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  • Need affirmation (but preferably answers)

    Ok...this is somewhat of a long one, so please bear with me. My ex-wife and I split about 6 years ago. My son (who is now 14) has had emotional issues dating back several years (beginning about a year after our split). I got him into a therapist, and things seemed to get a little better. He went somewhat regularly for several years until the Dr. basically said he was "good to go". That was about 4 years ago.

    To speed this up a little bit, I'm just going to put it bluntly. My ex has mental issues. I'm not just saying that to be mean, she went to a therapist for 4 years (2 years before we split, and 2 years after), and was supposed to be on medication for depression but couldn't afford it so she never took it. I feel that she is directly responsible for my son's issues, not because of heredity, but because she says "it's ok". She's never had him tested for depression, though she is more than happy to tell his teachers that SHE has a history of it, so HE probably does. SHE wasn't good in school, so it's ok for him to not try. Anytime he forgets to turn in (or even DO) his homework it's because the teachers didn't notify her that there was anything outstanding. Note, he was in a "special" program in 8th grade run by certified counselors who ALREADY were going the extra mile.

    She is (self proclaimed, and happy to say it) his friend. I have been stuck being the parent through the last 6 years, and now my son wants nothing to do with me. He spent the summer with his mother, partly because he said he hated me and would run away if he was forced to come back to my house, and partly because I seriously needed a break. I wanted her to see what it is like having him all of the time, and having to make sure he is doing the right things and making the right decisions. From day one, regardless of who had him whatever week, he has been at my house every day after school. I remained in his school district in hopes to give him at least THAT stability. So every day I have to make sure he has his key to get in. Every day I have to make sure to pick up after he swarms through my house and cupboards. She has no concept, yet I get yelled at for "starving him". I monitor what he eats, yes. Snacks do not last long. I would buy enough for the week (yes, even on her weeks) and they would last 2 days.

    Beginning about 4 years ago, my son started to realize he could find sexually explicit pictures on the internet. I had a LONG conversation with him about that. I am a very experienced IT professional, and explained to him then (and about 50 times since then) that there is nothing he is going to do on his computer that I'm not going to find out about. Yes, I put a keystroke logger on it. Yes, I monitored is internet history. Yes, I blocked sites he was going to if I found explicit material. Sometimes it was accidental, sometimes it was a "test". The "testing" has only gotten worse, but I digress. I have maintained this stance since the first time I found out what he was doing. I have communicated it with his mother about 100 times as well. I even went so far as to put a keystroke log in the laptop I gave him to use at her house. She never used to check the logs. She never used to block internet. She had no problem with him masturbating to stuff he found on the internet. He was free to have his laptop in his room, unsupervised, at all times. That changed about a year ago, becuase her ex-boyfriend found him doing IM at 4:30 in the AM on a school day. NOTE: 6 months prior to that, I had already told her that he was doing it. I had already busted him. But since it didn't happen at her house, there was nothing she was going to do about it. During that lapse (and even up till about 3 months ago) he would regularly "schedule" online orgies and whatnot for times when he was at his mother's house. He hated being at mine, cause I monitored everything. I told him regularly, that if he would just STOP trying to test me, then I would actually begin trusting him. It only got worse.

    For more than 2 years she has freely had conversations with him about changing school districts. Conversations about emancipation. Conversations that I feel she really shouldn't have been having with him because neither of them even had a clue what either would entail. She was asked to move south for her job. I told her I would honestly consider her taking him, but I would have to understand the whole situation. Once again, she did not put any thought into it (except to talk to him for weeks about it...how nice it would be...all that). There was no job security. It would be a cut in pay. She owns a house already, and had not thought about what would happen to it. She would have absolutely NO support system there (aside from a 1/2 dozen people she's talked to on the phone for 2 years regarding work related stuff). And I'm the one that got blamed for "shooting it down".

    One last bit of information. My girlfriend and I moved in together over 3 years ago (no, my divorce had absolutely NOTHING to do with her...we met two years after my ex and I split). She is currently my wife, married in May. I'm sure this hasn't really helped matters, but any attempts to talk to my son about it results in "I don't want to talk about it". She is a great woman. Very little drama. I'm the same way. I like to keep things simple. I spend a lot of time with my family.

    My ex on the other hand hasn't spoken to anyone in her family for months. She hasn't talked to her brother in 3 years, and every time she talks to her mother it ends in an argument (sometimes physical). Her father, the only person I have any respect for in her immediate family has tried to intervene/mediate, but she won't listen. He agrees that my son is unmotivated and "spoiled", and that she is enabling him at every turn.

    This whole situation came to a head 1 week after his 14th birthday. Turning 14 gave him a sense of empowerment. I understand that. But the oral gratification he received as a "birthday present" from a friend of my ex's neice didn't help either. Compound that with the fact that I caught him "red handed" taking pictures of himself and sending them to this girl via email (pictures that could have had serious ramifications). Ever since then, he has refused to come to my house. He swears he will run away. I'm sure the only reason he's saying that now is because he KNOWS I'm the only one that would really punish him. Before, it was "I want to kill myself". But once his bluff was called, and he was en-route to the hospital to put him on suicide watch, he stopped using that one (he played that card about 6 times in the past 4 years, and FINALLY she didn't give in). He even played that card at school last year, because he got in trouble, and he knew he would get punished if he came to my house. He's right. But bear in mind that I do not physically punish him. I take away his cell phone. I take away internet. That sort of thing.

    He has been caught on the phone at 4 in the morning. He has been caught going into the basement (where my office is, and I had a gaming computer set up for him) at 5AM to IM. He has been caught sneaking his phone into his room during the night (he's not allowed to have it in his room anymore). He has been caught trying to log into nearly all of the other computers in my house (approximately 12 of them) in an attempt to get access to IM when his account is locked out.

    He gets so upset when you threaten to take his phone away or the internet away, that it physically makes him ill. His mother even acknowledged he likely has a form of addiction. But has she gotten him any help? No.

    I'm just looking for help. For so long I second guessed what I was doing. I felt myself that I was being mean. I had to be, because he wasn't getting it from his mother. She (even to this day) lets him take his phone in his room. Doesn't filter the internet. Doesn't read his keylog. Pretty much lets him do whatever he wants. Her standard response to me, anytime I ask is: "well, I can't do anything about it if it doesn't happen at MY house".

    What can I do? I'm expecting him to resume the week on week off thing this weekend. I fully expect him to threaten to run away (if not actually follow through with it). It'll only be for a few days, fortunately. I have to travel on business most of the week.

    Should I be trying to compensate for her lack of parenting? What do I do if he actually runs away? What if he keeps doing it? At what point do I just give up? One of the last logs I have from him before he spent the summer with his mother has him telling someone how he thought he would take the knife in his suitcase and come into my bedroom while we were sleeping and kill me. I wish I could understand what made him say that.

  • #2
    Re: Need affirmation (but preferably answers)

    Thanks so much for writing in and sharing your story with us. It sounds like you are dealing with an extremely difficult situation and just looking for some help. You mentioned that you are having a lot of problems with your son, but that a lot of it stems back to issues with his mom. It can’t be easy to feel like you are the only parent concerned with these issues and the only one trying to enforce some limits. It sounds like you have tried to work with your ex-wife in regards to your son, but that she just ends up making excuses for both herself and your son.

    In regards to the problems on the internet, it sounds like you are doing everything possible to try and talk with your son and create some limits for him. It’s hard because it sounds like even when you start to get things under control, they tend to come undone when he is with his mom. Have all three of you (you, your son, and ex-wife) tried to sit down together and come up with some compromises and rules? Do you think that would be an option, if you haven’t already tried that? Do you think if your son is part of the decision making process in regards to rules (both at you and your ex-wife’s house), that he may feel more empowered to start following them and at the same time earning more trust?

    You mentioned that your son has started threatening to runaway and even at one point threatened suicide. Although from what you said, it sounds like the suicide threat was him being more manipulative than anything, and that he has stopped saying that. Now it sounds like at this point he hasn’t runaway, but that he has said he is going to. Now there are several things that you can do if he actually decides to leave without your permission. As his father you have the right to make a runaway as soon as you don’t know where he is. There are a few ways that you can make a runaway report. You can contact your local police or call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. That organization works specifically with runaway and missing youth and will take a runaway report as well. Obviously that would not be an ideal situation, but those are some of the things you can do if that happens. Another thing that you mentioned is that you read a log that he wrote where he actually made mention to killing you. How long ago did you find this and have you confronted your son at all about this? If so what did he say about that? Do you think if you haven’t spoken to him you would be able to confront him about that situation? You had said before that he was seeing a therapist. Do you think it would be beneficial for him to talk with a therapist or counselor again? Would he be able to speak with the same person as before, someone who possible knew some of the history? How have you been coping with this situation? Do you have support in your life that has been helping you deal with all of this?

    Just so you know we are here not only for youth but for parents dealing with these kinds of situations as well. If you have any other questions or specific resources you may want you can always write back or give us a call at 1-800-RUNAWAY. We are a completely confidential hotline and available 24 hours a day. Even if you just need to vent about the situation we are here to listen. Best of luck and take care.
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YourOpinionMattersToUs

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Need affirmation (but preferably answers)

      You mentioned the idea of getting things under "control"...Honestly, the toughest part is knowing that for the first couple of years, his roller coaster of emotions he was experiencing at school were when he was with her (I have dates and whatnot, and regardless of whether or not she acknowledges it, they were almost 100% on weeks that she had him, and they were absolutely 100% directed towards females...as they continue to be), and now they're the other way around. It used to be something I expected. Every Sunday when I got him, I expected a train wreck, and that's usually what I got. For several days, we would work through whatever was bothering him, and then we were fine. Those days are over.

      I have sat down with her on many occasions to try and work out some of the limitations and whatnot. The closest we came was this summer, where we actually met 1/2 way, between my rules, and no rules (hers)...and we actually got him to agree to them. Of course the culmination of that meeting was me listening to him telling me how much he hated me, and would not come to my house ever again. And of course, without outside involvement, she did not implement or enforce the rules.

      Honestly, I don't know how much can be gained by trying to enlist her support. Sometimes she sincerely seems to want to try. But it's like she either loses steam, or just doesn't know how to follow through. Like, since it's not her decision, she doesn't know what to do. Aside from this ONE time that we almost came to a binding agreement, all other efforts end in her getting upset to the point that she can't talk to me anymore.

      As for him running away, I have thought about actually putting together a "runaway kit" where I have already printed out 30 pictures of him, tacks to put them up, all of the phone numbers I need to know, and the order in which I need to call them, and basically just saying to him, that it's there "just in case". Sometimes I think it's a great idea...sometimes I think it might just upset him more.

      I did actually take him back to his therapist last year after the real sexual deviant stuff started, but that was a waste of time. From the get go (thanks to his mother) our time spend with him (I actually went to the first 2 sessions with him, and then he went twice by himself) was all about my problems with him. Not exactly what it was intended for, and that's pretty much what the therapist attached onto as the problem. I eventually brought his mother in for a meeting with just us and his therapist...and she said everything he wanted to hear. Even when it came to chores...cleaning his room. Getting him to clean his room is always a pain. DUH...he's a kid, I know that. But I also know she doesn't make him clean his own room at her house. Of course she doesn't admit this while in session...no...she waits till we're on our way out of the office before she says "well, I guess it HAS been a couple of months since I had him go through his room...I've just been picking it up myself after he leaves on Sunday"...bear in mind, at this point, she'd only lived there for 4 months.

      Regarding the "sideways death threat"...yes, I did ask him about it during my last meeting with him. His response was basically "sometimes I just say s like that to see what you're going to do"

      Yes, I absolutely 100% believe that it would be beneficial for him to see a therapist again. Not the same one, no. Someone a little less tolerant. He has become VERY manipulative. But I honestly don't know if that will counteract her influence. How do I get her to "SEE THE LIGHT"?

      How have I been coping? I can't even remotely say that it's been easy. In the last 4 years, I can honestly say I've come tenuously close to losing my girlfriend/wife at least a dozen times...and I mean really close. Even now, we argue about the whole situation. She doesn't have any children of her own, but she was essentially a nanny for two girls that are 18 and 21 now, so she's not oblivious. I do still talk to her a lot, but not as much as I'd like cause (like tonight) I just can't get her to think about the situation like it was HER child. It might seem wrong, but I think people do think a little differently when it's your own child.

      Other than that, I talk to people at work, and I have a large and very close family. It helps. It's not easy. I've even tried talking to her family and friends...I think that might be why she's not talking to them anymore. She has essentially closed herself off from everyone, except him.

      I want you to know that I really appreciate your support, and am somewhat surprised at how relieving it is to actually just vent about the whole situation. I don't know if you can even help me, but even if there's nothing you can offer me, at least I've gotten something just from venting. Thanks!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Need affirmation (but preferably answers)

        Thanks so much for writing back and answering some questions. It’s good to know that it has helped at least to talk about the situation. Sometimes just venting can help relieve some stress. It’s also good to know that you have some supports within your family and coworkers, because this is not an easy situation that you are describing. It sounds like you have done everything to try and help this situation. You’ve been very open in trying to talk with your ex-wife and your son about how to make things better, but it’s difficult because if they are not willing to follow through and work on things as well it’s not easy to accomplish them. You mentioned if there were things that we can offer you. We do have a database filled with different resources that may be able to help. Is there a resource that you are specifically looking for? If so you can write us back or give us a call at 1-800-RUNAWAY, 24 hours a day. There is always someone to listen if you need to speak about the situation. We are not counselors here and we don’t necessarily offer advice, but we are here to try and support, discuss options, and find resources specifically in your area. Remember that we are here anytime that you may need us. Take care.
        Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

        National Runaway Safeline
        [email protected] (Crisis Email)
        1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

        Tell us what you think about your experience!
        https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YourOpinionMattersToUs

        Comment

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