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My fiance has a two year old son. He has been separated since the child was 4 months old, then I came in to his life and we started to take care of his son together on his visitation days. From the beginning we did not haven much time to spend with the child as his mother would not let him see him unless he would go to her her house and stay there, however after the law got involved and she could not dictate much anymore we have had him for two nights every other week and one overnight + Fridays from 9-6pm in between. I love this child more than anything and I know be loves me back. There were times when he would not go his mother or father he would just hug me and stay this way for a while. After the legal divorce my fiance got an agreement that we will keep above schedule until April 2013 and in April unless there are major problems my fiance gets a physical shares custody of his son. The reason he did not get the shared custody from the first place is because his ex claimed the child was not mentally ready for one more extra night every week, however after agreement was signed she never hesitated to ask us to keep the child more overnights than the schedule she demanded, which makes it obvious that it is not the child's mental health she was concerned about, it is her selfish principle.  Now that April is coming close we hear from her complains that the transitions are not healthy for the child. When the little boy is with us he is very happy, he eats very well, sleeps well. He loves spending time with his father and I. If he ever mentions his mom we always call her and let him talk to her over the facetime, we think it is a healthy approach  where the child always knows that both patent are always around for him. Sometimes when she is about to hang up he stats being cranky but after the phone is off he goes back to his toys and he is happy. Many times when child's mother dropped him off she intentionally kept telling him she is leaving, and if the child would not respond she would keep repeating herself until the child would start crying and cling to her. I guess it made her important and happy. Her and I are not very friendly. I tried my best to be nice to her despite all the terrible things she had done to my fiance during the divorce, but she started taking advantage of me, being ungrateful and bossy so I stopped.  I don't acknowledge her when she is around.  I say hi and if she asks me anything that's related to the child I reply but that's about it. I believe I don't have to be her friend. Frustrated that I am not being a friend to her she is trying to create problems and uses the child to manipulate the situation. When I drop off the child to her he often cries for me. Which I think is normal as he loves me and feels sad to let me go. I am not sure how angry she gets when she sees this reaction from him, but because of this she is insisting that the transitions are very hard for the child. FYI the child  cries sometimes when his nanny goes home and he stays with his mom. Can it really be bad on child that we have him for few nights a week or is he just being a sweet 2 year old who gets attached to people easy and feels sad when they go? When he comes to us after not seeing him for few days he is very bossy, he grabbed my face the other day and told me " ... say yes, say yes..." he orders us to be quite and tells us NO. But after being with us for few hours all this goes away. I am confused... I am not sure what to do.

Answer
Irma, this situation is complex and it might be worth your while to have a conversation with me about it. I'll do what I can for you in this letter.

First, I want to tell you the bad news is that you  will have this situation on your hands for many years.  In my own experience with others, when you have an ex who is so weird, it doesn't change and from time to time you have some strange situation on your hands.  Your husband did divorce her for good reasons.

And I was struck that he left her four months after the birth of the child. And that he wanted to stay in contact with the child.  That probably speaks well for him, says that he's a man with  good heart and that he found her so exceptionally difficult that he decided to leave her during the pregnancy and was arguing with himself to stay, but finally he couldn't stand it.   

The weird behavior you mentioned at the end of your note, grabbing your face and so on, is probably a little demonstration of how she treats the child.  That's what it's like for him at home. How fortunate for him that he has an alternative model of how relationships can work.

The boy sounds very sensitive and sweet. The mother sounds quite chaotic.  I suggest you keep a journal describing much of the weird behavior. At  some point you may need to force a professional evaluation and you will need the journal with very specific descriptions to make your case in court.   

By chaotic, I mean that, as you describe her, if you are accurate, she sounds like she has a small number of very different (almost personalities) attitudes and is inconsistent and incoherent.  Were it not for you, the child would become that way as well.  That's a guess, a possibility, based on your descriptions.  If it's right, she's not going to change and you'll see a lot of  that.

What you need to do is accept how crazy she can be and plan for it.

Feel fee to follow up

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.  

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.

Expertise

Divorce is the beginning of a life review process. For many people, it`is the first intentional decision they make about their lives. The transition into the next stage of life is difficult at first, but it gets easier. The questions I can help you with: What happened? How do I take care of our children? How do I get over my anger? How do I plan a future for myself?

Experience

I am Philip Belove, psychologist and coach. My specialty is helping people do their midlife transformation work, a psychological project that creates a foundation for happy and satisfying second half of life.

Midlife Work, because it involves so much careful attention to inner truth, is notoriously stressful on marriages and on dating relationships.

The challenges of the midlife project are echoed in the typical questions asked me as a dating-at-midlife expert:

?Learning to reconcile what you say with what you do. This challenge is echoed in questions like: Why does he say this when he does that? What is really happening?
?Learning to create your own dreams instead of being the victim of someone else's. This challenged is echoed in questions like these: How do I say that I don't want to xyz? I've been lying about some things and what should I do now?
?Learning to live a life that suits you. This challenge produces questions like Is what I'm doing normal? What if my kids think I'm crazy? How can I say that this is starting to bother me?

A person doing Midlife Transformation Work needs to develop 1) A Working Vision, 2) Skills and Strategies to realize that vision, and 3) External sources of support for the project. My role for people is to be part of the support system. I help people clarify their visions, develop the strategies and skills they need, and I help them review their progress.


Education/Credentials
M.A. Counseling Psychology
Ed.D. Counsulting Psychology (Family Therapy)

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