replied 8 years ago.
Hi again, Lolly, and thanks very much for your reply with very helpful and detailed information.
First, I'm really glad you found each other and I do hope you won't allow Tyler to come between you, so your fabulous relationship can proceed and you will both be very happy! : )
You sound like a very experienced mom and intelligent woman, who, so far, has known all the right things to do, re: Tyler, and it's a shame George is being stubborn about the 'preparing' the kids, etc.; I'm in complete agreement with you, that the more of a big deal he makes re: you coming for the weekend, the worse it will be when you get there. The day before you're coming, he can casually mention to the kids, Lolly is coming to visit us tom'w, and I'm sure you'll both be on your best behavior.
Let's remember that 11 is not a great age for a child; it's pre-adolescent, he probably thinks he 'knows it all', and the divorce has taken it's toll (on all the kids), but it's so important that parents treat their children in the right way and not give in to any rude or attention-getting behavior. In a way, George is acting like a typical divorced father, who sees his kids not every day, and tries not to make any waves, when he's with them. I realize he did reprimand Tyler, when he was rude to you, in front of you, and apologized (without meaning it, but knowing what his father wanted to hear) and that was fine, but I agree with you 200% that it's so important, especially during this period of 'testing', that both you and George show a united front and without him being a bad father, let Tyler know exactly where his place is, and how he needs to act, in order to be respectful.
Of course he resents you because you're not his mother, and he would blame ANY woman George was with, for his parents' divorce. That's human nature and common for children. Of course his mother filling his head with crap, is not helping, but again, very typical in a divorce situation. I'm so happy to hear that he's already in therapy and George can ask the therapist, privately, how to impose restrictions/take away privileges, when Tyler is disrespectful to you or anyone, if he doesn't seem to know what to do. Remember, he feels terribly guilty that he's no longer living with his kids, and that's a very difficult feeling to overcome, for a divorced dad. I'm sure your ex feels the same way, but they're two different people and your kids live with you, so you're their primary influence, and you certainly sound like you have it together. I'm not saying everything is 100%, because after all, you're going through a divorce, but you, as a good and insightful mom, know how to provide the best nurturing for your kids to help keep their lives as normal as possible, under abnormal circumstances. For men/fathers, it's so different. Keep in mind that women are natural born nurturers and men (on their own, without their children's mother--for the most part--there are men I know who are exceptions) just don't know the best way to handle all situations and, let's face it, they panic! That's what I think is going on with George re: this weekend.
I completely agree that even though the last visit ended badly and was uncomfortable for you, you are very correct (and brave) to want to go back up this weekend to 'get back on the horse', so to speak, as you put it so well, and also, so Tyler doesn't 'win' and think he scared you off.
I don't want you to push it any further with George re: this weekend, but ask specifically why he feels there are too many things planned and too much running around to do with the kids, and also, doesn't he think giving them 1-2 days notice (well, one, now that Thurs. is over) is enough, to let them know you're coming? It's not like they have to cook your meals, bake a cake, and set up the guest room for you, right? : ) It's very possible that he does have, let's say, for example, a birthday party to bring one son to, a baseball game or practice, play dates, and other activities already planned and he feels you'd either not be happy being dragged around, or, maybe he feels he would really like to spend the weekend alone with his boys, which is perfectly fine.
I would not push it, and certainly not think about breaking up with him, YET, but do discuss it with him and keep repeating with different examples, how you two, MUST present a united front to his boys and to your kids, as well, if this is going to work. Blending two families is always very stressful and not an easy task, so having the emotional tools you need, beforehand and knowing how to handle the kids' situations, is essential. You can both get lots of guidance re: Tyler, in particular, from his therapist, who knows him well, knows his problems, resentments, behavior, etc. I'll tell you, the kid sounds like a really good con artist, 'putting on' the contrite act just to please his father (and you), then doing a complete 180, a few seconds later. REALLY typical behavior for the age and for the situation. I know that doesn't help you resolve the problem, but should make you feel better, that YOU are not doing anything wrong. This child needs to be put in his place, now, or he will grow up with a barrel-full of resentments and also be a manipulative liar. Not the kind of person his father will be proud of!
I think things will improve as Tyler gets older, and more mature, but remember, you have puberty around the corner, raging hormones, etc., and it might get worse before it gets better. George needs to constantly reassure (appropriately, not overdo it) his sons that he loves them and they will always come first in his life, BUT (BIG BUT), he is also entitled to have a loving relationship with a woman, who they need to treat her with respect, as an extension of the respect they show their father. If they don't like you, (or if you are not Tyler's favorite person right now) so be it; you don't need to be 'liked', you need to be respected, first, then, you can work on them liking you for the wonderful woman/mom you are. But you need to drive home to George, that he's allowing his son to drive you apart, and that's just what Tyler wants. He's 11; he doesn't want to see his father with another woman that's not his mother, and, in addition, he doesn't want to 'share' his father with anyone. He's afraid if he does, he'll lose him, altogether. Of course, we know this isn't true at all and George will always be the good father he is, but those are Tyler's fears, and he feels if you're not in the picture, there's always a chance (in his mind) his parents will get back together.
Do you know how Tyler treats his mother's boyfriend? You mentioned that both your soon to be ex's are in other relationships. He most likely gives him the same trouble, but, one difference: in that situation, we're talking about an older (alpha?) male interacting with a younger male, and a 'man' might put Tyler in his place if he tried anything disrespectful, and he'd listen, more readily, simply due to his gender.
It's good to know that your children and your family have accepted George, well, and now you'll have to work on Tyler. It's important, at this point, that you don't discipline him, because you're NOT his mother, but you're allowed to point out when he's being disrespectful, and request an apology; then it's George's place to back you up, agree with you, and impose those restrictions of privileges, as punishment. They should be reasonable and 'fit the crime', but also cannot be carried out for EVERY infraction, if there are many; then the kid will ALWAYS be punished! : ) A 'chart' is often a useful tool, with rewards and punishments, and yes, Tyler should definitely be rewarded when he acts like a gentleman and treats you well, or doesn't do anything to make you feel UNwelcome! He can associate you with 'good' things, too. Try to ignore any of his attempts to make you feel badly. Just keep reminding yourself, 'he's only a kid'. If you DON'T react, he will not 'win', and I think you already mentioned that you've adopted that theory, so good for you!
Well, I hope I've covered everything, and please let me know your thoughts and if you have any additional questions.
I wish both your families much good luck, and hope you and George can make a successful go of it! You do sound like soulmates!
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