In my day-to-day life as a single mom, I was so afraid to talk to my daughter about anything related to abuse. I didn’t want to say anything against her dad, or tell her that he was wrong.
I was so afraid of being vilified in court for badmouthing him. (We all know how unfair the court system is regarding this.) And my ex was threatening to take me to court and say that I was turning our daughter against him.
There are many valid reasons we’re afraid to talk to our kids about the abuse they encounter at their dad’s house.
My daughter would come home and have an entire report of things he said. “Daddy doesn’t like when you do this, he doesn’t like your friend. He made me feel bad when I didn’t want to eat the food he made. He told me I was wrong for not finishing it.”
A mom’s typical reaction to a report like this is to reassure our kids that there is nothing wrong with them. They didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s not their job to worry about what he likes.
We’re trying to build our kids up and counter what he’s saying about them and us.
But think about times when you’ve talked with other people about some of the post-separation abuse you’ve experienced. Well-meaning friends try to reassure you that you’re a good mom, you’re doing everything you can for your kids, you’ve done nothing wrong.
Did that really help you? Did it help you to understand that you didn’t do anything wrong, or did it just bounce off of you?
These statements didn’t help me because all I could hear in my mind was the abuser telling me that I was wrong, and I was the reason for all the problems.
It’s the same thing your kids are most likely hearing from their dad. “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you do anything right?”
So when you’re trying to reassure your kids that these statements aren’t true, it’s not sticking with them because his message is louder in their minds. It takes around seven to ten positive statements to make a dent against that one negative statement.
Even though I was reassuring my daughter that nothing was wrong with her, it wasn’t making a difference because the negative was overpowering the positive. She started saying, “I can’t do anything right. I’m always messing up.”
I decided that I was done tiptoeing around him and walking on eggshells, worrying what he was going to accuse me of doing. I figured if he could say whatever he wants, then I could, too. If it got all the way to court it would be he said/she said and my top priority was to counter his abuse and help my daughter to thrive.
Instead of trying to fix what he was doing to her (damage control) I planted new ideas in her mind and heart. Abuse tells you that you don’t matter, something is wrong with you, and you’re the problem.
So when she told me something her dad said made her feel bad, I would tell her, “Your voice matters. What you feel matters. You matter as much as anyone else.” I didn’t have to mention her dad or abuse. But I was countering that abuse by talking about what is true.
Finally, my words were making a difference. Being told that you matter is a radical idea to someone who’s being abused. No longer a passive voice, this was a bold, active voice that broke through the abuse. And it empowered her to ditch the negativity she was receiving from him.
I can help you as you empower your kids to challenge the negative words coming from their dad. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me and we’ll talk about what tools are available to you to counter the abuse and fill their minds and hearts with the truth.
God made you for this!
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