Submitted by: Shelly Stile
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I have an 11 year old son from my first marriage. I remarried 4 years ago and have a 2 year old and a 6 month old. Due to a job change my husband and I had to move 1 &1/2 hours drive away from my ex. At the time of the move I discussed with my ex what would be best for our son. Switching schools for the 4th time in 4 years (due to previous moves) or returning to a school he was familiar with and staying with his dad during the week and with me on weekends. We would divide various breaks so that we could each have equal parenting time.
My son has since developed a split personality – he is happy and enjoys his time here, yet when its time to go back to his dad he turns into a completely different person. According to his dad he now says he hates it here.
My son is telling half-truths and lies about our home here. His father is manipulative and passive aggressive, which is why I left him and now my son is adopting those behaviors. I feel like my ex and my son are walking all over me. He is learning to lie and manipulate others to his benefit from his father.
I feel like I need to fight for my son but on the other hand I don’t want to drag him through a nasty custody battle. So far, I have been civil but my heart is breaking. I’m afraid that if I give into my son and tell him he can stay with his father if that is what he wants that he will feel I’m rejecting him or I’ve replaced him with a new family.
His little brothers love him and I would hate them to miss out on having their big brother around. Any suggestion?
I am not a child psychologist but it sounds to me as if your son is having some serious issues with the present parenting arrangement that calls for professional help. Have you spoken to a child psychologist yet? I would start there, explain the situation to the therapist, and then take her/his lead. Your son is calling out for help through his behavior. In addition, I would not label your son’s present behavior as modeling his father’s “passive-aggressive”. That might just be your interpretation of the situation but certainly not a fact. Leave that to the therapist.
This of course involves your discussing your thoughts with your ex. The question is always, “Do we love our children more than we dislike/hate our ex?” Your son’s welfare is the most important issue and you and your ex need to put aside your own personal feelings about one another and do what is best for your son. An 11 year old is in a very vulnerable stage of development and both of you need to make him your top priority.
What are YOU struggling with right now in your divorce? Are you having trouble coping? Are you unable to let go? Do you need help getting ‘unstuck’ so you can move on? As long as your question isn’t a legal one, Divorce Coach Shelley Stile will gladly sit in your corner and share her expertise and insight with you in a written response.
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Shelley Stile is an ACC certified Divorce Recovery Life Coach and author who guides her clients to let go the pain of their divorce and move on to create new and vibrant lives after divorce. Shelley has been through her own divorce so she knows first-hand about the journey of divorce recovery. Receive her free, powerful e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce’, and her monthly ‘Take Back Your Life After Divorce’ Newsletter by going to: http://www.freedivorcesupport.com.
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