Her Ex is a Bully and Now He is Taking it Out on Her Young Son

Submitted by: Delaine Moore

Her ex was at her house doing pick up of their kids the past weekend when it happened.

She and her three kids were over at the school yard finishing a quick game of soccer in the snow. Suddenly, her eldest son, now eight, tripped her daughter by accident.

“Kyle,” she said to him, “You have to avoid all body contact with your sister. She’s only four and you’re twice her weight so even a slight elbow will send her flying.”

“Sorry mom, sorry Janet,” he replied.

Meanwhile, her ex stood by watching and listening in.

Soccer match over, they all headed towards his truck; it was time to go. The boys were running ahead, laughing and battling over the soccer ball, when Kyle accidentally tripped his brother.

Her ex came in for the kill.

“Jesus Christ Kyle!” He yelled. “You were told not to do that two minutes ago and instead of listening, you do it again!”

Kyle looked at him and bowed his head.

“What the hell is wrong with you? You can’t listen or what? You shouldn’t have to be told twice not to do something. You LISTEN the first time, got it?”

She watched Kyle from behind as he recommenced walking towards the truck. His shoulders were hunched over, his chin bowed; she knew he was crying.

Her ex continued. “Get in the truck – where are you going? Get over here. And stop your damn crying!”

Kyle walked up to him, chin down. “Dad,“ he began softly, “I didn’t do it on purpose. I was just trying to stop the ball-”

“I DON’T CARE. Get in the truck and Jesus, would you stop your damn crying.”

As her ex walked around the truck,she leaned into the backseat to where Kyle was now seated. He ducked his head into her chest, “I really didn’t do it on purpose Mom.”

“It’s OK,” she whispered. “I know that.” She looked him in the eyes and repeated, “I know it was an accident Kyle.”

Her ex stuck his head in the truck. “You still crying?” he bellowed. “Stop being a baby and do up your sister’s seat belt.”

Kyle jumped to do his bidding, while she strapped her other son, Evan, into his car seat. “See mom?” Whispered Evan. “Dad always tells us to shut up when we cry. I told you that, remember?”

“I know honey,” she whispered. “And it’s NOT OK. “ She kissed him on the cheek and looked him in the eyes. “You take care of your brother. You be there for him this weekend, OK?”

Her daughter was now in tears on the other side of the truck. “Mommy,” she said softly, tears trickling down her cheeks. “Please can I have a hug?”

She walked around to the other side of the truck and reached in to hug her. She simultaneously hugged Kyle in the middle seat and whispered: “I love you guys. I’ll call you tomorrow, I promise.”

She then walked to her front porch and turned around to see her ex with his head turned to the backseat; he was saying something to Kyle. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but she could see Kyle’s chin going deeper and deeper into his chest…

Her ex is a bully. He’s verbally abusive. It’s taken her a long time to actually be able to say that – it seemed such a horrible label…

But it’s true. And when they were married, he treated her like that. She let him put her down, chew her up, use that awful tone. But being an adult, she at least had a fighting chance to stand up to him. And whenever he’d treated her children that way, she was there to buffer it. In those situations he’d turn on her and sneer: “Stop being an overprotective hen for F*** sake.” And she’d back away and focus on dealing with her children’s wounds.

But now she’s free…but she’s not there to protect her kids. She’s not there to take the brunt of his name-calling, his sarcasm, his yelling. Her kids are on their own. And her sons, particularly her eldest, is getting it the worst.

Her ex has no idea what constitutes age-appropriate behaviour – he never has. And if situations requiring discipline arise, he uses bad language and is belittling instead of speaking firmly yet kindly. And for their kids, who spend 95% of their time with her, it is a HUGE shock.

She has been to see a child psychologist. She tried to get her ex to go too, but he said, “Oh, the kids are FINE.” So she went to see her alone and bawled like a baby as she brought up incident after incident. “How do I stop him?” She begged. “How can I make him see that what he’s doing is damaging our kids?”

“Unfortunately, unless he’s drawing blood or is an alcoholic or drug addict, there’s no legal recourse. But I can give you some techniques to teach your kids that will help buffer the damage he’s doing…”

And so she has sat with her kids, talking, explaining, teaching them how to handle their father’s bully’ish behaviour. Her ex continues on as he was, self-unaware, convinced parenting is the easiest job in the world, kicking his kids into shape, while she does damage control…

She feels so helpless…



  1. 1

    Wanda Woodard says

    My ex was a verbal bully as well. Unfortunately, you have to let your ex see the kids. For me, it’s better. He lives nine hours away, and most of their contact with him comes on the phone. He seems to be behaving well with that form of communication.
    I know you feel helpless, but you aren’t. We’re here for you, and your children will hold on to what you’ve taught them, what you’ve shown them – that big love.
    Your kids will survive, but I know it is sad and scary for you to have to worry about what your ex is firing at them, verbally speaking.
    Take heart, though, in knowing that you showed them a good example when you divorced. You did not take it anymore, and one day they won’t have to either.
    I’m sorry you have to go through it, and your kids are so young. But, hang tight and tough. You will be ok. – Wanda

  2. 2


    Your ex has some skewed ideas on how to raise children. I often wonder how men like him don’t realize the damage they are doing to their children’s self-esteem.
    My ex isn’t a bully. His damage is more passive and covert but it is damaging just the same.
    Like you, I feel helpless. I’m sure we share that feeling with many other single mothers.

  3. 3

    Susan says

    Delaine…I am living/have lived in the same exact situation and it tears me apart not being able to help my children when they are with my STBX. I have no control over what he does/doesn’t do, says/doesn’t say when they are there and I end up having to clean up his messes when the kids come back to me.
    He is also very physical with my kids as well, and I’m afraid that it is teaching my son that being physically aggressive is ok, especially when it comes to girls/women (the driving force behind me moving out was that my STBX got physical with me one too many times and that time my kids witnessed it).
    I feel helpless and when asked by others I often say “well, there is nothing can I do about it except teach them what is right and wrong and hope it sticks” which is the sad truth.

  4. 4


    I’m going to go see a child psychologist again really soon to address more issues around my ex’s treatment of our kids. I want to have a paper trail…and Susan, if you aren’t leaving one, I’d suggest you start doing so now. Cause if it does ever go to court, I’ll be able to prove history instead of the judge just having to take my word for it. I fear a judge might think: it couldn’t have been THAT bad cause you didn’t DO anything about it.”
    I’m also hiring a new lawyer cause he’s coming after my kids 50%. This, from a man, who has phoned them maybe four times in a year a half.
    I’m getting ready for war.

  5. 5

    Paige says

    I feel for you. My ex is being a bully, trying to control everything I do through the children. Even started resorting to bad mouthing me when I was no longer responding to him and letting him know he was bothering me. Like your ex, he could have cared less about not spending any more than the minimum with my kids. Then, like the snap of a finger, he starts calling them every day, shows up at a dental appt. (what father is EVER interested in a simple teeth cleaning, for God’s sake?!? Never was before, then he shows up and asks stupid questions just to make sure his presence is known..ugh!) You’re doing the right things. I started a paper trail, documenting everything, even bought a voice recorder. That’s getting old, I truly have more in life to do, and often wonder how I got to this place, and all because of his actions, no less. I have a feeling my ex is covertly trying to set me up for a future attempt to get more custody. He already has joint legal, bad enough in my case. I know the movement for “equal time” being best for children, but that’s not for everyone. Like you, I know in my heart that my kids belong with me as much as possible. I encourage my childrens’ relationship with their dad, make it the best it can be, but if you know in your gut what is right for your kids, go for it. I recently hired a new attorney who’s helping me trying to tighten up our agreement, but the fear of losing more time with them is still there. How is that right when the reason you’re going to court is because he’s not holding up his end of the bargain or doing things out of spite? I don’t get it. Hang in there and stay strong! You’re not alone!

  6. 6

    Jenna says

    I know exactly how you feel, my ex is a verbal bully, and sometimes in the past he has been physical with me. We split up when our son was six months old, he and his family fought me for equal custody at a minimum and becuase I had let them bully me for so long I was afraid of him. I was a good mother to my son but I signed those papers when his lawyer started bullying me, out of shear fear of having to go to court and lose my son. I now regret that every day. My son is now almost four, and I have had to go through the anguish, the fear and the torment of having my baby torn from me at a young age, and being put in the hands of a bully. Sometimes I feel totally helpless, like he has more say than I do in our sons life, and he has told me on a number of occasions he would like me to dissapear and leave him his son. But I will never do that – the bond I have with my child is too strong and I know with all my heart that he needs me and he belongs to me and that I will always be there for him. I just hope and pray that one day my son will grow up and see the truth himself. Until then, I have allowed my entire life to be destroyed and controlled by the bully I was forced to leave, who even now I will try to defend because I cant beleive he is all that bad, but the truth is he is. My life and my work and my relationship status has all been affected by a bully. Please Hang in there Delaine, know that you are not alone and that many single mothers have to face this every day! Stay strong and dont back down For your childrens sake as well as your own!

  7. 7


    Thanks for sharing your stories Jenna and Paige. I tell myself all sorts of things to make myself feel better… but in my gut, my fear never goes away.
    I don’t understand why men need to be bullyish. Whether it came from thier relationships with their fathers, society at large, or whatever, at some point they have to evolve. My young boys don’t need to be ‘toughened up’ and belittled just because they’re boys. I don’t want that old male wound to be passed onto my boys.
    And no matter what, I let my kids know that when they’re home with mom, it is a SAFE place. They don’t have to be tough and macho and call people names and avoid girl toys etc….they can just be themselves.
    I pray I give them enough of that balance…

  8. 8


    Bullies can be men and women, not men exclusively. I know a couple of pure 100% genuine, disgusting female of that sort. So bullying has no sex so to speak, age or other attributes. Both men and women can be bullies, 8 year old kids can be bullies; an 80 year old grandparent can be a bully. Bullies are people who have a pattern of abusing the rights of others to get their own way. A bully isn’t someone who occasionally loses his/her temper or who says something rude. A bully is someone who intentionally mistreats or takes advantage of other people because they want to run the show. Bullies don’t want to cooperate; they want to control. They don’t want a win-win; they want to win.

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