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Caught in the middle


BecxyRex
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Hi, first of, happy Father’s Day to all the dads on this forum!

 

I got myself in the middle of a custody battle, know I don’t want to be in it and am removing myself from it, but still am unsure how I feel and would appreciate some advice.

 

Some of you remember I just recently got some messages from my neighbor who had issues with her baby’s father. I ended that conversation quickly and we are still on good terms, but I’m not talking to her about any of those issues, since I don’t want to be involved. Anyway, now there’s yet another couple my fiancé and I know from our daughters daycare, who are having awful custody fights and we got caught in the middle of them.

We know both parents from our daycare and have met at their house for last years july 4th celebrations. At that point there were no marriage issues we were aware of. We don’t know them well by any means, and they aren’t a part of our regular friend group. They separated last fall and the woman reached out to me for 2 coffee and play dates since then. They were enjoyable for the most part. The kids get along great! She did start telling me quite a few very personal things the ex husband did and I felt it was a bit much for me to hear all of this. I stayed friendly and sympathetic but didn’t engage her any further about these issues. She’d reach out a few times and instantly turned these conversations we had to bash her ex, sending screenshots of really private messages between the two of them. I told her I’m uncomfortable with this info and I hope for them to find their peace, but don’t need to know all of this. Since then I’ve kept my distance to her.

The ex husband, who got along with my fiancé really well last year reached out to us last week asking if we wanted to come over to the house for a play date and a swim. We agreed and all had a great time. The kids had a blast and we never even once spoke about the divorce or her.

 

This morning I got a message from his ex wife with a photo of our car in his drive way, asking if we were there yesterday and if her and I are ok. So apparently the guys neighbor is keeping tabs of who comes and goes and sends the ex wife photos of cars parked at his place. Including ours. I told her I don’t want to be under surveillance and we’re not taking sides and like them both. I don’t need to ask her if it’s ok to go anywhere. I know this and we are going to keep our distance to both of them until things have blown over, but a part of me still feels like I’ve somehow betrayed her. I’d love to hear opinions. Btw all the things she’s mentioned to me do not involve abuse or anything. As far as I can tell it’s mostly about money and child support. He makes a good amount and this seems to be about selling the house, him not paying her etc.

 

I know logically we didn’t do anything wrong and will remove ourselves entirely. I feel bad for their kids, but even that isn’t my issue. There’s still a tiny part of me that thinks because i met her alone twice before and know dirty details of her divorce somehow should make me her ally... I just feel sort of guilty and angry to be dragged into this, when I just wanted a happy afternoon with my family and my daughters friends.

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Thanks Seraphim! I’ve told them we can’t be involved in their divorce and we are open to play dates if it’s just that. But are also uncomfortable going over there if it involves being video monitored and questioned. It’s a shame because I genuinely like them individually, but for the sake of my emotional health I need to stay out of this.

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Thanks Seraphim! I’ve told them we can’t be involved in their divorce and we are open to play dates if it’s just that. But are also uncomfortable going over there if it involves being video monitored and questioned. It’s a shame because I genuinely like them individually, but for the sake of my emotional health I need to stay out of this.

 

I would not be comfortable with surveillance either. I probably wouldn’t bother with either person.

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Tough situation.

 

I think you handled things excellently after the strange text about the car. But, hey, people can get pretty weird and off-kilter during breakups, so it is what it is. In your shoes? I'd see if your exchange allows for a Switzerland-like neutrality in things, which of course will be predicated on her own behavior moving forward, along with whether you can feel, well, genuinely Swiss in your spirit while interacting with each of them. If not, you retreat a bit, to give them space to work through what needs to be worked though during these fraught days.

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I'm a mother so I think like a mother just like you, BecxyRex.

 

I would tell your friend that it's all about the kids and their right to enjoy their childhood friends. I'd tell your friend that as mothers, it's about being selfless and thinking of the enjoyment of the next generation as opposed to getting caught up in adult drama which is immature and senseless. Divert the focus onto the children when you explain your reason for being at her ex's house and anything to do with her ex. Tell her that you will remain neutral and their marital concerns are between them and NOT you. Tell your friend that both of you will practice enforcing healthy, respectful boundaries.

 

As for her sending you photos and sharing too many personal details regarding herself, her ex and her discord with her ex, respectfully let her know that you will no longer accept her PMs and screenshots. Give her fair warning and tell her that if she continues to be relentless, you will resort to blocking. Be gentle yet firm.

 

There must be mutual respect and if not, then you must enforce it.

 

You have no control over the neighbor spying on where you park your car.

 

I agree, you don't require your friend's permission to do anything.

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Becky.

 

Definitely step away for the time being.

 

Believe me you do not want to be caught in the cross-fire in this custody battle. Such battles can escalate horribly and the O.K. Corral will seem like a an afternoon tea party by comparison.

 

Their lawyer is the only person who needs to be involved and to whom she (or he) should be disclosing information.

 

The surveillance thing is most distasteful, and as for the amateur "spy" s/he is headed for crossfire territory!

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You absolutely did not do anything wrong. She's the one who attempted to drag you into her drama, and you clearly told her you didn't feel comfortable hearing all the intimate details. There's nothing wrong with accepting a swim date with her ex husband.

 

Don't feel guilty about this. It was wrong of her to even confront you about it. What you do is none of her business. Continue to be friends with both of them, if that's what you want. Don't let her drag you down.

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What did she say after you told her you don't want to be under surveillance?

 

I don't think there's any need to get openly irritated with her (not that you have). You handled it just fine. Just stay as calm as possible. Sometimes people go through their own turmoil and personal struggles to the point where they don't recognize themselves in that difficult situation. If you've never been through a divorce yourself or one involving young kids you have no way of knowing what's going through her heart and mind.

 

She will eventually understand that regardless of her opinions or her struggles, it won't affect the way your kids interact with hers or the way you and your husband choose to interact with both parents.

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Tough situation.

 

I think you handled things excellently after the strange text about the car. But, hey, people can get pretty weird and off-kilter during breakups, so it is what it is. In your shoes? I'd see if your exchange allows for a Switzerland-like neutrality in things, which of course will be predicated on her own behavior moving forward, along with whether you can feel, well, genuinely Swiss in your spirit while interacting with each of them. If not, you retreat a bit, to give them space to work through what needs to be worked though during these fraught days.

 

Thank you Blue! What you say makes perfect sense and I’m not sure I could be swiss neutral at the moment. I honestly felt she was overstepping big time and I think I’ll need a break from all of this and let some grass grow over the situation.

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I'm a mother so I think like a mother just like you, BecxyRex.

 

I would tell your friend that it's all about the kids and their right to enjoy their childhood friends. I'd tell your friend that as mothers, it's about being selfless and thinking of the enjoyment of the next generation as opposed to getting caught up in adult drama which is immature and senseless. Divert the focus onto the children when you explain your reason for being at her ex's house and anything to do with her ex. Tell her that you will remain neutral and their marital concerns are between them and NOT you. Tell your friend that both of you will practice enforcing healthy, respectful boundaries.

 

As for her sending you photos and sharing too many personal details regarding herself, her ex and her discord with her ex, respectfully let her know that you will no longer accept her PMs and screenshots. Give her fair warning and tell her that if she continues to be relentless, you will resort to blocking. Be gentle yet firm.

 

There must be mutual respect and if not, then you must enforce it.

 

You have no control over the neighbor spying on where you park your car.

 

I agree, you don't require your friend's permission to do anything.

 

Great points, thanks so much. I was mentioning how much fun the kids had in our exchange quite a few times and mentioned how well her little boy played with my daughter sharing all his toys, watching out she wouldn’t get hurt. She didn’t seem to even listen to that and kept on pointing out all the bad things her ex is accused of. As if we would somehow contribute to a negative outcome for her by having a play date. The divorce was not even mentioned once during our stay there. I’m really sorry she’s hurting, but I’m more sorry that her son is going through this. He did bring up a few times that not a lot of friends stop by any more and I’m wondering if those parents get the same treatment. Thank you so much for your input.

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What did she say after you told her you don't want to be under surveillance?

 

I don't think there's any need to get openly irritated with her (not that you have). You handled it just fine. Just stay as calm as possible. Sometimes people go through their own turmoil and personal struggles to the point where they don't recognize themselves in that difficult situation. If you've never been through a divorce yourself or one involving young kids you have no way of knowing what's going through her heart and mind.

 

She will eventually understand that regardless of her opinions or her struggles, it won't affect the way your kids interact with hers or the way you and your husband choose to interact with both parents.

 

She didn’t say anything or even apologized that it might make me feel awkward. She seemed to have no reservation about sending me the photo, questioning my whereabouts. It definitely made me pause and step away from the situation. It’s just not a way to approach anyone. She shouldn’t have questioned me in the first place.

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Everyone thank you so much, I feel much better about this after hearing everyone’s opinion. We are going to take a step back while they sort themselves out. We have let them know to reach out if they want a play date later after things are more settled. I feel bad and don’t want to desert anyone in times of desperation, but we simply don’t know each other well enough to even be that involved.

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Its a shame that the kids have to suffer. I mean, i get that she doesn't want you to be besties with her ex - and feel she recruited you for "her side" by inviting you to coffee and striking first.

If the kids are good friends, I would only agree to meet at the park, etc, and not go to either of their houses. say "our children are friends. They want to play together. I will meet my child with whoever has your child that day so they can play, but since its a problem, I will just meet up with the kids at the park (or other public place if you are allowed to ie covid). I would also make sure your child meets up with other children - its also a good time to include a child that is normally not included by the other kids - the new kid, etc.

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Are the children really close friends? Like, if your kids don't play with their kids anymore, will they be really upset? The reason why I'm asking is, do you think maybe it might be best to just stop hanging out with this couple all together? I think this woman is inappropriate and she is behaving very over the top in various ways. That is ridiculous that the next door neighbour is taking photos of who comes to the ex husband's house! The neighbour is spying on him! And also isn't it illegal to take photos of people or their possessions without asking their permission? It may be best that you don't spend time with these people anymore. I mean someone is spying on you and photographing your car! That's creepy!

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Its a shame that the kids have to suffer. I mean, i get that she doesn't want you to be besties with her ex - and feel she recruited you for "her side" by inviting you to coffee and striking first.

If the kids are good friends, I would only agree to meet at the park, etc, and not go to either of their houses. say "our children are friends. They want to play together. I will meet my child with whoever has your child that day so they can play, but since its a problem, I will just meet up with the kids at the park (or other public place if you are allowed to ie covid). I would also make sure your child meets up with other children - its also a good time to include a child that is normally not included by the other kids - the new kid, etc.

 

Meeting at a neutral place is a good idea, if it happens again. We want to step back for a bit at least, before we might meet up again. If the kids still have the desire to play together in a month or 2. Thanks for your input!

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Are the children really close friends? Like, if your kids don't play with their kids anymore, will they be really upset? The reason why I'm asking is, do you think maybe it might be best to just stop hanging out with this couple all together? I think this woman is inappropriate and she is behaving very over the top in various ways. That is ridiculous that the next door neighbour is taking photos of who comes to the ex husband's house! The neighbour is spying on him! And also isn't it illegal to take photos of people or their possessions without asking their permission? It may be best that you don't spend time with these people anymore. I mean someone is spying on you and photographing your car! That's creepy!

 

Yeah I’ve been considering this as well. My daughter is 3 and her sons are 2 and 5. The older one and my daughter get along really well, but at this age she makes friends so easily and we have other regulars we see. It will be sad but it won’t be the end of the world. I think we want to just step back and not reach out for a while. If they do reach out we’ll see how we feel after some time has passed. I agree, the camera was what really shocked me most. I looked up how legal it is and here you can have security cameras pointed toward the other homes as long as you’re not getting the inside or their backyards I believe. She’s within her rights as far as I know. It’s just incredibly creepy to then send that picture to me asking if it’s our car she sees. And be so shameless about it too. I’d just never do that, especially not anyone I’m not even that close with.

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Yeah I’ve been considering this as well. My daughter is 3 and her sons are 2 and 5. The older one and my daughter get along really well, but at this age she makes friends so easily and we have other regulars we see. It will be sad but it won’t be the end of the world. I think we want to just step back and not reach out for a while. If they do reach out we’ll see how we feel after some time has passed. I agree, the camera was what really shocked me most. I looked up how legal it is and here you can have security cameras pointed toward the other homes as long as you’re not getting the inside or their backyards I believe. She’s within her rights as far as I know. It’s just incredibly creepy to then send that picture to me asking if it’s our car she sees. And be so shameless about it too. I’d just never do that, especially not anyone I’m not even that close with.

Good call. I would avoid her , she can’t even apologize for her shameless invasion of privacy.

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Everyone thank you so much, I feel much better about this after hearing everyone’s opinion. We are going to take a step back while they sort themselves out. We have let them know to reach out if they want a play date later after things are more settled. I feel bad and don’t want to desert anyone in times of desperation, but we simply don’t know each other well enough to even be that involved.

 

That's a good idea. Give them time and space. Enforce healthy boundaries. Kids cannot enjoy each other's company if parents are uncomfortable, tense and stressed. I agree with others, perhaps more neutral ground such as a park and picnic would be a better idea than houses. If you are still unhappy with this arrangement, then exit this friendship and get develop a new set of friends with children. Don't deal anymore. Don't bother. This is what I do nowadays. Either people behave properly with utmost integrity or I don't want anything to do with them anymore. It's as simple and straight forward as that.

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Yes, Becky.

 

I think this is downright creepy:

 

"It’s just incredibly creepy to then send that picture to me asking if it’s our car she sees. And be so shameless about it too. I’d just never do that, especially not anyone I’m not even that close with".

 

And to think those neighbours are prepared to take on the role of very amateur private eyes!

 

Well it says more about her than about you. I don't have any patience with people like that.

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Yes, Becky.

 

I think this is downright creepy:

 

"It’s just incredibly creepy to then send that picture to me asking if it’s our car she sees. And be so shameless about it too. I’d just never do that, especially not anyone I’m not even that close with".

 

And to think those neighbours are prepared to take on the role of very amateur private eyes!

 

Well it says more about her than about you. I don't have any patience with people like that.

 

I agree . She is going to lose a lot of friends.

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