Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Ex-Wife Caught Our Son Smoking Weed. He Says It’s Because His Mom Let Her Boyfriend Move In”

My ex-wife recently caught our 14-year-old son smoking a joint in the basement of their home. A few months earlier his mom caught him smoking up in the garage. My son told me about it, not the ex. I asked him where he got the weed and he said from his sister’s room where she always has a stash. Her mom, against my approval, let her smoke around the house since she was 14 becouse, she said: “It would be safer than anywhere else and I can protect her.”

This time she sent me the nastiest text blaming me for every bit of why our son smokes weed and saying that she wouldn’t let him see me on the following Sunday when we had plans for the day. She would not reply to my message asking for details, asking what we’re going to do about the smoking, and how we need to find out how our son is and show concern since he’s someone you would never expect to use drugs.

I had dinner with my son a few days later to talk things through. Two days later I realized that the reason I took him to a counselor the summer before might be connected to why he’s smoking weed now: He was never home, never wanted to come home for dinner, stayed over at friends’ homes a lot, and hung out at a small strip mall where he ate at this chicken joint regularly instead of going home where he and his mom fought. Not a good scene.
Anyway, so I asked him if he was smoking weed because he was mad at his mom for letting her boyfriend move in and no longer comfortable in his own house, and his answer was yes and yes.

I told him I’d take him back to the counselor again to talk things through, and he agreed and asked me to not tell his mom what he had told me. In confidence, I did tell his mom what he had told me, and I told her that I was taking him to the counselor and that she should go afterwards in hopes that things might get addressed.

Unbelievably, she repeated to him what he had said to me and thengot mad at him. In turn, he got mad at me. But because he and I have a tight bond, we took an hour apart, calmed down, and were back to being good again.

So any suggestions on what should or should not be done going forward?? It’s going to be another two weeks before we can get in to see the counselor, so I wondered if maybe you had some productive suggestions in the meantime.
Thoughts? — Concerned for Son

Yes, I have some thoughts. You have written in at least five times about your ex-wife moving her boyfriend in with her after you two separated. (The ones I published are here, here, and an update to the first one here.) In these letters, written over the course of a year and a half (!), you’ve shared details about what you consider troubling behavior from your son, and then you have linked this behavior to your ex-wife’s boyfriend’s living with them. Repeatedly, you ask your son leading questions to get him to confirm this narrative. When you don’t get an answer that does confirm the narrative, you ask again until you do.

You’ve admitted to putting your son in the middle; you’ve admitted to being very upset that your ex-wife has moved on and that she remains in the home you shared with her and now has a boyfriend living there with her and your son. You’ve made it very, very clear that you are unhappy with the situation, and you continue to find ways to use your son as a pawn in a fight against your ex-wife that you have no hope of ever winning. What is it that you’re fighting for anyway? That she kick her boyfriend out? That she allow your son to move in with you full-time? That she take you back?!

My thoughts, since you are asking, are that YOU need the therapy. If your son is being damaged in any way — as you seem to imply — you have to take responsibility for your part in that. I fail to see how his mother’s long-term boyfriend’s living with them is more damaging than his father’s repeatedly pushing him for intel about his mother and basically begging him to admit that his smoking weed is a result of his mom’s boyfriend’s presence.

By your description, your 14-year-old son spends a lot of time with his friends, he eats dinner frequently at a chicken joint in a strip mall, and he’s been caught a couple times smoking weed he found in his sister’s bedroom. Sure, I guess you could construct a narrative, as you have, that all of this points to emotional damage, but an argument could also be made that this is all pretty typical teenage behavior. And, again, if the argument is that your son is acting out because he’s emotionally damaged, you are every bit as responsible – more so, in my humble opinion – than your wife’s moving on from your divorce and finding happiness with another man.

It’s time for YOU to move on. Instead of dragging your son to countless therapy appointments with you, you should go on your own and explore why you haven’t been able to let go of your marriage, why you’re still so obsessed with your ex-wife, and how that obsession is affecting your son. This has gotten really very disturbing, and it’s clear that nothing I or any of the commenters have said to you has gotten through at all. So this will be my last time trying, and only for the sake of your son am I giving it one more go.

You need professional help. While your son is acting in a pretty normal way for a 14-year-old boy dealing with the regular challenges of adolescence as well as his parent’s post-divorce relationship, YOU are not. Your behavior is what’s truly eyebrow-raising. YOU are the one behaving most inappropriately, couching your obsession with your ex as “concern” for you son when what it really is is a way to disturb your wife’s peace and to pull her into your orbit. It needs to stop. You need to stop. Please, please, please get the help you need to finally move on and to quit using your son in the way you have. If you truly are concerned for his well-being, you will do this for him. He deserves a dad who can be as emotionally stable as possible.

***************
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

28 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Buttery February 20, 2020, 10:29 am

    Oh.My.GOD! As SOON as I began this letter I knew it was this guy! AGAIN.
    I mean the fact that he needs help for himself is that he keeps writing the same unsympathetic advice columnist about the same dumb shit. Dude!

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      Helen February 20, 2020, 11:25 am

      SAME!

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    Donna February 20, 2020, 10:34 am

    This guy!!

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    Jennifer February 20, 2020, 10:35 am

    You’d think at this point, he’d at least try to hide under a different email address. It takes about ten seconds to set up a new gmail account.

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    • avatar

      Dear Wendy February 20, 2020, 11:39 am

      Don’t give him any ideas (although I’m sure I’d recognize him as soon as he started in about his teenage son being so upset about his mom having a boyfriend who isn’t his dad).

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    brise February 20, 2020, 11:11 am

    I hadn’t recognised the LW, I must confess. But I startled at the logic mistake: “Anyway, so I asked him if he was smoking weed because he was mad at his mom for letting her boyfriend move in and no longer comfortable in his own house, and his answer was yes and yes.” If you want to know what is going on with your son, you can’t suggest the answer – which is so obviously biased. You have to ask genuinely, and listen.
    Ok, take him to the consellor: it can’t hurt him to speak to a neutral therapist, given his crazy parents. But you have to make serious amends in your own parenting approach. Don’t get your son confused with your divorce. And don’t ask him to take sides like this: this is damageable for him, really. Perhaps he smokes pot because he wants to try, especially if his older sister has a free pass with drugs (which shocks me, by the way).

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      Buttery February 20, 2020, 11:56 am

      That’s what I thought! Son is obviously telling him what he wants to hear. The son could even be playing him because this guy isn’t the sharpest knife in drawer. Or at least he’s too obsessed to think straight.

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    • avatar

      golfer.gal February 20, 2020, 12:04 pm

      I was also thinking this! He asked a leading question and made it completely obvious what answer he was looking for, while conveniently making that answer a get out of jail free card for his kid. Of course the kid said yes.

      This is really, really sick. I dont think the LW is a reliable narrator at this point. LW, get help, please, for the sake of your son. Therapy, now.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie February 20, 2020, 11:19 am

    Oh great jeebus. Look dude – you gave your son an excuse that makes no sense and has nothing to do with anything. It’s like saying “So you’re saying you stole the grapes from the supermarket because the donut shop next door closed.”

    Of course your son is going to agree with you. He knows that agreeing with you means you won’t punish him on your endless quest to punish your ex wife for having a relationship that isn’t you. So it’s more like “If you tell me that you’re upset at the donut shop – I won’t get mad at you for doing something wrong.”

    Dude the only person who needs therapy is YOU. You are the problem. You are the one who isn’t moving on. You are the one who is trying to blame a litany of normal parenting problems on your ex wife who is happy to be rid of you because you are obsessive, irrational and manipulative.

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  • avatar

    Part-time Lurker February 20, 2020, 12:19 pm

    Your son told you EXACTLY what you wanted to hear.

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  • avatar

    Essie February 20, 2020, 12:35 pm

    If anything is harming this poor young man, it’s having an obsessive, controlling nutcase for a father.

    Please. Get some help, for your son’s sake.

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  • avatar

    FYI February 20, 2020, 1:52 pm

    I also knew it was THIS GUY again, but even if I hadn’t, this is chilling:
    ” … he agreed and asked me not to tell his mom what he told me. In confidence, I did tell his mom what he told me… ”

    LOL forever! And you expect to have a good, trusting relationship with your son? You’re clearly manipulating him for ammunition to hurl at your ex-wife.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse February 20, 2020, 2:54 pm

      Yes, this. You can say goodbye to your son trusting you. You’ve taught him to lie to you already by only being satisfied when he says what he knows you want him to.

      You need therapy, and a parenting class but first-therapy.

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    • avatar

      golfer.gal February 20, 2020, 3:11 pm

      I think he couldn’t resist the pull of being able to tell his ex “Son told me he did this because of Boyfriend”. The prospect of being able to tell his ex that her boyfriend was causing their kid’s smoking was so appealing that he willingly sacrificed the trust of his son to do it. This tells me, definitively, that he doesn’t have his kid’s best interest at heart. If he did he would have kept his son’s confidence. The mom already knew the kid was smoking pot, so telling her wasnt giving her new information. It was a way to dig in about her boyfriend.

      He pressured the kid to say what he wanted him to say, promised his son not to tell his mom what he “said”, then merrily skipped off and told her without a second thought. Naturally mom got pissed, most likely at this guy’s fucked up meddling and putting their son in the middle, and wisely decided to keep their son away from him for a while.

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    • avatar

      Kate B. February 20, 2020, 10:23 pm

      Yeah, even before I knew it was the guy, this bugged me. Way to go, dude. And you think your ex is damaging your son?

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  • avatar

    GertietheDino February 20, 2020, 2:22 pm

    Listen, my dude. What do you hope to gain from interrogating your kid and breaking his trust every which way? Do you think your ex will suddenly dump her live-in boyfriend and invite you back into the family home? It’s not happening. Move on, get therapy and leave your CHILD out of this.

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  • avatar

    ron February 20, 2020, 2:34 pm

    You talk about your ex catching your 14-year-old son smoking pot, as if it is something she strongly disagrees with. This makes no sense since she was ok with your daughter smoking pot in the house when she was 14.

    It sounds like your jealousy that your ex has a bf is causing you to seriously screw up you son. Breaking his trust by telling your wife what your son told you is an extremely serious offense. She knows he was smoking. Your breaking your son’s confidence doesn’t aid her in parenting your son one iota. It doesn’t sound like the information was even true — you led your son by the nose to agree that he smoked pot because he was unhappy about your ex’s live-in bf. That is seriously manipulative. Your son would be well advised to ask the court to cancel your visitation rights in order to protect his psyche.

    You clearly haven’t moved on from the separation. That’s on you. If the manipulation you admitted to in this letter is the way you treated your wife, and I think it was, then it is no wonder that she left you. I think most people who are this controlling to their family members are either terribly insecure, or, if the husband terribly misogynistic. Neither is a good look and both warrant therapy.

    And… there is no way you are getting your ex wife back — you are behaving like a total ass and it’s clear she’s through with that.

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    • avatar

      CL February 21, 2020, 10:35 pm

      I think it’s also clear WHY she left him in the first place.

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    Skyblossom February 20, 2020, 2:38 pm

    Your probably have a smart son. He knows how to push your buttons to get himself out of trouble. He knew that if he answered yes he would no longer be in trouble so of course he said yes. It worked, didn’t it.

    He’s probably doing the same with your ex. He knows what buttons to push so that she will blame you and you will blame her and he is out of trouble.

    If you really think his living situation is bad enough that he hates to go home you need to consult with a lawyer and go to court to become the custodial parent with your ex having visitation rights.

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      ron February 20, 2020, 6:33 pm

      I don’t see how this is the son cleverly getting out of trouble. He wasn’t in any trouble. The father new zilch about the pot, until the son told him. This is the father’s crazy feud with his ex. It is very warped thinking as he apparently believes this crap he is pulling will get rid of his ex’s bf.

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  • avatar

    TaraMonster February 20, 2020, 4:48 pm

    I am in a very bad mood and this letter put me in a worse one. As someone whose parents put them in the middle of their toxic mess, particularly one parent who is mentally ill, I can tell you that if there’s anything going on with your son it is the fact that you are a piece of shit father. He is only 14 so I’d guess that it’s only just going to start dawning on him right around now. But the internalization of all this fuckery is going to last a lifetime. The ways large and small that you are damaging his pysche, and robbing him of a normal childhood are untold. You’re an abusive, manipulative POS. My advice is that you lock yourself in a therapist’s office 24/7 until you can figure out how not to be such a bad father and human.

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  • avatar

    Hazel February 20, 2020, 5:43 pm

    you are using your son as a weapon, a blunt weapon, have you looked at what a blunt weapon looks like when it has been used to cudgel someone over and over again? I can’t believe you want to, really if you think honestly about your love for him want to do this to your son. Stop it, before he comes to hate you.

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  • avatar

    Ruby Tuesday February 20, 2020, 7:04 pm

    I avoided drugs and alcohol in high school. But if I was one of your kids, I’d want to smoke or drink my feelings away too. You don’t seem to give a fuck about your kid or how he feels.

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  • avatar

    Kalindria February 20, 2020, 10:25 pm

    Maybe it’s just me but I was also really irked that LW only cares about his male child and not the female child. I don’t normally called names but what a chauvinist pig.

    Therapy, deep, extensive, long-lasting, and quit harassing your son.

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    • avatar

      Ange February 21, 2020, 6:20 am

      Not that it makes it much better but the daughter isn’t his, though he’s raised her since she was 6.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ February 20, 2020, 10:45 pm

    The LW’s focus on his son and only revealing he has a daughter after multiple posts and as an afterthought bothers me, too, but I suspect his daughter is over 18 and/or sees through the LW’s BS and he can’t use her to get to his ex-wife, so that explains the total lack of fucks he seems to give. None of this is about his son’s well-being; he’s just using him as an excuse to try to stay involved/control his ex-wife’s life.

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  • avatar

    Gi February 21, 2020, 5:45 pm

    If he was been writing for over a year and a half about his 14 year old son, wouldn’t the son now be older then 14? Perhaps 15 or 16 by now?

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  • avatar

    CET February 22, 2020, 8:26 am

    Dad, It’s ok for your ex-wife to have a live-in boyfriend. Over time, he and your son might even become close. It’s not really your business. It’s FINE…let it go. Focus on yourself and live YOUR life. Who knows, you may meet someone special yourself. Next, if you tell your son you will keep something in confidence then you need to do it. Last, stop interrogating your son and basically telling him why you think he is acting out. Therapy is a great idea for both of you. You need to get to a point where you don’t even think about your ex-wife…get her out of your thoughts. Her personal life is her own business and you just focus on living your life.

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