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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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I have been divorced about three years. I started dating a

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I have been divorced about three years. I started dating a man who I got rid off after he was threatening to hit my children. Now I have been dating another man for about a year and all of a sudden 2/3 kids are saying they are afraid of him. I was trying to work with my son and his homework he wasn't listening to me. My bf stated that he would like to crack him in his head since he wasn't listening. Not appropriate and I talked to him about it. He can be hard on them sometimes but other than this one incident he has never threatened to hit them, never hit them, or abused them in anyway. I talked to my bf about how the kids feel and he was shocked that he would be afraid of him. He admitted some behaviors that he has done wrong and says he will change. They are currently at their dad's house and now do not want to come back to mine. My heart is broken as this is a man that i love very much. I think of all the fun we have had and all of the good things that he has done for them and then it all comes down to this. I am most shocked that my daughter who is 12 would say this. He never really gets on her. I am home with them all of the time and this is not a situation where I leave them alone with him on a regular basis. I am afraid that their dad is using this situation to turn them against me and to try to get me to break up with my bf. How do I move on from here? How do I assure my kids that they don't need to be afraid of him so that they feel comfortable coming back to my home?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 1 year ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about this sad situation.

Customer:

This really breaks my heart as I thought things were going very well. He is not the type of man that expresses himself though words so much but with actions. I think of all the things he has done for them and this seems out of left field.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I can see you already got a very bad and painful experience with previous boyfriend because of the very same issue around possible abuse, and you were absolutely right on not allowing it from happening, since a boyfriend who happens to be unable to respect, care , love and support your children in healthy ways, do not deserve your affection, trust nor presence.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

How did he explain his recent statement showing violent approach?

Customer:

He was getting frustrated that my son wasn't listening to me. I know he wouldnt hit me so to see and hear him say such a thing was a little shocking to me. He has never shown any violent or anger tendencies towards me or anyone else for that matter. He said he didn't realize that his words would have such an effect on him and that he would end up feeling scared of him. He was tearful and apologized to me. He asked if he should leave and I told him no.

Customer:

He didn't think that my son would really think that he would hit him.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

It is tricky since your very fear about their father influencing them to behave this way, to feel afraid could be in fact what is going on, that would be a very common scenario, whenever we talk about dysfunctional people who do not truly care much about children but use and manipulate them for fueling their own ego.

Also you said that for most of the year you have been dating there has not been any incidence of any form of abuse, but just a nice relationship, and that's why it got your attention this much to suddenly find yourself facing the resistance from your children to get back home.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I see, and this was the only isolated episode on this nature, but after it him and your daughter decided not to go back home stating they fear any form of abuse , right?

Customer:

The only complaint my kids brought to their dad was that he used a swear word and that is it. One whole year and that was it. He has gotten them into playing golf, we have taken a vacation together, and they seem to get along fine. As I said hes not the most affectionate person but I think they can tell he cares. He does tell them that. My ex is a very bitter person and even though he has remarried i'm sure he is eating this up right now

Customer:

yes he did not say anything to my daughter although she was there when it happened. They told their dad and now they are scared to come here. I should say my 7 yearold has no issues

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I see, then it could be indeed absolutely reasonable to think their father could be manipulating them. This is not a concern when we talk about mature and more assertive ex-spouses, but whenever there are serious personal issues, it is very common to see scenarios like this. You and your children need and deserve each other and it is unacceptable for them to remain at their father's home when they are supposed to be with you, allowing such situation would only enable the manipulation, fueling a dysfunctional dynamic that would not benefit anybody here.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Any unhealthy behavior, like resistance to get back home out of unreasonable fear must be confronted, with clear understanding, empathy and a responsible approach. They should spend time with their father as agreed as long as respected and protected, the same as with you,and you have been taking good care of them and make sure there is no issue related to your boyfriend, then any issue inconsistent with reality must be addressed and never fueled, otherwise they would be easily manipulated and learn distorted ways of behaving, using and abusing feeling and people, and you do not need nor want that at all.

Customer:

Especially my daughter who is 12. She and my bf have spent time together with no issues. We were at the Y this week and she was following him around. He is the most hurt by her stating that she is afraid of him. I hate to say that she is lying but I don't feel that she is being 100% truthful and perhaps is saying what she thinks her dad wants to hear. I'm am also hurt that they couldn't come to me but that is something I will have to work on. It seems when they are unhappy they tell their dad who then tell me what is going on. They are currently with their dad as this is his time with them. I really would like them to come back as my bf wants to talk to them himself and apologize. I have agreed to meet with them and their dad on Saturday.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

if your boyfriend was able to acknowledge his mistake when making such statement, showed remorse and apologized, committing to never do handle a situation like that in abusive ways,and his concrete actions support his words, from the past and present, then it is fair and necessary to take his apologies and keep working on deepening bonding nurturing your relationships.

Customer:

I think I would personally see them here on Sunday which is when he drops them off. I think their dad's presence at such a conversation may not result in truthfull responses. I also do not want to get into a situation where i am put on the defensive. I feel he may put me on the spot to try and make a decision about my relationship

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Sounds very good, in that way you would clarify things, and once their time to come back happens, he would be able to apologize and all together work on making of this incident a useful and helpful means for deepening communication, understanding and empathy.

Customer:

He did admit it. He also admitted he has some other behaviors that he needs to change. He apologized to me and wants to apologize to the kids. He tends to tease them a little hard not using the best choice of words. He said he would stop doing that.

Customer:

So do you think I should tell their dad thanks but no thanks on the saturday meeting which is to occur at a place of his choosing.

Customer:

Or should he be involved to see what my response is to their thoughts as a way to give them a sense of security that things will be ok on Sunday. I want them to see that I hear their thoughts and I am addressing their concerns.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right, he should not be allowed to interfere in your relationship, anything you may discuss must be limited to providing adequate parenting focusing on your children's well-being, but never to allow any form of manipulation or abuse, so common when people have serious personal issues like it seems he has according to your report.

Customer:

Our relationship ended and it was not very amicable. We had a difficult divorce and our relationship since then has been rocky at best. We have frequently been to mediation and court in the past. We tend to disagree on things when it comes to the kids and that brings an added stress to my life.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

it depends. If their father is mature and respectful enough to have this level of dialogue without trying to sabotage your relationship and manipulate the children, then I see no problem about a dialogue including him. But if that's not the case, it would be better to work on it with your children and then with your boyfriend, and in case they continue to present similar behavior and you feel their father behind it pushing them, then you would have to confront his behavior alone and in front of them if needed.

Customer:

I don't feel that he is. I feel that he is thinking that I should be getting rid of the bf. He tends to deal with me much better when I am single but that is just my observation. I am a strong enough person that if things start to move into him wanting to discuss my relationship in front of them that I will have to redirect the conversation or tell him if he brings it up again the conversation is over.

Customer:

I have a feeling that he is manipulating the children to pull on my heart strings to get me to get rid of my bf. He has already accused me of not wanting to protect my children and has stated that I have failed in making sure that they feel safe at my home.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Then I believe it would be the best to first talk with your children without his presence, then with your boyfriend and only if you see he continues pushing the situation manipulating the children, to confront such behavior with the children present after trying to discuss them with him alone. It is not an easy scenario, but it could be necessary taking into account the possible manipulation game here, which would be abuse by their father, which should not be allowed at all. In cases when one parent has serious personal issues undermining communication, it is always wise to consider a marriage and family counselor to provide support facilitating dialogue and confrontations in order to resolve similar situations.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

These are clear red flags and it is necessary not to dismiss them, but to be very aware and cautious in order not to allow any form of abuse by him affecting you or your children.

Customer:

My communication with him is always not in their presence. I keep the children out of it so they have no idea what I am dealing with regarding him.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

There would be situations where it would be necessary for them to know otherwise they could get very confused and conflicted with what they get from him and what is assumed in your relationship because of not talking about that.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

For such dialogue counseling support could be precious.

Customer:

For example, my son who has no athletic ability really I wanted to sign him up for tennis just to learn the game. His dad wants to sign him up for advanced lessons at an expensive cost when I felt that basic lesson from the city would be fine and that is what he has done before. I disagreed with the lessons and he therefore tells my son that itsf my fault that he is not playing tennis. This is what I am dealing with. Then I have to explain to my son that he can play tennis but just not where hid dad wants him to go.

Customer:

I agree. So i do try to explain to them about what their dad is responsible for and what I am responsible for. for example, if their dad is supposed to buy them something but doesnt i let them know that. I will say Im sorry but your dad should have done that for you.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right, it's very frustrating since he is going against common sense and trying to manipulate and set your son against you. If he does want your son to attend such classes regardless of what common sense shows, then he could afford investing that money and handling any challenges that could arise from it, once they are more advanced in nature while your son requires developing basic expertise. Obviously your son needs to understand the basic logic about it, but it is both parents responsibility to chose for what is better for him.

Customer:

My son wanted a video game that he left here. I told his dad he could come and pick it up. He felt that I should drop it off and I told him no. He did not come and get it. My son then asks me why wouldn't I drop off his video game. I explained to him I gave his dad the opportunity to retrieve it and he chose not too.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Absolutely, everything should be handled with responsibility, respect, and honesty, no denial, avoidance must be present which are as dysfunctional as trying to manipulate children against a parent.

Customer:

I really try to do that as he wants to sign him up for baseball. He has not played baseball since he was 5 and he didn't enjoy it then. He has ADHD and were were told by a counselor that individual sports would be best for him. I told him its his responsibilty to not only sign him up but also take the time the work on his lack of skills. My bf has done some work with him but he needs a lot more. I fear that he wont sign him up and then tell my son its my fault when really I don't feel like we should be setting him up for failure, disappointment, and a drop in self esteem.

Customer:

I signed him up for swimming which he enjoys and I feel will help boost his confidence as he starts to see some progress.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Sounds absolutely good, reasonable and assertive, here you are thinking about his well-being and not pushing him nor things because of a rigid criteria, but adjusting things to what could benefit him the most.

Customer:

So, what is your suggestion in dealing with this? Should I go to this Saturday meeting to try to address their concerns and then have a more robust conversation on Sunday? He does have to bring them here and he does not have a choice in doing that.

Customer:

His dad was angry that i did not discuss it with him first but the time to sign up was ending and the classes were filling up. I thought I made a rational decision to sign him up and discuss it later. The lessons are on my day with them so he doesn't even have to take him. So he won't pay for half but I can deal with that.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I think you could better meet with him (father) alone, and then on Sunday, you and your children first, then together with your boyfriend.

Customer:

I have had a discussion with him on the phone and it doesn't really go anywhere. He seems to think I am a bad mother, I am not protecting the children, and he is concerned for their safety. We don't really get along so I'm not sure where a meeting with just him will get me anywhere other than me wanting to kick him in the shin.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

In case this issue remains fueled by their father's influence, confirming that is the case here, then you would have to directly address the issue with your children present, but if you feel it would lead to an unhealthy argument-fight, it would be better for you to look for family counselor to support you on it.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Then do not waste your time with that and focus on working with your children and boyfriend.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

In case you see that the issue persists because of his influence, then you would have to address it with professional psychological and if necessary, legal support, once such behavior is clearly abusive and should not be tolerated at all.

Customer:

I feel like my bf needs to hear their feelings from their mouth and then be given the opportunity to respond accordingly.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Absolutely.

Customer:

and apologize as well which is what he wants to do. he feels absolutely horrible about the whole thing. I think I will go on Saturday and listen to what they have to say. I will set strict ground rules with their dad before we start that at no time will we be discussing my relationship.

Customer:

We are also supposed to take a trip together for spring break which my daughter says she won't go if he goes.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Then the sooner you address and work on this issue the better.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I hope you could get a solution and helpful lessons from it. It's never easy but necessary and worthy, and if ti takes to get family counseling for you, children and boyfriend, then please do not doubt to look for a competent family therapist.

Customer:

I may look into that if things do not get better. I really think that once we discuss things, they hear him apologize and see a change that things will be better. My daughter does not like recieving discipline from him even though he doesn't really say too much with her. With a new stepmom that is already trying to assert herself and institute her rules this is a very stressfull time for them I think. Then to have one more adult telling them what to do there has been some push back from them.

Customer:

I really dont feel as though he has done something wrong where i am concerned for their safety. Their perception is different so we will have to work on that.

Customer:

I also dont want them to think that they can manipulate me into getting rid of someone that they don't completely like when they don't have a valid reason. I think kids can be a good judge of character sometimes but I have also seen children sabotaging relationship for their own simple reasons

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Sure it's challenging for them, but it should not lead to avoid setting necessary healthy discipline at your home too. With time if everything goes fine, he would have to have a solid parental role so necessary for your children when with you. This would not be about adding extra rules but keeping consistency of healthy discipline that should be shared by both of you.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right. I support you and hope this experience becomes a useful means for further growth and improvement in your relationship and family.

Customer:

He has set some of his own rules which i support but he mostly back me up in what I am telling them. He enforces the rules that are already in place.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Sounds perfect.

Customer:

Thanks for all of your help. What are some important pieces to take into with me when i talk to them with their dad present.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You're very welcome. Just be honest, direct, empathetic, caring and proactive focusing on making of this situation something positive, helpful for promoting your well-being as a family, with more open dialogue and ability to enjoy more of your time together, that each person is unique but as long as "mutual" respect and accountability is present, we all can grow and learn from each other making of shared experiences, something more fulfilling and meaningful. You would use your won words of course.

Customer:


That is very helpful. I feel there is somewhat of a power struggle going on here. I don't feel its appropriate for them dad to keep them for an extended time as that would be avoiding the situation. Although I did consider that for a brief moment. I need to make sure that everything is ok so that we can take this trip as I had planned. It would be a shame to not go as I hoped this would give us some bonding time as I try to establish a new family unit with them.

Customer:

How do I handle their dad if he begins to offer his opinions that may be hurtful or detrimental to any forward progress.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You would confront any unacceptable, disrespectful or abusive behaviors, setting and keeping clear boundaries and not engaging in any form of arguing. If he is unable or unwilling to dialogue as an adult, then there is nothing you could do about it, but to focus on taking good care of yourself and your children.

Customer:

That sounds like a plan. Thank you so much for your help. This is such a hard situation one that I did not see coming at all especially when you think everything is going so well.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I understand what you mean but only you know how tough it feels to be in your shoes. Thank you for your trust.

Customer:

Is there a way I could follow up with you again after this weekend? Like a debriefing session of sorts.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Sure you can, just remember that this website format is limited to question-answer, but there are other websites offering professional counseling. I will be here to follow up, no doubt.

Customer:

just to get feedback honestly

Customer:

not necessarily ongoing counseling

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

No problem.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Thank you for your trust. Take good care.

Customer:

Thanks

Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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