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I've seen a few posts about this, but my situation seems to revolve around some trauma the kids have gone through. My wife and I met and started talking while I was separated from my ex. I couldn't serve her divorce papers, as she was institutionalized and a ward of the state. My lawyer advised I wait until she got out and then serve her. I decided to try and work with her on drafting our own to save money and to keep it amicable. She wouldn't sign because I wanted primary custody of the kids. I maintain to this day I feel they have a better shot in life living with me, and not with the instability her health issues have already caused. After waiting, I went back to my lawyer and we tried to serve her divorce papers with the only address I knew she would be staying. The process server couldn't ever locate her (I also was aware she was trying to serve papers to me asking for the kids to stay with her), so I served her at the only place and time I knew she would be, at the airport to pick the kids up for Christmas Vacation. After I located the process server, I pulled the kids away so they wouldn't have to see what happened. My ex wife blew up, and this turned her into a vindictive, angry person. She apparently wasn't planning to return the kids after the trip, so serving her was good because it at least gave me temporary primary custody, and a reason to get them back. I, with the help of two jurisdictions, was able to locate and bring my kids home (in California while I lived in Illinois). The kids were upset, but understood what was going on. 3 months later, while the divorce proceedings were underway, my ex showed up and started accusing me of being an abusive father, and my current wife of being an abusive stepmother. She would call me at work, call my wife at her work, and stalk us endlessly online. The judge advised that allowing her to visit with the kids while she was staying in town would go a long way and help me look like I was willing to play ball. I did, mainly for the kids' sake, but didn't trust my ex. After the second scheduled visit, she left town with the kids. She would tell the kids (to the point of brainwashing) that they lived in an abusive home, and my oldest and most impressionable son is still affected by this (anxiety and he may have some of his mom's genetics, she's schizo affective and he exhibits symptoms at times). It took 9 months to get them back, but we both at the time felt they were better off with us, because they endured mental abuse, and my oldest son was institutionalized (against his own will and under false pretenses of being suicidal at the age of 10). When they came back, they were awful in terms of their behavior. I got them speaking with a counselor, but along the way, the trauma from this took it's toll on me and I started to withdraw because any time I would punish the kids, I'd be screamed at that I was abusing them. I didn't realize it, but I was still doing that today. My other two are better after years of counseling, but have occasional needs for attention (even negative) and act out to get it. My oldest, has had a couple meltdowns, and my Wife is now saying she doesn't feel safe around him. I know she said that initially when he had a meltdown in January, but after a couple talks with him, and a decision I thought was set in stone to get him better insurance before going down the treatment road. He speaks with a therapist twice a week already, but there isn't progress like we'd like to see. After a couple of months, I lost sight of all of this, and only recently (after she left during our separation) have him enrolled in a more direct treatment plan.


Lately (and when she's also upset), she blames the older kids for delays in our 3 1/2 year old's milestones (potty training and breastfeeding, and being a better eater) and has said this is another reason she's not here. Has anyone else been involved in a mixed family with trauma? If so, what have you done that's helped? Without revealing much, my wife has had childhood trauma that I think are still lingering for her. She's done extensive therapy, but I think at times it becomes an issue of her trusting others, and maybe because of her childhood, she has expectations on how children should behave that go beyond my agreement to have a disciplined household (meaning they have chores, are accountable for their own school work, and clean up after themselves or deal with punishments).
 
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