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DSS, 22, and his general apathy re DH - opinions and insights please!

(16 Posts)
Nancery Mon 17-Nov-14 21:22:52

DH had a son who was born the year he left university. He and his girlfriend had had a very volatile relationship (she was the volatile one, lots of suicide threats / stalking etc and DH stupidly, in my opinion, didn't walk away.) Anyway, they had a DS (will refer to him as DSS for ease) but split for good when he was six months old. He is now 22 and in his final year at uni.

DH used to visit him (he'd moved to London) every other weekend, which caused friction in his subsequent relationship, and has paid considerable chunks towards any clubs, school activities, stuff DSS has needed as well as £250 then £300 a month maintenance. (His girlfriend reported him to Child Support and they informed he the was paying over, not under!) He is still giving him £100 a month, along with buying a lot of uni stuff for his course. We have had phases where we have not been able to afford things for him but have gone without or shuffled things ourselves as DH didn't want to rock the boat.

Rightly or wrongly, I am now getting a bit pissed off with DSS. He has never phoned DH other than a handful of times to ask something re uni work (he's studying the same subject as DH now works in), when he has come to stay - only twice since he left for uni, a four year course - he didn't get out of bed till I knocked, after 2.30. It's impossible to have a conversation with him as he simply replies yes or no or just shrugs (he doesn't do it with an attitude, he just seems to have no opinions.) Since he was about 16, and it was not something his mum did on his behalf, he hasn't sent Christmas or birthday cards (or even a text!) and DH has never had a Father's Day card since he was born. If DH collects him and takes him to see his parents he spends all the time sitting blankly or staring at his phone. DH is starting to feel like it's all give from his end and nothing from the other, and it's getting him down. If you look at his Facebook stuff, DH is friends which him on it, he is quite the party animal so he's not simply very shy.

I play it down a bit as it's still DH's son but I think 22 is far too old to be so thoughtless and surely he should be old enough to have a bit of awareness and appreciation a) how much DH has done b) how it's reasonable to reciprocate once in a while, even if it's just a birthday text!

It is worth addressing or is it best ignoring it in the hope it improves? (It probably wouldn't be me who addressed it as it's not properly my business, not in the same way it's DH's anyway.)

Lastly, his mum seems okay now and she and DH are ok with each other. Not friends but ok, they don't hate each other or anything! Though I don't think she'd be a person to approach re this.

Will stop now as this is long!

Drumdrum60 Mon 17-Nov-14 21:50:35

Ignore. He sounds like a normal young man to me. Why are you so worked up about this? Your expectations are too high. Not many young men do greetings cards. I don't know if you have a son of your own but this is normal behaviour. I'm glad he doesn't have an attitude but maybe you do.

Pollyputhekettleon Mon 17-Nov-14 22:14:48

DSS sounds pissed off, not apathetic. Being raised by a volatile woman who threatened suicide etc was probably not exactly a picnic. The idea that a parent-child relationship, even at 22, should be about give and take I find a bit odd, not wrong, just odd in this situation. Especially the idea that supporting him financially should somehow ‘earn’ DH his son’s love, which is really what he’s looking for isn’t it.

Surely it’s not a question of some kind of weighing scales exercise but rather finding out why DSS does not have a good relationship with his father and therefore doesn’t give a damn about his birthday/appreciate what he does for him etc. Has anyone actually asked DSS how he feels? As in, has your DH asked him. Seems to me you’ve diagnosed him as thoughtless, opinionless, apathetic, when there’s clearly a reason why he is that way with his dad and, probably, not with his friends.

Your post is all about your feelings about DSS and hardly anything about your DH’s. It sounds to me like DH is the passive, apathetic one. Getting down about lack of give and take in the relationship is a strange response. Why isn’t he worried? Worried that his son seems to have no interest in having a relationship with him? And since this is hardly a new issue does he not have some ideas about what might be going on?

Nancery Mon 17-Nov-14 22:56:53

Thanks for your reply Polly. I think I wasn't detailed enough with the OP, I didn't want it to be too rambling! Will try and paint a clearer picture.

First point is that I think his mum is okay now, and doubt he'd know what she was like previously. She used to seem to live her life in a state of high drama, but that was a long time ago.

He's always, apparently, been quiet but now he's still 'quiet' when he would surely be a bit more socially aware, or perhaps make more effort. For example now if his grandma, my mil, asks how uni is he shrugs and says 'ok.' If you ask him something he answers, but that's it, he doesn't do any more so basically conversations consist of DH asking questions. He doesn't act like he doesn't want to be there (say it's a gathering at PIL) and often says he'd like to go to something, but then doesn't seem to speak to anyone unless they ask a question. He doesn't look pissed off when he's there, he looks ok, as if he's enjoying it I suppose, but he still doesn't really talk other than to answer questions. Does that make sense?

He and DH don't have a bad relationship, they get on well but it's DH who makes all the effort. By that I mean DH is the one who always contacts DSS, invites him to things (Family gatherings or whatever, which he almost always comes to). I'm not suggesting that DSS starts inviting us to parties in return, by the way! If DH didn't contact DSS, which he does every few weeks - say three to four now he is older, it could be months before they possibly spoke (at a guess!) I suppose this is what I mean by apathy.

Is it apathy or just normal? 22 seems to be getting on a bit for one word answers etc to me (he has cousins of similar ages and they aren't like this.)

Drumdrum60 Tue 18-Nov-14 00:02:56

Give him unconditional love. You sound overly concerned by him. DH is his father and the young man sounds completely ok. I find this post odd. What are you trying to achieve? Why don't you send him to finishing school?

Funnyfishface Tue 18-Nov-14 01:10:11

My boys are 19 and 24 and I would be very hurt if they acted this way in front of gp. It's just rude.
I do believe that you have good intentions and are trying to
include him in family things. Yes he probably feels a little awkward. But he's 22 not 12. I would be wanting his father to have a word. Check that everything is ok and ask him if he wants to attend family events if he could be a little more willing to join in. It makes other people feel uncomfortable when they behave like this.

Good luck

Funnyfishface Tue 18-Nov-14 01:11:36

Drum drum - your post is a little harsh - op is asking for advice!

Isetan Tue 18-Nov-14 01:39:47

It takes two to create a dynamic and there could be a million things that have contributed to the one between your H and his son. Relationships are complicated you may think that you're privy to the ins and outs of their relationship but your not.

Financially supporting your child etc are to be expected from a parent, it's a damming sign of society that because so many men don't, the ones that do, are seen as going above and beyond.

The relationship between this young man and his father is the responsibility of this young man and his father. If your H is unhappy with the relationship with his son, he should say something and work with his son to improve it.

daisychain01 Tue 18-Nov-14 03:38:29

Drum drum sorry to agree with fishface you are being very harsh.
Nancery you could be me writing your post. I have a wonderful DSS17 who is well mannered sociable and lives with us 50/50 so has a consistent contact time with his DF but we have noticed that for the past year he has been really offhand with his DF for no reason. Distant a bit ungrateful and just takes but gives bugger all back in terms of affection or regard. Breaks my heart knowing that DH really cares but we have decided to just cut DSS some slack continue to be the same living parents but give him space to make mistakes DSS may or may not regret it in future years we just have to allow for that and recognise his needs now.

Very hard to detach but if I wee you and your DH just detach from the emotion let DSS do his thing live his life and welcome him if he wants to see you. But don't take it personally. At 22 he is still learning g about life and will be forming his values. Sometimes young men push their DF away as they feel they are in competition and want to live up to their DF expectations etc lots of complex reasons. Just hang loose and don't take it personally

Btw the last card DSS gave his DF was 3 years ago because I bought it for him! Nowadays I don't pretend he bought a present. He's old enough to buy his own but he can't be bothered His loss he'll learn !

Sorry if rambley I am on my phone grin

daisychain01 Tue 18-Nov-14 03:46:14

Poll you make some good points but my DSS has had love and affection bestowed on him by his DF since birth and you wouldn't know it now! Iow I don't think it matters, they can be ungrateful even then! Every young man I have eve known has gone through a phase of pushing their DF away (eg my DBro DSS and several othrrs) later in life they come back, the sad thing is the lost years, but you can't say that it goes in one ear and comes out the other! sad

daisychain01 Tue 18-Nov-14 03:47:11

Oops I meant polly

BeenThereGotTheTShirt Tue 18-Nov-14 07:00:31

First point is that I think his mum is okay now, and doubt he'd know what she was like previously. She used to seem to live her life in a state of high drama, but that was a long time ago.

How long ago was this? It sounds like he has grown up pretty much fine, visits family etc. Just needs a bit more growing up time, he'll mature even more during his 20s. The thing is, if his early years involved regular high drama at home it will have affected him.

LittleMissDisorganized Tue 18-Nov-14 08:34:03

I have a cousin who you could be describing here, and DH has a daughter - they are both early 20s, both brought up in loving homes, materially well looked after, etc. DH's daughter does do cards/presents but only because her mum still makes her ( my DH's XW), and tbh it's quite clear that it's under sufferance, which is not really preferable to nothing at all. Both these young people have siblings who are different so it's not upbringing.
We just do what we've always done wrt to presents etc. I sometimes think in these two that too much has been given to them materially and this has contributed? Just because I was very different to them at their age doesn't mean it's better or wrong, just different <-- says my logical mind, my feelings like yours encompass sadness, disappointment and frustration.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Nov-14 08:49:41

I think, sad though it is to acknowledge, there must be any number of parent/child relationships wobbling along based on a combination of apathy and guilt. As a parent, there's that tendency to keep trying even if nothing is coming back the other way. Throw in some guilt about the child's upbringing and you've got over-compensation keeping it all lively and slightly irrational. A lot of 22yo 'adults' think Mum & Dad are a bit of a joke... brainless, middle-aged cashpoints ... and treat them with contempt or ignore them all together.

Nothing's going to change the dynamic unless the pair of them want it to, unfortunately.

JohnFarleysRuskin Tue 18-Nov-14 09:20:56

I don't think there's anything you can do, but just to accept things the way they are. Support DH to have lots of time with his son - but he's 22 - from what you said, its within the range of normal to not be arsed about your parents feelings.

mayhew Tue 18-Nov-14 09:24:02

This behaviour is common, even where birth families are intact. Especially with boys, though 22 is prolonging it. It's an aspect of self absorption. Apart from "mates"and sexual partners, everyone else is just an object in their landscape. And we and all our concerns are boring. We are only useful to provide goods and services. He may grow out of it or he may be a entitled arse all his life.

Only his dad can address this with him. If he wants to.

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