I need advice/opinions.

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TheRealCallie

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What do you do when you feel the other parent is sabotaging your kid?

I know a lot of you aren't parents and I know some of you don't like me, but I need opinions/advice. Maybe I'm overreacting...maybe it's all just coincidence.

So my youngest kid decided his life when he was 10. He wants to go into the military and then college and then be a cop. He even has backup plans. When he was 13, he joined a youth military program run by the Navy. He's now almost 15. He's been saving his money (the money that I don't make him put in his bank account) for "important" things, like a truck.

His father has been in and out of his life, but about a year/year and a half ago, he's been spending almost every weekend with his father. I've been slowing watching him get less responsible with his money, he's been getting more disrespectful to me and he's talking about quitting the military program he's in. He won't give me any concrete reasons for quitting, but he gets extremely annoyed if his father asks him to do something and he can't because it's "drill weekend" and asks me if he HAS to go. He just says he doesn't like the program anymore. I found out today that his father is more or less encouraging him to quit, saying things like "most people who go into the military don't do these programs" and "the perks aren't that helpful" etc etc. My son idolizing his father...and he's acting more and more like his father, not in a good way. His father blows all his money on stupid shit that's not really important, he's disrespectful, he has no real ambition. Every time I ask my ex to talk to him about important things, he doesn't talk to him at all. He just wants to be the "fun" parent.

More back story on the military program is that about a year ago, his unit got a new commanding officer. This is about when my son started not liking the program so much because she's more military oriented than the old CO. I suggested that before he quits, he switches units to be sure it's not just the new CO he doesn't like. He shot this idea down. This program could open so many doors for him. He could learn so much. He could go into the military as an officer if he really wanted to and worked hard. They have training for just about everything. Not only that, it would look extremely good for everything he wants to do in life.

I just don't know what to do anymore. I know I can't FORCE him to stay in the program. And I also know some of this might just be teenager rebellion or whatever, but it's literally ONE weekend a month and a week or two in the summer/winter for whatever training he chooses to take. I just feel like I'm fighting a losing battle because of how much he idolizes his father and nothing I say makes any impact at all. Does anyone have any advice for me? Not necessarily about how to get him to want to stay in the program (though if you have a way, please let me know), but how to get him back to the responsible, respectful kid he used to be before he started spending so much time with his father.
 

Yeti1980

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Well, that's a very difficult one. A son getting close to his dad is a good thing (usually), and having him around is bound to be an influence. That said, I can understand how it concerns you that he is picking up his dad's bad habits.

An idea you'll probably hate, but have you considered spending time as a trio? Invite dad around for lunch or something before one of their afternoons doing stuff, something like that? It strikes me that neither of you are saying things to your son in the presence of both of you, and it sounds as though a less polarized approach might be helpful?

The aim here is to express feelings and work out what the truth is. Atm it sounds as though there is a "mum says this", "dad says that" kinda thing going on (understandable in the circumstances of separation) and what he actually wants or feels is getting lost. If you and dad were able to show some political neutrality and unite on his behalf to encourage all the right things, it might just help.

Obviously, I'm not in the middle of this situation and the above is just a few thoughts.
 

TheRealCallie

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Well, that's a very difficult one. A son getting close to his dad is a good thing (usually), and having him around is bound to be an influence. That said, I can understand how it concerns you that he is picking up his dad's bad habits.

An idea you'll probably hate, but have you considered spending time as a trio? Invite dad around for lunch or something before one of their afternoons doing stuff, something like that? It strikes me that neither of you are saying things to your son in the presence of both of you, and it sounds as though a less polarized approach might be helpful?

The aim here is to express feelings and work out what the truth is. Atm it sounds as though there is a "mum says this", "dad says that" kinda thing going on (understandable in the circumstances of separation) and what he actually wants or feels is getting lost. If you and dad were able to show some political neutrality and unite on his behalf to encourage all the right things, it might just help.

Obviously, I'm not in the middle of this situation and the above is just a few thoughts.

I've actually tried his...as well as talking to his father on my own. In order for that to work, his father would have to be willing to listen to what I'm saying. He doesn't. He hears what he wants to hear and then either blames me or throws everything (real and made up) in my face. He refuses to see anything about his parenting style being bad. I'm the responsible parent (aka, the no fun parent) and his father is the "fun" parent. (which translates to the irresponsible parent)

And don't even get me started on his relationship with my other son, who he has little to nothing to do with.
 

ringwood

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Hmmm. . . that's a tough one. I would assume you've already done this, but have you sat down with your son and pointed out how much his personality has changed in the last year or so? Obviously, you can't really put down his dad in front of him (especially if he idolizes him as that's just going to make your son defensive), but you can point out his disrespect of you and his irresponsibility with money and how it concerns you. Sounds like your son has a good head on his shoulders (or did) - I'd try and gently remind him of his hard work and the goals he's set for himself in the past and the importance of not abandoning those. With any luck, he'll rethink his priorities. And yes, good ol' teenage rebellion could be part of this too. I think all you can really do is continue being the responsible parent in the background and keep trying to gently steer him in a more acceptable direction.

As to the military program, I'd would've suggested exactly what you did - switching his unit before he quits. I think I'd still push that though and tell him he can't quit until he gives the situation his all - at least for a few months to see how it goes.
 

CenotaphGirl

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Yikes, this is a hard one... I just dont know. But I hope you all work it out. When I first met my fella he'd do everything to be the "fun" parent and undermine his Childs mother. He would purposefully make sure his daughter was out of routine and found it funny when his ex would have a hard time getting her to settle. So I know situations like these are hard, I've witnessed the foolishness first hand.
 

TropicalStarfish

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My sister deals with a somewhat similar situation. I'm sure it's quite common, which is weird. Parents using the children as a proxy for fighting out their stuff with a previous partner, or a current partner, even.

One thing I know, that I would have a difficult time with, as a parent, if I were one, is letting go. I'd find it difficult to accept, that, eventually, at some point, they would probably resent everything I'd try to instill into them, by way of my own knowledge and experience.

There's the old story of the two children, who's families, destined them to be wed, some day. So, how did they accomplish getting this arranged marriage to work out? Well, from the time the two of them had knowledge of each other, they were _forbidden_ from seeing each other or talking to each other, etc.. Eventually, as they neared their later formative years, their interest in each other, peaked, and they discovered a secret, small, hole in the wall in each of their respective castles, through which they began to talk through. This, eventually lead to plans for secret rendezvous. And that eventually lead to love. And we all know where love leads. The parents achieved their goal of the arranged marriage...

Unfortunately, I don't think I'd be that clever type of parent (or wise, perhaps). Mostly, my children would probably see me as this great person, till about the age of reason (and unreason), and quickly dart in the opposite direction at every turn, heh.

You offer your son peas and carrots, while his father offers him cake. heh. And his father may actually be a fun person, other faults aside. There isn't much fun about cleaning the cat's litter box, despite it needing to be done.

So for me, I guess, I would have to learn to accept, and let go a bit. The goal, is to raise a self-sufficient human unit, capable of taking care of itself, and ideally, being able to take care of others as well.

If I was a different kind of person, I think, I would have a different sort of sly, clever, slightly mischievous, detached, distant, aloof, interested, and keenly aware, approach.

Perhaps, you must win the battle, by becoming the more fun parent, and win the war, by also weaving a lesson(s) into that process.

side note: I'm more of a Smedley Butler kind of person.. And probably don't know the first thing about the art of, 'wu wei...' :/
disclosure: I can't take care of myself yet, in some ways, most would consider quite essential.. :/

my 2 cents.. good luck..

Being that I am not wise, or clever, however, I'd probably just default to struggling with the situation, at each instance, and striving to teach by example. And, I would learn to let go, and accept, that my son was becoming his own person, and would have to make his own mistakes, so he can learn from them. I think I would at least give it a shot, at showing my son I can be fun, too, though... heh.

Also, I don't know if I agree with trying to do things together with his dad, if, it puts you in a weaker position. I'd just wait patiently for that situation where, dad can't help, but mean old responsible mom, suddenly knows what she's talking about...

heh, anyway, take it easy Callie...
 
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TheRealCallie

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Hmmm. . . that's a tough one. I would assume you've already done this, but have you sat down with your son and pointed out how much his personality has changed in the last year or so? Obviously, you can't really put down his dad in front of him (especially if he idolizes him as that's just going to make your son defensive), but you can point out his disrespect of you and his irresponsibility with money and how it concerns you. Sounds like your son has a good head on his shoulders (or did) - I'd try and gently remind him of his hard work and the goals he's set for himself in the past and the importance of not abandoning those. With any luck, he'll rethink his priorities. And yes, good ol' teenage rebellion could be part of this too. I think all you can really do is continue being the responsible parent in the background and keep trying to gently steer him in a more acceptable direction.

As to the military program, I'd would've suggested exactly what you did - switching his unit before he quits. I think I'd still push that though and tell him he can't quit until he gives the situation his all - at least for a few months to see how it goes.
Yeah, I've done all that. I just feel like he's "done" listening to anything I say.

It's ONE weekend a month to ensure the future he wants, I don't understand why he can't just keep going with it. The pros outweigh the cons on every level.

I think I'm going to try having him do a pros and cons list with me, at the suggestion of Yeti.
 

TheRealCallie

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Yikes, this is a hard one... I just dont know. But I hope you all work it out. When I first met my fella he'd do everything to be the "fun" parent and undermine his Childs mother. He would purposefully make sure his daughter was out of routine and found it funny when his ex would have a hard time getting her to settle. So I know situations like these are hard, I've witnessed the foolishness first hand.

Yeah, he used to do that when my kids were younger. It only really impacted my oldest kid because of his issues.
 

TheRealCallie

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Being that I am not wise, or clever, however, I'd probably just default to struggling with the situation, at each instance, and striving to teach by example. And, I would learn to let go, and accept, that my son was becoming his own person, and would have to make his own mistakes, so he can learn from them. I think I would at least give it a shot, at showing my son I can be fun, though, too... heh.

You know, you claim to be not wise and not clever, but your posts are always wise and clever. You sell yourself too short, my dear, Yesm.

But, alas this is part of the problem. I'm questioning if he is his own person, or if he's starting to mimic his father. I do try to have fun with them, it's just hard when I'm so busy.
 

TheRealCallie

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As to the military program, I'd would've suggested exactly what you did - switching his unit before he quits. I think I'd still push that though and tell him he can't quit until he gives the situation his all - at least for a few months to see how it goes.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Every year you have to re-up. His year ends next month. It's not a free program.
 

TheRealCallie

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Update....

He has decided to stay in the program, with the condition that I don't expect him to go to EVERY drill weekend. I told him as long as it wasn't TOO many (they are only technically supposed to miss two in a year) and the reasons were good. I also told him that MY conditions were that he treats me with more respect and he starts acting more responsible.

I honestly don't think he really wanted to quit, I think it just takes away too much of his "fun" time. He got his physical, he was looking at summer trainings. He just did a very boring online training. I don't think he would have done all those things if he REALLY wanted to quit. The online training was free (he says that was why he did it), but it was about 7 webinars and each was 3-4 hours long. "Free" isn't going to be enough for a teenager to do it if he really wanted out.

He will likely go back to his grandfather's farm in another state to stay for a few weeks at the end of summer, between drill weekends, of course. So, I'm going to count this as a win and hope if he can do the training he wants to do, that it will make him want to stay in.
 

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