Question: Dear Luise: I am 52 years old and separated from my wife and in the process of divorce. We have a son 13 in August and our daughter 17 from her previous marriage that we raised together since she was nineteen months. My relationship with our children was fine until a few months ago when my son stopped talking to me and blaming me for the divorce and the financial problems we are having. I am very worried about him since he is in a difficult age and bad circumstances of our divorce and possibly loosing our home. Please advice. M.
Answer: Dear M.: The only thing I know of to do in the circumstances you describe, is to continue to love your son, even though there is no contact at the present time. And if there is any way you can manage to get him counseling and he will accept it, he really needs a non-involved advocate.
Most children don’t care if their parents are happy or not. They want the comfort and security of a solid-appearing home life. It usually doesn’t have to be personally satisfying for either parent, or even minimally compatible…as long as you are both there in the context that they are used to.
Growing up is hard enough; children usually are not interested in what’s going on at home beyond that. They can be pretty self-absorbed and ruthless. Even when things are going really well at home, children can be pretty critical of one or both parents, as a way of shoring themselves up.
Divorce is someone’s fault. That’s the logic. Someone has to be blamed and often…hated. If there are dire financial consequences, then that’s all the more reason for acting out. That’s why it’s often called a “broken home.” There are usually casualties.
You probably can’t expect logic to play a very big part in your son’s attitude. He may come to miss you and reconsider or he may not. In later years, he may benefit from his life experience to the degree that he may eventually see your point of view…or he may not. The ball is in his court and he has very little idea of how to play the game.
As I see it, your only tools are love, an open heart, support (if and when it is accepted) and endless patience. Blessings, Luise