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Resolving the Conflict

The legal matters have finished, now the ongoing shared parenting communication and conflict resolving needs to develop for the sake of the children. Can you move forward?

This is the first article to raise awareness of conflict resolving knowledge, mindsets and skills.

You cannot change any one else but you can change yourself; and the other person, child or adult, cannot relate to you in the same way as you are different.

In this forum there will be a series of articles on conflict resolving knowledge, facts and strategies.

Attachment
Resolving the Conflicts
Thank you Sage.

This article is very insightful on what conflict is, and some of the negative behaviours that are seen in conflict and the win/win behaviours that you should aim for to reduce conflict.

Unfortunately, this model operates from the basis that both participants are rational and reasonable minded. In about 10% of cases that go through the full adversarial process this is not the case.

I would appreciate assistance in dealing with that type of person. That is the type of person, on this website, that most of us are engaged in dispute with.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Interesting.

Conflict based on individual character analysis.

But law does not work that way.

No matter how mad you are you are still entitled to use the law - make your accusations - go for the money, assets and children.

It's world's best practice - find a politician saying anything different.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
You can drive politicians to do anything if you can prove a cost saving and there is a vote in it.

There would be a distinct correlation between the people who's cases take the longest and cost the most, with those that have either one or both parties suffering from a personality disorder.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Artemis said
Thank you Sage.
I receive your thanks with appreciation; I am new to using a forum so still learning the process of posting.
Artemis said
This article is very insightful on what conflict is, and some of the negative behaviours that are seen in conflict and the win/win behaviours that you should aim for to reduce conflict.
My decision to begin to offer material that is a short introduction to the basic tools of conflict resolving is to set a foundation to move to more difficult and challenging conflicts. Win/Win is an approach and ideal way of communication in a conflict situation; often people think Win/Win means an outcome. Outcomes when people are entrenched in a behaviour are more difficult but the approach does not change for the person who is committed to achieving in the long term a personal satisfaction that they have done all they can in the scope of the situation they are dealing with. The outcome itself may not be Win/Win because of many reasons.

I am often asked to simply give a strategy to deal with a particular problem. I encourage people to gain more knowledge and skills so they can create a strategy based on the complexities of their situation. It is virtually impossible to respond with a strategy without knowing the 'whole picture'.

So sometimes just by reviewing what we may already know; and maybe being offered some new insights, may assist us to view a situation with new eyes. Conflict resolving knowledge or skills can be taught; it is putting many skills together that assists us to manage a situation where we feel totally blocked.
Artemis said
Unfortunately, this model operates from the basis that both participants are rational and reasonable minded. In about 10% of cases that go through the full adversarial process this is not the case.
I am aware that many who read this site are in entrenched conflict situations; I also know others who are working through their separation. The 10% you refer to need a very high personal level of conflict resolution knowledge and skills; I recognise the difficulty of dealing with the aggressive and totally unreasonable person. From a behavioural point of view when we know why they are behaving this way we can start to use strategies to defuse; this takes skill.

Most aggressive people are really fundamentally fearful even if they don't show it. Are they fearful of losing power in the situation? The answer to your question will require the use of many skills and these are not gained from one article or in a short time.  People are aggressive for many reasons; I invite you to keep reading this forum as additional information is added.
Artemis said
I would appreciate assistance in dealing with that type of person. That is the type of person, on this website, that most of us are engaged in dispute with.
I hope the work I offer on the site will assist you to understand yourself; your skills and knowledge, and also offer the opportunity to increase your ability to deal with this situation. When we are highly emotional about a situation there is always as much learning in the situation for us as there is for the other person.

To deal with an aggressive person we need firstly to know what type of aggression you are dealing with. I will endeavour to give this information to you in the coming weeks. Is it physical aggression, aggressive language or other?

I ask you to try to step outside your own emotion for a time and start to notice the 'whole' nature of the type of aggression with a deeper understanding then you have had previously. This is only the first step.

This forum was set up to try to help those who have already been through the worst of the court process mainly because of the entrenched form of conflict you refer to. The situation for people in conflict after 'the dust has settled' in a legal sense will still need careful management.
Jon Pearson said
Interesting.

Conflict based on individual character analysis.

But law does not work that way.

No matter how mad you are you are still entitled to use the law - make your accusations - go for the money, assets and children.

It's world's best practice - find a politician saying anything different.
Thanks for your comment.

My aim on this forum is to offer knowledge and skills for contact after all the court battles - this may or may not help in your situation.
LifeInsight said
Sage.  Thanks for the info.

My wife and I have 4 small children and we have been working on a number of conflict resolution strategies with them since the first scream.

It has been very successful and I can see over the next 10 years there will be much development as we move from the simple to the more complex strategies.

We find that we are really teaching values.
I agree that when you teach or model to children conflict resolution skills you teach values. The earlier you start with children the more you are setting the foundations which generally are based on respect, care and consideration.

The difficulty for many parents is that they did not grow up in a family that modelled the skills of conflict resolving. Many families actually taught children if they had a problem they did not communicate but put up with it or they used domination or another strategy.

Often these strategies lead to a break down in the relationship even if people continued to stay in the same home. How many people do you know who have been in a long term relationship but really have very poor communication when it comes to resolving issues or problems.

Congratulations on actively teaching your children how to resolve conflict when they are young. Many school are now also actively doing this; it would be good if they all added conflict resolution to their curriculum.
I think this sort of stuff is important.

I have some experiences to relate about categorising people.

Throughout the Public Service over the years as each new management theory came along - so did the personality tests and courses for staff and so on - at one stage it was mooted that we shall only only be promoted on the basis of our Myers Briggs score (indeed this is used in some organisations).

One of the risks with this whole thing - as I see it - is a potential to see it as a MANAGEMENT thing rather that a RELATIONSHIP thing.

In other words - the tendency can be to deliberately use buttons to push for results. When dealing with children I suppose the same thing can arise as everyone is trying to push each others buttons (or some do it without trying).

So the idea I like is that - if we know and understand more about each other we can help the relationship work better - either with my ethically modified approach (because at best all I can control is myself) and how that influences others around me.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Thankyou Sage, for that alternate take on the situation.

I am reading and researching and racking my brains to understand this situation my partner and I are in. Added to the layers of complexity is my partner who is still caught in a passive groove after years of grooming by this person.

I have years of training in dealing with difficult people in the workplace, but this situation gazzumps me.

I agree, because it hits me in such a highly emotional place.

I also agree there is a strong element of fear. The person in question is definitely out of their depth in parenting and I believe the entire reason for the breakup was a fear that my partner was a far superior parent. Had that relationship (father son) flourished, she would have been deprived of narcissistic supply.

Other fears are loss of control, when child is not in ex's care. Being forced into shared parenting, or loss of "lives with status". I do hope that court will not be swayed by her mental well being, when the child's best interest is served by having minimal contact with such a broken person.

I look forward to further postings from you, and apologise at any of my "stuff" that comes across negatively to you.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 

The hard work begins after Court is over

Jon Pearson said
Interesting.

Conflict based on individual character analysis.

But law does not work that way.

No matter how mad you are you are still entitled to use the law - make your accusations - go for the money, assets and children.

It's world's best practice - find a politician saying anything different.
While my post title is somewhat simplistic. There is a strong element of truth in it. The hard work does begin after court is over.

Social theory recognises that family breakdown triggers a "Flight or Fight" response in most of us. Taking the matter off to court (even if you don't have a choice) compounds the stress of the breakdown. Yet the very fact of the family breakdown means each party will have to redefine their own lives. And that of their children. What was one home now becomes 2. How does work fit in with family. What are my values now, based on my new experience. A lot of difficult decisions to be made, and best not made in a time of high conflict.

On another level, basic communication theory tells us that people communicate in particular ways to get a predictable response. This also applies to "Button Pushing". If one learns not to react in the predictable way to having ones buttons pushed, it is likely the person seeking to push the buttons will have to change what they do, simply because they are not getting the expected feedback.

Take for example - The usual response to the other parent is angry, this supports their likely opinion, justified or not; that you are angry about everything. If the response is different, ie. Not angry, then the other person is left without the expected response. They begin to doubt their opinion. Eventually they will have to change. Often, this means initial they will try harder to press you buttons, but consistency in response will usually overcome this.

So post Court, the hard work begins. Learning new ways to live and to communicate. The benefits can be huge. It doesn't always work, but then as Artemis says, there are probably pathological symptoms in play and all bets are off.

One thing I have heard many say post separation is "why should I have to change - the separation was imposed upon me". This indicates a poor grasp on reality, because circumstances have changed and to attempt to continue exactly as before is a lost cause.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
Jon Pearson said
I think this sort of stuff is important.

I have some experiences to relate about categorising people.

Throughout the Public Service over the years as each new management theory came along - so did the personality tests and courses for staff and so on - at one stage it was mooted that we shall only only be promoted on the basis of our Myers Briggs score (indeed this is used in some organisations).

One of the risks with this whole thing - as I see it - is a potential to see it as a MANAGEMENT thing rather that a RELATIONSHIP thing.

In other words - the tendency can be to deliberately use buttons to push for results. When dealing with children I suppose the same thing can arise as everyone is trying to push each others buttons (or some do it without trying).

So the idea I like is that - if we know and understand more about each other we can help the relationship work better - either with my ethically modified approach (because at best all I can control is myself) and how that influences others around me.
I would agree that in a work situation there is a need to be very careful how you use any one of the personality style profiles and I would be concerned if I was faced with this situation for many reasons. Personality profiles are 'tools' to help understanding; the self actualised person, the person who really is working at a very high level of personal development and personal skills is able to move into the strength of each style when it is required; they balance relationship and task.

All children are different and the combination of their style is also different. You can however watch a child play at an early stage, e.g. 2yrs old and have a fair indication of the style/s they are already displaying. Some children and adults get really attached to one style of operation and can be resistant to learning the strengths of a style they are not comfortable with. E.g. The 'Adventurer' style is naturally social, talkative, creative, right brain processing and can display an extreme testing of boundaries; they need routines and boundaries to learn to take personal responsibility for their actions; often these children can grow into very charming adults who may not have learnt to be responsible especially when under pressure.

This is one example and in later articles I will give information that highlights what is going on for a child when they retaliate, attention seek, power struggle, or try to control you or other children. As adults we can be more sophisticated at how we do this or simply be blatant in our behaviour. We can learn to use different communication skills to deal with different behaviours and personalities.
Artemis said
Thankyou Sage, for that alternate take on the situation.

I am reading and researching and racking my brains to understand this situation my partner and I are in. Added to the layers of complexity is my partner who is still caught in a passive groove after years of grooming by this person.

I have years of training in dealing with difficult people in the workplace, but this situation gazzumps me.

I agree, because it hits me in such a highly emotional place.

I also agree there is a strong element of fear. The person in question is definitely out of their depth in parenting and I believe the entire reason for the breakup was a fear that my partner was a far superior parent. Had that relationship (father son) flourished, she would have been deprived of narcissistic supply.

Other fears are loss of control, when child is not in ex's care. Being forced into shared parenting, or loss of "lives with status". I do hope that court will not be swayed by her mental well being, when the child's best interest is served by having minimal contact with such a broken person.

I look forward to further postings from you, and apologise at any of my "stuff" that comes across negatively to you.
I am not sure if I have worked out the relationship clearly; I assuming that your partner is the father of the child and the ex partner is the 'broken person'? When we are faced with the complexities of a number of people involved in a conflict we need to get clear on the agendas from each persons perspective; including the child's. A mapping exercise based on the identification of the real issue/s (objectively stated) and the needs and fears of all need to be considered before you can even begin to try to communicate clearly.What role is each person playing in this situation? What is each persons pay-off; this can be positive or negative? I believe we learn from every situation we are faced with and the greatest learning opportunity is when there is crisis.

In the past as a young teacher (I have had a number of work roles in my life) I worked with physically and sexually abused young children; and it never ceased to amaze me that no matter what a parent had done to them they simply wanted to be back in the family. This changes over time for various reasons. A 'broken person' may have many real self esteem, behavioural and even mental health issues; however I have seen people turn their life around.

I am an optimist! The threat of losing a child often pushes a parent into more extreme behaviours that can go on for years and be very confusing and damaging to a child - it does not mean however that a child does not love their parent. Kids basically just want to have fun and play when they are young!

You indicate that you have a high level of skill in the workplace and are very willing to move forward. Try pretending to be the ex partner and write a journal entry on what life is like at the moment as if you are that person. No matter what the outcome of the court situation it is when you can have empathy for a person; no matter what their behaviour is that you start to move forward because you can detach emotionally and have insights that you normally don't when you simply stand in your own 'shoes'.
Sage, thankyou, you are correct. My partner is the father of the child in question and the child's mother is a very broken soul. She self-proclaims to have a dark heart and I for one believe her.

I regularly go for a walk in this women's shoes, probably too much so. I can generally predict her behaviour, activities and reaction.

While I think your suggestion of writing a journal entry is very helpful, personally, I give this woman far too much of my headspace as it is. I have written letters to her, never to send, but to get the angst out.

Initially, given her own upbringing (controlling father, distant mother, brother the golden child) I had some sympathy for her. I thought that a lot of her actions was her father pulling the puppet strings. I have now come to see that this is not the case.

Initially, I thought that sense would be shown by this person and after court action was entered some sanity would prevail. Instead the campaign was stepped up to include negative brainwashing against my partner. Who coincidently is one of the best and caring father's I have ever met.

There is no need for a mapping exercise. The ex's motivation is very clear: Father not to have any involvement with the child, punish father as much as possible whenever he "wins" by having time with child (ie, making it difficult, harassing by txt) and if anything other than "lives with status" is granted by court it is going to be a non-stop calvalcade of contraventions.

I applaud your optimism, given your profession.

I am concerned though, that despite our concerns and the involvement of Docs, an abusive person is able to have majority care of a child without any sort of assistance, counselling and intervention.

There is an old saying in law. That in high conflict, the entrenched person is either "sad, mad or bad". Unfortunately, we are dealing with someone who is "bad".  Someone who is a game player and puts their child's health at risk in order to "win".

In my ideal world, our orders will be granted - that we get resides with access and the mother has supervised visits. If she can prove she is getting regular counselling and possibly some form of medication, shared parenting can be considered.

I'm just not looking forward to when the child either turns into a monster to fit into this monstrous family, or votes with their feet and then we have to deal with the massive psychological damage that has been wrought.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
LifeInsight said
Sage.

Walking in the other person's shoes is certainly a good way to try to see what they are thinking or feeling to work out the best way to deal with the conflict.

Given the reasons for conflict that I have outlined above, which I think is the main causes of conflict for people on this forum, what gems of thought can you offer to help us through?
You stated in your earlier post that both parents need to change roles and become more balanced as care givers and providers.(unless they agree otherwise). It is true that separation, divorce and in some cases the entry of a new partner into a relationship with a parent changes the dynamics of the whole situation. It is also true it is how people handle these changes that will determine what their life is like. The on-going contact with a person who has care of your child some or all of the time is the challenge that as you state can go on until the child is an adult. So I get that what you really want to know is how can I deal with having to have contact with a person who will not move on, will not grow through this experience; is playing all sorts of games and using many inappropriate behaviours; doesn't care about the effect on anyone including the child. So lets take it from there and see if I can come up with some gems! I'll do my best and hopefully it offers something useful.

The power of intention: You have to be totally clear at all times what you intention is on how your situation is going to be within the frameworks that you have to work in. (Unless you are challenging these frameworks in court). Holding an intention gives the foundation on the communications you enter and how you interact. Hopefully constructively no matter what the other person does. When you lose it or become negative or condemning you giving away your personal power (will write on power and power games at a later date).

Detachment: You will need to work through your emotions but you do not need to do this in communication with the ex. The more centred you are the more you will not go into 'fight or flight' as very clearly expressed in an earlier post. You will not go into reaction but rather a considered response. So you need to know the difference. When we have an emotional reaction we are working on our own stuff - when you work through this you can let it go; when you let it go the other person can not hook you in with their emotions and game playing. When you are emotionally detached you can start to see what really is going on in the situation. A useful book to understand game playing is The Games People Play by Berne (can't find mine to give more details)

A simple exercise to start to detach is.

When you are feeling angry/hurt/fearful/frustrated!

Why am I feeling so angry/hurt/fearful/frustrated?

What do I want to change?

What do I need in order to let go of this feeling now?

Whose problem is this, really? How much is mine? How much is the other person's?

What is the 'message' I infer from the situation?

(Original source CRN.)

Stay in the Now: You do not know what is going to happen for years ahead; you may be fearful for the child or yourself in what parenting is going to be like. Take a day at a time and handle each situation as it comes up; don't create it by allowing anxiety or fear of the future determine the NOW! Take time out and get your head space away from the situation, give yourself breaks - you will gain more clarity when you have mental breaks from the situation. Have some fun in your life. Your life is in balance when 5 areas are in balance. Your physical wellbeing; your social self, your intellectual wellbeing, your emotional wellbeing and your spiritual self (what ever that means for you). You can only look after yourself; (and your child when they are in your care.)

This is just a beginning! I am off to have fun in my life!
Artemis said
Sage, thankyou, you are correct. My partner is the father of the child in question and the child's mother is a very broken soul. She self-proclaims to have a dark heart and I for one believe her.
A dark heart indicates the depth of pain this person is experiencing; no matter what totally unreasonable behaviour they exhibit. I am not making an excuse for them; I have worked with many of these people and I have learnt compassion while still knowing their journey may never take them to a place of self love and care.
Artemis said
I regularly go for a walk in this women's shoes, probably too much so. I can generally predict her behaviour, activities and reaction.
As the new partner it can be very painful to see the father having to deal with the ex and also the affect it has on you; what role have you taken on in your relationship? How much time does your partner give to the situation and how much time do you give to the situation. You don't have to answer me; I am simply asking you to think about it. I am aware that the forum is an avenue for you to seek assistance and also simply defuse.
Artemis said
While I think your suggestion of writing a journal entry is very helpful, personally, I give this woman far too much of my headspace as it is. I have written letters to her, never to send, but to get the angst out.
Your acknowledgement of the time she takes out of your life and the angst indicates that you know you are working on your own stuff; when we have high emotion it is always about something to do with us. The more you do not detach; she is actually pulling the strings because you are allowing her to get to you.
Artemis said
Initially, given her own upbringing (controlling father, distant mother, brother the golden child) I had some sympathy for her. I thought that a lot of her actions was her father pulling the puppet strings. I have now come to see that this is not the case.

Initially, I thought that sense would be shown by this person and after court action was entered some sanity would prevail. Instead the campaign was stepped up to include negative brainwashing against my partner. Who coincidently is one of the best and caring father's I have ever met.

There is no need for a mapping exercise. The ex's motivation is very clear: Father not to have any involvement with the child, punish father as much as possible whenever he "wins" by having time with child (ie, making it difficult, harassing by txt) and if anything other than "lives with status" is granted by court it is going to be a non-stop calvalcade of contraventions.
The mapping exercise was to see the whole picture; what roles everyone is playing, you, your partner, the child etc. We all play roles - positive and negative. You probably know how to do a mapping exercise if not let me know and I will put information up. Your looking for issues, needs, fears etc.
Artemis said
I applaud your optimism, given your profession.
My profession was teaching until 1988 since then I have been involved in some form of education; mainly connected to personal development in corporate, government, education, welfare fields. I find many optimists in my profession! It is about the person not what they do!
Artemis said
I am concerned though, that despite our concerns and the involvement of DOCS, an abusive person is able to have majority care of a child without any sort of assistance, counselling and intervention.

There is an old saying in law. That in high conflict, the entrenched person is either "sad, mad or bad". Unfortunately, we are dealing with someone who is "bad".  Someone who is a game player and puts their child's health at risk in order to "win".

In my ideal world, our orders will be granted - that we get resides with access and the mother has supervised visits. If she can prove she is getting regular counselling and possibly some form of medication, shared parenting can be considered.

I'm just not looking forward to when the child either turns into a monster to fit into this monstrous family, or votes with their feet and then we have to deal with the massive psychological damage that has been wrought.
You indicate from your perspective that this person needs professional help to deal with their behaviour and mental state. This may be very true; how much pressure have you all been under for how long? This can bring the worst out; even after the court situation is supposedly finished if the people involved have not worked through their 'stuff' the pressure in contact still brings out the worst. It is still unfinished business.

You have made choices about continuing court procedures because of the concern for the child and father. It is therefore really important if you really want to get to the truth of what is going on that people are truthful about their motivations and the roles they are playing. (We can easily kid ourselves)! Any mother is going to fight for their child either covertly or overtly; some will use their child for long periods of time to get back at a partner. The more you engage and put pressure on them the more these patterns will come out. You can only get clearer about your role and maybe the role of the father through your communications.

The personality work is useful when you go into depth because it takes you to a true understanding of some of these roles. E.g The Harmoniser can appear to be the victim, the martyr, the good person and at the same time have an agenda of revenge and retaliation that is not easy to spot; usually it is some form of shut down of relationship. If they also have a lot of the Adventurer style you will also eventually see either blatant or very subtle manipulation.

You need to recognise the power games; the ex may be playing them but you if you have high emotion you will also be playing a part; what is the role you take, the rescuer, the persecutor the victim? What is your role in connection to the ex and to your partner?

You may tell me you have answered all these questions; take the time to revisit what you are feeling; emotions are always the key that start to open the door of understanding of what is really going on.

Children are more resilient then we think; they will however learn the power games from those they are observing.
Sage said
Children are more resilient then we think; they will however learn the power games from those they are observing.
I can personally attest to this, having four children, two of whom chose to go with the ex who is manipulative and controlling.

Three years on his behaviour continues while I refuse to engage and use games. The two with me are happy and well adjusted. The two with him cannot engage with normal behaviour and the daughter especially uses manipulation and control for any gain she has in life.

Artemis while the situation is frustrating never forget you are giving the stepchild a role model of different behaviour and ultimately he will choose who to model his own character on.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Thankyou for the kind words, Jadzia, the insight and the little spark of hope.

Sage, I understand that you are at a disadvantage in not knowing the entire saga. To be honest, I don't know if it would be worth emailing you the circumstances. I usually tell people that it would require many days and much red wine to get their head around the situation.

We have no choice but to opt for court action. No reasonable offer is acceptable, many have been offered. Mediation has been attempted on 3 occaisions, before it was a mandatory thing. The only acceptable outcome is if my partner were to walk away completely. Neither of us think that would be appropriate, or in the child's best interest.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
LifeInsight said
Sage thanks for that insightful answer.

If we used the "fun meter" as a gauge of how things are going in our lives, then yes we have a good chance of moving onto better things.

In the last 5 years I have had a reasonable lot to deal with:

Unhappy marriage

Extra marital affair

Birth of a child amongst all this

Separation

Family Court interim proceedings for care

Financial settlement and divorce

New relationship leading to new marriage

Becoming a step parent and forming a blended family

Dealing with Child Support Agency and Family Assistance

Career and financial restructures

Family Court Trial over care and judgement

Amongst all this the "Happy Meter" has undergone a lot of modifications and is still registering on the happy field despite many fluctuations to the unhappy side.

Whilst I may have had many life experiences from which I have learnt a lot and I know I will be OK, it's my child that I am concerned about and how the ex's behaviours are going to impact as the years move on.

I must say that since December we have had new orders in place providing shared cared and my new wife only commented the other day that she has seen so many positive changes with my child's confidence. This may be developmental changes we are observing, however time will tell if the greater balance of parenting has been the main catalyst.
Thank you for sharing this summary of a major growth time in your life. What comes through from you posts is a very strong and positive attitude and a willingness to really move forward and learn.

I am glad you are seeing changes with your child; keeping the relationship with your child as a positive experience will help your child; you and your new partner seem to be doing this. Children will adapt to different environments and as they grow make decisions; often internally about what they respect. They will still love their mother, sometimes even try to protect them; if the child is a boy they often take on responsibility for the mother.

You cannot stop a lot of this when they are young, you can however have a huge impact on them as a model in your own family of how people relate, behave and respect each other. What you do in your family becomes extremely important for the child to see how family life works. I pick up from what you are have said that this is working well.

I have always found that children seem to have this internal meter of knowing what is fair and right - they may not always act this out because of many reasons to do with family dynamics but I know given a supportive and caring environment where they feel safe and loved they will work out what is going on as they get older.

It can be different for boys to girls and when children are teenagers it may take a long time, until their own children have been born to really see what is going on with both parents. Every family situation produces challenges that we either learn from or get stuck for a period of time. You seem to be coming out of the hard times!
Jadzia said
Sage said
Children are more resilient then we think; they will however learn the power games from those they are observing.
I can personally attest to this, having four children, two of whom chose to go with the ex who is manipulative and controlling.

Three years on his behaviour continues while I refuse to engage and use games. The two with me are happy and well adjusted. The two with him cannot engage with normal behaviour and the daughter especially uses manipulation and control for any gain she has in life.

Artemis while the situation is frustrating never forget you are giving the stepchild a role model of different behaviour and ultimately he will choose who to model his own character on.
Good on you for not playing the games! What is also true is the nature or personality of the child will also determine how they will respond and what they will take on. Modelling is extremely important; children will often become loyal to one parent; it will take time and life's lessons for some to realise what is going on in their families. Not an easy situation.
Artemis said
Thank you for the kind words, Jadzia, the insight and the little spark of hope.

Sage, I understand that you are at a disadvantage in not knowing the entire saga. To be honest, I don't know if it would be worth emailing you the circumstances. I usually tell people that it would require many days and much red wine to get their head around the situation.

We have no choice but to opt for court action. No reasonable offer is acceptable, many have been offered. Mediation has been attempted on 3 occasions, before it was a mandatory thing. The only acceptable outcome is if my partner were to walk away completely. Neither of us think that would be appropriate, or in the child's best interest.
Thank you Artemis for your words. It is very difficult to know the whole story from a few posts and as you say giving the whole story may not be helpful at this stage. You have made a decision to make sure you stay in the child's life; this process will now be your challenge on how you all handle it.  A loving father has the right to be in the life of his child so I wish you well and hope the outcome is best for all involved. Being aware of how the child is 'travelling' through all this will also be a challenge so you can give the support and love they will need.
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