Question: Dear Luise: I have two kids -16 and 14. I have always had them live with me. My oldest daughter thinks I am great and I thought my son did also – but recently he has decided that he wants to live with his dad, (who was previously the evil parent.) I have done so much for him, attended every parent teacher meeting, hundreds of plays, sporting events…have done everything my parents never did…I even went out of my way to maintain a good positive relationship with the ex and his new wife…bit my tongue many times but now he thinks it is greater over there and I am crushed, hurt and angry. How can I get over my personal issues of anger and sadness and maintain a positive relationship? Honestly my first response is to say “just consider me dead,” Yeah, horrible I know. L.
Answer: Dear L.: It doesn’t sound horrible to me, it sounds normal. The side of us that is reactive needs to be heard. It’s an honest feeling based on the unfairness of the situation. Where we get into trouble is when we let that side of ourselves dictate our responses and behavior.
My eldest son was psychologically abused by his Dad. I didn’t fully understand that until after he had left home at 17. Years later, he told me he could only call his stepfather by his first name because the word “Dad” was holy. Based on what?
Kids are often prone to take all of the things you described doing for granted…focusing, instead, on the limits you have to set. The resident parent gets a bum rap and the weekend parent gets to play “what would you like to do and where would you like to go?”
It sounds like you have done a great job in difficult circumstances. I have no idea if you like to write or not, but if you do, let that part of you that is really ticked about this vent. (Just be sure to always destroy it afterward.)
Before you know it, your kids will be stepping out into the world to take responsibility for them selves. You are being a great role model and of course, the proof of that will be seen in the kind of adults they become. Hang in there…better days are ahead. They will leave as kids and return as friends. Blessings, Luise