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Update on my son

Update on my son

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Casual scribe
Graeme
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Update on my son

Basically my now 18 yo son abruptly moved into his Mum's place 4 months ago hasn't answered my emails etc. He was seeing a psychiatrist for depression. 

I spoke to a counselor and we have agreed that circumstances don't​ match his depression behaviour. Mainly because he is in contact with my parents and my sister. The feedback from sister is that he is avoiding because he has taken sides with his mother on our divorce 16 years ago. 

The counselor and I agree that it's up to him to make the first step in the reconciliation. I feel that I don't know why I spent 16 years in conflict with ex and the family law industry to ensure I had a significant time and a good relationship with him. It would have been much easier and less stressful to simply walk away from both of them.

 

I am not exactly feeling the dreads that you got when a close relationship breaks down, but I do think about him a lot and my jaw has become sore and stiff. 

Somedays are worse than others. This weekend it was his 18th birthday and I found out yesterday my parents, sister and niece went out to dinner with him on Saturday night. Basically mum said he is very happy and he has turned into a fine young man. I replied that its great that he is happy now that I'm not a part of his life. 

 

Please note that there was no conflict from my side and none that I was aware of from his side. So I have no idea why he hates me so much


Accepted Solutions
Parent Peer Supporter
taokat
Solution

Re: Update on my son

Hi @Graeme,

 

It must be such a hard thing for you to be dealing with. As these other wonderful and insightful parents have mentioned, having suppport for yourself is very important as this is such a heartbreaking time for you. 

 

My situation is a little different, as I'm the parent raising the child who has no relationship with their dad, due to different circumstances than yours, but I wonder if the youth psychology is similar? My daughter's father, and his family, have chosen to be absent during her life, apart from 2 failed attempts at contact. Very sad.

 

18 months ago she decided she wanted to meet her dad. So long story short, we did that, but she quickly became cold and unresponsive towards him and didn't want to see him again for our second meeting. (We'd always had postive conversations about her dad, and she grew up being told he loved her, so there was no bad mouthing him.) Her dad and I went to see my daughter's counsellor so she could educate him on her issues. She had warned that not wanting anymore contact was to be expected. 

 

The counsellor advised him to keep up weekly contact, telling her about his week, maybe send a photo from where he lived (NT), or of his dog (she loves animals). She advised him not to ask how she was or what she was doing, but just to tell her that he loved her, was thinking of her, was there for her if she needed and would be in contact next week. The idea was that he would build trust with her where she knew he loved her no matter what contact they had - that he was there for her first, and could put his wants and needs aside to provide hers first. I hope that makes sense!

 

So as a mum on the other side, I agree with just keeping in contact, keeping up your emails to him. Be a reliable constant in his life. He's still so young and whether he is showing it or not, I can bet he's missing you. Anger can be so confusing to deal with, as it can come from many places. And it's awful to be on the receiving end of it, especially when it's coming from your child. Quite possibly if questioned, your son may not be able to explain why he's so angry with you. Not that that makes it any easier for us parents!

 

It's very clear you love and miss your son immensely. These hormonal years can be so difficult to navigate. I used to be told to always be Kinder, Wiser, Stronger. 

 

 

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Super contributor
Ngaio-RO

Re: update on my son

Hi @Graeme

 

Just letting you know I moved this from where it was, to here, as this is a better spot for it. If it stayed there was a good chance nobody would see it. I hope that makes sense. Please don't hesitate to ask of you have any questions about this sort of thing.

 

I'm so sorry to hear that things have not improved. It's heartbreaking when you get to a place where it feels like giving up long ago would have been the lesser of two evils. It may not feel like it now but there's still a chance your son will mature and start to see things differently. If you had walked away in the past, you would have ended any chance for reconciliation.

 

A sore and stiff jaw suggests tension. Is that what it felt like? My suggestion is to try and keep talking about what's happening for you. Whether it's with your counsellor, or to a friend or family member or even here. Just as long as you're getting an opprotunity to debrief.

 

Do you have some good support people around you @Graeme ?

 

Active scribe
mum2twins

Re: Update on my son

Hi @Graeme. I'm new here and most probably not at all qualified to make much of a response but I just wanted to see how you're doing. The part of your update that really struck me is that you're really beating yourself up, saying your son hates you and is happy that you're not a part of his life. By the sounds of your update he's definitely angry about something right now but I 100% agree with @Ngaio-RO that a) there's every chance he'll come back into your life and b) you need a support base and someone you can talk to, to help you get some further perspective so you can manage your own stress and self-esteem.

 

Two anecdotes that come to mind:

 

1. My dad gave me an ultimatum when I was 18 and I moved out of home. We had some tumultuous years to say the least. Years later someone asked him about this and he said: "I kicked her out because I knew that she knew I loved her, she could always come back, she just overstepped the boundaries and needed to work out for herself how to be a part of our family". Perhaps your son is doing something similar? He knows you love him and he loves you but he's got to figure out how for himself how to deal with his family, the divorce, his depression, the conflict between you and your ex... it sounds like a tough gig for a 19 year old.

 

2. We've been having some financial difficulty this past year and the stress really got on top of me at Xmas when I was vomiting every morning for about a week. I just didn't want to get out of bed and I started to shut down. But with three kids, a business to run and an MBA to finish I didn't have a lot of choice. So I started walking every morning - a 1 hour walk with the dog - and this let me clear my head as well as making me physically fitter and ready for the day. I even chat to the dog like she's my therapist. Now I try to not focus on the 'big picture' or what might be, but just plan the day ahead and deal with what I can control right now. I wondered whether breaking your situation down into more manageable chunks, rather than beating yourself up over the past or contemplating the future, might help you through this phase of your relationship with your son?

 

Anyway, you most certainly sound like someone who is striving to be a great parent and a great person and I'm sure your son will see this in you again. I hope in the mean time this forum can be one place you can debrief as @Ngaio-RO suggests.

 

Good luck with it all.

Super contributor
Ngaio-RO

Re: Update on my son

Message contains a hyperlink

Completely agree with your post @mum2twins and you reminded me of a situation someone close to me is going through that I think adds weight to what you're saying. I hope you don't mind me running with this @Graeme.

My friend had a horrible divorce and acrimonious custody dispute over his 3 sons. Because his nature is passive he felt he had to walk away. His view was he would return when the boys were 18 and they were free to make their own choices. He was very close to them when he was in the family home and hoped that would linger in the boy's minds. 

Day comes when the eldest turns 18. My friend calls him and says "I'd like to be in your life now." His son responds with the fairly predictable "I don't know you. Eff off." My friend is devastated. Later he seeks me out because he knows what I do for a job and asks me my opinion. My view is that 18 is NOT an adult. It's an age we decided meant that we would hand over adult like responsibilities and legally treat that person as an adult. Unfortunately we now know that, especially with males, 18 is not a significant period in terms of development. Their brains are still maturing, they are still bound by their hormones and they have had almost zero real life experience and almosy zero emotional maturity. A lot more happens at around 21, 22, 23. That's when young people tend to start understanding their parents as people. Having more perspective on their parent's relationships and forming opinions on what they did.

 

So similar to what @mum2twins is suggesting, @Graeme do you think it's possible he just needs to mature a little? 

And if you're warming to the idea of speaking to someone, Mensline is a wonderful service for men to speak to other men. https://www.mensline.org.au/

Contributor
motherbear

Re: Update on my son

Hi Graeme , I m so sorry to hear that your relationship with your son has broken down . It is very hard when one or both parents involve the child in their agendas and it can be so detrimental to the child's emotional wellbeing and subsequent relationship with the alienated parent . You must be feeling so sad , stressed and pushed out . It can be a lonely hurtful place to find yourself . While not knowing the other side , I would say that for you it's important to know if you have hurt or upset him in anyway , you can't change anything if you're not made aware of what you have done according to your son's perception . Perception is reality and what he has experienced maybe very different to your view of your relationship .  We all make mistakes in parenting ! My daughter sees our arguments with a very different logic to me , and seeing it from her view without giving over my self power as a parent as been a huge learning curve for me . Saying sorry when I realise I have overreacted and saying  " I get where you are coming from and understand your view  and why you are upset even though I don't agree with it " has helped me enormously !  

Things to perhaps try with him : continue the emails or even hand written letters , telling him how much you mean to him and why you are proud of him .

Never criticise or be disparaging to his mum or others in his life  even if you hear it from him  first . 

Be supportive and encouraging . Ask him lots of questions about his life and interests , his opinions on things . 

Tell him that if you have hurt him in anyway please let you know so that you can sort it out and apologise . 

Take responsibility for your part in this breakdown - whatever he " feels " that is .

Denying his right to perception will only make things worse at the same time do not  cop it for something you know you didn't do !!  

Be firm but loving about your stance . 

He is an adult now so your relationship , will change to one of two adults , you are still a parent but in a different way .  Start to see him as a grown up with his own views, choices and opinions , ask his advice on stuff ( my 16 year old loves that ! ) 

Never give up on him , he is still maturing psycho-emotionally and teens go through  a huge development stage between 18 and 25 . As he learns more about the world and how to navigate relationships he will not see his loved ones in such black and white terms . Best of luck , stay strong and  motivated ! 

 

Prolific scribe
taziness

Re: Update on my son

This is really challenging @Graeme, thanks for reaching out Smiley Wink and sharing the journey. Hopefully it will help to unburden you a little. 

 

I have a son much younger, 12 who decided he wanted to live full time with his father a couple of years ago and seems much happier for it, even though I have issues about it (lifestyle choices) I have learned to put them aside. Our relationship is 'ok' but I often speculate about it might go over the coming years of adolescence, hence building up a support network for myself here!

 

It's really hard when they close up from you, I have two teenagers as well. I've found pulling right back myself, and practising open, gentle, accepting dialogue helpful and then just patiently waiting (or coaxing if necessary!) But then, they are also girls Smiley Wink

eyintas/Empowering Youth in Tasmania
Parent Peer Supporter
taokat
Solution

Re: Update on my son

Hi @Graeme,

 

It must be such a hard thing for you to be dealing with. As these other wonderful and insightful parents have mentioned, having suppport for yourself is very important as this is such a heartbreaking time for you. 

 

My situation is a little different, as I'm the parent raising the child who has no relationship with their dad, due to different circumstances than yours, but I wonder if the youth psychology is similar? My daughter's father, and his family, have chosen to be absent during her life, apart from 2 failed attempts at contact. Very sad.

 

18 months ago she decided she wanted to meet her dad. So long story short, we did that, but she quickly became cold and unresponsive towards him and didn't want to see him again for our second meeting. (We'd always had postive conversations about her dad, and she grew up being told he loved her, so there was no bad mouthing him.) Her dad and I went to see my daughter's counsellor so she could educate him on her issues. She had warned that not wanting anymore contact was to be expected. 

 

The counsellor advised him to keep up weekly contact, telling her about his week, maybe send a photo from where he lived (NT), or of his dog (she loves animals). She advised him not to ask how she was or what she was doing, but just to tell her that he loved her, was thinking of her, was there for her if she needed and would be in contact next week. The idea was that he would build trust with her where she knew he loved her no matter what contact they had - that he was there for her first, and could put his wants and needs aside to provide hers first. I hope that makes sense!

 

So as a mum on the other side, I agree with just keeping in contact, keeping up your emails to him. Be a reliable constant in his life. He's still so young and whether he is showing it or not, I can bet he's missing you. Anger can be so confusing to deal with, as it can come from many places. And it's awful to be on the receiving end of it, especially when it's coming from your child. Quite possibly if questioned, your son may not be able to explain why he's so angry with you. Not that that makes it any easier for us parents!

 

It's very clear you love and miss your son immensely. These hormonal years can be so difficult to navigate. I used to be told to always be Kinder, Wiser, Stronger. 

 

 

View solution in original post

Super contributor
Ngaio-RO

Re: Update on my son

Thank you for that @taokat That's a lovely insight from the other side. I hope @Graeme gets a chance to read this.

Casual scribe
Graeme

Re: Update on my son

Thanks taokat
Parent Peer Supporter
taokat

Re: Update on my son

Hi @Graeme, I hope the advice we were given helps you. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are going. 

 

It may still be a slow process, so we're still here if you need support for the duration. 

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