DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: When my wife and I divorced almost seven years ago, my son and daughter were still in high school. It was a bad split, and it took a toll on both kids. We tried to keep the details of the divorce from them, but they found out from other people (mostly my ex-wife’s family) that the reason we split was because she was having affairs with two different men in her office. At the time, and for a long time afterwards, her own family was pissed at her. They thought she was a fool to throw away her family, and when the time came to make custody arrangements, that’s what she did. She practically volunteered to give me full custody, with one weekend a month as her time with her son and daughter.
Now that my kids are adults, my daughter has accepted her mother’s attempts to patch things up. My ex was in counseling for a long time, and still is, I think, and from some things my daughter has said, the reconciliation with her kids is part of her treatment.
My son continues to want to distance himself from his mom. He has had a couple bad fights with his sister over it, because his sister believes much of what their mother did was brought on by mental illness. Her brother believes it was all just because she was a selfish b
I’ve tried to stay out of it, but it makes me sad to think that my son cannot reconcile with his mother. It isn’t on my account. I’ve made peace with the whole situation and moved on with my life, as has my daughter.
What can I say to my son to help him also forgive, even if he can’t forget what his mother did? I see him becoming cynical about women in general sometimes, and that isn’t a good thing. --- DON’T WANT MY SON TO BE A HATER
DEAR DON’T WANT MY SON TO BE A HATER: Since he likely views you as a co-sufferer of your ex-wife’s past actions, it could be hard for your son to accept that you’ve honestly forgiven her. You can encourage him to at least be open to her overtures, but it’s probable his bitterness will get in the way of hearing what either you or your ex has to say, as demonstrated by his reaction to his sister’s choice to reconcile. It may happen over time, or it may be that he’ll never have a working relationship with his mom, regardless of anything you say or do.
It might be time to try to persuade him to seek professional counselling. I see a big red flag in how your son’s feelings about his mother are beginning to taint his view of women in general. My guess is he doesn’t see his behavior as an issue; but continuing on his current path is pointing him toward a future of failed relationships with women other than his mom.