Posted by: concerned mom | 2009/02/23

my son' s emotional wellbeing

I' m divorced for 6 yrs and my ex' s involvement in my son' s life has been minimal. My son is now 14 and my ex can now enjoy activities like diving etc with him. Now that my son is more independant my ex has asked him to move in with him and his girlfriend. My ex is well off and can offer my son material things I can' t. We also have very different moral, spiritual and ethical values. I can see how I seem boring compare to my very fun ex. Problem is my son is now torn between us. He broke down when he came from his dad' s cause he doesn' t want to say no to his dad cause he doesn' t want his dad to think he doesn' t love him. But he also doesn' t want to move away from me. I have been open to my son re his right to chose where he stays but he now says he wants me to make all the decisions. even when he doesn' t want to go to his dad he wants me to say it' s me saying no, not him. I' m concerned that emotionally my son is carrying around guilt which isn' t his fault. I dnt mind being the bad exsaying no all the time, but I' m concerned that my son doesn' t feel ok expressing himself to his dad. He feels resposnsible for his dad' s emotional wellbeing cause his dad complains re his life, me, maintenance etc to my son. How do I help my son pls.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDivorce support expert

Hi Concerned Mom,

and thanks Rob for your answer. You've mentioned some important points.

It often happens that when a child grows up, the father shows more interest as he may think there is less parenting to be done and he can just become good friends.
No matter the circumstances, it's important to allow a relationship to develop.
Both parents are important in a child's life, even if the roles are different.
It's obvious that your son feels loyal to you and loves you very much but he should be given a chance to bond with his father too without being torn by his newly found relationship.
I would suggest first to talk with his father and engage on the confusion it's causing your son.
It is important that his wellbeing becomes and be a priority for the both of you and to work out how both your intentions towards your son be to his benefit. Clarify that neither of you is fighting for your son's attention but that you are both wanting to provide what is best for him.
At 14 your son is old enough to understand the situation. Clarify the situation with him. Be honest without acting as he is your confident. I would explain that the changes have of course disrupted the "routine" of your life together with him but changes don't need to be negative. Allow yourself to express that you were yourself put of balance by his father newly forwarded involvement but realise that it's a good thing that his dad expresses interest in being in his life, however the terms can be determined by your son.
I'm guessing you may worry that he may choose to live with his dad and leave you after all the time you cared for him. From what you write, I doubt your son would leave you but allowing week ends, holidays or random days may be good for everyone and give you a much needed break and some time for yourself.
Changes are hard and allow yourselves time to see what will work best for all of you. Rigidity has never been a winner. You can all grow from this and offer your son the joy of having both his parents actively present in his life.

All the best

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Our users say:
Posted by: a mom | 2009/03/09

Even at 14 they are still children in many ways. If your son says he wants you to handle this, then this is exactly what you should do. Speak to your ex and work it out keeping in mind your son' s needs and schedules etc. Children often feel like they need to take sides to show love - and sometimes may play both sides as they are so torn and confused. Maybe discussing that neither you or your ex need him to take sides, and that you will work out whatever is best for him (with his honest input about what he really wants) would be helpful.

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Posted by: Rob | 2009/02/24

Sounds to me like your son loves you and wants the love and support you give him ,a lot more than the material things his dad can give him, He is just scared to lose his dad or go back to him not playing much of a role in his life like he has until now. I think his dad is putting unfair pressure on him and he sees through it, kids are not stupid, but your son just doesn' t know how to deal with it. If your son does go and stay with his dad I doubt it will be for long, he will quickly realise what he doesn' t have with you. A son is not always better of with their fathers, I have met a few single moms in the last few years after my divorce that are doing a better job than the fathers would ever have done, and that' s coming from a male. Maybe have a heart to heart with your son and find out what he really wants although it is obviously to stay with you, just let it come from him and if need be speak to your ex and tell him, and ask him to try and understand and accept it without making your son feel guilty. I don' t know what your ex is like but if he is prepared to listen and reason maybe he will be ok with it, also remind the ex what his responsibilities would be, if his son stayed with him, like homework, sport and all the other things that you need to run around for.
All the best

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