Question: Dear Luise: I was looking for some advice. My son is 19. I divorced his dad when he was 2 and I raised him in my home. My ex has pressured me all my life regarding my son by taking me to court constantly to take him away from me. He has always (and still does) call me terrible names and used to tell that to my son. Basically my son grew up with me dealing with the harassment from my ex and his dad treating me awful. With all of this in my life, I was constantly stressed out, angry, scared and probably every other emotion possible. My son moved out of my home 3 yrs ago and is living with his father. My son wants nothing to do with me. He moved out as if he was living in hell and I’m the devil. He would see me on and off but wouldn’t want me anywhere near his girlfriend or anyone else he might know. He recently told me that I abused him. I’m having such a hard time shaking that off because I always loved my son and I fought for him, yet I’m the abuser. Last year I didn’t hear from him for 7 months. Then he said he was sorry. This year he’s staying away, again. I told him that I will not let him treat me so disrespectfully. He would always say “its no big deal you’re freaking out” whenever I asked why I’m not invited but his father is. That’s another problem. My son witnessed his father his whole life and knows what he did to me. Yet his father is invited to family functions, stuff important to my son, but not me. I can’t for the life of me understand how my son can be so heartless towards me. I was the victim of his dad for years and now I pay child support to his dad and my son wants nothing to do with me. I’m not contacting him at all. Does this seem to be the best thing to do? C.
Answer: Dear C. Yes, not contacting your son at present makes sense because you can’t change the dynamics. He has to. Don’t set yourself up for more abuse, (that’s what it is) and being abusive is harmful behavior for your son to be a part of.
Kids who are raised in constant conflict can become pretty confused. Also, your son has been lied to and that is often hard to sort out. Your ex-husband may believe the garbage he is feeding your son and so it may appear extremely credible to both of them. In the middle of such conflicting data, an unhappy child can lose all sense of reality.
To make matters worse, fathers are often romanticized. They are not the mundane, “at home”, authority figures that mothers must be and often carry an attractive mystique. In many cases, the person who takes on the day-to-day parenting job is the one most easily targeted.
You know the truth. Don’t lose track of that fact. You may not be able to convince your son or the family that they are being fed misinformation, (and it’s probably unwise to even try), but always know that your self-respect is alive and well. Keep remembering who and what you are. You are a good person who did her best in the face of never-ending negativity. Focus on building a new life for yourself in other areas like creative hobbies or volunteering. You still have a lot to give.
The verdict isn’t in yet. Things may stay the same, you have to prepare yourself for that eventuality, but/and there’s always a chance they could change radically. Stay open and willing to have your son miss you and come to his senses…either now or later. Stranger things have happened. Blessings, Luise