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My father is trying to drive a wedge between me and my son

Recently my husband and I took our daughter on a trip and we left my 17 year old son home alone, partially as a test of his ability to manage himself. My father took it upon himself to spend time with my son while we were gone. Not long after we were back home my son and I were talking, which we do often, and he confessed that Grandpa made him very uncomfortable, telling him that he needs to move out ASAP because we are mistreating him. My dad has never agreed with my discipline because he thinks kids should grow up as fast as possible, drive cars when they are 12, first beer at 14, etc. I have held the boundary for years and we have managed to get along. Learning that he is now trying to drive a wedge between me and my kids is tearing me up. I am ready to cut him off permanently but my son doesn't want me to. What is the right answer?

Answer Question

Asked by FierceMomLove at 12:25 AM on Sep. 2, 2013 in Teens (13-17)

Level 3 (23 Credits)
Answers (11)
  • Sounds like you need to have a talk with your dad!

    Your son is old enough to understand his grandfather's manipulating ways, and it sounds like the two of you are close.
    I wouldn't worry about your dad driving a wedge between you and your son but your father needs to know he's driving a wedge between you and him!

    Answer by KTElite at 12:29 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • You need to have a serious chat with your dad. At first as I was reading I was think, this is fine he is checking in on your son and a little bonding is good. Reading further I see what went on and the first thing I would have done is tell my son that I was glad that he told me. The next thing would be to make it clear where those lines are and the dad crossed them and not to do it again.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:37 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • Cutting your father off permanently and completely might be quite a harsh step to take. But limiting the contact your family has with him may be in order. You are the parents; you get to decide how to raise your children. End of story. If your dad has issues with your decisions, he might have some right to voice them to you, but he definitely shouldn't speak to your son about his dissenting opinions. Thumbs up to you for the fact that your son understands your point of view and was willing to tell you what his grandfather said and how it made him feel. That's definitely worth some points in your favor and your son's. Whether you ought to talk to your father or not depends on if you think it will do any good. But I recommend limiting the time he gets to be alone with your kids for a while, at least.

    Answer by Ballad at 12:38 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • I agree that my son is old enough to deal with his grandpa on his own terms. My son and I will always be close and he can talk to me if he needs to. He knows the history. He knows what his grandfather is capable of... I don't lie to my kids. The truth is that this is not the first time my dad has stuck a knife in my back. He was on thin ice before this incident. So I agree with all of you. I need to have a serious talk with my dad. I just haven't had the stomach for it. It has been a month. I don't return his calls because I don't trusty myself to not verbally destroy him. I am SO angry!

    Comment by FierceMomLove (original poster) at 1:07 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • Unfortunately I went off on my parents for basically doing the same thing to my boys and that was about 13 years ago.
    It's been the best 13 years of my life, and I know some will think that's a horrible thing to say about my parents, but they didn't walk in my shoes.

    You need to do this for yourself! You are not a door mat to anyone!! Do not allow your father to cause you any more stress than he already has.
    Time for you to take control!

    Answer by KTElite at 1:14 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • Let your son know that he was uncomfortable for a reason, and that's because he already knows better than what his grandfather telling him. I would tell your father that he is not welcome in your house until he apologizes for going behind your back and trying to undermine your parenting.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 1:39 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • I don't judge you KTElite. It is comforting to hear you have no regrets.I have been rehearsing the conversation I need to have with him daily. None of them end with forgiveness or a promise of a better relationship between me and my dad tomorrow. I think I know what I need to do. It is just the fact that once I pull that trigger, there is no going back. That is why I keep putting it off. Peace for another day as long as I can hold my rage, right?

    Comment by FierceMomLove (original poster) at 1:47 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • Go ahead and verbally destroy him. This man is NOT a father. He is merely a SPERM DONOR. Treat him as such.

    You've obviously done a great job with your son because he saw through the baloney the Sperm Donor was dishing out.

    My MIL was abusive, and when her venom started to spill over to our son my husband cut her off completely. She'sd been dead nearly a year and NO ONE has cried for her even once.

    Answer by gdiamante at 10:09 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • Why not approach the issue with the goal of having effective boundaries & limits, including limited contact or whatever works for you, rather than a big break? I read your comment about no expectation of forgiveness or a promise of an immediate "better relationship" if you talk, thus maybe complete cutoff is in order. But that kind of "resolution" seems unrealistic anyway! Why not set your expectations to include you being clear about your position & your personal reactions, with the understanding that your dad is a separate person with his own take on things, his own ideas & perceptions, and his own opinions, and that agreement is neither necessary nor expected? Then he can be who & how he is, and you are free to make your choices AND articulate your personal limits. This might help your son, as well.
    The thing with emotional cutoff is that it usually reflects STRONG ongoing feelings & lack of resolution, rather than health.

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:51 AM on Sep. 2, 2013

  • ^-- "This might help your son, as well."

    In the sense that you'd be modeling more clarity, openness, self-responsibility, and also modeling emotional differentiation (versus enmeshment.) Then, communication tends to be clearer (not attacking & accusing, putting one person in the wrong, but speaking personally about your own experience.)

    It sounds like your son was very uncomfortable & later confided in you. That's great, but it's also possible for a young person to internalize the assumption that he can speak openly about his own reactions at the time of his discomfort: being open about his different perspective/opinion, and about his terms for continuing a conversation. Particularly if he hasn't internalized that speaking up is about changing/controlling someone else, thus being "right" or persuasive. Instead he believes that his own reaction is sufficient to express, and that it's about communicating not controlling.

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:07 PM on Sep. 2, 2013

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