The Undermining of a Parent
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2008
I have been divorced for one year. My children really are handling it
beautifully. I have a live in boyfriend that has really assumed the roll
of provider and father. He is wonderful with them, teaching them things
and such. My ex-husband does not pay child support, says bad things to
the children about me and my boyfriend. He continues to try and cause
problems with us. My boyfriend feels like he has no right to be a father
due to his mental abuse, and inability to provide for his children. My
children enjoy their time with him (my ex). Now my boyfriend feels like
he needs to take a step back. He feels like these kids are his and they
are being hurt by their dad. How do I resolve this. Do I take the kids
away from their dad until he grows up? Will that end up blowing up in my
I believe that the least amount of force is best. Attack the problem in
steps. If the first does not work then take the next step.
Reason - Try to reason with your ex. Ask him to stop the
bad-mouthing for the good of the children, as he is undermining your
authority in which your children believe that they do not have to keep
the house rules or listen to you. (Leave the boyfriend out of the
situation as it will only serve to fuel your ex's desire for revenge.
This is between him and you!) Go on to say that children need rules and
boundaries to be safe and to grow up to be good people/citizens. For
that reason, you both need to work together to provide a solid parental
Negotiate - Tell your ex that since he has refused to support
you as a parent in the eyes of your children, that he has forced you to
take steps to remove him from the picture. You should have no trouble in
getting full custody and sever his parental rights to the children
because of his behavior of demeaning you as a parent and for not
providing support for them. You will take action if his behavior does
not stop. Tell him if you find out that his behavior is still occurring,
you will immediately start court proceedings against him. Tell him it is
up to him, what will happens.
Take court action - Go to child and family court and plead
The 2 biggest rules in dealing with anyone, especially your ex or
- Setting Boundaries - Don't say thing that you are not willing to
- Be consistent! - Once you say it do not procrastinate. Follow
You cannot have your ex devalue you in the eyes of your children. If
this happens the children do not feel they have to follow you and they
will eventually run right over the top of you and they will reign in
See my article
Taking Control of Your Family.
There will be repercussions from cutting off their father, but those
problems will be nothing to the problems you will have if you cannot
parent your children.