My 18 year old son left to live with my soon to be ex-husband

Lisa - posted on 07/02/2016 ( 5 moms have responded )




I have two sons, 18 and 16. My 18 year old son left to live his father last week. He graduated from high school 2 weeks ago. My husband and I separated about 7 months ago so we, as a family are still dealing with all the emotions of the break-up. I am doing my best as a newly single mom to keep things as normal as possible in the house but there are still the new feelings of being overwhelmed, tending to my kids (and dogs), working a full time job, dealing with the upkeep and maintenance of our house, and now also dealing with the new financial headaches of living on one income.

My 18 year old has a learning disability (dyslexia and processing issues) so he's been in need of tutors and special learning programs pretty much his whole life. I feel that his graduating on time is a huge accomplishment for him and it didn't come easily. Lots of late nights studying and managing assignments at the kitchen table with me at his side. He was often combative and his confidence declined significantly over the course of years because of his academic struggles. I am so happy to say that with all of the struggles, arguments and pushing, he came out of this with no issues relating to drugs, alcohol or bad behaviors. He also has a pretty good set of friends. Our house was where he would bring his friends for sleepovers, movie watching, x-box playing and hangouts. I always provided a safe place for them to be...springing for pizzas, gatorades and snacks each weekend. My 16 year old son also became friends with a lot of my 18 year old's friends as well. Seriously, these teenagers are all good kids who have graduated and are going on to good schools. So here is the rub. My son, always saw me as the disciplinarian....pushing him to complete assignments, dealing with late night studies for tests and driving him to tutors and after school programs. I would also ask that he help around the house...keeping his room clean (which he rarely did), mowing the lawn, walking dogs, etc. I ask these things of my 16 year old as well. My soon to be ex would never get involved, always staying detached and aloof. He didn't help with school assignments, didn't go to teacher meetings or conferences pertaining to our son.

My husband was/is a hard worker but never got involved in family related things. He has a great job, he tended to the yard work when he lived here and he is quite handy with home renovation type things. He has a fun personality (when he's not drinking) Here is/was the problem. He drank alcohol (a lot) after work and often becoming intoxicated during the evenings. He would not join the family for meals or for school related events, would not help with sports practices multiple times each week...although he did attend the games. He was typically working in the back yard with a can of beer in his hand or sitting on the sofa with a laptop in his lap. Also, he travelled a lot for his work...since the kids were born really so this left me to managing everything in his absence anyway. I became accustomed to this lifestyle. It wasn't easy. It wasn't how I envisioned my "married" life to be but these were the cards that I was dealt. Hence, the dissolution of our marriage. And to be honest, I never felt that my husband was cheating on me or anything like that. He was just not engaged with his family when he "was" home. He drank/drinks too much. He had/has a quick temper too. When he left in December, it was the last straw for me so I just told him to stay out this time. He's left on many other occasions in the past (and I always let him come home) because I just couldn't bring myself to be a part of a family "breakup". I finally realized this past December that the kids were having to deal with the dysfunction of his leaving and returning and it just wasn't "normal". I finally said no more. So my husband and I are legally separated, according to our states laws, and will be for one year. Then the divorce takes place. He rented a one bedroom apartment 2 miles down the road. One bedroom...not two or three. My kids go there every other weekend, staying on Saturday nights and then returning home early Sunday afternoon. This was my husband's idea, one night every other weekend. My youngest boy doesn't like it over there because, quite frankly, the one bedroom is small. My husband gives him his bedroom and the bed when my youngest is there. My 18 year old sleeps on the couch..and my husband sleeps on the floor. This arrangement doesn't sit well with me and I've told my husband to figure out a better solution. It's been 7 months and he is still in the one bedroom apartment.

Now my oldest has left and here are the main reason why. I gave him goals for the summer because quite frankly he had none. Goal #1 was to get a part time job. Goal #2 was to get his driver's license. Goal #3 was to take entry tests for a local community college (his grades were not good enough to get him into a better college). He was sleeping until 1:30 p.m. each day on the sofa in the recreation room downstairs. He would slide off the sofa, then move to the chair in front of the x-box. This is where he would spend his days until he either went out with his friends or went to sleep (generally after midnight). This pattern was unacceptable to me..especially when I was getting up early for work and then coming home to dealing with house and kid related stuff. Sports practices for my 16 year old, house cleaning/cooking and dog walking. It was frustrating to say the least. My 16 year old was/is helping but there was always a fight with my 18 year old. He was using the "dad" card on me al the time. If I didn't lighten up on him, he was moving in with dad.

So now, he is living over there, sleeping on the couch. Our relationship has always been strained. I was always the one pushing him, holding his feet to the fire on his responsibilities at school and at home. Looking back, I probably could have been easier on him. There was never any abuse. Just a lot of upset and anger over the years. Dealing with a learning disabled child who is a reluctant learner is overwhelming, difficult and mentally exhausting and I know that I lost my temper more times than I can count. I never had my husband's back. I was always the one pushing. Sometimes I think I should have just left my 18 year old alone. Our relationship has suffered as a result of my pushing. Our relationship is fractured.

My 16 year old gets it and I actually feel the most sorry for him. He's a solid student, involved in numerous high school sports activities. He's the quiet, unassuming boy who is genuinely liked by everyone (which made this especially hard on my 18 year old). The dynamics there is a whole different story. Too long to get into.

Anyway, so now I have my 18 year old with my soon to be ex. He is sleeping on the couch. He won't answer my calls or my texts and my husband will not intervene. He sees this as a "win" on his part. He says that it won't be long until my 16 year old leaves me too. I am trying to stay positive with my 16 year old. I don't speak poorly about my husband but my youngest has walked in on me crying...but I try to stay positive. I try to keep to the regular routines.

I'm doing my best here and I have to say that this is a really difficult situation for me. My youngest feels left out too. His brother isn't communicating with him either. I know that time may fix this...but for now, I am having a hard time absorbing this new family arrangement.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. This became a longer conversation than I had intended. It felt good to put it into writing though.


Ev - posted on 07/02/2016




As I see it, you did what you had to do as a parent since dad did not step up and help. so your older son is going to see you as the harder parent. He is also an adult legally now and can live where he wants or do what he wants. If he wants to live in your home make a contract where you set out the rules like he has to work, help out, contribute rent etc to the running of the house, and so on, and if he does not like it he can go on is way or move out. As it is, you have done all you can. I am sure in time he will come around and see what you actually did for him. Dad's house looks better because he does not have to do anything he does not want to and can do what he wants. Dad may turn around in a short time and tell him he needs to go to work and contribute to the household. I understand your hurt but at the same time you have done all you can for the older boy. Time to concentrate on the younger one.

Dove - posted on 07/02/2016




I'm sorry you are hurting. I'm not sure what else to say other than to give your 18 year old the space he is clearly asking for. Maybe make some special 'dates' for you and the 16 year old to ease the pain for both of you (a bit of distraction while watching a movie or something) and continue your bond w/ him.


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Lisa - posted on 07/03/2016




Ugh. I know this true. My head tells me so. My heart, not so much. It's so difficult watching my family fall apart. My boys are everything to me. Twenty years of marriage, raising my kids, working to help provide financially, managing things while my husband built his career. I thought I was doing all the right things. This is the time when all the hard work over the years should be paying off. Now it's all falling apart. I know that I have to let my son make his own decisions but I hate that he is so easily swayed by his father. The apartment size does bother me. One bedroom to accommodate three people, two of them being teenagers. They need their space. I feel like there should be a law prohibiting that...but maybe I'm wrong. My husband gets upset with me when my youngest doesn't want to go there. It's simply the lack of space that my son hates. He likes spending time with his dad but he hates the cramped living quarters. My husband makes a very nice salary so money is not the issue. When my husband left, he thought of himself only. He never once thought of overnight visits with the kids. He was thinking only about his new single life. Our kids were an afterthought. He jumped right into a one year lease in a new swanky apartment complex up the street. Now my husband wants to come home (because his "single" life isn't turning out to be as much fun as he thought it would be). I am having such a difficult time with all of this. My brain hurts from thinking about all of this...all the time. There is no fix to any of it. I'm used to being able to fix things, finding solutions. No fix here other than to wait.

Michelle - posted on 07/02/2016




I agree with the other ladies, you haven't done anything wrong, you have been a parent to him when his Father wasn't.
He's an adult now and can decide where he wants to live. Give him his space and let him decide if rules are better than no rules.
You also can't control what happens at the other parent's house. You can't tell him to get a bigger place. I know it's hard to step back after so long together but you have to.

Lisa - posted on 07/02/2016




Thanks for responding to my oh so long post. I will give my son his space but it does hurt. I've been there for him all these years and now he is turning to the one person who never made time for him. There is a part of me that wishes to turn things back to the way they were. Me suffering is one thing. My kids suffering is whole different thing. Thank you again and I will continue to keep strong my bond with my younger son.

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