Disappointed

Postby ced316 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:39 am

I am beside myself with disappointment. My ex and I have been raising our boys in two separate households and two separate ways for years. We might have similar opinions on somethings, when it comes down to having standards and being responsible, its me. If i say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. If she says something to them, they (the boys) know she will fold and will give in allowing them to do pretty much what they want.
example - I want them to grow up and be responsible so I stopped giving them money. I told them they need to find a job to earn it, nothing in life is given to you.
she found out about it and decided it was 'mean' and gave them what ever amount they needed as they wanted it.

now, our son, the oldest, does not get along with his mom and generally looks at her situation in life as no desirable ; she lives in a bad neighborhood apartment, barely finished highschool etc.
So he asks me to help him get going as far as his education, right after highschool. I allowed him to stay at home with me while he found work, got his car situated and finally got him accepted into an out of state college. I personally drove with him up there, to make sure he was taken care of . I invested all i could to make sure he had the opportunities I didnt have at his age (i went into the military) .
He spent one semester in a dorm going to classes, and decided to quit school and move in with his mom. He claimed the classes gave him anxiety and college 'isnt his thing' so he's going to live on his mom's couch and 'figure things out'.

Her statement about it all is interesting , being that she feels she might have babied him a bit too much since being responsible on his own presents problems for him.

Right now I'm so disappointed I took back some of his christmas gifts (some meant for the dorm, im not a complete monster) but I dont know how to shake this feeling of resentment. I m frustrated that I couldnt have done more to get this kid a better sense of responsibility, I'm frustrated that his mom allows him to do what ever he wants; if she said no you cant move back home he would have stuck it out in school.

I also realize this is HIS life choice not my own and I have to respect it, even if i dont like it. But i cant seem to get over it. what to do? do i have a right to feel like this ?
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#1

Postby Candid » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:09 pm

Ced, there are no 'rights' when it comes to feelings. You feel what you feel, and any parent would feel frustrated in this situation, Naturally you would like your boys to have and to take advantage of privileges (such as tertiary education) that you didn't have, and that could raise their standard of living.

What we have is a responsible father and an irresponsible, dare I say immature, mother. Different and conflicting values are the reason you and your ex are separated. You have ambitions for your sons, so you challenge them. If I remember rightly, your ex seemed to take pleasure in opposing you, no matter what the issue.

Is it really possible that she's offered Son No. 1 an easy alternative to the grind of study and independence -- just to get under your skin? Is she really such a vindictive person that she would sabotage her own son's career opportunities just to make your own plans null and void?

You say Son No. 1 doesn't get along with her generally and wants a better life than she has created for herself. He knows you were the one who encouraged him to apply for college, escorted him there and saw him settled in. Trouble was, college is hard. It's different from high school, in that students must learn to do original research as well as reading 'academic' literature written by doctors and professors who no longer inhabit the same world as the rest of us. In the first semester everyone is anxious about deadlines, too much work to be done, papers they can't understand, and so on. It's such a new way of learning.

When (not if) he complained to your ex about all that, she immediately made it clear he could drop out, go back to her squalid home, and be looked after. Your elder son took the soft option -- it's what she trained him to do -- and he's probably now as disappointed in himself as you are in him.

A false start isn't a calamity. He had the brains to be accepted into college and the understanding that he wanted to do better for himself. He had a too-tough father (I know about your childhood, but no allowance is going a bit too far imo) and a too-soft mother. At this stage he's jumped the wrong way, but living on his mom's couch is going to wear thin very quickly.

The college will in all probability take him back. He can cite "personal difficulties" as his reason for dropping out, and start again with the next intake.

if she said no you cant move back home he would have stuck it out in school.


Maybe living in her home and being "babied too much" will be even more offensive, and next time he's facing a struggle he'll look to you for encouragement instead of running back to her. I hope so, ced, but your conclusion is the right one: you can't live out your dreams through him, you can only be consistently present when he falls flat on his face.

Let him come to you if/when he's ready to admit he made a mistake and needs help.
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#2

Postby ced316 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:56 am

thank you for that, it really put somethings into prospective. I can feel just a bit more relaxed than before so thank you again.

Yes, my kids mom is just as vindictive and passive aggressive as you can imagine. She was a highschool drop out, just like her mom and her sisters- It took alot of convincing and support from me to motivate her to get her GED, so college was never really in their family lineage. It was always short cuts and shortcomings while expecting full benefit without the work.

With me, I am kinda hard on him. to be clear, we do have a pretty sweet spot; im a gamer, so we have every new game, go out to movies regularly, etc as a baseline. over the years growing up i noticed he would get lazier and lazier when it came to just doing chores..then asking for cash. so I had to draw a line in the sand and state what the boys had to do around the house and if they wanted extra money as 16 or 17 year olds, it wouldnt hurt to work. If they had sports, i'd support it until they graduated; but my main goal was to not enable them , preventing them from forming the skills they are going to need as adults. I told them directly, i wont live for ever and they need to know how to help themselves.

to your point, i do believe that him coming back now maybe disappointing but not the end of the world. he'll see who he is in all of this, his own prospective will change accordingly and he'll have the support needed when he's ready to move forward.

all of this is out of love, i just do not want my ex and her family influencing him to stay stagnate with them. Taking the soft choices from them has compromised alot of opportunities. thank you for hearing me out!
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#3

Postby Candid » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:52 am

ced316 wrote:we do have a pretty sweet spot; im a gamer, so we have every new game, go out to movies regularly, etc as a baseline.


Yes, and he's smart enough to know which side his bread's buttered, as well as to be fully aware of how his mother has chosen to live her life. I feel sure he'll come to you when he gets serious about life, because you've shown consistent care for his best interests -- and she hasn't.

he'll see who he is in all of this, his own prospective will change accordingly and he'll have the support needed when he's ready to move forward.


Exactly. When couples separate, it's normal for the offspring to try to play them off against each other. You and your ex are so very polarised that he has to make a clear choice: does he want to use his brains and get ahead, or loaf on the couch?

A lot may depend on what other influences are around, such as his peer group. It can be very tempting when money is short to take any unskilled job just to be able to pay for clothes, music... and girls. Going to college means having that kind of freedom on hold for three years in order to have many more choices and greater life satisfaction later.

all of this is out of love,


I know, and I've always believed that children know when they're loved. It won't matter if he takes a gap year to get the taste of money while doing work that bores him. People start college at any age. If you can hold back from anything that looks like nagging, he'll work out for himself that he has decades ahead of him, and think about what he really wants from life. It's a kind of reverse psychology: accept and encourage what he wants to do right now, and he'll start to question it himself. Push too hard, and he'll feel like he has to rebel against the old man.

I know you've got this, ced.
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#4

Postby ced316 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:20 am

thank you for everything! you truly know your craft! I am going to support and guide when the time is right and not bring it up when I see him. just let things flow naturally without my nagging or lectures
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