Celebrating without the In-Laws

on May 06, 2011 @ 01:24 pm

I recently divorced an abusive husband, and there are still restraining orders in place, to keep my him away from me.  I believe he has a personality disorder, which includes a healthy dose of narcissism.  Unfortunately, my son, who I was hoping to relieve somewhat through the separation, now lives with his controlling father full time and has developed a very disrespectful attitude towards me.  Last weekend, I invited him to his grandfathers birthday lunch, but he did not respond until it was too late, so I suggested he call or drop by later that day.  Instead, he called a few days later and invited my father and his wife to dinner with him, my ex-husband, and my ex-husband's parents.  I have told my father I am very uncomfortable with this, as it sets a precedent of celebrating my family's events without me.  I believe my son should celebrate with my whole family.  By missing last weekend's event, he didn't get to see his sisters, aunt, uncle or cousin.  Despite the fact that both families used to celebrate many events together, times have changed, and it would seem to me that by allowing my son to make arrangements without me, they are contributing to my deteriorating relationship with him.  And giving his father the satisfaction of getting between me and my family.  Do you think I am overreacting or being selfish by asking my father and his wife not to go?

5 Replies

... on May 18, 2011 @ 01:07 pm

I'm sure this is very difficult for you, and I've not gone through anything like this so just from an outsiders perspective, here's what I think.

Seems like your son is angry with you or blames you for something. If I were you I would have two goals in this scenario, a) figure out why he's angry and b) convince him I'm not the 'bad guy' he seems to think I am. If you forbid your father and his wife from attending your son's invitation, that's not going to really help your cause. It's almost like he's inviting them and not you, ignoring your invites, etc. to show you that he's angry with you. Instead of coming to your face and telling you, he's showing you through these methods. If I were you I wouldn't create a fuss about the holidays, divorced parents are hard on any child regardless of the circumstances. Maybe on another day take him out, just the two of you, and spend some time together. Talk to him and reconnect with him, see why he's angry and try to resolve that.

Ali de Bold
This is hard on May 18, 2011 @ 02:40 pm

This is a really tough situation because your son is caught in the middle of something sad that he has no control over.

Ultimately his relationship with his grandparents - even though they are your parents - is separate from his relationship with you.

My parents split up when I was a teenager and I have always been extremely close with both sets of grandparents. In my case it was normal to spend time alone with the grandparents or even have lunch with both sides. Sometimes my Mom would join us, sometimes it would be just us. I always spent time with my Dad and/or his wife and kids separately for reasons beyond my control.

Unfortunately, even if your husband is the world's biggest jerk, to your son he is still Dad. It's probably hard for him to know how to react in this situation because on one hand, you were very hurt by his father, but on the other hand he is still his dad.

I do think it's strange that he would avoid the gathering with your family and then arrange a meeting with your parents and his dad without you present, but it could also be because he knows it would be extremely uncomfortable for all involved if you were there. Him not going to the gathering doesn't make a lot of sense unless he has a beef with other family members who would be present.

Have you talked with him to see what is going through his head? If not, you should in a non-accusatory way ask where he's at with everything and why he chose not to come to the family celebration. Also address his attitude. I sincerely hope it's not a case of him being influenced by negative things his Dad is saying about you. My parents never spoke badly of each other and I'm so grateful for that. It's a horrible position for a kid to be in, regardless of how old you are. Make sure that you aren't saying anything bad about his Dad either. Even though the guy probably deserves it, it only makes you look bad/bitter.

I hope I've made sense! This is just my opinion based on my personal experience but I obviously don't know your whole story.


Your perspectives are appreciated on May 18, 2011 @ 04:09 pm

Thank you so much for your kind replies. It is a very difficult situation, and I am trying to do what is best for my son. I never speak poorly of his father, to him or his sisters, but unfortunately I do not think my ex-husband returns the favor. And speaking with my son about anything recently has been very, very difficult. I can only hope that time will help heal our relationship as he matures.

It would have eaten me up though, from the inside out, to allow them all to go to dinner without me, as I feel it would have driven an even deeper wedge between me and my son, and given my ex the satisfaction of wedging himself between me and my parents as well.

So instead, we invited my son to come to dinner at his grandparents, where I have been living since the separation. I think it's a step in the right direction, to encourage him to come here vs. taking my parents out with the other side of the family.

It is very helpful to hear what both of you had to say, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your perspectives with me. Many thanks!

Ali de Bold
What do your daughers think? on May 18, 2011 @ 04:31 pm

I'm curious what their perspective is in this situation? Do they have any insight into their brother's behaviour? Does he think the split is your fault? What do your parents think?

It's a horrible situation and I really feel for you. I think it would be great to get some perspective from others close to the situation.

If your husband is bashing you, your son should know better since he was there and knows what went wrong. But if he's young/vulnerable he may not have a firm grasp on what really happened. It's probably easier for him to identify with his Dad because he's a man.

Either way I really hope he can talk to you soon. Don't push him right now, just let him know that you love him and know that no matter what is going on in his head you are his Mother and he does love you. He just clearly has some things to sort out.

BTW, it's so good you're not doing any of the bashing. Keep that up. It is the right thing to do and even if your ex does it about you, he will look like a jerk to anyone who hears it - not you.

Hopefully time will heal... on May 19, 2011 @ 09:09 am

Thanks Ali, It really is hard to let my son know how much I love him, when I rarely see him and have in fact become a little intimidated by him. But I am trying to work on this, as it makes me so sad that I'm missing out on a part of his growing up, that I never expected could happen. We were so close until the separation, and I really think he is alot like me, in terms of values, so I hope he will come around sooner than later.

His sisters are 8 and 4. They live with me full time and only see their dad and brother on Wednesdays for dinner and Fridays overnight. They are happy and well adjusted to living with me at their grandparents' house. But I worry about any impact on them as they get older, as their dad does act in many inappropriate ways. He talks to them about living with him half the time, which is completely inappropriate, as the courts decided they are to live with me full time, indefinitely. And as far as insight about their brother, they are really too young to understand what either him or his father are doing - very innocent, and I try my best to keep it that way. It seems that limiting contact is the only means I have, but that might change over time.

Thanks for the advice and resassurance, A

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