After enduring months of trash-talking, Alana and her kids have hit back - and her ex-husband has no idea.
My marriage was over before it began. Dylan and I were together for six years before we married and soon after had our daughter, Paige. Then our son, Emerson, came along before we had time to think about what was happening.
We had our heads firmly entrenched in our parenting books, and by the time we looked up at each other around Emerson’s second birthday, we realised we’d well and truly fallen out of love.
There was no blame, no anger – just sadness
But that was all long ago. Our children are now 14 and 12. We’ve both moved on and we get along and co-parent well enough.
Dylan has remarried a lovely woman called Helena and they have a baby boy together. Paige and Emerson stay with them two nights a week, and spend some of their school holidays over there – the rest of the time they’re with me.
Recently, Dylan started criticising me to our kids, which is something he’s never done before. It’s coincided with me getting into a serious relationship for the first time since we separated.
Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.
'He's never been this nasty before.' Image: iStock.
He always makes it a joke apparently, as so many insidious men do
The 'humour' makes it harder to call them out on their behaviour, but the message is clear enough. He tells them my partner Michael is a loser and that he tells me lies and I’m gullible enough to believe them.
He says I’m uptight and bad with money, and that Michael has no idea what he’s getting himself into. He even tells them I’m highly critical – which is so ironic I can hardly stand it.
But it’s all “just jokes”.
I find it strange because the children spend most of their time with me, and you’d have to imagine if pressed to choose between me and their dad, their allegiance would not be over there. Which is exactly what has happened.
My kids have started coming home from their dad’s place each week and the first thing they do is tell me what he’s said about me this week. Paige finds it pretty funny, but I can see that it upsets Emerson. Both of them have said they think their dad is behaving like a jerk.
Don't raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind: Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.
I thought about telling Dylan that I’ve heard about what he’s saying, and asking him to stop because it’s upsetting the children. But I know from experience he doesn’t like being told by me “how to parent”.
'He won't let me say anything.' Image: iStock.
I’d never consider retaliating and telling the children what I really think of him
Those kids love their father and I never want them to think anything bad about him. It’s not good for him and more importantly, it’s not good for them.
I thought about doing nothing, but I could see that it was becoming an issue for my children and I didn’t want them to feel badly about what was going on.
So Paige came up with a plan to lighten the mood a bit, and mess with her dad. I wouldn’t have asked her to do it, but after one weekend with her dad she came home and told me she got sick of fielding criticisms of my relationship with Michael.
So we came up with a plan to mess with him
Rather than grinning and bearing his barrage, she agreed with her dad. He’d just told her he thought Michael had made up his professional qualifications – he’s a university lecturer with a PhD in geophysics – because he wanted to “get in my pants”.
Repeat: I am not a short-order cook. "It's a child's job to learn to eat what the parents eat," says Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and the author of Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family. Instead of the all-or-nothing scenario, offer a variety of foods at mealtime: the main course, plus rice or pasta, a fruit or vegetable, and milk. This way, your child can eat just the pasta and the peas and get protein from the milk. "What a child eats over the course of a day or a week is more important than a balanced meal at one sitting," says Stephen Daniels, the chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora.
Paige says she leaned in conspiratorially to her dad and said, “I think you’re right, Dad, he’s totally suss.”
'She told her dad exactly what he wanted to hear.' Image: iStock.
She says her dad seemed pleased with that and told her he feels sorry for me
Paige thinks her dad feels threatened by Michael because he’s younger, more professionally successful, and has a better head of hair.
Since then, Paige has made out to her dad that she’s on a mission to uncover the truth. She feeds her dad all sorts of stories about Michael’s so-called “lies”, and says that they’re all working on me.
We're all in on it
Paige, Emerson and I now sit around the kitchen table working out what Michael has said this week that he could just be making up to impress me.
Michael and I have been talking about moving in together, along with the children, and Paige wants to tell her dad that Michael is using our house to store weapons or harvest organs from desperate students, but I think he might finally cotton on.
It would serve him right though.
Matt Damon parodies parents at Christmas
Respect parenting differences. Support your spouse's basic approach to raising kids - unless it's way out of line. Criticizing or arguing with your partner will do more harm to your marriage and your child's sense of security than if you accept standards that are different from your own.
Matt Damon parodies parents at Christmas