Would difficult child be better off not staying at my house?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by firehorsewoman, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. difficult child's dad picked him (and easy child) up last night after them having stayed with me for a week while ex was on vacation. We had yet another argument regarding his medication. He then told me that 90% of the behavior that I report he does not see at his house.

    Would it be better for difficult child to not stay here? I cannot recreate the environment of what goes on in a two parent authoritative parenting style home. I am just not like his dad. Also, as I posted before, my son's behavior has always been worse with me. Being a single mom only makes things much worse.

    The ex told the psychiatrist at last appointment "She just cannot handle an eight year old" so I am certain that is how he would spin it...if he consented to the change at all. The thing that got me about his comment was that it was made two days after my son was sent to the principal's office for not listening to his PE coach when she told him repeatedly to stop playing a hitting/choking game with his friend. So I replied, "His coach who deals with hundreds of kids a week could not control his behavior either...it is not just me."

    I genuinely want to do what is best for my child. If the daily meltdowns don't happen at his father's house, if my son falls asleep with no problem at his father's house, etc wouldn't it be better for him to stay there 100% of the time?

    I know that it would be hard on my son in other ways, but our quality of life now is so poor that this cannot be good for any of us.
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi. They say, don't they, that meltdowns are a backwards compliment - in other words, children only allow themselves to have meltdowns with those they are comfortable with and those they trust. I am sure it is a compliment you could do without :)
    My instinctive response is to say "don't give up". You need to keep faith in your view that you are not to blame and that your son may be managing his behaviour at his father's at considerable cost and that the steam comes pouring out of the pressure cooker when he is with you... He may also be expressing some of the conflict and tension inherent in a divorce and his position. I am obviously just making a few guesses in the dark - you know best from your position on the ground.
    Is there anything you feel you could/should be trying with your son to improve the behaviour and your relationship?
  3. family mum

    family mum New Member

    Mmm. I wonder if it is true that your son in a easy child at your ex's house or if that is just posturing on his part to cut you down a bit?

    You know, way back when, when people divorced, they didn't do all this shared custody thing. Instead, usually Mom got the job of raising the kids while Dad got to pick them up once a week and every second weekend, usually to something fun. So Mom was the heavy and Dad was the fun guy.

    I wonder if you tried to drop the parenting some, (leaving it to Dad, so it will still get done) and concentrate on enjoying the kids, if it wouldn't a) improve your quality of life and relationship with your kids, and b) if after a while, would the behaviour your son is displaying might start happening at Dad's house as well?

    Alternately, it might be that there is more structure at Dad's house so and kids like ours do better when they know what is expected. perhaps, it is worth the experiment to find out?

    Welcome to the boards. I'm also new, but I have already taken a huge comfort from knowing that I'm not alone experiencing these things and having the support of the others that we are all doing the best we know how.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    First of all, what was the relationship like between difficult child and husband before the divorce? Was difficult child an angel when daddy was around before the divorce? If no, it is unlikely to have changed unless Dad is really really really super strict.

    Second - what do your instincts say about whether your ex is being honest about this, trying to cut you down, trying to alienate you and difficult child from each other, or trying to do what is best for his son regardless of how he feels for you?

    Third - what is the stepmom's role and how do difficult child and stepmom get along, and what are your instincts about that?

    Think long and hard about this. Sometimes a child does respond best to one parenting style or another, sometimes they don't respond to any. What is a day at Dad's like? How is it different than a day at Mom's? Do Dad and stopmom let him eat a typical American diet or a vegetarian diet or gluten/casein free diet? Does he know what happens when and does that work better for him than having things happen 'whenever'?

    Some of our kids just cannot cope with a low level of structure. They NEED to know that after school they have 15 min to use the toilet and have a snack, an hour for homework/studying, dinner at 6, dishes/chores at 6:40, tv from 7-8, then get ready for bed at 8, reading until 8:30 when it is lights out. Some kids go nuts with that kind of structure

    What expectations are different at dads and at your home? Is he expected to say sir and ma'am at one and hey you at the other? Do you hover more than dad?

    IF dad s being honest and difficult child is better at his house, then in my opinion it would be better to figure out how to improve things at your home so that difficult child could function as well there rather than to just let him live with his dad all the time. He would probably see living with dad all the time as you not wanting him - which couldn't be farther from the truth.

    I just really doubt that difficult child is perfect at his dad's. It isn't logical. Don't give up, see how you can provide whatever he needs at your home. also don't buy what your ex says just bc he said it. I know few exes who are able to keep the blame and personal issues out of the care of their children, even easy child kid. When the child is a difficult child that goes up exponentially.

    Could you talk to stepmil and get an honest answer about how difficult child is over there? I just wonder if he gives stepmil similar problems to the ones you have? Sometimes a stepparent isn't as wrapped up in showing how they are 'better' and they are willing to be more honest -esp if their spouse isn't there.

    Please KNOW this: Unless you did serious neglect and abuse to difficult child, his problems are NOT your fault. He deserves his mom in his life and he deserves a mom who will do what she can to help him be successful. You ARE that mom - always have been.

    This last part I almost didn't type. But I feel I have to.

    IF difficult child is perfect at dad's and falling apart at mom's, it is likely because he is very much afraid to not be perfect at dad's. Is it possible that there is more than just an authoritarian parenting style going on? Some kind of abuse that is keeping difficult child from acting out there but crying otu for help at school and your home? I am NOT accusing anyone of abuse. I am saying that it could be a reason if dad is honest and difficult child is perfect at his house. No problems just are not normal, neither is a choking game for an 8yo. A teen who is online alone, who has friends experimenting with getting high or with sex, yes. Those are kids who would play choking games. An 8yo? It is odd and sent a red flag my way. Esp as dad then insisted he was perfect at dad's house.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What does dad do to discipline that may make him better there, if he actually is? Does he hit him? Scream and swear at him? Does he like his father (not love...like) and stepmother? Are there other kids there and how does he interact with them?

    I think that if ex is telling the 100% truth and he is better there, then maybe they do have something to offer...at least until he gets comfortable there :) If you have him a lot more than ex, maybe that's it. If so, however, and he sees the behavior, he will probably HAVE to agree to do something to help your child.

    I would not change custody. That's too drastic. But if you want a vacation and to see how it goes, I say go for it. Also, I guarantee that you could handle a easy child eight year old. Ex is talking about a very difficult child. It is very hard for one person to do that alone. However, my attitude is...if you want and think it is best, give it a try and see. But think about how your child feels about his father and his stepmother before doing it. And think about the kind of discipline they use. I am leery, like SusieStar. What does authoratative mean to your ex? Hitting your child and scaring him into compliance will not help him or, in the long run, stop him from getting into trouble. I read once that authoratative parenting produces the most troubled teens. Think about it.

    My daugher's boyfriend is from a VERY strict home. It's their way or the highway and in my opinion they are very abusive, even without hitting him. He is never home now that he is 18 and is going away to college next year (he is paying himself). He claims to hate them both and says he is never going back. And he's a easy child!!!! That is NOT a good style of parenting!
  6. family mum

    family mum New Member

    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest a change in legal custody, just an informal changing of the pattern, IF Firehorsewomen thought it would help and improve things.
    Lots of luck to you.
  7. Thanks for all of the replies and supportive comments. My feelings about all of this are nothing new. Just brought to the surface after a confrontation with the ex last night and dealing with his proxy (ex-mother in law) all week when ex was on vacation.

    As I posted in a recent thread, the ex does spank and use physical punishment which I do not. One day six weeks ago when I had trouble getting difficult child to put his clothes back on (completely naked at 2pm for over an hour running around the house) the ex told me to "beat his ass" so I know that he spanks him. He told me that his parents (the grandparents) spank him too. When I am at the end of my rope with him I will shake him or shove him off of me when difficult child is in my physical space, I will also hold or try to contain him when he is slamming himself or an object in a dangerous manner. But I do not spank anymore...did when he was younger though. I brought up the difference in discipline (ex spanks I do not) to the psychiatrist at last appointment with ex right there. All she said was "We recommend that both parents use consistent discipline strategies." So, I asked her, "Does that mean I get a bigger stick?" ...but she just wouldn't comment anymore. She was not prepared for the family dysfunction she was facing...even though we have been going to the same hospital for years. She was the latest of many, many residents and fellows...couldn't she read our chart? I am sure that they have documented our family issues.

    Also, ex uses military type tactics (push-ups, sit-ups), restricts difficult child to room, just is way stricter.
    As far as their relationship goes, difficult child complains about everyone but his father. He tells me all of the time that I am mean and that his stepmother is mean. He tells me all of the time that he never wants to come back to my house. Many times when he is here he asks to go back to his father's house. He blames his sister for 90% of what is wrong with his life and blames me the other 10% of the time. But he never says anything negative about his dad. Never. difficult child told me the other day that if people were just not so irritating than he would behave himself. He told me that he is tired of people irritating him. He also told me that he was tired being him. There is a ton of inner turmoil inside him. Yes, we have tried all sorts of therapy and that would take another post just to discuss that.

    The stepmother does not speak to me and the relationship has been strained since she married the ex three years ago. To give you an idea of how bad it is, my son told me the other day, "______ (stepmom's name) is right, you are a piece of ****." What prompted that was the HE had left his water bottle in the car and I would not get it for him. I could not under the particular circumstances. I offered to share my water but that was not satisfactory to him. He followed up with the comment, " _____ is also right that you are full of bull****, since you do not take care of us."

    As far as the custody goes, we have joint conservatorship but he has primary custody and I pay him child support. I get the kids about 9-10 days out of the month. We tried 50/50 in the beginning but due to my work schedule and not having family or friends in this state to help I gave primary custody to ex. The ex remarried shortly after the divorce and has a VERY involved mother. My ex works for himself and has a flexible schedule, plus both his wife and his mother are available to pick up kids from school, drive to sports, etc. I have no family or friends near and work very long hours. My situation is the complete opposite of his.

    Many of my friends and family over the years have told me the same thing about my house/presence being a safe haven for my son to let all his demons fly. I am more relaxed in my parenting style and his mom. I seem to get the brunt of the bad stuff but no, I do not think it is perfect at his dad's house. I do think that his father wants to believe his own fiction though. He has never wanted to believe that there is anything wrong with our son that strict rules won't fix. But he is okay with an ADHD diagnosis since so many kids and adults are diagnosed with ADHD now.

    I don't want to give up but I am tired of getting emotionally beat up by difficult child and his dad. Tired of ex insinuating that I am the problem. I am tired of all of the drama, tired of hearing "he is not this way at my house" tired of ex telling the doctors that and them believing it. Tired of feeling like my opinion does not count....that his dad, stepmom, and grandparent's opinions matter more than mine. I am also afraid for the future. The intensity of my son's meltdowns scare the **** out of me and he is eight. I am afraid of what he will be like at 13 or 16.

    Lasted edited by : Apr 23, 2012
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What does he mean by "beat his butt?"

    I kind of get the shivers when you explain their "parenting style." Does he not "get" that it is a bad thing for a parent or stepparent to bash the other parent to the child? I guess not.

    in my opinion he sounds like a big jerk and so does stepmother.
  9. There is a reason that I divorced him and I don't regret it but it makes the situation that much more challenging for me. I am not a fan of their parenting style either but it is working isn't it? At least on the outside it is. At least while difficult child is eight yrs old it is. "Beating his ass" won't be an option in a few more years...and I mentioned that to the ex. But his ears are closed when it comes to anything I have to say.

    Part of the reason I often think about difficult child staying with his dad 100% of the time is to take me out of the equation....so they can stop blaming me. But then it would just be...well, difficult child wouldn't be having so many problems if he got to spend time at your house. I feel damned if I do and damned if I don't.

    Maybe deep down inside my ex is very troubled? sad? disappointed that his son is this way and he takes it out on me? That is the way I have felt since the crying started at birth. It was easier for the ex to blame me and still is. I get that. I don't like it but I get it. Now the situation is way worse.

    I want things to be better for both of my kids (poor easy child has lived a life of jumping through hoops to make difficult child happy-partly that is my fault) and for me. I just don't know what to do about it.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You are facing such a difficult decision. Only you can make it, so trust your instincts. This may be a completely different story and forgive me if it is not helpful to you, but I will share my story with you and you can read it and discard it if it doesn't pertain to you at all. I have been raising my 16 year old granddaughter since she was 11. The first 2 years were horrid, she was acting out and taking it out on me. She continually said she didn't want to be with me she wanted to be with her other grandmother in Texas. The other grandmother was forever lobbying to get her to live there with her. I did not want this at all since my opinion was the other grandmother is crazy and not a good role model or an emotionally healthy woman. However, it got so bad and I was so beat up by everyone about it I finally said UNCLE and off she went. I was insane with worry and guilt. My granddaughter and I were estranged for a couple of months, she was very angry at me and I was so guilty because I felt I abandoned her like her dad did with suicide and her mom did with mental illness. I was anguished in every way one can be. Then, after awhile, my granddaughter and I started talking on the phone. Then that increased. We had some really good talks, I addressed why she went and how I felt. The other grandmother was starting to get sick of being a parent to a kid who ended up not wanting to be there. Granddaughter wanted to come home, I let her. When she came home she was a changed kid. I mean changed from the inside out, it still boggles my mind. While away she had what she termed an epiphany, her word. She realized what she had with me, which she only realized when I was out of the picture. She has remained grateful, appreciative, happy to be here and really, a pleasure to be around. To my shock, letting her go ended up being exactly the right thing to do.

    Of course my granddaughter was 13 when she left and your son is 8. I don't know what is right for you, I only share my experience as a way for you to evaluate your situation with more information. It's a tough call, no matter how you look at it and what you do. My heart goes out to you. How can we possibly know which decision will be the best one for our kids in the long run? And, yet we are continually put in that situation. I hope you find your way and find peace in your choice. Hugs to you and many prayers.