Wednesday, November 12, 2008

She's Inquiring

My wife and I divorced when my son was 15 years old when she started up an old affair, and later married the guy. My son is now almost 19 and has been caught doing marijuana. Based on the little info you have here, what is the best way to relate with, help him.

Dear Anonymous,

I hope it's ok that I cut and pasted your question on here. It's an important one and I wanted to get it right. Let me know if you're uncomfortable with that and I'll summarize it in my own words.

Even though I have seen and felt the heartbreak of seeing family members make choices that are not in their best interest, I was thinking about your question all day long. I do have some advice but in reading what you wrote, I actually have some exploratory questions to ask yourself about this situation. And perhaps some of the few readers I have can lend some supportive words of wisdom as well. These questions may be a bit (gulp) hard or maybe not but they are important ones.

Are you over the betrayal of you ex-wife? I know there's a chance that you're over your wife. But what about the betrayal issue? Is that part healed?

Are you still angry about the situation? I'm not asking if you still have angry feelings toward her. You could very well be angry at yourself.

That you can think of, has your son been able to express his own possible feelings of anger, fear, abandonment, and shame to you or his mother without fear of judgment or over-identification?

If there is even a slight yes to any of these questions please consider seeing someone. Yes, I love that there are trained professionals and I do believe they help. A lot.

I don't know if your son's drug use is related to the past family situation. Like you, I believe there may be a correlation but I don't know. I do know that many a men, including every US President that's been in office since I was born, have started down this same road as your son. So there is a great chance that he can come out the other end just fine. He can even govern a first world country! (Which may not be something to wish upon anyone right now but that's another post for another day).

In the meantime, here's some quick tips (again, not to replace counseling):

1. Share with him your love, concern, and expectations of someone who has as much potential as he does. And reassure him each time he needs it. This may be expressed verbally or even through a letter.
2. Find out his goals, daydreams, and hopes. Discuss and encourage. He's 19. He can do anything!
3. Invite him out.
4. Invite him to counseling (like anything, this is where prayer would be helpful to decide if that's the best route).
5. Forgive yourself. You were betrayed and possibly did and/or said things that were not in yours or his best interest.
6. When appropriate, invite him to attend church. I'm Mormon so I believe that the atonement of Jesus Christ helps everybody. Really. But seriously, no matter the denomination, it's important that he gets some perspective and hope.
7. If you haven't already: Get better. If you are still hurting, angry, resentful, or vulnerable, believe me, he knows it. When he sees you work through this, he will then see that it is possible for him to heal as well.

I understand, Anonymous, that I jumped to assumptions here with the information you gave. So bottom line: no one knows your son like you do. Trust yourself, your judgment, your God, and learn what each experience want to teach you. God Bless you and your dear son.



The Crash Test Dummy said...

I'm so impressed with how seriously you took that question and how sensitively you handled it.

I so appreciate your wisdom and grace!

Anonymous said...

Dear Fluid,
Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. You obviously didn't have much information, so don't be sorry. I initially felt very betrayed and hurt. I remarried and now I am grateful it happened on my account, because I am much happier. The reason I mentioned it was that I am certain it affects the psyche of a 15 year old. He has never verbally opened up about any of his feelings on the issue. My hope is that it is a phase like the one you mentioned with even many presidents. I may be hypersensitive to the issue, because my father was a drug addict and I saw the damage it can have on children, i.e.(CrashTestDummy)(J.K.)I am Crash's Brother. Thanks again for spending time on my problem. Stephen

Liz said...

hiya stephen!
whew! glad you're through the last 5 or 6 years. that must have been the heinous ride of a lifetime. love that you've moved on. yeah, i would be a bit worried about your son too given the family history with addiction. he's at a greater risk than the average bloke. as you know, it's so important for him to communicate his feelings. if he doesn't, he most certainly could still become president but let's face it:
brilliant man + unresolved childhood issues = president clinton. and does america really need another one of those?? :)
i hope at some point soon he decides to express those feelings in a healthy way and i know you'll be there for him when he does. he's lucky to have you!!!

The Crash Test Dummy said...


Hee hee. You're so funny. ha ha ha

The Rogers Family said...

Thanks, you are a class act.