D ear Amy: My 19-year-old son has grown very distant.
I got divorced when he was 14. Afterward our relationship was the best I could manage, considering a parenting schedule of every other Sunday. Prior to the divorce, we were very close and spent a lot of time together (including my coaching of his multiple sports activities).
I attended all important events and spent as much time as possible with him. It was not as close a relationship as I would have liked, but it was functional.
Since his high school graduation night two years ago, I have not had any communication from him. All texts, phone calls and emails go unanswered.
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Although I still have a functional relationship with my older son (we share dinners and talk about his life, school and his plans after college), the only information about my youngest comes through his mother (and yes, she has addressed the issue with him, unsuccessfully). He is now a five-hour drive away at college.
I have been consistent in my messages, asking to get together and telling him I’m here for him and always will be.
My greatest fear now is that we will grow further apart, and I will miss out on his life experiences.
What else can I do?
— Heartbroken Dad
Dear Heartbroken: Young men your son’s age are somewhat notorious for communicating badly with their parents, but I agree that this is extreme. You two seem to have a lot of rebuilding to do.
I suggest you communicate with your ex and see if you can arrange for you and your older son to pick up your younger son from college at the end of the semester. Packing the car and taking a road trip together would be an opportunity for you to share an experience and reconnect. Don’t push too hard, but don’t give up on him.
Dear Amy: Two brothers (in their late 60s) went on a hunting trip with friends. One of the brothers, “Steve,” is my fiance of 10 years (there are insurance reasons for not marrying).
Prior to the trip, Steve assured me there would be no strip club visits.
I found out much later (by accident from someone else) that there was a visit to a strip club and that my fiance’s brother “Randy” had a lap dance – and because it was not in the U.S., you get more than a “dance,” if you know what I mean.
I am more than angry and disgusted by this behavior. This has had a big impact on trust and sex for me.
I also look at Randy with disgust and feel that his wife of 50 years should know about this.
I am sure it would affect family functions if I told her. Maybe it is none of my business, but I feel (woman-to-woman) that it IS my business, and if it were me I would want to know. She could be infected by an STD.
Dear Furious: My opinion is that you should stick to your own knitting. You seem to gloss over your guy “Steve’s” betrayal of your trust and focus on his brother, who presumably didn’t promise that he wouldn’t visit a strip club.
He and his wife may have a different understanding than you and your fiance have. Because you don’t know for sure what took place (as it is, you learned of this second-hand), you should focus on the impact of this on your own household.
Dear Amy: I agree with you that “Wondering,” the 42-year-old woman suffering from “ennui,” is probably having a “midlife crisis,” similar to my own at about the same age.
I did two things that worked for me during my crisis: I bought a small, relatively inexpensive sports car. I also became active in volunteering for a few nonprofit organizations. My crisis was solved, and I still volunteer whenever I can, 25 years after my crisis first hit, and my retired husband and I still love my little car!
— No Crisis Here
Dear No: These transitional periods affect both women and men. I like your solutions.