3 weeks ago
I'm not technically separated, but live in an extremely dysfunctional situation due to my partner's abusive behaviour, where we're basically not separated not together. That's whole other story and for a different forum I think.
I thought someone on here might have some ideas / insight into anything I can do to encourage my teens to view talking as a normal thing that people do even if they don't see it at home? Before covid hit things weren't too bad as their dad was at work in the city all day and we would eat dinner each night before he got home. My eldest has always been very rude and disrespectful towards me and her siblings - copying her dad I suspect. Dinners did have a lot of me asking her to stop calling her siblings names, putting them down etc, but at least there was conversation. When covid hit their dad started to work from home and suddenly our 2 nights of awkward dinners became 7. Anything I talked about he would dismiss or attack me. There was a lot of raging that the kids witnessed. Another tactic was for my eldest to make some nasty comment to me putting down my perspective - like "oh did you read that on your facebook mums group" and he would join in her derision of me laughing. Another tactic was to encourage them to think that I have favourites. Or he would just roll his eyes when I talked, talk over me etc. It was so exhausting and upsetting to hear his nasty words come out of my children's mouths that I pretty much fell silent.
I think the last few years have been so much about barely surviving I didn't even understand how damaging all this has been to the kids. When we all travel in the car together - there have been a few long trips - there is complete silence unless my youngest is chatting to me. We no longer see any of our friends as they all hate him for how he's treated me. We have no family on either side in this country. So all in all the last few years my kids have not observed any kind of normal adult conversations. When I try and ask my eldest about school, friends etc she responds with things like "what's that got to do with you". I have to keep repeating that she's my daughter and I love her and so I'm interested in her life. Years ago a psychologist suggested maybe she is angry with me for how things are at home. That could be part of it. Her dad gets a high from being abusive and controlling but it leads me to be withdrawn and depressed so they could just see him as fun superficial dad and me as boring/miserable.
I am trying to plan my exit from this awful situation, but I guess I just wonder could the lack of role models of normal conversations have anything to do with this? I was really close to my middle child but since turning into a teen he's acting like his older sister. I don't know how much is regular teen behaviour / copying older sibling etc or our family situation. We have the weirdest conversations with me trying to explain that people talk about things. I'm not really intrusive or anything I respect their right to privacy about their friendships, inner thoughts and feelings etc. but I get one word answers to literally every thing. And then when I keep asking more questions I get an angry responses of what's with the 20 questions.
I suspect there is an element of their dad putting me down and making up lies about me behind my back but I'm likely to make things worse if I ask them straight out and because they don't tell me anything I don't think they will spontaneously bring anything up.
3 weeks ago
Hi there @catnap and thank you for opening up to us about your family.
It sounds like this has weighed heavy on your heart for quite some time. It strikes me how isolating this situation has been, considering you aren't in contact with friends and don't live close to family, so I'm glad you've reached out to us, as nobody should have to navigate these kinds of conflicts alone.
Firstly, I want to acknowledge the hurt and frustration you must be feeling, given the abusive and controlling behaviour of the children's father. I'm curious to know if you have any safe and supportive people in your life to talk to?
I hear the concern you have for your children, and it's clear you're a caring parent who wants to talk openly and be involved in their lives. They are truly lucky to have you in their corner, and although it might not feel like it right now, you are a good role model for them.
It sounds like you're committed to discussing the importance of talking, and I admire your approach to your eldest daughter questioning you. Reminding her that you're interested in her life and love her is great.
I thought it might be helpful for you to unpack the questions you have with someone one-on-one, and if you agree, we have a free parent support service you sign up for here. Let us know what you think of that suggestion!
I will also check in with you via email, so when you have some free time to check your inbox, please do.
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