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Cool. Bummer. Wow.

Dear Chump Lady,

Please help! I do not know how to navigate this entire divorce mess with my two teenage daughters. My youngest sees her father every other weekend. This includes time spent with the OW. This weekend they took a day trip and she took many pictures on her phone from the day. She wanted to tell me all about it. Fine! She wanted to show me her pictures. Fine! With those pictures came selfies of her and OW. Plenty of them. A group selfie….her, her father and OW. One big happy family!!!! No pictures of daughter with just her dad. I said nothing. Seeing that was like driving a stake between my eyes. I excused myself to the bathroom for a moment to gather myself and to try to decide if I should mention to her how seeing those photos hurt me. I decided to word it in a way that wouldn’t hurt her feelings but would explain my boundaries and to let her know that I wasn’t ready to see pictures like those yet.

My words were (and I held in my tears and emotions) “Can I say something to you briefly….and please don’t take this the wrong way or be upset?…..I am not yet at a point where I can see pictures of you and OW. I wanted to hear about your trip and see your pictures but I am not ready to see you with OW. This is a boundary I need to have in place so I can continue to heal from the hurt”.

She rolled her eyes at me. She said “Whatever Mom” …..”I can never do anything right”….”Those pictures were just there”. I am not stupid. She knew those pictures were coming up. She could pull her phone back and pass over them before continuing. She is 16! She isn’t a toddler. She knows how much it hurts to be cheated on. Has happened to her with boyfriends. How does she not see how this would hurt? Did she do it on purpose? Did she want the drama? Why couldn’t she say,”Gee Mom, I am so sorry. I did not do it on purpose. I will be careful next time.”

Why do I feel as though I should be silenced about talking about my feelings?

I don’t know how to handle this. Now she is angry with me and she won’t talk to me and she was verbally abusive this morning to both her older sister and to me. And…..she said that her sister and I gang up on her. “Everyone sees it”!

This is why I held on for five years (knowing of the cheating) and tried to reconcile my broken marriage. Because I saw what was going to happen to my children and our family. This feels hopeless. I feel so damn defeated. I didn’t want any of this!

How do I fix the mess?


Dear Kimmy,

It’s not your mess to fix. You set a boundary, and when you set a boundary you let go of the consequences. People may not like your boundaries. They might lash out. They might get ugly. It’s your boundary. Stick to it.

I don’t fault you for having the boundary and I think you went about it the kindest way you knew how. That doesn’t mean your daughter is going to like it.

She’s a teenager. If she’s like most young people her age, she resists all boundaries. Given the narcissistic age they’re at, never show your vulnerability to teenagers. You think toddlers are manipulative? (I’ll just bat my eyelashes and look cute here and mom will give me a cookie!) Teenagers have had the last decade to perfect their skills of button pushing. You just handed her your button when you said this hurt you.

You can’t expect your kid to understand your pain, but you can expect her to respect your boundary. I would suggest a simpler boundary for now — what goes on at Dad’s house stays at Dad’s house. You don’t need the particulars. I doubt you wanted to see her pictures, or hear about her fabulous day out, so don’t put yourself in that position. If she goes there, don’t agree to see her phone. Just utter a pleasant banality and change the subject.

A wise person once counseled that all conversations with young people could be reduced to “cool, bummer, wow.”

I spent a terrific day with dad and his mistress!


I’m got fired from my internship, but it’s okay because I’m got a job as a tattoo artist!

Bummer. Wow.

Look at my sleeve tattoo! It’s the Battle of Gettysburg only with zombies!


Teenagers don’t want to share everything with you. Don’t share everything with teenagers. If she pushes you on why you don’t want to see 40 selflies of her and the OW, you say “I’m glad you had a good day.” If she keeps pushing you just state your boundary. “It’s better for me now if I don’t hear about the particulars of your time at dad’s. Hey, want tacos for lunch?”

Look, she is 16. Whatever her kerfuffles in her dating life, she has absolutely NO IDEA how you feel. She hasn’t the foggiest notion of what it is to invest decades in a relationship and have kids and a mortgage and entangled family. She has no idea what it is to be gutted by adult infidelity.

From her perspective, she knows her family fell apart, and if she can’t have her intact family, then she’ll go with the next pleasant narrative We’re All Happier Now and Everyone Can Be Friends. The reality of your pain, of your boundary of not feeling friendly toward the cheating ex, doesn’t play well with that narrative. She’s grown up watching you eat shit sandwiches. Why won’t you eat this one too?

Because there are consequences for abandoning your family. Because there are deeply hurt feelings. Because it is a terrible loss and you’re going to grieve it. Eventually, I trust you will get to meh about the ex and the OW and their trips to petting zoos or WTFever they’re up to, but you’re not there yet. Because this pain is fresh and raw. Don’t be inauthentic, but don’t discuss your emotional slop with minors either. They just need to know you are still IN CHARGE. You’re mom, this is your boundary. Respect it. Next subject please.

I know you wish your daughter could respond with compassion, but maybe she’ll get there at some point years from now. But don’t predicate your relationship on it. Your pain isn’t her job. And hearing about it probably makes her feel disloyal to her dad, and guilty about enjoying time with the OW. She’s got to work those relationships out on her own and connect the dots for herself. And that shit takes YEARS. Your job is to focus on your new life and parent your kids.

Part of which includes not taking shit off teenagers. She’s verbally abusive to you or her sister? You shut that down. Not acceptable. Boundary. Consequence. Enforcement.

Chumps have this codependent notion that sharing our pain will compel other people to not do certain things. I can tell you about my pain! And that will (guilt them, make them feel bad, and compel them) to not Do The Upsetting Thing. No. Cut to the chase and be direct with people. Here is my boundary. Do Not Do The Upsetting Thing.

It’s much more effective that way and shields you from further hurt. Then your vulnerable underbelly isn’t being rejected.

If the person persists in Doing the Upsetting Thing? That’s good information to have. That means you have been clear and they are indifferent. So you enforce the consequence, whatever that is.

So, in summary — keep your pain to yourself around your kids best you can, but get that boundary right out there in front.

Did your teenager do it to stir up drama? On purpose? Who knows? We’re talking about teenagers. Their brains aren’t fully formed (as I keep telling mine). Drama is part of the gig. Steady on and keep parenting.

This is a rerun. My father-in-law passed away Monday. Please send some good thoughts to Mr. CL. Back to regular programming next week. Friday challenge is on gratitude. 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Oh my I am so proud of you. This is painful and I would love to be as cool as our Chump Lady hero, but I don’t know if I ever will. I flipped out when the OW posted pictures of my daughters on her FB page when I didn’t even know she was with them. And OW was around while I gave up my career, moved and basically sacrificed everything for my cake-eating donkey of an ex. And I told the girls in a more undignified, freaked-out, teary eyed way that I was devastated. And here’s the thing that no one ever acknowledges. As a parent, you can ask to talk to the parents of the kids your kids hang out with–even if they are 16!!! You can say “no” to the party because you think there are people some questionable behavior around. In my case, a woman that carries on a 4 year relationship with a married man, while deceiving her own husband and toddler, does not represent the type of behavior I want to model. I find it absolutely awful and oppressive and unfair that it is somehow unacceptable for me to express that these are not values I want to teach. You tell them what your boundaries. A thousand times tell them. It’s your right.

    • I agree. And in addition to defending the kind of values you want modelled around your teens, I think as a parent you need to confront and correct the occasional flippant, callous or immaturely thought-less behavior of those teens towards you. That’s the category I would put this teen behavior into (especially this teen’s reaction after being told what they should have sensed initially on their own).

      I think of “Cool. Bummer. Wow.” as a way of sidestepping the innocent references kids may make to time spent with a feckwit ex. This keeps them out of the middle and away from some of the fallout. But when they are outright abusive and flippant in situations where it’s clear they should be somewhat more circumspect, if not actually respectful or sensitive, then it’s time to parent and teach. As CL says, consequences. Never mind the OW or the POS ex, at this point such a situation is about developing the decency and maturity level of the teen.

      Sixteen is certainly old enough to have more of a sense of what you are doing in a case like this. This teen isn’t “just being a teen”, they’re being a selfish brat.

      • Yes, cool, bummer, wow is definitely easier said than done.

        I agree with the boundary but at 16 you may want to take the explanation a step further to help them get it. I would add that is my boundary and you may not agree or understand but you need to respect it and that means no eye rolls or rude comments. My feelings are justified and you must respect other people’s feelings.

        • My son was directing all of his anxiety and anger at me. ( The backstory is that he was there when I found out about OW.) And even as a serious chump with no boundaries, I realized that I had reached the end of what I could deal with. He was a little older and away at school, so I told him I could not interact with him right now. That I loved him dearly but I was hurting too much to absorb this form of abuse also. Sometimes you have to put your oxygen mask on first, and they have to understand that you are not a tv superhero and have feelings and boundaries that need to be respected. Mine came around and had a very good cry and conversation with me. It was a learning moment for him too. It was a horribly painful time for both of us, but it became a shared moment and heartbreak. I feel like sometimes they are punishing us for their heart break

          • PS my deepest condolences to the chumplady family. I am losing my mother every day, little bit more to Alzheimer’s. It is been a source of horrible heartbreak. I am so sorry that you’ve lost a dearly loved one

            • I’m sorry, Cat. It’s horrible to see someone you love descend slowly into poor health, and into a different person. Hugs.

              • Tempest, Susannah
                Thank you. I had no idea what a nightmare this disease is. Hugs to you for giving me hugs and empathy. It has been a long journey as the AD and OW manifested at the same approximate time, and my mother has always been my best friend and greatest support system. I am grateful to have experienced such grace.

            • Me too Cat. I’m so sorry.

              Sending a warm hug and positive vibes to Mr. & Mrs. Chumplady & Family too. I’m sorry for your loss.

            • My heart goes out to you. I lost my mother in between D-day and my divorce (2 months total). She was always my voice of reason when I needed it most. They are and always will our #1 fans.

              • MissBailey – I am so sorry for your loss and pain. My mother was my greatest comfort as I’m sure yours was. My heart goes out to you too. The world is a colder place without our mothers. Hugs

              • My father was dying of bone cancer when my marriage blew up. He was such a positive man, always saying ‘things will work out, you will be ok’. Even when in palliative care he thought his health would turn around and improve!

              • Hugs to you too!!. I had no idea how much it devastates a family. I miss her already and she is still here (in the late stages).

              • So sorry for your loss.
                I have been losing my Father to the disease over the last 15 years.
                It’s so hard to watch a loved one slowly disappear like that.

              • @Lucky I’m so sorry that you too are also dealing with this awful disease. My mother was the center of our family and blessed our life in innumerable ways. It breaks my heart that she doesn’t even know it’s a holiday, when she loved them so much. She is now approaching the inability to speak and immobility. I miss her so much. My heart is with you and your dad. ((Hugs))

          • “I feel like sometimes they are punishing us for their heart break”

            What amazing insight Cat!!! That is certainly something to think about and figure out how to mirror understanding.

            It is a very good reminder to realize they need help understanding their emotions and how to express them. If they are like mine, who have a narc father who only has 2 emotions angry and not angry, no wonder it is difficult.

            I think it is always OK to say I understand you are hurting and that this is not the situation I would have chosen but we can’t take our anger out on each other. Instead we need to practice thinking about the other person’s feeling and trying to work together.

            • FeelingIt,
              I guess they take it out on the ones they feel safest with. In my son’s case, he unfortunately has learned his ways from his father, and/or shares genetics ( I suspect a combination of both). Son was compartmentalizing and denying his feelings then projecting his hurt and frustration onto me (yes many years of therapy now). BUT my son was also old enough to begin to learn to deal with his emotions. I sometimes think that there were blessings that emerged from all of the pain and hurt. A lot of growth and resiliency in him AND me. But it sure wasn’t pretty, and it was very hard to realize that I had a line to draw with my son too. Especially when I was at my all time low (and sucked at it). I had to hold on to my boundary with love. But hold on I did. My son had his own trauma and conflicting emotions from witnessing D-day, and from experiencing the hurt of almost complete parental abandonment. A very hard lesson to process and work through. It was also an eye opener for me to realize that he had horrible coping skills which opened up the opportunity to help him in the future.

          • Yes, they do punish us for their heartbreak at times. Part of the fantasy for them is ‘if mom was more forgiving, or more fun, dad would have stayed’.

            • Mitz, I am so sorry you lost your father at such a turning point in your life. To lose a critical part of your foundational support must have been beyond painful. It is a testament to them that you are so resilient. As to the kids projection, you are right. It makes it simpler and cleaner. Easier to grasp. What naivety! And how painful it is to hear these things when you are buying into the whole blame as it is (or at least I was because I always assume more than my share of responsibility). Hugs to you for your loss. And thanks ???? to so many here that care and empathize with the added anguish of losing the greatest part of your support system at your lowest point. Knowing that others understand on a primal level what you are going through sheds some light on your darkness.

      • I totally agree with putting some of the responsibility for bad behavior on the teen. they are old enough for honesty. I told my teens that although I would never interfere or discourage a relationship with their father, the OW was a different story. A woman who goes after a married man and destroys a family is a dirtbag. And while their father is also a dirtbag for his part in it, I have to look the other way on his part. I then said that if you want to have a relationship with a woman who hurt your mother to the point of suicide and destroyed her life that is your choice…but just remember every time you are anything more than polite to the OW then you are causing me much pain. I finished by saying thee will be no discussion whatsoever about the time spent with OW and dad, and to do so would be blatantly cruel to me. they know exactly where I stand, and they also know they are hurting their mother. No spackling or tap dancing on this subject.

    • Killed me to see my stepdaughter “friended” by the OW on FB. She held me hand during our breakup. She supported me during my transition from “engaged” to “single.

  • CL,

    Condolences to you and Mr. CL. I hope you are with other family in this time of grief and can draw strength from and give strength to them.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.

    • I echo aeronaut’s sentiments about drawing strength from and giving strength to the whole family. My deepest condolences.

    • Love to the CL family. Losing a parent hits the deepest part of you. We hold you in our hearts. ????

    • I’m sorry to read about your FIL.

      Mr. CL and you and your family are in my prayers.

  • Grey Rock – as described here – is up there with No Contact as far as I’m concerned. THE two simplest, fastest Cheater / Narc / Freaked Out Family Detox methods known to suffering humanity.

    No amount of doing the 180, or wearing saran wrap in the bedroom, or using The Rules, or praying away the gay, or endless long recriminations for ‘closure’, or indeed ANYTHING else the RIC can throw at you, works like these things work.

    They do what they say on the packet. And they will save your sanity and your life. And you can use them at home and in the workplace and at church and in many, many more situations.

    Ask me how I know. (On second thoughts, don’t ask me how I knoew, because I have stuff I am meant to be concentrating on in my fabulous new life which takes priority over rehashing irrelevant Cheater stories.)

    PS My sincere condolences to Mr CL, and prayers for his father. A very difficult time.

    • Applying “The Rules” by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider to yourself, in the worthy project of fixing your picker and gaining a life, is actually very handy advice for people who want to be able do No Contact and Grey Rock. The Rules are about high standards for monogamy, and breaking up with anyone whose actions show they do not value you.

      • I second this.

        Often we are told in dating not to have such “high standards”. Why do people tell us this? Why do people give us the advice to settle for less than we deserve?

        I fell for this bs. If I had listened to my own inner voice I would have called of my engagement. Which I cannot regret much now since I have a beautiful child. But sometimes I wonder if I had set my standards higher, would I have a beautiful child and a beautiful relationship?

        • One of the Dickhead’s favorite sayings was ‘lower your standards, increase your odds’. Yep, he was a winner. And I never have to hear those words ever again.

    • Thank u posting this link, LG!
      My divorce should be final tomorrow. Difficult going NC with kids.

      • Good new “Almost”. Although I was really happy to divorce it was still a weird feeling so finally be free of the Fuckwit. Go out and celebrate – or just go home and have a glass of wine (cheers!)

    • It was too early when I sent this. Condolences to you, Mr. CL and all of the family. (((Hugs)))

  • You and Mr. CL (and family) have my sincerest condolences. You give us all SO MUCH LIFE, so much hope, so much strength. My hope is that today we can give half of that to you and your family.

    • ^
      This, exactly.

      So sorry for your loss. It hurts like a MF.

      I’ve lost both of my parents.

      Sending lots of love to you at this time.

      • My sympathies to Mr. CL and all family for the loss of the family patriarch. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs.

  • Teenagers aren’t known for compassion, or empathy. From my experience anything you say to defend yourself no matter how much truth there is to what you’re saying will be taken out of context and twisted into being your fault. All you attempts to clarify the truth will be used against you.
    The safe response “cool, bummer, wow” keeps the conversation neutral and any attempts to bait you will be met with disappointment. As an added bonus stories of what you said, don’t get back to cheater and AP for their entertainment. Cool, bummer, wow.., is a safe bet.

    • That sounds like what I got trying to talk to ex in those first few weeks after DDay. Hmmm.

    • Many (most?) cheaters instigate a fair amount of emotional abuse within the family, even independent of their cheating. There’s now burgeoning research on teenagers who themselves become emotionally abusive, especially after divorce. And guess who they target with their abuse? The sane parent, who is often functioning as largely-a-single-parent.

      My DD#2 was 13 at the time of the divorce, and even her 2 counselors admitted she was verbally & emotionally abusive to me. It was almost as if she had to take on the persona of her absent father, perhaps to keep the sense of stability–her family was broken, but the family dynamic could remain?

      What I finally ended up telling her was that she didn’t have to like or love me, but she had to respect me. My job description as a parent was to feed & clothe her, keep her safe, allow her educational opportunities, and impart as much morality as I could. Her liking me? Not in the job description.

      Teenagers don’t typically have the skills to navigate their pain after a cataclysmic life change. Sometimes we have to let them flail around, while we serve as their safety net, but also set the walls/boundaries for what kinds of coping are permissible.

  • So sorry to hear this sad news CL, sending my sincere condolences to Mr. CL and family at this sad time.

    Take care…,

  • Hello Tracy,
    This prayer warrior is sending love your way and hoping for peace, mental rest, and solace for all of you during this time.

    All Blessings to your family, ????????


  • Oh, Mr. CL, I’m so sorry! That’s a big loss. I lost my mom a little over a year ago, and I miss her very much. She really is with me, though, every day, as I find her looking back at me through the bathroom mirror (eery!) or I hear her in my expressions and voice. She is in my conscience.
    I hope if you dad was a good dad (I don’t assume, and I know that even good relationships are messy at times) that you will notice the same. Everything your dad taught you is with you. Every time your dad made you feel safe and stronger, you get to keep that in your spine. Somebody taught you to be a stand up guy–was it your dad? (And mom?) We would love to read about him.

    Hang in there.

  • Best vibes and much love to Mr. CL and yourself Tracey, and to all the family. Your Chump Nation has your and his backs here too.

    All the love <3

  • CL is exactly right about enforcement of boundaries! You have the right to what you will accept and do not apologize for it. You need to immediately get this girl in line. At 16 it is almost too late. I was appalled when I read she rolled her eyes at you and said whatever! Your life is disrupted and heart broken and she talk to you like that! I agree with CL in that you don’t confide in that way. I hope you have a support system like family and good friends to talk to. You must immediately demand she respect you and do not continue to accept her treating you badly! She won’t talk to you and she has the nerve to be angry with you! You be angry with her! Don’t you dare talk to me like that! I don’t have a clue as to what went on in the marriage but refer to something going on for maybe 5 years or so. I assume your husband treated you badly. Maybe as CL says you ate the shit sandwiches to try to make him happy or keep the peace and your kids saw this. You are no longer anyone door mat! As CL is right. You cannot compare 16 year old boyfriend situation. At that age not even close to nearly 20 year marriage. You must get your boundaries in line in both of these aspects and must demand she act right or there are consequences. Don’t back down.

  • I’m sorry for your loss Paul and Tracy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • My sincere condolences on you and Mr. CL’s loss.

    As I get older, I have found myself turning grief of loved ones into gratitude of the positive impacts they made on my life.

  • Oh hey, thanks for all the kind messages! I didn’t mean to hijack my own column. My FIL had a good, long life. If anyone’s curious, here’s his obit. (cleverly, lovingly written by my SIL). Much emphasis on the Chicago Cubs.

    As for cool, bummer, wow — I rerun this one because cool-bummer-wow is useful so much in life, and not just with teens. I generally suck at detaching, it’s nice to have a vocabulary for it.

    • So sorry for your loss, my FIL was one of my favorite people in this world. He passed 2 yrs ago.
      COOL…BUMMER….WOW…. is new to me, thanks, Im putting it into action. Thank you for caring about a dumped wife.

    • What an accomplished man! I would love to have heard his thoughts on the demotion of Pluto, and the carpet staining is the best. Mr. CL, I’m so sorry you had to say good-bye.

    • So sorry for Mr. CL’s loss and the rest of your family as well. He sounded like an amazing man from the obit.

  • Hugs to both of you. Goodbyes suck regardless of the closeness of the relationship. If tight, ouch… for everything you will miss about that beloved person. If complicated, ouch for the knowledge that the possibility of resolving that relationship is no longer possible. Either way, ouch! Take good care of yourselves.

    As for teens, there is going to be lots of manipulation and gaslighting coming from the ex and ow. The teen has seen it her whole life and the only way for you to win is not to play, so to speak. That why cool, bummer, wow and “I am the Mom” works. Not engaging shuts that shit right down. Tracy is absolutely right about this. Hugs to you, and know that your daughter does love you, she is just being a teen.

  • “This feels hopeless. I feel so damn defeated. I didn’t want any of this!” My sentiments exactly. I think that we all find it very difficult to see our children (at any age) keep up their relationship with the adulterer and then with the other woman. You want to understand why the fact that their father cheated (five years) on their mother, stole and lied to them and their mother is acceptable. I do not see this as just a teen problem. Maybe the older children have a more difficult time realizing that their father is not who they thought he was. One of the most difficult things for me is when they minimize what has happened to me… saying things like “get over it”, “50% of marriages end in divorce”, “stop playing victim”, “this doesn’t involve us”, etc.

    My only hope is that with time, comes wisdom.

    Condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Chump Lady.

    • 100% this. My kids are 29 and 26 and I have to eat the shit sandwich with my daughter although she indicates she knows what her dad is like. She still hangs out with him and schmoopie. Neither child wants to hear any negative stuff about their dad from me. I spend a lot of time buying my tongue until it almost bleeds. But I love her too much to hurt her so I internalize it and shed my tears of frustration in private. It’s hard to get to meh when it is your kids no matter what age they are..

      • NewLady, my situation exactly as well, right down to the ages. I will never understand how the adultery, lying, abandonment, and OW (now wife) were so easily accepted as ok. Never. But being sane and quiet and crying by myself in the car is the price I will pay to maintain a relationship with my 30 year old daughter.

        My son’s easier, he witnessed the devalue and abandoment firsthand and has written his father off as someone who he never wants interaction with again.

        CL and Mr. CL, my sincere condolences on the loss of your beloved father. Long life or no, I’m sure you’ll miss him for the rest of yours.

        • I read somewhere that our children are half us, and half our ex. So if we ‘hate’ their other parent, they feel that we hate half of them. It is all very complicated.

          My mother can be a real battleax. But I can’t stand people criticizing her.

    • Not my Fault, I will say the same thing. Do not let your kids talk to you any kind of way! You must set boundries and demand the respect and teach them compassion and empathy. Correct them at time when they say those things! It is not acceptable. You also are teaching them no matter who it is you don’t say hurtful things when anyone is going through a hard time. Again I hope you have support system to confide in but you stop them from saying those things to you. I would not just hope they will get wisdom as you say. You teach them. You are not a doormat and they cannot talk to you any kind of way.

      • Thank you for your advice. Unfortunately, they witnessed me be abused for 36 years. Only now am I coming to realize the immense damage that their father has caused and yes, setting boundaries is now what I am working on. They are not used to my having expectations (which should be givens). It seems that “we” chumps are not a very demanding bunch!

        • Have to agree with GentleReader. Shut that nonsense down. NotMyFault, my DS was a little older when we split up, almost 4 years ago. He had taken on some personality traits of his Father, and the verbal abuse was ramped up… (to keep the dynamic the same?, interesting!). I saw that, and used the opportunity to lay down a firm boundary, that I had put up with that for much too long with STBX, and I would not tolerate it any more, from anyone. Line Drawn In The Sand. If it happened again, he was free to move out. I haven’t argued with anyone in almost 4 years, (except once with my Dad, who was being a terrible patient post-op), disproving the much-touted theory that I had anger issues…

        • NMF,
          It will get harder before it gets better. And the comments of get over it, etc are ones that we have all heard. I think people don’t really understand until they are on the shit sandwhich side of the meal. Decide in advance what is fair to them and you, and when the time comes just state your boundary and hold to it. Everyone here understands and has your back. It is a blessing to have such support. And can be sanity saving. I truly have had to set firm loving boundaries and then hold to them. They can learn to at least have respect for your feelings, if not empathy.

  • Mr. and Mrs.CL,

    Sending codolences to you email…..

    2) Today’s topic….100% no contact is sadly impossible if you have children, but you CAN do 100% no contact with pictures and information.
    I vote for stating the boundary with an honest explanation, backed up with actions that walk the talk. Don’t look at pictures, keep the conversations about what happens in first person and about the individuals actually participating in the conversation…”I” rather than “we” or “they” or “he” or “she”….this is all about not getting hit on the leg with a baseball bat until the broken leg heals.

  • Kimmy, I agree with Chump Lady about not sharing your vulnerabilities with teenagers, and that the kids need to figure things out on their own. My dad (now dead) was a serial cheater, and it’s been just in the LAST YEAR-AND-A-HALF that I realized just how DISTURBED my step mom is to do all that lying, sneaking, and cheating for YEARS, and thought nothing of blowing up MANY lives. I’m 45 and have just recently decided to be NO CONTACT with her and the narc-y offspring they created. I used to hurt my mom A LOT, but I’m understand my mom’s situation better now. Don’t know why it took me so long!

  • How horrible for you. The pictures with OW is hard to swallow. I told my kids to enjoy time with your father and always be polite to OW but I don’t want to know or see any of it. Lucky for me they get it. I did stumble upon a pic of my daughter with OW on Facebook and it stings. I blocked the name of OW and searched comments of OW friends and blocked all of them so now I don’t see the pictures.Its going to happen and it stinks. No reaction to your daughter is probably best. Suck it up once again and try not to dwell there. Changing the subject is best and eventually, the kid will get your not interested in those pictures. Let her figure it out on her own. They don’t understand it triggers emotion in you.

  • I have found sticking with the “cool, bummer, wow” and the like helps my own sanity. My kids are young, 8 & 5, and they really dont understand that it hurts me to hear about the “fun” weekend they spent with their father and the AP. They naturally want to tell me about it.

    I had to separate my feelings of being replaced from their feelings of having 2 households of people that love them. They have a whole new family dynamic at their dads now and i’m just trying to focus on the fact that they seem happy when they are with their father as well as when they are with me and thats all i can ask for.

    The rest is my own shit to work out. I don’t want them to feel like they have to hide a whole half of their life from me so i engage in the conversation at a superficial level and they move on once they’ve talked about whatever thing. If i dig into it then it becomes this long out conversation with me trying to figure out if they like her and dad more then me (which is stupid and pain shopping at its finest).

    Conversations now go like this:

    Daughter “mom, AP and i baked cookies this weekend and then played hide & seek”
    Me “wow, sounds fun”
    Daughter “yep, can we bake cookies here?
    Me “sure, another night”
    Then daughter skips away to whatever else she was doing.

    It’s better for your sanity, and lets you have separation without putting the responsibility of it on your kids.

    • You are better than me. I probably would have been pick me dancing for the kid “sure let’s bake cookies right now! We’ll make the best cookies ever”.

      • and honestly, part of me wants to. But i realize (and this was through lots of therapy) i don’t need to be her for the kids to love me. I just have to keep being me. My kids didnt betray or replace me, they still want their mother. So we do our own special things at moms house and they can have their own special things at dads.

        I’ve got enough emotional drama dealing with being replaced as a life partner i can’t let myself sink into the thought process of being replaced as a mom.

        Also helps that i have a STBX that is an extremely good co-parent and enforces boundaries with the kids and expectations that i am mom and things go through him and me and not him and AP. I realize thats not the norm, especially with a cheater who is still with AP.

        • I envy that your stbx co-parents!! My ex will not parent with me, only with the OW. Mom is a four letter word in their home. She rolls her eyes at any mention of me. If I bring up a topic to ex he often says he will discuss it with OW.

          Because of these dynamics I am finding it very difficult to feel like I am not being replaced. Every detail I find out about the happy new family is another stab in the heart.

        • You will always be their mother. So true…… let them enjoy both households. It’s what is best for their emotional adjustment to a horrible situation. You are a wonderful mom.

  • My condolences to Mr. CL and you and family, Tracy. I lost my dad in my mid 20s and I still feel his love in my mid 40s now. It’s hard.

    I bring my dad up in my conversations with my 10 yo DS as a true man with strong principles and family values as opposed to his cheater and abandoner dad who thinks playing Disney twice a year is enough to compensate his absence.

    Kimmy, I believe I had come across your recent posts where you say you have been thriving with your daughters. Would love to hear your update and how you’ve nanaged those teenage years

  • This sums it up right here:

    “She’s grown up watching you eat shit sandwiches. Why won’t you eat this one too?”

    The thing I have to still remind myself now is that change happened to my kid too in all this shitstorm. And, I have to separate how I see it and my behavior from how he sees it through his eyes/age of experience.

    My son was 9 when we were abandoned for the OW. He was 11 when the OW caught Mr. Sparkles cheating and kicked him to the curb. He is 13 and watching his Dad buy a house with a new woman he started dating/living with literally minutes after the OW dumped him. (And he knows Dad is still a cheater and is not faithful to this woman either). I cannot even imagine what that is like for him. Most likely, he tries to ignore it and just focus on enjoying having some attention from his Dad (and probably some freedom from me… lol). He compartmentalizes for 48 hours every two weeks.

    And, he can’t understand what it is like for me. We are on different journeys with the same fuckwit.

    He did not grow up seeing me model the best relationship boundaries with his Dad for the first 9 years. My first D-day was when he was 18 months old. The fourth and final D-day when he was 9yo. That’s a shit load of time to see me behave in a way that I decided to change AFTER the abandonment and subsequent divorce.

    I think sometimes we want so badly to have our pain validated, especially by our kids (YES – DAD IS A FUCKWIT)… that we forget, they are just kids… and this is a confusing time for them too.

    So yes… you can start to model new behaviors and set new boundaries… but you will need to give your child time to adjust, and most likely they will respond emotionally before rationally… they’re kids. Just be patient and consistent… you’re both learning a new way of living. Think of it as investing in HER future… if she sees you setting boundaries and getting healthy, she’ll associate that as a positive for herself someday.

    (And, Mr. CL and CL… so sorry for your loss. Glad to hear he led a full life!)

  • My condolences to you and Mr. CL on your loss. May you cherish the memories.

  • Thanks to Chump Nation for your thoughtful condolences. Your kindness is comforting and much appreciated. My father only made one marriage, and it was a good one that lasted 60 years, but I think he would identify with CN as he raised his children to: deal only in truth, never stop learning (even facts that are inconvenient and turn the world upside down), and always, ALWAYS root for the underdog.

    Not intending to threadjack, but a little bit more about my dad here:

    • What wonderful tribute to a man who led an extraordinary life. I’ll be thinking of him when we put up our Christmas tree this year 🙂

    • What a loving tribute to your father, Mr. CL. My deepest condolences to you and your lovely family.

      • I can’t claim credit for the wonderful obit, as it was written by my baby sister, who happens to be a professional author.????

    • What a beautiful life, written up beautifully as well. An inspirational reminder to reach for a life well-lived. My thoughts are with you all.

    • Condolences; the longer we have them, the more we miss them. What an amazing life your father led! If we could only do 1/4 of what he did and saw it would be a full life! He sounds like a super person who touched many, many lives.

  • I grew up with an abusive, cheating father. My mom was able to work up the courage to leave him for good when I was 11 years old. Throughout my teens, my father basically treated me like an after-thought. Many weekends spent with him consisted of late nights of people coming over to party with him and all the bedrooms being used up, so that I would wonder if I would end up with a bed to sleep in and stay up late watching movies on the couch with my younger brother until a bedroom freed up.

    Despite the tremendous dysfunction, I still just wanted to spend time with my dad. Despite the fact that I often had no respect for him, and sometimes even hated him, I really just wanted him to just see me. So I often settled. Settled for any time I got with him, even if the circumstances weren’t good.

    When my father scored himself a girlfriend who was only three years older than me (I was 15 and she was 18, no kidding here), I acted like I was fine with it. I was actually horrified. Wondered that if my father was attracted to teenagers, then how does he look at my friends (eewww), and I thought this girl had lost her mind to be attracted to my father. Yet, I vacationed with them and got along with this girl. Treated her life a friend. Took pictures of our good times together. Yet, none of it was natural or normal at all. But what could I do? That was the only way I could see my father.

    Within a year or so, I dropped my father. Went completely no contact him for the sake of my sanity. I was shy of 17 years old, and there was no force on earth that could make me go see him. I ignored his phone calls. He eventually moved away and stopped trying to reach out to me (not that he had tried that often).

    The 18 year old went on to give birth to my younger half-sister. My father’s abuse extended to her, and she eventually took off with her young daughter to escape my father. My father has not seen his daughter since she was two years old and she is now 28. Six years ago, I found her and her mother on-line and made contact. We all got together to talk about those unnatural, tumultuous few years. I have maintained a relationship with my half-sister ever since; I am the only one who does (she’s a beautiful person who thinks that I am a beautiful person – that is because we are).

    Kimmy – Your daughter only cares about maintaining any kind of relationship that she can salvage with her father. I think we can all understand that. Unfortunately, the only option her father is providing is a package deal with the OW, so she settles and she takes it.

    She will not admit at this time that she hates the OW or that she lacks respects for what he’s done. To call her out on this will be perceived as a personal attack on her choices. She does not see this as choosing the OW, she sees this as a girl who is choosing her father. She just wants her dad. Your daughter is experiencing her own cognitive dissonance, and that must be so hard for her. On the one hand, she knows that there is all kinds of wrong with her father’s situation, and on the other hand, she just wants to be with her dad is any way. So, to reconcile this in her mind, she has to normalize this relationship with the OW; make the best of it, in other words. To question her on this is to make her feel judged for a difficult decision that she has made.

    Honour her time with her father with the amazing boundary you just set in limiting information. Cool, bummer, wow this for all long as it takes.

    It is likely that your daughter will eventually tire of always having to share her dad and will begin to turn away from him. So sad, really. In order to hang on to her, they will have to step up their game in providing her a good time (basically bribing her love). She might milk it for a while, but her own life will get busy with friends, part-time job, college, and they’re going to get placed lower on her priority list.

    Love her and the time you have together. As her life gets busier, she’ll likely choose time with you over her fuckwit father and immoral adultress. She’ll be more likely to turn to you, knowing that you set your boundary and then just loved her for all she is after that. She will choose you because you represent stability, grace, and strength. As she matures, she’ll recognize those qualities as being high value. You will be the one at her side planning her wedding. You’ll be amongst the first to hold those grandbabies. You’ll get the panicked calls for life advice because you have demonstrated that you know how to live a true life.

    Keep working on your own issues. Possible get some good family counselling to bring you and your daughters together in strength. Form a team – girl power!

  • Oh, Tracy, I’m so sorry to hear of your father-in-law’s passing. Prayers for your family and Mr. CL. ❤️

  • Nomar (AKA Mr. CL): So very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. And your are truly a tribute to his integrity and honor. We are so very grateful that you support “Chump Lady” (as well as the glorious human who created it). Your compassion for the suffering of other is no doubt rooted in your dad’s values. May he find grace and peace on this next part of his journey and may you find comfort in your memories and his legacy.

    • I didn’t know Nomar was Mr. CL. My gosh, he is hilarious and I love reading his responses. I’ve been following him for years and always get a large charge out of his amusing comments and perspective.

    • I had a feeling Nomar and Mr. CL were one in the same.
      Mr. & Mrs. CL make such a wonderful pair!

  • This is easy with my sons. I know they are frequently with OW but they don’t ever talk about it and neither do I. When they are with me it’s like she doesn’t exist and that works well for all of us.

    With my daughter it was different and not because she loved spending time with OW and telling me all about it. She has a number of anxiety and depression issues that have nothing to do with her parents divorcing (although that didn’t help) and I was always to go to person when she needed someone to talk to about her deepest anxieties, hurts and confusions. As such, when she was trying to sort out her own feelings in regards to her Dad, his infidelity and OW her natural instinct was to come to me wanting to talk about it. I told her that she couldn’t talk to me about those things because I am not a neutral third party and I could not help her sort through her feelings in an impartial way. I told her she needed to talk to someone else, either her friends or, even better, her therapist (you know, the professional). This was hard for her because she really wasn’t comfortable talking about deeply personal things with anyone else. I tried to set boundaries, but sometimes she couldn’t help herself and tried to talk to me about it, I would let my boundaries slip and end up saying bad things about her Dad and/or Schmoopie and then apologizing to her and trying to make it clear that if she chose to have a relationship with OW that was her choice and I wouldn’t take it as a personal betrayal on her part (even though truthfully I would have but I didn’t want her to know it). After a few incidents of this nature she finally figured out that I had good reason to set a “don’t talk to me about OW” boundary and she found other ways to work through her emotions in that regard. She still loves her Dad although she is disappointed in him. She doesn’t like OW but accepts that she has no control over who her dad chooses to have in his life and she will have to accept OW, at least on the surface, in order to have a relationship with him. I think that is the best outcome for her. She generally doesn’t talk to me about OW anymore which is also good.

  • someone on here once said “sometimes teenagers just aren’t nice”. That is reality. They also don’t like to encounter feelings of embarrassment or smothering. Whether they are real or imagined. Most don’t want to be in the middle of their parents “drama”. Their brains can’t handle it. They may come off as uncaring or even cruel. But many are in a state of development where they tend to be self-centered. Keep in mind they don’t have the life experience needed to truly feel what you feel as a chump.

    that being said- it’s ok to set a boundary. You established your line, hopefully your teen will honor it.

  • Luckily, I don’t have minor children; my triplet sons are turning 35 next week, so Praise the Lord, their brains have finished growing and 98% of the time, they seem to make smart, well-considered and effective decisions about their jobs, their money, their marriages, their homes, and their lives in general.

    They now know what their father did to me for 40 years (i.e. lie, serial cheat, gaslight, love bomb, emotionally abuse), and just like they have 3 distinctive personalities and chose 3 divergent career paths, I must respect that they have 3 different perspectives about their father discarding and divorcing me for Married Howorker/AP #14 (I don’t know how there could actually be more than 1 opinion about what he did, but oh well, each to his own).

    I went Zero Contact almost 5 years ago, and that’s the way I expect the “relationship” between me and my XH to go for the rest of my life. I’ve been extremely clear with my sons that I don’t want or need to know a single thing about their father, his new wife, or their life together; they can keep it all that juicy news to themselves, and none of it should be discussed with me (the only exception would be to tell me when he’s dead as this will impact my retirement income). A few years ago, during a holiday visit, one of my sons — the peacemaker in the family who doesn’t understand the healing properties of Zero Contact and thinks “we should all just get along“ — started to launch into a narrative about his dad… he’s a sweet and caring guy and I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt me; he probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal, or he might’ve been testing my boundary to see if my feelings had changed. Regardless, I immediately shut that shit down and it’s never happened again.

    Conversely, I’ve made it clear to my boys that they’re not to talk about me with their father. XH wanted out? OK, now he’s out! When he walked out the door, he lost the right to know anything about me or any aspect of my life. In reality, I realize the boys might be sharing, but I can’t control what they do; hopefully, they care enough about me to respect my wishes. My position is crystal clear and their consciences will have to be the guide as to how they behave.

    P.S. Sending condolences to Tracy and Mr. CL during this difficult time.

  • I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your father-in-law. A perhaps trite saying that helps me through difficult times is,”Grief is the price we pay for love.” Not sure where I ran across it, maybe here.

    If we love deeply, we grieve deeply. Those who are incapable of love do not grieve because they do not experience normal human emotions. For the rest of us, it is a way for our love to come to terms with our loss. As weird as it sounds, the more I accepted my grief, the stronger I became.

    I know you will be there to support Mr. CL – that is one of the benefits of real love. In time, grief losses its sharp edges, but the memories remain. As does the legacy of love.

  • My deepest condolences to you and Mr. CL on the loss of his Father. Sending prayers for strength and comfort.

  • I followed this CL advice without even realizing-pat on my back and thank you CL. Boundary. Consequence. Enforcement. When I found out the cheater man had made me his AP without my knowledge or consent I ended it.*THE BOUNDARY-I WILL NOT BE PART OF THIS* He contacted me. I told him to leave me alone. He contacted me again and I told him if he contacts me again I will inform the woman who I had learned supported him and his two sons that he had been cheating on her and with proof and with all the info about who I am. *THE CONSEQUENCE, IF, CHEATERMAN* But he contacted me again. I wrote her a letter sent with many of his emails, my name, my contact info if she wanted more info, advised her of her health issues he had created for her and sent it registered, certified, signed receipt, which of course bore my address. *ENFORCEMENT * (why do these cheaters think their AP’s will keep their secret? Answer: because cheaters are simply stupid people)

  • It sucks and it is hard and I don’t care what anyone says…you’re always the bad guy.

    I have two daughters. The oldest is the biggest pain. She just posted a beautiful birthday wish on FB with many photos from numerous occasions about OW. Who she adores and loves. Did not post anything on my birthday.

    I wasn’t going to say a word about it because I would be the one who would come across as jealous and petty. Well, I ended up saying something. I wish I didn’t. Can’t win either way!

    So now, I suck it up, say nothing but “how nice”, “that’s amazing” or “that sucks”. One day, maybe, she will realize what a pain she was.

    • If I had it to do over again I would never get married or have children. I can honestly say that is was all a waste of my time, resources and energy. My own dad ended up in a nursing care facility the last five years of his life. I’d go every Sunday to see him. There must have been over 100 old people living there and I never once saw anyone else’s family show up to visit them. If people have kids because they think that someday in their old age, they will be taken care of….good luck with that one. My daughter who is a narc like her dad will dump me off so fast if I become a problem my head will spin. I used to joke with friends and other family members to be sure and not let her take care of me in my old age because she’ll never let me off of my chain and water dish will have green algae floating in it at all times. Lol. But really.

      • This is heartbreaking and so honest. I’m so sorry. It seems like you handle it with humor, which is great, but still…ugh.

  • I am a firm believer in the sentiment that no matter the situation or age of the child, the child understands on a very basic level that they are half mom and half Dad. The majority of children love both their parents, and want to be able to without feeling guilty. Though I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting up boundaries, it is difficult for a child to edit half of their life without information sometimes slipping out. My parents divorced when I was 12, and they hated each other. Neither made an effort to make our relationship with the other parent easy or a priority. When you are in pain, it is difficult to remember that the parent who wanted the divorce wanted to divorce their spouse, not the children. When my younger sister turned 18, my dad handed HER the last child support check and told her to tell my mom that she would not ever be getting one more dime from him, and that he was looking forward to one day dancing on her grave. An extreme example certainly, but no less awful. While few of us will ever go on to have cordial relationships with the ex and AP, your children will forever remember all those words you uttered, even decades later. Choose them carefully. The goal is one day to be able to look at them both and think little more than meh. We want our children to move forward and through this, and to continue to have loving relationships with both parents. We certainly do not want them dragging all kinds of emotional collateral damage into their adult lives.

  • OMG! I just saw this re-run of my original letter to CL and the memory stings but thankfully I am way past this now! AND…………….my daughter is now 20 and now she has a full clearer picture of what had transpired between her father and I. She no longer spends very much time with her father and the OW/new wife. My daughter doesn’t like OW/new step-mom very much. With age comes wisdom! She realizes the pain she caused me in the beginning as we have talked in length about it. She blamed me for the breakup of the marriage as well but she didn’t really understand her father’s cheating at the time.

    Set your boundaries people, don’t apologize for your feelings and know that with age comes wisdom.

    Thanks for running this again CL. It helps to see how far I have come!!!

    • Congrats..amazing how time really does help. CL answered my letter 4 years ago, I was a complete mess but so much better now. I still occasionally reread the original and the comments just to see how much I’ve grown from all that. My daughter is 21, 17 at the time. Her mother cheated and split after 24 years, very difficult but with NC and chump nation I was able to get through. Happy holidays

    • Hi Kimmy,
      Thank you for the update. I wrote a lengthy response up above, as if in real time, of what I thought would likely happen for your daughter. I am pleasantly surprised that it’s essentially what seems to have happened. Not that I feel myself to be some kind of oracle, but because I hope that what I predict will happen in my own situation might also come from a source of wisdom within me that knows the truth of matters.

      So happy that you have your relationship restored with your daughter and that she sees things more clearly as they really are.

    • Kimmy, you are beautiful! I am so glad you posted this update! I wish more would. I am very happy things got better with your daughter. That is great news. You look wonderful. So glad to hear.

      • Thank you so much! My family (me and my two daughters) are doing so much better five years away from the mess. Any new chumps out there………your life gets better with time!

    • I’ve been scrolling through the comments hoping for an update from you!!!
      Good to hear all’s well with you and your family!!!
      Time really is a chump’s best friend!
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Condolences to Mr CL and family. Sorry for your loss, very hard especially this time of year. Take care.

  • Maybe I’m on the old school side and others may disagree with me, but I’m the parent, the legal adult and I call the shots in my life and in my home. If I tell my own minor child no, it means no. I don’t have to explain it or convince them that I’m justified. I don’t accept disrespect or verbal abuse from someone I gestated and gave birth to, either. Especially when it involves something as painful as what’s being described from this author.

    It really is okay to be a parent and not allow a high school fresh-mouth to run the show. I just don’t agree with this new thing where parents need permission to give rules to their own children.

    Honestly, though, it kinda sounds like they’re putting on a nice production for this child that’s fun and hopefully so much better than what’s at home with mom by comparison. That way, she gets to go have a great time with them and then has to go home to her hurt mother and get tired of the gloom at home. Total manipulation on their part to make the kids like them better.

    • Anybody who says “Whatever !” to me is being dismissive and disrespectful. Time to restate the boundaries in that relationship and rethink it. Sometimes one has to detach with love. It’s different in the case of children because one can only do so much detaching. Toddlers and teenagers can be quite monstrous at times, can’t they ? As Dr. George Simon said during his presentation I attended a while back “We are all born little sociopaths and it’s the parents’ job to socialize us and instill good character”. No sassing or being a fresh-mouth.

  • Prayers for peace of heart and mind to you, Mr Chumplady, and all of your family. This is how goodness gets passed on, from him to you, to our dear CL, and then out into the world! May your Dad rest in peace, and be an angel on your shoulder.

  • Condolences CL, I’m glad your FIL had a long and fun life! I hope we’re all so lucky.

    The daughters sass aside, I think the act of her wanting to share her day with her mom is a positive sign. Wanting to check in, and yes probably wanting some kind of sign from mom that it’s ok to have fun with her dad and his girlfriend. Daughter’s in a terrible position, she had no say in all this, so if she’s able to find a modicum of joy (as in a day out with her dad et al), good for her. And while moms response was a decent attempt at sensitivity and restraint, the message sent was “your good time brings me pain” and other non approval messages.

    I would have reacted similarly as the daughter at her age. Which is why Traci’s advise is perfect. Our pain is not their burden.

    Yes, more shit savdwhiches. So be it

  • My XH is behaving like such an arsehole at the moment that it is hard for me to remember that my kids still love him, and that I need to take a deep breath and stick to the facts without additional comments, eyerolls or pleas to heaven.I wish a sinkhole would open up and swallow him- but I don’t tell them that. They occasionally tell me stuff about their time at their dads, and I try to stick to asking if they enjoyed whatever it was. He will inevitably disappoint them, they may as well have some fun now. His new fiancee doesn’t like them and doesn’t want them, and they don’t like her- so I don’t have to contend with happy stories about her.
    When my mother died I felt as if some of my moorings had been untied . Best wishes to both of you as you navigate new waters.

  • dear CL ~ so sorry for your family’s loss. sending lots of light and strength. we lost our beloved mama just less than 2 months ago, and I know the sadness very well.
    love and light to Mr CL! he was clearly raised well by his Papa.

  • Mr. CL, I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes life just stinks.

    Since this is a rerun, Kimmy, I hope things worked out

    My older 2 cents worth. Do NOT put up with snark. You are the adult and have the right to expect respect. It is your due. You daughter is all about getting power over you. Nip that shit in the bud. Since when have children taken over the world? Parents are so afraid that their children won’t love them, or will pick the other parent, that they give their parenting power away. You ever heard of grounding her? Taking away her devices will give a very clear message who is in charge. You have to share her with her father. You don’t have to share her time with him unless he is dangerous.

    I have a good relationship with my adult children but they will say that I was strict with them when they were young. Not mean, but strict. One of my kids asked me how I managed to be their friend and their parent and I told her I never considered myself a friend until they were grown. I was too responsible for their safety and well being to be a friend. I enjoyed the heck out of them, especially when they were teenagers. I just told them I was perfect and any mistakes I made were ok because perfect people could be that way. It kept them slightly off balance for years.

  • My sympathies to Mr CL on his loss. I pray that he has tonnes of beautiful memories to draw from. If nothing else his father had a hand in making the world a better place by raising a fine chump.

  • To the writer,
    I teach teens. Been teaching them for 14 years. They only think about themselves. Let that sink in. They only think about themselves. Everyone around them is a means to their end. Parents: cell phone, food, transportation, shelter, clothing. Friends: popularity and admiration.
    Try telling them no sometimes…epic.
    They are just like narcs! Some never grow out of it. Fingers crossed for your daughter..and my two.

  • Re-reading Grey Rock posts as I need help, when I find this particular gem from Dear Chump Lady, I can’t compete with their Fabulousness Oct 29, 2015:
    I know that is hard when you co-parent, but seriously, just imagine he’s Donald Trump. Silly man with his bad combover and his millions, saying stupid offensive things. Am I personally bothered by what Donald Trump does today? No. (If he becomes president of the United States, yes, I will be very bothered… but I don’t think it will come to that.)
    Also, thoughts and prayers to Mr. CL x

    • I never thought my ex would cheat either but life has a way of surprising us sometimes and those surprises aren’t always pleasant. Sigh.

  • My deepest sympathies in the loss of your beloved father and FIL. God’s speed.

  • Dear Chump Lady,

    Thank you for sharing your story and life with us. I am sure your father-in-law was a great father, as he raised a son who appreciates all that’s great about you.

    Sending love and light today and every day.


  • I would LOVE to see a column where we get the follow up stories. Even a whole page on CL’s blog called something like ‘The Great Vindication’ or ‘What Happened Next’ or something creative.

    I loved reading these comments from the original posters today, who had letters answered by CL. It’s living proof that time does pass, and things CAN get better.

    Heck, I’d even listen to how things got worse. I’m open minded.

    Are there many people who get back in touch? And what has happened to them? There’s a LOT of letters in the archives, so these folks must be out there somewhere.

  • Sorry to hear that Mr ChumpLady’s father has passed away.
    May all your family gather, share happy memories of him, and love.

  • My condolences to Mr CL and you all.

    FWIW you can all know that he passed away knowing that his son had found a good woman.

    …and a great article as ever — my oldest D is about to enter the tween era so “Cool Bummer Wow” will have to be imprinted into my mind for that period

    …and timely advice too — “Here is my boundary. Do Not Do The Upsetting Thing” rather than just trying to share the pain

  • So sorry to hear of your fil passing. You will both get through it leaning on and lifting up each other as good wholesome people tend to do. I will keep you guys in my prayers! Thank you for all that you do.

  • Dear CL,
    Sincere condolences to your husband and family. Sending love and light your way.

    Dear Kimmy,
    I feel you on every level. It’s been 3 years since I moved out after discovering an affair that had been going on for years. I had also stayed for the kids and attempted to not raise kids from a broken home or cause tensions between the kids. (I have three and a nephew I am raising.) In the end I left because while I was still married and living with my cheater, it was still a broken home. And I couldn’t let the kids see any of it was ok.
    So after leaving, there were the same issues you are having. My ex is now engaged to his schmoopie and has moved far away to be with her, abandoning his children, one who is still in HS. He rarley sees his kids anymore, but when he does, they tell me all about it. I struggle with wanting them to be able to tell me anything and not feel bad. And sometimes I think they sense that because sometimes, especially my oldest daughter, she makes jokes about the OW and jabs at her, to make me feel better. But other times she shares the fun stuff or shows me gifts she receives from her father and the OW. My son has gone in a vacation with his father to see the OW. It hurts. I have a hard time setting those boundaries so I am proud of you for setting them. As for the teenage drama? Yep I have lived through THAT too. My youngest daughter has done some things that are desperate cries for love and attention. And for me? Those things are more hurt to deal with because I’m not the parent who abandoned anyone. And I’m the parent who cleans up all the messes. And loves and supports all my kids. He doesn’t have to do anything. Truth be told? I wish they hated their father. I wish they didn’t want to see him. I wish they backed me up and showed him that lying and abusing and cheating got you nothing. But they are kids and they want and need heir father. And they are trying to move on and have accepted that no matter how they feel, their father has moved in and built a new life with the OW and if they want a relationship with him at all, this is the way it is. So I sit here and deal with it. And he smirks because he got away with it.
    Again, I’m proud of you for setting boundaries. And I hope your daughter stops behaving in ways that hurt you. You don’t deserve any of it. I do understand the long and difficult, sometimes impossible feeling, of trying to move on when it’s thrown in your face over and over again. Sending you love and support.

  • It took me months post-D-day to acclimate to grey rock (cool bummer wow), but I did.
    It amused me when he would ask, “What’s with the cold shoulder? Why the business-like tone with me?” I wouldn’t explain per session, but wouldnt defend myself either in time, he just got used to it.
    There are occasions when The Evil One still seeks kibbles, like earlier today. He and I were talking about when he would pick up DD for this weekend, and he texted that his 103-year-old grandmother isn’t doing well.
    Three or four responses flew into my mind, but I did none of them. Instead I ignored it and answered simply “yes” to his follow-up question.
    Even at DD exchanges, he still needs to be a chump’s best friend and apparently he has to say things to inspire me to show care or concern towards him, which I stay in grey rock mode.
    Now, it’s just second nature.
    DD is autistic, so I don’t have to deal with the comments or issues related to this post. I do find it amusing how they try to get her to tell The Evil One and Mrs. Dumbass, “I love you!” as she is leaving them, or respond to the affection they try to give her and she wiggles out from their clutches. It’s still comical even now. She knows they suck, and I do too.

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