Yes, we get your that your kid is smart. But the vast majority of kids have pretty strong bullshit detectors. No one is suggesting you heap meaningless platitudes on 13. You can find a way to address his concerns using languauge he can relate to.
Stop using your kid's intelligence or saviness to excuse your behavior. He is still a kid and a 13 year old one at that. He needs firm guidance and a role model. Yes, you can be there when he vents. But for goodness sake, don't join him in venting.
One more thing - if he's so smart and savvy don't you think he could use those skills on you and play you like a fiddle?
Whilst reading please use your non-hurting eyes. 2x4s sting and piss you off, even the gentle ones. But what I've learned here is that whatever makes me angry is something I need to explore.
This isn't about ganging up on you. We're trying to help - you and your sons. This dynamic is as damaging to you as it is to them. You can't fix her but you can change your part in it.
Rest up, step away for a while until the anger passes then come back an we can talk some more.
And how dare you colour my depression and suicide attempt with the same crayon. I was pushed to the point of believing my life was worthless, and that everyone would be better off without me. That is not totally her fault - I already had depression when I met her - but she kept stomping my self esteem further into the dirt.
I'm sorry you felt I was coloring you and the Princess' situation with the same crayon. I was saying that at the end of the day you each made choices. It was in response to this defense you offered up with regard to if she used your prior suicide attempt to alienate YOU
Of course this would wound me to the core. But we're talking about the difference between my mental HEALTH, and her behavioural CHOICES.
"Choices" is the key word there. 13 knows that she is choosing to behave that way, and he doesn't understand why. I'm offering sympathy and empathy.
My point was brusque, but I was trying to say that you made a choice when you attempted suicide. You can't chose depression, but suicide is a choice.
I don't think NPD is just arsehole. I think there are specific pathologies that create it and allow it to continue and that many NPDers continue to make bad choices rather than working on their issues. But they do have issues to work on, and when they chose not to everyone suffers.
I'm sorry you feel picked on. I agree you should take a break
The truth is that no matter how much you *want* to believe the worst about XW, you don't have the full story from your son. At 13 and 10, the kids don't need to be engaged by your XW every moment of the day. The kids want to please both of you, so they may not want to tell you if they actually have fun at her place. So what happens is the kids both tell each parent what the kids think the parents want to hear, you and XW are pre-disposed to want to think the worst of each other, and the situation escalates. The only thing that you can do about this is to break that cycle. You seem to encourage it right now in the way that you interact with your son, others have already covered that at length. It is natural to be angry with your XW if you think she is upsetting your kids somehow, but you need to take a step back. These are children, they're going to act like children. You cannot have your kids "tattling" on your ex with every minor incident. Unless there is an *objective* serious threat to their well being (and her not engaging them or an overzealous "playfulness" is not in that category), don't engage the kids with it. They need to learn to negotiate the relationship with their mother on their own terms. You trying to influence it from afar via text is co-dependent and unhealthy.
Counselling for the kids is very likely the best plan here.
Sounds like your DS has two major issues. The first was wanting to live with you. You did an very good job explaining to him why that isn't economically or legally feasible, without making him feel unwanted. The second is how to get along with his mother. I'm not sure if that's possible, but you and IC can help him develop the skills to cope with her better for the next four years.
I grew up with an undiagnosed untreated ADHD/OCD slightly NPD mother. I vividly remember my anger and frustration with her. Now that I'm an adult I can deal with her much better. In fact, my kids and I have moved in with my parents. DD17 and DS8 are having some issues getting along with their GM, but luckily I'm here to run interference and teach them some of my hard won wisdom in dealing with her. Also, my psych hospital stay was right before we moved in with them, so all the classes on coping skills were fresh in my head.
While its a lot to put on DS13, he probably already realizes he's the 'adult' when at his mom's house. I imagine its like he's dealing with a toddler who has power over him. He has to keep the toddler happy to avoid negative consequences for himself. I found DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) very helpful in dealing with my mom, especially the Distress Tolerance and Emotional Regulation. It also helped me to be able to identify my mom's cognitive distortions (she's big on magnification and minimization). That way I can take a step back before or during an argument. Turn off the emotions and not react to her.
If its hard for me, an adult, it must be extremely difficult for your DS13. But a good IC can give him the coping tools that will serve him well the rest of his life. Just keep validating his feelings and giving him a safe place to come to. Good luck.
Two steps forward and one step backwards, is still progress.