Post # 1
So my ex’s mother called me last night and said “I need to talk with you. I have some news that I think you need to hear. Im going to be a grandma again. Nana and I were discussing this and we really hope Jim doesn’t exclude jack (my son).”. A little back story. I have a 13 year old son named Jack. His father and I split up when he was 5. Jim was never a great father to jack. didn’t change diapers, didn’t wake up with him etc etc. even know hes not great. He sees him on the weekends but hes just not present for him in any real way besides keeping a visitation schedule. His family knows hes not great. Him having a baby is not good news for anyone. This pregnancy was not planned. Here is our concern: he will get overwhelmed with new baby and take it out on jack. Or he will get consumed and start excluding jack. These fears are valid based off previous behaviors. Jack came home last night and told me about the new baby and I asked him how he felt about it and he said “im not happy about it. I don’t want a sibling” (which is normal kid stuff). I told him it will be ok. He seems down but ok. So I guess what im wondering is, how do I deal with this? What do I say? How to I act if our fears come true? Im really concerned for my son.
Post # 2
Unfortunately you can’t control your Ex’s behavior, so concentrate on supporting your son and helping him set boundaries to protect himself. If your Ex does turn neglectful or abusive, then your son will have the ability to stand up for himself and recognize that his dad’s behavior is not a reflection on him, but of his dad’s own issues. Help him to see that even if his dad is not there for him, he still has you and a lot of other people who love him.
Post # 3
Well, I’m not sure what you mean about “take it out on Jack”, but honestly, you and your son already know what your ex is. He isn’t going to magically change so I’m not sure why you think this is an “if” situation. And your son is 13 – he’s old enough to have already figured out his dad is a deadbeat who does the bare minimum. He’s seen it with his own eyes.
So at this point, I guess I wouldn’t tell him it will “be ok” because it will come off as disingenuous and 13 years old is old enough to realize that. In the longrun his overall life will be ok, but the short-term and his relationship with his dad likely won’t feel even remotely ok to him and you can’t guarantee it will be ok because you can’t control his dad. It likely won’t be ok because it’s not even currently ok without a new kid in the picture.
There’s no need to trashtalk the dad or give up the hope that maybe there will be a change, but there’s also no need to not be honest with a 13 year old who is likely already acutely aware of what all of this means for him and how his dad acts. He needs someone who understands his fears and validates his feelings, and is a source of stability for him despite all that. Be there for your kid and be his source of stability – don’t trashtalk dad or lead him to automatically think this will be horrible, but focus on what you can promise you can do for your kid and be there for him. Let him talk about his feelings and let him take the lead. Consult a school or child psychologist or family therapist for assistance if necessary.
(I’m in no way an expert on child psychology, but have plenty of experience with deadbeat parents. At that age, I just wanted people to be straight with me, not sugarcoat and excuse the other’s behavior, and reassure me that even if Parent 1 was going to drop the ball, Parent 2 wouldn’t.)
Post # 4
annabananabee : Well hes at a point right now where he really idolizes his father. He knows hes not truly there for him but its almost as if it doesn’t want to fully believe the negative things about him. I just don’t think hes ready to come to terms with the truth. I never bad mouth him. My son knows who is truly there for him at the end of the day. Its just going to be so hard for me to watch his heart being broken.
Post # 5
tulipbee : i know. i sow him every single day that hes loved. as does my husband. thank you for your kind words
Post # 6
Your son knows he is safe and secure with you. He’ll figure out who his father is one day. You can support and encourage him by promoting the fun side of being a big brother and sharing any silly sibling stories you may have. You already know you can’t fix your ex. If you are receiving child support from him he could use having an additional child to reduce your payments–something he may not know, so don’t bring it up, but be prepared.
Post # 7
beethree : yes ive thought about that. hes married though so i figured that wouldnt be a thing since shes not going after him for support.
Post # 8
I think pps have said all the practical and sensible things. So, I’ll just say I think when a once-beloved ex has a child with someone else, it always hurts your heart a little, though you may be long since out of love. It’s not rational but its not unusual.
Plus he was a crap father Jack and part of you maybe can’t help thinking he may be better this time round and that it so not fair! , again, not rational but ….
Post # 9
My son was born right after my daughter turned 5. I was a bit worried she would have some sibling issues. I made her a ‘5 year’ photo book of funny things she said, pictures of her, pictures of her and her family, things she was interested in, etc. I hoped it would help her cement her view of her place in the family and it did. She’s 17 now and it’s still one of her favorite things, a book all about her.
I now do 5 year books every 5 years for each of them. I keep track of what they do each year by stuff I post on Facebook.
Post # 10
anononofmybusiness : If you think his dad has and will be affecting him in a hurtful way, maybe it is a good idea to get him started on some therapy.
I think when it comes to parents the hardest part about dissapointing parents is that we grow up thinking parents are supposed to be perfect and for many that isn’t the case. A dose of realism might go a long way in helping your son understand what is happening. I was lucky enough to have parents that couldn’t have been more loving and supportive and did all the right things. I always grew up knowing they were in control, and responsible and i could call on them whenever I needed to. It was hard seeing other people did not have parents like that. Even now as an adult it is hard for me to see that my parents are people just like everyone else. People with dreams, and issues, and doubts.
I think that it might be most helpful to start slowly talking to your son about his dad, not in a negative way but in a realistic way. Treat him with respect like you would another adult. Explain to him that sometimes the world isn’t fair, and things happen that are sad. That his father is a person just like anyone else and that his father not being as there for him as you and your son would like is about his dad, not him. His dad not being there for him has nothing to do with your son, and he didn’t do anything to deserve that, but that his dad isn’t perfect and has a hard time being happy about his own life and so it is hard for him to be there for someone else (your son) when he isn’t really happy or fulfilled on his own first.
I think really explaining to your son how people can be, and that his dad’s behavior has nothing to do with him, and that it totally sucks he isn’t as on top of this being a dad thing, as other parents are, but there isn’t anything your son can do about that. Let your son know that his dad doesn’t love him any less, his dad just can’t seem to figure out how to put someone else first because his dad can only see his own issues. You both can support his dad how you can, but that you both should do your best to accept what it is that his dad has to give, and know that for whatever reason he isn’t capable of giving more. Then just make sure your son knows that you are there for him always.
My mom has an expression that i find helpful. We have relatives who are jerks, and never make rational sense about things and decisions. Whenever I would complain to her about them my mom would say, “Don’t go to the hardware store and ask for bread” What she meant was, you expecting more from that person, knowing they aren’t capable of that, is like going to the hardware store and asking for bread. Accept that person is the way they are and free yourself from trying to get more out of them than is possible. Stop going to the hardware store to ask for bread. Your sons’s father is the way he is, that is not going to change. It is best to help your son understand that about his dad so he doesn’t spend his life going to the hardware store and asking for bread and being dissapointed or sad.
Post # 11
I am a child of divorce, and although my dad did not have a child with a new wife, my relationship with my dad was very negatively affected when this new wife came into the picture.
Like your ex, my dad had also not been a great or supportive father up to that point and had also pretty much done the bare minimum (sometimes not even that), but when the new wife came into the picture that all became 100 times worse.
I was 15, so like your son, I was old enough and savvy enough to see what was going on. The thing that my mom did for me at that time which I appreciated the most was believe me when I said how bad things were. Initially, she tried to sugarcoat things for me and tell me that things were going to be alright, and I agree with a PP that this was not helpful.
The most helpful thing that my mom did was just to be there for me and let me talk about it and validate my feelings, and finally be supportive when I said I didn’t want to spend weekends at my dad’s house any more.
I think my point is – children are often very astute at sussing out a situation and very good at knowing what they need, and they just need adults to be listening and validating them. Let your son’s feelings on this guide what you do and whether or not you intervene.