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.