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Advice about a 10-year-old boy
#1
I'm thinking of doing something I've never done before and I really need to think this through and of all the angles before I proceed (this is new territory for me), so here goes:

Very short & sweet, my partner was married for a few years and had 2 children by the man. She was planning on divorcing him when he died in a car wreck. While upset over his passing, neither she nor her daughter recall him that fondly (and both think he was manipulative, controlling, and hypocritical who thought nothing of breaking his promises) but his son, Brandon, who was 5 when his father died, remembers him fondly and gets upset when the others say bad things about his dad (he kinda reminds me of Harry Potter that way...). But their mom, after some argument with her husband's family over the funeral (I don't recall the details but they basically made unreasonable demands), cut ties with them after. As they live hundreds of miles away and have plenty of other children (and grandchildren) they didn't push the matter.

I came into their lives 2 years later. Brandon turned 10 this month. He still looks up to his dad and even has dreams about him. So I was thinking, maybe Brandon would benefit from meeting his father's family.

Of course I worry as it sounds (from my partner) that the family isn't all that nice (sounds like the father learned his unappreciated traits from them). Furthermore, there was trouble because they refused a church wedding, and given that he came from a large family that also suggests they're conservative Christians. Needless to say if that's the case then they wouldn't care for say any grandchildren or niece & nephew essentially being raised by 2 mommies and could cause problems (especially now as antigay feelings are running high among religious conservatives). Even if they seem ok to me they might somehow disillusion Brandon about his dad (as Brandon has a pretty heroic image of him right now from a small child's imagination and perhaps his dad treated him better for being a boy, IDK) but might make him feel worse about himself in the process (especially if they say they're not interested in meeting him). Obviously, Brandon doesn't need that, and this is all about making him feel better, not worse, so I'd meet the family first before I even asked Brandon if he'd like to meet them.

But to contact the family, I'd have to ask my partner (there's no way in hell I'd go behind her back on this), and I know already she's going to hate the idea. If I give a good, well-thought out reason for it, however, I think she'd be ok with it (maybe). What do you think?

And I also wonder if I shouldn't wait until Brandon is older before I even try. Part of me believes he needs to know his father (if only through his father's family) sooner rather than later and that this can be a very positive experience for him. OTOH, if it went bad it could be too much drama, conflict, and disillusion & disappointment when he's only 10. Plus, it's an election year and too many people are crazy right now (especially fundies), so maybe putting it off for a year at least might be best.

I don't want to deprive Brandon of something he needs, but at the same time I don't want to do something that makes things worse instead of better, either. Nor do I want to piss off my partner. (She's Brandon's mom, but she does leave taking care of the children mostly to me and she's signed papers that make me the legal guardian if anything happens to her so I can be considered to have a parental role here and thus not overstepping my bounds, IMO.) Any advice from anyone who has been somewhere similar as an adult or child (or knows someone who has been) would be greatly appreciated by me.

And alternately, how can I get Brandon to believe in himself so that the memory of his dad doesn't matter? I don't understand why some people need to feel good about their parents to feel good about themselves, but some are wired that way and Brandon seems to be one of them. If anyone has any advice on that I'd gladly take your words in consideration on this as well. (And before anyone asks, he has a good if distant adult male role model, as well as having plenty of friends his own gender.)

Thanks. Confusedmile:
#2
Pix Wrote:... I don't want to deprive Brandon of something he needs ...
a lot of text in your post but the consensus i got reading it was no in there was there a specific need for the child to see his father's family.

someday you will be showing him pictures of his dad as a child and then he might as about things. The dad's parents might have more photos of his dad. I am sure it will some how happen sooner or later. I would talk it over with your partner and be ready for it. if he asks to see them you two are mostly committed to doing it.

-if the family is as bad as you say, wait till the child is older and less influenced.
-incorporate the fathers family into the decision
-about 10-13 the child will start his teen years. get a handle on that first.


Pix Wrote:And alternately[/U], how can I get Brandon to believe in himself so that the memory of his dad doesn't matter? I don't understand why some people need to feel good about their parents to feel good about themselves, but some are wired that way and Brandon seems to be one of them. If anyone has any advice on that I'd gladly take your words in consideration on this as well. (And before anyone asks, he has a good if distant adult male role model, as well as having plenty of friends his own gender.)
Self love is a critical issue for everyone.
parenting is not a god given skill. It is difficult to raise a child and often the answer is out side your self and you need a solution now. Do some research, a lot is know about how the boy might feel after the loss. If possibly that was not address early on now better than latter it should be addressed. Select a counselor (if you have the funds) that uses methods you guys approve of.
#3
Pix, I agree that you can't do anything behind your partner's back and she may find it hard to let her son meet his father's family. I think while you may be right to express your views to her about your idea for Brandon to meet that family, you may also have to support her decision not to let him. For the moment you don't KNOW that she won't find it an interesting idea or notion, do you?
Has the child expressed a wish to meet his father's family, by the way? When he does, make sure he understands that his father's family may well not understand or be tolerant of the arrangement that you and your partner (his mother) have.
#4
First, i agree, do not go against your partner's wishes on this. She knows her family better than you do, trust her judgement.

Second, Brandon is young, at that age self confidence is built by accomplishments, even small ones. Give him tasks he can do and set him up for repeated success at different types of tasks. Try to chose things you know he actually can do better than you and, tell him that he did it better than you ever could. It makes kids feel good to know they are as good or better at something than the adults they look up to.

As he grows up, so too will his confidence grow as long as he is in a supportive, nurturing environment with plenty of opportunities to learn do and succeed at new things.
#5
Pix I agree nothing should be done behind your partners back.

I am a bit concerned regarding the mans family , if the man did pick up the behaviour from them, they might try to also manipulate the child , and that really scares me.

If out of spite due to the bad blood ,they build his father up to be a saint the child will believe it because he needs to believe it.
That will cause all sorts of trouble for your family life ,especially with his sister and mother.

Tread carefully with this one.
#6
I agree with Blue. Less focus on the family system psychodynamics and more emphasis on here-and-now accomplishment. Learning to focus on now with real goals, rewards and successes without rewards is a very effective counter-balance to family discord and dysfunction. Working at this for his sake will encourage the adults to do the same for themselves as well (I certainly hope) because this is the stuff of memories that effectively give healthy perspective on the OLD memories that are/were painful. Moving forward in this fashion may allow him to come to his own increased understanding and any insistence on inquiring/knowing the paternal family should be directed straight to the mother IMHO.

Pix I love how thoughtful and articulate you are. Very keen observations and such a sweet and gentle admiration for family ties. That kid is lucky. Smile
Heart  Life's too short to miss an opportunity to show your love and affection!  Heart
#7
Hmm.

Without taking out the crystal ball and peeking, I would have to guess that that should be his choice, not yours nor his moms.

Which choice? To meet with the father's family.

I don't think he is quite old enough just yet to make an adult choice, or an informed choice. Age 13 may actually be better to present him with this option of meeting his dad's folks.

Then for the next three years you can slowly reveal to him the dirty side of religious-ism and the more distasteful way people view such situations as having two mommys or two daddys. Of course you want to do this nicely, and in an informed, quiet tone of voice without influencing him with your own personal emotional take on the matter.

Sounds hard? You betcha. This is going to be a learning experience for all involved.

Right now he most likely is learning from school - what he is learning from his peers can be anyone's guess, I suspect not much good will come of it.

This is actually not a thing one would do spur of the moment, and definitely as a cohesive family team. Meaning you, your partner and the older siblings may actually all play a role at preparing for the day you ask him if he wants to me his father's folks.

That preparation will not be easy. Both (all) of you are going to have to work real hard to present facts, not emotions when it comes to the family, the father and the situation. It can be real difficult to separate how we feel about a person and how that person really is/was. Its also going to be harder since there is this conservative/religious aspect. Yes the nature of those two beasts do play a role, but can you separate hard fact out of how the ideas they spread make you feel?

Yes, definitely, someday he should actually meet the parents and other folks who were part of his father's life to get a better understanding of who this dad person was anyway. No, he will never really know the truth, and yes most likely the grandparents and others have glossed over the ugly and have polished up the image of the deceased. We all pretty much do that with dead people - its human nature.

So if you are expecting this son of yours to have any real idea of who or what his father was, I can only say don't hold your breath. There will never be any real understanding, and I fear that getting the real truth, unblemished free of the opinions and feelings of the person who knew this man is never going to happen. He will get a better idea, but I doubt that that will influence his opinion of his sainted father. Sainted not by the father's deeds, but by the mind of a boy who grew up without his dad.

Now don't shoot me, I really don't know how a two mommy or two daddy parent system works, so if my question sounds weird or annoying, understand it is asked through ignorance.

Who in your relationship is 'dad'? - Can either of you fulfill the 'positive male role model' of a dad? If not, is there a dad surrogate where he can turn to with 'boy problems' and get advice about what its like to have a penis between the legs?

Now I know this may appear like I'm feeding into the whole 'Man/Woman parents is the only road' mythology, but there is some basic needs of both genders that require a positive role model of their own gender. It doesn't have to be a dad or a step dad, it can be a grandfather, an uncle, a close family friend - someone who has a penis and understands through experience what having a penis means (what is expected of you, how you behave as a penis, blah) .

Perhaps his problem is he needs a man in his life, a positive male role model that he can take the trickier questions of boyhood and manhood to that he may feel very uncomfortably talking to mom or mom about. Us guys need to do things with older, mature guys - we pick up 'man stuff' from older men in our lives, it helps us to identify who and what being a man is all about. I doubt seriously a woman can fill those shoes.

Playing catch with your dad (or uncle, or grandfather, or the man who you mom(s) trust dearly) isn't merely just tossing a ball around. There is real male bonding going on and the kid picks up masculine behaviors, sayings and unspoken truths about what it is to be a man. They don't even have to talk about anything important, there still remains a lot of 'man training' going on.

I think the situation is similar for girls. A girl and a woman shopping is not all about the buying of stuff, there is bonding going on and the woman teaching the girl what its like to be a woman - not merely by melting down credit cards and fighting over sales but other deeper, unspoken things that no man can fathom. Wink

Maybe what he needs to get over or passed this romantic/idealized image of his dad is a 'father figure' - a positive role model who fills many of the functions that a dad does for a boy.
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[SIZE=4]I told you I had the body of a 25 year old....

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#8
I share your's and Mum's concern...BUT family is blood and I think Brandon has a right to have access to his father's family.

The thing about young boys is they eventually become adults.

When my parents divorced, I was 12 and my brother was 10. My brother couldn't understand why my mother did want him around and he couldn't understand why I was happy to have him out of the house. My younger brother and became distant through our teen years pften fighting over my dislike for my father as my brother absolutely adored him and could see no wrong.

Fast foward to our mid 20's, my younger brother came upto me and said 'I finally see what you mean about Dad', and til this day we do not speak of our father as both see him for what he is and that we are both better off.

All boys love their father to a certain point, and at 5 years of age Brandon wasn't old enough to see the truth, all he saw was his big brave strong Daddy, and when everyone around him talks badly of his father it hurts him.

If Brandon wants to know his father's family that desperately you really only have 2 choices...

1) Deny him the opportunity ( and he will run away or develop a bad attitude towards you, his mother and sister)

2) Take those steps with him and allow him access to his fathers family ( He will grow up knowing that you, his mum and sister loved him enough to allow him to visit his fathers family, and quiet possibly see his fathers family for the way you have described them and want nothing to do with them because he knows you, his mum and sister are the best family he can have.)
#9
I want to thank everyone who answered. Confusedmile:

I think what I'm gonna do is talk to my partner about it so we'll be ready when and if he brings it up. I've been thinking about it and what people here have said and I just recalled that the vast majority of families don't unconditionally love their kids, they put strong, and sometimes uncompromising, conditions on that love and acceptance and won't hesitate to harm a child psychologically or otherwise for all kinds of reasons, and a relative having 2 mommies is enough reason for all too many people who may turn on him (or demand he turn on me) or worse.

In the meantime I'm gonna work on what I'm gonna say to him to prepare him to meet his family, should it ever be needed, and also why he should be proud of himself and not judge himself by his DNA, in case that might ever be useful.

I got worried because earlier this month me and his mom went camping for 3 nights (and came home a day early to enjoy the house to ourselves) while the kids stayed with friends. While Brandon was away he had an intense nightmare that his father was a vampire who came to him and tried to take him away from me and I was Buffy the Vampire Slayer (from a show that we've been watching the last few months, we finished season 5 a couple of weeks ago and just saw S1E1 of Angel tonight which he loved) and his father attacked me only to be dusted (that is, killed) by me. But then he found he was a vampire himself and I started to chase him with the same stake that I'd killed his dad with until he woke up frightened. I was bothered that he had a dream where I menaced him rather than protected him and felt fear that he felt that since I've taken his father's place that I'm somehow preventing him from knowing his father and himself.

I will do anything to help him become the best person he can be, and not who I want him to be, but who he was meant to be. And his nightmare made me feel afraid that maybe I was failing him somehow. But almost 2 weeks later and he still seems happy and I think the only one bothered by his nightmare is me.
#10
Bowyn Aerrow Wrote:Who in your relationship is 'dad'? - Can either of you fulfill the 'positive male role model' of a dad? If not, is there a dad surrogate where he can turn to with 'boy problems' and get advice about what its like to have a penis between the legs?

Honest questions don't bother me. Confusedmile:

As for learning to be a male, I'm sure he'll pick that up from his friends & entertainment, for better and for worse. I do wish there was a closer male mentor for him and I'm gonna think about that as well, though that said I bet he'll learn more accurate info about sex and male aspects than many boys with fathers do (not to say I can be as good as any man, more of a sad state of many parents who either don't care or care in such a way as to keep kids ignorant and then getting frustrated when kids don't magically know everything the parents made sure s/he didn't learn as a child on his/her 18th birthday).

And I've done daddy things with both kids, including in teaching athletic skills and seeing both learn Krav Maga (adjusted for kids of course), and as for Brandon specifically I spent over a year getting into intense lightsaber battles with him (and I bought us the said lightsabers at Disneyland that we had to construct ourselves, too) and went so far as to research all about it on wookieepedia and not only get into it (and get him into it) but adjust it to teach real life skills (such as tutoring him--sometimes pretending to be a Jedi and sometimes as a Sith--in Dun Moch as a means to train him on how to avoid being baited into stupid actions via taunts and dares and similar manipulation).

I also made him a Transformers-theme birthday party before (at his request, but I researched it and went all out in arranging it).

And when he enjoyed playing Uno with me and his sister who used a Hannah Montana deck I got him a normal deck and made sure he knew how to play it (that is, normal rules rather than Hannah rules, and also have his own deck) just to prevent any "misunderstandings" with boy Uno players. Make no mistake, if he ever expresses interest in being feminine I will certainly support him, but until he does then I think he's happiest if he knows how to be a boy and I help him with that as much as possible.

I know he loves me. He's always wanted me here, he's close, he brags to me wanting me to be proud of him, and when I was in Texas for over 2 months visiting my granny (who was recovering from a pulmonary embolism) he got scared I wasn't coming back and he (along with his sister) both demanded they pick me up and bring me back.

Both kids also gave me a sweet gift on not only my last birthday but also a mother's day gift just for me. Though Brandon somehow rationalized "spending quality time" with me by offering to take me to see The Avengers in 3D. I said I hadn't kept up with any of the movies leading up with it (save Iron Man) and to let me see if there was a better movie but he insisted that I'd love the Avengers ("in 3D!"), so I took him (his sister didn't want to go). Once there I quickly realized I was supposed to pay for both of us, including drinks and some popcorn. Luckily I had a very good sense of humor about it...he was 9 and I think he really believed I would love it (after all he did, so surely I would, too, doesn't everyone automatically love big explosions and epic fight scenes?), so I let him get away with it (he loved it, I wasn't going to ruin the experience for him, especially not after having paid about $40 for the experience). Hmmm...I might wanna plan out next Mother Day's before he makes the plans... Rolleyes


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