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17yo boy and Father "cuddeling"

LostinWV's picture

My DH and I married a year ago after a year of dating.  He has customdy of two adopted boys from his previous marriage.  His last marriage was very abusive mentally and physically and he and his youngest son developed a relationship the childs therapist has said is innapropriate - he has allowed the boy to be elevated to a somewhat adult level by confiding in him and having discussions with him about his marriage that he should nto have had.  The boy often acts as if he is an adult often trying to enter into discussions that we are having, getting mad when I telling him we were not having a conversation with him and that hes not part of the discussion.  The therapist has indicated that his father needs to be aware of things like this and stop allowing it as well.  He has mad a huge headway on it but there is one other issue that I think is part of this relationship that when I bring it up am told that I am crazy and its my problem.

The problem is this:  We will be laying on our sectional couch and the now 17year old boy will come in and crawl in behind his dads legs, lay his head on his dads hip and hold his legs.  To me this is something you would expect a younger child, partner , SO, girlfriend , boyrfriend etc.. to do, not a 17 yo boy.  He also has a tendancy to go into his dads office at times and hang on him.  Ive gotten out of the shower at night and come into our room and the boy is on oour bed in the middle watching tv with his dad.  I believe it is innappropriate for a boy his age to have this level of intimacy with his dad and have voiced my concern.  Again when I do I am told its my problem and even suggestions that I am jealous from my DH.

I do not care about hugs and momentary moments of intimacy but feel that this is an area just like the therapist has already said was innaprioriate.

Your thoughts are appreciated.


Ispofacto's picture

Hmm.  I have a DD31, DS28, and DS26, and we still cuddle briefly sometimes.  We're just an affectionate family.  I don't see why it should be any different for a man to be affectionate with his children.  But our society has double standards like that, which seem to be the root cause of a lot of our problems.  There's a lot of hate in the world, but people think love is problematic.


tog redux's picture

First off, I'd be furious if SS was ever in my bed. Out he goes. Otherwise, yes, seems weird to me, I don't know many boys that age who would do it, but seems like you have to let it go. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I agree with Tog about your bed. That's a big NO! Your bed is your space. Kick him the hell out. 

As far as the other cuddling - as Ipsofacto said, all families are different. Nothing they are doing is illegal or definitely immoral. does sound like a lot. And it bothers you. If they can't keep their hands off each other to the point that it turns your stomach, it's a problem. Even if it's not a problem to someone else. This is *your* life, and you get to say what you can or can't deal with. You can talk to your husband about the ick factor, but then it's up to him.

We can't force people to be the people we want or need them to be. They are who they are. That's been something i've finally, slowly learned. It's not a direct insult on you. It's just them being them and that might not be compatible with you being you. 

LostinWV's picture

It is something I am working on, accepting people for wwho they are, that is.  This thing though just feels wrong on all levels.  I really do not believe that anything is going on or has ever happened between them, I just think that the boy has been allowed to enter an area that is too close for comfort for most people.  I have seen a similar situation witha friend whose wife passed away when their daughter was 13 and their son was 7.  He threw himself into raising his daughter and she became more of a friend and confidant more than his daughter, she took on an almost motherly role with her brother and slipped into so very scary territory trying to fill her mothers shoes to take care of her dad. He eventually go tinvolved with another woman and his daughter would get pissed if when they went out on dates and was always inserting herself into his conversations , much as SS does with us. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Oh, i'm not saying you should accept the behavior. Just that you should accept that causing it and encouraging it is part of who your DH is, and that he might not want stronger boundaries with his son. He is getting something out of the cuddling, which may or may not be weirdly excessive, depending on who you ask. He may have very different ideas on boundaries from you. 

notarelative's picture

There is no reason for a 17 year old to be in your bedroom at all. If he and dad want to watch tv together they need to use the tv in the living room.

As to the couch, I find the behavior odd for a 17 year old. You wrote  "We will be laying on our sectional couch" ...  I'd be off the couch in a millisecond. There is no way I would lie on the same couch as SS17. 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Are you and your H currently in thrapy? Is the therapist working with the whole family, or just dad and boys? Are you familiar with enmeshment/emotional incest? Because I feel that the therapist should know about the things you've shared.

At seventeen, young adults should be in the process of detaching from their parents, not clinging to them. Giving the troubling history of weak boundaries between father and son, and the ick factor you're feeling in your gut, it seems like you should speak up. It's great they're getting help for First Family trauma, but your needs matter, too, and if your H is sincere in trying to change this unhealthy pattern he should welcome your feedback.

What is the plan for the SS's future? Is your H preparing him to successfully launch? Does SS plan on going to college, and is he meeting other developmental milestones?

LostinWV's picture

DH ex did not allow him to have contact with his family nor friends, as a result he ended up confidign a great deal with SS17.

I have been in the therapy world for sometime myself , for myself and having worked in a facility that dealt with chidren with ADHD and ED.  I have never heard the term emotional incest, but that is a perfecet discription in my mind of what this feels like to me.  The boy can say all manner of things to me and the response often from DH is "well what do you expect you are always on him about doing things " (not true) or "Well you were just as much a part of that as he was".  Seldom does he take a parental stand of "I dont care what was said, you do not talk to an adult that way" or anythign remotely in a manner that you would think he saw anythign from my side.  Whenever we have issues arise ( a disagreemtn) he might go out and work in the garden and almost seconds later the boy who never leaves his game will be right behind him to "help" him out in the garden.  We will not see the boy all day but if he thinks we are having an argument or ar discussing his older brother or any importnat adult conversation, he is johnny on the spot right there, often times around the corner listening.  I have even caught him outside our closed bedroom door at night.

Jojo4124's picture

I dealt with this and it turned out that my then dh was actually having physical relations with his adult dd who lived with us. He confided in her about his sexual problems, my personal medical information, etc. There are great books on emotional incest. It is a form od child abuse as it stunts the child emotionally and there is an unhealthy dependence. Children are not meant to take on their parent's emotional issues. This seriously CAN lead to physical incest. It happened in the home I was living in.

You decide if you want to take second place to that boy. He is getting ALL of your DHs emotional attention and some physical. Do you want to stay in a relationship where your needs are not met because DH gets those needs met by someone else? Sounds like an affair, doesn't it? Sorry, I hope I have not offended or sound to harsh. Just asking you to look up emotional incest and its affects on children. And they may NEVER break out of that enmeshment.

LostinWV's picture

THere are often times I get really upset because he seems more concerned about what he says I say that hurts the boys feelingsand he doesnt address the very hurtful and disrespectful things the boy says and does to me - a time or two he has even said "Im not getting into this , its between you and him" when he should be putting the boys in his place for talking to an adult the way he does.  I am not worried aboiut their relationship going to the sexual level because even he freaks out at the suggestion of that and he knows that I was molested at a very young age, but the term somone else used in their reply to my message on here "emotional incest" is somethig I had never heard of before, but it is exactly what their relationship fels like to me and what the boys Psychatrist has said is not proper.  DH is supposed to be putting distance between them whenever situations arise that he normally would have confided or included the boy on the conversation.  Just recently we started a conversation while driving, the boy in the back seat, we didnt mention names but the conversation was obviously between DH and myself and when I said something like "He told them that he was.." the boy almost jumps to the fornt and says "who"  I responded saying, "This is a conversation between your dad and I , its none of your business".  The boy got pissed off and DH husband tells him "We were talking about someone we met recently".  I looked at him and said "you do not owe him any explanation about what we were talking about or who it was, its none of his business, if it were we would have engaged him.  He has to learn that there are adult conversations that he has no part in"


DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

I’m not saying the therapist is wrong. Although therapist is a very vague term, they could have a year diploma, BSc or be a psychiatrist that requires medical training first then additional training. 

Does the therapist have a lot of experience of adoption and the attachment issues it potentially causes?

i have attachment issues that stem from spending a while in foster care when I was young, - these issues never magically go away for people but yes they can be managed. It can cause lifelong anxiety.  

I highly recommend a super soft luxurious blanket for those I can’t hug you now I’m doing x,y,z moments. “Here have this..”  Weighted blankets are super too for tactile people that are a bit anxious. 

Also, there are some parents out there that will always view their children as tiny kids now matter how big and old they get!

its all very well a therapist saying someone shouldn’t be doing something- but a good one will offer alternative practical solutions (that might not work immediately but may work one day)

LostinWV's picture

The boys has no detachment issues, he has an attachement issue enrolled with being too involved with his fathers emotions and personal problems.  As for therapist, hes actually a psychatrist very well known for issues with ED and children that are adopted.