Thanks a lot for your reply, it has helped quite a bit. However, I would like to clarify things further..
I am relieved that some of this behavior, that is, becoming closer with his dad, is a natural phase, but regarding my son being rude to me only when my husband is around, is that part of that, or is that due to the other issues i.e. grandparents/husband' behavior etc?
Regarding the grandparents, yes this is a 'culture' thing, (we are Indian) but after a lot of fights/struggles, this has improved a lot, that is, less of their interference etc. The only point here is, since in our absence they look after him, take him to whatever classes I put him in, drop/pick him from school etc, they feel entitled to some authority. But anyway, issues on this front are now reduced to the extent possible.
Regarding my husband, yes I agree, I will have to work on discussing these things with him, with regard to supporting me etc. His point of view is if my son is rude to me, I should handle on my own, and vice-versa when he will handle on his own without my support, which I feel is not right. He refuses to come to a counselor, but he has agreed to come to a child counselor for our son. We just had 1 session with the child counselor which was only related to providing background info etc. Am wondering if through this, I can get my husband to correct things?
One query I have is, is it possible to bring up the child normally, attempting to have a united front on parenting etc, without us being a normal couple, or having a normal marriage? My husband seems to think so, while I think it is not possible to resolve parenting issues without resolving marriage issues/having a normal marriage. And I feel, it would also help for my son to see us affectionate/nice to each other, which is not happening since the last 3-4 years.
Background: I have been married for 17 years. After my son was born 8 years back, my inlaws shifted in, and there were a lot of serious fights due to them, where my husband along with them, constantly humiliated me and was extremely verbally abusive. He become very very negative to me, not willing to discuss/resolve anything, in case of any difference of opinion he used to threaten lawyer/divorce, using extreme abusive language even in front of the child, Saying ‘my house, you get lost/get out, cut off totally from me, even talking abusively about my parents/grandparents who are not even in the picture. My son has been in the midst of all these severe shouting and fights, and has always been closest to me, he has also gone through the worst in his formative years witnessing all this. My husband used to threaten him and, somewhere around last year, 2013, things reached a peak, where I felt that his harassment was very harmful to my child and me. Because of his rage and bad temper, the child was frightened of him, and was naturally more inclined towards me. This angered him further, and he started using force /anger /scolding to get the child to be with him. This became so much, that I felt that my son would get mentally /physically harmed, there was one episode which was the last straw, where because of my husband’s rage, I took the child to my room and shut the door, to calm and soothe him, and my husband just broke the lock, and violently pulled the child from me. He also threatened the child a lot.
He had been telling the child, that me(his mother) will take him away, if he spends more time with me. He told the child that the court will ask him whom he wants to be with, and that way he will be forced to spend equal hours with his dad too. The child was very stressed with all this. He had told the child, it is his house, his car, his money, and showed him his account to show that he bought the house, and that he pays for our trips during vacation. When the child went to him to play with him on Sunday, he again questioned him as to why he is spending more time with me his mother. And he got angry at the child, threatening/making him cry, told him to go away, get lost. He told the child, ‘bring a sharp knife and kill me’, then cut a cake and be happy am dead. He told the child ‘you stupid kid, I will not play with you, as you are not interested in my games, I will instead teach /play cricket etc with my colleague’s kid.’ Also, he is poisoning the child against me by saying , that your mother is horrible, she is poisonous, tries to pull you by fear, threatens you etc.
My son came and cried and told me all this.
After tolerating all this , him getting more and more abusive, this finally made me take the step of taking the child away to my parents’ place, as things were getting too violent, and abusive, after I filed an FIR with the police for his harassment.
(other than this there was not physical violence, but a lot of above type of thing)
He kept calling and threatening and insisted on speaking to the child .The child was so frightened and didn’t want to talk to him.
Meanwhile I also spoke to lawyers regarding the matter, as he had long been threatening a divorce. Lawyer also felt this is harassment and domestic violence and that he is abusive.
But finally, after 4-5 days, I returned back to give it one chance, after discussing with my parents, as we felt that it is better not to break up, for the child’s sake.
Till this point, since I had just meekly tolerated all the harassment, he was getting worse and worse , but after I took this step, he seemed to have cooled down a bit, at least on the surface. But at the same time, in-laws domination/interference was still there, and instead of keeping the child’s best interests in mind, they just wanted their son to be happy, even at the cost of the child being mentally harassed.
I tried to be positive and see if we could try to be peaceful for the child’s sake. I didn’t realize his plans.
Now, after this till now, that is, the last 1.5 years, he seems to have changed his strategy. He had earlier constantly talked about fighting for custody. Now, he might have realized that my son was on my side only, and if any divorce ever happened I would definitely get custody. So now, he instead started influencing him behind my back, in a cunning way, instead of openly shouting. He spoilt him by making him play video games for 4-5 hours a day, kept carrying him even at the age of 7-8 years, secretly whispered to him whenever I was there, told him things like , is your mother threatening you/forcing you to do anything, don’t worry you come to me,..also one day when my son wanted to play with me, he said no, u cant, I will spend equal no of hrs with him and he physically forced him to be with him and didn’t let me go to him. This was too much and I went to the police. He also was called there..and they gave him a warning not to behave this way.
Also, he got into the habit of pulling the child into fights , and interrogating him, did your mother tell u anything against me, do you want to stay with me or your mother etc. even when the child was stressed and shouted that he didn’t want ‘fight’ ; he kept trying to interrogate the child whether I spoke negative about him, and the child got very stressed as he didn’t know whom to side with. He has stressed him out this way many many times, when he is helpless.
Also, he kept on poisoning my child against me.
He gradually started using a policy of winning over the child, by giving him his way on things which were harmful to him, and then creating an image that I was strict. E.g. if his eyes were paining due to watching too much tv, or playing video games. Also his school as well as doctor recommended to put him in more activities/classes to interact with other kids and some physical activities, and I had to struggle on these, as my husband and inlaws just wanted to keep him in a shell, and then he gradually made the child lose interest in going for these classes/ or for playing, and just made him lie down with him and play video games. Even something like crossing the road, when my son tried to run ahead when there were cars coming, and I frantically shouted, my husband made it seem that mom is the shouting/scolding one, and he didn’t bother to correct him at all even on something harmful. In some place where we were in some queue, and had to urgently enter somewhere, and he got into a severe tantrum if neither of us replied to him immediately, even if we were busy. These are just examples, but there were many numerous situations like these. He kept doing things showing to the child that he was the ‘nice’ parent doing whatever he liked, and also made some cunning deals with him saying things like ‘if mom scolds you for something, I will pretend to scold you, and then will separately talk to you when she is not there’ – he started doing this type of behind-the-back ‘deals’ with the child. He kept putting me down in front of the child.
If the child was very rude and disrespectful, he just smiled and told him that you can do what you like, I will not mind unlike your mother.
Over a period of time, he kept undermining my authority. Also he totally poisoned the child, and influenced him, and turned the tables. He kept brainwashing him into making him think that mom is always forcing you to be with her, do what she likes, you don’t do so, and come to me if any problem. Also he said, “you use me and I will use you – if mom tells me anything you support me, and if she scolds you, I will support you”…Also, “you are my pet and am your pet, and we will tackle mom”…These are the kind of things he has been doing gradually, slowly over these last 1.5 years. I know this as my son , when he is in a calm frame of mind , has told me, and I have myself also overheard sometimes.
And now the child has started being manipulative as expected in this situation, using one against the other. E.g. if he is late for some class/school, and I am waiting standing to take him, he will run to his dad, who will just smile and not be firm. He will not insist on his not missing the class, and will convey to him that it is ok to miss. So my son has started becoming very rebellious and manipulative, and gets very wild and angry if he is ever ‘scolded’ or does not get his way.
He behaves very rudely to me sometimes, and then copies my husband in telling me, ‘mom why are you”micro-managing”, why are you always restricting’ etc..and then he says “ dad and I will discuss when u are not there”, and then he secretly looks and smiles to his dad.
When we had taken him to some place, for some rides, and he child kept whining about something, and I tried to tell him to behave , he instead tried to me patronizing to me saying”ok ok…mom..just ignore..why don’t u just enjoy the ride’, as if he was the parent admonishing me!! And he said things like ‘ Dont listen to mom’, ‘lets ignore mom’, ‘lets leave mom here only’, ‘its always mom’s fault’, ‘nonsense mom’ etc..
If he was rude and I asked him on what he said, he said ‘oh, nothing nothing’ and just turn away and ignore me and just talk to his dad. And even when his behavior is extremely rude and unreasonable and disrespectful, my husband will never correct him and just laugh over it , making the child feel even more bolder. If I ever say anything to my son, he will say I will complain to dad, and that dad is the boss. If we went to any place for vacation, things were even worse, my husband has told him he is the one who is spending the money , and he boasts about it, telling him about hotel rates etc. And my son would then say, dad is the boss, he has booked things, and if I told him not to do this /that, he argues back heatedly, and when I try to point out, that dad and me are equals and you are the child, he says no , his dad and him are the equals and not me.
Things have reached to this extent, and I am not sure what to do. Already because of the above scheming tactics of my husband, he has pulled the child towards him, and in the long run, he is totally harming the child. Now, whenever he is not there, my son is perfectly normal and affectionate with me, but whenever he is present he totally becomes a monster and starts taunting me…such that this is happening every single weekend when we are both home and every single ‘so-called-vacation’..( though we have no marriage, and just staying together for the child’s sake, we just mechanically take him for vacations for 4-5 days during school holidays, but these vacations are even worse and am made to feel totally isolated)
I have tried telling my husband how the child is getting harmed in the long run, playing one against the other, but this is useless, as he is absolutely not bothered, he doesn’t care about this, all he wants obsessively is to have him on his side)
I have tried everything possible, tried to make the child understand values, but it is no use as long as my husband is there in the background manipulating him. The Situation is exactly as in the below extract from an article on the net:
“Supporting each other means that even if you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye, you will not undermine either the decision or your spouse’s authority by helping your child work around the policy, by winking at your child when you know he’s violated it, by knowingly failing to enforce it when your spouse is not around, or by suggesting to your child, implicitly or explicitly, that you are on his side but your spouse is not.
This sort of sabotage happens frequently when separated or divorced parents are having trouble working out their differences amicably, but it happens in married households as well, usually when one parent is too insecure in the parenting role to bear making a child angry”