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Co-parenting a Teenager with an Abusive Ex-Husband

co-parenting with loveIt is difficult to deal with a manipulative abusive ex-husband. Co-parenting with my abusive ex-husband has been more than a little difficult.  In fact, it has been downright painful at times. Time to make smarter choices when dealing with my teenager.

There are times I have felt hopeless, like this is some sort of game that he is winning.  Plus, he does often treat our daughter like a pawn for some game he is playing.  The problem is manipulation does seem to be pretty powerful tool that is working with our daughter.

Here are the issues:

  • She never gets in trouble at his house. How is this, well there are no rules, or the rules are opposite of our rules. So if you don’t have rules, you really can’t do anything wrong. So what would you get in trouble for?
  • When she gets in trouble at our house, for failing a class, lying, or smoking pot (recently)… she can call him and he will be understanding and we are overbearing.
  • When she isn’t trying in school, we are constantly on her, and he can praise her for bring her F up to a D at the last moment.  They tell her they are so proud of her.
  • Having no rule at his house, makes our house look like a strict household where we are just unfair parents who won’t let her do anything.
  • She goes to his house and tells her “They said I don’t deserve to eat food”, something we never said, and then he calls up and yells at us for saying something we didn’t say.  So when she is angry, she uses this tool to create additional conflict.
  • He and I do not communicate, not that I wouldn’t like to co-parent with her father, but that I really can’t co-parent with a combative parent. So, our teenage daughter takes full advantage of this opportunity to spin the story however she likes to both of the households.
  • His wife has told my daughter that I am crazy, or have ‘borderline personality disorder’.  Keep in mind that she is an assistant teacher and not really qualified to diagnose anyone, especially since we have never met.
  • He has spent years telling our daughter passive aggressive comments, like; your mom is going to be mad at you, you only have one real dad, he isn’t your real dad, you need to listen to your mom ‘no matter how she acts’, we aren’t the food police here, ….

So, I would like to say the truth wins, but it doesn’t always.  I was really thinking today I need to rethink my approach.  So, over here we do get on her too much when she lies, doesn’t do what she says, or does something she shouldn’t. So I realize, we need to pull a little Alanon tools into this situation.  No matter what she does, at her dad’s house they praise her for everything so they look better.

My best guess at this moment, is she is 17 and almost at the age where she could drive.  If she hadn’t been lying, failing school, and being so untrustworthy… we probably would have already have completed driving school, gotten her a used car and had her working by now. My ex-husband wants her to get a license, and this is even after being caught smoking pot in a car less than three weeks ago. He is determined to get her in a car.

He has never wanted to put the work in throughout her entire childhood.  He did not help her with homework on weekends, would say that she doesn’t have homework on weekends.  He almost never took her to any birthday parties that fell on his weekend. He stopped coming to see her during the week and just did visitation every other weekend. So, what is this big push now for her to come live with him.

Well, until she graduates from high school, he is supposed to pay child support.  He made the max amount of money, so he owes the max amount of child support. So, if she came to live with him, he could possibly stop paying child support.  If she had a car, she could potentially drive herself to school.  He may even think she could drive herself to the school by us and not even change schools. He also says he wants to buy her a car, and of course she wants that vehicle.

What he doesn’t realize is that she can’t choose until she is 18, but he believes she really can choose at 17. So, by him telling her this, she of course is really rebelling against the rules.  She doesn’t want to follow the rules and so it is easier to go live with dad, where she can do what she wants.

What do I do about this? It is definitely a tough situation. If she has an attitude and we are constantly on her, and they are constantly praising her, then she feels life would just be better at her dad’s house.

So, perhaps we need to approach this in a better way.  First, I do have her signed up to see a new counselor, because her old one just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her.  Probably will have to make a deal with her to see the counselor every week until she is 18, then if she still wants to move out at 18, well I can’t stop her.  I am hoping the counselor will possibly be able to reach her between now and then.

At home, I think we need to be more loving.  Continue with our boundaries, but speak more about love and how much we want her to succeed.  Try to release the tension, but at the same time keep our rules.  This new territory and will require plenty of Alanon meetings, Co-dependent meetings and church. Hopefully, she will pull through this okay and survive her childhood.

Accept the fact, that this might be all wrong and I might have to change my approach again.  In Alanon, one of the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ is ‘Do not be discouraged by the mistakes you make’. These same rules should probably be applied when dealing with teenagers.

Al-Anon Family Groups

Do’s and Don’ts

DO…

  • Forgive
  • Be honest with yourself
  • Be Humble Take it Easy – Tension is Harmful Play –
  • Find recreation and hobbies
  • Keep on Trying whenever you fail
  • Learn all the facts about Alcoholism (or Teenagerism)
  • Attend Alanon meetings often
  • Pray

DON’T…

  • Be Self-Righteous
  • Try to dominate, nag, scold or complain
  • Lose Your Temper
  • Try to push anyone but yourself
  • Keep bringing up the past
  • Keep checking up on your alcoholic (teenager)
  • Wallow in self-pity
  • Make threats you don’t intend to carry out
  • Be over-protective
  • Be a doormat

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