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Carol Kryder LMFT
Carol Kryder LMFT, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 808
Experience:  APA Board Certified, Diplomate,Substance Abuse Professional, 20 years family therapy experience
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My ExWife is extremely, what I call, co-dependent on our children.

Customer Question

My ExWife is extremely, what I call, co-dependent on our children. She calls them several times a day. Can't stand being away from them. One day last year she showed up at my house at 6am crying and telling me that she was so worried about me taking the kids. Saying that my fiance, now wife, can have more children but please don't take our children from her. She had no reason to even be concerned about this.

Years ago she was admitted into the hospital twice because she tried to commit suicide. This is after many time of just being completely paranoid about me leaving her or cheating on her. I don't remember what her diagnosis was, but I remember it was a combination of paranoid...something something...

She was great when she was on her medicine, and terror when she wasn't, constantly calling me on the phone, asking when I would be home, etc.

After my youngest was born, and we were separated, I was out of town on business and she called at 3 am saying that she was going to kill the baby because she was crying and wouldn't go to sleep. I ended up calling her sister to go to her house and pick up the girls.

I'm glad not to be in the relationship with her, but my daughters are 4 and 6, and she acts like her life would end without them. Yet she gets so upset with them sometimes.

Now we are back to court over custody. After our divorce she refused to take the parenting class, insisting that she didn't need to. Of course, after arguing with me that she didn't need to and me showing her the law that she had to, the courts gave a default judgement giving me full custody.

Of course, however, I did really make a big thing out of this, and pretty much we just split the time between us. But now we're going back to court after her fiancé convinced her one night that she didn't have to bring the girls back, resulting in me calling the police. She won't take any responsibility for anything that she does, everything is someone else's fault.

I'd like to have any suggestions on how you think I should
1. Help my daughters. What to expect in the future? Can this behavior, co-dependence, etc. affect them and how can I help them.
2. How do you think this should affect the custody issue? Obviously there is much more that has happened then I can write here. But truthfully I worry about the girls being with her too much. She doesn't handle stress, gets upset way too easily, make very poor decisions. If you have suggestions on what to say, do, or anything, I'd appreciate it.

I'd appreciate any suggestions or thoughts on how to deal with this.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Carol Kryder LMFT replied 6 years ago.

It sounds like your ex is depressed and probably has a personality disorder. The reason why I say that is she blames everyone else for everything and will not take responsibility for her own actions. Her fiancee is no better, encouraging her to violate the parenting plan. This will be an ongoing and difficult situation. She needs therapy.

Your questions:
1/ Expect the same in the future. She will continue to act this way, it will probably get worse as the kids get older, and she may even give them to you when they are teens. Yes, it will affect them, they will be in therapy over this eventually. You may need to hire a guardian ad liteum to protect their interests.

2/ Given what you have told me you should remain the custodial parent.

I hope this has been helpful. You have a rocky road ahead of you. I wish you well.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Mrs. Kryder,

Thanks you for responding to my questions above. I've thought a lot about your answer and more importantly things have been progressing in the custody case.

At this point we're scheduled to have a custody evaluation performed. My ex-wife and I have an appointment with the psychologist next week and I'm not sure what to expect.

I have a few questions related to this and would appreciate any insight you might be able to share.

Since November of last year, I've been keeping a journal of things going on including what the ex has done and my thoughts about them. I mention things like the day she picked up the girls from school with out telling me and I showed up and they weren't there, times she's gotten angry and yelled, phone calls that she said things to the girls she shouldn't have, and the over abundance of phone calls that she makes each day that the girls are with me. She'll call 6 - 10 times a day until she talks to them.

However, I'm wondering if I should provide a copy of the journal to the custody evaluator. I read something online that suggested that I shouldn't talk negatively about the ex, yet I feel compelled to provide him a copy of this journal. I'm also feel like I should mention that she was hospitalized at least twice for attempted suicide, and that she used to take zoloft.

You mentioned in your reply that it sounded like she had a personality disorder. After her last hospitalization, I spoke to a psychologist about her and he, in fact, had me read a book called I Hate You - Don't Leave Me (about personality disorders), hoping that it would help my situation with her.

I'm at a loss as to how much I should tell the psychologist about her past incidences, hospitalizations, etc.

I do realize that he will probably administer an MMPI test. Do you think this will catch this?

Do you have any other thoughts about how custody evaluation go?

I do understand that these are very open questions and that every situation is different and every evaluator is different. But your thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Expert:  Carol Kryder LMFT replied 6 years ago.
Hello again:

If you have a good custody evaluator, and he administers the MMPI, I think you can safely assume he will pick up on her issues. If the journal is solely about her behavior that you have documented, I would tell the evaluator that you have been keeping a record of her behavior that you believe is detrimental to the children, and offer to let him see it. If he declines, drop it. You do not want to be seen as having an agenda here. If he is a good evaluator, he will interview family and friends as well as the children. He will know how to ask the children what the parents are saying about each other. He will also ask for records of her hospitalizations and any medications she is taking or has taken. If she lies about this, you can notify the evaluator and provide proof of the hospitalizations, but give her a chance to be forthcoming first.

This is difficult for you to say the least, but keep taking the high road. My experience with custody evaluators is that most of them do a thorough and conscientious job, and arrive at a proper conclusion. Your ex's behavior is so outrageous he has no choice but to acknowledge it. The hard part for you is that he may decide to allow her custody as long as she is in therapy, but then there is the matter of compliance and who will be monitoring her. Since your children are so young, there is an excellent chance that you will be awarded 50/50 custody, since she wants to be part of their lives. If this happens, make sure there is monitoring for her compliance with whatever the evaluator recommends as far as treatment and accountability.

I hope this has been helpful. I wish you the best. Let me know if you have further questions.

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