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Dear Chump Lady, How do I deal with my cheater dad?

Dear Chump Lady,

I am a college student who watched her parent’s marriage implode four years ago due to my father’s infidelity. My mom, without many close female friends or family members, slopped her grief on me. I know a lot more details about the divorce than perhaps I should.

The short version is that my dad used Facebook to reconnect with a woman he had known in high school. They commiserated about their “abusive” home lives. They decided they were long-lost soul mates. The emotional affair lasted at least a year, but I think I’ve read enough Chump Lady to know it probably wasn’t just emotional. My mom found out and told my Dad to stop talking to the woman. He deleted his Facebook, but then still continued to send her sweet nothings. I don’t think my dad ever really tried to save the marriage, but rather just waited until his “goal”: that both of his kids graduate high school before he divorced our mom. They split three weeks after our graduation party.

My relationship with my dad is very strained. While he has never been a terribly active parent (working late and spending a lot of time with his friends when I was young), he has always supported me financially. I now go to an expensive private college in a big city. I paid for most of the tuition myself through grants and scholarships, but I still rely on my dad for a big portion of my rent and other bills. I have done the math, and it’s not really possible for me to support myself and continue the academic pursuits that will later set me apart from other graduate candidates. Basically, I COULD quit my lucrative but unpaid research job to get one flipping burgers or folding clothes, but it would really affect my chances of continuing in academia.

I don’t like my dad. I think he is a narcissist who rubbed the affair in everyone’s faces just because he could. He chose his OW over my brother and I, and now happily provides for her kids while giving us angry phone calls about every dime he sends. He is clearly only helping us financially because it’s in his divorce settlement. He demands affection and had a temper tantrum when I finished a phone call with him without saying “I love you”. He is needlessly difficult and calls when it is convenient for him, but god forbid I can’t pick up the phone in time. Seeing his name on my caller ID makes me sick to my stomach.

I have a little less than two more years in college where he is supporting me financially. After that, I can pretty much do whatever I want, and I really don’t see myself having a relationship with him. But how do I deal with him in the meantime? I am tired of the emotional blackmail and arguing over money, and I can’t shake the feeling that he didn’t actually have any real consequences for abandoning us. I have been in therapy for a while, but my therapist is more accustomed to standard “college problems” than infidelity-related divorces.

Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.


Dear ChumpKid,

You have a choice. You can accept your father’s financial support and all the bullshit that goes with it — or you can choose independence and the peace and sanity that comes from not needing One. Damn. Thing. from him.

What you cannot have (which is what I suspect you really want) — is a father who will willingly, lovingly, and ungrudgingly support you, financially and otherwise.

I’m sorry you didn’t get that father. A good parent wouldn’t put his child in this position. He’s not a good parent. He’s a lousy person with lousy character and you’ve got to deal with the reality you were dealt. So… about that sweater folding…

I can’t tell you what path to choose. I can tell you that plenty of people in this world succeed in life and worked shit jobs through college (and grad school). Mr. CL, in fact, put himself through undergrad, an Ivy League graduate degree, and law school. (He’s one of five kids, and they all put themselves through higher ed — his siblings are: a rocket scientist, an engineer, a CPA, and an English professor). All to say, it CAN be done (says the privileged person who went to a private liberal arts college, financed by family, and had no student loans… but did work a lot of shit jobs in and out of college… and worked full-time through a graduate degree).

It’s also okay to accept his support — however spiteful and court-ordered it is. Accepting his financial support for the next two years (which your mother and her lawyer were prescient enough to fight for) does not mean you accept what he did, or how he conducts his life. I suspect you feel like taking his money is using him. Well, CK, in a sense you are. You don’t have to reply to those guilting calls with “I love you,” but you could tell your dad thanks for the support. It’s okay to say you appreciate the financial help even if he is a total dick about it. That’s truthful and authentic — you do appreciate it and it’s helping you reach your personal goals. Saying thanks is for YOU, to assuage that icky feeling. I don’t expect it will be sufficient kibbles for Dad.

By way of perspective, CK, consider that the majority of people in the U.S. are never able to collect the full amount of child support they’re owed for kids under 18. Fact is, by law anyway, you aren’t entitled to his support. You’re over 18. College help is GRAVY. Most people on this blog are doing without. My own son’s father owes me thousands in back support and hasn’t bought his son so much as a pencil eraser for college.

Whether you have to tolerate your dad now, or cut him off in two years, is your choice. But I would encourage you to never NEED a narcissist for ANYTHING. Because that’s handing him the power to disappoint you. Your dad has proven himself to be a person who does not honor his commitments, so I would prepare yourself for the scenario that he could welch out on college support too. Needing him makes you vulnerable to him.

I know it’s more than the money — it’s the validation that he cares. That he’s invested in you (quite literally). And it’s heartbreaking that he isn’t. I’m sorry that he sucks. You may find that you have a better relationship with him when it’s on your own terms. It will be a superficial one (WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED YOU?!), but it will be a lot easier once you don’t need anything from him.

It’s okay to be clear-eyed about that. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of putting up with shit for a lifestyle. Don’t be a person who fakes a relationship for goodies or thinks they can “nice” a narcissist into caring. Be the kind of person who has her own fuck off money and fuck off skills.

You’re in college — you’re working on that skillset now. Keep at it, with or without his support. You can DO IT.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • In addition, remove his name from your contacts – just have the number show up. Find a new therapist who you can only say good things about.

  • My wife was sexually abused by her dad and he also abused and cheated on his wife. They never divorced. My wife said her dad threaten to kill the whole family if she ever left him. That was back in the 70s. Her parents never divorced. Now, her dad is dying. I have felt the stress of his illness and the fact that she has to help her mom take care of him was a big trigger for her affair. My mom has some big problems. That said, she blames me and says I’m the narcissist. Today’s blog makes me wonder how things will be between her and our kids later in life. Right now she’s doing her best to be perfect mommy: play dates, fast food, and she’s always over her parent’s house. Here I am cooking at home and making sure they eat their vegetables, (she actually complained that I was doing that). She gets to see them every day because of school drop offs and pick ups and sport I only see them 1/2 each week, which is better than most dads but makes me feel she’s winning and has a free babysitter every Friday night (my lawyer and I have her Friday because she could resist, she didn’t lol)

    • Keep being the sane parent. If your ex-FIL sexually abuses children? No way in hell would I let my kids around him. (Even if he’s dying.) Something to mention to your lawyer?

      • I don’t think the courts do anything unless the person abused the kids. I had a similar situation. My father abused us kids in 1970s. Tget never divorced for similar reasons. My ex tried to bring it up (I live across the country from,them but still see my folks with my girls 1-2x yearly). The judge didn’t really take that factor into consideration. They did look at my ex abandoning the kids in a hot car parked in the sun on a 100 degree day to hang with schmoopy. I have 70% custody.

        What I do with my ex is offer help whenever he needs it. He has a 4th wife, toddler, and mom who is sick. When these get to be too much for him, I placate and offer help. Most narcs will gladly ababandon their kids when stressed.

        My ex also takes the girls to the impoverished native American red where his wife heralds from. Child rape rates are astronomical there (courts don’t care about that either). So what I have done with my girls is put them in a girls assertiveness class and I talk openly about 1) ways to protect themselves, 2) its ok and I want then to tell me of someone does sonething to is not their fault. 3) I told them in an age appropriate manner that grandpa has problems and they can never be alone with him. I also moved across the country,

        To Cl: I love your column. Please be aware courts are so overwhelmed that child safety even to the extend of sexual abuse dies not register much anymore. So parents can do the best they can do. But I’ve noticed you giving advice about bringing things to court. This can easily backfire…so people should always Check with an attorney.

        Best of luck sane parent. I remember my ex once bringing me to court because I didn’t pack enough meat in the kids lunch boxes..,haha

        • LD, on the contrary, I often give the advice that most things do NOT rise to the level of “imminent harm” and the courts see worse and most likely won’t care. What I do say, and did say here, is consult your attorney. They have a much better read on this than I do — a blogger and non-lawyer.

          I, do, however draw the line at sexual abuse. Hell yes I would bring that to a court’s attention. And it’s very sad that courts are overwhelmed with similar.

          • The sad thing is UNTIL sometime happens nothing will be done legally to prevent it from happening. I had valid concerns & my lawyer said that he could not do a thing legally to help protect them.
            However, if we had stayed with X & something happened to them, my lawyer said that they could have been taken away from me for having concerns & doing nothing! Thank God they were old enough to refuse visitations.

  • Well, I’d double check to make sure that he’s really obligated to support you in that divorce settlement. If he is, then you’re far less obligated to put up with him for that cash.

    Regardless, try and minimize all contact with him and go Grey Rock whenever possible. Be as boring and non-responsive as possible to everything he does or says. Keep all responses to 2 or 3 words when possible.

    • Agree with grey rock. I had an abusive father who just kept the drama going after my parents split up. He eventually got bored when I refused to play his game, he went away, then (in the days before email) I went very LC, then sent him an email (when email started up), only for his abuse to start again.

      Best to shut the window he has into your world.

      Good luck.

  • Chumpkid… heart aches for you. I believe that the two people who should love you unconditionally in this world are your parents….it sucks big time that you don’t have that. It sucks that you have to play your dad’s mind games. Please know that this is all on him…his character…it has nothing to do with your worth. Be of the mindset that you have no high expectations of him, therefore you cannot be disappointed by him….those are the words of my 10 year old. She will be you one day as she too has a dad who abandoned her. I tell her all the time “look at his actions, do not listen to his words”…you sound like a fine young lady…know your worth..fill your life with people who love you for you and will support you because of that love. (((hugs)))

    • Chumpkid…the advice above is fine ( my advice) and all but this is really how I feel. As I said, I’m raising a daughter on my own. I am outraged at your dad on behalf of you. Your dad is a narcissistic asshole who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. You said you feel like there were no consequences for abandoning you and your brother…those consequences will come later in life. Those consequences will come when he doesn’t get to walk you down the aisle and he doesn’t get to hold your babies in his arms. As he gets older, he will want to reconnect…..fuck him. He chose to leave your family. He chose to hang out with his friends instead of building a bond with you and your brother. One day you will get to CHOOSE to shut him out of your life. He doesn’t deserve you. He may think he is with his “soulmate” but he will never, ever know true happiness. No person can ever abandon their child and know true happiness. He may have moments here and there….but in his soul he will never be happy. He will always be a cheater who abandoned his wife and children….know and feel this in your heart and you will be able to walk away from him too…hopefully one day very soon.

      • Pret,
        I send big hugs to you and your daughter. Her words are so mature and wise.
        I won’t go into details, only say that, years ago, my cheater stayed to the tune of my DDay1 pick me dance. He did not cheat again, ( I know, that I knew of), but life with a person of his ( and most cheater’s) character, is never easy, on me or our two beautiful daughters.
        I am happy you and your daughter are living a cheater free life and I just want to stress that to you and send you both love.
        Chumped kid, I feel the same toward you as Pret.
        You are a good person who has had too much emotional burden on your plate.
        I am certainly no expert on the financial advice and will leave that to other CN Chumps who certainly will have good advice to guide you.
        Your Mom has been the sane, present, loving parent. I hope she will be able to find some peace with your cheater Dad out of the the house. Can you introduce her to CL, CN? There is so much love, respect and kindness here.
        Chumpedkid, I am sorry that so much of the burden has been placed on your shoulders.
        I told no one of my cheater’s affair and my daughters are not aware. They well know the characteristic traits of their Dad in all of other life happenings.
        Children should not have to suffer. Chumps do their best to protect our precious children. Sometimes, sadly, it isn’t enough.
        Also some of us often wish we had made other decisions.
        You are a precious child, almost finished college. You are Mighty to have accomplished all you have accomplished.
        Chumpedkid, I am hoping and praying for the best for you.
        I know in my heart you will accomplish great things!

        ((((((Hugs to you and your Mom))))))

        • Peacekeeper…thank you for the kind words…they mean a lot to me. My daughter and I try to live our lives as though he doesn’t exist…he gave her a phone to keep in touch with her and she told him to call her before 6:30. When 6:30 rolls around…if he hasn’t called, she turns the ringer off the phone and that’s that! She is way beyond her 10 years…she says “If he doesn’t have time for me, I don’t have time for him” I’m trying my damnedest to set boundaries. Today is exactly 2 months since she saw him…he’s an IT guy…he has never skyped or facetimed her. One day he told her he missed her and wished he could give her a hug…the next day he didn’t bother to call her! I tell her ” Do not listen to his words, look at his actions!!!!” Thanks to CL and CN…I no longer have the rose colored glasses on. I see him for exactly who he is and I truly hope that he is so blissfully happy that he forgets all about us and stops his sporadic phone calls. Recently I find that I can go longer periods of time in a day without thinking about him….that makes me so happy…I smile….a true genuine smile…who would have thought? Two days from now it will have been 9 months from my first D Day. If you had told me nine months ago I would be on my way to being OK again….but like CL says…it really is finite…you just have to trust that they suck! I’m the winner in the end. I get to have this beautiful child in my life. I’m the parent who stayed. I’m the sane parent. This makes me smile too.

  • From the letter, he is a guy that will do only what is obligated. I suspect that if the support is court obligated, he may plan on cutting you off as soon as he can. Start trying to stack away money any way that you can.

    Can you get a roommate? Are there any areas in which you can cut costs? Be on the lookout for him to drop you abruptly and start to prepare for that now.

  • Being abandoned by a father while he’s supporting the OW’s children sucks big time.

    He doesn’t get to control when you answer the phone or how you interact. Your mom was mighty in securing funds from your dad on your behalf. Yet it feels more like a burden knowing it comes with s price.

    Bottom line is he’s an asshole whether or not you continue to get the support. Take the money. That’s putting your needs first and the consequences for being a father who has to TELL his child to say Iove you.

    • Dear Chumpkid

      My DOCTOR husband cut off tuition for our 20 year old daughter last May. This was after leaving me for the tundra and a big adventure with Schmoopie.

      My daughter was about to attend her 3rd year of college at an expensive private school, like her older brother and sister attended. She had made the Dean’s list for 2 years.

      In a rambling letter (written on scratch paper, with unidentified patient notes on back), the DOCTOR told her that I should pay my “share” of college costs from the spousal support he’s NOT paying. In fact, he opposed paying me ANY support, after 35 years of marriage.

      And by “share”, I guess he means all. In any event, incredibly, my son spearheaded an effort to get my daughter (his youngest sister) some financial aid.

      My son submitted the following to her college: the divorce papers, the nonpayment by the DOCTOR, the financial evidence of his blocking me from our joint accounts, my medical records (I was hospitalized when he was with Schmoopie, whom I had never heard of), and a timeline narrative I submitted. Reading it was hard, mostly because it was all true. And you never know how starkly weird & reasonable a financial aid request is, until you submit one.

      Incredibly, the college gave my daughter a HUGE grant award, and her costs were slashed. I’m lucky to have kids who have each other’s back.

      Turns out, divorcing the DOCTOR earlier, would have saved a fortune in money and heartache).

      I am still very amazed this happened. So you never know, you might ask your college for help and their answer could be “YES!”

  • Grey rock : read up on it, practice it, come back here for further advice and examples and support.
    Narcissists and shit birds of all stripes thrive on conflict. They have no appetite for boredom, and that’s essentially what grey rock is. You starve them of conflict and present them a steady diet of bland grey boredom.
    Grey rock is actually a valuable life skill in other areas. I’ve gotten a reputation (and a promotion) at work as someone who can deal effectively with the difficult people that nobody else can tolerate. It’s just grey rock technique. It’s second nature to me now, and has preserved my sanity and energy.
    I think it will help you survive the next two years with your financial support and your values intact. I think it can help you reframe your relationship with your mom, who while a victim of your father’s abuse, also failed to protect you.

  • Ouch – that must be so hurtful that he provides for OW’s stepkids and openly resents supporting his own kids. This pains me as my ex does the same to my high school kids… right down to the rage if they don’t answer his calls immediately, thoughtful details of how much they cost him daily, accompanied by demands for chores to repay this (court-ordered) “debt”. The stepdaughters he lives with full time get their private schools paid for but have no chores… it’s a sick Cinderella dynamic. ☹️

  • Well, this is a first- I’m going completely sideways on this. Often times the advice here to us chumps is to “Gray-rock and line up the ducks.” I know this is different, but she’s still young and she’s a de facto chump. So I’m going to advocate the same here for chump kid.

    Hell yea, gray rock and use him for the money while you can and then dump his cheating narc ass when the degree is done. Stone cold curb him when you’re done. Just like he did you and your mom.

    Gray rock: Cool. Bummer. Wow. Then the cheater mainstay excuses to go to: “Gotta go, worked late, had a meeting, phone died, was with a friend, etc. but next weekend for sure”

    • I actually agree with this. As a 48 year old who worked her way through college but still stupidly took out loans and is still paying them off, I would have done any pantomime or comedy skit that didn’t involve harm to my actual body to not have them.

      I know it would be tough to be young and idealistic and have to slightly sacrifice my integrity to play along with the Narcissist, but I would do it. I might even find little ways to enjoy treating my Narc like a cat toy. Boundaries. Set up a weekly five minute call with dad. Calculate the weekly contribution he is making. When you say ILY every week and hang up, say, ‘Damn, I just made 600 dollars.”

      As soon as the last check posts, so long, sucker. It’s really no different than how we all learn to deal with co workers or neighbors we don’t particularly care for. No active resentment or investment, no burning need for revenge, no open contempt. No backdoor gossip. Not even to Mom. This is a situation that any of us have to evaluate for the greater good.

      The greater good is this guy pays. And maybe he gets a sneaky suspicion his kid only cares about his money but hasn’t a shred of evidence it’s true. Kind of like the gaslighting he pulls all the time.

      • “When you say ILY every week and hang up, say, ‘Damn, I just made 600 dollars.”

        Yup. Just see it as an emotionally demanding job.

        • I completely agree with you that “it costs too much,” but each of our circumstances differ, so maybe some people can maintain contact and not compromise their health. I was taught to “grin and bear it” because “you make your bed, you lie in it.” I watched my disordered, abusive father almost kill my mother, threaten to kill me, and prevent my sister and I from seeing our mother at various times in our adult lives because we did or said something he didn’t like. Since my family was impoverished, they never had money to hold over my head. I had a very difficult time being financially on my own, and I still played out many of the common scenarios that entangle victims (with my own partners), but I never had to “dance for money.”

      • Luziana,

        “When you say ILY every week and hang up, say, ‘Damn, I just made 600 dollars.”

        Thanks for this. This is a great way to think about it.

        • We are all rooting for you, and for all the ChumpKids. Be amazing, be happy, don’t let this situation of happenstance define you. Hugs and healing.

      • I agree with you, Luziana. I’ve sacrificed so much but at least one of my two sons already got the best education available in my country, free of charge (including his master’s degree), and the other one just finished college and will wait a couple of years before going to graduate school. I advised him to ask his father to set up a fund for the two years he’ll have to pay for (just in case the psycho is fired from is high-paying job or retires), but he feels it wouldn’t be ethical. Oh my, why did I raise such a chumpy kid????? The worst part of it is that they adore their dad, even though they know about the howorkers, strippers and whores. I guess they’ll never accept that his narcissistic abuse almost killed me, but at least he gave them the education I never could have afforded.

      • “Set up a weekly five minute call with dad. Calculate the weekly contribution he is making. When you say ILY every week and hang up, say, ‘Damn, I just made 600 dollars.”

        Luziana, this is *gold*. I’ll be passing this info along to my nephew, who’s on the same boat with the ChumpKid.

    • I’m not fond of the idea of framing it as ‘using’ him if it was agreed upon during the divorce. (Smart Mom!)

      Keeping him accountable and responsible for his obligations as part of the legal settlement he signed is more like it.

      • Agreed, I wrote in haste while hurting for Chump kid/all our Chump children. 🙁

        Last thing I’d really want is for anyone to use, abuse, or become cold hearted. So chumpkid work the grey/rock, and try not to take his crap life skills personally. Okay?

        And yes: This letter could have been from either of my two kids, who are both working hard to attain their MBA’s. This is a hard path to walk.- loved Luziana’s much better reply. Thank you!

        • A minor but I think relevant semantic point:

          I’m letting The Python live with me for now for financial reasons – nearing retirement, I financially subsidized/gifted him for YEARS and now I’m underemployed and get help with expenses and get health insurance through him – and I’m actually comfortable with saying that I am now “using” him. (Can’t wait til retirement though when he’s OUT!)

          There’s a huge difference between the way narcs “use” us and how we may “use” them after they’ve harmed us, discarded us, and showed that they don’t have our best interests at heart.

          We’re little more than objects to them. We had hopes for a future with a loving spouse or loving father in our lives going forward – hopes now dashed. Unlike their view of us as “things” we actually realize that they are human beings (albeit lousy ones). Unlike their callous, cruel, hurtful ways, we won’t inflict deep emotional pain through OUR “use” of THEM.

          After all they’ve taken from us, we “use” them as a means to get some small payback. (Small because it doesn’t come CLOSE to repaying us for the years of our lives that have been damaged by them.) In my case, I will recoup most of the tens of thousands of dollars I shelled out, so the ledger at least will end up close to even.

          For ChumpKid – and for me – the financial support now can mean independence in the future. I don’t count on it, and she shouldn’t either (because narcs renig), but for however many months we DO get it, it will make our lives easier. I’m all for “using” the narcissist, since we do it to partially balance the scales that they for too long tipped in their favor.

          • The Python – great name!
            In an ideal world I would not take money from my ex either, and he definitely resents the child support and fees he pays. However because of his wish to leave and have minimal custody (none at present), my career is restricted – I don’t work full-time, need to take a lot of unpaid leave so they aren’t alone at home for 16 weeks of holidays a year, and I can’t get to the courses and conferences that my colleagues with kids attend with the support of their partners. I consider the money payback for the years I supported his career, and the ongoing limitations on my career and freedom.

            • I also save whatever I can for their studies after high school, knowing he will pull the support the day they turn 18

    • Absolutely. Do not feel a shred of guilt for getting what is rightfully yours from cheater dad, then dumping him like a hot coal once he has paid for your education. And yes, getting a good, debt-free education can be indeed be an important factor in making you financially better off long term, so sticking out the 2 years at grey rock (assuming no sexual abuse, etc.) may be right for you. Your goal should be to get yourself financially set up to go no contact with him, once you have established your career. Someday he will be old and feeble, and you can have the pleasure of knowing he will not be YOUR responsibility then!

    • I am with the pragmatists here. Maintain the level of contact your father charges you as the “cost” you are paying for the financial support. Try to make the contact as regular as possible–i.e. a weekly phone call at 5:00 on Wednesdays. You might have to lie to make this happen–tell your dad that you hate missing your weekly call with him so you want to schedule it so you can keep his time free. But if he can’t be flattered into a schedule, just have a few standard lines prepared to throw at him–“Oh, Dad, I’m so sorry we missed each other.” ” Hi Dad! I’m so glad I caught up with you!” “I’ve been looking forward to our call Dad, and it was such a disappointment I didn’t have my phone when you tried me earlier.” You can’t go entirely gray rock in your situation, but you can prepare for his nonsense.

      Take ten minutes before the call (or once a week) to sit down and figure out a couple things that you are willing to tell him that you think he will want to hear. For example, “Hey, Dad. I’ve been looking forward to talking to you. The research team I’m on had some real successes this week, and I’m so glad I can do this work with them. I’m so excited about my work on symbiotic systemic isotopes. Should I send you the abstract of the article we’ve written about our work? I’ll be busy this weekend and probably for the next month writing up some of the other results. How about you? What’s going on with you?” Don’t tell him about friends or family or loved ones–just mechanical things you’d tell a stranger on a bus you were sitting next to through a long traffic jam. If he wants more time on the phone, be boring. Explain those darn isotopes. For most narcissists the details are all irrelevant anyway. As long as you are flattering him–and asking about him, he’ll be processing it as “good daughter” behavior.

      One of my friends had a weekly call with her father all through college that she despised. We all knew it was just to keep the payments coming. If nothing else, it schooled her to manage horrible bosses later in life. She learned to be very stoic about it, and it saved her tens of thousands of dollars in loan costs.

      Find a therapist that will help you develop emotional detachment–the contact with your father is a skill you are honing because it is financially useful. You shouldn’t have to do this. You deserve more. But you are also smart–smart enough to be doing well in school, to be researching your problem and finding CL, smart enough to mange this problem.

      Have a reward planned for yourself after each phone call or contact–a good friend you can chat with and debrief, a bike ride, take your favorite coffee drink to the library and read glossy magazines for 30 minutes, watch an episode of your favorite Netflix indulgence.

      And while it is entirely reasonable to be angry with your father for getting away with horrible behavior, try to remember the problem is not that he isn’t paying any costs, it is that he is too foolish to realize what he is paying. He’s lost your respect for starters.

      Persevere. Your dad is a job right now. Not a parent.

  • CK,
    Take every cent of the court-ordered college support that was outlined in your parent’s divorce decree. Every.last.penny.

    I am sorry you were the emotional dumping ground for your mom during the shit storm. That was not right and you are quite mature to recognize that you need help processesing the divorce and your cheating father. Continue to get help and ask your current therapist to refer you to someone who can help with NPD abuse (which is the bullshit your father is doing) and the trauma of the divorce.

    Stay on your path. Every healthy parent would go Jackie chan insane to ensure their childrens’ lives are better than theirs. This is an excellent gift from your mom. Don’t walk away from it. Get the skill set to deal with your asshole father.

    Xoxo! ANC

    • “Every healthy parent would go Jackie chan insane to ensure their childrens’ lives are better than theirs“

      So True ANC!

      Unfortunately you have an unhealthy parent chump kid but you sound like you have your wits about you and are not likely to repeat. (My 5 children share your pain so remember you are not alone)

      Most importantly you need to be vigilant about setting boundaries. Your dad and my kids’ dad sound eerily similar. He is not emotionally mature and expects the kids to take a parent role. People like your dad are egocentric and unable to empathize with your feelings. You have to learn and remember you are not responsible for his behavior, feelings etc. That is a weakness of chumps- we are very feeling people.

      I think it is very hard to find a therapist who gets and can work well with chump situations. I suggest you keep reading up on setting boundaries with a narcissist if you have any spare time. Consider it therapy and block off some time for it each week.

      I have discovered we live in a world where the predominant thinking is kids need a relationship with their parents. The only exception seems to be if the parent is on death row for a heinous crime but even there is wiggle room. That being said, I think it is hard to find people who support setting more healthy boundaries.

      I agree with those who encourage you to continue taking his financial support but do not succumb to his bullying. Do not say I love you out of obligation. Do not answer his calls to avoid his rage. Learn that his rage is his rage and is inappropriate. Narcissists are this way because they have not had proper consequences. Show him that if he treats you poorly, he does not get to have a relationship with you.

      I know this is hard. I live it with my own kids. For me, my religious beliefs have helped. One of the commandments of our religion is to honor your father and mother and stbx was trying to use that against the children. I struggled with that until someone said the best way to honor your father is to honor God. Also, the first and greatest commandment is to love one another and sometimes that may be “tough love.”

      Hugs to you chump kid. Your chump mom should be proud of you. I am sorry for your dad, he doesn’t get what he is missing. You sound amazing and you have a bright future ahead!

      • FeelingIt,

        Even my mom, who is pretty far from being my dad’s number one fan, encourages me to have a relationship with him. “You only get one dad” she says.

        • I am very sorry you are in this situation, and so glad you reached out to CN for help. We are here to support you. As a highly invested mom of college-aged daughters, I know that I did everything I could to shield them from the nastiness of my separations from their biological father and then their step-parent, but I also know that there were times I was so emotionally wrecked when our family imploded that I sobbed and babbled in front of them. I know it’s difficult (and inappropriate) to be your mom’s primary support system, and you should definitely (kindly) set boundaries with her, but also try to offer her compassion. When I was in college and trying to break free from my abusive father, I saw two different therapists who echoed your mom’s sentiment (“You only get one dad”) when I said I thought I needed to stop all contact in order to recover from everything he’d done to me, my sister, and my mom. Anyone who guilts you into remaining in contact with someone who is hurting you does not have your best interests in mind. I finally found a counselor who acknowledged my drive for self-preservation, validated that it took enormous courage to stop interacting with my father, and helped me learn coping skills and practice standing up for myself and setting boundaries. You have the right to feel safe and create peace of mind.

        • I’m sorry to hear that. You may only get one dad but I think you have the right to hold him accountable to a higher standard.

          You can have a relationship with your dad but he should not be allowed to bully you. I believe that is.why no contact and gray rock work, the opportunity for control by the abuser is taken away and that control is what they thrive on.

          My oldest daughter (now 24) instinctively went no contact post dday a year and a half ago. I was following the popular advice and trying to get her to pick me dance. She would have no part of it and now I am grateful.

          He may be your only dad and that is beyond your control but don’t let him make you eat shit sandwiches. I think you know you are worth more or you wouldn’t be here. Go with your gut!

          • Something else occurred to me that maybe you should think about. Don’t be surprised if later on you are going to hear the words “You owe me” from your Dad when he needs something. Not saying for sure, but possible that you are an investment for HIS future.

            • True, but ‘you owe me’ only works (like all manipulation) when we let it.

              He says ‘you owe me’? You reply ‘I don’t agree’, and walk away.

        • Recognize biology doesn’t mean those are the best family members- blood vs water. As you develop friendships you will find people who become your family or tribe. Invest in people who invest in you. Not all ‘family’ is blood related.

          Sure you only have one father. Kids do not get to pick who their parents are. As a young adult, you do get to choose which relationships you keep healthy connections. Don’t pretzel yourself for th cheater because your mother is telling you to do it. She has her own issues to deal with as well.

          • Word!

            I cut all contact with my abusive, cheating narc dad years ago. When I heard from step-siblings that he was on life support and about to be disconnected – I wished them all well. When I then got the call that the funeral was to be held on x, I again wished them well.

            I was told “I needed to put aside my differences” and come pay my respects. (Vomit) I replied “I’ve been put aside my whole life, I’m not about to pretend to be a happy family and pretend to agree with the sickening eulogies. This isn’t about hard feelings, Its just me not giving a fuck, especially when I’m given six hours notice for the service.” Sorry not sorry!

            My only regret? That I would have cut contact a decade earlier. Maybe my picker would have been better…

            • Good for you, Indychump, for sticking to your boundaries and principles. Pay our respects? There is no respect to be paid. Parents who are abusers who treat you like shit your whole life do not suddenly become the world’s sweetest saints, just because they died. Contrary to what the pretenders and the deluded think. All so that they can stifle any uncomfortable feelings that might arise during the narrative change. Way to stay true.

          • Blood is thicker than water but love is thicker than blood.

            No need to tolerate sh*tty, abusive behavior because you have blood ties to a pod person.

            I don’t believe a person has to honor a parent when that parent has dishonored the sane parent and disrespected the kids by engaging in domestic violence/cheating

        • I don’t know about “You only get one dad.” Yes, you do only get one “father,” but I know a number of kids who have a far more stable and loving relationship with a stepparent than with the bio parent.

          Here’s hoping your mom meets the man who can honestly, truly, deeply love you both as you deserve.

          Meanwhile, take the money. You may or may not be aware of the work it took, or what your mom may have had to give up in her divorce settlement to secure those funds for you. Don’t negate her efforts; take the money and do NOT feel one iota guilty for it, even if you have to fake emotion you don’t feel for a few years. Just like your father apparently did with you.

          • Such an awesome point, geekmom. When I was a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding, her stepdad was telling me this story about when he went with her to buy her first training bra. Just imagining this massive, Texan man in the lingerie department with his 12 year old stepdaughter taught me a lot about love. I remember thinking, now that’s a dad.

        • Continuing to have a relationship with him is up to you to define. It can be as little or as much as you are comfortable. If seeing his number on your phone makes you sick to your stomach, that is telling you something. Listen to your gut and let that lead you into setting boundaries with him.

          And I agree with most, take the money. If it is in the divorce settlement and he is paying it, that should continue regardless of the amount of time you give him. And chump lady is spot on…tell him thank you. That is authentic and will make you feel better about taking it. How he reacts is on him.

  • My daughter could’ve written this letter. In fact, when I was reading the first two paragraphs I had to analyze it to a degree to make sure it wasn’t her. This is the an example of the destruction cheaters leave in their path.

    • Agree. My son could have written it.

      I do want to defend the mom a bit, though. Yes, the emotions–especially early on–do get sloppy and splash up on everyone in the vicinity. We try so hard not to let things impact the kids, but it is really impossibl, especially with older ones who are very aware of every little thing. Ultimately, we can’t erase what the disordered parent did to everyone. Breaks our hearts, but nothing erases it. All we can do is work toward everyone’s healing, and I think most of us put tons of effort into that.

      • I truly don’t blame my mom. She shows a lot of remorse for the grief slopping and I really don’t think she meant any harm by it. I guess I wish I knew a little less of the gory details, but if I didn’t, then any relationship I had with my dad would be built on a lie or a sugarcoated truth.

        • Yes, Dear ChumpKid, just sugar-coated truth.

          Like you, my eldest son does not like to hear the gory details, but my two youngest do not get upset with ME, only with their cheater dad.

          And why do I slop some of the gory details on my ADULT (all in their 30s) sons? Well, because I wish my ex-mother-in-law had slopped on her sons the gory details of her cheater.

          But, instead of maybe learning a life lesson with my mother-in-law’s plight with my ex-father-in-law, a gold medalist for creepiness, douche-bagness, etc., my ex-husband and all of his brothers always only saw her paint a rosy picture of their father whose “head was turned by this malevolent siren”. Spackle and pick-me dance was all they saw.

          And ALL of my mother-in-law’s eight sons ended up being cheaters in some way.

          Of course my MIL can’t be blamed for these actions, but in 42 years I NEVER ONCE heard my cheater or his brothers reflect on their father’s shit and character. Only fantasize about their wealthy dad.

          Instead they would chip in (as I and some sisters-in-law were bullied into as well) to help their father (far and beyond the call of duty) after he went bankrupt because of stupidity.
          My father-in-law did not leave my mother-in-law homeless and hungry only because the eldest son finally stepped in and took her to a lawyer, but even this one “forgave dad” because he had given him a car when no young person owned a car (in the 1960s). Turns out, this brother-in-law cheated on me about money least three times. He is almost 80, can’t afford to retire, and is now an employee of the business he used to own because of all the stupid mistakes he himself has made.

          So maybe your mom is not using you as a friend, but trying to teach you a lesson to avoid further pain for you.

          • This is exactly the case in my narc ex’s family as well, ClearWaters. Ex’s father was a narcissistic (or possibly sociopathic), serial cheating, wife-and-child beater. MIL finally kicked him out when she realized he was sleeping around … including with her own sister.

            MIL is very proud of the fact that she ‘never said a negative word to the children about their father’. My kids say ‘maybe if she had, her son would have learned that there are some behaviours that are unacceptable within a marriage, and there are consequences for our choices.’

            Interestingly, despite herself being a covert narc, I think, and this awful awful husband, then a 2nd husband who was ‘only’ super controlling and verbally abusive, of her 4 kids, only my ex turned into a threatening narc cheater. The other 3 seem like very decent people (and they haven’t had anything to do w/my ex for decades, which I didn’t realize at first because they were in another country). I think my ex was the one born with the low empathy genes, and was his mom’s Golden Child. So toxic.

            My mother is also very self-centered and uninterested in anyone else, including her own kids and grandchildren. I guess not surprising that I married first a very attractive, super smart and loving … alcoholic, then a narc cheater.

            My goal is that the crazy stop here. I want my kids to be healthier, and much wiser in their relationship choices, than either side of their family. I kicked narc ex out when they were 11 and 12, and pretty quickly realized that the 4 or 5 years before that, when I tried to make it work for them, were a big mistake. I should have left sooner.

        • I have two adult children. My son, the younger, was still home when his father pulled his disappearing act and subsequent rewriting of the events. Son saw what I went through, although I did do my damndest to do my ugly crying and screaming rages while in the car, shower, or while he wasn’t around. He saw. He read the first email of the string I found – grabbing my tablet away to see what caused me to scream and fall onto the floor sobbing. He KNOWS. He refuses to have anything to do with his father, who has come sniffing around him twice in the last two years, acting like he misses his son but actually what he wants to do is feed son the revised history of events, telling “his side,” and getting son to see things his way. Son realizes this, knows the truth of events as he witnessed them, first-hand. Son ain’t buying and I think part of ex’s karma is the “loss” of his only son. I doubt son will ever speak to ex again.

          Daughter, older, was not home. She was not given – nor has she asked for – any details from me, other than my telling her I had filed for divorce after I discovered his cheating, and after waiting for months for him to do something, which he never did. I did tell her I filed because of his adultery. He, however, has apparently been setting the stage with her for years, taking her out to lunch – which I only recently heard about – a number of times and dumping on her how “unhappy” he was and how “mistreated and unappreciated” he was (the timing of these lunches appear to coincide with the start of his relationship with the OW) She’s bought it – hook, line, and sinker – and recently told my sister-in-law that she sees now that this whole thing was my fault; I drove him away. She doesn’t know about the devaluation, the slow discard, how he’d disconnected and treated me merely as domestic staff. How insidiously evil he was, how mean. The constant corrections and belittling of me in public; 95% of what she knows, he’s fed her. I think – I really do – that she’s slowly getting it, how what he says is not what he does. Like “I’ll never marry her,” then marrying her six months after our divorce was final and neglecting to tell daughter for over a month, and only then because daughter was seeing him at Christmas in ex’s and whore’s new home and there’d be no way to hide it. Or demanding immediate help from my son in law to lay flooring at the new lovenest (which ex got) but not following through with picking up the project car ex dropped at daughter’s house (in their front yard) he had to remove when the marital home was sold 18 months ago. He was picking it up over Memorial Day, 4th of July holiday, the when he was in town with his trailer in August, the over Labor Day. . . it’s still there in her front yard as of last Saturday. I’m sure he had a million reasons and excuses why. Point being, he’s around and connected when there’s kibbles in it for him. My point being here is that I did not “slop” onto her to “protect” her and it appears that may have backfired. My daughter doesn’t view me as a fellow woman, has not acknowledged my pain, does not want to hear anything that remotely sounds like “badmouthing” her father, and appears to be excusing his infidelity because “I’ve never seen him so happy.” Uh-huh. So, honey, it’s ok he’s made himself happy by unilaterally destroying your family? The end does not justify the means. She’s smart, she’ll figure it out.

          But you know. There’s value in the truth. You’re cutting your mom slack there, and I hope she finds a more appropriate place to process her grief. As others have suggested, please send her here. Hugs to you, Chumpkid.

        • @cashmere and ChumpKid: cashmere, you’ve pretty much described my experience with my mum. (My dad cheated on her repeatedly through most of their marriage, didn’t even attempt to hide the last couple of mistresses from me, and they divorced when I was 18.) I got the total, utterly distasteful, unvarnished truth, and I was also her only support within our family because my siblings and all the extended family took dad’s side.

          And in case this helps any chump parents out there: I’ve always been really grateful that Mum didn’t spare me the gory details. Thanks to my Dad, I might not know what a loving husband is, but I sure as heck know what he ISN’T. Normally people wouldn’t acquire that sort of ability to spot relationship red flags until…well, being mistreated for decades, perhaps by a cheating spouse. I on the other hand had that knowledge when I came of age and it’s already helped me get out of several potentially abusive relationships, totally unscathed. Please, please don’t feel guilty for giving your kids this kind of armour!

    • My sons are writing this letter right now — very timely topic! ChumpKid, I too, tell my sons that they only have one father and to leave a light on for him in their hearts so that someday, he will be able to find his way back. I’m learning to back off on that though and hold my tongue. My older son, a junior in college, just recently went complete no-contact with his father. He lives by the philosophy “no drama in, no drama out.” My younger son, a senior in high school, is contemplating it. His only reservation (as I learned just this past weekend), is that he’s afraid the college money will get cut off because … drum roll … his father has already threatened that he will pull the financial plug, if there isn’t a relationship between them. It’s a transaction now. (There’s no way he can do that. My lawyer and I spent A LOT of time on the clauses related to college payments, 529 funds, etc. So why my ex thinks he can threaten that is beyond me.)

      The therapist we worked with for a couple of years after their father walked told my sons that they should have a relationship with their father “if they are able to.” And he emphasized with me, that they may not be able to, given their father’s limitations.

      As for your mom emotionally dumping on you during the divorce … gah. I read that and felt a twinge of “oh crap,” as I’m sure that happened with me as well. But Cashmere worded it really well, “the emotions–especially early on–do get sloppy and splash up on everyone in the vicinity.” That is so true. I hope you can appreciate that it is a very undignified, raw time and it takes a while to recover from the shock and find your emotional footing again. Your mom sounds like she has now and that’s a good thing.

      You are not alone. I’m sorry that you have to go through this.

  • My heart goes out to you Chumpkid. You aren’t alone. My daughters are in the same predicament. They don’t really want a relationship with their dad, but feel compelled to play the game as he does still provide some financial support for them. They each see their dad alone about once a week, for coffee or a movie. But they have both been very clear about boundaries. Neither willingly spends any time as a family unit with their father, Schmoopie and the replacement daughters (though they actually know the daughters well and certainly have no ill will against them).

    They have found that there is always a price to pay. Their dad manipulates, but they see each situation for what it is. He gets angry when they refuse to spend family time with Schmoopie or buy her gifts. But only they can decide when the emotional cost of their ‘relationship’ outweighs the benefit of his financial support.

    My advice to my daughters has been similar to CL’s advice to you: you get to choose the nature of your relationship with your dad, and it’s up to you to enforce the boundaries. If you choose to have superficial contact, no one should judge. I can’t imagine telling a newly divorced parent not to accept child or spousal support from a cheating ex, so why should you feel guilty for accepting money from your cheating father? My guess is that his contact towards you is superficial as well (demanding you say ‘I love you’ at the end of phone calls is a tip-off), so your dad is merely reaping what he has sown. Accepting his financial support does not mean you are selling out, and it doesn’t mean that you endorse his infidelity, shitty parenting decisions, and poor character. You are simply accepting the financial support he is providing. Say a polite thank you – the same way you thank the person who bags your groceries, or the one who holds the elevator door. But be vigilant and be prepared to support yourself should the need arise.

    You have been dealt an unfair blow in having to deal with the fallout from your parents’ divorce during you busy college years. But it sounds like you have a very bright future ahead of you. Hold your head high!

    • Dee, your comment about your daughters seeing their dad once a week for coffee or a movie is really resonating with me this morning! Kind of a revelation that all these disordered jerks can handle is a “play date” with their children on their terms. Like I don’t have enough to do with managing play dates with their friends as a single parent. Lol

      • Totally, FeelingIt! The oldest started the once weekly visits when she was 15 (now 18). Ex has actually told me he has an ‘awesome!’ relationship with this daughter. Really?!? He saw her only once a week during those crucial teenage years, and he defines that as an an awesome father-daughter relationship? Wow.

        • Dee,

          My dad sees me once every few months for a dinner or a show, and then goes on Facebook and talks about his “amazing” daughter and the great relationship we have, and then all of his Facebook friends pat him on the back. Kibbles all ’round!

          • My ex makes a point of taking selfies w/the kids(16 and 17 ys old), who, by their choice, see him for a few hours, once a month. They are sure the pics go out to his family, to make it look like he sees them often and they have all sorts of fun.

            It’s all about the image!

          • I know very little about having shitty parents, however, I graduated in 2010 during the recession and I know a thing or two about student loans and college debt. Th economics of working through school are not what they once were. You need a lot of experience before landing a decent full time job instead of just scraping by. You’ll be able to work through a masters degree, as masters degrees are designed for working people, but not bachelors. Take the money. His financial support may come with an emotional price, but it will leave you with much more space for you to explore professional opportunities. What about studying abroad for a year? You get away from his crap and can still take the money and blow off his calls due to the time difference. You have the option for internships and volunteering and sports etc. You mentioned wanting the room to do those things, maybe you can just stay too busy to answer the phone. Keep your professional goals on point, make those first priority (maybe you can drown out the emotional narcissism of your dad?) Good luck with whatever you decide!!

          • @Chumpkid – You are wise beyond your years. I can imagine just how much it annoys you to see those posts. Just remember that it’s called Fakebook for a reason – my guess is that the people closest to your situation see right through the facade. This sounds a bit cruel and business-like, but I would adopt a ‘polite but detached’ manner with your dad so that you can maintain your sanity while he still supports you. Stay focussed on your studies. Two years will go by in a blink. At that point you may be in a better position to further distance yourself and/or tell him exactly how you feel. Hang in there!

      • I think that’s all ex can handle too. I think he wants more, but just doesn’t know how to connect so he just takes them on outings and then brings them home right away. He often shows up early and leaves late. If he does spend more than a few hours with them he looks wrung out when he drops them off later. He did manage to help daughter with her calculous homework the other day, however, which I think made him feel better (yay, did something useful for daughter), but he rarely has time for that sort of thing. At first I was jealous that daughter accepted homework help from Dad, but doesn’t seem to want it from me (I am the engineer after all and know some math), but now I realize she wants that from her dad because that is one of the only ways they can truly connect in a positive way. It’s the only time they both feel good after spending time together and I don’t want to get in the way of that.

        • Ooop, that should have read “he often shows up late and gets back early”

  • I don’t think there’s much of a moral conundrum here as to whether to take the money or not. Whatever you decide is 100% OK, but obviously taking his support (which he is bound to provide) comes with difficult strings attached.

    But I would just add to what has been said by CL in terms of, don’t write off the value of working your own way rather than taking his money. If it comes to it, have faith that you can make it on your own, and the experience of doing so will only make you stronger & your achievements more worthwhile still. The tougher the experience, the more it’ll forge you.

    That said, there’s a life skill in knowing when it’s worth suffering for your pride and when it’s not. Just… don’t let him hold the money over you.

  • CL – I’m a little confused over the statement “by law, you’re not entitled to his support”. First, it depends on the state, but in some there is a legal requirement to contribute to college costs and in some states child support legally goes until the age of 21. Second, if the college contribution is court-ordered, doesn’t that make it legally required? I.E. the law requires that we comply with a divorce decree because if you don’t you get to be hauled back in on contempt?
    I know many parents do not fill their court-ordered support responsibilities, my ex is one of them, but CK should not be made to feel she is not “entitled” to that support if Dad, who sucks in many ways, just happens to comply with a court order.

    • Chiral, the LW is in grad school. Implies she is over 21. I believe CL is pointing out the difference between criminally and civilly enforceable clauses of divorce decrees.

      College expenses would be a civil concern. It sounds like Dad doesn’t know that. Let’s not clue him in that the only possible consequence he’d have if he stopped paying is a contempt motion.

    • I’m not a lawyer. My understanding is in some states, you can enforce child support up to age 21. A court order is enforceable. GETTING it enforced, however, is another matter. Can you afford that attorney? Some states will help you enforce a CS order up to age 21, most top out at age 18, and close the case. (They close support, the mark is still on the deadbeat’s credit record. Small comfort.)

      My point to CK is not to feel guilty about the support, but to realize that he’s shown who he is, and he may not pay it, and she may not have much recourse about that. And yes, from where I sit, expecting college help of a generous, I don’t have to work a paying job, is REALLY fortunate. If she can get it off him, GREAT. But I would not COUNT on it. I get letters every day on this blog of some very dire circumstances and single moms doing it all by themselves with either no financial support, or less than baseline support. That is the NORM in the U.S. I wrote a story on this for the DC Bar — the arrearages in the US of unpaid support are $114 BILLION with a B. That’s how much the system sucks at collecting money for kids who need it.

      If a crappy parent owes you money? (My son is owed thousands, FWIW…) Don’t count on it, and expect to do without it, is my advice to you.

      Is that fair? Of course not. It’s one more shit sandwich in a long buffet line of shit sandwiches that people deal with whose lives are tragically entwined with disordered, lousy people.

      But vulnerability, hope, and contact can keep you getting hurt. I lean on the side of mightiness and getting the hell away from such people. Or minimizing your contact.

      • Oh and if you really care about those numbers, CN? Hold your goddamn state and federal elected officials responsible and get funding for CS enforcement. This is a travesty, and it goes beyond political party. People should pay for their kids. Period.

        • Here in NY, it has changed mightily over the years. My mother used to have to stalk where my bio-dad was, to serve him over and over. Guilt trip his mother into saying where he was or what he was doing. She was a pro and helped MANY women nail their exes asses to the wall, pro se.

          Now? It’s automatic. The default is garnishment via SS#. If any public assistance of any kind is used (WIC, childcare assistance, healthcare aid of any kind, HEAP, etc., not just “welfare” and “food stamps”), even if the mother has agreed to little or no child support from the bio-dad, the state MANDATES that the father pay child support also. The STATE will take them to court on the child’s behalf, for child support and/or health coverage and/or childcare costs. If they quit their job? Driver’s license. All hunting licenses. Business licenses. Anything up to and including their passports. Tax refunds. All of it.

          It’s good stuff. However, it also makes many of them flee the state. The plus side? Not having to deal with those fuckups anymore… no custody arrangement to deal with, no mindfuckery for you or the kids, no visitation schedules to discuss. And knowing they’ll be living like fugitives until the kids are 21.

          • In Ontario Canada, after settlement is reached, the court sends an order automatically to the employer and the amount is deducted from the pay cheque and deposited with court, then sent on to the custody parent. The big problem is the guys and gals who move from job to job. At least the ones that stay put pay for their kids. My brother in law decided he wasn’t going to pay for his 21 year old daughter who was still in university getting a second degree, she sued her father and he had to continue to pay until she graduated. Now this last case was in Quebec Canada and they have different tougher laws altogether.

            • I hope this gives you a chuckle. A woman who worked in CSR was constantly having to haul deadbeat parents to jail. One day she told me a man came in dressed in leather and wearing a dog collar with metal spikes on it. He figured he could scare that 120 pound woman out of enforcing the law. When he asked her what she thought she was going to do to him she told him she wanted to nail his balls to the window sill but she guessed she would take him before our very tough judge and get his ass thrown in jail. He paid up.

      • Just as an FYI – I am that single mom struggling mightily to get CS enforced. And I agree, enforcement is key.

    • Yes. Here in NY, child support goes to 18 *unless* they go to college. Then, it stops at 21. My paternal aunt would report how disappointed my bio-father was, when he’d hear about the great student I was and wanted to be either a lawyer or political translator. How great… to know that not only did he never give a shit about me but he hoped I’d not go to college, so he could keep his $75/week, which was half what he should have been paying, even for his under-reported/self-employed income.

  • Hello Chumpkid
    How awful to be under the thumb of anyone because you need money to live. If you read this site then you know that there are many married women who are stuck with their abusive husbands for that reason and many more people who will be tied to untenable divorce agreements that oblige them to share parenting with their ex-spouse because they need that decree to get support payments. If you read enough stories here, you will figure out that to find peace, you need to be free of unhealthy relationships and very often, the key to that freedom is finding financial independence. If your letter was about a wife who was distressed about being in an unhappy relationship but could not leave because she was in an education program that she could not finance independently, your fellow chumps would be all over you with advice about getting loans from other family members as a back up plan, getting part-time jobs, going to school part-time etc. The bottom line is that you are experiencing emotional abuse that will have lasting effects on you. You deserve better than that.You don’t have to get into conflict with him but you can keep your distance and make a back up plan in case he decides to cut you off.

  • My 20yr old college student daughter and her now graduated from college brother could of written this letter. Their dad just up and left the family the December prior to her senior year in high school, my son was in his senior year of college.
    Why then? Because he heard that 17 yrs was the magic number in Fl to make me s candidate for permanent alimony so he decided to go full time with schmoopie 3 months before that day.
    My kids were as blindsided as I was.
    My daughter wrote him off from pretty much day one, my son tried for a few months to keep the relationship going.
    My son was graduating at the end of the year he left, had his financial aid for school in place, and didn’t rely on him for anything. He did live at home that year just because he knew that now that I was newly single and the money would be in negotiation for awhile I couldn’t be counted on to help with expenses of him living on campus. He commuted.
    I too worked college into the divorce for my daughter, what I didn’t include (because I assumed he would never be shitty enough to kick her off) was making sure he couldn’t take her off his health insurance.
    He’s left it alone, says he will till she graduates, but reminds us constantly that “my” daughter should treat him better and that he graciously gives her health insurance that he could take away but he won’t cause he’s “not a dick”.
    I disagree.
    If my kids wanted a relationship with him, I would support her or him in that.
    They don’t forget that my ex was very absent during their childhood and distracted when he was around and a serial cheater.
    He liked that a family made him look good. It fit what he wanted to project to the outside world. I always knew this, I picked up the slack with the kids,and tried to be better so he would want to be with us.
    I Knew I should leave but didn’t because I had kids, thought if only I was better, and I liked the paycheck…..the devil I knew…now he says the kids hate him because I shared too much, not because he’s an asshole.
    My son is now a teacher, living his own life, doesn’t dwell on it much.
    My daughter, would go without health insurance, and would work three jobs to pay her tuition if she had to. She’s very certain he’s toxic, through therapy recognizes he’s a narcissist, understands that’s a disease with no cure, and wants to move on from him.
    He’s not going quietly, he sends them “love u/ miss u, you should give schmoopie a chance, I don’t love my new kids more than you” texts ALL THE TIME. My daughter feels sick too when she sees it. My son will actually call his sister when he gets one of those texts because he’s certain she’s gotten it too and knows they shake her up.
    My ex doesn’t care, he’s just mad they don’t either.
    He wants them because they don’t want him. If they did, he wouldn’t want them anymore.
    CK, as a mom….I know I’m sorry that I exposed my kids to that. I’m sure your mom is too.
    If all it takes is a superficial conversation now and again…..whatever.
    I got my ex to lease me a car on his credit for 3 years as part of my divorce just because I said “we all know you are awesome” in one of my post break up conversations with him.
    A small piece of my soul died, but I did what I had to do and felt that I had been lied to and manipulated for 20 years….so why not?
    Once the divorce was done and my non modifiable agreement was signed he learned what I actually thought of him.
    Take the money, graduate, then decide where he fits on YOUR terms. If he doesn’t fit, then buh-bye.

    • Yep yep yep. They are all cold blooded fuckers. Son 1 in first yr college…son 2 last DAY in school and daughter day after 16th bday. NICE. Thx dad say no more they get it

    • Oh, yeah. Their timing is so calculated. Now, I finally get that my use to him was basically to function as a babysitter so those darned kids didn’t cramp his style.

      But he wonders why they aren’t close. Hmm. Such a mystery, huh? Sheesh.

  • Very very similar. My daughter was in your shoes. She is still in college but is also working full time.
    Fact is-someone like that will throw supporting you in your face no matter how successful you are.
    ‘You wouldnt be where hou are if I hadnt paid for it.’
    Reduce your class load if needed to work more and taje that power out if his hands.
    Then if it ever comes up you can say ‘I did this.’

    • I don’t think anybody should make financial or ‘life’ sacrifices, just so some asshole can’t throw their OBLIGATORY support in their faces.

      TAKE THE MONEY, then when he claims the credit for your success (and he will), just give him a slow blink, then break out laughing, and walk away.

      The way to avoid being manipulated isn’t to do what they want even before they manipulate. It’s to refuse to take the bait.

  • People are really something…and cluster Bs stay that way.

    My narc/BPD/alcoholic parents wanted me & bro to give them all the bragging rights of a fancy education and none of the parental contribution. My dad wanted me to go to a military academy and I didnt have the math scores. He was disappointed in me for years.

    I went to a very cheap vocational school because university was out of the question. Mom is now demented from alcohol and she tells about how generous, supportive and loving they were. Delusional.

  • ChumpKid, My daughter could have written this letter. She is in grad school as well and her father is constantly on her back telling her she needs to pay her bills (she does), she needs to get a better job (she works part-time at a department store while going to school part-time), she needs to come visit him and his new wife. He then proceeds to ask her why her brother (who is older than she) does this, does that, why does he still live at home (he’s paying down student loans because his dad spent his college savings). She becomes physically ill worrying about what she should say to him or how she should handle him (her brother doesn’t take any shit from either his dad or his dad’s new wife).
    My heart hurts for you ChumpKid. You should never have to deal with a parent who is like this. My advice is 1) get a new therapist. Someone familiar with divorce and family dynamics can help you through this much better than a college counselor. 2) You don’t have to tell your dad that you love him. Throw him the bone of telling him you appreciate his support, if you like. 3) Remember, you DON’T have to have a relationship with him – this is your decision to make. Yes, there may be consequences but you need to weigh those against your peace of mind.
    If you decide that you can stick this out for 2 more years, more power to you! (My daughter finishes next summer.) I know how difficult this is for you and I wish you every happiness going forward. Hang in there – we’ll do what we can to help.

  • If you continue your relationship with your dad, I would encourage you to really minimalize things in your mind. Kinda like how a divorced parent has to co-parent with a kook ex. You have to mentally reorient your attitude and relationship – you know what he does and what he is like. He is a small part of your life that you only occasionally interact with, and then you mentally set him aside again. Small piece of things. It definitely takes practice.

    Also keep in mind that once someone jumps ship to the dark side, that messes with every single thing they do from then on out – it doesn’t matter how you act toward them. They just are what they are now. Kinda like supposedly how when a pet tastes blood, well that pet “ain’t safe and ain’t no good no more.” We are like that too when we do something awful and refuse to repent of it.

    And lastly – he’s probably being totally used by his new family. You get what you pay for, eh?

  • You’re still a kid- and concentrating on college is very important. Help your mom by helping her find a therapist (recognize the fatigue you will have for hearing her pain while dealing with your own) and a copy of Chump Lady’s book- it has become my personal bible- it does help.

  • My cheater dad had to be a white knight, and help anyone out, except his kids. For her birthday, he promised my sister new tires. And four months later she bought them herself. He was pissed off, but still logical enough to see it when I pointed it out how she couldn’t wait anymore.

    In the meantime, his new girlfriend, who I sort of liked, decided “they shouldn’t put labels on things,” which meant she decided having him and letting him cheat was better than not having him.

    • Yes….narcs. My mom loved to rescue and help as a source of kibbles but wouldn’t do shit for me. I was her very lowest priority. Now she wants me to commit to caring for her (nope) and give her money (nope nope).

      • As a teen, my friends thought my mom was the coolest! She was so interested in them, so attentive to whatever they wanted to talk about, seemed so concerned about them …

        Of course, she had ZERO interest in her own kids. Nada.

        It’s all about the image.

  • If a supposedly loving father constantly emails his children on every cent he puts their direction for just living expenses after he leaves everyone high and dry with $0 after a privileged lifestyle…. then you know you are dealing with a very guilty conscience. Unfortunately that does not manifest into shame for said actions. Meanwhile i now realise the cheating fuck was spending money hand over fist then…maybe on new fuck …now i can actually save money on a PT shitty wage while looking after 3 college age kids no income. Echo the sentiment ACTIONS not words . Wankface still manages to weasel his email rhetoric to make out he is poor victim just making the most of his time on earth as a bucket list he had to work through at the expense of his own kids. Famous last words . He quotes a crappy movie. Lifes too short… be excellent to one another …!!???(then adds to it… and yourself…made up shit to make him feel validated) seriously fuck off and grow some

    • I don’t think it’s about guilt at all. It’s ENTITLEMENT. He contributes a tiny bit to their support, and he wants ALL THE CREDIT, all the recognition, all the gratitude ….. My ex is like this, as if everyone should be bowing at his feet because he actually supports his kids financially (although much less so now, the legal minimum, actually, because they weren’t bowing and scraping enough, given his crap behaviours toward them).

  • I would find out the specific details of the divorce settlement so you can make an informed decision.

    If he’s legally obligated to support you while you’re in college, no questions asked, then you’re pretty much in the clear. You don’t have tolerate his bullshit, but he still needs to pay.

    If there’s any ambiguity (such as he has to pay for your tuition, but not necessarily your housing or living expenses), then put on an Academy Award-winning performance for “Most Loving and Devoted Daughter Ever” for the next 2 years. Let him throw his pity parties over money. Pretend you’re happy for him and OW. Then, once your degree is in the mail, you can drop the charade and have any manner of relationship that works for you.

    Yes, that’s deceptive, and yes that’s very selfish and mercenary. But it’s also impossible to deal honestly with a narc like your Dad.

    • “Yes, that’s deceptive, and yes that’s very selfish and mercenary.”
      and exactly what they did to their families….most of them the entire marriage.
      Go for it CK…..karma.

  • Kid, i am sorry u are caught in this situation. My advice is to take the money. The best revenge is to have a good life. Forge your own life, career, future whatever with his money which should have been given 100% to u and ur mother in the first place. Everything passes, 2 years is a drop in the ocean. Life us uncertain and its best to take what u can while he is giving it,

  • Use him like he used your mom — take the money (which your mom fought for) to advance yourself and kick him to the curb when you no longer need him.

  • You owe him nothing. Take his money with a clear conscience – he owes you that. All the debt is on his side, his responsibility. Once you no longer need his money just cut him off. He is legally obliged to pay for you so make him accept those consequences and don’t feel guilty or obligated in any way. You are lucky that you can be shot of him for ever eventually, but in the meantime take what he owes you and don’t let yourself be blackmailed emotionally.

  • Don’t assume that if you walk away from your dad’s money that you walk away from his baggage. It’s actually hard work to cut someone off, and you may be trading one set of emotional distress for another. I’d recommend that you consider continuing to accept his support so you can continue your research position (which will most definitely benefit you upon graduation) and think about how you can set up some non-confrontational boundaries. Instead of him calling any time and losing his shit if you don’t answer, give him one or two times per week that you’re available, and make sure that you have laundry or something similar waiting (“Oops! There’s the dryer buzzer, gotta run. Thanks-for-everything-bye.”). Don’t keep asking for money. Instead, ask if he can set up auto-pay for your expenses so that you don’t have to keep asking every time the bills are due. I would not recommend this forever, but since you have a clear end game in two years, I think it’s okay to pick the shit sandwich that gets you to where you want to be rather than the shit sandwich of trying to cut off your dad in the middle of college.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with CL that your mom fought for your continued support, and I think that makes it absolutely OK to take it (even through gritted teeth). Just make sure you don’t flip that concept and think that you’re then obligated to take it because your mom fought for it. Your mom fought for your freedom to have it if you wish.

    Good luck, and I’m so sorry that your dad is a dick.

  • That’s a tough one. Accepting the blood money now may make it easier for you to end up with the fuck off money later. The other alternative is to learn how to get by on too little sleep so you have time to fold clothes and still keep you unpaid research job as well. Whatever you decide, realize that it is temporary. You have to either tough it out and deal with your dad for two more years, or you need to take on extra jobs and go without sleep for two years. Just look for that light at the end of the tunnel when your hard work pays off and you then have the freedom to blow off your dad and/or start sleeping again.

    Meanwhile, is there any change of getting any financial support from your Mom or is she also financially dependent on your Dad and really has nothing to spare?

    Good luck.

    • For what it’s worth, I did try. I went one whole summer of doing my research job, classes and a part-time job at a women’s clothing store before I completely broke down. I never sat down and calculated how many hours I spent working, but it felt like every waking moment. I did very poorly in my classes, my research was underbaked and the store complained I wasn’t “putting the customers first” by working more hours.

      • You are an amazing woman, Chumpkid. I wish you the very best in life and in my experience, kind, caring, smart, hardworking individuals such as yourself do usually achieve their goals and enjoy success. You are awesome!

  • Both my daughters could have written this. WHAT is it and the youngest graduating? It has been 3 1/2 years, and xh gives both daughters nothing for school.
    I have a MagnetoDoctor and a MagnetoEngineer at university. Those are not cheap educations.

    My advice? If dear old dad will pay some money to help you, Chumpkid, SMILE like a Jackass eating brambles when you see him. Google a picture….

    As the penguins from Madagascar say; #Smileandwaveboys, justsmileandwave….. Getting the best possible education with the least debt is your ultimate goal, it will help propel you faster into financial success.
    You don’t have to give overtures, I like the “Thanks for the tuition, Cheater.” line. You can show gratitude without having to gush…..

    UNFORTUNATLY, you may be in the same chump infinity loop your mom was in. No matter HOW much you thank, grovel and “appreciate him”, – it will probably never be enough. He is going to write his own narrative about you, too. So you can not suck up and placate him thinking it is going to have long term good effect.

    It may or it may not. Cheaters are not know for actually playing by the truth, books or facts. Don’t feel like you have to, either…..


  • My daughter is going through this exact same thing, off at her first year of college.

    It’s horrible that anyone has to be in the positions of weighing their morals against self-preservation. Cheaters put people in this position every day in the wake of every destroyed marriage. Kids are put up as collateral damage and it SUCKS!

    Here’s the struggle I have as the non cheating parent. Beliefs often will eventually fall in line to match behaviors that are in conflict with our beliefs. If you think cheating is wrong, and it makes you angry, yet you “play nice” to have your needs met, eventually you will need to make exceptions as to why maybe it wasn’t so bad.

    I’ve tried to raise my children with strong morals, doing the “right” thing over the “easy” thing. The reality I am concluding in all of this is, doing the right thing often puts you at a disadvantage. Because I love my daughter, I do not think it is fair that she should struggle because of the choices her father made. Does part of me wish that because of HER hurt (not mine), she could say “I don’t need your damn money!” … absolutely, but I also know she would be making life harder for herself.
    It breaks my heart to see him use his financial power over her to secure the relationship – that’s not what healthy relationships look like. But … I also see her taking that help right now as a step she must take to ensure as an adult, she can avoid being in that position.

    Here’s what I tell my children…

    You didn’t have a choice in all of this, but you get to choose how you will let it shape you. Like CL said, you can take his support and his behavior and let it shape you into a strong independent woman who will never have to accept the shit sandwich again.

    So many people take the route of insisting cheating isn’t done to the kids (super invalidating to their pain), it’s done to the marriage. Yes, you were betrayed as well! I tell my children it is their job to share their feelings with their father and work that out between them. I suspect in many cases though, the cheater isn’t interested in understanding the pain they’ve caused, they just want you to accept it and get over it. How someone responds to your pain is telling – remember that! You don’t have to accept the shit sandwich because he’s your dad. You get to choose how you will allow him in your life – a good lesson for the rest of your life.

    I know on some level my kids feel they are defending me by being pissed at their dad. I’ve made it clear to them that their dad is not my friend, but he is their father, and I would never want to take a parent from them by insisting they share my feelings. Though I appreciate that their love for me makes them want to defend me, that isn’t their job. I love them enough to want them to have two supporting parents, but I also know they can’t control how their parents show up. The only thing they control is how they themselves show up, and what they allow in their lives. That’s the rub of love, you don’t control it, you only participate in it.

    It breaks my heart that children have to learn these lessons through the betrayal of a parent. In a perfect world that wouldn’t happen, but we don’t live in a perfect world. There are shitty people! People who will climb on your back to save themselves from drowning while pushing you under. The hard part is determine who will push you under, and who will stay on your level, working with you as a team to save both of you. The latter are the people you want in your life.

    If you feel guilty for accepting his money, use that guilt to help someone else in the future. Set up a scholarship fund for kids of infidelity so they don’t have to go through what you did. Start a support group for teens of infidelity, anything that transforms the f*cked-up into something better! Throw away your shit sandwich and use its memory to make the world a better place! This blog wouldn’t exist if CL packed away that shit sandwich. Instead she used its lingering stench to create something to help others.

    Good luck! You are mighty!

    • Thank you for this. I especially like the idea of setting up a support group for teens/young adults affected by infidelity. My dad’s actions basically bombshelled my life, and it took me a long, long time to reach even an approximation of “meh” about it.

      • A support group for teens/young adults affected by infidelity sounds like a wonderful idea. I know my daughter (17) would love to hear from other children who’s parent blew up their lives through infidelity.

    • So many people take the route of insisting cheating isn’t done to the kids (super invalidating to their pain), it’s done to the marriage. Yes, you were betrayed as well!

      I want to shout this from the rooftops Gotabrain!!!

      I feel the need to get on a soap box right now. These disordered people may be able to compartmentalize feelings, but they can’t compartmentalize the disorder- it is through and through. It effects them in their entirety.

      I do realize their are chumps here that say their cheater’s are great fathers but lousy husbands. But mostly, I hear they suck at both. I know damn well mine does and it becomes more and more evident the more he loses power over us.

      Maybe it is more evident in the ones that ghost and leave like mine. He didn’t just leave me, he left the kids. He couldn’t take the responsibility or what he considered competition for attention. I think him perceiving me giving the kids more attention than I was giving him was the driving force behind his leaving. Now he just wants them for show and it isn’t going his way.

  • Great advice. Do not feel guilty sweet girl! Whatever your choice may be, own it. Hold your head high and remember you have a mother who believes in YOU!

  • I’m an academic and I do see the trend that colleges are a lot more expensive, and academic careers more competitive than they were a generation ago. But there are paid summer research internships available especially at national labs and programs like Research Experiences for Undergraduates, at least for STEM careers. They pay at least as much as flipping burgers and that way you can concentrate on research during the summer while focusing on class work (and possibly flipping burgers) during the academic year. There are also TA/grading jobs at some colleges that pay during the school year. This post serves as a reminder to me of the importance of funding these programs. I don’t know what the right answer is in dealing with narc father but here are at least some options. Good luck!

  • ChumpKid,
    My three sons are also going through this, there is also a ChumpKid Nation.

    Narcissistic cheaters also need ego-kibbles from their children and will manipulate them to get these kibbles. It seems that E-Ks from children are very important for impression management by cheaters. Children are specially vulnerable to this manipulation. It does not take much imagination to guess why.

    I hear two lines of thought/see two scenarios in today’s replies to your letter and both involve shutting down your E-K supply to your dad:
    A) Use the court ordered money to achieve your goals, which are indeed very noble and, for those who can afford it, a parent’s obligation and joy.
    B) Suffer your dad’s revenge for shutting off his special E-K supply, but then use the opportunity to acquire awesome “fuck-off” skills (I LOVE that description), while STILL pursuing AND achieving your noble goals, but just taking a longer, rougher, but probably more solid, honest and pedagogical path.
    There is much to be learned through difficulties, but this depends very much on your outlook on “folding-clothes”: unfair, a drudge, waste of time versus opportunity and integrity intact. And you might meet a wonderful person folding clothes. You never know.

    From what I can assess of your situation I would shut down the E-Ks and then … whatever… because the bottom lines are:
    1) This cheater is your father and, up to a point, has an obligation, moral and legal, to support your honest efforts to prepare yourself for a profession. And you are not OK with being an E-K supply/manipulated in order to achieve your goals.
    2) If your dad shuts off your support for lack of E-Ks, you WILL survive and get all your degrees if you go for the path of “fuck-off” skills. In fact, this will enrich you.

    My uncle abandoned my five cousins as toddlers up to teenagers; he supported his AP’s two children and his daughter with AP through college even. Among the abandoned cousins, three did very well: two have master’s degrees and all three have fruitful careers; the other two had a shit life which they always blamed their father for. Never let anyone write your story for you.

    • Forgot this: Not to mention the family resources spent on his affairs; if he argues that it is HIS money, answer that he should have let you all know about this BEFORE you had committed your time and energy on your professional preparation.

  • It is interesting to hear a daughter of cheater perspective. I have trouble sometimes managing my own relationship to my daughter in regards to the blow up of my marriage. I am fortunate that I have others to provide emotional support so I don’t have to dump it on my kids, but it is difficult when daughter wants to dump it on me. She has a love/hate relationship with her Dad that already preceded the blow up of the marriage to some extent and has now only gotten worse. When she complains about him and/or goes off on Schmoopie (who she also can’t stand, but ex it trying hard to convince her she isn’t a monster) it is really hard not to agree and want to be her ally in that. Instead I have tried to encourage her to continue to have a relationship with her dad because I do believe he loves her even if he doesn’t always know how to connect and I think in the long run she will benefit from having a positive relationship with him. I have also told her that if she can accept Schmoopie, her life will be easier although I reserve the right not to like her myself (do as I say, not as I do). Ultimately, I had to tell her that it would be best not to talk to me about Schmoopie and/or her dad (as it relates to the divorce) because A, I don’t want her to be caught in the middle between parents, and B, it is an emotionally difficult subject for me and I usually end up feeling depressed after those conversations. Luckily she has a therapist (for other issues in addition to the divorce which is just one more stresser in her life) to talk to. Meanwhile who knows what my boys are thinking and feeling because they don’t talk about it at all. I worry about that sometimes. I just try to keep their lives as normal as possible and in all fairness, ex has tried to do that too as best he can after blowing up their home life.

  • Jedi hugs to you, ChumpKid.
    It really is hard to give advice, I fall into the “take the money” category, and agree with the other caveats. He agreed in the divorce to support you. It is the least he can do, you did not ask to be born. It is every parent’s responsibility to help their children get a head start in life, as much as they can– it might be emotional support, since financial support is not possible.

    The issue here is how to disentangle yourself from the emotional blackmail.
    My cheating divorced father gave me $75 a month during my college years. That was it. I had to pay my mother’s portion, plus my own portion, with work, grants, and loans.

    Now my daughter is looking at colleges. I thought I had covered by bases and got “support college” in the divorce agreement. But since daughter is no contact with her father, he is refusing to pay anything unless she consults with him on her college choices, that he help with applications, etc.
    That was a very low blow for her– that her father’s love was not unconditional and that he would use emotional blackmail to get her to contact him. There are other examples, this is just the most recent
    (she went no contact after two episodes of suicidal ideation, the result of her father’s abandonment).

    I suggested to my daughter that she simply email him with her choices– she does not have to read his suggestions/responses. She refuses.
    I might call my attorney to see if there is anything to do re: college support.
    *side note to those going through the divorce process– make sure the “support for college” is CLEARLY defined so the ex cannot weasel out of it.

    Best of luck to you, ChumpKid. You are already on a great path, and you will succeed, the question is how long will it take if you decide to forgo the “money with strings attached.” Please keep us updated in the forums.

  • At least Chumpkid’s father isn’t using charm to trick his children into believing his fake love like my ex covert narc is doing. With his so-called charm and nice-guy-persona he made my children forget his infidelity and believe he is penniless, so I’m paying for everything and he’s smiling and being “nice”.
    Above all I see it as a danger in the development of my children’s moral integrity, a validation for the cheater and a premise for imitating his dishonest character. I’m so scared of the “like father like son” effect.
    If I were Chumpkid I’d make him pay every penny. He deserves a consequence for his betrayal, let it be at least this. When you see his phone calls, train yourself to reduce the power of his emotional blackmail counting all the lies and the neglect he put you through. Then you can thank him of course, and say to yourself that he isn’t paying enough for moral compensation. He should pay more, remember it could be more expensive without your grants and scholarships. Be sure to enjoy your college experience in these years and thrive in all ways you can imagine, have the happy life you deserve. You should only care about building your happy memories, not about an angry cheater.

  • Hi CK–

    A lot of variations on similar themes here.

    1. You get to choose what kind of relationship (if any) you have with your father. This relationship may change over the years. If he’s a narc, you’ll understand that he’s not able to make a real connection on an emotional level with you. He’ll be able to manipulate your emotions, though. Just set and enforce the boundaries that make the most sense for the kind of relationship you want to have.

    2. His financial support comes with strings. I don’t think you have to feel bad about accepting the money. In a very real way, you’re lining up your ducks. No one would think poorly of you if you were a Chump trying to get herself set up for a better post-divorce outcome (i.e. saving money, getting the Cheater to pay for the new tires, etc.). You’ll graduate with little or no undergrad debt (nice, since you may need some graduate loans), and you’ll presumably be able to have a couple of articles published before you graduate, and your PI (Principle Investigator, for Chumps unfamiliar with academic acronyms) will be able to write you a bang-up letter of recommendation.

    The price is that you’ll have to be civil to your narc father.

    3. Gray Rock works because narcs hold up both sides of the conversation. You would think that they’d notice that you’re not interacting with them, but they take up so much space in their own world that they fail to perceive that you are not fully present. Think about it. How much of your life does your father know about? Can he name your two best friends? The name of your PI? The general topic of your research? Now think about what you know about his life. Odds are that you can name his boss, the major players in his company, the people he likes least, his major complaints, etc.

    So when he calls up to talk (and you don’t have to initiate the calls), you can tell him you’ve been busy with school and research. You ask how things are with him. “Wow!” “Cool!” “Bummer!” “Well, there you go.” “It is what it is.” “Who knew?” These are all responses that will fill in the pauses in which you are expected to let him know how awesome he is. Close with, “You know, dad, I really want you to know how grateful I am for all the support you’re giving.” It’s not “I love you,” and your narc dad may pick up on the difference, but narcs also like to feel as if they’re the object of your gratitude. It feeds their sense of centrality. And of course, you are grateful that he’s currently meeting his legal obligations.

    Explore different therapists. If your therapist is with your school’s health service, yes, there probably is more familiarity with the standard college student problems of anxiety and depression (and I’m not trivializing either of these). However, there probably is someone with experience in relationship abuse or dealing with children who have witnessed relationship abuse. You might talk with your local women’s shelter to see if they have any recommendations. It may be that there’s someone at your university’s health services who does have experience in dealing with children who’ve come from a background of relationship abuse.

    At any rate, good for you for thinking about your options. You are definitely in the driver’s seat here. Now go map out the best course for YOU and YOUR future.


    • I agree with KB. I think you can manage this. When the Chumps bring up gray rock what they are trying to tell you is to not become emotionally engaged with him. You need to stay on the surface so that his behavior and his words do not penetrate and get you upset. It takes practice but you can do it. What people don’t realize is that every time you get into a situation like this your body recognizes stress. It does not know the difference between your nasty father and a bear with claws. It only knows that it senses danger. It floods your body with hormones. Those hormones are designed to get you out of danger quickly. The problem is they can be toxic if they are present in your body all the time. It takes hours for your body to get rid of them after an incident. That is why gray rocking is so important to you. It isn’t that you just pretend you are indifferent you MUST be indifferent. You must realize that your father is a horrible person. That is a terrible thing to have to adjust to but he is. He is a horrible person.
      I suggest you take up yoga. Every time you have an interaction with him get off the phone and give yourself a few minutes of meditation to get your body centered again. You really do need some way to destress from your dealings with him.
      The hardest thing for a child to come to terms with is that the parent that they love is a bad person. It is so puzzling to adults when a child hangs on to a very bad parent. The problem with being raised by one is you hang onto them long after you are grown. We all want unconditional love and validation from our parents. You need to start letting go of your father emotionally. He has always been this way but as he’s gotten older and more selfish the harder it has been for him to hide this. You and your sibling are going to have to understand what you are dealing with. It will help if your sibling feels the same way as you do. My siblings and I had to come to terms with the fact that our father was so emotionally damaged by his parents that we were not able to depend on him for anything. It was a hard pill to swallow but we managed because we had each other for support.

  • “Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of putting up with shit for a lifestyle. Don’t be a person who fakes a relationship for goodies or thinks they can “nice” a narcissist into caring. Be the kind of person who has her own fuck off money and fuck off skills.” THIS. Thank you, once again, CL, for cutting to the chase and putting this message out there loud and clear! Living with an abusive narcissist father set me up for the hell that I went through in two partnerships of nearly a decade each. The first half of my life was spent playing “pick me,” being used, and living in fear and anxiety. I got an education (which I paid for by myself) and I had my own salary, but I still needed these people to validate me. Every woman needs her own fuck off money, fuck off skills, AND fuck off SENSE OF SELF WORTH. THIS is what I want for my daughters and the other young women like the one who wrote this letter.

  • CK, please go find another therapist. There are plenty of “regular” (non-college) therapists who are more than accustomed to dealing with this kind of thing.

  • My Dad was an asshole who loved a beer can more than his family. I just learned how to stay out of his way.

    I was very fortunate to have an elderly neighbor who was a mirror image of Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino. His advice on everything was priceless. He taught me how to be a MAN and helped me to get my first job in the 8th grade.

    I worked my way through college. It was tough, but I made it. My employers have never been concerned with my crappy GPA…they only focused on work ethic and character. They saw a motivated “Go Getter.”

    When you have to do things the hard way, you also receive an awesome education that’s not taught in any classroom.

  • Bethel

    “But what I regret the most, is not that debt, but being taught by a weak and self pitying mother to perform like a dancing money so men would give me things. You don’t need his money.”.

    I’m not seeing a parallel here with CK’s situation. I was under the impression it was part of the settlement which Mom, the victim received FOR her daughter after DAD cheated and left to raise the OW’s kids. If so her mom is mighty!

    CK is an adult and should demand respect from her father.

  • ChumpKid,
    I’ve been reading your replies and you sound so intelligent, wise and strong! I have 2 kids, 18 and 20. My son has a very limited relationship with his dad – maybe a quick dinner every 2 or 3 weeks. My daughter is no contact with him. I am sorry you have the weird dynamic of the college tuition to deal with – my kids grandparents pay their tuitions and we are all so grateful. First, I want to say that your mom being honest with you (especially at your age with your obvious intelligence) is probably the best thing that could have happened. Otherwise she is gaslighting you like he gaslighted her. I withheld information from my kids during the first year, and my X worked valiantly to convince my kids that I was the problem. They were shocked beyond belief when they learned the truth. (He is the ultimate charmer and plays victim with the tears streaming down his face). The truth was a shock to all of us, but you can move pretty briskly on the path to boundaries when you are dealing with the truth. That’s why I think you will make good decisions for yourself – you can see clearly. Your dad sounds like a narcissist and if he is, one of his main goals is impression management. He would have a hard time NOT paying your tuition because that makes him look like a bad father – something narcs hate!! You should let him pay as much as he can.

    It is so sad that you only have one father. That doesn’t mean you should have a relationship with him though – narcissists cannot have healthy relationships. My kids and I talk about how they only have the one dad whereas I could theoretically have another husband. We don’t talk about that to guilt them into having a relationship with their dad, but to acknowledge the sadness of what they are experiencing. It is so so sad Chumpkid and I am so sorry it’s happening. Good luck with everything!!! ((HUGS)))

  • The other options is that Narcs will be cowed by force. A letter from an attorney detailing noncompliance and a zero-tolerance policy for that will be a step that may work. You’ll have to play your own hand, but the first time superior force is introduced…they generally settle in.

    • Yep, this is true. The only time I could get my narc ex to move was through force via my lawyer. Sad that it takes that to do the right and honorable thing.

  • zyx321: My ex wife didn’t want anything in the decree about support for college. At the time of divorce my son (19 at the time) dropped out of college and was living with my ex. I wanted him to go back to college, but the ex told him she needed the help of his paycheck (that was a lie). This past spring he decided he wanted to return to college. The ex immediately told him “I can’t afford to contribute anything”. She told him to take student loans OR get me to pay for it. But get this, she was going to pick the college he goes to!

    Long story short, he moved in with me (I live in different state from the ex) and attends a State University with me paying his tuition and books, the ex contributes NOTHING. Yeah, it is not easy but I am doing it. And being outside the ex’s tornado of drama he now realizes why we divorced. Has asked me several times why I stayed with her.

    • Newhusbands xw rode their daughters ass on a daily basis to get straight As and be valedictorian of her HS class but when daughter did so (and thus qualified to go to a bunch of fab schools) XW emotionally blackmailed the daughter to promise go to a shitty school in their home town.

      There is a pile of money saved for this so money isn’t an issue, but were terrified that narc mom will find some emotionally manipulative way to prevent the daughter from leaving their small town. His daughter is a peach and I feel horrible for her, she is in narc hell.

  • I don’t have much more to add except to say I’m so very sorry that life has handed this shit sandwich to you.

    My parents were also cheaters and although my dad died when I was a child and did not have a chance to abandon me he neglected me and abuse me while he was alive. My mom kicked me out on the streets when I was 16 because she thought I was a threat to the attentions of a new fuck buddy (I was 16- he was 55—ewwwww????????????).

    I managed to continue HS working crazy hours at a minimum wage job all while couch surfing, then went to university while working 2 jobs, had a baby at 19 from an abusive drug addict. Heating narcissist BPD/sociopath who gave me a place to stay, “escaped” to another alcoholic narcissist, then to law school where I met and married and had 3 more kids with a serial cheater/narcissist BPD-abuser where I suffered 25 years of blameshifting and gaslighting, which felt very familiar and sadly “comfortable.” I “thought” I had a great life and good marriage and had escaped the hell of my early life and first short marriage….NOT! When DDay 1 hit 3 years ago I was blindsided.

    I guess I’m trying to say be very careful in who you partner with. This abuse is so insidious and very hard to see when you are vulnerable, and subject to expert con artists.

    Hugs. It’s not your fault….none of it.

    • MotherChumper99,
      You have been through so much.
      You are a true survivor.
      I want to tell you that Mighty looks so good on YOU!


  • I can empathize because my parents went through a nasty divorce when I was in University. It sucks when you realize your parents are not being mature, sane or rational — and that they aren’t even acting like adults.

    Two Years Isn’t Very Long
    I echo the other commenters here. Sure that money comes with strings attached but so does having terrible bosses and terrible jobs. You only have two years left. It is a specific and finite time frame. I know it feels like an eternity, but it ends once you graduate.

    It is a Transaction
    Also importantly, accepting the money doesn’t mean you are taking sides or that you are accepting of his behavior. Try to remove the emotion. Your job is to be a student.

    Accept & Develop Boundaries
    He is an ass and is never going to change. Accept that he is always going to be this way. You can’t change him BUT you can manage how you interact and deal with him. This doesn’t mean you are not worthy. It means that he is an ass.

    Develop Boundaries with your Mom
    I think this happens a lot to daughters. Moms feel comfortable spilling their guts, but some stuff is just not appropriate. If you can, try to set some boundaries here. It is a bit tricky but tell her when you are uncomfortable or when the issue is best addressed with a therapist/friend. If she isn’t going to counseling, encourage her to go.

  • There are a number of chumps here that are also children of cheaters. I am now dealing with my own chump experience. I wish now that I have enforced boundaries with my father and OW 16 years ago. The problem I had was my mum was not the sane parent due to the way she dealth with my father’s behaviour. Myself and my siblings were all still minors so we needed a parent so cheater father was the only one around. Due to this situation my dad never really suffered any consequences and my Mum took a lot of the blame. I am glad that you support your Mum and that you are showing your dad that his actions do have consequences. I can’t really advise you on the money side. My dad was good to my Mum financial whereas my ex gives me the minimum required by law. I don’t know if that makes one better than the other or whether he did it for his image management. I know that I am doing my best to enforce boundaries with my ex, which is hard when the children are very young. I struggle now as what to do about my dad as they are my primary help with childcare due to where I live. I see both my dad and ex for what they are now as you do with your father. I am working on how to deal with the situation that I have been put in by my dad and my ex. I know I want my kids to be like you when they are older. I can see you understand just how devestating being a chump is and you will not be repeating your dad’s behaviour in your relationships. You will hopefully also be able to see any red flags that potential partners exhibit and be able to stop yourself becoming a chump yourself.

  • ChumpKid, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. My daughter (17) has a fractured relationship with her father due to his cheating on me, and I wish the two of you could talk.

    There are no easy answers here. But you have to do what’s best for you. On one hand, it would be ideal if you could do this all by yourself and not have to rely on him for money. On the other, I know how difficult that is, especially if you’re in academia and want a career in academia.

    I don’t have any good advice, but I just wanted to say that I’m sorry you’re going through this, but that you are strong and you have a good head on your shoulders. You’re going to be just fine. 🙂

  • Chumpkid,
    I had to deal with my father after he cheated on Mom when she was dying of cancer. My sister and brother cut him off.

    I had always managed his and Mom’s money (most of it my maternal grandmother’s) so I felt I had to keep up the charade in case he buzzed off with the whole lot and cut us out of what really was our mother’s. His second wife (the OW and married six months after Mom’s death) managed to spend a lot of it, but my presence guilted him into keeping us in his will.

    He lived another 16 years, and I can well relate to that creepy feeling whenever he called. He was so needy. I bore the brunt of my siblings’ rejection of him. I often felt conflicted, but basically, I managed to keep my eye on the money.

    Now, he has been dead for 10 years. I saw him right to the end and even fought a legal battle against the OW’s children who challenged the will. We won in the end. It was worth it because now I (and my siblings) are set financially. They often express guilt that I was the one left to cope with him, but to be honest, I saw him for what he was, and he was a tormented character.

    If coping with him for two more years is possible, just do it and set up your future. Your dear Mom does not need to overhear your conversations with him, nor should she have to hear what you endure, it is your choice. Just make sure you are good to her in her grief. Your emotional support will help her heal. She will recover and be a good friend in the years to come. I wish I’d had that chance with my Mom.

  • You’ve got lots of good advice, so I will just say I agree with the advice to take the money but use the CheaterDad drama and manipulation as a kind of graduate school itself. You will learn how to set boundaries with all sorts of people–and trust me when I say that you will need them in academic life.

    I am assuming that your counselor is best with “college type” problems because you are in the counseling center of the college or university. But any counselor should help you with the boundary issues you have as a result of being raised by a pair of wolves (I’m paraphrasing my own first therapist there). We can give kudos to your mother for fighting for college money for her kids and for being the parent who cared about your welfare. However, the sloppy boundaries and using the kids to manage her own anger and pain–not so much. We can all feel empathy for that. So many of us were knocked to the floor by D-Day, and if we were gaslighted and manipulated, perhaps were down for months before and after D-Day. But she shouldn’t have “slopped her grief” on you. And as an adult, you can begin to recognize when your mother or someone else is “slopping their grief” or anger or fear onto you–and respond accordingly. That’s a learned skill. Some kids get it from observing healthy parents with good boundaries. Others have to learn how to do this through therapy, trial and error, and observation. One key sign is slopping over hierarchical boundaries: parents slopping stuff onto their children, coaches doing that with players, or supervisors with subordinates. Another sign is the mental “I don’t need to know this” jolt you get in your brain, the jolt that makes you want to leave the room.

    Here let me make a distinction. It’s important for parents to tell kids the truth. “Dad has a girlfriend. I’m filing for divorce. I’ll answer questions about how that affects you but you don’t need to hear the details.” That’s very different from a parent venting emotions to the kids because the parent doesn’t have an adult support system. Some parents make this mistake and then realize what they did and correct it. Others, like my mother, never develop boundaries and resent the hell out of it when their kids have them and enforce them. Just as your father’s bad behavior means you will likely see very little of him, if you mother doesn’t develop other ways to cope with her pain and anger, you may have to distance yourself a bit until you get used to sticking to the boundaries no matter what her response is. Imagine you have a toddler kicking and screaming for an ice cream cone. Sometimes you have to deal with the tantrum to teach people how to treat you–with respect.

    And finally, your dad is already experiencing a terrible consequence, although his narcissistic shallowness may mean he will NEVER realize it: his kids don’t like him. That would be a terrible thing, if he had the capacity to love.

  • Hey, CK —

    I just wanted to chime and say I’m sorry for what you’re going through. A good friend of mine at work (now 40) went through similar with her dad when she was your age. She helped me a lot during my initial post-Dday breakdown, because she’d seen what her own mother went through.

    She didn’t talk to her dad for many years (after college) but sort of talks to him now. He is married to his OW, some ten years now. — I finally got up the courage to ask her how things are with her dad now. I’ll be honest, I was afraid she’d say everything was great and bygones-be-bygones, all that, because that’s certainly how everyone behaves, on the outside. But what she said was, “He’s just so different from the guy who used to be my dad.” Even now, ten years later. She said he’s just disinterested in what goes on in her life and her siblings’ lives, disengaged. I think it could be argued they were always that way but we just didn’t see it because we saw our own love reflected back at us… but their “love” isn’t like our “love” any more than an apple is like an orange. Less than that, probably.

    Also, FWIW, my dad wasn’t a cheater but he was an alcoholic. He was paying for my college, and after the divorce, he got really mean and vindictive. Every payment was a struggle with him, an argument, tears of frustration, me dragging him into the financial aid office to explain to him that, no, he couldn’t hide some of his money from the IRS by putting it in my name…. Anyway, I made up my mind I was going to prostitute myself out for the whole four years. I didn’t feel great about it, but it was a conscious decision, and after that I never took another penny from him.

    It’s your call. Sad that along with college lessons you’re also learning some brutal Life lessons about how some people really suck, how truly unfair life can be, etc ad nauseum. Good luck. Hang in there. It’s finite. (FWIW, I’m a doctor now, so I’m not sorry I sold a part of my soul in this particular bargain.)

  • Thank you all for taking the time to reply. I’ve been a longtime lurker but never a commenter. I’ve really appreciated the support, especially from the moms and dads of kids in college or high school.

    I think I will continue to take the money, but do so with caution. I have so-far played a pretty good “adoring daughter” role, though I have had a couple breakdowns due to the suckiness of the whole situation. I am very nice to the OW, who is, in my opinion, a serious downgrade (This woman chased down a teenage employee at a bowling alley because OW heard her “talking shit” about her to another teenage employee. Claaaaaaassy).

    As for what will happen post-grad, I’m not sure. I’m saving money where available (I’m pretty frugal, and save a lot of money by having a roommate, cooking my own meals and shopping sales). A lot of people tell me to take my dad “as he is” and not expect better behavior, and I’m just not sure if I can do that.

    He’s already almost completely burned the bridge with my brother (Dad tried to fight Mom on paying half of a bill for Brother’s necessary surgery, Brother found out), so I’m not sure how keeping up a relationship with him would affect the family I actually care about.

    My dad’s parents are lovely people. Truly the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. I’m not really sure where his entitlement and grandiosity came from, because it surely wasn’t from them. They cried when he told them about the divorce, and my grandmother openly wept at his extravagant wedding.

    • My ex’s parents were also lovely, wonderful people whom I loved very much. I think in a way, my ex’s narcissism did come from them, as an accidental byproduct of their generous natures. He was the baby of the family, everybody doted on him, and he grew up being told ‘do what makes you happy’ to the point that I guess it didn’t occur to him that his happiness shouldn’t come at the expense of someone else’s. He also grew up learning to manipulate them to get what he wanted, and developed a habit of lying to make them believe he was doing better than he really was so they would be proud of him. He was raised on ego-kibbles, when you think about it. Too bad I was so naive when we got together and took over the role of provider without any understanding of what I was facing.

  • Deep breath CK. I know you’re getting a lot here today. Please take your time taking it all in.
    I’m sorry you find yourself here. While I can second a lot of the advice here, I can also extend a warm welcome to the barbed wire monkey parent club. We want to love our parents. It just feels like something you are supposed to do but not all of them are worth it. Or we love them but we don’t want to interact with them. I know how you feel. I have a parent who doesn’t really care what is going on with me, never asks, never wants to know,yet wants to talk every week about their life, tell me all about it. The day I turned in my financials at my lawyers office for the divorce I was a wreck, silently crying and trying to get it together while I listened to what the best friend wore to their child’s wedding. That was the day I knew my well-being was second, possibly third or fourth to some really innocuous shit.

    Find a good therapist that handles dealing with personality disorders and divorce. Seriously my therapist helped me see how my parents were continually influencing me and taught me to keep them at a distance so I could rely on them financially if I ever needed to. Like you I am thankful for the support but the hours of discussion with not a single inquiry of how I am doing or feeling or anything about me it grates on me.

    I have a friend who lost her job and wrecked her car in the same week. She came from a physically and emotionally abusive home. Her dad flat out bought her a new car. She feels guilty and I keep telling her. “You earned that car, consider it a payment for every bruise and every night terror that ever befell you.” Well CK, as much as we laud mom for making sure he paid up when it came to your future, please remember that you earned every penny by being the brunt of his emotional abuse and shitty character.

  • Chumpkid my now ex is making my teenagers do the ‘pick me dance’ if they want him to fund any of their college education. He’s really a tool. I think my kids see the disconnection between him buying a $450,000 home, planning a trip to Hawaii with his new young schmoopie (our daughter’s assistant high school coach that’s in her 20’s), buying all new furniture, clothes, expensive restaraunt meals with schmoopie. My ex was very energetic and friendly when we met, I didn’t realize he was a narcissist. I hate it for my kids. My son is really wanting to go to an ivey league school and his dad says he will pay for it (I’m sure if he dances real pretty).

    I say take the money. Your dad is a tool. You know he’s a tool. He’s going to be a tool no matter what.
    You don’t have to have a real relationship with him, he’s incapable of it. Your mom fought hard to get you the money. I’m sorry you are having to go through this. You secure that future for you and give your momma a hug. If you’ve been reading here, you know the whole family has been through the ringer. And cheater, narc dad comes out unscathed and smelling like a rose.

  • I have a friend who’s high school daughter refuses to speak to Dad until he gives a TRUE apology for what he has done to her and the family. Almost three years out—- we all know how that will go. He keeps telling people he is waiting for her to come to terms with reality and get past it all.

  • BTW, I vote for accept the funds unless it is just too uncomfortable. Any money you happen to earn extra you can save for when his support inevitably stops. Your Mom fought for it and it is more than ‘fair’ for a father to help his daughter with her education if he can afford it, which yours can. You are his obligation more than some strange woman and family.

  • As a chumpkid myself (cheater dad and my mom is the OW he cheated with)… I would say, take the money!! It’s “only” two more years, financial struggle sucks more since you don’t have to actually see your dad much or at all… It might feel awful whenever you communicate and may always be in the back of your mind but you have a clear end date in sight, and its not that far away… If you have a good friend to vent to and practice breathing techniques, I would just take the money. And I totally get it may feel as his way to conttrol you, my mom with narc tendencies does the same, but when I lived not near her I could snap out of how it made me feel. But yeah narc’s powergames and guilt tripping feel like poison.

  • Chumpkid,

    This is such an awful predicament to be in. Your dad is already hanging that money over your head, IMO it will be worse taking his damn money to finish college while he controls you. Its a better statement to show him you’re better than he is NOT using him. He ALONE 100% jacked up your family unit, and of course he’s treating the OW’s kids better, he has no choice. He will eventually turn on them too.

    I stayed married for 31 years to a cheater before I divorced. I did’t even tell my 3 grown kids about their cheater dad until I decided to divorce. I stayed while they were young bc he had a good job with insurance and provided for us well. When they all go into college I stayed so he would foot part of that bill.

    Be a better person than him, don’t OWE him for anything. He will always use his money to control all of you. Thats the game they love! You can take a little longer in school if you have to to work P/T or get grants, scholarships or financial aide. My EX loved bragging that his 3 kids did college without anyone taking out a loan. He is a full on NARC and cheaters all lie so there is no guarantee he won’t disappoint you more. Go on with your beautiful life you get to create and control with dignity and integrity. DON’T give him the power he expects to have over you. YOU can do it and feel awesome.

    My kids were between 25-30 when we divorced. They watched what he did to ME first hand for being his faithful wife of 31 years. He took everything. Who needs him now……. nobody. Do what is in your heart sweetheart. HE is already showed who he is, no surprises there! And most likely he won’t change.

  • My parents divorced in the mid seventies. There was never a thought that they would “stay together” for the sake of the children. They married as nineteen year olds, and simply outgrew each other, and the relationship, as so many people do. We didn’t hate them and we didn’t blame them. Not for their failings as spouses to each other, nor for their failings as young, naive parents. Neither was blameless, and quite honestly, I am not sure to this day if there was infidelity involved. What I do know is that by the time I had memory of our childhood, their relationship was contentious, and it was clear to everyone that they would be happier, and better off, apart. There was never a discussion about how we felt, or what our opinion was, or if we preferred our parents to stay together. We have done an about face from society in those days, and now, so many unhappy, unhealthy relationships, marriages, or otherwise, remain in existence “for the sake of the children.” We have managed to convince ourselves, and each other, that these “children of divorce” will be destroyed, irreparably damaged, unable to ever function as emotionally healthy human beings. It would be wonderful if every marriage could last forever, but that is simply not reasonable. Our nearly fifty percent divorce rate (higher than that for second marriages) should speak for itself. Several years ago, my son had a school playmate that called him one day sobbing into the phone. During his older sisters college applications, their parents had left financial aid paperwork lying on the dining room table. For whatever reason, he picked it up and read it, and realized that their parents marital status was checked off as “divorced”. He assumed it was a mistake, but when they arrived home from work he asked. They sat him down and told him they it was indeed correct, that they had recently been divorced. They told him that they were planning to live together until he graduated from high school, and then the mom was moving out when he left for college. The parents were acquaintances of ours, and there had actually been some rumors going around school that perhaps his mother was ill with cancer. She had lost weight, she looked sickly, and often looked as though she was going to cry. Thankfully, it turned out that she was not ill at all, merely depressed. When my son told my daughter what had happened, she shook her head (at this point all of 17 years old), and said, “that’s really sad.” And my son said, yes, it is said that they are getting divorced. My daughter looked at him and said, no, not that. I mean that it is really sad that anyone’s parents feel like they have to be miserable in order for their kids to be happy.. I can only say… out of the mouths of babes…..

  • Hey there Chump Kid,

    I know exactely how you feel. I almost could’ve written some of these paragraphs. I’m 26 and about a year ago my dad confessed he was leading a double life for 2 1/2 years with some skank he met via an online game. And while he still is with the witch, he isn’t doing well at all. He is going to a therapist because he could not handle the grief and stress of it all and while he actively tries to keep in contact with me and my sister, I only see him every other two weeks. I used to have a great relationship with him and I was a real daddy’s girl. Well, there’s not much left of that. While I’m one of the rare cases where my dad is still concerned about my wellbeing, he is head over heels for her. He gives that thing more love than my mother ever got. And since he only has daughters, it pains me to see how he treats women now. If my boyfriend would treat me like that my dad would kick his ass, yet the hypocrite has no problem destroying my family.

    Meanwhile my mother dumped all her grief on me as well, even though she has many friends. She refuses to go into therapy so she can get better help than I can provide for her. But all her anger and hate spewing has pretty much turned the rest of my family against her. There’s not much family left on her side, we were mostly in contact with my dad’s side. I have seen my paternal grandmother go absolutely ape-shit from all the stress and I’m pretty sure she once called my mother a whore (My mum had a slip up as well 10 years ago. Though no where near as bad as my dad. Wow, when you thought you knew your parents.) And all the bad-mouthing about my mother made me slowly resent the rest of my family as well.

    I will be graduating this year, I don’t make enough money with the part time job I got and my study is very intense, so I can’t work more. I’m partially dependent as well, but if I were you I’d take his money. Let him work for it, see if you care. Your dreams are on the line and while he has ruined your family, you should not let him also ruin your dreams. 2 years will fly by and then you can decide for yourself how much further you want to go with this relationship with your dad.

    This site has helped me a lot as well and Chump Lady als gave me good advice. But you can’t look it up, it was a personal mail. I hope you will find some peace for it all. For myself as well, one year of this was tough, but to think that this will go on for years. Brrr, I shudder to think how it will all end up.

  • Dear Chumpkid,
    My heart goes out to you.

    My 20yo son is in the same situation, and has many of the same feelings. While we (thank goodness) had set up a college fund which is mostly paying for his education, he still has his dad’s credit card to use for big expenses (like when he blew a tire while driving from Tx to Col.)

    He told me he really hates using his dad’s card for anything. And hates the thought of needing him financially in the future. He too feels obligated to keep contact with his dad. And say thank you.

    I will also say he works a part time job while going to school; his choice so he can have some fun money. But he does use it to pay utilities on his place.

    I told him several things. One, we (his dad and I) are still supporting him (not by legal requirement but that was the deal) so try not to feel bad. Two, that does NOT mean he has to talk to his dad, or even me for that matter. He’s our child and until he’s fully on his own it’s our responsibility to care for him (food, medical bills etc) Again, I know it’s not the law since he’s over 18.

    But then again, if he wants to use his credit card for say, a movie ticket or two… I would say take it while you can.

    His dad and I are in the middle of a divorce. But he doesn’t respect his dad anymore (mainly bc his dad tried to involve his brother and him in this; sent them an email saying basically quit ignoring this divorce, talk to your mom or it’s partly your fault.)

    Both sons (25 and 20) have said they want to stay out of this divorce, I comply, their dad does not.

    I hate like hell that this man is their father. It hurts me to no end that he caused our family to break up. These sons are what took me 9 months to file. I just hated it for them. No more ‘Happy family trips, etc” But they understood. And they will understand more even later.

    You are obviously a mature young lady. Your mom is lucky to have you. It has to be so hard to have her use you as her support (when really you need as much or more support). But I get it.

    I hope you seek therapy (and get your dad to pay for it…) And I don’t think you need to thank him if you don’t feel like it. It’s the least he can do. But you, like my son, have more morals than your respective fathers.

    Good luck and hugs to you. There will be an end to this.

  • Hi chumpkid do not lose heart. He is paying you only because your mom and lawyer had the foresight to hold him accountable. You should not feel guilty about taking it and do not consider it an obligation to be nice to him if you don’t want to. In terms of the math , my humble advice would be to stick to the routine , complete academia , get your independence and move forward shutting this chapter in your life for good! He is supporting you ONLY because the universe has made it happen and not because he wants to. Since universe is giving it to you , take the help and craft the future. Cheers

  • *Warning – essay-length response incoming!*
    Oh my Lord, ChumpKid, I could have written this letter 10 years ago. I am so sorry that your father betrayed your family this way. As another chump kid who also (willingly and gladly) acted as therapist for her mum, I’m sending you lots of (((HUGS))) and a friendly reminder to keep on with therapy for yourself!

    It gets better, promise! I turn thirty this year, am just about to submit a doctorate which was fully & generously funded by scholarships *I* got with my *own* brain – living expenses included – and have long since gone no contact with my cheater dad.

    My college situation was a bit different because 1) I’m an Aussie and Australian university fees are cheaper than they are in the US, and 2) my father didn’t contribute a cent towards rent or other large bills – some of that was paid for by shrewd investments my mum started many years ago, and he deliberately waited until after I turned 18 to file for divorce so he would have no financial obligation to me. However! He did contribute quite a bit of “textbook/pocket money”, along with all the issues you just described, so here is what worked for me. (Why oh why couldn’t he have contributed “useful money” decades ago instead of attempting to bankrupt his own family and stealing my mum’s kitchen gadgets to give to his mistresses…but I digress.)

    1. Accepting all financial contributions from him as per Chump Lady’s advice – I never said “I love you”, because I don’t like lying, but I did send lots of model thank-you notes. “Thank you very much for sending me the $$$, I appreciate it very much and have used it to buy my chemistry textbook, yours sincerely, Clara” is totally truthful…and while he did grumble a bit, he found out very quickly that complaining about a daughter who PROMPTLY MAILED HANDWRITTEN THANK-YOU CARDS made HIM look ungrateful.

    2. Incessant phone calls plus accompanying stress: if I had a major deadline, or was hosting a Very Important Party, or just really really Could Not Deal, I’d “accidentally” let my mobile “run out of battery”. Or alternatively, whoops, my “study group” would “accidentally” knock the receiver of the other phone off the hook. Once the big stress was over, phones would go back on and I’d explain & apologise profusely. I couldn’t do this often, but it was worth the few extra minutes of guilt-tripping not having him on my radar the night before our final year dissertations were due!!

    3. CV-building jobs: not sure if this is applicable in the USA system, but in Australia, 3rd and 4th year undergraduates can work as laboratory demonstrators for 1st year classes (obviously only applies to scientists), tutors at cram schools, university tour guides, etc. – and these jobs are paid. They wouldn’t pay enough to cover big city rent, but…anything to help build an emergency slush fund can be useful, I guess! I worked all of the above jobs at some stage just in case he decided to cut me off altogether. Bonus: I emerged with a kick-ass CV.

    4. Got a roommate. We aren’t close now for unrelated reasons, but at the time we got on well and it was great financially too.

    Also! Congratulations on YOUR many grants and scholarships! You’re mighty!

    • I love CN. I can’t imagine better advice than someone like Clara is giving–a peer with experience and wisdom to share! And that thank you note strategy is brilliant.

  • Hi ChumpKid,

    I’m Cookie’s daughter, and I’m in a very similar situation. Kind of. My dad waited until all three of us were done with high school, and because we’re Australian, we don’t have to worry about University fees right away. Having said that, he’s a narcissist too, and I have no qualms about using that against him.

    I haven’t read many of the comments, but the one thing I noticed in ChumpLady’s reply was that most of her comments (understandably for someone who has been cheated on and wants nothing to do with her ex) were in support of you cutting off all ties to your father. Yes, there are a lot of people who don’t get the extra help that your dad is giving you. HOWEVER, not many people are aiming for a career in academia. That unpaid internship is going to be awful, but as you know, it’ll look really good on a resume. If your mental health is stable enough that you can keep using him, DO IT.

    Seriously, this guy does not care about you as a person, just how you can make him look. Take advantage of that by being careful about what you say. Things like “this is going to set me up for a great career” (that implies that you’re going to repay him later (Don’t repay him later, you don’t owe him anything if he’s dumb enough to keep pouring money into someone that doesn’t like him)) or stuff like that.

    Don’t hamstring yourself because you feel guilty about using him. (Having said that, I recognise that I have less of an emotional attachment to my father than most, and I have no guilt about using him for money. I got an iPad out of my parents’ divorce that I have used pretty much every day in classes, and will use for years to come, through my honours and phd. Mum was my biggest supporter in this) University is designed to be a full time course load, and most of my lecturers describe it as a full time job, so if you don’t have to add more work to that, don’t.

    The emotional rubbish will be hard for the next couple of years, but if you can limit it to a couple of texts a week and fortnightly calls that will help. My dad and I communicate by crappy memes now. If you’re close enough to not be able to avoid meeting up with him in person, schedule meetings waaaaay in advance and either keep talking about your studies, and asking him questions about whenever the golden point in his life was. (My dad’s was his uni years, when he didn’t need to pay for his tuition OR living expenses, so he can talk about that for ages)

    Having said all of that, if this stress is causing your mental health to deteriorate, and you would prefer to not talk to him, just block his number and cut him from your life. Either way, find a different therapist. Even your college therapist should be able to refer you to someone who is better equiped to help you. It doesn’t need to be an external referral, because you should have more than one therapist available at your school. Don’t give up because you’ve had one bad therapist, because once you find a good one, they can really help. Mine did.

    More generally, try to cut down your bills as much as you can, so you’re not asking for as much money. Good luck, and if you need any more specific advice, let me know if I can help.


    (Cookie’s daughter)

    P.S. As I’m writing this, mum’s telling me I need to add in that I’m not a sociopath, or a narcissist, but an INTJ on the Meyer-Briggs personality profile. So do with that what you will.

    • Talie,

      I’m also an INTJ, actually, and I also have to tell people I’m not a sociopath sometimes lol. Thank you for the advice. It’s nice to know it’s not just me.

  • To Chump Kid…my heart goes out to you. I’m very sorry that your father would hurt you and your family in this way.

    I was much younger than you when my parents divorced due to my father cheating. I was only 3 years old. But it had a lasting effect on my life, even now as an adult. When parents are unfaithful and selfish, they fail to acknowledge the pain they cause their children.
    My father has about thirteen kids as a result of his selfish, irresponsible, callous behavior. I’ve never met some of my half-siblings and I don’t want to.
    Not because I have anything against them personally but because it reminds me that my father cared more about having affairs than being a dad to me.
    He never gave my mom a penny to help with raising me. So at a young age, I knew I couldn’t depend on him for anything.

    I think everyone has given you really good advice on what to do. I LOVE what Chump Lady said: “Be the kind of person who has her own fuck off money and fuck off skills”…yes!
    As I get older, I realize how important this is. It is VERY important to be able to take care of yourself. It sucks having to depend on others for anything. I wish I had made smarter decisions at your age, but you still have plenty of time to create a good life for yourself.
    Sadly your father has chosen to be selfish and to ignore the effects of his actions on other people. Not only has he broken up a family, but he is also happily providing for the OW and her kids instead of doing right by his own children.
    Sounds a LOT like what my own father did.

    I agree with the “grey rock” idea. When dealing with narcissists (and I’ve known quite a few) sometimes this is what you have to do.
    I am so sorry that this is happening to you.

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