Ask The Divorce Coach: Should I tell my kids what he’s REALLY like?

Question:

Dear Shelley,

A few years ago I found out my husband was talking to women online, meeting up with them in hotel rooms at night, and getting drunk. I have been a very good mom and wife and have tried to live a Christian life in spite of him lying to our children and his secretive plans to divorce me and avoid paying child support.

Our divorce has been final for four months now and I can’t understand why my children keep running to him after what he did to all of us.  If it had been me who’d met up with men, etc…I guarantee that  they wouldn’t even speak to me again! I think it’s because he has made our children believe their mom is “crazy”.   He knew I wouldn’t tell them of his goings-on and he took full advantage of that. And yet, when their backs were turned, he would pretend he had a weapon in his hand, give me a scary look, and act like he was going to kill me. Then he would immediately turn it off and act like a “normal” father.

It’s so frustrating that my kids still don’t ‘get it.’  How should I handle this with them? My mistake is that I was not more vocal and I guess it was because I was scared of him.

Thank you.

Caron

Answer:

Dear Caron,

Love your children more than you resent your ex.  Kids love their parents and although you don’t think it is fair that they cannot see the truth about him, they really don’t need to see that at this point in their lives.  Kids need to feel loved and supported and we have to let go of our negative feelings regarding our ex when it comes to our kids.

Notice that you might not have ever stood up to him over the course of your marriage, that you were scared of him. If that is true, what can you do now to address that issue? Set boundaries that keep you safe and secure.  Decide on what you will accept and won’t accept as it pertains to his behavior towards you.  If he mistreats you whenever he is around then set specific limits to your exposure to him. If he upsets when you talk to him, don’t talk to him directly unless it is absolutely necessary.  Let him know that you will not accept certain behaviors anymore.

Shelley

Shelley Stile is an ACC certified Divorce Recovery Life Coach and author who guides her clients to let go the pain of their divorce and move on to create new and vibrant lives after divorce. Shelley has been through her own divorce so she knows first-hand about the journey of divorce recovery. Receive her free, powerful e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce’, and her monthly ‘Take Back Your Life After Divorce’ Newsletter by going to: http://www.freedivorcesupport.com.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I find your response to be a bit simplistic, and lacking in specificity – even if only in the questions you are asking this reader.

    First, she is still very close to the divorce. Four months is no time at all. Healing is much slower – especially when you have a variety of manipulative behaviors going on in the background – and continuing.

    Second, she is clearly afraid of this man on some level. He sounds like a bit of a wildcard. Whether he would do her actual physical harm or not is unknown, but the behavior is nonetheless frightening and the fear, cumulatively, damaging. To suggest “set boundaries” accomplishes little when you are dealing with a person who may be a sociopath at worst, and simply a manipulative piece of work, at best.

    Third, depending upon the age of the kids, I agree – expecting them to “get it” is unrealistic. And this woman shouldn’t beat herself up over that, anymore than she should over not having allowed them to see more of the “truth” of their father. As you say, every child wants to love his or her parents. Only when they are older – considerably older – can they piece the parts together and see a clearer picture.

    My advice to this woman – with very little information provided here – is to be very careful. Of him. And around the children. As for the fear – it’s real and tangible and won’t be dispelled by setting boundaries. I suggest she find friends or family who will believe her, and stand by her – emotionally and physically. And to seek other counsel if that is at all possible.

    Just my opinion. From one who’s been there.

  2. 2

    Divorce says

    You should never tell your child your opinion of your ex because your opinion in most likely warped from the issues you two have had. Let your children find out for themselves. Truth always comes out one way or another.

  3. 3

    says

    Here is the issue I have with the response to Caron’s post. We as parents, while things are working out, attempt to live by example to teach our kids that there are consequences for their misbehavior. All the while, we are to treat parent(s) who misbehave as if they are perfect and how is this right? How are they to grasp the consequences and learn from their mistakes when they have done something wrong? I have done things which my partner has spoken against me when he was angry yet if it is the truth, what benefit is there if I pretend that it is ok for that behavior? Same goes for him? How are we to know what our kids are for or against?

    When I was growing up, my mother was with this man who chose to humiliate her and ask me and my brother if we wanted us to see him hit our mom. Disgusting prick! He should count his blessings that I couldn’t be like the Incredible Hulk and scare the devil out of his punk ***!! I am thankful I was there and I am thankful that he didn’t actually do it but seriously his memory has remained as a model reminder about how ridiculous he was.

    I am thankful to be able to talk to my mama today, praise God. She deserved better than him and I hope he grew up after he was gone, so no one else had to see the choices he made. Plus, I know he would find peace if he made better choices. :)

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