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Dear Chump Lady, He exults in my parenting “mistakes”

Dear Chump Lady,

Here is where I am at —overall, happy. I managed to get my divorce finally finalized more than a year ago. I have a full-time job, half-time parenting and a boyfriend. I have a home and a dog and all the basics that a woman could want plus a little more. I’m not a spiritual woman, but I will say that if blessed is the word, I will take it as an accurate descriptor.

However, in the interest of making a long story short, what I also have is a nasty ex. I have given up on the Kool-Aid of every body gets along and gone with parallel parenting and as absolutely minimal contact as possible.

Thats not the case with him. I regularly ignore his barbs and just respond with polite fact-based info if at all. This week, however, he got to me. I admit that. He did.

I took my kids to the lake. I rubbed them liberally with Bullfrog sunscreen. My oldest managed to rub it off his shoulders (just the top of the shoulders) by toweling off a lot. My bad, I didn’t reapply as he did not seem to be burning and none of the rest of us were. He later presented with a burn in a limited area that he had rubbed. I took care to treat the burns and sent him on to his dad’s on the regular exchange day.

I got an email from the ex telling me it was the “worst sunburn he has ever seen” and asking me how I could have let it get so bad. I ignored it as I had just been pulled in to a miniature email battle the day before accusing me of doing something I hadn’t actually done, so I did not wish to re-enter the tit for tat. My ex took my son to the doctor. He took pictures of him. He was having his one-year wedding anniversary party that weekend and had my son take off his shirt and show multiple guests his burn. He sent more emails. There’s a lot more to the story, but you catch the drift.

My ex has a tendency to do this. While he was cheating and living in the house and preparing for divorce he regularly took pictures and tried to make recordings which he attempted to use in court. He never directly mentions my name to my kids, but makes really, really big deals over things like sunburns and mosquito bites they got while at my house while in front of them. I admit I lost it the other day and said, hey, I really would like you to know that I’m really not as bad as I get portrayed sometimes, guys. To which they said, gee, mom, he never says anything about YOU. I felt immediately guilty and sorry.

My question is this. Is there any way to combat this other than by being as standup as possible in my actions (which I really strive for) stable, respectful and such? I’m fairly sure there is not, but if there is one positive thing I can say in my own defense that establishes that at least I don’t think I’m a crappy parent (nor do I think my ex is) and would like to be treated as such I would love to know how. I’m willing to just eat it and keep going, because I’m good at it at this point. But man I get sick of it every now and again.

Thank you for listening,

Just Want to be Judged Fairly

Dear JWTBJF,

Just wanted to be judged fairly? Ha. Not gonna happen. You bred with a fuckwit. I’m sorry.

Because being cheated on, divorced, and single parenting isn’t enough punishment. Nor is it enough to have to endure your children celebrating “anniversary” weekends with the Schmoopies. (I did the math. Seems the wedding corresponds nicely with your divorce date). No, you have to parent with Inspector Javert there — consumed with crimes against SPF levels. Jesus.

Every parent who’s ever bred with a fuckwit can relate to this nightmare perfectly. It’s the rage channel. He can’t direct his control and fury at you any more, so he’ll do one better — he’ll triangulate with your children. He’ll subtly and not-subtly demean your parenting. He’ll threaten you with court. He’ll “document” your crimes. And he’ll do it all with the veneer of the Outraged Parent Who Is Just Concerned for His Children. Nice bit of diversionary impression management there. Pay no attention to the cheating, and the breaking up the family home, and whatever other bullshit he’s up to. You’re The Real Villain Here.

Yeah. Whatever.

JWTBJF, I just have big hugs for you, and not a ton of advice (although I’m sure CN will chime in). FWIW, I lived this. I got sued for custody pro se by a man with a mental illness who owed me thousands in back child support. Yep, THAT guy liked to get on the stand and accuse ME of bad parenting. The same guy who went years without seeing his child, or dropped him off his court-ordered insurance without a word. The proverbial turd in the punch bowl who shows up on college move-in day to play Great Benefactor and Proud Parent when he hasn’t bought so much as a PENCIL.

I know the taste of this shit sandwich well, my friend. These freaks don’t change. But you know who does change? You. And your kids. And your relationship.

They see you as the Sane Parent. You’re mom, who puts on the SPF, and chills. He’s the nutter who freaks out and embarrasses them in front of a room of guests to see their sunburn. You let them play outside. He loses his shit over mosquito bites.

Stay in your lane, Sane Mom. Let him keep being a freak, and you keep on being awesome. Do NOT take the rage bait. He so very badly wants to mindfuck you, and intimidate and bully you. And make you doubt your awesome mightiness. Maybe I am a bad mother. Maybe that’s why he left for Schmoopie. Maybe Schmoopie always carries DEET for every occasion? Don’t go there. That’s where he wants you to go — with his centrality. With his judgement and anger always in your head.

But you’re so much better than that. You with your new life and new boyfriend and great kids. You with your HAPPINESS.

Don’t let him steal your joy. You let him document that sunburn all he wants. He can call HBO and get a film crew. Then he can take all the family court judges to the IMAX theater to watch Crimes of a Sunburn together.

Until they haul you off to jail for felony bug-bites, hang in there. You’re the sane parent and your kids know it. You’ve got this. Fuck him.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • You know who you are and what you’ve done to look after yourself and your loved ones, J. Please don’t let this bastard take that away from you.

  • Kids get sunburnt, accumulate mosquito bites, tumble off their bikes, fall out of trees, skin their shins.

    I’m willing to be “Good Old Dad” doesn’t stand over the kids every minute. You did the best you could, and the kid will survive. (He’ll probably get an illicit thrill out of pulling off the shedding skin!)

    You do your best, that’s all you can do.

    Ignore him.

  • Haha…. yes! I never knew how bad a father I was until she started cheating. Then she started informing me and my children about it! And for several years, I started to believe it! Even though, she was always out of town working. During that time I got them up….. fed them 3 meals a day…. showers, teeth and homework…. and constant dad cab being at all events and sports. I was an easy target. I had to be the parent she would fly through on the weekends and be super fun mom! Always highlighting her wonderfulness on Facebook!

    • CL says ‘He can’t direct his control and fury at you any more, so he’ll do one better — he’ll triangulate with your children’
      WOW! I never would have thought of that… information and awareness is a powerful tool!

    • My cheating ex wife to a T…her Facebook posts were comical. Especially after she cheated and left my daughter and I. I seriously think she’s mentally ill. Amazing the clarity No Contact and Time bring.

  • I can so relate to all of this, even if my ex is not quite as bad as CL’s.

    Mine took great delight in pulling out all sorts of parental misdemeanours in witness statements – none of which she had previously pointed out, even though she claimed it was bad for kids. I mean… if it’s bad for kids, why not point it out at the time instead of for the first time in a court document?

    The stuff she actually pointed out at the time was all controlling, “I am superior to you” stuff – none of it meant anything.

    As CL points out – this is just transferrance of their own shitty parenting (they broke up the family, ffs) on to their victim.

    I suspect, based on other issues, that this takes a lot of energy on their part and they will eventually just give up out of lack of energy.

    And the other thing that now happens is my ex’s controlling and non-child focused behaviour is beginning to repeat itself. So it’s a lot easier to demonstrate to court and social workers that she lies, exaggerates and isn’t at all focused on kids – just acting out her issues.

    So my advice based on what I have seen is to wait it out, play the long game and don’t stoop to their level. Their true self will show itself before long.

  • I used to tell him to take it to the judge and tell him “I want a divorce because she volunteers too much.” Same church, different pew. It’s hard, I know, but keep in mind that it is just mind fuckery and don’t let it work. What anybody he talks to thinks of you really doesn’t matter if they’re not going to check the facts.

    • Shame on you for your volunteering! 😉

      I was accused in MC of getting too much education. I got Masters before we had kids. He never complained at the time, and it wasn’t a cost burden because I did it on scholarship. I later did an online certificate program (only a couple hours/week) to help me start a business I could run from home after the kids were born so that they wouldn’t have to be in daycare so much. Again, no complaints at the time.

      They’re just grasping at straws for things to complain about, as if those things compelled them to cheat.

    • You kind neighbor with good values, setting an example of the joys of giving back…you don’t see your ebil ways? 😇
      I think the fact that he has to work so hard to find a fault, wow, you deserve a toast 🥂. Your mightyness is showing :).

  • This type of vengeful hyper-nitpicking is a pitiful attempt at leveling the perception field.

    If my experience with KK is any indication, the cheater world view is that there are ONLY two possible types of people: perfect and imperfect. And since nobody’s perfect, the inability to prevent sunburn is an equal contributor to imperfection as fucking around and destructive deception.

    It’s his opportunity to proclaim: “See?! JETBJF is no better than anyone else! And in some ways is worse!”

    • From a psychiatric pov, the idea that a person is all good or all bad is “splitting”…there is no gray. My mom has this…cant disagree on subtleties, if you do ANYTHING wrong, you become a villain. This is one reason they cant cop to even small mistakes…because they believe this about themselves too…admitting ANY fault or mistake makes THEM all bad, so they will die before admitting a single wrong doing.

      • This is so true. STBX has this too. He thinks being a perfectionist is a good thing. I tried to point out that if he sets his standards too high he will always be disappointed because his standards will never be met. His response was that anything less than his standards is sub standard. Evidently his “standards” don’t include moral compass.

        • This confuses me. I don’t believe in gray. You are either pregnant or not, never ‘a little bit pregnant’. When I deal with asshat, it’s 100% black and white. I gave him gray like I do most other people, because no one is perfect and communication about issues, opinions and concerns is a two way street.

          After I found out about the mass of lies and deception, it’s best for me to identify shit with him as being black and white. With my other interactions with people, I do DO gray. There is room for interpretation and understanding. However, fool me once-shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a millions times, I must be dealing with a narcissist (read that part somewhere).

          • I guess I do believe in grey! Just not with known sociopaths!

            Seriously, the topic confuses me. Makes me wonder if it’s ME and not the ABUSER. I know that’s not the case. These creeps will come after you complaining you are a black and white person, expecting you to feel shame for ‘being judgemental’. I think I need a good retort for the psycho I bred with.

            • I think you are confused because you and I had opposite experiences. In my case STBX was the one who saw everything as black and white (perfect or no good) which I found to be unrealistic. In your case there may be shades of gray, but your STBX is firmly in the black end of Gray (or white if you prefer to think of black as the good end depending on your preferences)

              All that being said, I would not consider adultery to be a trait of the perfect person, but evidently STBX does because he’s perfect (and so is Schmoopie), so now we have a whole new way to look at things. Everything is black and white, but we all have different opinions as to what is black and what is white.

              My head hurts. I think I’ll stop now.

              • ANC, gray here means being neutral. You are not engaging at all. You give yes or no answers. You give up hope/idea that your ex is ever going to be mature. You just become a little gray rock that he doesn’t even notice.
                Your black and white thinking is fine. Cheating is cheating. Lying is lying. Stealing is stealing. There are nothing about those behaviors that are gray.

              • We do black and white. Right or wrong. Cheaters do perfect or imperfect…and that is subjective.

          • I think you are overreaching…in things like adultery, pregnancy & ax murder…you are right, there is no grey, you either are or aren’t.

            Splitting is when you idealize a person as superhuman perfect then you learn of one single imperfection (like they like the Mayor of your city and you dont like him) and you immediately decide this person is your enemy because you disagree on one thing.

            My mom was the sort where she couldn’t accept that she disliked my inlaws and I was OK with them. To her the world was unacceptably out of balance unless she could get me to declare that they were as horrible as she thought they were. Deciding to disagree on a topic is beyond them. On that topic she would literally rail at me by the hour about.

            • I learned something new today!

              I only knew the definition of “splitting” in relation to triangulation: a form of splitting in which one person manipulates a relationship between two parties by controlling communication between them.

      • It took me a long time to see that this is what my CheaterX did/does. I never understood how he could think I was disagreeing with him when in fact I was agreeing with him and offering him yet another reason why I thought he was right! This reduced me to tears, and I am not a woman who cries easily.

        Once I discovered the cheating and once I came to CN and learned about NPD and BPD, I realized that he had a lot of the BPD characteristics. I’m not going to diagnose him, but I would not be surprised if he were BPD. However, looking at his behavior through that lens helped me cope while I was lining up my ducks.

      • For some narcs, there is a 3rd category in addition too all good or all bad: discarded, insignificant and does not register (invisible).

        Don’t ask me how I know 🙂

  • We are there with you. For me it is the constant judgement of how clothes fit or do not fit. (They do fit, news flash, kids change sizes as they grow). They didn’t look perfect after a long day at school. Hair and clothes might be rumpled. Someone might have BO because they are a teenage boy. Since someone only gets to see the kids for 3 hours a week under supervision, it is frustrating but the system knows the truth. It has gotten to the point where my fiance reads the supervision reports because I can’t anymore. There isn’t anything to do other than suck it up. Hang in there. If you start making your defense you have already lost (and boy do I know the temptation)

  • I doubt that any judge in the world would be able to hold back *hysterical* laughter if he ever brought that into a courtroom. And a lawyer would be embarrassed to present it as any sort of proof of neglect. Human beings get sunburn, sometimes no matter how much you try to avoid it. Ridiculous.

    That tit-for-tat earlier in the day? He was cranking you up for the “Great Exposure 2017” on purpose. It’s nonsense. Chump Lady’s right- stay in your lane, Sane Parent. You’ve got this.

  • If fuckwit keeps up this ‘documentation’ of your failings, I’d be tempted, once, to turn the tables on him. Son comes home from Dad’s tired & grumpy? You find out that perhaps junior stayed up an hour too late and did not eat his full dinner? Write that down, tell fuckwit father that you are taking junior to the lab for a blood test to see if he has anemia, and you SINCERELY hope that the boy was provided with all the major food groups while at his house (then attach a copy of the FDA food triangle).

    • Doesn’t come natural for us chumps to think this way, thanks for the great step -by-step example. It could really help calm things down.

    • While it’s certainly tempting, responding in kind will only validate their demand for centrality.

      It may be momentarily satisfying to hit send on a snarky retort, but you’ll soon feel sick and regret stooping to their lowlife level of engagement. I found this out the hard way.

      I’m gearing up to file yet another contempt because he refuses to share in the costs for our kids’ expenses as outlined in our divorce agreement, and is now refusing to respond to my requests for payment.

      I swear he LOVES contempt hearings, as it makes him feel important, gives him the chance to show how smart and put upon he is to a judge. Mostly though, he knows it is a financial hardship for me to have to continue bringing this kind of shit to court.

      He gets off on hurting me. Nothing new there.

  • “He was having his one-year wedding anniversary party that weekend and had my son take off his shirt and show multiple guests his burn.”

    This turned my stomach. A parent ordered his child to disrobe in front of multiple adults so they could observe his body? I am disgusted and horrified.

    I am not saying your son should never have his shirt off. Far from it, actually. I AM saying it should never happen because his father — or anyone — wants to show his body off in public for any reason. Your son must have been mortified. No wonder he’s defensive. This kind of thing is terribly confusing for anyone, especially a child.

    It may be worth considering getting an appropriate counselor for the kids so they have a neutral place to deal with this manipulation from Dad. God. Creepy.

    • Maybe she should document how his Dad is forcing their son to show off his body in public. That’s much more an indication of bad parenting than an oops with the sun screen.

    • I think that this kind of realization will help JWTBJF.

      It’s really understandable to get upset when your CheaterX starts to needle you about your bad parenting. How dare you allow your son to become sunburned! Sheesh! Parenting felony there, about on par with allowing your child to play in traffic. Not.

      But then you have to hear how he dramatizes the incident. He made your son take his shirt off to display his burn to the guests. How did your son feel about that?

      Here’s how to feel as if you’re turning the tables while still maintaining the high ground. The Ex says that he’s documented yet another one of your parenting failures by having Child X do Y in public. Turn to Child X and say calmly, “I see that your father wanted you to do Y in front of his guests. I guess that must’ve felt a bit weird.” Allow Child X to say yes, no, or not answer.

      Your child is free to answer how s/he wishes, but will get the unspoken message that normal people won’t pressure him to put himself on display. If your child does answer that he felt uncomfortable or that he didn’t want to do that, then this is something that YOU can document.

      If your child is working with a therapist, this might be something to broach with said therapist. Your child will need to learn how to establish and enforce boundaries. His father can legitimately ask to see the burn in order to treat it or to assess its severity. His father’s guests have no legitimate need to see the burns. Your son needs to have the tools to say no in these situations.

  • JWTBJF,
    Yes to everything CL and CN say plus this: your ex is jealous of you. He still wants you in his harem.
    As the saying from my country goes, disdainful costumers want to buy the goods. Sour grapes, etc.

    And I totally agree with DavidB’s comment above: there is definitely something in the brain that makes cheating enhance the resolution of the bad-parenting-o-meter by ten log scales.

    My kids all got sunburns, it’s an impossible task to go through life without one and your ex knows it, but he makes a fuss because he’s a coward.

  • Yeah, just f**k him! I put my hand up as soon as I read the title to this post, because this was me – the f**kwit was always putting me down as a mother and pointing out where I was going wrong and focusing on all the small, insignificant “mistakes” he thought I was making. I can see now that it was all to just keep me in my place, and flip the channels from rage to mindf**k, as CL says, to keep me off balance. I was always doubting my parenting skills. I don’t do this anymore. I now know he was totally full of shit. I’m a great mother. My kids are testament to that.

    Like CL said, let HIM be the freak that has to document every damn mosquito bite. My god, does he wrap them in cotton wool when he has them?! Wow, schmoopie is one lucky lady 🤡

  • I love the cheater narrative “you’re the bad parent” …. PROJECTION! This is STBX’s MO.

    He traded his weekend to go to a wedding, resulting in the kids being with me for almost 2 consecutive weeks. When he realized this, his response to me was ….. I’m cheating him out of parenting time and don’t try to co-parent effectively. It’s not in the best interest of our kids!

    I guide my kids decisions, he tries to control them through manipualtions. Under his narrative- I’m the bad parent.

    I let my kids have bread, and don’t force them to susbscribe to his Paleo diet – I’m a bad parent who only feeds the kids junk!

    I’ve also heard the bug bite one. My youngest (14) is an icher and has scabs from itching. He’s probably taking inventory of bugs bites for gods sake. I better lock him up in the house as to “not be a bad parent”

    Here’s the thing, they have to make you bad to justify the hurt THEY caused the kids by cheating! If you’re bad, their justification are confirmed.

    Just remember – “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others”

    • Oh… and for everyone – sunscreen = Super Goop! I just used that on our vacation and it’s phenomenal! Unfortunately smoopsie introduced it to my kids (she works in a plastic surgeons office) but I will say, that stuff is great!

      Oh, did I mention I’m a bad parent??? cause a bad parent would set aside ego and go out and buy something suggested to the kids by smoopsie.

      Yep, I’m the bad parent! (Read thick with sarcasm)

  • Stay mighty JWTBJF and ignore him! We all know how hard that is, but you can do it, you are doing it. Sending you lots of love. You are a great parent and your ex is a shithead.

  • I (think) I got some of this in reverse and was accused of being a “Martyr” for wanting and doing anything so my kids to remain in the area, schools and with family. She on the other hand wanted to take 2 of my 3 kids away from all this to live 70 miles away with her BF.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had my fair share of criticism (I could write a book). I got a shitty email asking me to explain why she found out via social media that my 11 yo son had gone for a sleepover at a mutual friends without me informing her, this is someone both me and Yo Yo Knickers know fairly well.

    I later found out from my son that the week before he had gone for a sleepover over where Yo Yo Knickers BF lives. Someone my son has probably met only a few times, and with people I have never met or know.

    Hypocrisy at it’s finest!

  • JWTBJF

    – Did he never get sunburnt when you and your clusterfuck of an ex went anywhere sunny?
    – Did your kid complain?
    – Did he cry?
    – Was he in pain?
    – Did he have to go to hospital?

    Your ex is projecting all his crap parenting skills onto you.

  • Protection, such a void for the disordered when they expose chumps to STD’S.

    Discrediting chumps while playing the hero on the one year anniversary shows his insecurity. The relationship can’t be very strong if it’s continuance has to be proved by exaggerating his concern to others. What a foundation. It’s laughable and shallow. He’s kidding no one.

  • Oh man this is the story of my life. Eight years of parenting where he couldn’t have cared less, then finds schmoopie (who is arguably a horrible parent herself) and suddenly he is god’s gift to parenting. One of my favorites is recently he got angry at me for letting my son walk barefooted between his car and my car, parked 6 feet apart.

    Also, omg the Inspector Javert thing made me laugh out loud.

  • My mother in law was like that. She liked to announce the baby needs a diaper change, at the top of her voice, like I only did it once a day. I would stop and say in my best concerned voice ” saying things like that make people think your unstable, it concerns me”. I was thinking F you bitch. She would rant how she just cared so much. I would force sympathy and say to my older kids grandma can’t help it, it’s ok. Drove her bat shit crazy. Maybe tell him how your seeing more and more instability, like bug bite, sunburn fixation, and you hope he’s getting help. Then go radio silence.

  • Typical asshole move – he’s lost control. Ignore him – he’s a bitter loser – isn’t it funny how that works. He lies, cheats and everything in between but wants to hold you accountable for a common sun burn – sounds reasonable . . . Not even close. Keep on keeping on in your mightiness, he is a fuckwit who is showing the depths of his douchebaggery – you kids will catch on eventually.

    Mine fought me over the cost of zit creme for our son – showed up at the Dr appointment and stalked the Dr after because he thought $130 was to much to pay and the prescription was t covered by our plan. My son’s face broke out recently really bad and he was worried and seeing his dad and his dad saying something to him. I looked at my son and said why would dad say something and my son’s response was . . . Because dad wants me to be healthy. I felt like saying are you kidding me right now? But didn’t because I am the sane not unhinged one . . . I just shook my head.

    The thing is these fuckwit’s take being ridiculous to a whole new level and look like the total jackasses that they are in the process. I would absolutely document him in return and not let him know what you are doing so you can reveal his ongoing bullshit at a later date if need be.

    • Hugs to your son! I send lots of love to his beautiful soul. Emotional Acne runs in my family, and my sons had it, too. The last thing he needs is a critical father! Meds, and time, usually take care of it, and hopefully we come out the other side with our worth intact, because this information age we’re in is so superficial, air-brushed everything.

    • STBX told our daughter that her horrible acne was her fault for not exercising enough, not eating right and not going to bed on time. Never mind that he had bad acne as a teenager too but nah, couldn’t be genetic.

      I do encourage her to exercise, eat right and go to bed on time, because I think those things are good for her, but I don’t try to tell her it will make the acne go away because it won’t and its presence certainly isn’t her fault.

      • CIR
        My son used to have really awful acne and we tried everything. Creams, facials, laser, proactive. And we always had a good diet. After a couple of years, put him on Roacutane. Best decision ever. Just sorry we didn’t do it sooner. My poor son had a couple of years of very bad acne because I was concerned about the side effects of the drug – which ended up to be of no consequence. Just bummed that I could have saved his poor self esteem from taking such a hit if we put him on the drug sooner.

  • My cheater wasn’t even the Dad of my kids and he spent years nitpicking and telling me what a bad mother I was. But then he always knew how to do everything better than me and everyone else. In this case, the guy never had any kids of his own. And he complained constantly about his FOO and his terrible upbringing yet somehow he knew how to be a better parent than me, who’d been a single Mom for 4 years preceding moving in with the cheater. And the major parent for the 12 years preceding that, with their absent/non-working/cheating biological father my Ex-H. And had sole legal and physical custody of the kids.

    I chalk it up to the narcissistic belief in their own grandiosity and superiority, plus control and triangulation. I never bought into it though I bit my tongue (he was a rager when angry), and now, almost 5 years post DDay and kicking him out, he has not ONCE even contacted the kids that he so proudly lorded over as their “step parental” figure in their lives, lecturing them frequently on morality and how to live their lives. It was all for show. And once he moved on to a new host, he didn’t need us anymore. Quite the contrary I know for a fact he has been telling his Victim story of how WisedUp and her horrible tribe of unruly children gave him the sadz so he had to fuck strange.

  • A year and a half post-divorce, a year and a half of 50-50 parenting (standard here), a chump friend got taken to court by her cheater ex. Cheater ex had tried several lawyers until she found one who would sue for increased custody time, based on the list of 147 bad parenting behaviours and decisions by Chump.

    Long drawn out process, involving statements from dozens of people, reports by psychologists, etc. Finally goes to court. Takes 30 seconds. Judge says ‘I have read this list of 147 reasons custody should be changed. They are trivial. The child is doing well w/the current custody division. It will remain unchanged’. Gavel falls. Next!

    Of course, this cost Chump almost $10,000 in legal fees etc, and many sleepless nights. But at least the court got it.

  • This is what I needed to hear today! Coparenting is impossible with these people! You are always “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Damned if you did reapply the sunscreen because then you are a helicopter parent. Damned if you didn’t and the kid got a sunburn because then you are negligent. There’s no winning an argument so don’t engage. Delete or archive the crazy emails.

  • I said something ugly and nasty deeply hurtful to my young adult son, in front of his father. I felt sick for days. Son avoided me. His dad tucked into the cold shoulder, served with a side of icy civility. I received an e-mail from his dad a few days later, with a BULLET POINT takedown of everything I’d said to son.

    Like I didn’t feel bad enough already.

    I apologized in the moment to my son. I apologized to him again a few days later, when he repeated my insult back to me, and added that I know it was uncalled for and there was no excuse, but could he please find it in his heart to not judge my parenting based on that lapse. He didn’t answer, but it also never came up again.

    Fast forward a few weeks. Son texts me asking for help with a deeply personal matter with his new and first girlfriend (enough said). “I can’t tell dad. That would be horrible.”

    A sunburn? That you tried to prevent, and tended, and doted on? Pshaw. Our kids don’t need us to be perfect and mistake-free; they need us to demonstrate remorse, concern, and repair.

    Please, please, recognize the exultation of your ex as his favorite song on the Rage Channel. I didn’t see it quite that way until CL pointed it out.

  • Sigh…wish my teenage boys would read this article. My ex is all this and more. You can add alienator to his titles.

    I have seen one of my kids once in over a month and the things he spewed to me were things no Mama wants to hear. The other, not seen in over a month. My sons are so angry with the world, his friends for over 10 years are done with him, they do not agree with the way he is treating me.

    It is a game of winning to them. He doesn’t care about those kids, never did, he is mad because I moved on and was happy. These people are sick, sick, sick!

    The best advice I can give is to have family counseling, however tread lightly. If you have joint legal, he can block it, just like mine did.

    Good luck, pray it doesn’t get as bad as my situation.

  • STBX isn’t as bad as what is described here as he doesn’t delight in telling others what a bad Mom I am, but he does criticize my parenting to me. He is constantly pointing out the kids shortcomings to me with the implication that it is my fault they are not living up to his standards, doing the things he wants them to do or being the people he wants them to be.

    This was always an issue for us. He would say the kids need to do XYZ and then leave it up to me to figure out how to get the kids to do XYZ. If they failed to do XYZ, I wasn’t parenting. When he had his two year stint as SAHD I thought that he would either figure out how to get the kids to do XYZ himself, or he would learn some empathy as to why it is not so easy to get kids to do XYZ. Nope. It was still my fault because I didn’t “have his back” and didn’t do enough to support him in his efforts to enforce XYZ while I was off at work all day.

    Even now he finds ways to imply that I am not doing enough to make the kids perfect. If he stops by to see the kids when I am not there and they are not outside playing football or whatever he makes sure to send me a text “FYI – Daughter is napping and the boys are on screens”, like I should have done something to prevent that. Never mind that the boys are designing and programming computer games (not just playing them) and it isn’t really such a terrible thing to take a nap in the middle of the day (wish I could do that more). He also implied that our 17 year old daughter is depressed because I didn’t notice or prevent her from watching “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix = bad parenting. Letting her read “Hunger Games” against his better judgement a few years ago contributed as well.

    Now he says he isn’t going to parent himself anymore because nobody listened to him, supported him or had his back in his draconian parenting style (which seemed to be mostly if the kids are having fun something’s wrong) anyway. There is no compromising, if it can’t be all his way all of the time, then he just won’t participate at all. Of course he wasn’t really participating before either, he was just telling me how to parent.

    Ironically, my 17 year old tells me I am too controlling and that is why she is depressed. Sigh.

  • When my ex left the first time around for his first schmoopie when my kids were 2 and 4 y.o. and I was parenting by myself, he had come by the house to grab a few more of his things and noticed our daughter had a cold. I was sitting on the couch holding, comforting her, providing supportive care. Fuckwit is a doctor and I’m a nurse. He stormed over and accused me of being a bad parent for not taking her to the emergency room. He called the hospital and we drove her straight there with his plan of having her admitted directly to the children’s wing, bypassing all of the regular processes like taking her to the pediatrician office or going through the emergency room. I felt like shit thinking I’d missed something big and my baby might’ve died because of me.

    He badmouthed me about how sick she was and she looked dehydrated. Of course at this time not many people knew we were separated and he had moved out for a schmoopie. The physician looked at our little girl and said she had been well cared for and he didn’t see any reason she needed to be admitted. What a fucker he was. I don’t know why I ever took him back the first time.

    They have this ability to doubt yourself. As chumps, we internalize alot of crap. But using our kids to get to us is a special type of fucked up. It now makes sense that it’s the only control they have left and they need to rage.

    • Wow! That’s really fucked up. It seems like everything these people do they do with intensity whether it is something good or something bad or something just plain stupid. It’s full speed ahead and no stopping to think in everything they do.

      As, embarrassing and inconvenient as that whole episode was, however, it probably felt good to have the your approach validated as the right one in the end. We so need that validation to bring us back to reality when we are getting that mindfuck.

  • Dear JWTBJF:

    You stated: ” I don’t think I’m a crappy parent (nor do I think my ex is).” Well, this is half right. You are jumping through hoops to be the sane parent — and I applaud you for that. Your kids need that, particularly because your ex IS a crappy parent.

    Let me give you the child’s perspective — since I was in a similar situation as a kid. In my case, my mom fled the home and my dad had primary custody of me and my brother.

    My mom announced to the everyone (all the time) how horrible my dad was. She took me to a counselor, sitting in the room with me and the counselor with the intent of having me bash my dad “on record.” She also took me to a doctor — she wanted to prove I was anorexic and blame it on my dad (I was anorexic — but for reasons unrelated to my dad). So, not all that different from what your son went through in this one instance.

    How did it feel to be that 12-year-old kid? I felt horrendous guilt and shame. I loved my mom so much — so I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Besides, she was partially right — my dad was NOT perfect. He could be a huge asshole, actually. So was she wrong? It’s hard to explain how confusing this is to a young child’s mind.

    On the other hand, I knew my dad wasn’t nearly as bad as my mom was saying. He didn’t abandon us. He didn’t beat us (she thought every bruise was from him). He didn’t cause me to be anorexic. Sure, some of my problems had come from the hellish divorce; some of my problems came from my dad being a serial-cheating jerk; but some of my problems came from my mom leaving us; and MOST of my problems came from her husband molesting me. But I would not talk. How could I? I couldn’t shatter my mom’s beliefs. It felt like I would be hurting her if I said anything.

    So I said nothing. To nobody. I lived with guilt towards both of my parents. Even now, I am stunned at how much they had hated each other. Yet, I loved both of my parents and I just wanted them to love me back. It felt like there was something fundamentally wrong with me that made that impossible.

    The insidious nature of being used as a weapon against your own parent comes out — often not verbally — but in other ways. Acting out. Self-harm. Bad grades. In hindsight, my mom’s actions (using me against my dad for her own agenda) was just as damaging as what her husband was doing to me.

    Remember, verbal and emotional abuse can be just as bad (sometimes worse, I would argue — as I’ve been on all sides of this) as physical abuse. Please get your son some counseling. And, please leave the room once you’ve found a counselor he feels safe with.

    Sending a big hug to you and your little ones. I’m so sorry any of you have to experience this crap.

    • I forgot to add — when you take your son (or kids) to counseling, don’t tell him it’s because of his dad. Just let him know the family has been through a lot and you thought it would be good for him to have a third-party person (professional) to speak with. That sometimes an outside perspective can help.

    • JessMom thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for what you have been through in your life. I just can’t imagine.

      I think this is a good reminder for me about what and how I relay information not only to but infront of my kids. I really don’t want them to worry about finances, about me, and I don’t want them to have a bad relationship with their father. I overheard asshat on the phone with our teenaged daughter discussing her sport. She cut him out of her life significantly as he was trying to screw around with her young coach. He sure let my daughter know he was the only one that could help her with her life goals as I couldn’t possibly do it. Yep he’s using the mindfuck on her too. She mentioned to me one time he’s passive aggressive.

      I think they see how fucked up he is. He uses money to try to control them. He’s purchased a big home trying to lure them in. I don’t say a word. He can’t pay for sports stuff for them, or put money in their lunch account, uses their savings for stuff he said he’d cover but wasn’t in the divorce agreement so hard to enforce. I don’t have to do a thing. He does it all himself.

      I do hate it for them. I spackled him normal for years. I can’t and won’t do that anymore. They are going to have to figure out how to deal with him and whether it’s even worth it for them. It puts things in perspective for me though. There’s no blatant abuse in their lives. I’m thankful for that.

      I wish you the best in your pursuit of ‘meh’. Thank you for the reminder to not participate in the mudslinging and nasty. I love CL’s sane parent and stay in your lane.

      • The fact that my experience can help others — helps me too. It gives the bad crap some good meaning. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

        I’m on the flip-side of this now with my STBX, so I fully understand how hard it is to have to watch our kids go through this. It’s excruciating at times.

        I just keep focusing on making sure they know I love them — and that I’m here for them, regardless of the situation. I cry with them when they cry; I smile with them when they smile. It’s important that they know that someone really hears them.

        Having been on both sides of this, I think your “sane” / “say nothing” approach is the best you can do with the wreckage created by your cheater. You are amazing for loving your kids enough to really think all of this through and do what’s best for them.

        (((Hugs)))

        • JessMom
          I think you are an amazing parent.
          All you have been through and you come out on the positive side by helping your children and other Chumps and their children.
          Amazing is not a strong enough word to describe you JessMom!
          Words fail me, but please know YOU are an incredible support to every life you touch.

          Golden Heart Award to you sweet Lady!

          Xxxxxx

  • One thing I learned from living with narcs ( kind of like swimming with sharks, and it rhymes!), is that they are very perceptive about what matters to you. They won’t talk about your housekeeping if you don’t care about that family of dust bunnies living under the couch because you have better ways to spend your time. But if you bill yourself as the Happy Homemaker with a fix for all household chores and a schedule on the refrigerator for changing the air filters and scrubbing the baseboards — watch out. A crumb on the kitchen floor is a major catastrophe.

    Whenever they want to make themselves feel better, or look better to others they will make a big deal out of the things that matter to you the most. Your fuckwit ex probably knows you love your kids and take pride in taking care of them. He probably secretly thinks — “she should have been caring for my needs instead of those stupid kids,” and tells himself that is why he cheated. But he is smart enough to know that argument won’t fly, and so he attacks your care of your children. Double Bonus Points! Look like a caring parent (who happened to abandon his family) and hurt you where you are vulnerable. Happy Day in the Narc Neighborhood!!!

    I studied Communication while in school, and made pretty good grades. Employers have recognized me for my skills. I naturally have a bit of pride when I do something well. So whenever possible my ex would say to me, “I can’t believe you have a MA in Communication, when you don’t know how to communicate with me at all.” Right — I didn’t take courses in how to speak Fuckwit — all the Narcomania classes were full when I was in school. In addition, I don’t want to talk to him, at all. The thing is, whenever someone has a weak argument, or no justification at all, they usually look for a way to insult you personally. It is the lowest form of argument. Whether your mother wear’s army boots or not has nothing to do with anything else. They just cannot think of anything substantive to chide you for, and they MUST CHIDE!!! It is their God given right to tell all inferiors (anyone but them) that they have been negligent, and thus bad, and must be publicly shamed for this heinous shortcoming.

    Once you realize what they are doing, practice having NO REACTION AT ALL. Or maybe worse, LAUGH. Yes — I staked the child out in the sun and poured oil on his shoulders so that he could have a really sensational burn IN THAT ONE SPOT, so that you would be bothered by it. I did it just to hurt you. Seriously??? Sarcasm is effective sometimes. You know him, which works better, ignoring him or laughing and conveying that his barb is so ridiculous that you can’t take it seriously. Consider the source and remember bad kibbles are better than no kibbles to Narcs. Good luck — remember your kids will grow up and then you won’t have to have any contact at all. The pain has an expiration date.

    • Portia this is a great post and very helpful. It’s hard to see how someone could get joy from any pain they inflict. My chumpy brain can’t imagine this so it’s good to have this pointed out.

    • Also, the rager know what matters to you and may conduct small sabotage against the things, people or whatever that you value.

      It’s very small and very subtle. It’s enough that they notice that you notice. It may be something you have discussed with your abuser multiple times in the past not to do- to be conscious about. It’s flat out another manifestation in their lack of respect for you. Once they push that button and even engage your children, other family members or friends to witness or participate in it, that’s the reaction they are seeking.

      Your reaction will become another part of their narrative/history re write. Be aware of this and respond either Grey Rock or BIFF, whichever solution works best within the scenario. Do not play into their games.

      • THIS is so spot on. The subtle, but deliberate button-pushing to get a reaction and cause pain. And he has this ammunition because he is the very person with whom I spent 20 years sharing my deepest insecurities, vulnerabilities and fears…because I trusted him as my best friend and life partner and because I thought that’s what marriage was about. I never imagined there would be a time when he would use that intimate knowledge to cut me down and keep me in my chumpy place.

    • This is so spot on. My STBX knew exactly which buttons to push. I shared my deepest secrets with him and he used them all against me. The main one being that my mom abused me when I was little (we are on good terms now). No matter if it was relevant to the argument or not, he would tell me I was acting like my mom or he would say horrible things to me and as he saw me getting upset he would antagonize me further saying “You want hit me? Go ahead, hit me”. Horrifying behavior.

      • This was my cheater too…my parents are cluster B…alcoholic, narc, Borderline and too selsifh to love anyone – really fun to be their kid…he would get pissy and say “Now I know why your parents didnt like you” asshole

    • Agree! No reply works – here’s the latest text exchange from this past weekend (context – X moved 1300 miles away 18 months ago and rarely sees the kids, one is now an adult who is the subject of this text exchange)

      X – Katy (19 year old son’s new girlfriend) make a good impression?
      Me – Yes she’s great
      X – Insightful. Thanks.
      (hours pass, no response from me)
      X – I don’t need you to be friendly but some basic communication about our kids would be appreciated. I know this has become some sort of game for you. Please stop. It’s childish.
      X – Be a parent
      (days pass, no response from me)
      X – Is the soccer schedule out yet?

      I find it ironic that the ‘parent’ who lives 1300 miles away and doesn’t do any parenting is telling me how to parent. “yes she’s great” isn’t good enough for him. I guess he wants me to send him a paragraph/essay on our son’s new girlfriend – not going to happen. If he hadn’t chosen to move away, he could have met her himself. I just laugh now because it’s so absurd. Project much?

    • OMG, yes to this spot on post.

      Everything I stood for was called into question by ex-H. My tolerance, my patience, my parenting, my appearance, my even-temper, my organisational skills, my financial management, my good manners, my cooking. EVERYTHING that I was good at and/or took pride in was “sub-standard” or contemptible. He pressed every button so much that I felt like I was bad at all of those things.

      Gah! They are horrible people and we are lucky to have shaken them to some extent and can get strength on here.

  • I find it interesting that someone who see his kids every other weekend and 1-2 weeks in the summer can suddenly be the expert on my parenting….of course, I became the horrible parent after he signed off on giving me full custody and he learned that with full custody he couldn’t use the kids to jerk me around any more. So he tries other things….returns the kids from visitation at 10pm, doesn’t return their clothes, gives me child support late (in fact is in arrears), but he’s a Fabulous dad….he only has the kids in his health insurance because it is not only court ordered, but state ordered in ny. Oh and by the way, didn’t hesitate to move his whore in with him before we even got the divorce settled so my kids have to share him with her.

    But you know what, no matter how much he bad mouths my parenting to others, the only people he doesn’t try it with is the kids…want to know why? He doesn’t want them to decide that they want to live with him and he hav to give up his lovenest for actually raising his kids….

  • Hmm. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe he really did know how much I loved him and how much effort I put into to his happiness and that is why he said “I didn’t feel that you loved me”. Maybe he did it on purpose just to hurt me because he knew how much effort I had put into it and he wanted me to feel as if he never even noticed. I wonder…

    He also would have known from past history confided to him that I have some insecurities when it comes to sex. He was always implying that I wasn’t really attracted to him which made me always feel like making love was a test to prove how much I wanted it. In the end he used that against me by saying “we just aren’t sexually compatible” as an irreconcilable difference. He knew I was insecure about that and it would crush me to hear him say that.

    If he really was being deliberate in all of that, then he really is cruel. Maybe it’s best not to dwell too much on that, however. It it is already bewildering enough having to reconcile the man I thought he was with the selfish ignorant jerk he seems to be or have become without adding deliberately cruel into the mix.

    • Chumpinrecovery:

      My STBX did the same … through a lamenting voice and sometimes tears in his eyes.

      “But you didn’t appreciate me!” Um, yes I did, asshole. I felt appreciative, and I sure as hell expressed it (it’s important to me to do that — always had been).

      “I didn’t think you meant it” (that I loved him). What? Right. I was married to your for more than two decades, put up with your shit for all that time, and gave birth to our kids. Add in the myriad of ways I danced and spackled … it is literal nonsense to say I didn’t “mean” that I loved him.

      You get the idea. 🙂

      My point is — yes, he knew exactly what he was doing and what he was saying. He went for the jugular every time. How do I know for sure? He admitted it — finally — at the very end — in a complete rage (his rages were the only times I can recall him being bluntly honest).

      It takes a lot to wrap the head around this. Take your time. It’s important that you see that, yes, he was “deliberately cruel.” Sending a big, virtual (((hug))) as you sort through the muck and mire.

    • After 7 years of marriage and 2 kids, and my discovery of his affair, he told me “I have never been satisfied with you sexually.” Talk about a punch in the gut to my self esteem. I pick-me-fucked so much after that, but 3 years later, he offered me the shit sandwich of an open marriage anyway, so he could explore his sudden Burning Man-inspired lust for BDSM. I declined. But I will never forgive my therapist and our marriage counselor for not counseling me to get away from this asshat after DDay 1. The fact that they listened sympathetically to me sob about this and report on the progress of my strategies to improve our sex life together, without pushing me to explore leaving that cheater and gaining a life, is malpractice. I was paying them to enable me to continue a dysfunctional relationship where I was being emotionally and indirectly, sexually, abused.

      Aaaaaaaarrrggghhhh!

  • Jeez, what is it with these lunatics? I didn’t breed with my serial cheating ex Jackass (thank the gods). Our divorce was final in March, yet he still drives by the house to check on (stalk) me. I got an angry text accusing me of being, and I quote, a “terrible fur-baby mama” because I was out one night and he was oh, so concerned that the dogs weren’t being let out. I shit you not. I’m a bad dog parent.

    It’s insane. I am so thankful I don’t have to co parent with this asshole and I am listing the house for sell next week. He’ll probably still stalk me at my new place, but I am firmly on my way to “meh” and he can fuck off.

  • JWTBJF,
    As you are already divorced, this may not be an option, but I have a clause in my custody agreement that says neither parent shall denigrate the other in front of the kids, and that both parents will strive to prevent anyone else from doing so in their presence. Now, the flip side of this is that I have to be careful how I word my answer to “why mommy can’t live with us anymore.” (For the record, the oldest figured it out on his own anyway, and the youngest is still too young for some details). However, I do have some piece of mind that Mommy can’t fill their heads with the “horrible Daddy” narrative that she’s spreading around town (see CL’s post about character assassination yesterday). In one case, when the ex called me a “lazy sack of shit” in front of them, I e-mailed her that that was inappropriate and copied my attorney.
    If that’s not an option…I think the “BIFF” advice is perfect. If you think he might try to use this shit in court, send a curt, one-sentence answer that just says “it’s been taken care of,” otherwise, just don’t respond. Nothing infuriates a narc in the middle of a self-important harangue like “you’re not even worth a response.”

    • That’s in our agreement too. Luckily we didn’t sign that agreement until after my daughter overheard me raging at him about spending money on Schmoopie which is how she found out about Schmoopie or I might be in trouble. Alas, the agreement applies to SOs too so I can’t denigrate Schmoopie to the kids either. I guess I wouldn’t do that deliberately anyway as it wouldn’t be appropriate, but it still irritates me that it would be illegal for me to say anything negative to the kids about the woman who conspired with my husband to tear our family apart. I also have to be careful because my daughter can’t stand Schmoopie and might say something negative about her to her brothers and technically I am not allowed to let her do that either. It doesn’t help that my daughter wants to see me get angry and say bad things about them both and is constantly trying to goad me into it. I often have to change the subject around her.

      • Yeah, see that to me is bullshit.

        I’m not going to denigrate my ex to the kids, but I am going to tell the truth and I’m not going to spare Ms. Twatwaffles any quarter. Seriously, fuck that.

        Mr. Twatwaffles moved Ms. Twatwaffles and her 3 kids in with him before the ink was dry on the divorce papers. I got to spend Mothers Day explaining to my kids who she was when they suddenly found her living at their bio-donor’s house when they went for visitation. (No, he hadn’t given me a heads up either) He had not prepared them in the slightest that they would be sharing their bedroom with another kid, either.

        The best I could do was to avoid telling them, “She’s the whore your father has been fucking for the last year.” And frame it, “She’s your fathers girlfriend and it’s her fault we are no longer a family.”

        I’m absolutely NOT going to facilitate their whoredom by making it nicer than it is to the kids. It will be age appropriate and I will tailor it to soften the blows for the benefit of my girls, NOT for Mr. And Ms. T.

        I refuse to protect their lying, sucking images to my kids.

      • Talking bad about Schmoopie (or other parent):

        There is a world of difference between, “Scmoop is full of poop and a slut!” and “Daughter, I know your are frustrated with schmoop for a, b and c. It is perfectly normal to not like someone who does these things. I expect you to be respectful to everyone, but remember NO ONE can dictate to how you feel or how you have to feel about someone.”

        Let the witch dangle from the web line she spun. Its not your job to make the kids like her.

        P.S. Yesterdays post. Note my villain name? Every victim needs a villain. If I’m cast as one, I am at least picking a good one.

        • Yeah, sorry. I do not expect my kids to be respectful of the woman who is the reason their father is no longer in their daily lives. Frankly, I don’t expect them to respect him either, but they will naturally come to that conclusion on their own without my help.

          I’m pretty good with the idea of them making everything with her as miserable as possible… if they do, they will not be corrected by me. I won’t actively encourage it, but I’m not going to stop it, either.

          Not my problem.

  • My STBX used to openly criticize my parenting in front of my daughter. Drove me insane! Obviously he doesn’t believe in consequences for actions, so anytime I even hinted at making her accountable for her actions, he would swoop in and tell her “Let’s go back to your room, mom is crazy right now”. Or he would say to me “Enjoy her now, because someday she is going to realize what kind of person you are.”

    Projection FTW.

    This was supposed to be my partner in life and parenting and he was openly criticizing me in front of our daughter. This is not to say that I never criticized him, because it did happen, but not so pointed or often.

    When he left, at first he struggled to get her to do homework or things he asked. He blamed me, saying she didn’t respect his authority because I always called him stupid (something I swear I never did, although I did think it). I told him that didn’t really make sense since he always called me crazy in front of her but she didn’t believe that. It didn’t occur to him that she didn’t respect his authority because he never exercised it. Instead, he taught her that she didn’t have to listen.

    And lately, he’s taken to giving me parenting advice. “Be sure to put sunscreen on her!” “Make sure your parents put a life vest on her when they take her fishing.” This coming from the Super Dad who posts pictures of his daughter riding a bike without a helmet and at the beach with a visable sunburn or drops her off at a birthday party and then picks her up after he sat at a bar for an hour.

    I’ve learned to let his comments roll off without much thought to them. If he wants to start keeping score, I’ll gladly play that game. I can guarantee he won’t like the outcome.

  • Be the sane parent. It is hard as hell much of the time, but it pays off when the kids get older.

    I was married to a narc who was a total pro at pressing my buttons. All. The. Time. CL and CN truly helped me get past the bullshit and taught me how to steel myself against it. It took a long time (years) to get to the point I’m at today, but it was well worth it. My kids see him for what he is truly worth(less) now. They are 16 and 19. I find it amusing that even the 16 year old sees him for what he is and just uses him for what he can get from him.

    Do what I do – if he texts you and you don’t want to answer, either ignore him or send an emoji. I send cats and dogs and alligators and spiders just to mess with him. Let him figure it out.

    Hang in there and be strong. You’ll make it through to meh.

  • so there this particular FW. He pursues me, a widow, him, says he is divorced. Tells me of his horrible marriage and horrid ex-wife. Turns out he lives with the woman he was cheating with when he was married. Tells me, when I find out the truth of his status about living with schmoopie, “I love her, I am committed to her, I am never leaving her and she is the only mother my children have ever had (who are actually 23 and 25 year old men, the 25 year old already living with a GF with whom he has two out-of-wedlock babes). So the BS translator: you do not love her; you have zero commitment; you are not leaving while she pays the mortgage and taxes on her home; you cheat on ALL the mothers of your children. MY conclusion-your ex will cheat on schmoopie-the odds are so against her.

  • According to the ex, my kids wear “improper shoes”, their fingernails are dirty, hair needs cutting, shorts are too short etc. He even picked up my daughter from school once (one and only time) and went through her lunch bag to see what I packed her for lunch. The list goes on and on! He also told my 6 year old that he has a list of all the bag things mommy has done and he plans to show it to her when she’s older. I’m confused on what he thinks I’ve done? Maybe his list includes the fact that I was not okay with his love of prostitutes and girlfriends?

  • I just had my 1st taste of this with STBX. It was over potty training our 3 year old. He thinks that because he is now 3 he is automatically able to tell us when he needed to go. I shut him down pretty quick I think. I said I was talking to my health visitor about this yesterday and she is happy with what I am doing at the moment. His response ‘crickets’.

    It is thanks to CN that I knew not to rise to him and to just stick to facts. It is really hard to not call him out on his BS but I know that gives him exactly what he wants.

  • I was an unfit mother and he alienated my 2 youngest children from me that both have autism and an intellectual disability. As soon as each one turned 18 and he did not have to pay child support ………. you guest it. ……l have them both with me full time now. My son is very disabled and i went to court and got child support for life. That was a shock to him. He ripped off most of the family money and is on a long overseas holiday and cant even give them a phone call. Im a carer now for ever , but wouldn’t have it any other way. My kids are safe now. Time has shown who the sane parent is. He ran around for years putting me down to everyone. A leopard dosnt change its stripes. Trying to get to meh ………….

  • Hi, all. And thank you. I’m the author of this post.

    I want to say a heartfelt thanks to all of you, and the CL especially, for your words of wisdom and encouragement. It means a great deal.

    Of course I know, in my heart of hearts that you are all correct and more or less know it before I wrote this. But I think we can all agree that this sort of person is super at getting under our skin now and then, no matter how strong we think we have gotten. Thank you all again for helping me don yet another layer of scar tissue.

    As I mentioned, there are many more deep layers to the story. But on a positive note I called the kid’s doctor and (after slightly losing my composure) learned that I really had nothing to worry about.

    It’s painful and scary, this whole thing. Sites like this, people like you all, make it tolerable and keep us all strong. Namaste to you all.

    • I am glad you are finding the responses helpful. It is scary–sometimes terrifying. And he knows it–he knows you value your kids beyond anything else, and that is why he is doing it.

      I’ve been there too–my EX accused me of bad parenting in all kinds of ways. A case of the common cold meant I was not paying attention to their health. A weak grade meant I was not paying attention to their schooling (even when he was the one who didn’t make them do homework and let them skip school.) Insisting on a vaccine my child didn’t want (what kid wants a shot?) was “psychological abuse.” The quantity of BS he fed our kids is stunning. The one that got under my skin the most was his reading articles to our kids about how children from divorced homes were more prone to criminality, depression, dropping out of school, divorcing later themselves, etc.

      On some level, he wants our kids to be hurt and to fail so that he can blame me.

      I don’t have words for how vile he is.

      You can expect this garbage to continue from your EX. You can also expect it to damage their relationship with him over time.

      Continue your work being a good parent. Continue doing fun things with them and teaching them to be responsible and confident .

      Save all the bullshit messages and pictures he sends you, and document all your own good parenting. But don’t worry about the courts caring about this kind of minor stuff. If he ever dares to drag you into court, he’ll have a litany of stupid complaints, and you’ll have a daily log of routine physical check-ups, meetings with teachers, time spent at the beach or sports or dance or out biking with your kids. Judges like cheerful and engaged parents doing their best to provide for kids by doing all the normal stuff with them. They don’t like vengeful jackasses.

      Six years out, my EX can still trigger me with his insults and attacks on my parenting, but he can’t bait me into a response any more. The sooner you stop responding, the better. As other posters have said, a simple text response acknowledging his text is enough. Any more than that is just feeding his ego.

  • I’d say that an XH who abuses email should lose the privilege, as this is twice in two days that he went on an email attack. (At least he’s not texting, which is worse). And consider this–he was supposed to be celebrating his one-year anniversary! I’d give him a real gift and move to scheduling software so that all communication takes place there.

    He writes: I noticed DS has a sunburn on his shoulders.
    You write: Yes, we went to the lake and used Bullfrog but he must have rubbed it off his shoulders. I treated him with aloe and xxx and made sure he is hydrated. He shows no sign of severe burn or sun poisoning. Next time he will reapply every time he towels off.
    So he writes: This was the worst sunburn he has ever seen.
    Your response: Link to Web MD, which says the signs of severe sunburn can include: fever, nausea, chills, dizziness, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, dehydration, shock with loss of consciousness, and/or
    severe blisters or soreness.
    He escalates: How could you let this happen?
    Your response: Nothing.
    He escalates: I took him to the doctor!
    Your response: Nothing.

    Your only obligation to him is to report any significant issue with the kids. Sunburn is not one of those problems unless the child has sun poisoning or the symptoms above. I would report the facts, counter bullshit with actual science and then…[crickets]. And I would consider using scheduling software so YOU can document your sensible answers to provocations.

    Consider also that this behavior is triangulating. He gets to triangulate you and the kids (he badmouths you and you defend yourself and the kids are in the middle). He gets to triangulate you and the new Schmoopie Wife, who spent her anniversary watching him yammer on about YOU at their party. That’s fucking rich, right there. So see it for what it is. His triangulation. His impression management. His wish to assert power over you. Scheduling software might help you stick to what you are obligate to do. Don’t answer anything provocative or answer with a link (as I suggest above) if he is saying something looney tunes. Scheduling software will provide you with places to put schedules, documents, and the like. And all the work you do–the appointments, the soccer practices, etc., will be right there for the world–and XH and the court–to see.

  • Mine will pull the same shit when we are divorced. He already accuses me of allowing the children to go unsupervised for long durations. If they get into anything (a three y/o and one y/o) and they usually do at some point during a bathroom break or the older one will get into shit when I’m b/f the younger one, I get all sorts of questions pertaining to my competency as a parent. If there are any scratches or bruises, I get interrogated. I can imagine what it must be like being questioned by CPS.
    I have many flaws, admittedly. But I am a good, caring, and loving mother. If there is anything in this world I can say I am good at, it’s loving my kids all the way.
    So, hearing him rattle off all the things he suspects me of doing while he’s at work, is infuriating. It invalidates all the effort I put forth to keep our children safe, dry, fed, happy, and fulfilled.
    Not one moment of my day is without a child. He has never spent more than 24 hours in one time alone with my oldest, and not more than two hours with both children together. He literally has no idea what it’s like to watch two toddlers (with two large dogs) for any length of time. Even when he’s at home, he just orders me around, without actually participating. Then after railing on me half the evening for not meeting all his expectations, I calmly express how I feel about it, he denies the existence of his actions (gaslights) with “no I don’t” and “YOU…” statements. Then when I once again try to explain my position, he accuses me of yelling at him “in front of the children” when I’m clearly not yelling.
    Every time I try to speak he accuses me of yelling. He feigns concern for the children, as if I was a crazy person, wildly yelling and out of control.
    Once I collapsed, begging him to love me or leave (I know. Completely pathetic). I just lost my mind. I was so tired of never being heard, and him never relenting on his secrecy. (I still don’t know name of affair partner, 9 months out from D day). I was wailing. He just stood there staring at me. Then he shook his head and walked away, right past the kids who rushed over to me to make sure mommy was okay.
    I picked myself up, hugged my children, and apologized for being so sad.
    I found a stale cigarette from when I smoked (I still keep a few end of the world smokes, for emergency) and went outside.
    He followed me out and declared that for every cigarette I smoke, one year would be added to the time of when he’d finally give me his slutress’ name.
    This is first hand account of how the disordered operate.
    Lining the ducks.

    • Line those ducks, honey, and get away from this fuckhead. As soon as you can. He’s an appalling abuser.

    • PS This lady should just buy a dog. Or rescue some dogs. Or cats. Or both. Gosh, $150K could go a long way towards heaps of fun things!

      And you can meet dodgy guys at the local bar without spending that much.

      • Good grief ! Thanks for the reminder not to waste any money on a “professional matchmaker” !

  • [Every parent who’s ever bred with a fuckwit can relate to this nightmare perfectly. It’s the rage channel. He can’t direct his control and fury at you any more, so he’ll do one better — he’ll triangulate with your children. He’ll subtly and not-subtly demean your parenting. He’ll threaten you with court. He’ll “document” your crimes. And he’ll do it all with the veneer of the Outraged Parent Who Is Just Concerned for His Children. Nice bit of diversionary impression management there. Pay no attention to the cheating, and the breaking up the family home, and whatever other bullshit he’s up to. You’re The Real Villain Here.]

    This!!!!!!!

    Two years of this.
    Every single bump, scrape, loose stray hair strand, I worry about what exh#2/The Evil One will say or do. She’s 9, fearless, over-active Autistic wonderfully unique little girl that got dumped by her own father so he could.play “normal/typical” nuclear family with OWife.
    He has called CPS on me about some bruising she got at school, which I alerted him to when he picked her up, and which was well-documented by her school. Fucking idiot.
    He called Animal Control about my son’s puppy, saying he was traumatizing her. They came, they saw puppy and her in action, even ayed with the puppy themselves. Left without said puppy. Asshole
    He sporadically pays child support, doesn’t pay his half.of “extras”, but he has a HUGE problem with Owifes ex-cheater-husband not paying Schmoopie for the kids he’s raising. Super-size fucker

    He demanded I return her .99 cent flip-flops, actually wrestled her birthday present out of her hands a Target animal figurine- her beloved kangaroo. Yes, wrestled it out of her hands. Then gave it back after she screamed and cried in my car. Why? Because he has the attitude of “what’s been given at my house, stays at my house”

    Yep, parallel parenting works.for me just fine.

  • Maybe you could counter with an observation that you’re concerned that your son has inherited his father’s miniscule penis.

    He sounds like he is so angry with himself and is losing it because he, incomprehensibly, blames you for his dream life sucking. I agree with the suggestions to find someone for your son to talk with. What an asshole.

    • Roaring wins the internet today!!
      Just specify that you will not make your son take off his pants in public to show strangers the ridiculously small penis his father passed on…

  • My STBX had an affair with my best friend and neighbour, he then would not move out the house as he thought it was abandoning the kids… He is threatening to sue me for defamation of character and blames me for not allowing my daughter to see her best friend out of school anymore ( ex best friends daughter ) he wants the house and to pay minimal maintenance… infact when I lost my shit at him he reported me to the police for common assault!
    He regular sends me emails blocking everything I ask and telling me what I am not allowed to do … I’m still practising the no contact 🙂
    Not going to affect my kids at all is it when I loose my job?? But poor him and his character!!

  • Ha, my ex had this crazy girlfriend that he once had to call the cops on when she stalked him so bad that she showed up at my kids school.

    Meanwhile he guilt trips me that I don’t help them brush their teeth more, or if I bring them to something 2 minutes late.

    One time he did screw up on a little thing w the kids and I did give him a little crap about it and we actually had a conversation where I told him I was just saying that because he’s always trying to make me feel bad about things like that.

    To which he responded : “no, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. Just trying to get you to be a little bit better. And it works too!” And you could tell how proud he was that he still can manipulate me slightly. Then I remembered my whole marriage was him making me feel like I was just slightly missing the mark and could be better. I think he was doing that to me the whole time!! And that he knew what he was doing. 😡

  • Just remember that the wheel turns. Sooner or later something will happen to one of the children in his care. I sincerely hope it’s nothing drastic, but ER visits happen on an unpredictable basis, someone breaks an arm or a leg… someone gets food poisoning… gets a spider bite…

    As you already know, no one can control these things, so very soon something will happen ON HIS WATCH. Oh boy, yes it will! When you’re filled with rage and frustration, think about that day and that moment when son calls you, doped up on pain meds because of a twisted ankle THAT HIS FATHER ALLOWED, or when he gets stung by a bee or a wasp and has an unpleasant reaction. WHO ALLOWED THE WASPS TO LIVE?

    It’s too good. The longer you have to wait, the better it will be when it happens. At that time, it’s worth hiring a film crew to put together a True Crime style programme. Too funny!

    Seriously. Mosquito bites. That’s the worst thing you’ve done as a parent? Allowed mosquitoes to… live. Wow. Someone call CPS, stat.

  • My heart breaks for you and your kids, and I feel your pain. My XW does the same thing and more. She tells the kids and her boyfriend’s kids (she ran off with my neighbor, so his XW and I are left living in the family homes). My XW tells her boyfriend’s kids on a continual basis that I am lazy, rude, and waste her money (she pays me both spousal and child support). She tells my own kids she cheated on me, because I did not watch her finish a half-marathon (true – I remained with my children who were sleeping) and did not buy her a Christmas present the last Christmas we were together (although she picked out a pair of boots and told me she did not want anything for Christmas and was emotionally abusing me at a horrible level).

    Karma does not get this people. Your kids will love their dad most likely all of their lives. They will continue to question what he says about you. You just have to live your life like Chump Lady says and be the sane parent. It sucks, but it is true. Because if you start acting like him, your kids will have nothing, and then the die is cast, and they will probably be totally damaged goods.

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