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28 Feb 2003

My grand children and devorce
Thank you Doc for great web-site.
I have an enormous problem (my two beautiful grand-children) The parents are going through a rough devorce. The mother was using the diet-mixture for longer than 2 1/2 years (rceived you reply re this matter earlier and the results concerns me very much). Her behaviour is totally irrational and she does not care what damage she is doing to my grand kids when they are visiting her (week-ends) visitation rights. My son got custody in the meantime while the divorce case is proceeding.

She acts histerical in the presence of the children (8girl and 6boy years) She tells them that she will have her granny and family locked-up when she doesnt get satisfaction with unreasonable claims. To make a long story short, my grandson )I presume is to young to realy understand all about the horrible things going on (except for the case that he would not wish his mom and dad to divorce.
But the little girl (extremely clever and sensible little girl) however started to behave funny lately (every time after visiting her mom) The mothers new life is not stable and the new boyfriend is assaulting her with constant fighting going on, as well as the custody case and everything that goes with it.
She started sucking her thumb (could just be temporaly to try and draw attention) for the last week she found a little (daddy teddy bear) stuff that was left behind by her mother, she will not part with this teddy and told me that she took the little tie off because it should not be a daddy teddy any more, the teddy must now be a little girl. She also gives the teddy to her dad at night "to see to it that the teddy sleeps warm"
Could you please perhaps tell me what is happening to her, and also some advise besides giving them a lot of love and attention (they are very happy at school, although i picked up that they do not feel like mixing with the other kids periodicly) If you could give us some tips what danger signs to look out for, and how to help them through this horrible circumstances.
How could we protect the kids from this mother and friend, abusing them with insensitive remarks in their presence, causing the kids to become more uncertain.
Answer 397 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Concerned Granny,
Actually, you seem to be handling things quite well so far. it's actually quite common and typical that when under any form of stress, children "regress", that is, they start behaving in a more immature way. It's as if, as they climb up the ladder of development, when they find that life around them is becoming difficult, hard to understand and predict, and hard to handle, they climb back a step or two down the ladder, to an easlier stage which they had mastered, and when they felt safe and secure.
Thus, we may see stressed or woried children start to wet the bed again, years after that ceased to be a problem. And we may see them revert to actions that used to be comforting --- like thumb-sucking, and teddy-cuddling. If the new daddy in her Mom's life seems a threatening figure, she might decide that her Teddy should be a safe girl, rather than a more hard-to-handle Man.
It's hard to know what 's best to do if their time with the mother and her bf is a real problem for them. If one has serious reason to believe that whatever's happening there is seriously risky or bothering the children, I suppose ( you'd need legal advice here ) one could return to the court and seek a change in the mother's visitation rights, perhaps stopping these, or requiring her to visit them at your home and not have them stay at her home, while the bf is there. But, such action can in itself cause problem if the mother gets more angry about this, and could increase the degree of tension and unhappiness they experience.
A good safeguard is keeping communication open, and ncouraging the kids to feel safe to talk to you about what happens and how they feel about it. It may also be useful, if there may be a squabble about custody and visitation setlements in the divorce, to record, and keep notes of what the children say, and how they show their reactions, to time spent with the mother and her bf.
It's important to explain to them that while, sadly, the adults ( their Mom and Dad ) are having problems between themselves, this does not mean that anyone has stopped loving and caring for the children, and that great care wll be taken to ensure that they remain loved and cared for.
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