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Author Topic: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle  (Read 8795 times)

teacher98

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9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« on: Oct 15, 2009, 02:02:11 PM »
DH and I are having a big issue with his DS (my SS) age 9.   It started few years back when we did EOWeek in the summers.  SS kept asking for an equal schedule year round. We didn’t live close enough for that to happen.  Last year, we moved 10 minutes away from BM’s house and school.  Verbal agreement to go EOW full year.  When school started, BM did not follow through and since that point she has even lessened the time SS comes home to our house. DH has asked 2 times, in writing, to allow equal parenting time. BM always has a new reason to deny this. But the one that is most frequent  that SS tells her that he just wants EOWeekend and that’s it, however, he always tells us he wants it equal.  She is letting this be his decision and DH has stopped speaking to BM about, but always listens to his son when he wants to talk about it. He has been having crying fits at both houses regarding the issue, with totally opposite reasons.  To us it is he is trying to get Mom to understand that he wants it equal, what should he say or do. When he talks to Mom he says that we are always talking to him about it and trying to make him do this.  But he is the one that brings it up!!!  The only time I brought it up is when I asked him how it went the past week speaking to Mom.  In retrospect, I shouldn’t have said anything, but what’s done is done now.  Two weeks ago he asked DH to help him write BM a letter so he could give it to her.  He gave it to her saying, “here, I was supposed to give this to you.”  He has been crying that he doesn’t want either of us to pick him up for practices AND he even said he doesn’t want to come here this weekend.  She is NOT making him.  He says he doesn’t want to be with me because he will have to talk about “it” but he is the one who spills his guts when he is with us.  We have no idea what is going on.  We feel like we are totally getting played by a 9 year old, but don’t understand why he keeps telling us one thing and her the total opposite.  I am devastated and DH does not want to lose his son.  He has said that I am not allowed to talk about anything at all with SS other than the current days events to try to get to the bottom of this.  So now we will go 3 weeks in a row without seeing SS.  BM doesn't even think it is healthy for SS to come here AT ALL and is considering going back to original court order.
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BTW…current court order is from when SS was an infant.  States EOSunday 2 hours supervised. (teenage parents-DH was supposed to learn parenting skills) Parents can extend time when agreed upon. Obviously, they have adjusted the schedule since then.  We were saving to go to court, however, DH lost his job, so that is not an option until he gets a new one.  He is a professional with a Master’s degree, so hopefully he finds one soon.
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We know BM is just trying to protect her son, however, we have just been trying to listen to his feelings and help him get the confidence to be (what we thought was ) truthful to BM.  But what is the truth? Why is he using me as the reason he doesn’t  want to come here now to Mom when he comes to me with his feelings when he is here? Is this common?  What should we do?


ocean

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #1 on: Oct 15, 2009, 02:10:44 PM »
You are putting the child in the middle to chose and no child should do that. He is telling each parent when they were with them what they WANT to hear. I would tell BM that you will not bring it up for 6 months and see how he does...truce. If she will not allow you to see him, then file for modification of visitation to get things on paper. Can you all sit down with him and say he is not going to be put in the middle and the adults will deal with it from now on?

teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #2 on: Oct 15, 2009, 02:21:52 PM »
Ocean you are right. he definitely is in the middle, but that is how BM has wanted it. DH, SS and BM all sat down at the beginning of last year and BM decided that his time at each house will be up to him. However, when he stated something in favor of DH, she would not agree to it OR tell him that isn't what he really wants.  we think he had to prove to her he really wanted it, but she convinced him he didn't.  On top of that, DH has asked several times for the 3 of them to sit down, but BM says no she will not put SS through that. So now it is just her conversations with him relayed to DH and vice versa.  She only believes the ones he has with her and now SS is totally against us.  I have tears in my eyes just typing this.  I am sure the only answer is to just take the whole thing to court, but this is an awful state of mind for SS to be in while we try to prove to a judge that he "used" to really want equal time and that is supposedly his best interest.  I almost agree with BM on this.  It isn't healthy for him to come here if he is so upset about it, but why is he?  And she should be encouraging a positive relationship with DH but we can't change her.  We will just totally ignore the subject in hopes that he someday changes his mind again. or just keep it status quo and DH can have his son 20% of his life living 10 minutes away.

Kitty C.

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #3 on: Oct 15, 2009, 03:22:55 PM »
It seems the child have been through this for quite a while and appears totally confused.  Maybe a counselor or therapist would help to sort things out.  I would recommend having the boy talk to someone initially by himself, then add each parent individually and then all three together.  Basically getting an objective 3rd party to intervene and get to the bottom of the situation. 
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #4 on: Oct 15, 2009, 06:19:35 PM »
kitty, you are right. this is about the 3rd time BM has blown up at DH about the time issue and SS's opinions/feelings about it.  we will have to look into insurance and see if a therapist is covered. if not, it may be worth it to pursue counseling out of pocket.  my SS is a great boy and i believe him when he is at our house when he shares his feelings. but i am sure that BM believes him just the same and I am sure he feels like he is being truthful at both homes. there is, however, a small part of me that thinks he is playing us for fools. he and BM have conversations about things that are against us and it is odd and getting worse.  thanks for all of your support on this page.  it's nice to know i can type it out and get feedback from people who understand.  it relieves our family from the daily burden of hearing "the latest drama" in the situation. 


teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #5 on: Oct 15, 2009, 07:05:20 PM »
I forgot to add one detail.  Not sure if this changes opinions..after SS gave BM his letter about truly wanting EOWeek,  she gave in and said yes. Then, according to her, he freaked out and started crying saying no,no.  And that he didn't even want to come here this weekend.  Now, he spent the last few months stating his case to us about EOWeek. Finally gets it and cries that he doesn't want to go.  What gives?

snowrose

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #6 on: Oct 15, 2009, 08:13:45 PM »
*waving hand*  I've been through this exact same thing over the last year with SD9.  The child is saying things to please both sides, and the kindest thing you can do is take it out of his lap.  Tell him that you don't need to talk to him about this question anymore, that this is a decision that has to be made by the adults.

If you firmly believe that it is you that the child is being truthful with, then if it were me (and it was 2 years ago), I would put in to the courts for a modification of custody.  Watch carefully what happens if you do this, though.  If it's true and BM said yes at first and then started getting all emotional saying 'no, no' then you may find that she starts using a form of PAS on the child.  Most likely she'd try something like telling him how much she needs him there with her.  The proper response to that is that adults should not and cannot depend on children to make them happy.  Adults are in charge of their own happiness.

BTW, for the record we were able to get our custody changed.  It'd been recommended that we have 50/50, but then BM overloaded she and her BF had a major episode while still being reviewed by the GAL - and then we got full custody.

teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #7 on: Oct 16, 2009, 02:30:27 PM »
snowrose-thanks for your response.  I started thinking about PAS however the research says the child is hateful toward the other parent.  he has never been hateful. but when BM calls him you can hear him say 5-10 times (no exaggeration) "i miss you too."  She used to always tell him all of the things that her side of the family was doing while he was gone and he would get upset to miss it.  She would buy him things while he was with us and then call and tell him about it.  But as of recently, I don't know if these types of things are happening.  I just know that he has said that BM says to him that she doesn't think he really wants EOW and only says that to make Dad happy.  Who cares if he wants it or not at this point?  We live 10 minutes away. Our home is stable. We are not criminals. We are involved in his new school and sports.  Parents get along or just parallel parent when it comes to school or sports. AND he used to have EOW for the past 3 summers. The time factor is the biggest issue and she took about 30% of the summer away this year compared to the last 3 summers.  Kids are super adaptable and he will get used to EOW like he did in the summer. SS knows that she is in control and I think he is afraid to disappoint her.  We encourage him to love and express his feelings toward that side of his family. we make cards, bake stuff for them, ask about his week, I taught him things to teach his baby sister.  He says that BM just asks if he had fun with us and then moves on.  BM has said to DH that he won't open up to her about his time with us.  So...again....I guess we are just back to we have to totally avoid that topic and get ready for the courts.
 
Today at a writing conference (I'm a teacher)  I thought about DH and I keeping a family journal for him when he isn't home with us.  We could write about our week and the things we thought about him while he was away.  We could be careful not to make it so he feels guilty, but just to remind him again of how loved he is with us.  Hopefully now that he is a 4th grader (and he loves to write) he might just add his own pages during the time he is with us.  I going to give it a try. 

snowrose

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #8 on: Oct 16, 2009, 03:08:21 PM »

snowrose-thanks for your response.  I started thinking about PAS however the research says the child is hateful toward the other parent.  he has never been hateful. but when BM calls him you can hear him say 5-10 times (no exaggeration) "i miss you too."  She used to always tell him all of the things that her side of the family was doing while he was gone and he would get upset to miss it.  She would buy him things while he was with us and then call and tell him about it.


Make no mistake, this is a form of PAS.  You might check ou the book Divorce Poison by Warshak for a discussion on this kind of PAS and how to combat it.

Quote
Today at a writing conference (I'm a teacher)  I thought about DH and I keeping a family journal for him when he isn't home with us.  We could write about our week and the things we thought about him while he was away.  We could be careful not to make it so he feels guilty, but just to remind him again of how loved he is with us.  Hopefully now that he is a 4th grader (and he loves to write) he might just add his own pages during the time he is with us.  I going to give it a try.   


Have you ever considered doing a book about what SS is doing with you and DH when he's with you, instead?  My DH did a book like this for SD9 with all the things she did with us this summer, and she absolutely loves it!  Kids lose track of things so easily, so a memory book of what you all do together would help remember how you all care for each other.

teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #9 on: Oct 16, 2009, 04:29:35 PM »
Snowrose-SS kept a journal for the past 2 summers that he took back and forth.  he got really sick of writing in it.  i suppose we could try it again with him dictating it to me or DH that way it is his ideas but us doing the "boring" part.

back to the PAS issue...could these also be examples of PAS?

1. telling SS to choose what district he wants to go to school in (dad's or mom's)
2. switching the Halloween costume that he made while with us because it was "her" halloween
3.  telling him to choose what city he wanted to play baseball in. he chose ours and then she told him he had to play in hers
4.  getting angry that we had a birthday party for him. told him it was dumb that he had to invite all of the boys in his class because he didn't like 1 boy.  got upset about party in front of him to her mother on the phone.
5. told him that dad emailing the teacher about a specific topic was dumb (she says things are dumb often)
6.  telling SS no each time he asks to stay an additional night and then questioning him whether it was his idea or DH and mine
 
 
I started thinking that maybe we were committing PAS as well.  We are very careful to always say that both parents' rules are good and he should follow them no matter what, but ours are so different.  We eat very healthy. He has chores here. DH reviews homework with him and makes sure he has no missing assignments. The list goes on.  Because it is so different to home at mom's, we find ourselves explaining to him so he understands why it is different.  Could this be making him feel like we think mom's rules and lifestyle are wrong?  We have tried hard NOT to make him feel that way by saying that is how WE do it and not everyone does it. I just don't know anymore.


I am so fed up with this and my DH is very torn up inside.  I will find that book. Thanks so much for your support.

MomofTwo

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #10 on: Oct 16, 2009, 04:38:05 PM »
Regarding PAS...you said "current court order is from when SS was an infant.  States EOSunday 2 hours supervised" .... you do realize if Mom was engaging in PAS, she could be sticking to the court ordered time which is extremely limited if she was trying to keep the child from Dad.

teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #11 on: Oct 16, 2009, 06:00:25 PM »
Momoftwo-  I have thought about that.  For the first 2 years of SS life, she only let DH "visit" at her house and he was more of an observer.  She refused to allow him alone with their son because she didn't think he could do anything the way she did it.  When SS was 2, she met someone (whom she is now married to) and conveniently never had time to allow DH to see their son.  THey began fighting a lot about DH taking son on his own to his family's house (not even overnight mind you) and she eventually would not answer the phone or return his calls. So my DH gave up. He was 20 with little family support and bad advice about court. Also, not enough income for a lawyer. When SS was 4 she called and said that she couldn't lie to their son anymore and eventually allowed parenting time. Every weekend for one overnight, then it switched to EOWeekend.  SS obviously had an adjustment period, but when he was finally comfortable and starting to ask for more time with his dad is when she seemed to start interfering.  She was happy when SS would be sad to leave her, but when he started to enjoy his dad and look forward to dad, she seemed to start fighting about every little thing.  She agreed to EOWeek in summer because of our distance and SS wishes. He asked for EOWeek year round and she told him no because dad lives too far away. She told DH if we moved closer he could have more time during the school year. Well we moved 10 minutes away from her. That is when all of hte problems kicked up a notch.  She DID start taking time away.  It started with DH couldn't pick SS up from school. She would drop off at 7 or 8 on Friday because "she hadn't seen him much this week and they miss each other" and then switching weekends and then taking summer visits from 7 to 5 nights.  After this last incident, she kept SS this weekend and is "considering" whether she goes back to the original court order.  So maybe it isn't PAS, I was just going on snowrose's suggestion, but if it isn't PAS, it sure is something that is totally confusing to all of us and in my opinion, plain wrong. That aside, legally she can take it to EOSunday. My DH would be devastated. The county the case is in hasn't been very father friendly, so we will probably just get the typical EOWeekend/holidays/4 summer weeks. We got more than this when we lived 40 minutes away. Now we live close enough for an equal parenting situation and we get less. Go figure.

ocean

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #12 on: Oct 16, 2009, 06:50:05 PM »
The mother wants the control and doesnt like that son likes time with his father. You need to go to court and at least get back what you had. In the meantime, tell her you will go by the order. If she doesnt allow that, then get a report you can use in court.
You cant live the next few years waiting to hear if she allows him to come. Get it on papers so she cant do it anymore. Ask for the every other week as mother gave verbal that if you moved closer she would continue the every other week from the summer. You may want to ask for a GAL so that person talks to son by himself and sees what he would like too.

mdegol

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #13 on: Oct 16, 2009, 07:22:57 PM »
I agree with the posts but I think a lot of what the mom is doing is due to immaturity. She might simply not realize the impact she is having on the child. Sounds like she wants what is best for her child. I mean, equal time would likely be intimidating to a mom who has had physical custody a vast majority of the time for so many years. I would just go for EOW, but in a CO, which will be a big improvement in your case. Sounds like you were able to work things out with her at some level. Surely she will agree that the parenting plan is way outdated. See what she will agree to, it will save a lot of money on court. Maybe you will need to do some kind of a step up parenting plan for the beginning. Maybe EOW starting one overnight, two overnights, three overnights for a set period of time (she'll get nervous at that one). Eventually adding a mid-week visit. Will help child and will help Mom adjust too. If it is friendly enough, maybe you can even file yourself. Then be consistent with it (EOW or whatever). When child is a little older, and since you live so nearby, things will prob work out that he will spend more time with you and you can work up to equal time slowly. Even if it never works out to equal time, having a predictable visitation schedule will be good for him (takes him out of the middle having to "decide"). It is always easier to ask for "more time". I would absolutely NOT discuss it with him anymore, as was suggested, but what is done is done. I do not believe he is playing you. Yes, mom is having control issues, but she has been in "control" for a long time. Better to ease her out of that mindset than try to hammer her out of it through court, if you ask me. Generally, courtrooms make fair weather friends into ardent enemies. There is a cost to court beyond money. This is, of course, assuming that she is a reasonable human being.

ocean

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #14 on: Oct 16, 2009, 08:24:15 PM »
She may be worried about losing child support...?

Kitty C.

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #15 on: Oct 17, 2009, 09:55:24 AM »
The BM has a very LARGE problem here.............she has set a precedent by allowing the EOWeek and all the time above and beyond the original CO.  Teacher, I am sure that over the years you have documentation, pictures, whatever (that journal that your SS wrote would be a very good example) that proves this.  So she can stick to her guns and go back to the original wording of the CO if she wants, but if this ends up in court and you show the proof of what she has been allowing for so long, it shoots holes in her story big enough to drive a semi through.
 
I also think that when she told your DH he could have more time if he moved closer, she didn't believe he would actually do is and had no intention of following through in the first place.  Which is why she has limited the time even further.  So if she is adamant about going back to the wording of the original order, your only recourse would probably be court.
 
Another perspective and JMHO......
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

CuriousMom

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #16 on: Oct 17, 2009, 10:15:58 AM »
I think Kitty hit the nail on the head.  You called her bluff, she thought it would never happen, and now she doesn't want to stand behind what she agreed to before.  And she has allowed more time with dad, no reason to go backwards with his parenting time.

MrCustodyCoach

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle
« Reply #17 on: Oct 20, 2009, 05:45:02 PM »
Someone has to step up and be the grown up and do what's right.  That means, you don't leave it up to the child.  You don't leave it up to the BM.

If what is right in your mind for the child is a 50-50 custodial arrangement, file for a modification and prepare to make a case.

You're spending entirely too much time giving over the control of the situation to others when you have the control to put the wheels in motion to make it right.  You're making a mistake by putting the child in the middle and in a position to manipulate one side against the other.  The mixed messages DH and BM are giving are confusing him and, as any child is want to do, he will tell each what he believes they want to hear - FOR HIS OWN PROTECTION.

Stop giving BM all the power on this issue.  You moved as close as you did for a reason, now follow through.
Mr. Custody Coach - Win Child Custody "Better Prepared, Better Outcome"

*The opinions in this post are solely my own and do not represent the only way to address any particular issue.

teacher98

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Re: 9 year old playing us like a fiddle-Update
« Reply #18 on: Nov 01, 2009, 10:13:36 AM »
Thanks everyone.  Well here's a little follow up.  Our scheduled weekend came and went without SSDH called on the days he usually calls. Each call was sent to voicemail and not returned.  DH attended sports event to watch child on BM's weekend (which he always does)  SS walked off field directly to car without looking for DH.  He usually always looks for him and comes to say hi.  DH spent next week calling on his days without answer or return call....until Thursday.  This was our weekend and our Halloween with SS.  BM didn't answer originally, but returned the call herself (usually SS does) asked if DH called and then he asked to speak to SS.  They chatted and laughed like normal, however, DH felt his son was overly chatty and nervous.  Almost like he knew he should have been calling DH and shouldn't have said a lot of the things he said to BM.  DH spoke to BM about the weekend and she acted like nothing even happened.  Totally normal.  After she spent an hour on the phone 3 weeks earlier yelling at him and telling him that SS being here was so unhealthy and that he may only be coming to stay for one night from now on or Sunday only.  Without reading her mind, we kind of feel it is because 1. she had another baby that week and is too preoccupied to take SS trick or treating. 2.  big sports function today (outside) that she doesn't want to deal with. So now it is convenient for SS to be with us this weekend.
 
We had a long family meeting with SS Friday night before dinner.  We told him that we would no longer be speaking to him about his schedule and I personally apologized to him.  DH made it sternly clear that honesty is #1 in our family and that he has to give the same info to both parents even if it hurts dad.  SS said that he isn't lying-when he is with us he wants it to be equal and thinks that is a good idea then when he goes to mom he wants to be with her and thinks EOWeekend is fine. We understand this. We both did it growing up.  He also said he doesn't know who to pick.  We tried to explain that he doesn't have to choose and we know he feels this way because BM makes it like that giving him so many choices and then changing it when he doesn't "choose" her.  We know we definitely need to get to court and as soon as DH finds another job we will start the process. 
 
Until then we will just not engage in any conversations with SS about his schedule when he initiates them.  We will be our normal family EOWeekend.  Any other tips or advice?  We have documented everything for 5 years.  Should DH request a schedule modification in writing to BM after a few good months go by without meltdowns from SS?  Or should we just leave it alone and begin saving for court?
 
BTW  we have been having a great weekend with SS.  Halloween was a blast and we are looking foward to a fun day of sports! not looking forward to taking him to BM tonight. 

 

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