I’m Losing my Eldest Son

Question: Dear Luise: My “ex” in laws have always been phony to my face and trash-talked me to my 17 year-old son. Now, for the first time ever my son is living w/his dad and seems to have a lot of anger towards me. When my friends see him and they see the lack of respect he has for me, they have said to him, “your mother loves you and she has always been there for you.” He gets really defensive and thinks I have been trash-talking his dad to them. I have never kept him from his grandparents or his dad as long as he was clean. His dad was not part of his life for the first 14 years. He got caught up in drugs when my son was just an infant. I only told my son that his dad’s not a bad guy, that drugs make good people make bad choices. His dad is now clean and has been clean for about 7 years. When he came back into my sons life three to four years ago, I encouraged the relationship and signed off on 14 years of back child support as long as he would take care of orthodontic work needed and I never had his child support increased. So, I have been receiving $141.00 a month for the last few years and nothing else. I know that he made close to six figures last year which would be all fine except that my son doesn’t see the things I have done that are good and I feel that it’s because of all the terrible things his grandparents have said about me to my own son. They have always undermined me when it came to disciplining and have always told people fabricated, hurtful stories about me. There’s a lot more to this story, but in a nutshell, the grandparents love my son and would do anything for HIM. His dad seems to be a good man now that he is clean and I am a good, big-hearted person.  My two younger children that are not related to these grandparents, think I’m the greatest mom in the world. I love all my children the same. The biggest differences in my parenting with my oldest and my two younger ones is that I was seven years older when I had my two younger and I didn’t have to work two jobs for the first five years of their lives. I am hurting so badly right now and am not sure what to do anymore. I do know that I don’t want to make this already torn relationship worse with my son. As for the grandparents, well I don’t know what to d, either.  That’s why I am here. A.

Answer:
Dear A.: A nearly grown son who goes to stay with is dad and then trashes his mother is a very common complaint on this site. Being appreciated isn’t something that often comes with the territory. The circumstances you describe often surface without any help from subversive grandparents but of course they can’t help but make it worse.

I think you are wise not to rock the boat because of you son’s age. You aren’t going to change anything and you could easily make it worse. You also can’t change the grandparents. They are how they are. The backstabbing is unfair, unkind and untrue but they will probably continue with it no matter what you do.

As far as I can see, your only course of action is to live your life with dignity, be there for your older son if and when he is responsive to that and wait it out. He may eventually see through all of this without your help. It’s not a guarantee but it’s a possibility. Blessings, Luise

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