Wedding Woes

Talk to your husband and let him take the lead.

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have worked hard to maintain a good relationship with his ex-wife, with whom we co-parent two kids—one who’s out of the house, and one who is a rising junior in high school. The ex-wife announced her most recent engagement this weekend on Facebook, to a man she’s known less than six months. Her last engagement ended a year ago, and she got engaged to that man less than a year after her second divorce. It is obviously not my place to weigh in with my thoughts here, but I do have concerns about the effects on the shared kid still in the house. How do I open the door for him to talk to us about his concerns and feelings here without making it seem like I am judging his mom for her relationship decisions? He doesn’t typically talk about his feelings much. Should I just leave it alone and hope he’ll bring it up if he wants to talk?

—Trying Not to Judge

Re: Talk to your husband and let him take the lead.

  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Jr high is an impressional age.  I know someone who goes in and out of relationships that all pretty much end in broken engagements and I always feel for her 14 year old daughter when my friend posts about yet another engagement that’s off.  She had three in the last three years! Every single one of them was “the one”.  But enough about my friend - I would actually open up the topic to step son.  At last ask him how he feels about it?

  • Definitely a time to mention but maybe have the dad talk to him but be available if stepson has questions also - like involved in the convo but not? More like the 3 of them sitting together but stepson and dad are the ones talking, just so LW is there as a unit and opens the option for him to ask LW if the dad isn't around.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'm confused by the wording. Is she trying to talk to her 17 year old step son, or her husband? Because talk to your husband, woman. The father should be talking to his own kids about this. 
  • I think it’s good LW recognizes this can be hard for the stepson, but this should be something LW talks to her husband about, and let her husband decide how to handle it (if at all). 
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited August 2019
    I'm confused by the wording. Is she trying to talk to her 17 year old step son, or her husband? Because talk to your husband, woman. The father should be talking to his own kids about this. 
    She's thinking she should talk to her stepson about his mom and her penchant for getting engaged to men LW feels his mom doesn't 'really know'.  All. The. Nopes. 

    First of all, he may truly not be fazed by his mom's dating life.  Depending on how involved she allows these men to get with him, he may just look at it as her 'other life'.  Especially if she's still present and involved in his life.  If he's close to leaving the 'nest', how much is he home between school, friends, work, sports, his own life, etc?

    But secondly, there is NO WAY that she can talk to him and be even a hint of critical of his mom without it just not being a good look.  Even though I have never met the kiddo's mom, have my opinions of her, have had some resentful feelings toward her for a frillion reasons, etc., I have never ONCE criticized her to him.  Even if he's asked me questions about her.  

    So, I agree that she can sit in on the conversation.  It has to come from her H and LW has to be Switzerland to her stepson. 
  • Why does LW think it is her place to talk to her stepson about his mom's relationships?  She needs to let her husband know that he may want to talk to his son about it and then mind her own business.  If the 16-17 year old stepson isn't displaying any indicators that he is struggling with mom's decisions, she needs to keep her nose out of it. 

  • @CharmedPam, a small correction for ya.  The stepson isn't in jr. high.  He is a junior in high school, ie 16ish.

    I realize family dynamics can be different.  But I'd hope the father (NOT the LW) could "open the door" if the son wants to discuss, without it coming off as criticizing the ex or trying to pry into her relationship.  Like the father saying, "Hey, I saw your mom just got engaged.  How are you feeling about that?"
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  • ei34ei34 member
    Tenth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I get some judgement from the LW.  She could've left out the reason for her concern and just said she was worried about her stepson.  Agree with PP that she should speak to her H, who could discuss with his son. 

    I work with teens, and I've counseled many who wouldn't be bothered by their mom getting engaged often.  Or, maybe a bit, but wouldn't care as much as how many followers they have on TikTok or that the corner store doesn't sell their favorite Juul pod flavor anymore.  Generally speaking, if kids' parents are loving, treat them with respect, etc., today's teens overlook things they may bother other adults.  They're a pretty relaxed, non-judgemental age group, which is refreshing.  LW hasn't given us the family dynamics (who knows, maybe she's closer to the stepson than her H) but I'd let this be a father-son convo.  The only advice I can give LW as far as opening the door for him to talk to them about concerns/feelings is to be open-minded, fair, and thoughtful in every day life...maybe he won't talk to you about this but about something else? 
  • Not LW's job...  The kid is a Junior in HS, they're old enough to figure this stuff out on their own and the only job of LW is to demonstrate stability and know when to keep their mouth shut!
  • LW can be judgy on her own time.   You aren't going to endear the child to you in the long term if the goal is to not be approachable but instead to launch a smear campaign against his mother where you listen to him complain and gossip about her under the guise of "parental therapy".   

    This situation is for the father to make a comment on and even then it's not for him to share his opinion unless her decisions now involve the son.

    LW is free to say, "If there's anything on your mind you can always come to your father or me," but it would be highly inappropriate to start a conversation that's clearly designed to tell her step son that she thinks his mother has shit decision making skills.  
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