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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Son of Divorced Parents Caught in the Middle

Written by  Marc Garson MSW, ACSW, ACP

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I want to live with my dad and his new family in the new house he bought them. I feel left out of his life, but also responsible for my mother, because my dad is always doing things to hurt her. I will have no place to live if I don't stand by her. The problem is, I don't like her or love her; I just pity her. I want him to stop hurting her, so I can go and live with him and have fun and a good time, not always hearing all the problems she has with where to live and all the bills she has to pay. What can I do?

- Responsible for Mom


Dear Responsible for Mom,

It sounds like you've got some serious issues "on your shoulders" these days. It's probably difficult sometimes to even concentrate on school, dating, etc. I'll bet you even play peacemaker sometimes - good practice for a career with the U.N., huh?

The capacity to pity, or to empathize with someone else's pain or suffering is a great human trait. But just like anything - we can let ourselves get "sucked into some sort of black hole" where we start to lose ourselves, by "over - caring" for the one/s we are "pitying".

Clearly, I hardly know any of the details of your situation with your Mom, but from what you've said it sounds like you might have "crossed that line" that divides healthy caring / pity from unhealthy caring / pity.

I'd even venture to guess that it's only in the last couple of years that you started "pitying" her instead of "loving" her, true?

Do you know why? Well, one reason is that when we start "taking care" of someone, while at the same time we're not really feeling so good about the "job or role" that we've taken on, we'll often times find ourselves coming to resent this same person very much.

Sometimes we'll start to become easily annoyed by them, and even find ourselves seriously disrespecting them. It's kind of a variation on that old phrase "proximity breeds contempt" (translate - "when you're too close to someone for too long - you start to focus on all their faults".)

What are you really worried about, if you were to "leave" your Mom's house?

Let's turn things around here a little - let's say that you're the Dad, and your 16- year-old son really doesn't like living with you - and you find out, that he's "just doing it out of pity". What will you do - how will you feel?

At first, you'd probably be pretty hurt and depressed. But after you think about it for a while, you begin to think about your kid - and you really want him to be happy - you know as his Dad, that this comes first.

Sure if he wants to live with his Mom, heck, you could live with it, right? Is your "ego / self esteem" that "shaky" that you'd fall apart? Probably not! Well, I'd say the same is probably true about your Mom. You do not have to protect her, at your own expense, unless you really want to. You ask her if you are "duty bound" to stay, and how she'd feel if...?

What do you think is the worst thing that could happen as a result? Now, having said all-of-the above, let me twist your head a little in the other direction. Are you being "brainwashed" against your Mom, by your Dad?

You wouldn't be the first one...where the dad turns into "Daddy Feelgood" - life is just rosy with him - no problems, no hassles, no worries. Shoot, he's a guy, he understands what its like!!! Right? And meanwhile, he's becoming "popular" with you at the expense of your relationship with your mother.

I'd certainly recommend checking it out a little further before you make such a "big" move!

Have you gone to speak with a professional? Maybe the counselor at school, or a coach, or a youth group counselor - or a teacher that you really respect. Somebody who could give you an unbiased, maybe even professional, opinion or perspective.

That's what I'd recommend. Good luck!

See Crisis Center / Divorce


Marc H. Garson

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 13:06
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Marc Garson MSW, ACSW, ACP

Marc Garson MSW, ACSW, ACP

Marc Garson has a BA in psychology from the University of Texas in Austin, a MasterSs of Social Work (MSW) from Yeshiva University in New York City, and a Master of Science in Business Management from Boston University. He has been a practicing clinical psychotherapist since 1986. He is a licensed clinical social worker and advanced clinical practitioner in the State of Texas, and a longstanding member of the National Association of Social Workers. His clinical specialties include marriage and family, adolescence, parenting, and family therapies. He also has an extensive background in chemical dependency and codependence treatment. Marc is married and the father of three beautiful little girls: Daniella age 7, Ariella age 6, & Miera age 3. Marc's special interests and hobbies include football, rock and jazz music, boating, weightlifting, chess, philosophy, and business. He loves to travel, and is something of a gourmet chef.

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