Stubborn Son

24 Feb

Dear LetterBalm: I’ve been divorced for almost seven years and have four children. My youngest is 12 and my oldest is 24. Four years ago, my now 17-year-old son “Angus” was getting into trouble at school. I was at the end of my rope. I called on his godfather, someone who used to be a good friend of my ex-husband but whom we had not seen in years. Over time, he became a real mentor to Angus and a strong role model for all my kids, so much so that they’re closer to him than to their father. Two years ago, he and I began a relationship that continues to this day. We are deeply committed to each other and hope to be married next year. The problem is that Angus is very angry and has turned his back on his godfather. He accuses us of disloyalty to his dad (who he doesn’t see) and won’t be in the same room with us if we’re together. He’s obnoxious and no one can talk to him. My boyfriend and I are forced to map our schedule around Angus. What to do?

–Pulled Apart

Oh, for heaven’s sake. You have a spoiled brat who, at 17, should know better. Angus is acting like a child, and you need have no concern about hurting his feelings or changing your routine in any way to accommodate this silly, selfish behavior. What do his siblings say? Can you enlist their help? Presumably, your 24-year-old has some sway over his or her younger brother. Ms. L.B. says you need to make it clear to Angus that things will change, and he will no longer rule the household. Sit down alone with your son and talk with him straight from the shoulder:

Angus, sit and listen. I’ll be brief. In another year, you’ll be in college or looking for work. You’re 17 and a senior in high school, but you’re acting like a spoiled brat. We’ve all had to endure the breakup of your father and me, and I understand that you might still be upset about this. But life has moved on, and you refuse to acknowledge the good that Henry has done for you, your siblings and this family. He and I love each other and, starting now, we will not change our routine because you’re being bratty and rude. Henry and I are a fact of life. Deal with it. It’s too bad you’re so wrapped up in your selfishness that you’re missing out on a lot of good times and happiness. You’ll wind up all alone in this family, which would be tragic because we all love you.

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