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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Comments for Ex Mistreats Our Son

Comments:  Comments for Ex MisTreats Our Son

Friday, September 09, 2005

Maya, Your concerns are so familiar. I have come tonight to this website seeking sanity, clarity - A probably bi-annual visit, and here is your letter, posted today. My Ex is seeking custody of my son, just turned 13. His Dad has been pressuring him for two years now (He left 8 years ago), and now that our older son has graduated HS, he filed for custody at the same time as discontinuing support for the older one. The thing is, he pushes and pressures until he gets what he wants and goes on to push for the next thing. He says things over and over again until it starts to sound normal or real. My kids are the priority in my life. We have three: two now in college and the youngest in 8th grade. I make my decisions based on what's best for them. Their Dad doesn't contribute to college, rarely goes to their concerts or sports, doesn't take the youngest to religious education or extracurricular activities when he visits (says it is his time), and talks to them in a confiding manner, subtly slandering/criticizing me or their school, friends, etc.. It has been one trauma, distortion, and accusation after another for the last 8 years. I am angry, afraid, confused, and tired. I want to tell myself that this custody struggle will be the end of all that, a new beginning. But I don't how. I like the advice of telling the truth. Knowing it and holding on to it, not internalizing the blame or the distortions, not becoming confused and panicky, - that is not easy for me. I keep seeking a witness for clarify and validation, although that can backfire sometimes. I used to know things; now I'm mostly scared. What do you do if someone always wins? If they cheat and lie to win, and seem to think that you need to be hurting so that they are not? kd

Monday, September 12, 2005

HI Maya, I can relate to the difficulties in relating to an ex who is not outright abusive however you know in your heart is not being fair to your son. It is so painful to watch when some of this you will not control no matter what you do. I have 3 kids, almost 15, almost 12 and 8. The oldest sees dad pretty honestly. She is frustrated going to his house and angry at his behavior. We have been separated about 6 months now and he keeps on pushing for a 50-50 split. I just do not agree. Recently my oldest child's best friend told me that he thought she would have serious problems spending 50-50 with dad. Based on that I spoke to her briefly and she does not even want as much time as she has now. She is almost 15 so the courts may listen to her. The younger children express frustration but not as directly. One thing I have done for many years and probably breaks the `rules' is stand up for my kids when he is out of line. I was always told to put my marriage before the kids but when he was unreasonable I could not do that. It is harder when they are out of your house and you do not know what is happening exactly. I do try to ask more questions that impose answers and it sounds like you are doing that with your son. I listen and comment on what I hear. Some complaints are pretty typical kid complaints like having to do the dishes. I do not back up the kids on that type of complaint generally. When they say he is late all the time or has a hard time getting up in the morning I do tell them that this has always been an issue so they should not expect much change. When they say he breaks his word or is fixing dinner so late they feel sick I encourage them to talk to him. They also have a counselor who can help out. Does your son have any type of counselor to work with? It may be useful to have a neutral party tell him that dad's behavior is not his fault and he can do nothing about it. The most important thing I want for my kids regardless of the time split with dad is that they know what is their fault and what is not. I am concerned they will internalize responsibility for what dad is feeling and doing. Because I do not think they can live at his house 50% and maintain this I am spending money on an investigator who will talk to us, the kids, teachers and DR's, etc. in order to make a recommendation to the court about custody. You can do a lot with modeling but you may also need to address actual time between households. You said you shared but I did not get a feel for how much time was at each house. It may be important eventually for your son to realize that the healthier parent gets more time to provide a stable home. Good luck

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dr Irene, I used your advice. A little explanation, I suffered a serious injury, and have to move because I need the help physically. When I wouldn't readily give my son up, I ended up in court. A number of things have been said to him, including that he won't see me ever again. ???!!! I talked to the attorney about everything and just got told not to say anything right now. Unfortunately, this is what happens when we become litigious... Meanwhile my little boy is saving things "in the right side of his brain", so that he doesn't have to tell his father. I want to put him in counseling, just to give him a safe place to talk about what worries him, without having to think of his father or myself. A very good idea! Now he only has a whopping three weeks left with me. I can't even figure out how to tell him that he won't see me for the next six months, because the courts wouldn't even alter our custody agreement for me to have visitation until the hearing. I think you have to tell him something! He's going to worry about you and wonder if anything (bad) he did made mommy go away! Kids blame themselves. Which means his dad has control over it, and he already told me he wouldn't let him go. All this time I have told him that he needn't worry that the courts would always make sure he got to see his mother and father. I believed it, I was wrong. Now, how do I tell him that. You tell him. Find a way to tell him so that he doesn't think you went away because he did something wrong; find a way to tell him so he does not think you abandoned him! Are there any tools I can give him to help him with his father, when I am not here? How about a therapist and a law guardian? How about frequent phone calls, cards and letters, and even email. I don't feel I can answer your question very well because it makes no sense to me at all why you won't see your son for the next six months!  I suppose you are moving far away, but you can make it your business to visit monthly or so. Am I really going to become "irrelevant" in his life? You are his Mom Maya. Moms are very special people! I don't think you need to worry about being irrelevant. I do think you need to make it your business to see him and/or somehow communicate with him as much as possible. Also explain that you are not leaving because you don't love him, etc., etc. Be honest with him; tell him what happened with the courts in a way he can understand; tell him you'll always be there for him, and how you expect to communicate with him over the next few months. Let him know that just because you won't be around all the time does not mean you will be out of his life. It would be good if he knew your phone number and could reach you when he wanted too. Teach him how to call you! Thank you for your time, Maya Dear Maya, this certainly won't be easy for either of you. I wish you a speedy recovery and a speedy reunion with your child. May God bless you and yours. Dr. Irene

Monday, September 26, 2005

Maya, Thanks for your post. Reading it made me feel less alone. My estranged spouse does very similar things with my children. He really plays them (my daughter, whom he is closest to, in particular). When we visited relatives out of state this summer he called frequently to tell her how much he missed her, how he sat in her chair to eat dinner, and slept in her bed (or something similar). Blah Blah. Also made comments about how he know "her mother" would have some way of keeping her away from him. More blah blah. I think you are dead on in the way you are addressing this problem. It's good you have a good relationship with your son and that he believes you and accepts your opinion of things. I think it's good that you are intervening now. If you do get a therapist or court guardian, please keep us informed about what happens. I will probably be in your situation soon, and would like your advice and insight on how effective these things can be.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Maya, In walking through much the same situation, I have also told my children that their father is making a valid point (in a disciplinary situation), but that he is saying it in a way that is inappropriate, that they do NOT deserve to be spoken to that way EVER. They do understand this, and feel that I am defending them. It's a hard road to walk down, as any of us who have been there know...keep on keeping on, take care of YOU and your son will learn to take care of himself through you. Peace to you...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Dear Maya, My heart goes out to you! I am and have lived what you are going through only I am a little farther down the road. I split with my ex 10 years ago when my daughter was 3 1/2 and my son was 1 1/2. At that time some wise friends told me not to "rise" to the temptation to go tit for tat with my ex in regards to the kids. They maintained that the kids would "see daddy for what and who he was. Not to cover for my ex because it makes me look less than truthful when you are denying what is patently obvious to the children...that their father is verbally abusive, cruel and manipulative". I've tried hard to maintain this practice even when he was badmouthing me and downright slandering me. And believe it or does work. My children are now almost 14 and 12. They have no rosy-glassed outlook on their dad. They see him for who and what he is...and I didn't need to justify myself or my actions, I didn't need to even point things out all the time. It was just out there in the open. Often I took the same path as you by not "fighting" or engaging him in things so it seemed that he always "won" with regard to suport, visitation, medical bills...until Dec. 2004. He left my children alone, in his trailer overnight and threatened them that they'd better not call me to come take them home. This was the last straw in what was becoming an escalating path of abuse that was now directed towards my kids. We retained a lawyer and for 8 months he was not allowed contact with them. He was required to go to a psychologist and the "plan" was to begin a reunification process. My children strongly protested and the first 4-5 meetings went badly. At this time they are not ready for a relationship with him and we are, once again, in the process of temporarily suspending these meetings. Suport your son's desire to have a relationship with his dad unless it becomes something that could endanger him. Some encouragements and thoughts from me to you: 1. teach your child to be strong, secure and sure of know when to say, "that's enough, your behavior is wrong and it's hurting me". Give him lots of support and encouragement without justifying your ex's bad behavior. He will have to forge his own relationship with his father. 2. As much as is possible try not to bash his dad or keep him from being with him. Children have a natural bent towards wanting to do what you absolutely forbid them to do (this really comes into play as they enter their teenage years). He will see the truth for what it is and if you are there to reaffirm what he sees without bashing his dad... he'll think you are a really smart and classy lady. He will respect you for being honest even when the situation is unpleasant and he'll respect you for not giving him fluffy platitudes or trying to convince him out of what he sees and knows to be real.3. Be willing to mourn with him. You may not feel sorry at all that your ex is out of your lives but your son will always crave a relationship with his dad one way or another. You need to be ready to affirm that it's alright that he feels to sad that he and his dad's relationship isn't what it should be. It is possible that he gets along relatively well now but wait til he reaches those teenage years and young adulthood... 4. Remind him often that he is precious and that none of this is his fault. He didn't deserve it or "ask for it". A parent is supposed to love and protect and teach their child good things but some people are hurting inside and behave in hurtful ways towards others. This behaviour is not right and you have the "right" to tell them to stop! Encourage him to be compassionate towards his dad but not controlled by his bad behavior. 5. Definitely find a good counselor for him to talk to. I would be careful to screen any potential counselors to see if they've dealt with abuse situations though. The psychologist that my ex is going to has only exascerbated the situation with my children by downplaying or outright denying my ex's bad behavior and trying to tell my children that they need to learn to compromise and be more flexible. He is always trying to "convince them out of" the way they feel and to "rearrange" their memories of what really happened. This has been very detrimental for my children. They know what they lived through and trying to convince them otherwise is making them "feel like we're going crazy" as my daughter put it. Just be cautious....and remember you are your sons best advocate. 6. Pace yourself....this is a race you'll be in for a long time. It was very courageous of you to remove yourself and your son from this situation in the first place...but, I've found, that when children are involved you can't just walk away and heal. The ex is usually still involved (quite often by state law), you need to take time for yourself to rejuvinate. Join a craft club, get a massage,join a group for abused women where you can get encouragement....just make sure that you take time to recharge your own batteries. You and your son are on a topsy turvy road which unfortunately will rise and fall quite frequently due to your ex's emotions, moods, and feelings of insecurity. You'll need to be ready and strong for each new onslaught. 7. Don't ever doubt yourself! You are doing the right thing! It may seem that you're taking very painful, small steps but walk it day by day. All those little steps towards a better life, a healthy, whole life will add up to great things for your son. All the times you encourage and reaffirm him....all the times you show courtesy towards your ex but not justification...all the times you show courage and consistency...these will train up a wise, compassionate and strong young man. He'll be able to see the truth for what it is, call it for what it is, be courageous in the face of injustice and make you proud. And you'll be his hero! A counselor once told me that the adult children of abuse that he counsels are usually angrier and have a harder time dealing with their mom's who did nothing than their abusive fathers. You are already so far ahead of that! 8. Never give up! Your son is worth every moment of this. And you are worth one should be abused and if you can help to break the chain of abuse you will have accomplished an incredible thing. 9. Remember that you're not alone. There are others of us who are living the same nightmare. We are surviving and by God's grace thriving! I look at my children and am overwhelmed with pride at the individuals they are becoming. My daughter talks frequently about becoming a couselor or psychologist in order to help children who have been abused, "because I understand what they've gone through and can help them". wow! She's an amazing young woman. She wrote me the most beautiful letter the other day thanking me for being strong for she and her brother and for showing them the way. You too are a trailblazer showing your son the way to a better life that can be happy and abuse free. Keep being courageous and know that others are thinking of and praying for you! Your sister in survival, Terry

Friday, September 30, 2005

I have been reading all this and I have the same sort of problems in my life. I have been a single Mom since my children were 4 and 8. I have a daughter who is the oldest and a son. I have tried to raise my kids right by setting some rules and they were a priority for me. But all along their father would undermine things, which I might add very ridiculous things that my children were up to. I know kids try things and I'm not saying they are ridiculous, I'm saying that I had to step in as a parent has to at times. Their father would make them believe that I am strict, he would even tell me that I can't tell them what to do. And the stuff that was occuring would make any parent step in. So now they both live at their father's house and I can not get used to this. It was a difficult divorce but I went through it and didn't say bad things about their father to my kids. From putting much of my concerns on my kids, I haven't dated and hardly have any good friends. It gets very lonely at times. My ex still say cruel things to me and trys to turn things around. It is now to the point where I can't even have a conversation with him because of all the cruel things that have gone on. The only way I get through this is to pray. I really have a hard time. To top this off, I have a family that doesn't seem to think that this is a problem or I should say a family that I can find any comfort with all this. So I'm alone with it. He has a family where he can do no wrong. Sometimes I just feel so tired, I have learned through counceling though to take care of myself. I realize I have never learned to do that. So all this is alot. I'm trying each day and hoping things are going to be ok.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hi Maya. I am so sorry you were seriously injured, and hope that you are recovering quickly. It must be very painful to not be able to see your child during this time. I cannot even imagine why a court would make such a ruling. Surely, your son could at least have the right to visit his mother during this time? I am sorry you are going through this incredibly difficult time. I myself have been married to a narcissist for the past 3 and 1/2 years. I have a 3 year old daughter and a 1 year old daughter. I have been wanting to break free from H's abuse for a while now. He basically treats me like a nothing at best, and threatens me physically at worst(by shoving me, blocking my path if I want to leave with the kids to go visit my mother, lunging at me to dare me to call the police, etc, etc). It is downright awful to live under the same roof with this being. He also manipulates the girls, especially the oldest. She hasn't wanted to be near him for some months now, preferring me. She doesn't even want to greet him when he comes in from work. He gets upset with her, tells her: "don't you love your daddy any more? well, i'm going to cry..." If she says she wants to be with me, I have heard him numerous times whisper in her ear: "dont' you want to be with daddy sweetie? don't you love daddy?" as if it's a competition. If the girls come to me to play, he gets up and leaves the room, and sometimes they cry, not knowing why he suddenly walked off so abruptly, as if to punish them. The list goes on and on and on. He constantly, constantly criticizes everything I do for them, from changing the food I put on the table for them, to changing the clothes I just put on them, to smelling the food I just cooked and saying it stinks, and on and on. Yet, I am so afraid he will intensify this manipulative, competitive, vindictive behavior if I leave him that I am staying. Question to you Maya: are there ever times when you regret you left this abuser (and he sounds like one!) because of what he is trying to do to your son now? Are you still happy you left him? I know this is a stupid question, but I need to hear an answer, from you, or from anybody reading this board who has gone through it. Good luck to you Maya. All the best to you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Maya said "My son must do certain things to show his love for his father. That includes an excited "Daddy!", whenever he sees him. (When he doesn't my ex accuses him of not respecting, appreciating or loving him.)" Wow, that totally reminds me of my ex. I was expected to cry out and jump in to his arms. And if I didn't, I didn't love him or miss him. Be happy that you got out. I know I am. And stay strong!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Holy cow. It's both unnerving and vindicating to read about these pathetic men who exhibit precisely the same behavior as my husband. I left our home 18 mos. ago, after he was removed by the police six months earlier. Lately, thanks to some great meditation training, I've been feeling some compassion for my husband and his family. I see more clearly now the fear and horrible view of the world "justifies" their behavior. Typically for me, this spilled over into thinking things could work out in our family--we're now in the fouth month of waiting for a divorce judgment--and broached this on the phone with my husband last night. Boy, was I in for a treat. He went directly to blaming me, re-writing history, saying I had ruined our four year-old's life, blah, blah, blah, at high volume. It was most instructive. It's clear that the only way to accept him as my husband is to accept his perverted view of the events of our marriage. Maybe the Dalai Lama could, but I don't think I'm Zen enough for that yet. ;~) As for whether the un-named writer should leave her husband, look at the post immediately above yours. The most vivid part of it reminded me of why I took the steps I have. I may not be completely successful at protecting my child from my husband's abuse and manipulation, but I've done everything the law allows me to do. Your kids will understand that someday. (The law's injustice in these situations is a topic for another day. Sadly, I have found law guardians particularly unhelpful.) Best of luck everyone. You've made me realize I'm in the best position I could hope for, though it's hardly how I pictured this moment in my life. Leola

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hi Dr. Irene; My name is Sarah, 29 years of age and have recently married an incredible man. My mother, on the other hand, married my father who comes from an abusive family and abuses my mother verbally and physically. My brother and I have both been exposed to his explosive behaviour and his execrable name calling from a very young age; my brother more so than I. We have also witnessed my father beat my mother and call her degrading names. The good thing is, my brother and I have found wonderful partners who posess no similarity to our father. The bad thing is, now that we are all grown up my mom is left at home with my father. I realize that it is my mother's choice but I can't help but feel somewhat responsible for her safety. What is also unhealthy is that she has the tendency to tell me everything that goes on between the two of them so that in turn increases my sense of worry and fear. My dad recently punched my mom in the face so hard that she thought he had broken her jaw. I freaked out when she told me and said that they must get into therapy immediately. I then told my husband who was equally concerned. When I shared with my mom what "we", my husband and I thought she should do, she was more upset by the fact that I had told my husband what had happened then the situation it self. The episode happened two months ago and I have not spoken to my father since. My mom has recently asked my dad if they could go to therapy together (so she says) and he has refused while saying they don't need it. I have told my mom that I refuse to communicate with my dad and he is not welcome in my home until he does. I've even offered to accompany him for support. My major concern is, we do not live in the same city and I can not monitor or protect my mother from afar (neither can my brother). What can I do to get my dad and/or get our family into therapy or encourage my mom to leave her abusive relationship?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

i am doing a report on spousal abuse and wondering and inside view on it

Monday, November 07, 2005

i am a child... now a teen... whos "daddy" verbaly abused me... my mom did almost everything that Dr. Irene has said above to you. it works. although i want to congradulate you on leaving him while your son was at a young age. he is pulling guilt trips on him and letting it continue is not helping him at all. i absolutly hate my father now and its because my mom said i should try to have a relatonship with him. i know it sounds just like an angry teen. but the best thing you can do is give him a choice, and tell him it IS OK it not want to be around his daddy... then tell your aturny that you want no contact with him. if that is what your son wants. it will help him vreak the sycle... do it for your son. Kate

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This made me cry. :/ I hope things go well.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hi , I'm in a very similiar situation. My son is seven and his father is very manipulating towards him to the point of emotional abuse. I find what I learn about NPD terrifying because there is no escape from these people. Narcissists believe that children are their 'property'. When the children are young they are easily manipulated, but I believe that once they reach their teens and begin to rebel against parents they will then truly see what the NPD parent is all about. I have read that NPDs invariably end up by hating and rejecting their children because it is in their nature to hate and to find fault with everyone and everything. I still worry for my son though because he is too young to understand that daddy is sick and has problems. When he tells my son "I love you" does he really mean it? I am inclined to think not, because narcissists are incapable of loving anything. Nobody will understand me when I tell them of the problem. The courts, doctors and psychologists all probably think I'm the one who's crazy - I have found out what is wrong with this man but nobody else sees it. I am suffering from panic attacks and illness because of what he has put me through for some 8 years now. I'm standing up to him now for the sake of my son, but it's hard as his father has narcissistic rage against me and keeps taking me to court for custody. He hates me and it shows, whereas before he could keep it hidden. I'm finally beginning to 'get to him' and it's good because I won't be bullied anymore. I can't stand being a victim any longer and will continue to fight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ugh that is my ex to a T.