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Dear Chump Lady, How do I deal with kids, social media, and inappropriate ex?

mrNiceGuyDear Chump Lady,

I am 8 years post final D-day and divorce and, while it still makes my head spin at times that I knew so little about a man I was with for over 20 years, I finally live firmly in the land of “meh.”

For the most part I am okay with him and our kids who are 13 and 15 too. He is not terribly attentive and not at all parental, but he shows up for limited visitation a couple times a month. (Which is an improvement over the past.) And, while he no longer has supervised visitation with the kids, he can’t take them to his home or have other adults with him on their visits so I feel like their contact with him is safe. Yes, he will occasionally do something like text my daughter a picture of a naked man holding a record album in front of his junk suggestively, “because it has a link to a really cool DJ she should listen to.” I delete it and tell her it is not appropriate, and she could get in trouble if she forwarded it to people at school. He calls me a prude. Done.

The problem is social media. My daughter just got a Facebook account. I knew her dad had very inappropriate content on his page from a previous custody trial and asked him to block her and told her not to friend him because he had an “adult” FB page. She didn’t, but when I checked her computer she had searched for him (out of natural curiosity) and was able to see his public profile pictures. Which are designed to get sexual attention. Professional shots of him (who couldn’t afford to make his support payments) in skimpy underwear or shirtless flexing his muscles. And sexual attention they get: dozens of men describing what they want to do to his hot, muscular body in detail. While he kept up the pretext of being monogamous with his last partners (and got booted for cheating, no surprise), he is clearly no longer doing that with the current one.

I am so sad for my daughter that she had to see this of her dad and can only imagine how confusing it is for her as she goes through puberty. Both kids know that being a father is not his priority, that his “partner” and “friends” are very important to him, that he can be abusive (both because of what they have seen with me and because he and his last boyfriend were arrested for assaulting each other in front of them), and are generally realistic about what they can expect from him while still loving him and wanting to spend the little time they have with him.

They do minimize his faults, which is what they need to do to make sense of things now, and I feel proud that they have made a peace with a really difficult situation that used to torment them.

The chump part of me wants to say “oh well, maybe he’s right and this is okay.” But I’ve had enough of a chumpectomy to know that, while I may be a prude, it is also true that no 13-year-old should see photos of her dad on the virtual prowl and the catcalls he is inspiring even if that is okay for consenting adults. And God forbid my teenage daughter or son’s schoolmates somehow stumbled on the page because the ex tagged them in a photo. Middle and high school are hard enough. I know he is not going to voluntarily block them, and he has said he thinks there is nothing wrong with it for the kids to see (and as a narcissist probably both believes this and likes that it gets at me).

So what do I do at this point? Do I take them off social media entirely though they have done nothing wrong? Do I block him from their accounts and knowing they will find a way around it as curious, tech savvy teens and try to talk with them about it? Do I let them just see what they will and figure they have to deal with the reality of their dad eventually anyway? Even at 13 and 15 when they are already confused about who they are and how romantic relationships work (or don’t)?

Thanks for any advice you can give,

Keeping MY Shirt On

Dear KMYSO,

You write that the kids have made peace with who their dad is, even if they minimize his faults. In my opinion, don’t block any social media access they have to their dad. Let them get the um, full picture as it were. Teenagers know how the block function works. If he embarrasses them, they can shut that down pretty quick. Your job as a mom is to help them with boundaries and let them know it’s OKAY to enforce them.

Look, I’m not saying your glamour shot bear cub there isn’t being inappropriate. He is. I’m just pointing out, as I do with all of our wingnuts exes, there’s not much you can do about it. You have full custody, he has limited visitation. From where most of us sit, you’ve got a pretty sweet deal. I’m sure many a chump would trade a naughty DJ pic for having their kids around their parents’ latest Ashley Madison flame.

Anyway, it all sucks. But take heart, if teenagers excel at anything it is brutal sarcasm. They might not tell you they find his middle-aged come on pics pathetic, but they’ll probably tell their friends. Ridicule is a good way to take their power back and make sense of grown up crazy. Let them have that.

Teenagers excommunicate for a lot less. Mine is mortified if I call him “pumpkin.” He got off Facebook all together when his grandmother posted “IS THAT YOUR FRIEND?” at an acquaintance of his.

Let them tweet and FB with their dad. Where I would shut shit down is if dad or one of dad’s friends ever tries to hit on them. And I would discuss your concerns about this with them and communicating with adults on-line in general. Gay people aren’t pedophiles (generations of homophobia to the contrary), but blatantly sexually inappropriate people can be.  The most worrying thing about your ex is that he doesn’t understand boundaries between public and private. That could hurt a lot of relationships, not just with his kids — dude, your employer can Google you too.

Demystify him. Let your kids get as much of dad’s shirtless, paunchy torso as they want. If they’re like other teens, they’ll eventually ignore him. Good luck!

Hey, I’ll post the Valentine winners later today!

Ask Chump Lady

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  • As a person who was a teenager growing up with social media, I will second that teenagers know how to block people.

    Just keep being the sane parent, educate your children about good boundaries and good Internet etiquette (the Internet lives forever and never forgets, people!)

    • When my mom was near end of life and her filter was waning, she started saying things like “you don’t know how he is” and talking about divorcing my dad.

      Now that my dad is quite aged, he says things to me that gross me out – inappropriate comments about young nurses/and weather personalities on TV, etc., especially since he’s saying them to his daughter – fairly regularly. This from a man who overprotrctively freaked out every time I had anything near a boyfriend, even well into my thirties.

      Between these experiences and my own relationship history, I don’t need Stephen “Cheater” Hawking around to do the math that I was as chumpily oblivious as a youth as I have been throughout my adult life. 🙂

    • Well, I will say this hit a nerve, one of my parents has huge issues with sexuality (and was a Cheater). They don’t understand healthy sexuality, so they are jerky about the whole thing – inappropriate comments ALL the time, uneasiness with their child maturing into an adult, and in my experience, they never change. It’s the old ‘sex is dirty’ mindset, which isn’t good for anyone, IMHO. And Ami, wincing over a daughter having a boyfriend is a perfect example, I feel for you, and the same thing happened to me.
      I just had to learn to ignore the comments, as I grew up and I KNEW it was all so wrong. A parent is supposed to guide the child to healthy love/sex relationships, not trip the child up with smarmy comments.
      KMSO, my thoughts for you would be, to be sure you discuss Relationship 101 with both your kids, just as part of your basic ‘How to be a great adult’ talks. The more you talk about it, and from a young age, the better off your kids will be. Leave your X out of it, it’s about them, not him. Make sure they know they can always have your attention about this, with no judgement, and they will feel free to come talk to you! Good luck!

      • Yeah, boundaries are alien to them. My youngest daughter is NC with her father, both because at 56 he was screwing 22 year olds, but also because he used to try to get her to talk to him from the door while he was in the bath. She also uses his Netflix account and sees the types of shows he watches. Creepy.

      • What if the ex isn’t uncomfortable about the daughter becoming an adult at all? What if he can’t wait for her to start dating so he can dish with her about her boyfriends and just generally vampire all over her developing sex life? My daughter is about to turn 13, and while she doesn’t have a boyfriend yet, it can’t be long now. I just know ex is going to be really inappropriate with her about it, because I’ve seen him do it to other teenagers. Hell, I’ve seen him date teenagers.

        • Ok, linden, and tempest also, what if you think your ex is maybe a perv? Maybe likes girls that are barely legal but secretly likes them perhaps… Not legal? What if your mates who work with these members of society have voiced concerns? What can you do? I mean, there’s no solid evidence, but it’s still scary, with daughters and step-daughters, what do you do?

          • Tough call; you’d need evidence but the FBI certainly takes trolling for underage girls very seriously. They actually train people to “sound like” 13 year old girls to lure pervs into sting operations. If you have any evidence you could present to law enforcement, they may at least investigate.

            Mine safely likes the undergrad and up ages, so sick bastard–yes; pedophile–no.

          • I don’t have any good answers. I’m pretty sure in my case that the ex is a perv; I think he likes underage girls, but so far has been smart enough to lie in wait until they are 18 before making the moves. I’m wondering what happens when my kids get a little older. Will he perv on their female friends? Will he compete with my son for girlfriends? I’m just crossing my fingers, praying and keeping the lines of communication open with the kiddos.

          • When I was young my dad did not trust my now ex-uncle (he was a cheater). I distinctly remember my dad telling me “if your uncle does anything to you or with you that you are uncomfortable with you tell me.” It was in my dad’s “this is serious voice” It made me a little uneasy but it also put me on my guard. I never let my uncle be in the same room with me alone and never let him do more than hug me. I was about 7 at the time. Turns out Dad’s hunch was correct; the guy was a perv. If you feel there is something off tell your child. My dad was not explicit but i knew what he meant.

            • Wow, A lot to think about. I have spoken to the step daughter in that tone of voice. I’ll be more general with the little ones

  • Why cant these people just leave their very private crap off social media where their children can see it?! Assholes. I took my facebook down. Not going on any social media ever again.

      • Yep. Me too. When I finally started checking I found she had been trolling FB for old high school boyfriends for a few years, and had found one who made more money than me. She abandoned me soon after taking our last daughter to college. It was all there in Fakebook.

  • KMSO –

    You are doing a great job with your kids and ad”dressing” their father’s character. Don’t stop. Repeat the importance of boundaries until you are blue in the face. You are not a prude, you are trying to provide your children with a healthy sexual attitude vs. the perils of promiscuity.

    You were 100% right in letting you daughter know that her father was inappropriate in sending that text to her.

    They do figure it out.

    There is a great book on sexual addiction called Lust, Anger and Love for the understanding sexual “addiction” for lack of a better word. I would read this for the sake of your children, not twinkle toes.

    In my very humble opinion, the only chapter I think is bullshit is in the recovery process where they (the addict) need to choose someone whom they can trust with their newfound sobriety for an authentic sexual relationship. It sounds a little entitled to me because of all the people they fucked over with their promiscuity.

    Good luck, keep up the good work. May the Force (for me the Force is God’s grace) be with you.

    • Just to clarify, I called him twinkle toes because of his entitlement issue not sexual orientation.

      The “catch 22” is recovering sex addicts would have to choose the very chumps they fucked over to find trustworthiness for authentic sex.

      Knowledge is power and that is why I recommend this very informative book.

  • I love Facebook cause it helps me keep in contact with a lot of out of town friends and family. That said, I use the Edit Friends List a lot. If someone always seems to have something negative or irritating to say, it’s to the ” Acquaintances” list for them. Most of my posts are set to Privacy ” Friends, Except Acquaintances.” Problem solved. No drama for me, ever.

  • So my own fear is wrapped up in my question and I am pre-handing you a grain of salt to balance that… And, with that, here goes.

    Can one ever be 100% sure that a person who intentionally sends obviously sexualized texts to a child, however creative the excuse/reason, hasn’t already harmed that child sexually in more overt ways than we believed possible? Many would call the message you described in your letter to be grooming behavior – and that’s totally how it struck me, like a kick in the album-covered groin.

    I agree with CL’s response. I also can’t help but emphasize that a close eye may be warranted – not full on spy level, because you don’t need that kind of crazy.

    I’m thinking more that you continue reviewing what he sends to the kids and look for subtle clues, maybe keep a notebook so you can look for trends (it’s hard to remember a sociopath’s crazy trail.) For that, the kids have to perceive you as a person they feel OK talking to about it, which probably means letting the accounts stay open and seeing what comes along.

    Sometimes the monster you know is a better monster, sadly.

    • Amiisfree, you and I are thinking along the same lines. KMYSO says: “Yes, he will occasionally do something like text my daughter a picture of a naked man holding a record album in front of his junk suggestively, “because it has a link to a really cool DJ she should listen to.” I delete it and tell her it is not appropriate, and she could get in trouble if she forwarded it to people at school. He calls me a prude. Done.” So the naked man text photo is not a one-time event. KMYSO is monitoring and deleting multiple iterations of such things. She has discussed this with the X, who blows his cover by proceeding to acknowledge the sexuality of what he’s doing by calling KMYSO a “prude.” I’m not a mother, but I am a mandated reporter of child sexual abuse. In my view, this conduct is at the minimum on the border, if not over. Imagine a teacher, scout leader, etc. sending such texts to kids who are 13 or 14. At the minimum. KMYSO should document each and every one of these texts going forward. If she has documented the past ones, she should talk with her attorney about sending (at least) a cease and desist letter to her X. And she should tell him that if it happens again, she will report him to the authorities.

      I am deadly serious about this. And believe me, I am not in the least a homophobe. I could care less who the creeps are that frequent his page making remarks. But KMYSO might consider getting herself and the kids some important knowledge about the very real dangers of social media for children. KMYSO is clearly vigilant about the kids’ safety, but even the children of law enforcement officers have been lured by predators. She should check their browser history and cell phone activity regularly and look into whether the local FBI office or local law enforcement offers workshops for kids that explain in age-appropriate ways what online predators are. And while this dirtbag no longer supposedly needs supervised visitation, if he is over the boundaries on text and social media, what’s to say he isn’t over the “no other adult” boundaries in personal contact?

      All that said, I do agree with CL that it’s better that the kids know what they are dealing with and there is no point in making his FB page an attractive mystery that they can access simply by putting up a face account. I just think that KMYSO’s maternal radar is going off but that she is minimizing this behavior instead of cutting it off altogether. One simple way is to change the kids’ cell accounts and not give him the number. Let him use the land line or KMYSO’s phone to contact the kids or get the kids a non-smart phone for contact with dad–no texts, no photos.

      • I appreciate your perspectives. And I am also not at all a homophobe – about as far from it as a person can get, actually. Strictly from the parent-to-kids point of view, the only thing that matters is keeping the parent’s sex life in the parent’s world. It should skeeve a parent out to send something like that to his or her kid. If it doesn’t, my orange flag starts blushing.

        Thanks for clarifying that this is about the behavior, not the background or preferences of the specific person.

      • Excellent points LAJ. The red flags were waving for me as well but it was good to hear the perspective of a mandatory reporter that this behavior is concerning so I know it wasn’t just my sometimes overly sensitive mom-dar at work.

      • The sexually-titillating text is a big red flag in my book. This is not something that adults send to minor children, and definitely not something that parents send to their own children. That the father has done this sort of thing previously is another big red flag.

        KMYSO clearly thinks so, too, or she’d not be writing in.

        I think that parental monitoring controls on the computers are a good thing, as is monitoring the cell phones. I think this can be done in a low-key fashion. I know my brother and sister-in-law monitored their children’s internet usage when their children were minors.

        I think, though, that in KMYSO’s case, there needs to be more than mere monitoring. If the kids are in therapy, I’d have a word with their therapist about the kinds of content that their father texts them as well a the kinds of posts he has on his facebook page. Maybe the therapist can explore how seeing all of this makes them feel, and work with them on setting boundaries that they should report to you or to someone else if they’re crossed.

        In a broader context, the message that parents need to convey to their children is that inappropriate touching is not just physical. Social media and cell phone texts also can be inappropriate, and they should feel free to let a responsible adult know that they feel uncomfortable.

        I think CL is right to allow the children to see their disordered father’s page, and she should allow them to feel comfortable in telling her what they see on it. This builds trust, so they feel they can tell her what they see on social media without fearing that she’ll freak out or be otherwise upset. You can bet that their father is telling them that their mom is a prude. Allowing them to talk about the pictures and to show them to her will build trust and give lie to their father’s words. This way, if he goes beyond sending the inappropriate DJ images, they’ll let her know, rather than trying to keep the news secret for fear of upsetting her.

        From an image management perspective, imagine them seeing a picture of their nearly-nude dad in a sexually-provocative pose. Mom peers over their shoulders, looks at it, and says in a clinical fashion, “men over the age of 30 shouldn’t pose in g-strings. Too much sag.” Or, “Oh. My. God! Save me from the Tarzan pose! Or at least get the costume right!”

    • I would document everything and talk to an attorney about putting supervised visitation back into place. Continue to talk to your children about boundaries, what’s appropriate and what’s not, why dad is someone they shouldn’t emulate, etc.

    • Sending suggestive pictures to a minor is absolutely grooming behavior, or testing them to see if they’ll protest so that the lasciviousness of the pictures can be escalated.

      I’m with LAJ on this–document and report to authorities. This may not escalate to actual sexual abuse, but why would a parent run that risk?

      • I wouldn’t report an inappropriate album cover to the authorities. I would document it and report it to my lawyer. Yes, the fact that he’s sending it makes him creepy, but I think the best defense is arming the daughter to strongly defend her boundaries. Maybe it’s also time for another supervised visitation request.

        • I agree. I would like to add that there is a reason he had only supervised visitation, and still cannot bring the children to his home or around any adults. The court, court-ordered psychologists, and others involved in the custody process apparently had significant concerns with this father’s judgment, boundaries and companions, and felt this placed the children at significant risk of harm.

          KMYSO, I too thought this sounded like classic grooming behavior. As so many have said, such a sexualized message would never fly if it came from a teacher, scoutmaster, or minister; and no one would consider them an acceptable and safe companion for children if any had a Facebook page like your ex’s. It is even more egregious for the sexualized messages and contact to be coming from their own father.

          Therefore, I would review the messages, emails, his Facebook page, the reason for the supervised visits and limited custody situation, etc. with a knowledgeable custody attorney, as well as with the children’s counselor. They are the authorities and best able to tell you what is acceptable from the mental health and legal perspectives, whether this behavior is concerning or harmful, and the basis to take additional legal steps now or in the future. (If your children don’t have a counselor, I believe you should get them one to help them navigate this crap.)

          In the meantime, keep documenting, supervising, and talking to your kids. You’re a good mama, KMYSO, stay strong!

  • My ex mother in law posted a pic of my ex husband putting his hands up the skirt and on to the ass of his affair partner now live in last Thanksgiving…..my 18 year old daughter saw it. She’s had nothing to do with him or his family since he left us. If there ever is a moment that she feels conflicted about that, one of them posts something inappropriate that reinforces with her that this is the right choice in how to handle her relationship with her dad. He left us, took up with his affair partner and is now raising her children as his own and either him, his mom, or the affair partner are plastering the whole thing on Facebook and tagging eachother so one way or another my daughter sees it. I asked her why she hasn’t blocked her grandmother….who is the last one left from that family that can see her page, she says that she wants to keep that door open so that she can know when her dad is telling us a lie. I find it to be so sad…

  • One more helpful Facebook tip is Timeline review. Before anyone posts anything on my page, I have to review it. That includes tagged items too. I had a couple of relatives ( who I didn’t want to unfriend) with some questionable religious or political (to me) beliefs. That’s fine, as long as they aren’t on my page. I think you can even restrict who comments on stuff.

  • As a chump kid, I blocked my dad from my email. My sister made me realize everytime he emailed me, I would get upset. I don’t have to acknowledge his email. He can call me direct on my phone if he wants to talk to me.

    Since your kids already know his Facebook antics, why do they need to see even more of it? Ask them how they feel about it, and empower them to make the choice on their own. Their father can always call them on the phone, instead of this passive way of putting his sexuality in their face.
    Wouldn’t they feel better if they blocked him on their own, and they can say “it was my choice, I don’t need that in my life”
    than you constantly having to tell them over and over it is in a appropriate, but due to his specialness, rules aren’t for him and you they are just going to have to put be exposed with it with no end in sight? They do have some control over it, and healthy relationships have reciprocal respect. Tell them to try it for a month and see if they feel better. good luck

    • Oh, thank you, I forgot to mention that key concept -RESPECT.
      It’s all about respect.
      Unfortunately, dysfunctional people don’t respect anyone, their own kids included. I think that’s one of the most important things you can give your kids, is respect. If you think highly of them, they will have self-love, and they will succeed at whatever they want to accomplish. This father is showing so much disrespect for his two kids, and at a critical time in their lives. Of course, he’s only thinking of himself, the big turkey.

  • OK, so I’m acknowledging right now that I’m not always realistic about technology. There was very little when I was a kid. But does a 13 year old need a Facebook account, or a smart phone? I know it’s completely normal to have them, so I’m not judging. But maybe in circumstances like these, something different is called for, as someone above suggested. Maybe they don’t need to be texting Dad at all. What’s wrong with a phone call? I know at some point you have to let them have it all, but I’m really confused with my children as to why you can’t live life without all of this. I really think I’m going to wait until after the age where they can be easily “groomed” to give in on all of the ways of infiltration. I can imagine that’s going to be a very difficult fight, though.

    My father was a bit skeevy. He hit on the babysitters and waitresses. One of my friends noticed, and that was horribly embarrassing. But it wasn’t out there for the whole world to see. I can’t imagine trying to figure this all out if it was being texted to me and posted on Facebook. I’d have rather not had to witness it all. I still love my Dad, but it definitely changed the way I see him.

    • This year for Christmas, I got my 8 yo son a smartphone. If I wasn’t a chump and my then-husband hadn’t cheated and abandoned us for the ho-worker, I would have never even considered getting a phone for a child his age. BUT. He goes to see his dad every other weekend and his asshole dad lives with the ho-worker. They make fucking rock candy every damn weekend he is there. In the beginning, I think he had a hard time adjusting to his dad living with her. He and his Dad no longer slept on the sleeper sofa together like they were camping out. No, dad was now sleeping with her. I had to actually tell my son that right before his first visit after his dad moved in with her. I didn’t not want that to be a surprise for him. I hated seeing him kinda lost. He said he wasn’t sleeping well when he was there. So, I got the phone. I knew he’d text me and/or call me if he had direct access to me. Funny, he won’t ask me to help him call his Dad. And before asshole moved in with ho-worker, he would, on occasion, ask his Dad to call me. I think it changed once he started visiting dad AND the ho-worker. He’s trying to get along when he is over there. now for the second BUT. I track his phone like a hawk. I block numbers. If I see a number that keep popping up on his phone, *I* call it. I have told him that he is not to call back or text a number he does not recognize. I’ve already had to explain to him that the “nice people” he plays Minecraft with, for example, are not “friends”. Friends are people you know in real life. Period.

      Anyway, my 2 cents about smartphones, etc.

      I think teens need our guidance just as much as when they were younger. They just need us to let them have more ownership of decision and choices. I guess that’s the hard part.

      • My kids have a phone too, for exactly the same reasons. They take it too their Dad’s so I can call, because he only has a cell phone, no landline. I can track them too. But no texting or internet. I’m really not judging other people’s choices. I’m just wondering how the OP can maybe limit some of this exposure, and wondering aloud about whether all of the technology is necessary and helpful.

  • KMSO, your ex is a creeper. Sending questionable content to kids is inappropriate and a red flag.

    My X tries to be our sons’ “pal” and lewdly oogles women, tells them he prefers brunettes, and other misogynistic things. He once called Hillary Clinton a “cunt” in front of my 15-year old and was pissed when my son told him to “grow up.” He wanted to bring our son to Vegas when he turns 21 in May, because “prostitution is legal and [son] can bag a whore. My son told him to shove it.

    He’s doing it to be their buddy, but it only solidifies their feelings that he is a dirty old man who objectifies and degrades women. Our sons find him disgusting.

    The most important thing you can do is try to keep the lines of communication open with your children so they feel safe informing you of any attempts by their “father” to shove his lifestyle down their throats. Acknowledging their uncomfortable feelings and giving them permission to speak up to their father and outline some boundaries will help them feel like they have some power in the relationship with their father.

    Of course, when my kids did speak up, X responded, “Did your mother put you up to that?” and then didn’t speak to them for weeks. When he did slither back around, he pretended they never had the conversation. But I know our kids feel more in control when they set limits with their father.

    Document everything. His actions are not only creepy, they are also grooming behavior.

      • On a national level, there is a chump meetup in Yosemite for the second half of the summer (see the Private: General Forums to access the Doodle poll, as we’ll pick a date by the end of the week).

        • Tempest, what? I lived in Yosemite for 7 years, know the place very well. How do I get to the private forums? I have had a lot of tech issues with my account lately so I hope I can do this.

          • I think if you click on “Forums” at the top of the page, it will prompt you to submit your email and a password will be sent so that you can get into the Forums (Yosemite thread is Private: General forum). [I can’t recreate it to give more details because my computer automatically accesses my account.]

            • Tempest, can I have your comment? Ex had the kids (D17, S19, S21) for Christmas. He told D17 and she had to keep this secret for some 4 weeks. Then after Christmas he sat down and told them all he had been in a relationship for the past year – and that she was arriving in a week. She arrived at the shellshocked children’s holiday, and he proceeded to move her into their parent’s bedroom on Mom’s side of the bed and (obviously) fuck her – with his D17 in the next room.

              Any comments about boundaries and appropriate behaviour? Any potential damage? What does that do to a kid? (She looks mature but is not sexually active). D is withdrawn and I am reeling at how crazy selfish and oblivious this man is. He ‘loves’ his children of course, they ‘are his life’. And the relationship is more like 3 years, he moved on to her pretty much as I filed after catching him with his junior co-worker again.

    • That “bag a whore” comment is so out of place! I am glad that your son feels safe enough to tell you that kind of comment! And really, it speaks volumes about your XH’s character that he thinks of sex with a prostitute as a matter of pride. Prostitutes have sex with anyone who pays them the right amount. Where’s the source of masculine pride in that? Also, there’s a much greater risk of an STD if one sleeps with a sex worker.

      I suppose I’d tell my son, if I had one, that who he has sex with is his own decision, but he needs to be able to respect himself. The HPV vaccine is for boys now, too. Too bad we can’t vaccinate against other STDs.

      • After reading as much as I have recently about commercial sex workers (sorry, untangling the skein), it is estimated that most of them have been sexually abused/traumatized as children, as most regular folks don’t choose that line of work. 90% of them are unwillingly in “the trade” so the perspective is that it is basically paid rape. How’s that for respecting women? Way to go, dad! Paid rape. What a hero.

        • Exactly — it’s paid rape. And these women caught up in the trade may or may not have been harmed as children (many have not!), but they’re certainly being harmed day in, day out, by predators. From what I’ve read on the topic, the vast majority of men who use sex workers reserve their particularly degrading and disgusting sexual practices for those occasions. Because they see themselves as King Customer who gets whatever he wants, which isn’t so much sex in itself as it is power over women to degrade them as much as possible with no consequences. Why else is sex work the most dangerous occupation in the world? Because men act sweet-n-cuddly towards them?

  • This is a really squirmy, toe curling issue….I do have experience of a parent being a prowler, my dad, who was a big muckeyy-muck in A.A. He kicked the booze, but never the narcissism, and his prowling ground was meetings-a ready source of vulnerable women whose lives were so fucked up, he could swoop in with minimlal effort, and have a fuckbuddy while my sibling and Mom all slaved away. Much of this was pre-internet, but the effect was the same on me….UGH. He married a chick who went to high school with my sister, skipped my college graduation to take her on honeymoon. And all because his dickypickle was the Most Important Thing. Not such healthy modelling for Mehphista’s formative years, but it got better after I cut him off in my 20s.

    Fast forward to 2015, and kiddo comes back from overseas with the new knowledge that, not only did her dad lie about when the affair started (which is very.materially.relevant), she found this out because he loaned her an old phone of his, replete with sexts, vids, and so on. Kiddo is back in therapy. As to her FB relationship with him, and, for that matter, the Downgrade and her Offspring, it is none of my business. I accidentally saw his profile pic the other day-it is both of them, baldy ponytail v freddy mercury with tits, all shiny and happy.

    I am certain kiddo saw through it all long ago, but the phone was, for her, confirmation. He really does suck. Rather than get into a skein of fuckuppedness about it, I try to understand that I got FIRED from covering his ass when he gave himself the right to go after strange. And yes, it is a total.fucking.shame. when a parent decides their throbbing genitals trump the needs of their offspring, because, as I am finding, it is kinda how chumps are made.

    Yep, I DO worry about the digital world my kid inhabits, but, as Mr Fab and KeepingMyShirtOn’s exhole demonstrate, compared to people currently under 20, they are amateurs. You ARE right to be worried about cyberbullies being given a shit ton of ammunition:it DID happen to kiddo, through a site called Ask.FM (Don’t ask). Other sites like Snapchat, etc can be equally used to abuse. So I try to keep it general-about protecting self online, in terms of sex taking a who-what-why approach. There is plenty of yicky ganky stuff out there in the world that our exes are clearly committed to.

    Letting Kiddo draw her own conclusions and boundaries with her Dad, and manage that tension between loving the idea of him, and knowing what he is for herself is really hard for chump/codependent Meh. to witness, but CL is absolutely right- our kids have to draw their own conclusions.

    x-Meh.

  • This is a tough situation. I have my own version of it with the wingnut EX. One thing I’ve noticed is that inappropriate material on social media may have negative effects you cannot easily trace. For example, if inappropriate material ends up on your daughter’s FB page or gets linked onto the pages of her friends, the parents of those friends may overtly or covertly limit how much contact their child has with yours. They are likely to assume your child is parented by people without good judgment and make decisions to protect their own child.

    If the parents know you and your situation, they may just tell you their concerns, but the older your kids get, the more friends they will make that you do not have adult connections to. Your kids may wonder why they weren’t invited to a party or, more frequently, why a friend can’t come to your house for a sleepover or even to do homework. Most people, frankly, won’t know that you left the Wingnut long ago and that your kids see their father only for a few hours a month.

    The inappropriate behavior your EX is indulging in will muddy the already difficult waters your kids are swimming in. As much as possible, I would suggest you be direct with your kids about why they have to shut down social media contact with “Dad” and stick to phone calls or texts that don’t get “shared.”

    You are not a prude. Teenage girls and boys can figure out sexuality by themselves and with peers just fine–they don’t need posts and pictures from adults to usher them into the world of adult quirks.

  • If a teacher or a scouts leader or a friend’s parent or a church leader texted your early-teen daughter (or any other minor) a picture of a naked man in a suggestive pose, even if junk was blocked, would that not set off eardrum-rupturing alarm bells? If the adult in question had apparently done such a thing more than once, would you not keep your daughter AWAY from the person, or even report them to authorities? IMHO, the father here is a risk to his daughters, and probably any other minor as well.

  • The issue with social media is that it is a two-way street. I remember concerned parents screeching about gangster rap when it first made an entrance in the early nineties, which succeeded very, very concerned media talking heads pushing fear of movies, tv shows and radio in general.

    Of course, the concern about the influence of media in general probably dates most markedly back to when Elvis was shaking his darn hips on stage, but I think the very big difference today is that it is no longer a one-way street in that media is directed at a person and they can choose at some level to consume it or not, but instead people can interact directly with media. In fact, people are often media itself.

    The issue for kids is that as minors they have opportunities to have adult interactions with the world when they are not adults. Kids push boundaries and the boundaries of social media and the internet are virtually limitless.

    I was in training for my job the other day and it was led by a Pennsylvania state trooper, who although a big guy, was a nerd and they had shifted him more and more from the road to cyber crimes and analytics in the beginning and he is now one of THE people in Pennsylvania for investigating cyber crimes.

    “You give a kid with a phone and a camera and the first thing they are going to do is take a naked picture of themselves and send it to people,” he said. He then discussed the instances where due to the way child pornography laws were when they were first created after the internet, kids from good neighborhoods and schools were made felons because they were technically distributing and possessing child pornography.

    Of course they swiftly changed the laws when parents started screeching about their little snowflakes being made into felons, but my point is that it seems little can be done by parents to shield their children from social media because it is the water in which we all swim these days, only to hopefully teach them well enough to know right from wrong and be firm about it when the time comes.

    That being said, it is irking to me once again how people can reach the age of your ex and still be overgrown, spoiled brats. We do not have to try and teach them right from wrong anymore and be firm about this…but this breaks down when they interact with the children, because your ex is obviously being an immature asshole. You are not being a prude, you are being a responsible mother.

    And fuck it, you can be a “prude” or whatever – that is your right and you do not have to go around justifying it to anyone.

    Further, it always aggravates me that cheaters demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are of poor character and make destructive choices that harm those around them, yet our court system starts from a point where both parents get the kids 50/50 and it is up to the chum to whittle that down as much as possible.

    • Ha ha…they still grow up and leave the convent.

      Being aware is the best of both worlds. You sound like you are aware, Kelli. Congratulations for being way wiser than I was at your age. You are enough. Believe it.

  • This is so appropriate to a problem I have been worrying about a lot lately too. I turn to my dear friends at CN for advice.

    My kiddos are much younger–almost 4 and almost 5–and both girls. Their paternal DNA contributor has about 20 hours per month of visitation, and in the past 18 months or so, he has had between 6 or 8 live in girlfriends. They also have a younger half-brother, who is almost 2, and also is the reason why their father and I divorced (Can I tell them that, btw? Daddy and I divorced because of your little brother, Levi?… No?)

    Anyway, most recently, the girls came home from Uncle Dad’s and reported that their room had been sacrificed to the latest girlfriend’s kid. Since they do not have overnight visitation at their father’s, I tried not to make a big deal out of their righteous indignation at losing their room by telling them that they will always have their rooms and playroom at mommy’s house, and changed the subject (who wants king cake?!).

    My question is how do I protect them as much as I can from thinking that normal adult relationships involve keeping a moving van on retainer for you significant others? We have been divorced for 6 months now, and separated over 2 years. I have yet to introduce them to anyone I have dated because no one has been remotely good enough to meet my girls.

    The main motivating factor for me divorcing their dad was that I didn’t want them growing up thinking love was living with a lying, cheating, beating drunk. I wanted them to see their mom being loved and respected the way I eventually want a partner to love and respect them. Am I enough to be the sane parent in this situation, even when I am not in a relationship in front of them? Or with they just see what the idiotic twat is doing and think that is the way things are done?

    Or should I just lock them in a convent now? Do they still have those?

      • Um…tony, I know you are trying to be glib, and funny here, but perhaps good for you to know the “Magdalene” homes were places of brutal torture, isolation and rape. Think American Horror Story: Asylum, but with more sermons. And the average age there was 17. Please be mindful of us real parents dealing with this real shit….interesting tale about the state tropper, though.

        x-Meh.

    • No, you document, document, document. 6-7 different live-ins and you’ve only been divorced 6 months? I think that might prick up a judge’s ears? Talk to your lawyer.

      • This is why he only has supervised visitation with no overnight visits. It’s all been documented. The judge is well aware that he sucks at life. In our custody papers, he’s not allowed to leave the children with a third party, because he was leaving them with the flavor of the week. He can’t keep them after dark. He has literally no rights other than his supervised visitation for his 20 hours a month.

        You are always advising us to be the sane parent. I try to be that. The only area where the girls see his actions and a lack of action from me is in the adult relationship area right now. They see how he treats women–as serviceable objects. And my first job is being their mommy. I don’t even want to consider bring another man into their life until I’m considering marrying that man. I don’t want them meeting everyone I date at this point because I’m not ready for any serious relationships. Does that make sense?

        • It makes perfect sense. I have been out with a few guys, but not bringing anyone home yet, more focussed on the Mom gig, which is hella easier now she is 16, hang in there. This is because I do not think people are interchangeable like lego, and I want my daughter to know this.

    • This is actually KMYSO here and I so relate to what you are saying. My biggest regret is that while I had all the same alarms going off it took me three years of the kids being around this crazy (and a pretty extreme and dangerous circumstance) to go to court and get full custody and have him on supervised visitation. The warning signs were exactly the same — him exposing them before they were ready to partners, moving them into his boyfriends house where they got to not have their own rooms but sleep in the office and the “guest room” while they were there, him having anger management and abuse problems. I am with CL — document. Talk to a lawyer. Get a child psychologist on record that this is harmful. A good lawyer and a good judge will see through the bull and put things in place to protect the kids (no other adults on visits, not having them in his home if that is not a good place for them.) They will learn love not from watching either your or your exes relationships, but from the caring and attentive love you are showing them.

      • Thank you, Carolyn! I am so very sorry for your experiences. But I am so happy you got yourself out and away.

        I do agree with CL to a degree. Teenagers will both find a way to have social media accounts–whether you know it or not–so I don’t think it’s fair to punish them for being the offspring of an idiotic twat. They are punished enough for that in life.

        I’m 33, and when my grandmother embarrasses me on social media, I have to have “the talk” with her. Usually after a guy friend of mine comments innocently on a picture or status, and she responds with something like “your boyfriend is cute.” Ugh.

        Teenagers aren’t as kind to explain the embarrassment. They just block or delete or whatever. I think if super freak dad embarrasses them, they will be able to handle it long before you could.

        But again, as their mom, they are your kids, so obviously, you know best. You know all of the relevant and irrelavent history. My kids are small, but the older they get, the more I realize that the mommy instinct is real.

        Plus, whatever you do, because you love them, is by default the best, because you were making the best decision you could with the information you had at the time. Even if it turns out to be the wrong decision later, you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. At least, that is what my awesome therapist tells me.

        With my situation, after a year long custody battle that involved the psych evals, entire file boxes of documentation, private investigators, the works–I have sole custody of my girls. I have sole legal and physical custody. He can’t so much as decide to give the kids a Tylenol without consulting me. He has supervised visitation. No overnights. His grandmother is the supervisor. I trust her. She’s kept the girls while I worked since they were born.

        Our exes sound very similar. Only mine is straight. He has the same disgusting pictures on social media. He has left the kids before the custody order was final with one girlfriend to go on a weekend trip with another woman. He has 4 children with 3 women. One is currently pregnant with his 5th, I’ve heard. The oldest is 7.

        My ex actually bailed on our youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday party to go out of town “on business.” When she had chicken pox. 9 months later, her half brother was born.

        5 months later, on d-day, one woman was texting him sonogram pictures when another woman was texting him about having an abortion after he got her pregnant. That’s when I filed for divorce.

        It’s amazing that these freaks are allowed loose in the wild.

        • Holy Shit, Kelli, that is MIGHTY. Yep, the MommaBear (and it sounds like GrandmommaBear, too) is a thing….your ex is an utter shitheel.

          • Thank you! I don’t know if it was mighty by choice or by simple survival instinct. Like that guy who was stranded at sea for several months. I read somewhere that he admitted to hallucinating fish eyes as candy. In the early days, my motivator was taking that sorry sack of shit DOWN. Whatever lights a fire, though, right?

            Now, it’s showing my girls by example how I think life is best lived.

            I cancelled cable, and instead spend that money on books, trips to museums, the zoo, children’s theater tickets, and other cool stuff.

            Me, the girl who literally owns only shoes with at least a 2″ heel and a yard man, has started a garden this year to teach my girls about nutrition.

            And, also, because maybe there was something to Wheezer’s philosophy in “Steel Magnolias” that “good Southern women are supposed to wear funny hats and grow things in the dirt;” although, I’m just beginning my research.

            I figure if I can survive everything I’ve been through in the past 2 years, then I could do just about anything.

            If I can do it, so can everyone else!

  • Keeping My Shirt On

    Your children previously had supervised visits for a reason. Only a very sick father would want to share this crap with his children. Block him from their accounts ASAP and tell them why. It’s inappropriate. Obviously he’s not going to suddenly grow up and respect them. He is a predator.block him. Prude? No it’s teaching your children his behavior is unacceptable because it is!!

  • KMSO – good job on all the mighty work you have done on your road to Meh. with your current dilemma I would use the ‘ordinary person’ approach.

    would you let your children be exposed to similar sexual content from anyone else? I think not. he is an X rated father barely hiding behind an album (didn’t intend the pun there). because he is their father, he doesn’t get a green light to cross their developing sexual boundaries.

    the predatory father, however soft or hard his pornographic methods, can become an excellent teacher for showing children what is NOT healthy. block and stop the social media that you can. if they go around you, and you find out, it becomes another opportunity for discussing sane vs crazy.

  • This is KMYSO and I want to say thank you to CL and all of you in CN. Reading your comments have been so helpful though I am really sorry so many of us are dealing with them same things. The commentator who said that I wouldn’t have had a second thought about calling out any other adult who had shared those images to my kids was so right. In fact, at one point I had thought/hoped I had given them a dad that would have protected them that way — not been the perp. And I also feel assured that there is nothing I can do about his behavior and what is likely an enormous digital footprint of skeeviness from him. I can only, as CL and others said, support them in knowing it is ok to set boundaries and helping them see what good ones are (which I which I had had better support for.) For those of you in the early stages of this, please know that while you will never stop worrying about your kids (mine were 5 and 7 at final Dday) and your ex will probably not become any less crappy, overall it will get better.

    • I would still monitor what he sends to the kids and document it. It may escalate. He doesn’t seem to understand boundaries or age appropriateness of his actions. Don’t assume he’s just being thick headed — he may be grooming them.

  • I was the chump kid of two cheaters. My dad was a pedophile into teen boys. Both parents were alcoholics. Dad’s teen lover molested me from the age of 3. Mom knew but didn’t stop it- tells me she thought it was “cultural” (teen lover boy was from Samoa). So many layers of fuckedupedness. No wonder I chose cheaters/narcs as partners. Protect your kids even if it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient – involve professionals like child therapist who will have to report if they feel dad’s behavior is child abuse.

    • OMG, MotherChumper–I’m so sorry. Any parent who does not protect their children does not deserve to have them.

    • Chump Lady?!? WTF??? We are all doing the pick-me dance over here for your approval. Now we have to wait until tomorrow???

      Ha ha! You’re worth it Lady. We will patiently wait.

      Thanks for all you do for the Chump Nation.

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