You're Not My Daddy!

Dear Chuck and Garland

Great work! Frank advice! I don’t know if my beau was hinting when he showed me your blog! Whatever I am keen on getting your advice on this troubling situation.

I am studying in the UK and my son, my spouse and the housekeeper are back home. Problem is, my boyfriend and my son just seem not to be able to get along. Reason I think is that my son and I lived together for a long time after the death of my husband and he saw this new man as an intruder here to rob him of his mother. I think I have managed to get him to accept that the love I have for him is different from the love I have for my spouse. After all he is 15 years old at the height of puberty.

What distresses me most is that whenever there is a problem between the both of them (remember I am overseas) my spouse keeps saying he is leaving (twice in 3 months)! He hasn’t left though! The truth is I am deeply in love with this man, love him dearly and he knows. I think it is safe to say he loves me too. I keep pointing out to him it is most wrong to let a child determine the future of the relationship of two adults. His position is that he has tried to reach out to the child with minimal success. He has really tried though on an adhoc basis – not sustained; one off events of going out then period of little or no interaction – just the bare minimum communication. At the same time my son has been rude and disrespectful. I have done my bit, given the distance, of trying to get my son to understand his responsibility in ensuring a positive relationship.

His position is that he loves me but he cannot deal with my son. What is your take on the matter?


CHUCK: That's a rough one now. But I think the problems that your son and your "spouse," are having are mainly premised on the fact that they are forced to live together while the one person that they have in common (YOU), is not around. It's sort of like an experiment you're running.

Your son is frank and feisty. That's good. But fifteen-year-old boys can also be self-centered and prone to moodswings. And when he's miserable, and you're not there, who can he take it out on? Your boyfriend. I promise you, if you were there, you'd be getting some of this choice attitude, too. And it appears as though he is only prepared to extend himself a little to your son. He seems to think that trying to bond every now and then ought to work, and your son should be won over to him by now. Only on TV are things that easy.

While I agree that you have a man who must love you for dealing with what he's dealing with, he can't keep threatening to leave you over this. Especially if he doesn't mean it. What does he expect you to do, after all? Throw your son in the street? At the very least, he needs to find a different way to express his frustration.

When you get back home, I would make it a point to get the three of you in a room, as quickly as you can. I would emphasize to them that they are making what is already a complicated situation difficult. Son needs to know that Boyfriend is not trying to make you forget his father. Boyfriend (who I'm assuming has no kids of his own) needs to know that you can't just bond with a child when it's convenient for you. Let them know how much this means to you, and that you are hoping to have a life that includes them both. Encourage them both to speak honestly, maintain realistic expectations, and hopefully you can at least work towards clearing the air with the men in your life.

GARLAND: Thanks for this interesting question!

I agree with Chuck when he says that YOU, the only thing your son and your boyfriend [spouse?] have in common is out of the picture and leaving those two to fend for themselves. This has got to be very hard on everyone, especially your son.

I'm very concerned about your son in all of this because he is, after all, still a child EMOTIONALLY. I assume your husband was his father and this means he's already lost one parent and now with your boyfriend, I'm confident that he feels that he's losing another. I hope that you will be coming back home very soon, or calling for your son to come join you - otherwise, any advice that Chuck and I give is going to be useless in a matter of months. While he is 15 and while you do need companionship, you owe your son at least 3 more years of being your biggest priority! I think your boyfriend should know this and acknowledge this. While he is a reader of our blog, [and we greatly appreciate that!!!] I think he needs to turn off these threats to leave. They do no one any good. They upset you, they make your son feel guilty, and they probably do nothing to make your boyfriend feel good either.

I think you need to get them both together at Christmas time when you return. Before you all come together, you need to take your son off somewhere with just the two of you and you need to be all about him for a whole day. A WHOLE DAY!!! Even if it means staying in a hotel away from your home - you are his mother and he is your son, that is just not a bond that your boyfriend is a part of. Even if your son is a big, grown looking kid with broad shoulders, a mustache and a deep voice - he is still 15 years old inside - and he needs some serious MOM time! After you have been all about him for 12 or 15 hours, gently bring up your boyfriend and how you feel about him, ask your son's opinion of your friend, GENTLY defend him where you need too and in other places leave your son's opinions alone. But when you finish, let him know that your love as his mother with never change or never fade and let him know that you plan on bringing all three of you together for a discussion.

Then, take some time and be with your boyfriend - ALONE. Remind him of how important your son is to you. Remind him that you still owe your son at least 3 more years of caregiving. Let him know that there is a place for him in your heart but you are not going to give up, or kick out your son. Bt you need to be ready to make some tough decisions. He is your BOYFRIEND and your SON is your SON. At this point YOU and YOUR SON are a package deal, either he is in or he's not. If he is still in, then the three of you need to sit down someplace neutral - a park, a restaurant, a Starbucks, and talk this thing through. Lay down the rules, no yelling, no cursing, no crying, no fingerpointing, and respect all around. Try to get everyone on the same page and see where things go - but just be ready to make some tough decisions. Nothing in life is easy - especially having to live alone with your mother's boyfriend, or your girlfriends teen-aged son! THEY BOTH SHOULD BE GIVEN AWARDS!


Tasha said...

You both give such good advice. When reading this letter however, I'm left with a lot of questions.

Did they all live together before she left for the UK, or did the new man move in to live with the son after she left.

What kind of relationship does she have with her son.

And is she married? She uses the term boyfriend and spouse interchangeably.

In order for her to find some resolution to her issue, she may need to apply some better definition to her relationships and further develop those relationships. The boyfriend/spouse and her son may not be getting along because they both miss her. Also, did she sit down and discuss her and her spouse's relationship with her son to see how he feels and explain that the new spouse will never be a replacement for his father?

There are so many variables to this situation which have to be addressed before a situation like this can be resolved easily. I come from a step-parent situation, so I can relate.

Chuck and Garland said...

Tasha, I'm with you all the way.

There is so much to this that left Chuck and I scratching our heads too.

The spouse / boyfriend terminology; it wasn't clear if her late husband is the son's father or if the son's father is still alive; and I wanted to know about the living arrangments too.

I'm not big on trusting folks with kids, so a person really has to show me something before I'd leave a child in someone else's care. I'm not saying this "boyfriend" is a perv or anything, but it would take a hell of a lot for me to leave my child with a "girlfriend" while I go overseas for an extended period.

I hope she really has some heart to heart talks with the both of them. The boyfriend is a grown man, and the son is still a child, I think both adults need to give the bulk of their attention to the son's true well being.

BTW - Thanks for the very kind words.


Dark & Stormy said...

Wow, love this blog. Fo' real. Today was my first time visiting and ended up scrolling through several older posts. I shall return.

I also added you to our blog roll. Please check us out when you get a chance. Thanks for representin for the brothers.

Millie said...

These bits and pieces of info were sacrificed at the expense of brevity. To fill the gaps, we have all being living together for approximately 2 years.

My late husband is not the father of my child and he has limited contact with his biological father.

My boyfriend, not my husband, is a normal person it is just that his personality and my son's seem to clash at this point.

Vincent said...

If you guys have been together that long as a family, why aren't you married? It might seem trivial but it may send the signal to your son that this is a serious relationship and he has to accept your friend. Probably it would deal with the jealousy you pointed out that exist.

I dont think you boyfriend is leaving. I guess he says so when he is angry or something like that and I agree he should really stop it.

Good luck.

Chuck and Garland said...

Thanks Millie-

I hope you all have a good talk and can come to a happy median for everyone.

I kinda' don't think your boyfriend is going to leave - but he must stop making that threat to you. It can only add stress to the situation.

Thanks for the question again.


Millie said...

Thanks for the advice guys! I am counting down the days!! I go home day after tomorrow. The funny thing is when I am there everything is under control - the glue that holds it all together.

BF said...

"His position is that he has tried to reach out to the child with minimal success. He has really tried though on an adhoc basis – not sustained; one off events of going out then period of little or no interaction – just the bare minimum communication."

I do try more than the ad-hoc interaction but the insolence and cold shoulder from him, are not the most encouraging. In fact I would love to have a strong stable relationship with all involved but sometimes I think I'm the only one making an effort, hence my threat to leave at times. I'm looking forward to talks, tho not with another third party,that has proven too demeaning and totally counterproductive.

I want to thank you guys for offering your advice on this situation tho, as she mentioned I'm a longtime reader and always find your comments quite instructive.

TJ said...

I'm sure that's a tough situation. I hope it works out for everybody.

Chuck and Garland said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Especially Millie and bf. Unlike some of the questions we get, there's no bad guy or girl here, just some good people that need to communicate a little better. Good luck doing that.