It’s been an interesting week here, but the experience may be helpful to you if you are divorced with kids who see their dad occasionally. As a divorced parent, I thought that we would co-parent together, but that was not meant to be.
Looking back on previous posts, you’ll see how I have tried to stay out of my kids relationship with their dad be without interfering. My kids used to tell me that I defended him (their dad) but my answer was that I’m not defending him, I’m protecting you. And I did protect my kids until they were ready to see reality in their own timing.
I’ve never uttered the term narcissist to my kids in reference to the Ex or his family. It is not my place to speak derogatorily about them. While I support my kids when they share their feelings, unless they find the word narcissist, it will not come from me. I just don’t need that to backfire on me honestly by putting words in their mouths. It’s just not the way I am as an ex-wife, a woman or a mom.
Without boring you with a long story, the bottom line was the kids spoke up to their dad this week and I couldn’t be prouder of the manner in which they chose to tell them how they feel. While it made me sad that there was a tear in the relationship, (because my other line is that your Dad loves and needs you as much as you do him), it was an eye-opener for them. I was proud of the kids that they stood together, bonded as a united front, because one of them was not being treated fairly by their dad. They spoke in truth together and even though it impacted their time with their dad because they chose not to be with him as much, it was a clear-cut message to him. Unfortunately, it was also a clear cut message to them when he had a much delayed response and added some lies in there as well, which they saw right through (unbeknownst to him). It’s funny how narcissists lie and we believe them until the blinders are taken off and then we see how they clearly lie, but they think we are still believing their lies and they can’t even begin to see how preposterous their lies are to begin with! That narcissistic behavior is hard to refute once you’ve seen behind the curtain to the Wizard of Lies.
The kids told me that their dad was hurt, lashed out a bit and then acted nicely, but knowing him, the damage is done. Although all was smoothed over by the end, it will be awhile before the incident is forgotten by any of them. I kept out of the fray. I listened as we (the kids and I) talked about the situation. My advice was minimal except to remind them to be a united front, to speak from the heart without accusations, to listen carefully to the response from their dad and to take the high road. Because that’s they type of people we are.
It was an eye-opener for them, but they want to love their dad and have a good relationship with him which is what I want for them too. However, his bad behavior needed to be addressed and I’m proud of them for calling him on it in a calm, yet strong way.
The outcome could have gone either way to be honest. He could have pitched a fit and cut all ties except that they were a united front and he can’t lose both kids. But I am sure he was thinking of losing the relationship with the one whom he hasn’t been treating fairly. But my guess is that he’s realized that they are very bonded and that their thinking is: what you do to one of us, you do to both of us.
So all is well for now. But my advice is this:
You aren’t in charge of their relationship with their dad (your ex). You are there to support your kids, but not turn them against their dad as you wouldn’t want that treatment from him. Take the high road. Be a good listener. Advise when needed from a fair place and not a cranky ex-wife stance. Your relationship with your ex is your business. Your job is to support your kids and to help them navigate the sometimes muddy waters of relationships. But above all, unless he’s a psychopath, please help the kids through in an unbiased way. More damage has been done to them than you will ever understand by being in the middle of a divorce. Be patient with the kids, don’t let them get hurt unnecessarily, but be there for them when they are hurting. This is their dad – because of your past relationship with him. Be honorable. Be who you are in a kind way. That’s what they need from you. Not a shrill, cranky woman who’s got a vendetta because she’s been hurt. You’re out of the relationship. If he’s a Wizard of Lies, they will see it in their own time. They’re smart. Just be patient.