Posted by: Annie | 2007/05/09

Emotional damage to kids?


My kids are spending the holiday with my ex-husband. As I understand from them, he is staying with his latest girlfriend (he's been divorced 2 times). It was a shock for the children, because they were under the impression they were going to spend the holiday at their grandmother's house - where he lived for the past two years. They only found out the moment they arrived at the strange house at around 24h00 at night!

According to them, the new lady and their dad has house rules. First of all, they are not allowed to negotiate ANYTHING. If either of the adults says NO, they are not allowed to open their mouth. Usually I negotiate with them. I say no, and give them a reason. For instance, if they want to watch a movie and their home work is not done, I say NO, but then they ask me if they can still come back and watch the movie when their home work is done. Then I say yes. Then both parties are happy. I don't see or experience this as BACK CHAT. Whenever they try to reason with the adults, they are sent to their rooms to sit there for a certain amount of time to think about their rudeness to try to back chat an adult.

Secondly, they are forced to sit at the table to finish ALL their food. And the girlfriend decides how much they must eat. At my house, they decide how hungry they are and how much they must put on their plate. Usually they eat everything without difficulty. I never ever make them sit to force feed. Yesterday my little girl (7) phoned me and told me she thinks she is going to get a hiding, because she was forced to eat greenbeens. Then she vomit and when she came back to the table, she was served with another spoon full and told she SHALL eat and FINISH it. She couldn't get it into her body. So, when she was finally alone, she silently went and threw it in the carbage bin and told her dad that she ate it. I told her that I will keep my fingers crossed that nobody will find the greenbeens, but that she must remember that it is her dad's house and his rules. If she can't eat something, she must pinch her nose closed and just chew and swallow without thinking about it.

After a while she phoned again. Half histerical. Heartbroken - she wants me this instance. He found the greenbeens and gave her a hiding, but she doesn't cry because it is sore anymore. She cries because he told her she was a lier and a criminal. Now she is a lier. I can't describe to you how helpless I felt and furious beyond anything imaginable.

My little girls soul were ripped apart by telling her she is a lier and criminal. WHAT was the aim of forcing her to eat the greenbeens? Because it seems healthy to eat all your food? How about the damage stress does to your body when you are under pressure to eat something that is so disgusting to you that you vomit from it? According to me all he achieved was to TEACH her to silently get rid of it and LIE about what happened and then she got a hiding for learning it.

His main motto is: "Children should be SEEN, but NOT HEARD. Children shouldn't be a burden to you." And this is the way he treats them. As if they are empty shells with NO will of their own.

This is big time emotional damage, or am I being paranoid? Where is their rights and WHAT can I do about this?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Its not uncommon for divorced or separated parents to run according to different rules, and you are right to recognize that within limits, this is to be expected and accepted. But your concern here seems to be that your ex is allowing his new gf to change his rules to strict rules that border on the abusive. Discuss this with the court which decided on custody / visitation issues or your local family advicate and see whether in the light of these NEW circumstances and the children's unhappiness, the rules could be changed --- the court is supposed to attend purely to the children's best interests and not to the wishes of their father's new gf

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Shae | 2007/05/10

Annie, you and your husband are the adults here and this shoule be dealt with by the adults at an adult level. Do not let the kids be responsible for adult issues (you called your son to hug your daughter). While this is fine, it would be best to not burden kids with things they do not have the maturity to understand or work through internally. They are far too young to have the life skills or coping skills to deal with this.

Sort this out with the other adults man2man so to speak and be as ruthless in protecting your kids as a lionness would be protecting her cubs.

Reply to Shae
Posted by: Annie | 2007/05/09


That is really not the case. Three years ago my son (now 11) had 2 fits when they were visiting their father. His whole left side was paralised for about 10min in both fits. This never happened while with me. His father asked me to took him to a specialist to find out what was wrong. For 2 weeks the docters had done tests. MRI scans, sonars, etc. In the end the Nero surgeon suggested to take him to a psychiatrist, because a lot of patients who are under huge amounts of pressure and stress gets similar fits.

The psychiatrist spent hours alone with him. In the end it all came out that my son was under huge pressure and stress put on him by his father because he felt the boy wasn't MANLY enough and he even got several hidings for being a sissy. He had to take care of his little sister (then 4). He was only a boy of 8 and had to come his sisters long hair, make it pony tails (which he NEVER had done one day in his life) and also see that she was clean and brushed her teeth. When she was a mess, he got a hiding for not looking after her.

And you know what? My son didn't said ONE word about it. It came to me through a rapport from the psychyatrist!!

I left their father because of mainly emotional and sometimes physical abuse.

Whenever I speak to my kids, I can immediately HEAR when they are down or when they are excited. Then I ASK what is the matter if it seems they are unhappy. Any mother would do this surely!! When it is something small, I tell them that it is their dad's home and I realy can't do anything about it.

They NEVER phoned me to complain! In two weeks, this was the FIRST time she phoned and shared her FEAR with me. WHY did she phone do you think??? She phoned because she was SCARED of the hiding she knew she was going to get! Is this a complain? She didn't phone to COMPLAIN. She phoned to tell me she is AFRAID of the hiding that might come.

Should I not BELIEVE my child then? I KNOW their dad's house rules - I KNOW it is one of the rules that the children should STAY PUT untill all on the plate is clear. When we were married, we had lots of fights on the matter.

Now you suggest I should not believe my child?

Sorry, but in this case - forcing a child to eat until they throw up - according to me is a serious matter that I am NOT willing to write off. My 11 year old son wasn't even near her when she phoned me. I immediately phoned him to go to her and just give her a hug. It was the best I could do at the moment - concidering that I am 1200km away! WHAT mother would just leave her child to feel scared? I presume you are one of those? Just turn your back on your child's reached out hand?

My son told me that she threw up because she couldn't eat the food and that she was called back to eat again!

Would you have believed your children? Or would you just have turned a deaf ear and let them DEAL with this on their own?

Reply to Annie
Posted by: O.K | 2007/05/09

From what i pick up from your posting there are few issues that needed to be sorted out here.
Your daughter calls to say 1,2,3 and you believe everything.not to say she is telling a lie or something.but as a mother you need to discuss such things with your ex.
she seems to report every bad incident happening to that house and you on the other recording whatever you are told.
what i see is "Emotional damage to your mind not the children"
in future they will see their father as a bad person.
you need to do something about the allegations,you have your own house rules they do as well.
if she was under feeding them they were going to complain as well.just imagine having to throw food everyday.
You know your children well what they eat and not,so as a mother you need to tell whoever they are visiting that they are allergic or hate these and that.
another thing you mentioned was that they didn't know they were going to their father's place but grandmother's.
actually what your children hates is the place they are in not the food at all.
or even the gilrfriend who seems to be searching the dustbins to check what your children threw in.

Reply to O.K
Posted by: Echelle | 2007/05/09

Go get your kids!

Reply to Echelle
Posted by: Ness | 2007/05/09

Well as much as I made a joke, I 'm in pretty much the same boat with my little one. His girlfriend just had his baby and is now imposing all these rules.

Honesty, I nipped it in the butt but say (very sweetly) " I think Em is having a hard time coping with all these changes, I think I'm going to send her to see someone" Which i did. And he slapped their wrist and I managed to not get into a slinging match with my ex.

Reply to Ness
Posted by: Shae | 2007/05/09

That poor litle girl. Force feeding is bad enough but then to attack her character as well! Definitely not ok.

I cant offer you much advice but i really feel for these kids. Could you arrange a visit with them (just the adults) and say to them if they ever harm your kids, in any way, you're gonna have this matter sorted out the legal way. Surely that would be the better alternative to having these kids growing up being victimised and abused?

Reply to Shae
Posted by: Ness | 2007/05/09

Phone him today and say "sorry I forgot to tell you but little one is allergic to green beans, I hope you did not force her to have any" He can feel like crap for a while

Reply to Ness

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