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how do you protect and heal your children from manipulation?

Posted by on Oct. 1, 2012 at 11:47 AM
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So, I'm a little frustrated - the BM of my two SS's continues to play her games and I'm trying not to let it get to me... Today is 5yo SS's birthday (it happens to fall under her placement period) DH asked if he could take him out for ice cream so that he could spend a little time with him on his birthday - unbeknown to her, my DD has strep and scarlet fever, so I would be home with her, unable to celebrate his birthday with him til next week when we have him. This morning she calls saying SS wants DH to come out to dinner with them, DH was uncomfortable but said he could certainly be there, she replied okay, "but just you." and hung up... DH rolled his eyes and said its not even worth confronting her crazy since we'd already decided I would be staying home with DD - I know he's just as tired with the ex's games too and she is literally too much of a p.i.t.a. to make any unnecessary contact worth it by any means...

It's just frustrating because I've done nothing but go out of my way to keep the peace for the sake of the children but she insists on being spiteful towards my DD and I... I'm just so tired of this childish attitude! I'm not sure how much I can keep letting it go. I feel like I can't confront her on anything even if I wanted to because anything she doesn't like she turns around and claims DH is being abusive to the MI friend of the court! (she has done so several times, all claims with CPS have resulted in the claim being "unfounded" - seriously, the flaw in that system needs to corrected so that the people making bogus charges are caught and disciplined, you should be held accountable for attempting to manipulate the system)

For example, the 2 SS's called me keykey-mama, they named me this of their own free will and invention. My nephews call me keykey, my DD obviously calls me mama, they combined the two - we felt it was important for them to define their relationships and didn't encourage them one way or another, same went for my DD and DH. When DH's ex heard the boys use this endearment she flipped out (we have it on audio, we keep our phones recording to protect ourselves against her false claims, our lawyer's recommendation) she told the boys not to say that, that I am not a mother to them (when DH pointed out I am their step- mother she said I don't care, just because you got remarried doesn't mean I am) and went so far as to tell the boys it makes her sad so not to call me that... I am a big part of their lives, we have a loving relationship, but now they have this torn sense of loyalty as if having a relationship with me is wrong because it upsets their BM - the 5yo especially has been impacted by this and has become more withdrawn. He's slowly starting to open up a little more again, but he seems so crushed and confused. It seems so wrong. Likewise, when SS refer to my DD as their sister (they've been together since age 2, so hey don't know life outside of being siblings) she corrects them harshly, telling them she is not and never will be their sister or step-sister - its awful for my 5yo DD who then feels rejected when the 5yo SS keeps her at arms length and is mean to her because he wants to please his BM... And it's devastating to our sense of peace in our home when it seems invaded by this kind of anger and darkness.

How do I keep from letting this get to me? How do I help the kids process through their confusion? I'm tired of trying to pick up the pieces of our kids and comfort them without saying anything negative. I want our home to be a positive peaceful refuge for them, especially when there's so much else out there to deal with growing up. Home should be a place where they feel built up and protected, surrounded by the family that loves them - not this such garbage they're being buried by (especially without putting BM down in front of them) they're smart kids, I just hope they develop their own sense of identity, not what someone tells them they can or cannot do or feel. I want something better for them than this manipulation...

Please help? Someone please tell me there's life after this storm??? I could really use some encouragement.
by on Oct. 1, 2012 at 11:47 AM
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by Member on Oct. 1, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Similar things happen with my SC... Although it's been better... She would just tell flat out lies. The kids would come home upset and distant... I found myself rebonding with them every time they came home (they go to BM eowe and EO Wednesday).
Who has primary custody? What are the arrangements?
Maybe Dh could talk to BM about how its affecting the kids [even if she is a pita... Then you can say (and even prove if its done over the phone) he tried]
Aside from that, you can't control what happens over hard as that is. All you can do is try your best to be supportive and talk to them about their thoughts/feelings. Let them know you love them and that you're always willing to talk. You could even try coming up with an 'ice breaker' game to all play together when they get home from BM's.... Something to ease the tension, if they're having fun, they may just forget about the things BM.told them and slide right back into your routine and atmosphere.

I've been there, I just wanted to shake BM and yell "dont you see what you're doing to the kids??". Your SC obviously love you and you're doing everything you can to give them what they need. Try to stay patient... Take a night off and go out, relax and decompress... Then you can approach it with a fresh mind. And pray! I feel an unbelievable peace when I hand these kinds of things over to God. You will get through it. Hang in there, mama! :)
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by Member on Oct. 1, 2012 at 1:25 PM
Thank you for that! You have no idea to know what a relief it is to know I'm not alone!

When DH and his ex divorced, ex moved an hour and a half away to enroll in school. DH had not yet been assigned a position (he is a pastor). Of course during this time she was claiming abuse (also a pathological liar) though her claims were always ruled unfounded by CPS... At any rate, he was awarded 50% custody but due to the distance agreed on allowing the ex to hold primary placement until he was established with a church of his own, so we get them Friday to Monday every other week at present. (my DD is with us primarily, she see's her father Friday evening to Sunday evening every other week)

DH got his call a year and a half ago, less than 30 minutes from the SC. Again, she's tried lying and false accusations, this time in an attempt to prevent him from getting 50% placement he has the right to. So we're going back to court to defend the fact there is no reason why we should not have that placement and to combat her attempts at restricting and prevent him from exercising his parental rights (she has tried to prevent his rights to be involved and any decisions regarding healthcare and schooling/ daycare etc.) it's a control thing... ugh... and DH did try talking to her about the welfare of the children in regards to pressing opinions on them, even suggesting adding a child psychologist as a mediator for the children and tried to point out that it would be benefitial overall, but she responded harshly. (apparently she knows better than professionals could ever possibly) we did record that effort, so that will hopefully come into play when we return to court as well.

Thank you for the encouragement regarding offering the kids an easier transition - I think we'll try something like a family game night on the day they come home, and of course always remaining open and encouraging them to talk out their feelings and frustrations. I've already been placing more emphasis on good behavior (sharing, kind words and actions etc.) and gently reminding not to say hurtful things and having them resolve it with each other when it does happen. It's just heartbreaking trying to undo the damage done to them :(

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get out much since we moved up here, with DH's calling we're on call pretty much constantly! Lol... But I will certainly make an effort. Being home with DD still with the fever and strep, I think my decompression will consist of prayer and playing on Pinterest after she's in bed while waiting for DH to finish up with the confirmation classes tonight!
by Member on Oct. 2, 2012 at 2:13 PM

I am a SM, BM and a christian. My husband and I both had a son from a previous relationship when we met and got married. I had the same issues with the BM of my SS. We basically had the same conversation as you did about my ss calling me mom. My SS was 2 1/2 when we got visitation (long story). My ss is now 21. My relationship with my SS is still good to this day.

BM called me on day and said that ss said i made him call me mom (which i didn't, he did that on his own) and she wanted me to stop right away. I told her that i would not stop him from calling me mom. I also told her that i never could or would try and take her place. No one can take the place of a BM, however he could love more then one mother figure in his life. I believed that he felt more apart of our family and we were not going to show partiality in any way with any of the kids. She told me that I did not understand and she hoped i would be hurt like that one day. I reminded her that I had a son who had a SM. my son called her mom. Yes it hurt and made me feel bad, however I was not going to put my fears and hurts onto my son. If the Sm was being good enough to him, where he wanted to call her mom, i was not going to stand in the way of that. (my son is also 21 and he tells me that I gave birth to him and would always be number one) What we chose to do as a family, was stayed consistent in our home and values no matter what. I had a conversation with my ss about calling me mom after his bm called me. I told him that i loved him no matter what he called me. He was and would always be apart of our family. if it made it easier for him to call me something else then i would be all for it. At 6 he decided to call me Stacy in front of his mom and then call me mom while he was with us. Later in life (around 11) he told his BM that he loved me and would call me mom. she by  that point realized that i loved him and was good to him. She started to introduce me as SS's  2nd mom. This did not come with out a ton of prayer, staying consistent, loving unconditionally, and letting my ss do what was going to be easiest on him.

Please take a deep breath and have faith that God will take care of this whole situation. God turns the bad to good. Pray for this mother to have her children's best interest at heart and to not lean on her anger, hurt and need to be right and righteous. BM in your case is treading on some very thin ice when she is attacking a man of God, even if its her ex.  Be the mom and christian that God has called you to be. Have compassion for your sK's mom. God is the only one who can change her heart and mind. If you say something to her at this point it will only add fuel to the fire. God will surely make a way where you think there is not a way. God can bring her to a point where you can talk wisdom, love and God into her life. God did that for us. I messed up a few times and felt that i could straighten the bm in our situation out. it only made it worse and put us back a few steps. sometimes we can get in our own way. My main thing to BM when i did get a chance to talk to her (like when she called to yell at me) I told her by no means did i want to take her place, she was his bm and  no one could take that away. I did not call her to tell her that....i just showed love and reminded her of it every chance i could. It would be nice to say that i was perfect every time....but i wasn't. My flesh got in the way sometime, especially when she caught me off guard. But God tells us to consistently strive to be like him, die to our flesh daily, and have love and wisdom in our words.

SO basically, tell your ss that he is perfect the way he is and it is not his fault for what is going on. You can tell him that you love him calling you mom but understand if he feels he cant right now and can start calling you mom again, if and when he feels good about it. if she puts pressure on take the pressure away. It saddens me when i hear mothers putting their feelings before their children and make them feel bad about how they feel towards someone else. I told my sons BioF that he had to make or break his relationship with his son. there was nothing i could do about him and his mistakes. I constently prayed that God would bless and protect our boys even tho we had made mistakes and bad choices in our lives. It wasnt their fault that they had to go through this and i didnt want them to reap anything negative from our own failings and mistakes.

soooo sorry this was so long.

by Member on Oct. 2, 2012 at 2:26 PM

P.S if you ever want to talk by email or phone then please feel free to do so. I have had 21 years of the BM/SM role. I belive that it has turned out the way God intended it to. Like I said my SS and I have a close relationship and he still calls me mom. He wants me at his wedding, he wants me there when he ever has a baby and baby sits his little brothers for us at times. they are 6 and 9.

by Member on Oct. 2, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Hang in there!  It sounds like you are responding to the situation in a good way, but I can see how it would be so frustrating and heartbreaking to see the pain the kids are put through.  Keep on loving them and focusing on the positive.  As they grow they will understand more.  God can heal any of the emotional damage, both for them and for you.  One of the fruits of the Spirit is patience, and God is helping you grow in that.  You can't see how he may use what you are going through to help you as a pastors wife, or just as a friend, to identify with someone else sometime in the future.

by Member on Oct. 3, 2012 at 1:43 PM
Thank you ladies, for understanding and uplifting my spirits in all this - thank you from the deepest and most sincere depths of my heart!
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