Family complications need advice

I went through a divorce about 6 years ago… I tried to be fair, so fair I left myself open and my children open to what later became an abusive situation. I asked for help from my ex about 3 years ago, I had just gone through surgery to take stage 1 cancer tumor out of my lung and was working hard to get back on my feet again and I needed help with the kids so I asked him and his new wife to help me by taking my eldest for the rest of the school year and summer until I could get on my feet again, our youngest who had always been a momma’s girl stayed with me. I sent our youngest daughter for a visit and that is when they pretty much kidnapped my kids. I wasn’t allowed to call them,see them. they spread around that I had just dropped them off and abandoned them. I fought for a year to get my kids back even taking time off from my new job to go to court, I finnaly did get them back after it was found that not only had they both lied to the court but also were abusing our children. No they are not allowed to see the kids unless they are supervised even then I was fair and agreed to allow his sister (awsome lady) to do the supervising but they did not take advantage of this arrangement and have not seen the kids in almost 3 and a half years.

This week his sister who is trying to fix bridges in her family asked me to allow both my kids to go to a birthday party… I trust her I do I just can’t seem to force myself to trust those who did these things to my family to my girls, I felt bad but I just couldn’t say yes, all day today I I have sat here trying to figure out if maby I shouldn’t give them another chance? I am not talking about my ex and his wife but that side of the family which aided and did nothing to stop the abuse. People that I had never done anything too to make them think or say the things they did.I know my sister in law just wants her family togather and I did promise my mother in law before her death that I would help her if I could but I made that promise before all this happened and it is killing me. I don’t know if I am right to be this afraid. I don’t know if I am doing right by my kids. I am afraid of going through all that again. I was not invited with my kids and honestly I don’t expect to be. I guess I am just second guessing myself, I just want whats good for my kids.

Absolutely do not let them go. I also think it’s inappropriate for little ones to go to a party without their parent, especially into a family environment that allowed their kidnapping and abuse to continue without intervening.

You don’t know if your ex and his wife will come to that party, what if he does and kidnaps them again? Even if the chances are small, it’s not a risk worth taking.

You first duty is not to your mother in law, it is to protect your children. (And frankly I think it’s incredibly suspicious and inappropriate to invite the children but not their mom, who does that?!)

Like you, I would have said no. If the sister wants to have a relationship with your children, perhaps you might find it in your heart to invite her over for dinner? Or meet at a park. I don’t think I’d allow the children to be in her care without you IF you are certain she knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it.

I went through a little of what you are going through, though not so intense.

You have no obligation to send your children to a party without supervision. If the courts allow supervised visitation, and they haven’t taken advantage of that, it’s not up to you to maintain that relationship. Your obligation is the safety of your children. Send a card with their signatures, thank them for the invitation, and leave it at that.


There is NO WAY I’d let my kids attend a party of any family that traumatized my child like that. Not only could you be putting your kids back into a dangerous situation, you’d also be sending your kids a very mixed message that this kind of behavior by this family is normal and acceptable.

I personally would severly limit any contact I had with the family. And I would never leave my kids alone with any of them.

That’s an excellent point. The children, especially the older one, remember the abuse and how scared they must have been. It would do their mental health no good to be around those people again. It doesn’t matter if they weren’t directly involved in the abuse, if they aided the abusers/kidnappers, it’s the same thing.

What is best for your kids is to never see, hear or have any contact whatsoever with the people who abused them. When they are young adults and able to take care of themselves and make their own decisions, then the bridge mending can take place. You do not owe your mother in law anything. Your promise to help your sister in law bring the family together gave her comfort and peace before she passed away; that is enough.

Thank you all for replying. I am not letting my children attend! It hurts me that my sister in law is hurt but there is nothing I can do about that. I also realized something else today.
This trust thing is not two ways with this family. I am suppose to trust them but not one of them trust me though I never gave them one reason to distrust me. I was just told it was a “culture thing” now I am hurt and angry I may be a hienz 57 sauce that looks white but that does not make me untrustworthy! I am so hurt that race was brought into this. My skin being white or the fact that my coulture is american does not make me the bad guy! I am sooo hurt. I don’t know what to do. I trusted my sister in law, if I had ever thought… oh, hell now I understand everything. They must think I am a fool!

If they kidnapped your kids, why are they not in prison?

Not letting them go is the right decision. I appreciate your sister wanting to make peace, but that can’t happen at your children’s expense. I guess im not sure why she doesn’t ‘get’ that? Why would a loving aunt want those poor kids put in that position? Seems a little off to me. Don’t trust her too much.


They are not in prison because when I wrote up my divorce I gave us both equal rights to the kids. Both of us were suppose to be equaly responsible in anything having to do with our kids so when they took them I had no legal footing to stand on there was nothing saying he wasn’t suppose to have them at that time. The police couldn’t do anything because of the way I had written out the visitation, I thought I was being fair. I was being a fool thinking that by being fair I was doing the “right thing”. For all of you going through a divorce, do not try to be fair write it down day for day who is suppose to have the children, when and at what time. I never even asked for child support I only put down we were suppose to share all the cost equaly, 50/50. I didn’t put down how this was suppose to happen, I was hurt but I still trusted that the best interest of my children ment the same to him. I found out it didn’t.
When I filled out the divorce papers i even put down the times of visitation “subject to agreement by both parties”. I didn’t protect myself and at the time I didn’t protect my children I didn’t think I needed to as they were his kids too.You don’t spend 10 years of your youth with a person and not love them and want to believe in them no matter how abusive the marriage was I never thought he would let anything happen to our children. I wanted to believe in his sister I have always loved this family and it killed me to watch it fracture apart. I never thought that this was because I didn’t speak spanish, or I couldn’t cook tortilla’s ( i can now). I never thought this was ever more than my fault that I wasn’t just a little more thick skinned to the insults and disrespect, maby I could have changed thier minds and shown them I was a good person worthy of respect and trust.But now it’s a “culture thing” how can I fight against that?

What culture is your ex’s family from?

Why don’t they trust you/didn’t invite you to the party?

Flying fish,

I don’t know, I have never lied to them nor have I ever given them any reason to distrust me. My ex is a resident alian ( though I didn’t know until well after we were married, i know that sounds wierd but he has a social security number and an american drivers licence) His family is first generation Mexican American. I was so young when we married, only 18, he was 13 years my senior. Me I am a hienz 57 sauce, I am an american. I learned today it is my “culture” What the heck does that mean? I cant be trusted because of my “culture?” I have never lied, I never stole, I was alway polite even when others were not to me. I have protected my children to the best of my abilities. Maby I can’t cook “mexican” but I am a good person. Maby I don’t speak ( though I do understand) spanish. Maby I didn’t go off the wall when someone dished out the huge amounts of disrespect I niether deserved nor earned during our marraige but I gave my best to them, I was always the first one along with my mother in law to forgive and move on. What in the heck does “culture” have anything to do with that? I was so lonely during my marraige… I have been pretty much alone since our divorce, I relied on my sister in law, I would not have cared if she had been purple and spoke in a dialect or cooked with a flare never seen before on earth. My “culture?” What is that?

It sounds like an excuse. Maybe inviting the kids to the party is a ploy by the family to have them be around their father. That would be my guess as to why they chose not to invite you. But they can’t very well tell you that, so they give you some excuse about how it’s your culture.

It seems pretty strange to invite young children to the family party without their mother, especially given the history. Maybe the sister who is trying to repair bridges thinks the most important bridge to repair is between the children and their father, and so she plans to have the father be there.

Considering how he treated your children it would be traumatizing for them, so you’re doing the right thing by not going.

Flying Fish,

This is why I am so hurt and angry! My sister in law is one of the people who can legaly supervise a supervised visitation. There is no reason for lies or excuses here.

But the father has never come to supervised visitation even though it’s been 3 years since he saw his children?

What is supervised visitation like? Does it happen in a room with the kids, him, and her? Or can they go anywhere?

My guess would be that she feels its her duty to try to reunite him with the kids, since he is not visiting of his own free will.

You could try confronting her about it and seeing what she says.


Take a deep breath.

Your PTSD is kicking in.

Yes, you have it. I promise you.

Now. Not every narcissist abuses his wife and disobeys the law and kidnaps his kids when his wife has cancer and then claims she dumped them off and lies to a judge. But everyone who does that kind of thing IS a narcissist. It takes a special kind of person to behave like that.

It’s not about culture. But they are bringing up an accusation to put YOU on the defensive.

And it worked. Don’t bite.

I wish you had a lawyer back then to shake you by the shoulders and make sure you put more protective language into the agreement. Nice is for marriage. Once a divorce goes on, nice and fair go out the window. There is no way to be nice and fair when someone is destroying their family. There is only self-protection or allowing them to use the courts to abuse you further.

Having said that, he’s a class-A jerk whose new wife is also a jerk. And it takes a special kind of family to breed that into a person. Liars think everyone else is lying. So that’s why they don’t trust YOU. It’s not you. It’s them. I promise. Your SIL may have a heart of gold, but so does a hard boiled egg. It means nothing in this situation. That family is unfixable. So don’t let her use your children as some healing balm. She can’t fix what’s wrong there. If the man can’t be bothered to see his own children, they’ve already dealt with the trauma of the kidnapping, not seeing you, your illness and his desertion and neglect. Don’t add more stress to them. Someday when they are 18, it will be their choice to have a relationship with him on THEIR terms. Not the aunt’s, not the father’s, and not the court’s.

YOU take care of them and yourself. OUR culture says you don’t ignore court orders, flout the law and kidnap children from a parent going through chemo. If they have a problem with that, hasta la vista, baby. The border is really close. They can use it.

On party day, YOU go take your kids and do something special with them. You’ve earned it.

AMEN TO ALL THIS!!! I do not think it is a culture thing either and I am hispanic too. I am not Mexican American, but as I read your thread, I just saw a man and his new wife who were two jerks and who was a narcissist, as stated above. This above is good advice. It is not a culture thing.

Live your life with your kids and move on. If the father is out of your children’s life for now, all the better. He has messed up their life enough. They need healing now and with Jesus’ help, that can happen. I won’t worry so much about allowing the SIL getting the kids together with daddy.

I would get an attorney and see if you can fix your divorce papers. I know it can be done for my sister is having hers redone for ex did kidnap her son for one week too. The law can’t do anything for they have shared parenting and it is a matter for the courts. He was in contempt but the police could not get involved, but in her new paperwork, she is putting in there that if he takes the kids outside his visitation times and keeps them, the police can intervine and get the children out of his house or whereever they may be with the father and given to the mother (my sister). She is also being very specific on visitation times and drop offs. You have to be with narcissist. Try to change your divorce paperwork if you can. Hire an attorney, is my advice.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit