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"Okay Ex. What I'm hearing is that you've tried bullying and it hasn't worked, and now you want me to do the bullying for you?"

 

 

Why yes I think you have him partially figured out.  Well, truthfully, he isn't bullying ds as much as  he just can't believe anyone would turn down these trips.  It is because XH doesn't tick the same way as ds.  

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Shockingly, I may have found something that ds is interested in doing.  It is a Rim to Rim Hike in the Grand Canyon.  https://www.oars.com/adventures/grand-canyon-rim-to-rim-hiker/   I just showed d

I would not talk an 18 year old into traveling who does not want to. This is between him and his father.   However, I would seriously wonder why on earth he would refuse the chance of a free trip. I

I don’t think you should be involved at all. DS is almost an adult. Tell that to both.   I might remind my kid that opportunities like this are fleeting and maybe he could compromise on some

I wouldn't require it, but I'd probably gently encourage it. 

 

Alternately, could they plan a week of special activities that doesn't involve travel? Could your ds think of some alternatives and request that? Day trips as opposed to a week of travel might be much more manageable, with the added bonus of returning to home base each evening (or every other day). 

 

 

But it isn't just the travel.  He really doesn't want to spend that much time with his dad.

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Right. Me too. And I have said that to him and then when he says he just can't because it will make him so miserable...I say, 'well, then you have to own that. You have to tell him.' But to me it is even WORSE to tell him, 'oh he is paying for your college and bought you a car so you should go on a trip with him even if you do hate it.'

Yes, that does sound awful.
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I have one child who loves to travel and another who really dislikes travel (sometime to the point of getting sick thinking about it).  We had a wonderful graduation trip for one child and kept thinking we weren't offering the correct vacation trip for the other child--until we realized the child just would prefer NOT to travel much.  

 

If I were in the situation, I would support my son if it were his decision not to take a trip, but I would not get involved in the situation of talking to his dad about it.  If I thought something like, "How would it be if you suggested a camping trip for a long weekend to..." or "How would it be if you suggested that you and your dad get tickets to the big basketball game..."  Or "How would it be if you suggested you and your dad spend time together building a bookcase..."  would provide an alternative option of a special event the two could share, I might try to help my son brainstorm some ways to approach this.  

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Does your DS have anxiety? I can understand his not liking travel or wanting to spend time with his dad regardless. It just crossed my mind to wonder if anxiety could be exacerbating it. 

Well, He might lean toward the anxious, but it isn't debilitating . He functions fine in his every day life.  He has no trouble driving in to the city to do things with his friends.  He just doesn't enjoy being away from his house for day son end.  

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Why yes I think you have him partially figured out. Well, truthfully, he isn't bullying ds as much as he just can't believe anyone would turn down these trips. It is because XH doesn't tick the same way as ds.

Right, because trips is something he can do to check off a box on the "Dad list". And show off pictures and maintain an illusion that he has earned a moving-into-adulthood relationship with his son, without actually earning it. Am I getting close?

 

My dad complained to me that his teen sons didn't want to go on vacation with him. He picks the destination, and what they do, and how long they go, but there isn't a goal of relationship building at all. They just happen to be traveling in the same place at the same time. He is an extrovert, always finding random people to chat up and make friends with.. and completely ignoring the ones who share his last name. He doesn't see it that way. He took them somewhere! And talks at them! And buys cool things like a boat and camper so they can also say they have one! *sigh*

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I've had a few situations like that with ex. Fortunately/Unfortunately, I know longer care about his feelings and will gladly point out that he is ignoring his ADULT son's wishes or not understanding his son. 

 

I would not pressure him to go. This is a good age for him to establish his own boundaries with his father, and I would reiterate that he needs to really listen to his son when asked. 

 

My son will go on family trips with his dad, usually at the holiday season, but they've had a few situations where ds asserted himself to be an adult making a choice, not a child obeying a parent. Ds doesn't hate his dad, I think he's apathetic about the relationship (which saddens me in many ways, but it is the consequences of ex's actions). 

 

I realized how deep that apathy was a few months ago when ds and I were shopping for new clothes for him. He adamantly refused anything blue (his dad's favorite color to an extreme level). It took me a few years after our divorce to wear any blue, I got rid of any blue household items, it was just that jarring to me. Apparently ds feels similarly and I did not consciously tell ds about my aversion to blue. I really think it's part of ds acknowledging he wants to be a different kind of man than his father. 

 

My opinion is that ex has to earn a relationship with his adult son, it cannot be the fun dad like he really used to be when ds was little. Not only has there been the trauma of a weird divorce, but ds is an adult, something I think ex has a hard time recognizing simply because ds still lives at home. 

 

 

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Right, because trips is something he can do to check off a box on the "Dad list". And show off pictures and maintain an illusion that he has earned a moving-into-adulthood relationship with his son, without actually earning it. Am I getting close?

 

My dad complained to me that his teen sons didn't want to go on vacation with him. He picks the destination, and what they do, and how long they go, but there isn't a goal of relationship building at all. They just happen to be traveling in the same place at the same time. He is an extrovert, always finding random people to chat up and make friends with.. and completely ignoring the ones who share his last name. He doesn't see it that way. He took them somewhere! And talks at them! And buys cool things like a boat and camper so they can also say they have one! *sigh*

 

 

Absolutely. Dead on.  

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I've had a few situations like that with ex. Fortunately/Unfortunately, I know longer care about his feelings and will gladly point out that he is ignoring his ADULT son's wishes or not understanding his son. 

 

I would not pressure him to go. This is a good age for him to establish his own boundaries with his father, and I would reiterate that he needs to really listen to his son when asked. 

 

My son will go on family trips with his dad, usually at the holiday season, but they've had a few situations where ds asserted himself to be an adult making a choice, not a child obeying a parent. Ds doesn't hate his dad, I think he's apathetic about the relationship (which saddens me in many ways, but it is the consequences of ex's actions). 

 

I realized how deep that apathy was a few months ago when ds and I were shopping for new clothes for him. He adamantly refused anything blue (his dad's favorite color to an extreme level). It took me a few years after our divorce to wear any blue, I got rid of any blue household items, it was just that jarring to me. Apparently ds feels similarly and I did not consciously tell ds about my aversion to blue. I really think it's part of ds acknowledging he wants to be a different kind of man than his father. 

 

My opinion is that ex has to earn a relationship with his adult son, it cannot be the fun dad like he really used to be when ds was little. Not only has there been the trauma of a weird divorce, but ds is an adult, something I think ex has a hard time recognizing simply because ds still lives at home. 

 

 

This is exactly how I see ds and XH.  

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Shockingly, I may have found something that ds is interested in doing.  It is a Rim to Rim Hike in the Grand Canyon.  https://www.oars.com/adventures/grand-canyon-rim-to-rim-hiker/

 

I just showed ds this and he said he loves to hike and he wouldn't have to be focused on talking to his dad...he asked me to send it to his dad and ask him what he thinks  but 'don't tell him I am ecstatic about it.  That way I have some wiggle room.'  

LOL...

 

So we shall see.

 

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Also, I don't think this is quite the same thing as his having to travel for business in the future. This just isn't the same. Later, if he has a job and doesn't want to travel, he would then suffer the consequences of that as an adult. And he would learn from that. Or not. Not wanting to go on a personal trip because one is uncomfortable with is very different, imo. I wouldn't want to go one a week long trip with someone with whom I was not comfortable, and I'm 53. There must be reasons he feels the way he does. He is uncomfortable, and that's good enough reason not to have to go. He will have lots of chances in life to learn that sometimes he has to do things he doesn't want to do because it's time to behave as an adult.

 

Your son sounds an awful lot like mine, lol.

Edited by Indigo Blue
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Shockingly, I may have found something that ds is interested in doing.  It is a Rim to Rim Hike in the Grand Canyon.  https://www.oars.com/adventures/grand-canyon-rim-to-rim-hiker/

 

I just showed ds this and he said he loves to hike and he wouldn't have to be focused on talking to his dad...he asked me to send it to his dad and ask him what he thinks  but 'don't tell him I am ecstatic about it.  That way I have some wiggle room.'  

LOL...

 

So we shall see.

 

 

I love your son! :) He sounds great.

 

And a rim to rim hike in the Grand Canyon? What an awesome thing to do.

Edited by Indigo Blue
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Shockingly, I may have found something that ds is interested in doing. It is a Rim to Rim Hike in the Grand Canyon. https://www.oars.com/adventures/grand-canyon-rim-to-rim-hiker/

 

I just showed ds this and he said he loves to hike and he wouldn't have to be focused on talking to his dad...he asked me to send it to his dad and ask him what he thinks but 'don't tell him I am ecstatic about it. That way I have some wiggle room.'

LOL...

 

So we shall see.

I hope it works out. I can understand how your dd feels, but the way I see it is your ds should milk it for what it’s worth.

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I really hope the hike works. And while I really don’t see how someone could say that your ex is bullying, I’m sureyou know better than anyone. It sounds like a man desperate to know his son, while at the same time not knowing things about him that you’d expect him to. It sounds like a son who has no problem going to college on his dime, but hesitates to give him more than two dinner conversations a month. I’m sorry for both of them. My brother was in a similar situation. Had an affair, kids turned against him. He paid several thousand dollars a month in support, he bought them cars and college. They never wanted a relationship. He died of an aneurism at 49, and they all stood over his coffin moaning.

I sincerely hope your son and his father can keep trying. If not, part of being an adult is dealing with it himself instead of putting you in the middle.

 

Well I can't speak to anyone else's situation but my XH made his bed long before the divorce.  He left ds with me and ran around like a single person.  Then when he got caught in an affair he suddenly wanted a relationship with our son that he had ignored for 9 years.  I am sure he does have regrets and wishes he could make a relationship with his son.  But it isn't my son's fault.  

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My ex is controlling and really has little clue that he is so. He has tried to create a relationship with him based more upon the MY rather than the SON, if that makes sense. There's only so much of that type of control one wants to take. I don't think that's unique to divorced parents, but maybe tolerated more because they're trying.

 

Parents of adults have to adjust that relationship as they become adults. It is easier to do when you have a good relationship with your child, you can't force it when they're not around.

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Your role in this triangle is not healthy for your son.

Your role in this triangle is not healthy for your ex.

Your role in this triangle is not healthy for you.

 

You should not be negotiating, advocating or solving anything. The "idea" that you found, that you think they can both agree to is not a solution. It's interference and it's crippling both of them. I wish you had stepped out before you suggested it.

 

Your role as a parent is to support your son in making his own decisions in ways that reflect his values and his freedoms. (Also to comfort him if/when things go wrong.) It's clear that up until recently he very much didn't want to go: that's the decision you should be 100% behind. (Unless he changes his mind without any input from you, in which case you get 100% behind his new plan.)

 

Your role as an ex is to do nothing. If he has goals he can work towards them himself. His goals in his relationship with his adult son have *nothing* to do with you.

 

The relationship between your son and his dad is not something you can or should be managing. They need to experience disapointing each other without your ongoing attempts to minimize and smooth their difficulties. They may surprise you... or they may leave each other in tears. Either way, it needs to happen.

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Your role in this triangle is not healthy for your son.

Your role in this triangle is not healthy for your ex.

Your role in this triangle is not healthy for you.

 

You should not be negotiating, advocating or solving anything. The "idea" that you found, that you think they can both agree to is not a solution. It's interference and it's crippling both of them. I wish you had stepped out before you suggested it.

 

Your role as a parent is to support your son in making his own decisions in ways that reflect his values and his freedoms. (Also to comfort him if/when things go wrong.) It's clear that up until recently he very much didn't want to go: that's the decision you should be 100% behind. (Unless he changes his mind without any input from you, in which case you get 100% behind his new plan.)

 

Your role as an ex is to do nothing. If he has goals he can work towards them himself. His goals in his relationship with his adult son have *nothing* to do with you.

 

The relationship between your son and his dad is not something you can or should be managing. They need to experience disapointing each other without your ongoing attempts to minimize and smooth their difficulties. They may surprise you... or they may leave each other in tears. Either way, it needs to happen.

 

 

While I can appreciate this viewpoint it just isn't realistic for our situation.  I am not my son's ex.....and he is my concern.  My son WANTS my help....he ASKS for my help....he said he hated to tell his dad no because he, his dad,  was trying so hard.  So I was sitting at work thinking about what ds hates and what he doesn't and the hike came to me.  I wont' apologize for suggesting it to ds.  I am thrilled he seemed happy with the suggestion.  

 

My son is the one who suffers when a compromise can't be reached.  He has suffered enough with this divorce.  He is a good kid who never wants to feel like he is taking advantage.  He actually just said to me, 'It is so much money, I feel like I am just taking advantage of him.'  I reminded him his dad had offered a trip.  

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I think it's sad that your son desperately wants your help in finding ways not to speak his mind and disappoint his father.

 

If you had simply "a friend" that desperately wanted your help in finding ways not to speak her mind and disappoint her mother, that would be sad too.

 

In either case your role would be to support the person you are in direct relationship with -- and I can see how that 'support' might involve some brainstorming towards solutions, especially if the person's goal (their own goal, as communicated) *was* to find a tollerable compromise of some kind.

 

However: you son's suffering when he can't compromise with his dad is an aspect of your son's "difficult relationship with somebody else" -- and you need to think of it that way. He's not 4, and his suffering is not caused by the divorce. It's caused by his inept dad, who he didn't choose, but he has to deal with anyways.

 

He might choose to be a compromiser with his dad long-term, and that's not terrible, if it's what he wants. If he wants that, he needs to learn (eventually) to (mostly) do his own brainstorming. People pleasing is hard... and if he wants to do it that way, sure, he may want your help: but I suggest you begin reducing how much he can rely on you for that sort of thing.

 

He might choose other approaches to his dad. They will be inept experiments and they may have hurtful consequences... that's all about a young man and his difficult father. It's not about a young man and his mother's opinions about what's best for his relationship with his difficult father. Triangulation is never a foundation for health.

 

So now he's thrilled about hiking: no problem. Done is done. Check if he's sure about this idea, and then get 100% behind hoping that works out well for him (and be ready to be a safe place in case it doesn't).

Edited by bolt.
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I think it's sad that your son desperately wants your help in finding ways not to speak his mind and disappoint his father.

 

If you had simply "a friend" that desperately wanted your help in finding ways not to speak her mind and disappoint her mother, that would be sad too.

 

In either case your role would be to support the person you are in direct relationship with -- and I can see how that 'support' might involve some brainstorming towards solutions, especially if the person's goal (their own goal, as communicated) *was* to find a tollerable compromise of some kind.

 

However: you son's suffering when he can't compromise with his dad is an aspect of your son's "difficult relationship with somebody else" -- and you need to think of it that way. He's not 4, and his suffering is not caused by the divorce. It's caused by his inept dad, who he didn't choose, but he has to deal with anyways.

 

He might choose to be a compromiser with his dad long-term, and that's not terrible, if it's what he wants. If he wants that, he needs to learn (eventually) to (mostly) do his own brainstorming. People pleasing is hard... and if he wants to do it that way, sure, he may want your help: but I suggest you begin reducing how much he can rely on you for that sort of thing.

 

He might choose other approaches to his dad. They will be inept experiments and they may have hurtful consequences... that's all about a young man and his difficult father. It's not about a young man and his mother's opinions about what's best for his relationship with his difficult father. Triangulation is never a foundation for health.

 

So now he's thrilled about hiking: no problem. Done is done. Check if he's sure about this idea, and then get 100% behind hoping that works out well for him (and be ready to be a safe place in case it doesn't).

 

 

Why is that sad?  I honestly don't understand.  He wants to be a good person, a good son, and he also wants to not be trapped in a situation he doesn't like.  I helped him with that.  Maybe.  It isn't a done deal....an they can work out the details.  

 

And I would also brainstorm with a 'friend'  to help in this situation.  But I will point out ds will never be just my 'friend.'  

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Your son is 18. 
He said he doesn't want to go. 
Done. 

I would simply say to the xh when he asks me to intervene, "It's not my place to tell an adult what to do.  He told me he doesn't want to go, so that's all I need to hear. I won't be discussing it with him further." To the son I would say, "You're an adult and you decide for yourself whether or not to accept an invitation to go on a trip. I suggest telling dad, 'No thanks, traveling isn't my thing.' and then changing the subject, getting off the phone, leaving, or whatever. If he asks again say, 'I already answered that.' This is an important life skill everyone needs to master. Have a canned response at the ready and then get out of the conversation entirely."

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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Well, I would encourage my child to travel. To take a trip. The thing is, if you allow your hatred of travel (or fear?) to hold you back when you're 18, it just becomes worse and worse.

 

Now, if he suffers from serious travel-related anxiety, maybe his father is not the person to walk him through it. Maybe a very short trip is better with his dad. But I wouldn't let a kid this age not travel because he prefers to be home or doesn't like it. Traveling can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. It can take us out of our comfort zone. These are, I think, important things for a young person to be able to do. But pleasure is not the only point of travel. It would worry me that he is sick over this. If it's a father issue, that is one thing. But I wouldn't let him off the hook from leaving his comfort zone, because 18 is too young to be so entrenched in one's routine and habits that one doesn't want to spend a few days away from home.

 

 

Hang on . . . I'm trying to wrap my brain around this: As I understand it, this trip is supposed to be a gift or celebration of the young man's graduation. So, are you suggesting that you would require this young person to do something he adamantly doesn't want to do and is fairly certain he will find "uncomfortable and unpleasant" when the experience is supposed to be a treat for him?

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I'm leaning toward he needs to find a way to make this work.  Unless he gets horribly motion sick or something, it is not reasonable to refuse to travel just because.  In his life ahead, he will likely need to travel for work and family activities (in-laws) to do things that aren't super fun.  I think this is a "suck it up and make the best of it" situation.  At least he is being given a ton of leeway in terms of where to go and what to do.

 

I also feel that although he is technically an adult, from prior posts etc. he sounds "young" enough that Mom is right to advise him.

 

But isn't this trip supposed to be "for" the son? As a graduation gift? Why on earth should he be forced or guilted or manipulated into doing something he adamantly doesn't want to do under those circumstances?

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Why is that sad? I honestly don't understand. He wants to be a good person, a good son, and he also wants to not be trapped in a situation he doesn't like. I helped him with that. Maybe. It isn't a done deal....an they can work out the details.

 

And I would also brainstorm with a 'friend' to help in this situation. But I will point out ds will never be just my 'friend.'

It's sad because it's sad when adult children think that they have to compromise and people-please one of their own parents -- against their own wishes -- to the degree that they beg for help from others in order to accomplish that goal.

 

I get that people with one or more crummy parents often get backed into a corner and feel that they "have to" do that. I get your feeling of wanting to help them when they "need" to find a creative compromise and keep the peace. (ie The "my mom won't travel without her dog" types of situations that we see here often.) Yeah, friends do help with the brainstorming if it needs to happen.

 

But it's definitely sad when that's the goal: keep the peace, please the problem person, so the problem person doesn't make extra trouble. It's really very sad to me.

 

It's sad when they really do think that their only two options are creative people pleasing or not feeling like a good person.

 

Your son is a good person.

 

His willingness to get help from his mom to try to make his dad happy through compromise isn't proof that he is a good person. It's proof that his relationship with his dad is hurting him, and because it hurts him, he needs to choose certain behaviours to limit the tension.

 

Good people do that sometimes.

 

Good people also sometimes say, "Thanks anyways, but that won't work for me. I appreciate your good intentions. I'd just rather not." He wouldn't have been 'not a good person' or 'not a good son' -- if he had said that.

 

It's sad that lots of people live trapped in the fear that disappointing other people makes them 'maybe not a good person'.

 

It's sad that your reaction to an adult who didn't want to travel with his difficult father was, "Oh, let me help you work on a way to avoid disappointing your dad. I'm sure we can find a much better solution than you saying 'no' (as kindly as possible) and your dad being responsible for his own feelings when he hears your 'no'. We should avoid that possibility if we can."

 

That's not how I respond to adults who tell me that they don't want to travel with a difficult parent.

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Wow, everything about this situation sounds exactly like my relationship with my father - affair, divorce, forced-ish relationship for a few years until I went to college, and then a lot of apathy. Although I never hated my father, I was furious with him for hurting my mom. I wouldn't have minded never seeing him again. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I can see that he has many good points. He just made a mistake with the way he handled his marriage. I don't think I'll ever fully forgive him, but I think our relationship can get better.

 

At 18, I would have said HECK NO to any trip with my dad. It wouldn't have mattered to where... no way. I wasn't angry, exactly, but I had extremely mixed feelings and the whole thing would have felt forced.

 

If your son does go on the trip, can he have his own hotel room? It would be good for him to have a chance to recharge and have some alone time if he's on an extended trip. 

 

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His father is paying for his car and his college.  Is it worth it to him to just put up with a trip to make his father happy to ensure that college support continues? 

 

Would turning down spending the time with his father make his father decide it's not worth it paying for his college?  Can you and he pick up the cost if he decideds taking a trip with his father is not worth college tuition? 

 

They don't really have a relationship.  A trip won't change that even if the dad thinks it will.  But turning it down may make the dad decide it's not worth dealing with and if you won't play my game, I won't pay your school. 

 

 

 

 

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It's sad because it's sad when adult children think that they have to compromise and people-please one of their own parents -- against their own wishes -- to the degree that they beg for help from others in order to accomplish that goal.

 

I get that people with one or more crummy parents often get backed into a corner and feel that they "have to" do that. I get your feeling of wanting to help them when they "need" to find a creative compromise and keep the peace. (ie The "my mom won't travel without her dog" types of situations that we see here often.) Yeah, friends do help with the brainstorming if it needs to happen.

 

But it's definitely sad when that's the goal: keep the peace, please the problem person, so the problem person doesn't make extra trouble. It's really very sad to me.

 

It's sad when they really do think that their only two options are creative people pleasing or not feeling like a good person.

 

Your son is a good person.

 

His willingness to get help from his mom to try to make his dad happy through compromise isn't proof that he is a good person. It's proof that his relationship with his dad is hurting him, and because it hurts him, he needs to choose certain behaviours to limit the tension.

 

Good people do that sometimes.

 

Good people also sometimes say, "Thanks anyways, but that won't work for me. I appreciate your good intentions. I'd just rather not." He wouldn't have been 'not a good person' or 'not a good son' -- if he had said that.

 

It's sad that lots of people live trapped in the fear that disappointing other people makes them 'maybe not a good person'.

 

It's sad that your reaction to an adult who didn't want to travel with his difficult father was, "Oh, let me help you work on a way to avoid disappointing your dad. I'm sure we can find a much better solution than you saying 'no' (as kindly as possible) and your dad being responsible for his own feelings when he hears your 'no'. We should avoid that possibility if we can."

 

That's not how I respond to adults who tell me that they don't want to travel with a difficult parent.

But that isn't exactly how it happend. My son and I have had months of discussions about this. I have encouraged him repeatedly to just tell his dad he doesn't want to go....he says he did tell him....months ago....and he didn't really want to tell him again. My son was waffling...he still is. I have only brainstormed options for him. I have not told him one way or the other what he should do. In fact just today I reminded him it is not his job to manage his dad's emotions.

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His father is paying for his car and his college. Is it worth it to him to just put up with a trip to make his father happy to ensure that college support continues?

 

Would turning down spending the time with his father make his father decide it's not worth it paying for his college? Can you and he pick up the cost if he decideds taking a trip with his father is not worth college tuition?

 

They don't really have a relationship. A trip won't change that even if the dad thinks it will. But turning it down may make the dad decide it's not worth dealing with and if you won't play my game, I won't pay your school.

Thankfully his dad isn't putting any strings on helping him financially.

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Wow, everything about this situation sounds exactly like my relationship with my father - affair, divorce, forced-ish relationship for a few years until I went to college, and then a lot of apathy. Although I never hated my father, I was furious with him for hurting my mom. I wouldn't have minded never seeing him again. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I can see that he has many good points. He just made a mistake with the way he handled his marriage. I don't think I'll ever fully forgive him, but I think our relationship can get better.

 

At 18, I would have said HECK NO to any trip with my dad. It wouldn't have mattered to where... no way. I wasn't angry, exactly, but I had extremely mixed feelings and the whole thing would have felt forced.

 

If your son does go on the trip, can he have his own hotel room? It would be good for him to have a chance to recharge and have some alone time if he's on an extended trip.

Yep....I imagine this is how Ds feels.

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I would not put pressure on him to go, and it sounds like you're not.  Also, even though he is 18, I definitely think he needs your support, and you might need to step in and represent him.  It's not easy for a child to speak up to a parent sometimes, esp. if they are barely just an adult and the relationship is awkward, or if he feels a little intimidated by his dad.   

 

On a side note, I wonder if there's something like a camp or something like that they could do together sometime, when/if he ever feels ready to do something with his dad at some point.  For example, I've heard of some really beautiful YMCA family camps in Colorado, where you go together but don't really have to be together that much if you don't want to.  You're with a lot of other people and they have many different types of activities you can participate in.  Or there are dude ranches, and who knows what else.  I'm just trying to think of activities where you're with other people but in smaller groups with lots of fun planned activities.  Maybe something like that would take some of the pressure off of him because the focus is not so much on the relationship.

 

I thought of another type of activity too.  There are so many volunteer organizations where you can go and spend a week doing some worthwhile activity.  Again, maybe something like that would take the focus off the relationship because you're pretty consumed by the volunteer work that you're doing, and probably in close contact with a group of people the whole time.

Edited by J-rap
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I am a child of divorce who had a mediocre/distant relationship with my father.

 

I am trying to put myself in your ds's shoes.  What would I have done if I were in the same situation?

 

I would have gone on a trip.  And I would have hated it.

 

But years later when my father passed away I would be thankful that I had done something to make him happy.

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Not only would I not try to convince DS to go I would step in and tel XH to lay off my kid. It's not Ds's fault I chose to procreate will a bullheaded jerk.

The fact that he is willing to pay for his car and his college even though his son does not want to spend any time with him and doesn’t like him makes it seem to me that he has at least some redeeming qualities. I think not playing the financial card or even hinting at it shows some love and maturity.
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Well, I would encourage my child to travel. To take a trip. The thing is, if you allow your hatred of travel (or fear?) to hold you back when you're 18, it just becomes worse and worse.

 

Now, if he suffers from serious travel-related anxiety, maybe his father is not the person to walk him through it. Maybe a very short trip is better with his dad. But I wouldn't let a kid this age not travel because he prefers to be home or doesn't like it. Traveling can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. It can take us out of our comfort zone. These are, I think, important things for a young person to be able to do. But pleasure is not the only point of travel. It would worry me that he is sick over this. If it's a father issue, that is one thing. But I wouldn't let him off the hook from leaving his comfort zone, because 18 is too young to be so entrenched in one's routine and habits that one doesn't want to spend a few days away from home.

I agree. Strongly. I think 48 is too young for that. This shouldn’t be making most 18 year olds literally sick under normal circumstances, which I think this is.

 

And I’ll step away from the crowd and say I’d be exceptionally concerned about the dad issue too. Yeah. I get it. Dad was a grade A butt nugget to mom. But he is still dad. If the guy is an abusive dirt bag to son, then son needs to own that and just say it. But life is short and fragile and we don’t always have tomorrow. Years from now, he might feel very differently and not have this chance to travel or spend time with his father. I would tell him to give serious thought to that some day, he might regret this.

 

There should be some kind of way to compromise on this that makes both mostly happy. I would encourage both sides towards that unless the dad is abuaive in some manner. And by encourage I mean, I’d mostly stay out of it and cheerfully and persistently insist they speak to each other about it instead of me.

Edited by Murphy101
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Well I can't speak to anyone else's situation but my XH made his bed long before the divorce.  He left ds with me and ran around like a single person.  Then when he got caught in an affair he suddenly wanted a relationship with our son that he had ignored for 9 years.  I am sure he does have regrets and wishes he could make a relationship with his son.  But it isn't my son's fault.  

 

This may be the case, but it seems like your ex is trying to make up for his mistakes. If your ex isn't outright toxic, it might not hurt to encourage your son to start the process of forgiving those mistakes.  You never know when you might need family.  

 

I do get it, I have three stepsons and none of them have a great relationship with their mom, and it isn't their fault either, but my DH has always encouraged them to have as good a relationship with her as they can.  

 

Stefanie

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I'm glad your son has found an trip that is acceptable to him.

 

However, a couple of things stand out to me which I just want to say something about. (And then I'm off, promise. I doubt my long-term presence will improve the conversation!)

 

First, his aversion to travel does sound a little extreme. If this is keeping him from doing things that he might want to do - or if it's just one part of a large constellation of things that make it harder for him to do basic tasks - then it may be worth it to seek professional help. Many people do this over many, much smaller issues.

 

Second, his aversion to doing things with his father also sounds a little extreme. Now, on this I tend to side with him. When young people dislike their parents, there's usually a good reason for it - and from your first few comments I find I already dislike your ex, and I've never even met him! But whatever the reason for this dislike, the best person to help him with this relationship and his feelings is somebody dispassionate and uninvolved. That person isn't you. It can't be! It should be self-evident that as his mother, you're neither of those things.

 

But, you know, I always do have a great respect for professional mental health care. This is excellent advice and one day somebody will take it and say thank you.

 

What really interests me is point three. Let me see if I can sum this up as it appears to me.

 

Your son doesn't want to do a thing. His father wants him to do the thing. Neither of them is making any headway, and so they both asked you to be their go-between.

 

Is that about the size of it?

 

If so, this is not a good situation for their relationship with each other, and it's not a good situation for your son's relationship with you. And if this is a one-off, well, okay... but experience, observation, and careful reading of advice columns makes it seem likely that this is their normal pattern. They disagree, and ask you to work it out for them.

 

The blame here is mostly on your ex. Your son is young, so it's no wonder he has trouble setting a healthy boundary with his father or reacting appropriately when his father is determined to stomp all over it. And of course it's normal for parents to want to protect their kids from unhealthy confrontations. But just like your son is going to have to learn, as an adult, to set appropriate boundaries with his father and other people (no really does mean no), you need to set your own boundaries. You can't keep being the mom in the middle here. When you do that, all their messy and unhappy feelings accrete on to you, every time. You are always enmeshed in their relationship. And that relationship never goes anywhere healthy anyway.

 

Now, you might be thinking that I'm making this all up, that this is the only time, it's never happened before and never will again. All right, if that's the case. But I still suggest you tell both of them that you will not be their go-between. And then you stick to that. If your son asks you to speak to his dad, you say "Sorry, I can't do that", and if your ex asks you to speak to your son you say "I said no".

 

If, as is often the case, this really is a long-standing pattern then you can expect both of them to test that boundary for a long time - perhaps several months or a year. And during that time, the best thing is not to give an inch. Don't so much as tell your son that his father called unless the man is literally on his deathbed.

 

This is hard to do, and it feels mean when you do it, but it's the only way of breaking a bad pattern that I've ever heard works.

 

Note: If your ex is really badly abusive then I'd alter that advice some and suggest that you tell your kid it's okay to just put him on block.

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Hang on . . . I'm trying to wrap my brain around this: As I understand it, this trip is supposed to be a gift or celebration of the young man's graduation. So, are you suggesting that you would require this young person to do something he adamantly doesn't want to do and is fairly certain he will find "uncomfortable and unpleasant" when the experience is supposed to be a treat for him?

 

I used the word "encourage," not "require," for many reasons.

 

We all have learned that this isn't really going to be a treat for Scarlett's kid. (Except maybe her XH? We don't know. We don't have his side of the story.) All I can do is give my own perspective based upon my life experience as a person who understands that many aspects of travel can be absolutely miserable, albeit temporarily.

 

I don't think it's horrible or dysfunctional for Scarlett to try to work out with her son exactly what he didn't like about his previous experiences and what he did enjoy to try to create a trip that he would find palatable. And I also can see why they would both find the aspect of being beholden to XH (for this trip, for college costs) uncomfortable.

 

I think we're all struggling a little because we are rooting for Scarlett's son in a situation where we have only a partial picture, and ultimately we're relying on his mom to use her instincts to use the thoughts she finds helpful and toss those that miss the mark.

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He isn't afraid to travel. I dont see it as some big problem for him. He goes when he needs to or when the activity is something he will really like or the people he really likes. When we were in NYC he managed the subways and buses just fine. He drives wherever he needs to in our area. It is more about being away from home for many days in a row. He just doesn't like it. I don't find that strange, maybe because I am the same way. He is not even an introvert like I am, so I think he fares better in that regard.

 

If not for my strong encouragement he would not speak a word to his dad. And like the dinners twice a month, which is their only contact, if not for me insisting he go he would not have. I have walked a fine line trying to mother him in this situation which includes helping him to manage his own relationship with his dad. While also being mindful of up until recently my legal obligation to facilitate visitation.

 

i was with my best friend this weekend. She and I went to high school with xh. She has been there through all of it. And we are both impressed with xh's attempts to do right by Ds. I believe it is his attempt at being a better person/father but he also does not like to look bad. Appearances have always been really Importent to him. One example is that every year around Christmas he gives Ds some big gift. We don't celebrate Christmas. I know him well enough to know that he wants to be able to tell peers and friends what he got Ds for Christmas. I never say a word and Ds never even makes the connection bcause Christmas is just not in our thoughts at all. Ds doesn't know him like I do. He never will. I sometimes try to explain why xh is like he is.....I want Ds to have understanding and compassion. I have always encouraged him to be as kind as he can to his dad...and respectful even if he doesn't do what his dad wants.

 

Thanks for all the posts. I do appreciate various viewpoints.

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He isn't afraid to travel. I dont see it as some big problem for him. He goes when he needs to or when the activity is something he will really like or the people he really likes. When we were in NYC he managed the subways and buses just fine. He drives wherever he needs to in our area. It is more about being away from home for many days in a row. He just doesn't like it. I don't find that strange, maybe because I am the same way. He is not even an introvert like I am, so I think he fares better in that regard.

 

If not for my strong encouragement he would not speak a word to his dad. And like the dinners twice a month, which is their only contact, if not for me insisting he go he would not have. I have walked a fine line trying to mother him in this situation which includes helping him to manage his own relationship with his dad. While also being mindful of up until recently my legal obligation to facilitate visitation.

 

i was with my best friend this weekend. She and I went to high school with xh. She has been there through all of it. And we are both impressed with xh's attempts to do right by Ds. I believe it is his attempt at being a better person/father but he also does not like to look bad. Appearances have always been really Importent to him. One example is that every year around Christmas he gives Ds some big gift. We don't celebrate Christmas. I know him well enough to know that he wants to be able to tell peers and friends what he got Ds for Christmas. I never say a word and Ds never even makes the connection bcause Christmas is just not in our thoughts at all. Ds doesn't know him like I do. He never will. I sometimes try to explain why xh is like he is.....I want Ds to have understanding and compassion. I have always encouraged him to be as kind as he can to his dad...and respectful even if he doesn't do what his dad wants.

 

Thanks for all the posts. I do appreciate various viewpoints.

 

It sounds like you're doing a great job.  I think it's great you're helping your son navigate this, and I think it's great he comes to you for advice and I think it's great that he's aware his Dad is another human being who has emotions and feelings, too, and that you're helping him balance being kind verses being forced verses being selfish verses people pleasing.  It can't be easy to do.

 

ETA:  evidently the only adjective I can come up with during my first cup of coffee is great :lol:

Edited by JudoMom
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If I were the mom and XW in this situation, I'd encourage my son to come up with an idea he likes, but with eyes wide open.  It's a great opportunity in many ways.  I think everyone agrees the dad basically wants to cement his position in history as something more than a paying machine, senses that his window is closing, but really that's his problem.  As long as anyone enters the trip with that motive or that expectation of outcome, their relationship can't have any real growth, and I agree a trip loaded with emotionality isn't desirable at all for an 18yo young man who's about embark on his college career to conquer the world.  If the dad's intended plan is 'I'm just going to make you stare me until you like me again,' it's a faulty plan and I'd jump ship too.

 

I might recommend an immersive language experience like Concordia Villages for families where every bit of communication, every book or music playlist you  bring along, must be in a target language.  There may be words they have for each other they never could find a way to say.  Or if not, he can just work on his Spanish 24/7.  They go on hikes too.  So either you talk in Spanish or you just hike.

 

When my kids first started swim, I noticed that water served as equalizer in taking down attitude.  Kids who might've been bullyish or bossy on the playground  lose any advantage whatsoever in the water and they know it.   Language (i.e. being forced to work through everything in a different medium) may be the great equalizer here.

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I would like to add that when my niece graduated high school my parents paid for her to go on a trip with friends.  It never crossed their minds to insist the trip be WITH them.  They knew at that time in her life, even though she was very close t them and loves them, going with friends would be preferred.  Now she is about to be 30.  I think she would LOVE a trip with my parents.

 

My son is close to me.  He has been pulling away the last 18 months or so, but I am doing my best to not take that personally and to just give him space.  I can't think of any trip that he would want to go on with me for fun.  Now, if there is some sort of thing that needs to be accomplished he will go with me and we end up having fun.  So I look for those opportunities.  I hope to take him on a road trip in late May to visit his paternal grandmother.  We did that last summer and had a really good time.  Long hours in the car help a kid open up.

 

Anyway, my point is, part of this is just his age, part is my son's own personality and part is the result of a strained relationship from a divorce AFTER xh spent years not paying attention to ds.  All of it has the potential to work out, but it also has the potential to not change at all.  I don't intend to try and fix the outcome....I just do my best to help ds through these years.  

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It sounds like you're doing a great job.  I think it's great you're helping your son navigate this, and I think it's great he comes to you for advice and I think it's great that he's aware his Dad is another human being who has emotions and feelings, too, and that you're helping him balance being kind verses being forced verses being selfish verses people pleasing.  It can't be easy to do.

 

ETA:  evidently the only adjective I can come up with during my first cup of coffee is great :lol:

 

 

I didn't even notice that the first time I read your post.  :)

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Thankfully his dad isn't putting any strings on helping him financially.

He’s not putting strings on it YET. Do you trust him enough to not put conditions in if he does not get his way?

 

He knows he’s buying the boy’s love. He also knows he only has any real power for four more years. He’s 18, so your son’s legal obligations to him are over.

 

Remind your son sometimes you have to play the game to get the pay out. And sometimes ‘family’ is actually business. And in life you have to put up with and deal with people you don’t like or enjoy at work. But don’t quit the job till you have a new one. In this case, don’t give up the paid college unless he has a way to pay it himself.

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It occurred to me that maybe your ds would feel 'trapped' with his father on the kind of trip his father is wanting to take with ds.  No way out should things go sour, kind of thing.  Maybe, if he could come up with ways to exit quickly should things begin to go badly, he would feel more like going?  Don't know.

 

Oh, and I know exactly what you mean about appearances.  My dh's mother is like that.  It's all about appearances, bragging rights, etc.  About them, IOW.

 

After much discussion I think ds's fears are feeling trapped....not so much that he can't come home but that he is in a situation he hates.  Like a football game, or stuck on a ship or having to talk to his dad longer than just a dinner with no break.  That is why I suggested the hike...because it gives ds something to do to expel all his excess energy, gives him a goal (only 1% of park visitors do the rim to rim hike)  We also discussed the float trip through the grand canyon but that didn't appeal to him at all because he says he doesn't like having to sit still for long periods of time.  So honestly I think he is fairly aware of what he wants.  Part of his disturbance has been not wanting to hurt his dad.  

 

So the hike might be a good compromise.  

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He’s not putting strings on it YET. Do you trust him enough to not put conditions in if he does not get his way?

 

He knows he’s buying the boy’s love. He also knows he only has any real power for four more years. He’s 18, so your son’s legal obligations to him are over.

 

Remind your son sometimes you have to play the game to get the pay out. And sometimes ‘family’ is actually business. And in life you have to put up with and deal with people you don’t like or enjoy at work. But don’t quit the job till you have a new one. In this case, don’t give up the paid college unless he has a way to pay it himself.

 

I don't think he will suddenly begin putting conditions on the financial help he gives him.  But there is no way I will ever advise my son to suck up to his dad so that he can get college paid for.  Life will go on with or without his college being paid for.  He doesn't need to sell his soul for a college education or anything of material value.

 

I encourage him to be nice to his dad because his dad is his dad.  He deserves a certain amount of respect and kindness regardless of what mistakes he has made in his life.

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Trapped feeling is a problem.

 

I'd talk to ex. I'd make a suggestion for a short trip where the only planned together activity was one meal a day. All inclusive resort one person tries out jet skis, the other reads in a hammock. Or a visit to a city like Chicago or NYC and they only eat breakfast together each day.

 

The other thing is would ds be opposed to bringing a friend on such a trip where they ate with ex once a day. Would ex be able to do that and get the friends their own room. That might make it fun by having a friend as long and give ex the feeling he gave the gift he wanted to give while DS avoids the trapped feeling.

 

Just an idea.

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