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when Skids no longer want to come around

strugglingSM's picture

My SSs are both in middle school. One is failing out of school and also would prefer to spend his time going off with his friends getting into trouble. In many ways, these are typical middle schooler issues, however, the dynamic between DH and BM serve to further exacerbate the issue. 

BM pretty much removes obstacles for SS and always has. He only gets bad grades, because the school doesn't provide him enough support, so it's not his fault. When he gets in a fight with another kid, the other kid started it, so it's not SS's fault. 

SS has been complaining that he doesn't want to come to our house for a bit - he regularly calls DH on the Thursday or Friday before the visitation weekend starts to ask to "switch" weekends. DH always says no, but he did allow SS to go home early on two consecutive visitation weekends because he supposedly had to go to a birthday party on each of those weekends. 

The latest is that BM has demanded a mediation and the only issue for them to really mediate is that she wants to "reduce the amount of residential time" that SS spends with DH. SS is only spending EOWE with us, so it's not as if there's much to reduce. 

DH has vowed that he will not give up time, but I don't think he should make this a fight. 

I think he should call SS and tell him that he loves him, he wants to see him, but he will not force him to come to our house EOWE, so if he doesn't want to come, he doesn't have to. I know that this will bother DH, but my thinking is that it's not worth it to force a pre-teen who doesn't want to be at our house to be there. I also think that this should be a discussion between him and his child, not a discussion driven by BM and involving the lawyers. If anything, the parenting plan should become less restrictive, not more restrictive as the kids get older. 

Admittedly, I have ulterior motives - this SS has now become difficult and he creates drama and causes problems when he comes to our home. He's not my child, so I won't miss him when he's not around. I've encouraged DH since I've known him to plan for the day when his kids won't want to come around and think about how he will work to maintain a relationship with them even if they don't stay at our house. He resisted even thinking about that. 

At this point, this SS is slightly PA'd, but still hasn't rejected DH. I think if DH tries to work with these changes instead of fighting against them, then SS might start to want to come around, rather than wanting to never come around. 

It's not as if SS is hanging out with BM when he's at her house. He's out with his friends getting into trouble. I think he's also started fighting quite a bit with BM, so that's also part of my ulterior motive, let BM deal with the moody teenager and keep DH out of it. BM undermines any efforts on the part of DH to parent, anyone, so it's not as if he has any influence. 

My thinking is that if DH tries to accommodate SS's desire to not come over EOWE without making it a fight, then he has a better chance of maintaining a relationship with his son and he can also cut BM out of being in the middle of fanning the flames. In other words, DH will take control of the situation, without letting BM dictate when SS should be allowed to not see DH. 

I'd love to hear thoughts from others who have dealt with SKids becoming teenagers and not wanting to come around or SKids just deciding they don't want to come around. 

markwvualum's picture

If skids have stopped wanting to come around count your blessings and consider yourself lucky. This skid you speak of will likely end up in prison or one of those who is 30 and living with his mother still and barely able to hold a job.

strugglingSM's picture

...unless a miracle happens, this SS is a prime candidate for "failure to launch", so I'm happy to keep him at arms length and put it all on BM. 

BM will surely claim - when SS is 30 and living in her basement - that this was all because DH told SS that he didn't have to come around, if he didn't want to...surely it was his "absent father" and not his enabling mother who created SS's issues. 


Ispofacto's picture

Whatever crap BM has to say when skids are 30, you will not be in hearing range to hear it.


Siemprematahari's picture

I understand your feelings on this and can see the blessing in SS not visiting as often and not pressuring him to visit when he doesn't want to but that can also allow BM more ammo to manipulate him (if she is the type to take advantage of this). When my H was in this situation he would let his kids know that he loves them, is always available for them and when they want to visit the door is always open. Eventually they came around on their own but depending on the parent this can go side ways when that other parent is toxic.

strugglingSM's picture

It's definitely a risk. Right now, BM is able to use the fact that SS doesn't want to come around against DH. She regularly tells DH "please be nice to SS when he comes to your house, he feels that you are always critical of him" (that was her response to a Friday request that she made to DH to switch weekends). In my observation, DH is super permissive and lets SS get away with a lot. Telling a child that you are unhappy that he is failing a class, should not be seen as mean and overly critical. 

If DH gives in and doesn't make him come around, she will likely try to convince him "your father doesn't love you or he would want you around." Either way, she's toxic and enmeshed with this SS.

I'm trying to figure out a solution that will reduce the drama for us and potentially allow DH to maintain a relationship with SS, despite BM's toxicity. 

Anon9876's picture

My Sd's BM would pull the same stunt, 'our daughter says you are mean to her all the time'. And of course she's put herself on the throne as the greatest parent of all time while insisting that SD is being neglected and mistreated by her dad. To the point that SD would tell everyone he was a POS who never did anything for her. All it did was demote my SO's authority because SD felt like she could just run and call mommy and she would not be punished. It worked, SO would stop punishing her for fear she think he's being 'mean'. All that does is enable bad behavior.

I hope your DH doesent feel misplaced guilt because of her commentary on how he disciplines his son. I mean he's a child, children need discipkine. They're not supposed to 'like' it.

Unfortunately with the BM playing a toxic role in her sons upbringing it's going to be a tricky situation altogether. She will definitely manipulate his relationship with his father. There's not much say that the 2 of you have in what she tells her son about his dad at her house.

Is it respectful No. I'd it healthy? No. Is it going to make her son a better person by alienating him from his father? Hell no.

But it gives her a sense of control and allows her to feel like the superior parent.

Hopefully by not forcing your SS to spend time with his father, he will be around his BM mother enough to realize she's not made of gold and that his father does not 'make' him do what he doesn't want. I'm sure the older he gets the more he will crave his father's attention. And if he has any sense he will understand that his mother should not be interfering with the relationship he has with his father.

It seems to me though that this is a clear attempt on BM's part to alienate her child from his father and instill in her son feelings of distaste for his dad. This doesn't seem like it's all genuinely coming from his son.

I totally understand why you wouldn't miss him being around so much though lol. Teenagers are awful.


hereiam's picture

Trust me, this is a no win situation, so your DH should do what the two of you feel is best for your household.

Either decision can be used against you later, by BM and the kid, doesn't matter which decision you make.

My SD27, to this day, takes no responsiblity for stopping her visitation (2 different times at 15 &16). Had he tried to force it, he would be the bad guy for forcing her to come over when she didn't want to. Since he didn't force it, he's the bad guy for NOT forcing it. Can't win.

But...I won.

My SD is a prime example of "failure to launch" and thanks to BM and SD, the fall out has been on BM. Which is what she wanted, for SD to be dependent on her.



justmakingthebest's picture

Teenagers are stupid. All of them. S-T-U-P-I-D. 

Having his father less involved in his life is not the answer if in middle school he is already failing and getting in trouble. Your DH actually needs to ramp up his parenting. Go to the school and sit in class with him one day- embaress the shit out of him. Follow him around making sure SS isn't acting like a fool. He needs to keep up with his grades, most schools post assignments online daily and you can keep tabs on the kid. When he slips, DH needs to get involved. 

Don't let a teenager make a choice that will ultimately affect his future. 

Cover1W's picture

My SD14 (almost 15) decided she never wanted to come back to our home because her dad was so mean.  Because he didn't take her back-talk, snide remarks, bad attitude and, oh my gosh, even raised his voice at her (reasonably IMHO) a couple times.  And he made her clean up after herself!  The horror!  So she ran to BM who is "her best friend" and who pulled a full PA and told her it was OK not to see her dad. 

What did I do?  Not much.  I supported DH, we talked, I didn't trash her.  DH eventually saw that there was nothing he could do.  We are reading a book "...Toxic Ex...Parental Alienation..." and that helps us see more clearly what is going on. 

The fact is, parents who are still together could more easily counteract the poor teen behaviour.  But if one parent in a different household decides to NOT support the other parent there's little one can do.  It shouldn't be up to the kid to decide. What should happen is they are told "It's your mom/dad parenting time, and they need to see you even if you don't like it.  If you have issues with them you need to continue to try and work it out with them.  I'll see you next week and have a good time."  But that's beyond them. 

DH is sad, but he's also recently said how disappointed he is with SD14 and her choices.  He recoginzes part of this was his lack of parenting, although he doesn't understand quite why yet.  He understands our home is more peaceful and everyone is much less on edge.  SD12 is more relaxed and is much more fun to be around - she doesn't hide in her room any more.  We are watching SD12 closely for the same signs of PA, we think it started happening around 12/13 full on when SD14 was that age.  There's been some signs of it, but we try to counteract is as much as possible.

It's tough, but personally, I enjoy the quiet and also the cleaner home and lack of whining about food.

strugglingSM's picture

I also thought to myself - well, maybe if this SS is gone, then we could build more of a family unit with his brother. His brother is less enmeshed with BM and actually likes hanging around with DH. Also, his brother will probably enjoy time away from him, since the two of them fight all the time when they are with us. 

I'm sure BM will spin whatever decision DH makes, even though right now she is asking for court intervention to allow SS to come to our house less. I know if he reaches out to SS and says that he doesn't have to come EOWE that she will tell everyone that DH doesn't love SS, but she already kind of says that, so six of one, half a dozen of another. 

Cover1W's picture

DH is learning the hard way to NOT talk about this with BM.  She is not on his side and has proven it over and over again.  He needs to communicate only when necessary, period.  Do not let the kid decide, it's up to the parents.  SD12 this past weekend used BMs phone (implicitly BMs approval right there) to call DH and as if she could be at BMs for Halloween - on DH's night and DH's Halloween (they trade off each year).  He was going to call SD12 back, and I said, "WAIT - no, you discuss this ONLY with BM - BM is allowing her to ask this.  And if you are not ok with it you need to say N.O."  So he did he said no, that we had plans and that was that. 

SD12 sounded a lot like SD14 when asking DH said, and he thinks SD14 was ultimately behind this, but with BM approval.  It's tough, but DH needs to learn to not over-share and not let kids make the call.  Our issue was that SD14 would, on her own, go to BMs so we couldn't prevent her from going - another layer of problem there.

Anon9876's picture

When the other parent is not actingoing like a parent and is simply focused on being a friend and being liked by a child-that's when the drama starts.

The kid will go back and forth between parents any time they do something to irritate them. It's especially hard to discipline a kid like this because one parent will always be the bad guy and the other parent enforces this idea by not disciplining WITH their ex, rather than working against them.

It's incredibly frustrating to deal with so many behavior issues in your own home simply because the other parent doesn't want to put their personal feelings aside and act like the damn adult and parent they are.

It is not your job to be your kids friend-that teaches them nothing if an authority figure, the most important one in their life, never makes them face consequences for their actions

It's an all around miserable, stressful situations every time this is the family dynamic.

tog redux's picture

A middle school kid should not have a choice of whether he visits his father or not. This is giving him WAY too much power in the family system, which is the bedrock of parental alienation.  He should come whether he wants to or not, period.  Just like he doesn't have the power to stop going to school, he doesn't have the power to stop going to DH's. And having a father -son conversation about it is meaningless - this is BM's agenda, not SS's. If he were 16 or 17? Maybe. But not at 12.

If he stops visiting, it will not improve their relationship, in fact, the next thing will likely be that he no longer wants to talk to DH by phone, or text or email.  This is the beginning of BM cutting him out of DH's life.  It may be something you'd prefer, but trust me, it's not fun to watch your husband be alienated from his kids.

strugglingSM's picture

...our other option is that BM goes to court and demands that the visitation schedule gets changed. So, essentially DH's two options are: 1) talk to the kid to try to reach some agreement; 2) fight in court and lose because BM will cry that DH is mean to her precious son. Also, BM will drag SS into whatever court fight she starts. 

I think in our state, at age 12, children can express a preference about which parent they want to live with...not sure if they can decide to cut off visitation. 

In my opinion, I think DH's relationship with this SS will be strained no matter what, because he is so enmeshed with BM. 

hereiam's picture

In my opinion, I think DH's relationship with this SS will be strained no matter what, because he is so enmeshed with BM. 

This was/is our situation, as well.

tog redux's picture

Yes, they can express a PREFERENCE, but it's not binding, I will guarantee. In my state it's the same, they can have a "voice", but not get to decide.

He is not likely to lose in court. Most places are not going to cut out one parent without significant proof that there is something harmful going on, and he's only got EOWE anyway, right? Yes - his relationship will be strained, but don't push him out the door.

What does DH want?

strugglingSM's picture

DH doesn't want the drama, but he's not very good at learning how to avoid it. 

He struggles to deal with the PA from BM. For example, this SS said, "Dad, I know secrets, mom told me how you caused the divorce" and he didn't know how to respond. 

justmakingthebest's picture

Lawyers in both my state and SS's state said that kids at 12 can voice a preference but it is only one of like 14 factors when visitation is decided. Let it go to court. Let SS see your DH fight for his relationship with his son. 

tog redux's picture

Exactly. Just because he's enmeshed with BM doesn't mean he doesn't love his dad.  And he might end up alienated anyway. But feeling like his dad just said, "Welp, OK son - you don't need to come over anymore if you don't want to", isn't going to help. He may say he wants that, but he's alienated.

Books I've read about adult children of parental alienation indicate that the kids never stop loving the other parent and wished the alienated parent had realized they were just kids and didn't give up on them. During the time my SS was alienated, DH regularly sent texts, emails, etc. Sometimes he was hostile, sometimes he ignored, one day - he answered.  And now he's back in our lives again.

Don't believe what alienated kids say - they are puppets.

Cover1W's picture

Yes, this.  I told DH that he must keep emailing, texting, sending a card to SD now and then.  In fact, he's glad he kept texting her over the last 6 months and attended events...because when he talked to her for the first time since April/May one of the first things she said was "You never even tried contacting me."  And he was prepared.  And she had no response but "I didn't get them" or "I didn't want you there anyway."  Cruel, but he must continue the contact.

EXAMPLE:  one of my friends has a CRAZY ex.  Loony.  She PASed all three of his kids, from around the time they were in middle school.  He kept in contstant contact as much as possible, attending events he could find out about.  His youngest came back to visitation with him after about a year; his eldest is now communicating him now that she's out of her mom's house.  He has shown her how much he kept it touch (she had no idea about a lot of it).  He hopes his middle child will eventually make contact as well.

hereiam's picture

I do agree that regular contact needs to be maintained, no matter what happens. DH and SD talked a lot on the phone after she stopped coming over and he did still see her, just not EOWE.

2Tired4Drama's picture

I agree with others who say that the visitation should take place as outlined, unless and until a judge decides otherwise.  In the meantime, have your DH read up about parental alienation.  There are books, websites, etc. where he can get a better understanding of this cancerous tactic some parents use. 

I would also advise him to start keeping notes of what SS says (like the comments about why marriage ended).  This can be powerful evidence of alienation by the mother.  

Parental alienation is particularly hard for boys, and it sounds like your SS is already having trouble.  No doubt because BM is telling him crap about his father.  This is so damaging psychologically!   No wonder the kid is acting out - he needs a male role model (ideally, his dad) but his BM is trash-talking him.  

While you may be relieved that you won't have to deal with SS as much, the reality is that kids who are damaged like this can turn into absolute criminals and cause havoc for the rest of your DH's life.   Even if SS doesn't want to come to your house on his visits, DH should still go and pick him up and spend the day(s) with him somewhere on his visitation weekends.  

Rags's picture

In your home SSs need to hear the common denominator speach.  The toxic SSs are the common denominator regarding their grades, fights at school, etc....

BM can make all of the excuses she wants but the facts don't lie.  Stick to the facts.