Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dad without a Clue

Some of you know that a consistent theme in my life is guilt, particularly for my role in the end of my first marriage and the divorce’s effect on my son. A commenter on the blog suggested I talk to my son about things. Maybe it would help us both.

I mostly agree. Usually, talking about things is much healthier than leaving things to fester below the surface unexamined. When I had the chance to talk with my son, though, I didn’t. I chickened out.

One of my thoughts was that perhaps he’s in a comfortable place of denial for a 12-year-old, and he isn’t ready to talk about the end of his parents’ marriage. Could I possibly be opening up a wound he doesn’t need disturbed right now?

Another reason I bailed is that I don’t like the awful feelings I get when I think about the things my son has gone through because of my choices in life. Talking to him might bring those feelings to the surface.

Also, I have never seen my son become angry toward his mother or me because of the divorce. Am I afraid of that just as I am afraid of his sorrow? He doesn’t know many of the details, and some of them he never needs to know, but he could still be angry at us simply for breaking up his world.

But then...

Maybe talking about this is exactly what he needs to do. Maybe that would make all the difference in the world for him right now. How do I know?

Sometimes I feel like a first-class jerk. Sometimes I am.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not, when you talk to him, make it about yourself and not about what he might be feeling or felt about that situation?

I am not suggesting that you use your son as a way to get rid of your guilt...but even if you said (if you haven't already) something like, "hey, I just want you to know that I've never really expressed to you how sorry I am about things I did." Or you could at least let him know that YOU are worried or wondering what kind of impact the divorce had on him and hope he can talk to you about it if he needs to.

but maybe you aren't ready for that...?

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said: "Sometimes I feel like a first-class jerk. Sometimes I am.

On second thought, maybe there is more a need for you to stop beating yourself up about it, heal your own wounds before letting your son in...?

Just a few thoughts. Hope it doesn't sound disrespectful.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...


1) I'm NOT sure I'm ready to talk with my son.

2) I don't think I beat myself up, really. I try to keep the past in proper perspective by using it to help me be a better human being in the present.

3) None of it sounds disrespectful. Besides, if I didn't want the opinions of others, I wouldn't post this stuff.

Thanks for commenting. :)

4:02 PM  
Blogger Sizzle said...

maybe you are a jerk because we all are, sometimes. parenting is the most difficult role we will ever have and part of how you do it is you fuck it up sometimes, right? i don't have kids but i've worked with a lot of pretty messed up kids in my job and most of the time they aren't going to be the first one to bring up their "feelings."

i think the thing to do, when you are ready, is to show your son by actions and words, that you are available to talk. you'll know when that time is. just trust yourself.

5:38 PM  
Blogger little e said...

You should read "the unexpected legacy of divorce". I am a child of divorce, (19 when my parents split up) and that book helped me so much identify with other "children" that felt the same way I did, went through the same things I did. I would suggest you first reading it, then decide if your son is old enough to read it/understand it.

10:08 PM  
Blogger AnswerGirl said...

Talking's always good, you just need to be clear on your motives before you start the conversation. It is not his responsibility in any way to help you feel better; it is your responsibility to teach him what it means to be a good man, even if you make mistakes.

Every apology has two portions: "I'm sorry," and "Forgive me." They're not the same thing. At 12, he might be ready to hear one part, but not the other.

4:04 PM  
Blogger speedwobble said...

My parents divorced when I was 5 - over 25 years ago. My mom has been worrying ever since, and fussing about how her choices impacted my sister and I.

My dad shocked me this year by saying he also worried about it.

Honestly, if my parents had stayed together, they probably would have killed each other, and it would NOT have been a healthy environment for us kids. Looking back now, I am glad they divorced, for everyone's sake.

Don't what-if it to death. I haven't read back far in your blog, but I'm guessing you made the best decision you could, given the circumstances. If your boy doesn't really get that right now, he probably will understand someday.

5:16 AM  

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