If you have 50/50 custody are you allowed to have the children counselling? Schools also have them, you can request for them to talk to children (behavior at school) could be a start. But I would certainly take them on my own for their mental well being (now and future). If something comes up or they recommend joint counselling with the mother, this would help everyone. It seems some parents can’t see how the children are affected when not all is well with their lives or their actions.
Do not assume an abusive spouse will not hurt the children. If you think this is going on, this is an unsafe environment for your children, and I would file for sole custody with supervised visitation, until she is no longer living with the abuser. It is in the best interest of the children. Provide her with info on SAFE houses or other domestic violence shelters.
You are right, kids are very impressionable, and I think part of my kids behavior problems come from the way they see my soon-to-be-ex treating me. Good luck.
Sounds like a very tough position you are in. You don’t want to jump the gun and get something started with a CPS investigation unless the children are truly in danger, but then again you don’t want to sit around and wait and see what happens.
I would ask the children tactfully about a few things, such as whether or not either the mom or boyfriend get into screaming matches that make the children feel afraid… or if one of them drinks heavily and then gets into arguments… and it may be good to ask them directly if they have seen or heard anything violent.
If you aren’t asking leading questions designed to get a specific response and you feel that the children have revealed things that indicate the potential for abuse, then you must do something.
Asking the boys questions could prove to be tricky after some previous incidents. They have both told us separately that their mother and her boyfriend fight and argue all the time and I know that they both grew up in abusive homes. I suppose the next step would be to to clarify their definition of fighting…
I understand the need for caution and discretion in this. I do not want to cause unecessary hurt for anyone with the possible exception of him if he is in fact abusing her. I seem to see more “signs” everytime I look at the situation overall but then I think that maybe I’m overanalyzing the situation…
I wonder if a school counselor would be allowed to talk to a parent about discussions they have with the child? Or could be asked to keep a lookout for behavior that is associated? If we asked them to watch for or listen for this would they have to tell her? Would they have to tell the child?
I mean, we had one teacher send home papers with one of the boys to have his name put on the Angel Tree at school. He told her he didn’t do his homework because his mother got kicked out of her house and they had to move that weekend. When we explained what the papers were for, he got very upset and commented that he would clarify it for her the next day. I wouldn’t want the counselor to tell them that they are being watched for this…
Thank you for the suggestions.
I would talk to the school counselor and have the counselor talk to the boys. You do not want it to appear that you are putting anything into their heads and there may be a way to talk about it without being overly evasive and they may be more than willing to speak with a non-parental figure… kids are funny like that.
I’m not sure how old the boys are, but you said that the ex-wife and boyfried fight a lot and that the boys told you this. First, someone else said it first “It’s not a safe environment.” Second, if you are contemplating seeking sole custody, you will need to show why. I would tell the boys that when the fighting and arguing gets loud to pick up a phone and dial 9-1-1 and set the phone down (don’t hang it up)preferably where the dispatcher can hear the fighting in the background. This will fix a couple things. One you now have documentation of the domestic dispute that you can use in the custody hearing. Two, the abusive boyfriend will most likely have to leave for the night and in the future might think twice about fighting with the boys there. Three the boys will understand that that kind of behavior is not acceptable. The best lesson of all is that maybe the ex-wife will open her eyes and see that she’s in an unhealthy relationship that is affecting her sons.
Recently there have been several incidents with my husband’s ex that suggests she is being physically abused by her live in boyfriend. I feel that my two stepsons who live there 50% of the time, though the abuse may not happen in front of them, would still know that something was going on and would be affected by it…I don’t know the statitics of how many children from abusive homes end up either abusing someone themselves or being in another abusive relationship…
The first incident she showed up to bring him part of one of the boys medications and had bruises all over one side of her face, neck, shoulder on one side, and a busted lip. She said that she fell down the steps. At that time there was some discussion that this is a “classic” excuse for abuse bruises. And that if she had actually fell down the steps, would she not have had bruising elsewhere? Apparently if she had landed on the steps where her bruises were, she would have broken her neck. (This was summer and she wears skimpy outfits so there was not much covered)
My husband said that he would let it go once without confronting her about it.
Then we have a friend of ours that works with his ex and has recently told us that she showed him bruises. She did not explain this time but he also believes that there is abuse going on. Since my husband did not see this he can’t say anything to her about it without betraying our friend’s confidence.
Now, while I do not care about or respect this woman, I do not believe anyone should be subjected to physical violence. My mother was in an abusive relationship for almost 10 years and though she sheltered my sister and I from it, it came at a cost to us. We had little contact with her for several years and then no contact at all for 5 years.
My youngest stepson recently received a very bad conduct grade at school and was grounded as punishment. He apparently has been disrepectful to the teacher and was showing an attitude in general. My husband and I both feel that he is learning to disrespect women. As I said, I do not think that they have witnessed any of this abuse, but they must be aware that something’s different…
My question is, how do you prove something like this is going on? I would hate to think of this going on while the boys go through their crucial, impressionable, teenage years. I would really hate to think that we could have done something to keep them from learning this behavior or possibly being subjected to it themselves. Having been in an emotionally abusive relationship previously, the easiest way to explain how this happens is sort of like boiling a frog. If you put a frog in hot water, he will jump right out, instictively knowing that it’s wrong. If you put a frog into cold water and slowly heat it, it will boil because it will not notice the change until it’s too late. In my own situation it was like I woke up after 11 years and all I could do is ask, “How did I ever convince myself that this was normal? How did I let this happen?” Make no mistake, while I know this was not my fault, I also know that I allowed it to happen and after a while, it seemed a little late to “do the right thing”.
I know now that it’s never too late to change a bad situation but it took a lot of heartache and humility to do it. If there’s a way to prevent my stepsons from going through anything like that I would like to do that for them…in spite of the fact that it may also help their mother.