My neighbour is living with a man who’s newly divorced. Every week, I see the arrival of a young boy who moves in with the new couple for the weekend.
If it’s a cold weather period or raining, the boy is coatless and has no rainwear. Inevitably, I see the couple and boy get in the car to shop for those items, and other cool-weather needs. I admit I stay at the window, watching.
My heart goes out to the boy because l was once that mother, mad as hell at my ex who’d left me for someone else, and eager to make him miserable for doing so. Let him pay for whatever was needed!
Stupidly, I ended up taking my anger out on my own child, who was then age 10.
I realize now that I was hurt and angry that he’d want to go to this new “home,” and be in the company of “that woman.”
Years have passed, I’ve never remarried, my son is entering his 20s, but I still can’t be anywhere near the “other woman” who ruined my life.
Been There and Still Hurting
For your own self-respect, rise above your anger. You can’t change the situation between the couple, but you can damage your current and future relationship with your son.
Especially when he realizes as a young adult that you purposefully let your anger make his young life difficult.
Unlike you, he accepted the new marriage because he wanted his father in his life... and he understood that it included this other person.
It doesn’t mean that he’s negating your role as his mother. But unfortunately, you can lose his trust and love during this adult-to-adult adjustment time for both of you.
Now, unless you accept the reality of his stepmother’s role in his younger life, you’ll lose his trust, which is even more fragile than love.
FEEDBACK Regarding Ellie’s and Lisi’s replies to “Controlling boyfriend:” (Sept. 15):
Reader – “To the letter-writer: Your daughter's relationship may only spiral down. This happened to me.
“The boyfriend may become emotionally abusive, such that her self-esteem may become compromised from shame that she cannot help herself, nor break off the relationship.
“Ask your daughter what she likes about herself in this relationship and what she doesn't like about herself. This may help her see the red flags in her relationship.
“I wouldn’t like to see your daughter become dependent on her boyfriend's every opinion or seek his every approval.
“No one ever helped me during my situation. I stayed so long that he became mentally and physically abusive. I only learned what I went through decades later when I read the book you recommended, ‘When Pleasing You is Killing Me’ by Les Carter.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding “Confused kids” (Sept. 19):
“Decades ago, as a father of teenagers, I went through a marriage breakdown and I know something about the ‘confusion’ the young man is experiencing, although I think ‘wounded’ is a more accurate term.
“It’s because of this that parents anguish over causing such severe disruption in their families.
“I offer to these teens that, even though they cannot see it now, a time will come when life normalizes for you, your mom and your dad.
“A lot of divorces happen, but an unfortunate (and perplexing) step is needed to reset things for many adults. In your case, the change to a male partner for dad is an extra-heavy burden.
“Despite these changes, know that your parents do love you and care for you. And, if it helps, there are many who’ve been through this, and we understand.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the “private partner” (Sept. 16):
“Over-the top affection displays in public can also be interpreted as possessiveness and a ‘back off, she’s mine’ attitude. She’s uncomfortable with this behaviour and others may also be uncomfortable if the venue or situation is inappropriate (e.g., family gatherings, etc.)
“Her boyfriend says his buddies question her ‘coldness.’ Or is he just putting more pressure on her? He infers that his friends think he should break up with her. And he attacks her self-esteem by making her think she’s a cold person.
“He’s putting pressure on her instead of considering her feelings - she’s not wanting to hurt her partner though she’s being hurt, herself.
“She should talk to a professional to validate her feelings. And also consider couples counselling. She may love him, but she needs to make sure she also loves herself.”
Tip of the day:
Divorce, unfortunately, is common. Families must heal, not just blame. Our children deserve that effort.