psychiatric wards, Department of Juvenile Justice? He's STILL ------himself. New and improved - but without the other things we did to help him? He'd be in the ground with his brothers, or in prison for life I am SURE at 20 yoa. So even with all the interventions? We got a kid that still behaves like our Dude does.....

    Don't wait until he's 7 years old to start this - To me that's three years wasted. And that is HUGE in trying to undo whats been done. Intentional or not.

    And as far as telling your son what's up? Well - I think I'd find someone better than me to find a way to change his mind.......but whatever you have to do? Do it.

    ANd like hound said - a plus.

  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Star? Maybe you got really lucky and had tdocs that could work with your difficult child. Us? in 5 years straight of trying, all we got was duds - and now we have a difficult child that refuses to talk to ANYBODY about ANYTHING - they actually did more damage than good.

    It's a really, REALLY tricky issue.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    All the counseling in the world won't help when one or both parents won't stop bad-mouthing the other in front of the child. Moreover, I don't know that you can ever undo that. JMHO.
  10. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Have you son check with the local churches. A few years ago there was a multi-faith program called "Rainbows for All God's Children" and it was a free support group for children with divorced parents.
  11. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    difficult child 1's rages started when we lost the supervised visitation (age 4). He remembers abuse X did to me when he was 4 months old. X still has a lot of control over difficult child 1 and will hurt him to hurt me. Ect....

    This is what I have done: I got difficult child 1 into therapy. I did the parenting books, the behavior charts, I talked to the teachers. I homeschooled. I never talked bad about X to difficult child 1. I put difficult child 1 on medications. I listened a lot about stuff that would make my blood boil but I was calm on the out side. Like Lisa said, I was very consistent. I am not the fun one. I am the one he can count on though. I have quietly tried to undo X's brainwashing (without talking bad about X).

    Out of all of that what has helped the most has been the consistency.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I misread your original post, MWM. At least your grandson's mother is not being abusive to your son in front of the child... that is something. But children are so receptive and sensitive, of course, and your grandson is of course picking up all the hostility nonetheless.
    Children become scapegoats in these situations. Your grandson seems very difficult and is acting up, but really he is just embodying the emotional chaos of the situation, giving it expression. The "problem" is the whole set up, the whole family, not the child in isolation. For myself, I would advocate family therapy not just therapy for the child.
    It is a shame you are not closer. Grandparents could be useful in such a situation in terms of giving some emotional stability and a focus outside the immediate family. But things are as they are and as you say you cannot be closer. Don't worry about your son needing you for a time... it's normal, I think! Who else is he to turn to right now?
    I don't know what you can do, if anything, from the outside and from a distance. It is upsetting to watch such a thing unfolding and feel powerless to help. But I think you can be there for your son and that that helps your grandson indirectly.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well....we didnt exactly have a divorce to deal with with but it was close to the same thing. We made sure Keyana had a ton of love coming from our end. If nothing else, she knew where there was one place on the face of the earth where she was safe. While we did tend to be a bit of Disney grandparents she was crazy about our little family unit even without all the show. I cant tell you how many times we got the crying about not wanting to go back to her mom's house over the years. We got it really bad when she moved to MO. She simply didnt want to go. We never bad mouthed her mom but I know without a doubt her mom didnt return the favor. One thing we did get lucky in is that Jeremiah seems to be a pretty decent step-father. He and Cory had it out in the very beginning but once they came to an agreement about his child things have worked out pretty well. Well they did until recently. We shall see how things go when she comes home and Cory goes to get his visitation settled in the court.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi all and thanks.

    The parents do not fight in front of J. or talk badly about one another to him. But the situation of the divorce shocked J. and my son. My son thought his marriage was fine. daughter in law was not complaining and acted like all was normal. I had been there only two weeks before she left and she acted just like she always does. In reality, she had a boyfriend on the side and left the house (happily) without my son or J. having any warning so J. had no time to even process it. He is confused and has no idea what happened. Son is very consistent in his home, but daughter in law is very inconsistent in hers, especially with her new boyfriend and dragging J. all over the place, like he is a mini adult. He rarely gets to sleep at a decent hour and a bunch of new people are always being thrown at him. He is not the kind of kid who does well with a lot of changes, but he is being forced to. However, it seems that his angst is that he wants Mom and Dad to live together again.

    J. was always a very difficult child. Now he is controlling his world and expressing his displeasure in any way he knows how...and he is showing both parents how upset he is. Very sadly (I don't agree with Son on this) neither parent will even consider a faith-based therapeutic session. daughter in law is a diehard atheist and Son is agnostic, not interested in anything to do with a church. That severely limits the therapy options. And there is nothing I can say to Son to change this.

    If they don't do something fast, I see an extremely difficult and disturbed child in the future. Our genetics aren't the best, nor are DILs. We have mood disorders, anxiety out the wazoo, personality disorders and learning disabilities. On his mother's side there is depression and alcoholism. daughter in law denies anything is wrong in her family and is kind of an ti-therapy. She wanted to send J. to a secular Divorce Group for Kids, but it never happened and I personally don't think it would have been nearly enough.

    Neither Son nor daughter in law can leave Missouri and keep the same custody arrangment. Son doesn't want to make J. spend the majority of the time with daughter in law and her new boyfriend. He seems worse with her (or so the babysitter told him). When Son was preparing to move to MO, he did it because he g Occupational Therapist (OT) a well paying job at a time when his job was possibly going to be fazed out. But that meant leaving the Chicago area. He had been five minutes from his father (my ex) and three hours from me. Now he is eight hours away by car (and we have two ten year old cars) and a lot of money even by Greyhound. I can't just hop to Missouri, like I could Chicago. We don't have the money for me to go there every time I wish I could. Husband and I are not going to move there. We have two kids living in Wisconsin who are likely here for good. We have one kid in Chicago who has a good job and isn't moving. We like where we live and have trouble with Missouri's incredible humidity and heat. I wish I could take J. up here with us for summers and holidays, but daughter in law would never allow that.

    It hurts my grandma heart not to be able to be there to help stabilize J's life. The fact is, we can't be there. I can jump ten years ahead and see my grandson in the wrong crowd, on drugs, or suffering from some of the many mental illness ailments my son has. He is already a very anxious child. But he was tons better when Dad and Mom were together.

    daughter in law was clueless. She would talk about divorce on and off to Son (but not when she was actually about to leave). When Son would bring up J., she would shrug and say, "Oh, I was so happy when my parents got divorced! He'll be happy about it too!" How clueless is that? She claims she was happy when her parents divorced. She was also four at the's hard to believe it. And J. is most certainly not happy.
  15. It hurts to read the story about your grandson as I know firsthand what you are talking about.

    I know that the issues my ex and I have contributed greatly to difficult child's problems. The only small consolation I have is thinking that a staying in a marriage that wasn't working would not have been much better. But then I think well maybe it would have been a little better for difficult child? Who knows?

    difficult children are so difficult for intact families. Those of us with messy fractured situations have it even harder.

    Like InsaneCdn, we have not had really great experiences with counseling despite trying this several times. That being said, I know that good counseling would help us all. Problem is that GOOD and appropriate counseling is so hard to find never mind afford. But, definitely something your son should seek. Also, staying on top of any other issues your grandson is having with school, babysitters, etc is essential and will probably seem never-ending.
    Negotiating all of the many parenting issues that arise with an ex you don't communicate well with is like navigating a land mind. Very difficult.

    Your son is fortunate to have you on his side. Being the child of a difficult child (as well as the mother of one now) I am not so lucky. The more support your son has the better even if it is long-distance.