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The skids came....they're acting..... strange

Mrs.Marvel's picture

Bm brought Sd13 and ss12 as she said she would. The second the door bell rang, SO jumped and opened it.

They looked off. Had blatant looks on their faces, no emotions at all. SO greeted them, and they said "hello dad" , "hello Mrs. Marvel". Noting strange about that. 

SO leads them to the dinning room and tells them, he needs to talk to them. He first aks them how they were. response "fine, thank you for asking; how are you?" He responds  with "I'm good"

He asks them how they were feeling with everything that's going on? Ss was looking at SO, but it almost felt like he was staring right through him, and Sd.... if looks could kill... but they kept their composure. They didn't  respond. He then goes on to say that this whole situation as to be very hard for them, and he's sorry that they're having such a diffciult times with things, and he understands how hurt they must me. NOTING, just blatant stares. He says he wants to help them through this difficult time, no response. It was basically a staring contest between them and us. He tried to hold their hands, but they woulldn't hold his, he held theirs, but theirs were just hanging there. I could tell from his face, he was shocked, and hurt.  

When the topic changed about how they are supposed to treat me going forward, with RESPECT. So explained to them, that they don't have to like me, but they have to respect me as a ADULT figure in their lives...... Sd just said "understood" and Ss "okay". That was it. Then SO asked them if they had any questions. sd-"may we be exused we have homework to do?" So said they can do they're homework on the dining room table. They went upstairs to change , and SO was hurtimg. He said that his kids have never acted like that before. They weren't being rude, they were polite, very cold like, like how someone would talk to a stranger. He was visibly shook. Before this whole situation, they were very warm to him, asked him how is day was?, can they help him make food? normally he says no, then they would say just shout if you need us, but this time noting.

For dinner, he made their favorite dinner, roasted chicken with fried string beans with a side of mashed potaotes, they were grateful, but all they said was "thank you". Even as we were eating, complete slience. We tried to make conversation with them, all we would get one word answers "Yes", "No" and they would always say "thanks for asking". it was really awkward, and SO was just getting more hurt with everytime they shot him down on trying to have a conversation with them. They reacted to me the same way. Poliet, but very cold. After dinner, they exused themselves, they thanked SO for making food for them!(what!!), washed their dishes, loaded them in the dishwasher and went upstairs. The look on SO face.... hurt, dejected..

It's his week, so they're going to be here. Ss is coming down with the flu so he's going to stay home all week, while Sd is at school. SO is really concerned and I'm shocked. They loved SO ; SO loved them, but today it was as if they were talking to him as if they didn't know him!!


notsurehowtodeal's picture

like they are literally doing what your SO asked them to do, being polite and respectful. I would suspect they came up with this strategy together and are doing it to be spiteful. They can say how can SO get upset with them when they are only doing what he asked?

No advice on how to handle it - just a thought as to what might explain the behavior. I feel for your SO, the behavior can't help but be hurtful.

thinkthrice's picture

the brainwashing is well underway.  BM 1.  DH 0

tog redux's picture

OK, so this is just step 2 of their power play.  If you still are 100% sure that BM isn't behind this, then here's what he does: let them have their feelings and pout for a couple of days. Give it NO attention!  This is very important! No asking what's wrong. No pleading for them to come talk to you. None of that, just normal attention: Need any help with your homework? Want some dessert?  And your SO MUST NOT act hurt and wounded.  THEY ARE CHILDREN, AND HE IS THE ADULT. Don't give them so much power. You two carry on as if there aren't two mopey kids skulking around.

In those first couple days, figure out which skid is the weak link of the two.  Let's say it's SS.  SO should crack SS's favorite jokes. Get his favorite dessert and offer it to him, if he says no, shrug and say, eh, more for me then! Pry him away from his sister if she's the ringleader. Offer to take him to do what he loves to do. Just not in a way that says I'm desperate for your attention, SS! If he says no, then shrug and move on. Offer favorite stuff to the other one too, but don't expect anything, she will be harder to crack.

If that doesn't work, after a couple days, SO says, "OK guys, that's it. You are done pouting,it's unacceptable.  Either we talk more about this or things get back to normal.  This is our life over here now, learn to live with it in an appropriate manner. If not, then privileges will be lost."

Again, they are playing him like a fiddle. Why is he hurt, and not furious that his kids are acting like such spoiled brats? They know how to hurt him. This is how Guilty Daddies are born - when they feel hurt that their kids are acting like jerks to them and stop behaving like a father should in the circumstances.

tog redux's picture

Oh, this is important, and yes, I am replying to myself!  It's also key to get BM on board with this approach. If they are mopey and whiny about it at her house, she needs to also cut it short and tell them their dad is happy, he has a right to marry someone, that you are kind to them, and they need to let it go and move on.  Then ignore their behavior.  If they are allowed to have a mope-fest at Mom's, with her validating their feelings, none of this will work.

twoviewpoints's picture

They are kids. They are angry Dad called them out. Dad got weak the last time the kids took a stand, they are banking on Dad doing exactly what Dad is currently doing. Feeling all butt bad about how robotic and cold his little darlings are behaving.

They can't keep it up forever. A weekend here and there, sure, but 24/7 every other week? Doubtful. Especially if the SS is gearing up for the flu all week. Boys/men are wimps when sick. As he's sitting on the stool with the runs and barfing in the trash can thinking he's about to die at an moment will be a test for Jr as to if he continues the "thank you , Sir, can I be excused now, I'm fine, just leave me alone please". 

Yes, their cold but polite act will toy with Dad's feelings, but Dad just nailed them on their attempt of a power play. This is just act #2... so far their tactic is working. Dad and SM2b are feeling awful. Guilty, even. 

In an intact family where there is no other home to run hide out in, parent/s are use to getting the awkward behavior when they kids are in trouble and get called out on it. Seriously, I can remember my father telling me I could work at being happy again in the same shirt I got angry in (yeah, I was a sixties and seventies child where things like that actually worked, lol). 

It's harder for your Dh because these kids have another house they can escape to. In fact, he already told them once they could just stay over there if they wanted to instead of working on the problems in his home. Quite frankly I'd ignore the cold little robot behavior and chatter away as if things were absolutely normal. I'd have them do their homework wherever they normally always have done their homework. Wherever they want to sit, just get it done.

And for Pete's sake he needs to stop looking like a whipped pup (you stated Dh looked visibly shook). You stated the kids have always been very warm with their father.... I get that, but they are punishing him. If he caves now what will he have taught them?  If he gives in now these kids will own him and his life for the next fifty years. And every time he displeases them they will just use the withholding of affection and do the cold robotic mode to whip him back into shape. 


GhostWhoCooksDinner's picture

OMG, this is EXACTLY what the SSs used to do when they were still coming over, but the PAS was almost fully phased in. When they spoke to us (which was rare, and not unless they were spoken to first), it was like they were robots. No emotion whatsoever. No facial expression, just eerily blank. Even though they'd occasionally make eye contact, it was like you described- like they were staring right through you. Very stilted, scripted phraseology.


DH- Hey, guys, how are ya?

SSs- I'm. Fine. Dad. How. Are. You.

DH- How was your day?

SSs- It. Was. Good. How.  Was. Yours.

Robots. No emotion, no nothing. They were threatened by BM not to have a relationship with DH, or she'd leave them with him, move back home across the country, and never contact them again. This is what the end stage of PAS looks like.