My husband appears to resent my son - FamilyEducation
My husband appears to resent my son
08/11/2010 at 09:46 AM

A little background: My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years. About a year after we married, he adopted my two children from my first marriage. My daughter was 9 and my son 5. We also have a son together. The kids are now 22, 18, & 12. My husband and my daughter have never had a great relationship, but they do ok. My older son has always had an outstanding relationship with my husband. They hunt, fish, do projects together. That is until the last 8 months or so. It is like my husband's attitude toward my son has shifted to resentment or jealousy - not sure which. He turned 18 4 months ago and since then it has gotten worse. He is starting his senior year in high school, he is a good kid - never gets into any trouble, has a job and is a hard worker, is an average student, and on the football team. He has expressed an interest in college and playing college ball, so for the past few summers, we have made trips to about 4 different universities so he could tour, and see what he likes. My husband says that I favor him and treat him differently from the other 2 kids because I do these things for him. I completely disagree, our daughter joined the Army right out of highschool, and despite my urging had no interest in college. She was involved in the NJROTC program in high school and I attended all of her events, trainings, field meets, awards ceremonies - 9 times out of 10, alone. Our younger son has a learning disability and ADHD, I have spent countless hours meeting with teachers, guidance counselors, therapists, helping him with homework, encouraging him - without any assistance, interest, attendance or input from my husband. I say this to say, I feel I treat all of our children equally - I adjus to fit their interest and their needs.
My husband has become very critical of my older son, nothing he does is right, He is always negative and critical and his whole demeanor seems to shift when our son walks into the room. He gets angry when our son and I talk, whether it be about school, football, girls, work - it doesn't matter - it makes him angry. He said to me last night that my face "lights up like a Christmas tree" when Mason comes in the room. I said to him that this is the case with all of our kids - I am legitimately happy to see them, spend time with them, and learn what is going on in their world. I won't apologize for loving and spending time with my kids. Our daughter is out on her own, so that time with her is gone, I have one more year before our son is off to collge and I do value that time - and I am glad he still wants to talk to Mom. My husband gets angry if I give him money for gas, or buy supplies for him to go to football camp - he feels that since he is 18, we shouldn't be paying for anything anymore. I disagree, he is still in school - I expect to still be paying when he is in college. His attitude towards our younger son is not much better, he never has a kind word to say to either of them. But the brunt of his "disapproval" is aimed at the older son. Not sure what to do, at this point I am seriously considering divorce (not just for this reason - but this is definately a driving factor), but I don't want to disrupt our sons senior year. He loves his Dad, but I know he is just as confused as I am.

Has anyone experienced anything like this with your husband/son? Any advice for how to handle this. I know my husband is reacting based on how he was raised, he always took a back seat to his older sister, and his younger brothers and when he turned 18, his family expected him to support himself. He obviously has issues, and will not go to counseling. I am running out of reasons to keep trying to make this work. I told him last night that I would never apologize for the relationships I am building with my children, and that until he steps up to be an involved parent - he doesn't get to criticize my efforts. I also told him if he doesn't approve - I don't care.

Any advice would be appreciated.

I noticed this dynamic with my sister's kids. When the boys got to be about 17 or 18 (all bio-kids of my sister and her husband), there seemed to be some sort of competition between the dad and his boys. I'm not saying it's okay, but boys/men are quite involved in hierarchy and status. We are in some sense animals, primates, and the men have to sort it out like any of the great apes. Women have different issues--like being overprotective of their offspring. It won't damage your relationship with your son for you to be more moderate in your affections toward him, and it will give him a better opportunity to have a good relationship with his dad. Boys do better when they have a good relationship with their dad. If I were you, I'd dial it back. A lot. As far as the money goes, this is a great opportunity for your boy to develop really good personal money management skills. If you have the means, put a couple a hundred dollars in a college savings account every month, and let your boy be responsible for all his expenses out of the money he earns. Perhaps you could match what HE saves for college, or double what HE saves. I know lots of families that do this. Some of them even charge the kids for car insurance. I don't know any that charge for medical insurance, but that is certainly an option.

My EX husband behaved in a similar manner toward my son, who is also a wonderful young man. During my son's senior year, my ex became increasingly more jealous toward my son. He was never very involved in anything to do with school for either of my 2 children or his own children when they lived with us, though he did have a good relationship with my son until the summer before his senior year. After graduation, my son asked to stay at home and go to a local community college because of financial constraints, which made my ex very unhappy. After a great deal of discussion, I told my ex I was sorry he did not like it, my son's future was important and should be important to him also. My ex chose to leave which was the best thing for my son and family.