Alienated Teenager(14 Posts)
Eldest DSS (17) has not seen us for 5 years, but has sent perfectly cheerful and friendly texts to DH throughout that time, kisses at the end etc.
Younger DSS (14) did not see us for 4 years but talked his mum into letting him resume contact with us last summer and we've had a great year bonding again with him. DSS2 recognises that his mum stopped them from seeing us although he claims that DSS1 hates DH, he was completely unaware/shocked that friendly text contact has been maintained throughout the 5 years between his brother and dad. So we don't quite know what is going on over there - alienation of sorts!
We always said years ago we'd pay driving lessons for all the kids (we have two together too) and I've ring fenced £500 towards DSS1s lessons, however DH is feeling low with regards to the situation and doesn't know whether to offer him the money. We pay full CSA although DSS1 has dropped out of college, he isn't working so fair enough. We also give £150 each birthday and Xmas and small cash gifts for holiday spends etc, both boys will occasionally ask for money for things so we'll put £40 in their account etc. I'm just telling you so you don't think DH is tight!
I think at present DH feels like he's been dangled on a string by DSS1 for the last 5 years, what hurts is that we have been given no good reason for being cut off. DSS2 doesn't know the reason. We went through solicitors years ago but after spending lots on letters back and forth we gave up, especially as both kids said they wanted no contact. DH is overjoyed to have friendly texts but at the same time it's terribly painful. At the moment he doesn't feel he wants to offer the driving lesson money, he feels that DSS1 must be enjoying hurting him, which I'm sure isn't the case.
I feel strongly that we should offer the money, it's hard to explain why I feel so strongly but I guess I want DSS1 to know that nothing has ever changed on our side of things? Even if he is laughing at us being mugs, handing over cash to a young man who has shunned us (and his half-bro and sis), I dont really mind. I also want DSS2 to see that we are unconditional, constant and overall, positive and optimistic for everybody's future.
What do you all think?
I think you are right. Your stepson was 12 when the contact stopped. At that age he will have had no control of what was happening. If he has been alienated then he is just in the cusp of beginning his own independent life. It may take a few more years as he begins to process things in an adult way but they may find their way back to each other.
It will take time as he will have a lot of conflicting emotions, but if your dh blames him for it all now it may seal a door that can never be reopened. Don't let him make the mistake of seeing his ds as a adult just because he is 17. Becoming an adult is a transition and it will take time for him to mature into adulthood.
Thanks for your reply! I said to DH that DSS2 appears very mature for his age which may be why he's been able to 'see the light' at 14. However, we just don't know DSS1 at all anymore. He may not be ready to challenge his mum yet even though he is the older one. The boys do not get along at all at the moment so I wonder if DSS1 feels he has to be in Camp Mum just to oppose DSS2 in Camp Dad.
Send cards, write letters, continue with the texts, by all means leave the door open in every sense. But I personally would not be giving money to him. Put it in a savings account until things are better, but giving him money now will merely reinforce that he can treat his dad badly and still get what he wants. I speak as someone with experience of an alienated teenager who has been NC since 14 and turns 18 this July. But the difference here is that she's been totally NC and I can't see it ever changing.
Do you still pay for things for your other DSC (the one with contact)?
I think that if DSS1 was entirely NC for years then we wouldn't be thinking of paying for the lessons. It's just that DH has these long text chats with him, he is looking for an apprenticeship but apprenticeships that earn £95 pw and trains dates will be £50.
Yes we pay for odds and sods for her if she mentions she needs something and tbh would consider paying half for driving lessons which i know are expensive but in my view a key life skill - although we'd probably pay for them as a birthday present or something. As you know, we're deliberating over finances for her future etc. but in reality she plays and full and active part in our family, manages her time so she manages to see us as well as her friends and has been absolutely fantastic with her brother since he was born and a huge help/ friend to me. I don't begrudge her anything - I just want to make sure she understands the value of money and is able to be independent when the time comes.
It's a difficult one! I'm sorry for your DH, OP, that's tough.
Have you considered that dss2 might be shit stiring?
A few years back my friend had two daughters. The older daughter could see no wrong with her dad (who lived apart) but the younger daughter didn't like how things happened in his house, so would sometimes not go around. More often than not, the older daughter would come back boasting that dad had taken her somewhere special or how good a time she had. When they both went, younger dd would complain that they would sit in all day and dad would go out, leaving them with dsm. In the end the younger dd decided to stop all contact with her dad and it damaged her relationship with her sister for years.
It sounds like they are deep-seeded issues that has led to that breakdown in the relationship. I would think it goes much deeper than parent alienation if there is talk of hate. The fact that you or your husband doesn't understand why it's come to this doesn't mean there were no reason for him to feel very hurt/angry.
I agree with your husband, why give money when the issues is clearly psychological?When there are ingrained issues, money rarely resolves it. It is often seen as a coward way to admit some wrong doing and either taken as further sign of rejection, or it will be taken as a form of punishment with no intention at all to show gratitude for it.
If your OH still wants a relationship with his eldest son, he needs to start opening up to him and confront the issues rather than just responding to formal texts and throwing cash in his hands there and then.
This isn't just money though is it - it's a promise. Not giving it would be breaking a promise. So I would give it. I think a parent's love is unconditional - it's the only love that is. So different rules apply.
The money is a side issue. It was always intended to be given and you have it ring fenced. Not giving it makes a statement that your dh is giving up. Giving the money for a life skill shows that your dh is still invested in his son and future.
I'd probably say different if it was a grand gesture to win him over but it's not it's part of your husbands plans for parenting his children, to help them learn to drive.
Oh, the money certainly isn't going to resolve anything. We aren't trying to buy him with £500. It's just a question of does DH send it to his son to assist him with costs or not.
DH has desperately wanted a relationship with the boys all along and always has made that clear, which is what has led to DSS2 'coming back' after 4 years. DSS2 had very minimal contact for the 4 years, as he was young and did not have a phone. We used to send a cheap phone and he would call DH once and then the charger would 'go missing' until we'd end up sending another old phone. He has a hollow laugh now and again about it, all those missing chargers when his mum keeps a show home!
DSS1 however, has remained in constant contact...and these aren't formal texts, this is him asking his dad for advice on college courses and apprenticeships, sharing photos of drawings he's done, asking after his little brother and sister (who are now 9 and 6 and just as confused as the rest of us) and like already mentioned, kisses on the end of every text.. Not bad for a 17 year old boy!
It doesn't sound like hate to me, but DSS2 was truly shocked that his brother and dad had all this contact, and said "I just can't believe it, he says he hates you".
DH has tried to confront the issues but, as its via text, he does not reply to those. Every few months he suggests meeting up for a lunch but DSS1 just says he's busy. So it's turned into a walking on eggshells topic.
My personal opinion is that it's so far gone now that DSS1 feels he can't backtrack as that would mean facing up to everybody's pain (including his own). He adored DS and DD who were 4 and 1 when he stopped coming over. It was very hard for DS to understand at the age of 4 and I think DSS1 may feel guilt, which is so sad for him. And this is why I still want to pay for his driving lessons.
This is so sad, it sounds as though he has backed himself into a corner and now doesn't know why or how to get out of it. Could your DH try texting him and asking him to go to an event involving one of the younger children, maybe lay it on thick about how much they would love to have him there (without the younger child knowing)? Then if he agreed to attend the younger child could be told - something like a first communion or school event.
Maybe that would give him a way to step back - he would be doing it for the child even though he (of course) hates his dad and doesn't want to? And once that is done maybe the impasse would be breached?
It's a good idea, Apparently he is always quick to say "it's dad I've got a problem with, not X and Y". But if DSS2 then asks what exactly is the problem with dad he gets told to fuck off! But yes, that could be an idea.
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