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DS #1 wants me to validate Xwh and the OW.

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tryingagain74 posted 6/29/2013 16:01 PM

Sigh. Here's my current dilemma:

DS #1 frequently brings up things that XWH and the OW say or do. None of the issues are dangerous or highly inappropriate, so this isn't a big deal. However, I can tell that DS #1 is constantly seeking my approval about what XWH and the OW are up to. For example, he said today (when we passed a coffee shop) that the last time he saw the OW and her kids, it was there. I have never, ever said anything negative about them (except for months ago when I said that the OW "made poor choices" in response to DS #1 wanting to know why she and I would never be friends). But, when I have to respond to something about XWH or the OW, I usually murmur something noncommittal like, "Oh." DS #1 then immediately says something like, "What's wrong? Are you mad about that?" I then have to explain that no, I'm not mad; I just don't have much to say about it (and silence never works-- he'll repeat it if he thinks I haven't heard the comment).

I'm not mad. I don't really want to hear about it, but I've accepted that I have to. Honestly... I just don't care. I know that I'm supposed to be protecting my children, and I do, but I'm not going to work myself up into a false state of happiness. "You met at that coffee shop! That's so cool!" It's not cool. It's just nothing. Blah. Whatever. I don't ever give DS #1 a rude or snippy response like that, but he never seems to be satisfied with my responses. He wants the "That's awesome!" response, which doesn't sit well with me because I would feel completely disingenuous if I did say something along those lines. I also don't want to give my kids the sense that I approve of their father and the OW's actions because everything they have done has been completely self-serving and to the detriment of the kids (hers and mine).

Do you use a certain line that sits well with your kids, or are you basically forced to pretend that you're happy or excited about something that the AP/XWS do when your kids tell you about it? DS #1 appears to be desperate to validate his "new family," but I just can't be fake and pretend that I think it's super awesome. Is it terrible that the best I can muster are polite "meh" responses?

Nature_Girl posted 6/29/2013 16:09 PM

How old is he? Also, is he aware of the affair & this is the woman who helped destroy his family?

ExposedNiblet posted 6/29/2013 16:18 PM

How old is your son? Is he in counselling?

If he's really young, maybe you can redirect his attentions elsewhere once the questions begin. Let that short attention span be your friend kind of thing.

If he's older (or really persistent), I really don't see the problem with simply saying you don't want to discuss it, end of discussion.

XH and I parallel parent. Both of our boys understood from the start that the two households were separate entities and neither parent cared to hear about what was going on in the other parent's home (unless something was dangerous or sketchy, of course). They were older at the time, so having this talk with them wasn't too difficult.

Good luck. (((tryingagain74)))

tryingagain74 posted 6/29/2013 16:23 PM

DS #1 is 9, and although he knows that the OW and I will never be friends because she made poor choices, he does not know about the A.

To complicate matters, XWH and the OW are getting married next weekend, and she and her kids are moving in with XWH this weekend. I'm trying to stay as neutral as possible because my kids will be living with them EOW... I just don't think that this is the time to tell them that their new stepmommy is the woman who helped to break up their parents' marriage. This whole new family situation is going to be tough enough for them once the novelty of it wears off.

He is in IC (we all are) and will see her on Monday. I do say that he should speak to "Susan" about things like this because that's how she's trained to help him.

tesla posted 6/29/2013 19:59 PM

Teslet is only 4 and when he brings stuff up he's not looking for validation...just sharing so it's not a big deal to me to fake a little happiness about whatever he's telling me.

But with a perceptive 9 year old, you certainly don't want to fake anything. Have you ever asked him how he feels about OW and her kids? Maybe he's looking for a safe place to let something out? Is he the one that got upset about his dad lying to him? Maybe he's looking for reassurance that shit is going to be stable over there? He may feel that he needs your approval to accept and be ok with the situation.

I can't believe they are getting married next week...what a pair of nitwits...but I guess their love is true.

tryingagain74 posted 6/29/2013 21:50 PM

This is the son who felt his dad was lying to him. He's like me in many ways-- we see some things as pretty black and white. So, this is troubling him because, to him, the remarriage and blending of the families appear to be kosher, but he isn't getting a fireworks display of approval from me, so he's floating in a grey area: "Why isn't Mom super happy about our new family? Why doesn't she want to be BFFs with stepmommy, who appears to be a really great person?"

He wants to make the new family work (and it is right now, but it's early days yet), so he is finding the good in the situation. That's great, and I'm glad that he has that point of view. However, I almost feel like the only way things will feel right to him is if I also act as a cheering section for his new family. Again, I don't say negative things or even hint at that sort of thing. I just reply with a sort of detached demeanor as if he were talking about the weather.

He wants me to say that I think his new stepmommy is great and that life over there sounds amazing. I just can't say those things. I feel like I'd be giving my blessing to a situation that hardly works out in the best of circumstances, and I certainly don't feel all warm and fuzzy about XWH's Ashley Madison hookup, a total stranger that I pretty much know nothing about, as a parental figure in my children's lives. I have tried to explain that my life and XWH's lives are totally separate and moving in different directions, but I don't seem to be getting through to him.

Dreamboat posted 6/30/2013 09:12 AM

Try changing your response from "Oh." to "That's nice". That conveys that you are not mad nor do you really care.

He may be trying to get your approval that HE wants to think it is awesome and that HE thinks dad is awesome and that HE wants to think the new step mom is awesome. He may want to be reassured that you are OK with him thinking all of that. I don't know how to reassure him, maybe the IC can help?

Good luck!

fourever posted 6/30/2013 09:30 AM

I think on some level he knows. He seems to be looking for answers from you.
I think he may need to know that you think it's "great" that he likes her? But, that there are adult reasons you really don't want to be her/their friend.
You do not have to protect your xwh for your children.
Don't underestimate how much young children know, see and feel. A version of the truth will help him with this (and you). He is asking you in his own way to talk to him.
I'm sorry. Sucks!

Kajem posted 6/30/2013 10:03 AM

My youngest was 8 when we separated. Her next oldest sister was 10, they are my peacemakers. They want everyone happy about a situation and it bothers them when someone is not happy.

By not validating his experiences with Xh and Ow you might be invalidating your kid. At least that was what it felt like when my mom did that to me. Dad left for Ow, and I was 22 when that happened.

I learned to ease my kids stress levels, by keeping the conversations (that included X and ow/nw) about the kids.

The coffee shop example would go something along the lines of:

DD; Last time I was here was with Dad and OW.

Me: Really, I've never been, how was it? what did you have?

DD: hot chocolate with mint ice cream.

Me: That sounds good, did you like it?

etc. I keep the focus on her. She may try to interject stuff about them... I bring it back to her.

He may be wanting to share with you HIS experiences when with them... keeping the focus on him is a good way for him to share those things without you giving approval or validation to the XH and OW.

It's hard at the beginning... but so worth it to our kids. They Do need the validation that you still love them. Not validating the X invalidates a part of them too. I tried to find away around validating the X, and just validate the kid.

I hope it helps. The kids are so important.



cmego posted 6/30/2013 11:18 AM

I also respond with "That's nice."

My dd is also 9, almost 10. She talks about "Daddy and his 'friend' B" (ex is gay...) and all the fun/nice things they do together. Plus, they are discussing moving in together soon. Both my kids are very against it.

Dd asked me if I didn't "like" B. I just said that he is Daddy's friend, and I generally correct it to "boyfriend", and he has nothing to do with my life.

Kids have to try to understand that their parents have two separate lives and they only cross at the kids. It doesn't help me that ex is always around B, always wants us to be "one big happy family" and I refuse. I tell them that I don't know B, therefore I have no more comment. As long as he is nice to my kids, I'm OK.

So I respond with :"that's nice". I don't fake anything.

caregiver9000 posted 6/30/2013 12:30 PM

You might be surprised at what a 9 year old knows or thinks... especially if they are ever around kids even a few years older!!

You seem to feel like DS is seeking something from you. Have you asked him what it is he wants you to say or discuss when he does this? If he is indeed looking for you to cheerlead then you can explain (like cmego did) why that is not your role but that you are perfectly fine with DS liking her, enjoying the time with her, etc.

My boys seemed to relax when I straight forward out loud gave them permission to like the OW. I said that I didn't, wouldn't like her, but that I was glad that she liked them and was fun/nice. They got that. It made sense to them and they were off the hook for "betraying me" if they liked her.

I agree that your DS is looking for something, some response, or he would not keep coming back to the topic and studying you for whatever it is he is looking for. The fact that he is not just straight out asking you implies that he knows there is something taboo about the whole situation.

One time my DS9 asked me if I hated OW. I said I don't hate anybody, but I don't like her and I don't like things that she has done. It is ok to not like people who are mean to you is a great message for kids who encounter meanness all the time!

This is so hard, and it sounds like you are doing a great job! All the right things and IC and setting a wonderful example. Good job MOM!!!!!

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