Question: My husband and I are no longer together. My son’s life is mixed between the two of us. When he is with me he tells me he is not happy because we are not together. I have explained to him in every way that I know how that his father and I are fine and that we are both better off not being together. However, he still always ends up in the same state of mind of feeling bad about our situation. What can I do or say to help him see and accept the very positive aspect of our current situation?
Answer: I totally understand your dilemma. What has occurred in your life and for your husband is good news and a positive solution to your former difficult days, and you so much want your child to understand that and feel relaxed about it.
Therefore, the message to your son lies within the concept of focus on his life. Happiness develops from the inside out. Help him remove himself from thinking about you two, what you are each doing, and what makes each of you happy. Bring him the very message he needs to hear—“Happiness is for yourself, not others. Keep your own happiness.”
Main idea: “Accept what you have and make yourself happy.”
Back to answering the original question. A family apart can be happy in a different way. Family structure is on the outside. Happiness is unstructured and emerges from the inside.
No need to work on making parents happy. Inner happiness holds the key!
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I think it is awesome your ex-husband and you are on the same page and realize your lives are better not being together as a married couple. However, you are still your son’s parents and it might be a good idea to point this out to him.
I detect that your son is still in a mourning period about the divorce. Let him know how much you appreciate his honesty and sharing how he feels with you and that your door is always open for conversation. All he needs to do is knock. Avoid trying to solve his problem. Instead give him comfort in knowing you will always have an open ear to listen to him.and then delicately guide him through his own thought process about how he can overcome his challenging issue. The trick is to help him feel empowered to resolve what is his issue. What he needs at this time in his life is guidance from his mom and dad.
Since your ex-husband and you are on the same page and have the same goals in mind for your son I feel it might be a good idea for your ex-husband and you to schedule a conversation with your son. The conversation should be about giving your son an opportunity to vent and share his feelings to his mom and dad at the same time; to reassure your son that his dad and mom are happy with this family arrangement and also help your son recognize that the divorce is not a reflection of who he is as a person.
Just like adults it is easy for a child to carry the Scarlet D letter around. Divorce is not an adjective to describe a person’s character. Divorce is a noun/verb to describe a process. Once the divorce is officially decreed by the courts the divorce no longer exists.
Help your son close the door on the divorce and continue to help him move forward with his life like you have been.
Be Free, Be Happy, Be Magnificent!
It sounds like this may be a “listening” issue. Sit down and talk to your son and find out what is really making him upset, hurt, confused, etc. We may be making assumptions that are not valid. Once you find out what his thinking is, what he’s telling himself that gets him so upset — you can better address that issue. It may encourage dialogue about boundaries, trying to change what is when we don’t like it, fears of being abandoned or losing one parent. But when we guess or assume without validation, we can often be off-target which doesn’t help your son at all.
When you do uncover the source of his pain, validate that he has a right to feel that way. Then let him know that mom and dad may feel differently and that it’s okay for us not to agree about everything in life and still love one another very deeply.
Sincere best wishes to you.
Hi Hogan and Rosalind,
Thank you both for taking the time and interest to share your expertise with this mom. She is very sensitive and thoughtful and open with her son. As child-centered as she is, I know she will continue to listen to him always and guide and support his feelings appropriately.