About that divorce...

lindakimyOctober 11, 2006

I had an absolutely dreadful first marriage. But out of that came two wonderful children and they are now grown up and out on their own (24 and 22). I raised them and their Dad spent time with them on holidays and during the summers. They were 4 and 6 when we split up.

The issues in the divorce would have been way over their heads back then. I tried very, very hard not to bad mouth their Dad to them as they grew up. He hurt me very badly for 16 years during the marriage and for a lot more later (every chance he got) but he was still their Dad and I knew it would come back to haunt me if I let that whole mess creep in. Now and then I would ask them if they had questions about the whole situation and they always gave me that "Uh, NO MOM!" reaction. So I figured they really didn't want to go there. As a result they don't know much about how and why it happened.

Now my son who is 24 has not been in touch for a bunch of weeks. He was always good about calling at least once a week even when he was in really out of the way places. I kept trying to reach him and he finally emailed me to say that he had talked with his Dad about the divorce and was trying to make sense of our "family history" and he would like to hear "my side" but to write him a letter because he didn't want to talk about it on the phone with me. Ouch.

I've spent the last week trying to write the perfect letter. And I have. But now I'm afraid to send it to him. I think it is as fair and kind as possible but it is true - and that simply can't be a fairy tale. It was a horrendous marriage and I was the one to file for divorce. I can't explain that without touching on some things that are just not pleasant. I do think I've managed to do it without any gratuitous meanness. I left out the really nasty, dreadful details. I'm truly not after trying to trash his Dad. What purpose would that serve?

But I'm so afraid that it will be such a shock - so unpleasant - that my son will turn on me on account of it.

So what do I do? I read the letter to an aunt of mine (more like a sister) who knows the situation and all involved and she thought it was perfect. But I still hesitate. If I ruin my relationship with my boy it will break my heart. There is so much at stake here. I don't want to hurt him. I don't even want to come between him and his Dad.

It worries me that he "talked with Dad" about the divorce and he wants me to write a letter rather than talk about it. There is simply no telling what his Dad may have told him. I don't trust his Dad to be truthful at all. I feel I must take the opportunity to set the record straight but if I send the letter will that do it or just cause hard feelings?

Help! I gotta do something pretty quick. And the more I think about it, the less I know what to do.

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If I where you, I would say to my son "I would prefer to speak to you face to face, its not something I want to put in writing".

You dont feel right about the letter, so dont send it.

Do you have to tell him all the details, I would just give a basic rundown. What purpose does it serve telling him all that ? I know he wants to know, but whats the point of bringing it all up ? Its only going to make him feel terrible and you.

I am sorry I am not much help, its a difficult situation.

Just play things your way, you should maintain your dignity.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 4:22AM
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I have to agree with Popi here. Does he live close enough to do a face to face? Or at least over the phone? Don't sugar coat it, but you don't have to go into details also. As with younger kids, find out what he knows and what he wants to know? Tell him, I don't want to look like the bad guy but there are some private things that happened that are between your Dad and I. I will clarify some things you do know but there are some private issues also. I know he's not a child, but this was your marriage.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 7:26AM
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I agree....you need a face to face.
Tell him that you feel that this is something that has been so close to your heart for so many years that you just can't "write a report" and send it to him. Tell him you need to see his face while you are talking and have him ask questions you can answer.
And if he doesn't live close enough, it's worth a plane trip. Too many times I have seen a son behave toward women like his father did because he didn't understand that macho, dominating behavior is not "manly".
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 11:57AM
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I'm going to respectfully disagree with Vicki and Popi.

A letter will get read over and over. Because it won't sink in the first time, or the second time. With a letter, you get to carefully choose your words, your examples and your tone. And you are spared hearing the ugly story your Ex told your son, so you don't risk getting angry, teary, defensive or side-tracked into omitting some information or disclosing too many ugly details. (You'll probably want to know what your Ex told him, but keep that to a different, face-to-face conversation to be held long after your son has processed your letter.)

I hope your letter includes the following:
- You want him to have a relationship with his father because you know how important it is for children to have both parents.
- You tried to support and protect that relationship when he was growing up, and hope you were successful.
- You knew that if he viewed his father through your eyes that a good relationship would be impossible, so you withheld information. It was hard for you, because you were angry and in pain, but you thought it was best for him.
- Now that he's an adult, you know he is mature enough to know most of what happened and interpret things through a more mature lens.
- You suspect that the version of events his father told him is very different from your version, and that the "real truth" probably contains some elements of both.
- He should use his own judgement, relying on his own experiences, and knowing you and knowing his father, to find his own truth.
- That you'll always love him, that you respect him, and that you trust him to handle the information with maturity and discretion.

My husband has had to go through similar discussions with his adult children, and or us, keeping the nasty or ground-breaking portions to letters has been a much more positive way to handle things.

Good Luck --

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 12:08PM
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Thanks, each of you, for your advice and kind words. Yes, I would like to talk with my son face to face. It would be very hard since he lives on the other end of the country from me. But I think I agree with Sweeby that there are a lot of positive reasons to write a letter instead. I really don't want this to come across as whiny or muddled to him. I had plenty of extremely good reasons for leaving his Dad but most require a bit of background explanation that I should be able to do more coherently in written form where I can edit.

Sweeby, did you read my letter? I covered all your points but one. I said nothing in the letter about what he may have heard from his Dad. No point in getting into it that I can see. And it makes me so angry to think of the lies he has probably been telling that I would find it very difficult to make any sense at all.

I'm just suffering the jitters because this is unexplored territory for me in relationship with my son. He is a very intelligent, sensitive, mature-for-his-age young man and he has even suffered some little tastes of the same sort of unreasonable, crazy-making behavior from his Dad that (along with other outrages) led me to leave him. My story should ring lots of bells for him. I just hate, hate, hate to be the one to make my child aware of this unpleasant stuff. And my relationship has been so good with him that I fear change lest it mean "not so good". Does that make sense?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 9:29PM
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Lindakimy, it makes perfect sense! But please, please help enlighten your son to the extent you can.

A caring, responsible young person who has grown up in a stable, trusting environment is simply ill-prepared to deal with someone who is a master of manipulation and self-centeredness. Your son would never expect the types of behaviors, lies and emotional manipulations he is likely to encounter. It would be very difficult for him to believe that anyone, much less his father (who 'loves' him so!), certainly not this charming, concerned, oh-so-unfairly hurt man could be capable of, well, whatever... I imagine your ex is a much better liar and manipulator than you are, and it'll be hard to undo the damage.

I'm curious -- Is he a Borderline? A Narcissist? A Sociopath? (Mine was a narcissist, and as a naive young woman from a stable family, I was one easy target for such a master manipulator. I couldn't even imagine the mind games, much less play them...)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 10:42PM
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Wow, Sweeby. I think we are twins separated at birth or something...at least sisters under the skin. (Now I'm sure you read my letter!)

My ex is actually an extremely successful, frequently published, (not to mention wealthy) authority in his field. I've often wondered about the psychological label that might fit him but, so far as I know, none has been officially applied.

Both my children have experienced bits of their dad's crazy-making behavior over the years. There was the time my son drove all the way across the country in order to attend the university of his dad's choice in the city where he lived. My son had been promised a room and bath in his dad's house for years as part of the enticement to select that university. After driving for almost a week, my son arrived at his dad's house to find him away on vacation (no food in the house) and the shocking news that he would NOT be living there after all since his dad had rented the space for a very good price and had no intention of losing the income. That particular university town has an extreme shortage of housing and, because the semester was beginning within a week or so, all on-campus space as well as most off campus apartments that could possibly be afforded had been reserved. I got one of those, "MOM!" phone calls. All I could do was try to calm him down (and silently almost incinerate with anger toward his dad). But I was so extremely proud of my son because he scrambled around and found a place (not pleasant but at least near the campus) to live and proceeded to begin working toward his degree (which he ultimately earned with honors). That was not the first or last unpleasant experience my son had with his dad but it does suggest that he has reason not to trust everything his dad might tell him.

You wrote, "as a naive young woman from a stable family, I was one easy target for such a master manipulator" - that could just as well apply to me. In fact, it's the story of at least half my life.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 8:58AM
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I'd bet he's a narcissistic personality -- The "extremely successful, frequently published, (not to mention wealthy) authority in his field" is exactly what a narcissist needs to be.

The surest way to bring out the 'nasties' is to fail to admire him appropriately or to ignore him. If you want to see the true face of evil emerge, simply embarass him in public in some small way. The resulting scorn and contempt could dissolve marble...

After years of dealing with my ex., I finally learned that the way to get him to do something I wanted was to make sure it made him look good. When I was an exhausted young mother, he would never agree to help me with the baby. (I couldn't get 10 minutes to take a shower because he was "busy" watching the baseball game on TV.) But he'd always agree to go out to dinner, provided the restaurant was a 'face time' place. And whenever we were out in public, he'd be the most doting father imaginable to our very cute baby -- holding him, cooing to him, showing him off to all the waiters. The only time I ever got a break and the only time our son ever got his father's attention! I often wondered how he would have been had our son been 'awkward' or disabled...

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 12:27PM
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Out of curiosity I looked up the lists of characteristics of each of those personality types, Sweeby. I'm somewhat surprised (don't know why) to find that my ex matches the psychopath almost exactly - all except not applying himself and working hard in his career - THAT he does do, to a major fault.

Psychopath? That's a bit frightening...

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 2:19PM
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It IS frightening...
But at least you got out safely, and you got your kids out in time.

Trouble is, psychopaths get a bad rap...


Now, before you say "Whaaa?!" let me explain.

If he were simply a narcissist, you could probably find a way to discuss narcissism with your children and get them to do their own research, come to their own conclusions, and prepare themselves in such a way that they could still maintain a relationship, yet protect themselves from harm. But with a psychopath? You can't even say the word without sounding the alarmist alarm...

For what it's worth, I was scared to death when my older son went to live with his dad at age 13. (Long story - no way to avoid it.) But anyway, I was able to arm my son to some degree without poisoning him against his father, and to my surprise and great relief, there does not appear to have been much real damage so far.

The main "ammunition" was a talk to the effect that different people have different standards for conduct, for honesty, for kindness, and for ethics, and that in my opinion, the true mark of character was how you acted when no one would ever know. I also stressed how character was probably the single most important quality in a person, and that it wasn't something that could tolerte a lot of compromises - even small ones. I encouraged him to rely on his own standards for ethical conduct (knowing full-well they're the strict ones I pounded into his head and modelled for his first 13 years) and not to let himself be influenced to compromise his core values. I also cautioned him that his own personal ethics were just that - personal - and like religion, were not things he should discuss with other people to avoid making them feel bad. (If he ever called his father on his shady ethics, the consequences would be dire.) There was no need to ever bring Biodad's name into the picture, but it's clear my son got the message.

Anyway -- Is there a similar message you could give your son in a "life in general" sort of Mom-talk way that would arm him against possible "contagion" of his father's disorder?

I just wish my parents had said to me something along the lines of "People who worry too much about the outside aren't paying enough attention to the real stuff on the inside"... They certainly knew it -- it was how they lived. But if I'd only had that quote in my head, the anguish I'd have avoided.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 3:59PM
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I see, but since I'm not qualified to apply the term (absent an actual diagnosis) and even I am not 100% sure the ex actually IS one...I wouldn't even begin to suggest to my children that their father is a "whatever label might fit". Labels have a way of over simplifying facts and experience anyway in my opinion.

Actions do speak louder than words. Both my kids have had fairly hair raising times with their dad. I've gotten quite a few of those "MOM!!" phone calls. I'm trusting that their intelligence and good sense and experience will help them in further dealings with him. They are certainly way ahead of me at that age. When I married him I was completely clueless.

I did my best for the many years I spent raising the children to teach them honesty and kindness and respect in dealing with others. If they haven't got that by now, I fear my influence may have reached its limit. So far they each seem to have very good relationships with me, their friends and their significant others. They are both very thoughtful, responsible, and hardworking. Their contact with their dad is limited by his own absence as much as anything and that isn't all bad.

I'm not sure why my son has decided he needs to know about what he calls our "family history" just now. It's probably natural. I just hate to have to share such unpleasantness with him. It's the truth, though, and I can't change it or make up something instead. I am trying not to be any more accusing or explicit than I have to be. Some of it will have to remain between the lines. And some is just too personal and ugly to talk or write about. So I guess he will just have to figure it out.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 8:04PM
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This makes better reading and sense than many articles and TV shows. I will ( in the face of experience) rescind my recommendation to have a face to face....sweeby has been there and brings up excellent points.
Perhaps before sending "the letter" to your son you might send an email and ask are there specific questions he wants answered? Remembering the tale about the little boy who asks his mom "where did I come from" and she goes into the whole biological thing...and hes ays "Oh...cause Tommy came from Kansas".
I think you need to know just what sort of stuff he wants to know.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 12:47AM
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You know, Lindac, exactly that was my first impulse. But then I thought that this may be my only chance to set the record somewhat straight. And my son actually has no way of knowing what to ask. I don't think I really want to give him the opportunity to limit my response in ways that might distort the sense of it.

Unfortunately, my marriage was a bit like the "death by a thousand cuts"...or, as I tried to explain in my letter: "A relationship might weather almost any outrage if it is isolated - an aberration. But even seemingly small hurts, continued relentlessly over many years become unbearable." Unless I am going to completely oversimplify and probably wind up suggesting that his dad is an unrepentent sadist (quite possible but not something I think I should tell my son), I felt I had to offer a little more background.

The one thing I am quite sure his dad said about the divorce is that it was "all" my idea, completely "unilateral", sudden and unforseen, and totally irrational. It is going to take a few pages - and the answers to several questions my son wouldn't know to ask - to rebut that.

I was amused by your good review of this compared with articles and TV...but then, that's not a terribly high standard, is it! Thanks for your comment.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 8:26AM
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Lots better than Dr. Phil...or Montel!! LOL!
Good luck, and let us know how your son receives the info. I didn't realized how well you had sheltered him from the reality. Also wondering if perhaps he knows more of the "reality" than you realize and new information from his dad has caused him to question what he thought he knew.
Also how your daughter is reacting and you know he will share with her ( I am assuming the younger is a girl). I am always a bit surprised when I find my kids have been conversing about "Mother".
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 2:43PM
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Oh, if only I were being paid as Dr. Phil and Montel are!! LOL

I think I only "sheltered" my son from my side (ahem...that would be the TRUTH, of course) because I was always so careful about trying to avoid bad mouthing his dad. I'm neither a saint nor secretly guilty...I simply believed strongly that if I did tell my children what I thought of their dad it would eventually come back to haunt me. I don't think their dad was nearly so discreet or cautious. That's why I feel I must take this opportunity - the first time either of my children has asked for "my side" - to try to let them know the truth.

As for the two of them sharing it...truth is truth. My explanation would have to be the same for both. I actually wish they would spend more time communicating and supporting each other in such matters. Maybe they do more than I know. If they do, so much the better.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 4:50PM
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You know, if my son did that to me I would be somewhat offended by it. While I may owe him some sort of explanation, I get to decide when, how and what to tell him. Not him.

It seems obvious his dad has gotten to him, but, I would not allow yourself to be sucked into his/their game playing. I would bet your ex may want a copy of your letter so he could come up with valid counters on the points, etc. I would never air my family's dirty laundry on paper. It makes you look bad when your ex passes a copy of it to everyone you know.

Your son should realize that the fact that you choose not to bad mouth his father all these years is in no way a reflection that your father wasn't worth bad mouthing, but more a reflection that you are a good and caring mother. I'm not even sure you should stoop to your ex's level of bad mouthing at this point. But, if you do decide to discuss matters, I would do so only in person.

It may take some time, but I'm sure your son knows you're a good person and a good mother. Don't (even subconsciously) make him get in the middle of this or make him choose, which is what you may be doing with the letter. Just give him the time to really get to know what his father is really like. I feel bad for you. It's sad to think your ex could have such influence over your son's impression of you, but since he's able to do that, I have a feeling that if you play their game, you are just going to loose. The more evil person almost always wins the evil game. So, I would refuse to play the game.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 6:36PM
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Your son might be thinking along the lines of "am I going to be like my father?".

Its a bit of a turmoil for him.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 3:56AM
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"You know, if my son did that to me I would be somewhat offended by it. While I may owe him some sort of explanation, I get to decide when, how and what to tell him. Not him. "

You've got a point -- It is offensive, when considered exclusively from Lindakimy's perspective.

But then, from the son's perspective, imagine what he is thinking? His whole life, Mom has told him one sanitized version of events, and now, from his father, a completely different story. And no doubt, a very convincing, plausible and sympathetic story. Imagine his confusion, his pain, his sense of betrayal...

OK, so it would have been nice had he taken the time to calm down, get fully rational, and ask nicely. But he's still young, and the subject matter is explosive stuff. Good thing Lindakimy didn't react in an angry, offended, defensive huff. That would have really backfired.

So any news yet?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 1:04PM
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Well, you know, I did feel a little hurt to think he could (as his email said) have "talked with his dad about the divorce" but would prefer that I write my side. Then I thought, "Heavens, I wonder how nasty that conversation got?" The boy could still be reeling! And I'm sure he would prefer to be able to read and re-read and have time to ponder.

I always tried hard to see the other side of any exchange I had with my children. They may be young and immature but they do have feelings and I've always found that things go better when I don't ride too roughshod over them. Besides, somebody has to be the adult!

Sweeby, it's a little worse than you imagine. The children never did really hear my side. Remember that I said that I would ask them if they wanted me to talk with them about it when I picked up indications that dad had been telling them things? They always answered, "NO!" I chose not to "inflict" my explanation on them but rather just to go on with day to day life - which seemed peaceful and pleasant enough. Now, looking back, that may not have been my wisest decision. And I don't necessarily expect the kids to remember how emphatic they were about NOT wanting to know. And even if they do, it's no guarantee that they may not blame me for not telling them anyway. Logic doesn't seem to have a huge lot to do with the really emotional things, does it?

So, all that considered, I wrote the letter and made it as true (but kind) as I could. If I had told the children my side years ago when all the pain their dad put me through was still so fresh I don't think I could have managed that.

I haven't heard back from my boy yet - there really hasn't been time. I'm worried and nervous, of course. But I have a lot of faith in his good sense, intelligence, and the love for me that he always demonstrated through the years. If his dad has destroyed all that I don't know what I'll do. What reason but meanness could there be at this late date? But there is nothing to be gained by driving myself crazy over possibilities before I find out how my son reacts. "Sufficient unto the day..."

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 3:41PM
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I just had to pipe in here. I have to say I agree with Carla here. You raised your son, he knows what kind of a person and mother you are. You sound like an intelligent, moral, thoughtful and kind woman to me, and I think your children know that. I would be hurt and upset (I won't say angry, but I don't really know that) if I got the inkling that my son blamed me for a divorce. You say your children have seen bad behavior in your ex. They need to draw their own conclusions. I would definitely talk to him, maybe read the letter to him, but I would not create a paper trail that your ex could get his hands on and manipulate.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 9:53PM
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O.K., it's been over a week now and I haven't heard anything back from my dear boy.

Would you call? Email? Wait a while?

I'm going crazy here!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 9:38PM
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OK, a few days in the mail, then a few more days for your letter to sink in, plus a few more to mull it all over...

I'd be inclined to follow up with a phone call after you know he's had the letter for 3-4 days. Does your son have caller ID? If so, plan to leave a message indicating that you think the two of you should have an in-depth conversation when he has time, and would he please call you to let you know when a good time would be for the two of you to talk. I'd also be prepared for what you want to say if he sounds 'funny', and you suspect his father's gotten to him.

Good luck -- I'm nervous for you!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 10:37PM
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And that's one of the thoughts I had when suggesting a face to face....
But then....
I think I might wait until Sunday and call and ask....did I answer your questions?
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 12:10AM
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Oh I just read this and I feel for you. I hope your relationship with your son can weather this. I would have advised against sending a letter. It is a very tricky thing and I honestly have tried to stay out of knowing the details of my parents divorce. My dad has freely lashed out about my mom (and I've told him I don't want to hear it), but mom would at times show annoyance with my dad and never told me details of why (she asked like you if I wanted to know at times and I said no). Well I saw lots of signs over the years with my dad since the divorce and haven't until recently fully understood what my dad is really like. I'm trying to be estranged from him, which he doesn't seem to get the hint. I don't want anything to do with him unless he can act like a normal responsible grown up. During this time I have learned a few things from my mom about their relationship and I've put two and two together. However I'm not sure I would have handled it well with a letter. I needed time to come to terms with what I was told and bits and pieces were better. I'm an intelligent woman well into my 30's, but a child never really want to think bad things about their parents even if there has been signs in the past. I hope your son will take this information and digest it and all will work out with some talking and questions, however he may need some time to really understand and believe you.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 3:40PM
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I come from a background of happy stable family, so my understanding of your situation is sadly lacking.

But I would imagine that a child from an unhappy marriage could possibly wonder if they will end up acting like the parent. I would imagine that they would want to know what was the problem with the parent's behaviour, so they dont repeat it in their relationships. We all want to know about things like that. Would you agree ?

Its a tricky situation. I hope it is resolved and everyone is able to live happily with the outcome.

All the best.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 8:45PM
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Lyfia, thanks for your thoughtful comments. You have obviously given your situation a lot of thought and have come to an understanding of yourself that most don't reach.

It's been over two weeks since I sent the letter and I haven't heard from my son. It's nerve wracking but I'm guessing that he is taking time to think it all over - it may just be difficult to spend much time deeply involved with it. Goodness knows, it was hard for me to focus on it again enough to write that letter! But I not only love my son extremely, I have enormous respect for his intelligence, good sense, and attitudes toward other people. He DID ask. In our family it was common to hear, "Don't ask the question if you don't really want to hear the answer." Of course, sometimes answers are surprising and you can't forsee how you will be affected in every case. But I truly struggled with that letter and believe that I was able to explain the situation without unnecessarily attacking his dad's character. I was actually pretty complimentary about his dad (considering some things I've been through and how horribly angry I used to be about it all) because there is a big difference between MY relationship with their dad and the relationship my children have with him. I have NEVER tried to prevent them from having as good a relationship as possible with him, regardless of the fact that I simply could not live with him in my life again.

Anyway, my son asked me to write him and I did. His request for information was completely unexpected by me and, I suspect, resulted from some action on his dad's part. The only times I have managed not to be defeated by the man were when I calmly and honestly presented my side of things (like with the mediator he tried to subvert and with the judge in the court). I weighed the situation as best I could and felt I had to take the opportunity to let my child hear the truth - not just "my side" distorted by emotion and hurt but the truth as honestly and simply as I could tell it. I read the letter and discussed it with three people before sending it to my son: an aunt of mine who knows my ex and my son and who went through a divorce; my brother who knows us all well and who has a son himself; and my husband who knows me and my son better than anyone else I know and who has been divorced and also has a son. I chose those people because I felt they could each offer some insight and, possibly, help me "see the trees." And each one of them strongly urged me to send the letter. My husband did say he thought I had been way too kind to my ex in the letter but I think that was HIS bias showing.

So now I wait for my son to get in touch with me again. I miss hearing from him and I worry, of course. But I do have that faith in his good sense and in the good relationship he and I have had for years.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 11:06AM
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You sound very grounded Lindakimy, and that's a good thing. It must be nerve-wracking to imagine your son grappling with all of this information and trying to sort it out, without any additional input from you.

Do you think it might help to write a letter or leave a phone message expressing faith in your son's good judgement, and suggesting that if he's torn about what to believe, that your aunt and brother might be worth talking to?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 11:39AM
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Lindakimy, From your description I'm sure you and your son will come through this. Especially if he knows the don't ask if you don't want to know. Is it possible that he hasn't contacted you now because he doesn't know what to say? I mean we have no idea of what is in the letter so could there be something in there that would make him uncomfortable and not know how to talk to you?

I know my dad currently has complete control of my sister. He is very good at manipulation and it has taken me a long time to understand that, didn't want to believe that about my own dad is what my problem was. Not even I know how to contact my sister now (and we've always been close even though we live an ocean away from each other) and she is estranged from my mom at the moment, which I'm sure is the cause of my dad.

I would suggest you talk to your son or have your aunt, brother, husband contact him especially if his dad is trying to manipulate him. I don't think leaving a calm message (if he doesn't answer) as suggested above would be a bad thing. Leave the door open for him to call you. If he does answer you might want to talk about normal things first and feel him out if he is ready to talk.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 3:42PM
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Lyfia, I can't imagine what would be in that letter that my son couldn't talk with me about but then I've never been in his situation and probably have no idea what it's like.

That is so sad about your sister. How awful not to have a way of reaching her. Why do people do these things? I just can't think what they get from causing all that pain.

It's funny how opinion has divided on whether I should get in touch with my son. Men immediately - and rather forcefully say, "Don't call him or write him til he gets in touch with you. It's up to him now." That seems so wrong to me that I suspect it may be genetic! What you say about leaving the door open makes so much more sense to me. The whole point here is to let him really know that this doesn't have to be combat - there is no need to take sides. (Unless, of course, my ex is really up to some nasty tricks.)

I had thought that I'd send cards and gifts for the holidays (as usual) but that seems rather far off. You know, if it is this hard for me to call or write (for fear of saying the wrong thing) it must be just as hard for my son.

As for having him contact my aunt or brother or husband...he really never was close to my side of the family because I had very few chances to travel to visit them when I was raising my kids. They spent almost all of the time they had off from school with their dad. There were not many opportunities for my children to feel like part of my family. My son did have a very good relationship with my husband and probably called him as often as he called me since he has lived away from our home. But he has not been in touch with him at all since all this started and I know my husband has left phone messages for him.

Besides, I am not sure my son would be comfortable with the idea of mom bringing in "reenforcements". In spite of my cry for help in THIS very public place, it is still a private matter that I'll ultimately have to work out with my son directly.

I do appreciate the comments, though. It really helps to see things from a little different perspective.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 4:55PM
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I fully understand it is a private matter. I'm usually very private about my family stuff and it is just recently I've started to realize that talking about it is making me feel much better. I guess I've been trying to keep up the appearances.

I'm sorry I assumed wrong when I thought your brother or aunt were close to your son. I guess because you said they read the letter I thought so. If they are not then that would be completely off the wall to have them call or anybody else for that matter.

Since you have no idea what is going on I think you just need to act normal and would you normally call him? If so then it doesn't hurt to call. If you don't then maybe you'll just have to wait it out.

I think the key is for you to act like it isn't a big deal. I feel much more comfortable at times when I'm not sure how to handle situations relating to my dad/mom to just talk about normal stuff. Especially with my dad when in the past I've tried to get over stuff with him. Except this time he has crossed the line too far.

In my case I think my dad is just overcome with hate for my mom and he doesn't realize that he is hurting other people in his quest to do all he can to hurt my mom and this after being divorced for over 20 year. In his twisted mind he makes it seem like he is doing something good like looking out for that persons bests interests. I know growing up (teenage years) if I ever wanted anything from him I just needed to say something bad about mom (like I was mad at her) and I'd get what I'd want. Yes, not very nice on my part and I didn't use it often, but the worst thing is that I know I still could do that and he'd be ready to do whatever. That is how I think this whole my sister loosing contact with my mom started, not that my sister was doing that to get something, but rather her venting about something.

I really hope this works out for you sooner than later.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 7:56PM
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Oh my goodness. Are you a child of mine I've lost track of?? Your situation with your dad sounds SO familiar. My ex promised me years ago that eventually our children would have nothing more to do with me (because I had been so rude as to leave him, etc.) And I really believe that he is behind this - doing whatever it takes to make his "prophesy" come true. I believe that he wants my children to turn away from me because he is jealous of our good relationship.

I so understand the part about you saying something bad about your mom. My ex was very cold and difficult UNLESS I said something that suggested that I was "not o.k." Like...mentally messed up on account of something from my childhood. Then he would be affectionate and sweet. It's a form of behavior modification. I saw it (as you do) and I'm ashamed that a few times I used it. But eventually it was just too creepy.

Yes, I would normally call my son. I'd do the regular "mom" thing and leave him a message like, "Hey. Just wondering how y'all are. Call me please! Love you bunches." But I'm thinking I'll email him along those lines - it allows him a bit more time to think.

I sure hope things work out in your family. I hate to think that there are others out there with such similar situations. Mercy. That's bad.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 8:36PM
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I'm not holding much hope that things will work out now. The latest thing has been going on for over a year and when my sister ended up by chance running into my mom she asked to come for dinner and did and then things just escalated out of control. I guess because she talked to my mom, my dad flipped out and they ended up filing charges on my mom saying she has abused my sister physically. I don't believe it one bit as my sister was always the good kid and did what she was told, vs. I was the one always in trouble and arguing with my mom and she never lifted a finger on me though I would have deserved it and drove her nuts.

I got an e-mail from my sister written the way my dad writes a letter (when I get mad at him and tell him to act like a grown up he sends a letter that he tries to explain why his way is the right way and I just end up not talking to him after that as his reasons just make me even madder). In this e-mail she is telling me our mom physically abused her since I moved to the US (very convenient for my dad) and listed all her injuries and hospital visits. The part that is the strangest to me is that those are all things that she did while playing soccer, basketball, skiing, and/or happened at school. All very public injuries. which makes it even more unbelievable. What really kills me is that my dad think I'm going to fall for this. Guess he thinks I didn't know about any of it. This was reported to the police back in June and they have not done anything about it and indicating to my mom that they don't believe it either.

Unfortunatley for my sister she had a brain anerysm (sp?) at 12 years old and her memory in some areas are not the best, as well as her emotions are more on a teenage level now that she is in her mid twenties. She is also very easily made to believe certain things (gullible in a way and she has always been that way even before the brain injury, just a bit worse now) What really bothers me is that my dad is taking advantage of this and thinks in his mind that he is doing her a favor as his letters to me indicates when I told him he wasn't the right person to talk to her about mom because of his obvious dislike of my mom.

I'm very worried for my sisters mental well being and wish there was something I could do. I've tried e-mailing her, but don't get a response other than my dad calling me. She did have a boyfriend, but my dad managed to get her to get him to leave (according to him) as her BF would at times talk to my mom.

The words your ex told you is basically what my dad told my mom right after the divorce too. I think because she is a strong woman and did ask for the divorce too, she crossed him and he can't let that happen. You seem like a strong woman too and since your son is grown up now he will eventually like me see what his dad really is and probably know in his heart that you've tried what you could to allow him a relationship with his dad.

BTW thanks for listening. It is helping to just write some of these things out. I'm still reeling from my dad calling my cellphone (which he never does) on my birthday and trying to wish me happy birthday while I tried to say I didn't want to talk to him right now. I ended up just hanging up as I didn't want to destroy the day by having an argument that would go nowhere with him and only end up with one of his silly letters again.

Oh BTW over the years my mom has recieved countless of hate letters from him. I saw a few by chance once and I think at that point I went into denial for a little while until I had the courage to call him on it. He admitted to it, but of course in his manipulative ways had a perfectly good explanation for it too. Well since I now have gotten a few of his weird letters myself I no longer believe his explanations. Also putting all the history of things he has done over the years etc together has gotten me to this point. Took me a long time to realize this (again you don't want to believe your parents are capable of these things) and some of my friends that have met him don't really want to believe me as they just think he's the nicest guy.

I just don't understand why people with children have to put their children through this. I applaud you for raising your children like you did even though it must have hurt you and I'm guessing you must have been worried about your childrens emotional well being too, at least I would have.

Oh and for those reading this and thinking I'm being paranoid that my dad is doing this. There is a whole lot more to the story and a lot of history to back it up. It would take a book to describe it all. I just tried to cover the latest as short as I could.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 10:41PM
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Hello to all of you kind people. Just lurking in with my 2 cents worth. The perfect follow up letter has been created by the many caring people here. Send DS a copy of this thread, it will ease his mind, explain a few life lessons, and prove his Mother's love.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 11:15PM
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I finally sent an email...just as if nothing had happened...to my dear, dear boy. And I got one in return that sent me out to wail and cry and thank God. He is still my dear sweet child. He doesn't blame me or think less of me. I still loves me.

Unless you are a parent you may not understand the wonder of this...the vulnerability and agony. I was afraid that the truth had lost me my lovely boy. And that was tearing my heart in little bitty pieces. I'm so overjoyed right now I am not really coherent. I trust that some of you understand.

I know I'm not making much sense. But right now I just can't do any better.

Thanks, by the way...for any and all good thoughts or prayers that may have been sent for my situation. All are deeply appreciated.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 11:48PM
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Hi Linda

I am so happy for you..you still have your little boy, he still loves you, thats all that matter, isnt it?

I have tears too.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 12:28AM
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I'm so glad Linda --
You raised him right, and here's your proof.

(wiping her eyes)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 10:34AM
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Linda that is great news! Like others said you've raised him right. I'm glad you did the e-mail sooner than later too so you didn't have to go wait and wonder any longer.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 3:30PM
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Glad to hear your news.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 6:10PM
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