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Ask Ellie: Adult son controlled by dad needs mom's love and support

Dear Ellie: I’d like advice for a situation involving my adult son, my eldest child who’s been living in another country for the past 10 years. We can be very close sometimes, especially when I visit him there and we spend time together.
Advice columnist Ellie

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: I’d like advice for a situation involving my adult son, my eldest child who’s been living in another country for the past 10 years.

We can be very close sometimes, especially when I visit him there and we spend time together. I’ve also made friends there so sometimes stay with him and sometimes rent nearby.

My younger child, a daughter, requires help financially and emotionally, which I look after, while my ex-husband, her father, does nothing for her.

Instead, he’s closely involved with another woman’s young daughter with financial needs, looking after that girl’s schooling.

My ex is very controlling still, 20 years after our divorce. He still controls our adult son who in turn sometimes hurts me deeply and causes me worry.

When I’ve travelled to visit and/or stay with my son, he seems to like my company.

Though he’s doing well financially, I’ll wine and dine him while there. However, I must pay my own travel expenses to see him and I sometimes bring along his sister who’s financially dependent on me.

The pandemic ended our visits. Now, I’m expecting my second vaccine soon, so I’ve told him I’m hoping to stay with him again. To my shock, he said that his father, my ex, doesn’t want me to stay there and used an old excuse to insist that I be barred. My son felt he had to agree.

Actually, I don’t need to stay with him, as I now have some friends there that I love to see.

But he hurt me so much that I don’t think I should go if he really agrees with what his father tells him to do.

What’s the best way to deal with this?

My daughter, is closer to me, and doesn’t behave like that.

Still Controlled

Forgive and understand your son’s awkward position. His father helps a young person he’s unrelated to, but bullies control of his own son. He does this to still control you and also make your life less comfortable.

Your son still needs your love and understanding, because he doesn’t have it from his father. You know and handle your responsibilities, e.g., with your daughter, because you’re older, and past being surprised by your ex. He may annoy you, but he no longer “controls” you, since you can stay with friends, or rent again.

Your ex will never change, despite any kind gestures to selected others (e.g., a schoolgirl he can control).

Tell your son you understand his answer to you though you wish it were otherwise. Then, plan your visit.

We’ve all learned from the pandemic that life’s too short to stay hurt and estranged when we can look forward to seeing and hugging the people who matter most in our lives.

Feedback regarding a mother’s worries about post-divorce changes in her children’s lifestyle (May 26):

Reader: Kids do adapt to different circumstances like neighbourhood, schools and whether they still have a pool.

But when divorcing, consider that the kids will continue to see their father now without anyone watching. Kids might report things or not.

Maybe this husband’s behavior is exacerbated by the relationship with his wife.

My experience is that you have to continue a relationship with your ex-husband for many years if your kids are young. Will they continue to bear the brunt of their father’s bad temper? And you won’t really know exactly what happens.

Divorce is not a magic wand to end all problems.

Reader 2: I could’ve written that letter 10 years ago and wish I had. I only just got out of an abusive relationship like this writer describes. I can tell her it’s only going to get worse.

What started out belittling and berating just me, spread to my now-ex verbally abusing the kids, yelling and threatening them.

I was so worried about leaving our nice neighbourhood and all the comforts that I delayed the divorce, thinking that is what the kids would want, too.

But we all grew more miserable over the years. Trust me, kids can live without the pool. They need to feel safe and loved, and they can’t in a home where the father is mistreating and abusing their mom.

My kids and I now live in peace. Although we haven’t fully put the trauma of the past behind us, we’re living a much better life, even though we left our lovely house and neighbourhood.

Ellie’s tip of the day

A parent’s love/understanding is still needed by adult children still being undermined/diminished by their other parent.

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