Dear: Parenting 911 :
Last year around Christmas we lost my Father in law. He was a very sweet and genuine man. My husband Jason does not have the fondest memories of his father, but my son Seth does. Walter was an awesome Grandpa. He was funny, goofy, and the ever reigning practical joke- King. I met Walter only a month before Jason and I got married. For most of our dating relationship I never even knew he existed. I was aware that Jason’s mother left Walter when Jason was very young. From what I’ve been told: she was a bit loony: however Walter insists that she was suffering from some mental illness associated with Jason’s birth. He also has implied on several occasions: that she was unhappy for several years after Walter returned from war. Jason believes his father was abusive, not to him but her.
I don’t know what to believe.I just know I have a son, who is heartbroken. A father in law who is hated, loved, and missed: and a husband who does not deal with any of it.
My son Seth started school this year. Last week he learned all about Memorial day, and what it means. He was taught that it is a day we show an extra bit of gratitude and thanks to our Veterans. Seth knows his Grandpa was in a war: and now wants to celebrate his life, and heroism. Jason refuses to acknowledge his father as anything but a bad memory….
I don’t care just fill-er-up
First, congratulations on seeing where this could impact the sweet little sponge: that is your 5 year old son. That age is so full of impact having, and defining moments. Seth is trying to first figure out his spot on the family tree. Who to mimic, who to ignore, as well as who to love. As a parent and much like Walter, you LOVE unconditionally. If I had to guess: I would say it is very likely that you we’re loved unconditionally as well. Jason see’s parenting, and the bond there-in as “conditional”….. Jason see’s parenting, as a choice he makes everyday to participate in Seth’s life. In both you and Jason’s life someone, or several someones,impacted your life: your way of thinking, the way YOU would describe parenting.
Jason’s jaded view is not necessarily wrong ( for him ). He is allowed to feel that way, he is allowed to hurt, and even to be angry. However what he is NOT allowed to do: is apply those feelings to his way of parenting. That is not only bad for Seth, but as you are feeling right now- bad for your PARENTAL UNIT, and relationship. My advice for dealing with Jason……..HAVE A SERIOUS TALK.
Guidelines to said discussion:
A) Do not be threatening, judgmental, or brash. Remember: He is not wrong for his feelings. He is however accountable for how he exhibits them.
B) Ask him what he thinks is the truth about his mother’s absence. Why did she leave?, If he can’t / won’t tell you, perhaps he needs to visit the idea of talking to someone professionally. Cognitive therapy is a structured way of dealing with things that you could not and should not personally take on- or attempt to advise on.
C) Explain your feelings to him, give him a chance to react like a grown up, and parent.
D) Continue to be his loving wife but…..BE A MOTHER FIRST. Always put what’s best for Seth ahead of what’s easier, what’s nice, and what’s best for the husband. A mother that puts herself or partner first is NEVER happy and often loses both in the long run. A partner can be talked to, helped to see right from wrong, and comprehend things in a way a child can not. We can’t always fix the damage we cause to our children……Your husband is proof……
( “Editor’s note” When saying “Be a mother first”, it is not because I, or anyone else would think you would not: because in all fairness your first inclination in the face of such a problem was to seek advice. That is the stuff GREAT moms are made of…)
ON TO THE BOY………
What an exciting time, when they start growing up, and realizing all the things that make the world go round, and all the people to thank for why it still does. Seth is absorbing his surroundings with intensity and the hunger to learn every day.
What he learns is obviously very important. Since as parents you are his First roll model’s, it is imperative to be good ones. Our actions are our children’s first ideas about how to think, act, love, hate, and be.
Regardless of how “Jason” feels about Walter, Memorial day is much more than one man. We as American’s are lucky enough to have a long list- including a whole wall and so many more tributes to our veterans and fallen soldiers. We are lucky to have veterans and fallen soldiers at all. Show Seth some pictures via the internet, or in person if you can. Showing him a great respect for lives given, people wounded, and battles fought with courage, and honor: is a great way to help him participate in the holiday while honoring, and paying respect to a man he loved.
I believe even your husband can’t argue with the the meaning of the day. I’m sure there are a few things he could find a way to participate in himself.
Memorial day is a wonderful chance to show Seth the blessings of giving back.
Or find other programs in which to volunteer.
If his Grandfather’s grave is not too far away, or if maybe he was laid to rest in a cemetery specifically for war veterans- perhaps paying a visit with fresh flowers or a special flag with Seth would be a nice outing.
Hope some of it helps and maybe through the years, Jason will come around to. Happy Memorial Day !!!
— Sincerely, Parenting 911