A few weeks ago my kids, Evan and Conor came home from their Easter weekend with their father. And Evan was very upset. FACT…. He’s not a social being, just like his father was at his age. Hell, just like I was at his age! And he doesn’t like to socialize in general, much less with people he feels consider him an antisocial sociopath. With me and people he feels accepted and comfortable with Evan is a very fun person to be around, in a caustic humor kind of way. It’s not impossible to get him to open up but sarcasm and a mocking tone isn’t the way to do it. Socializing is not something that comes instant and easy for him. His father either does not see this or feels that it is somehow a character flaw that he much change.
Why was Evan upset THIS time? Because their father and his girlfriend, lets call her Boney, decided to celebrate Easter with an Egg Hunt. Now.. lets set the stage. The people in this household consist of my Ex- Brian (52); his girlfriend Boney (age undetermined… looks over 60) who owns the house; Boney’s daughter (over 20) and sometimes that daughter’s boyfriend; Boney’s son (over 18); and two weekends a month my son Evan (15) and my son Conor (13). There are no little kids in this group, so WHY an egg hunt? Because YOU want to have a social gathering. Fine. Do you factor in, encourage empathetically, or even ask the most reticent of social situations member in this household? No, you bully or snark comments.
Was my son entirely in the right? Absolutely not. Was my Ex entirely in the wrong? No. Did my Ex make is worse by venting at “the court” for what he has to pay to me monthly, the fact he longer gets to claim a kid on his taxes, and makes statements to his sons like “Beware who you marry” on the drive to drop them off? Yes, apparently he does this EVERY TIME the kids get in the car with him. Do I get to try and repair the emotional damage my Ex does? Yes, every time. Does this make getting schoolwork cooperation from Evan more difficult? Yes. Is my Ex really bad at parenting? Yes. Do I want to have a strong verbal battle with him, his girlfriend, and the principal of her school where she works? Oh yes… very much yes, so much yes it gives me pleasure to think about it. Do I want to write him a letter with copies to the judge who saw our last court appearance about how insulting his children and their mother to his children drives them to such sadness? Oh yes!
On this subject, Evan’s solution is to not have to spend any more time with his father, nor with a group of people who he feels hate him. People who certainly do not truly understand him nor accept him for who he is. On the one hand I feel sorry for THEM. They don’t get Evan’s wonderfully fun humor because they don’t create a safe, loving, accepting place for it to come out. And it is wonderful, that humor. So wonderful I’ve told him that HE is the son I want taking care of me when I’m old & stroked out. (My father and his life after stroke brings this home to me every week when I see him.)
And who will my Ex have to care for him if HE has a stroke? Assuming he doesn’t get tossed out of the house where he mooches off this girlfriend. Assuming she outlives him. He certainly won’t have his older children as he’s pretty well burned his bridges there by his actions, no matter how much I “reinterpret” his probable intentions to them. “Maybe your father mean to say this,” only flies so far with kids, particularly teens.
Sidebar example…. Luke came home from a dinner with sibs and Dad and said “Dad said Autism was not a genetic defect because it would have been bred away by now.” After a lengthy discussion of the falsehood of that statement and how genetics have A LOT of disorders you would think would have been “bred out”. I then turned to Luke and said, “Maybe what your father is trying to say is YOU’RE not defective, just cuz you have Aspergers.” It’s THIS kind of translating I do ALL the time for my Ex to try to keep the kids from hating him. Cuz, well, guess who also has Aspergers. Aaaaanyway….
My Ex is probably relying on Conor who understands him better than his other kids because Conor has my perception and empathy about people. Evan actually has the most sensitivity and perception but its just driven him away from people. Conor and I have a certain autonomous distance. This was how I understood my Ex. It was why I could marry him, and also why I divorced him. If Conor volunteers to be there for his father when his father gets debilitated I will be right next to my son. Reminding him that the State has program to pay for a home. In Wisconsin.
But the real point of this blog is this. Divorced parents should talk more between them. Married parents discuss these miscommunications and help their kids deal with the emotions of teen frustration, etc (I say etc cuz teens have soooo many emotions!). And my angry sons are teens!!! When divorced parents don’t talk then the only information one has is what is relayed by the teen. And we all know how accurate THAT can be. My sons aren’t lying to me, but their narrative is colored by their emotions and its difficult for me NOT to get angry when my kids are needlessly damaged by comments from “adults”. They get enough of it from the idiot kids at school.
But if communication were a strong point between my Ex and I…. well we wouldn’t have needed lawyers.