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Question
Posted by: s | 2007/08/15

Single Mom.

My sister is a single mom to 3 girls aged 10, 8 and 6. She left her husband 4 years ago as he was physically and mentally abusing her. He is still extremely abusive to her on the phone and it is impossible to try and talk to him without him screaming and swearing at her.

She has got custody of the girls but allows the father to see them whenever he wants to. He only ever takes them when it suites him and the girls could go for 3-4 months without seeing him or even hearing from him.

When he does take them they always have a good time and he does a lot with them. However, when they return from a weekend away with him they always come back telling my sister what a bad mother she is and that she never does anything with them. He constantly bad mouths her to the kids and always tells them that he still loves their Mom. She does not do the same at all. The girls always blame her for not seeing their father even though she explains to them that she has called or smsed him to ask him if they can go there for a weekend (which he rarely replies to the calls or smses).

She is always doing something with the girls - a lot more than their father does with them infact, but yet they don't seem to see this.

How do we get them to see that their father is not the only one that does things with them? How do I get her girls to stop breaking her heart each time they come back from their father? How do we get them to see that their Mom is not as bad as their father makes her out to be?

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Our expert says:
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Sounds like she has an unofficial, informal, arrangement with her ex about access to the kids, and by being vague, this makes it easier for him to harrass her if he wants to. It would be better, I suspect, if a court decided on specific times of access, as then everyone including the girls, would know when daddy was supposed to be hosting them and when not, and it would be very clear to them when he doesn't bother to do so, and prevent them from blaming their mom when he doesn't pitch up. The court might also warn the father not to bad-mouth the mother ; and maybe a couple of sessions with a counsellor would help to explain the situation to the kids through a neutral person

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Our users say:
Posted by: hope | 2007/08/19

I agree with CS. Also if he continues harassing her, she should consider a restraining order, or order of protection. You, being the aunt, might talk highly of their mother and point out all the things she does for them. It's easy to be super dad once in a great while, but I'm sure ther is no way he could handle the load she bears from day to day. Express to the children how difficult it must be for their mother, and that she loves them, and that she does what she can. I always felt in competition with my kids dad. Everytime I would plan something with them, he would have to up me, and do something so much bigger than what I did. he had the money to do so, and I did not. But I did what I could. And the children later in life will grow to realize who was there when they needed them. I never put my ex down, my children discovered his ways on their own, and got to where they could care less if they spent time with him or not. And bless their hearts, would say things like Mommy, I love you more than I do my daddy. It wasn't always the case. At first, they blamed me, although, he was abusive to me, would tell them that he loved me and wanted to be at home and be a family, but mommy wouldn't let him. I explained to my kids, that wasn't going to happen. It's hard to put things into terms for them to understand. And I never wanted to tell them bad things about their dad. They just figured them out on their own. But as they get older, they will know it was mom who fed them, who bandaged their scuffs, who comforted them through sickness, and tried to throw some fun in between all her responsibilities. Then the will see her as the super hero, and daddy as more of a super zero. There does need to be an arranged, scheduled visitation to the father. However, if he was abusive to their mother, I would be concerned about the children. It sounds as though he is already playing mind games with them, putting their mother down. She can tell him he can see them, when she says, and he need s to be respectful of her when doing so. Other wise, she can arrange supervised visitation. She has more control of the situation than she realizes. Or tell him that he can't pretend to be a good dad once in a while, when it is convenient for him, when he thinks it will make him look good. He needs to be either involved in their lives, or completely absent from them. Good Luck.

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