Ah, family livin.' It ain't perfect and it sure ain't easy, but in hard times it's all we got. Happily, Ask Dad is here to make the bitter pill that is one another go down a bit easier. So hit me with your big kid questions:
Hi, my hubby and my 15-year-old son swear, punch walls, and sometimes hit each other. I know they love each other. My husband tells me our teen needs a head shrink, but I've tried to point out he's just doing what his dad has done to him all these years. My son and I have been seeing a counselor, but he won't. I have two other boys, 8 and 6, and can't go through this again.
Damn, don't you have an easier question, the kind so many of we sheltered parents fuss over?
Like is too much gluten making my 9-year-old slightly snottier? Or will my daughter be permanently damaged if she sees too many cereal commercials?
Thanks for the lesson in real problems. Makes me grateful my house is so peaceful, for now. Okay ... now on to some answers ....
I live in California where we have the voter initiative system for new laws, and I'm going to start a petition for the fall ballot outlawing fathers and teenage sons from living in the same house. Have there ever been two kinds of people less suited to co-existing? (Okay, maybe a torturing toddler and a tired mom.)
Sons often reach the age when they want to test on all sides and give the world a big F.U. right when their old men are becoming, well, old men -- getting bitter at the world and their circumstances and their dead dreams.
It's a recipe for disaster, and the guy who designed it should have his ass fired.
But that doesn't mean your circumstances are normal or acceptable.
It doesn't matter how big your 15-year-old son is, or how much he provokes his dad, when it comes to physical fighting, he is a child -- in the eyes of the law and in the world of common decency. And fisticuffs is not some barroom brawl, it's child abuse. They are not equals; one is legally and morally bound to care for the other.
It's great that you and your son are going to a counselor together, but your husband needs to go too, immediately, or you need to start thinking about ways to remove yourself and your children from his reach. It's very hard to imagine him just naturally growing more tolerant as your young ones get older. People can grow softer, but they can also grow more bitter.
If he won't go the traditional counselor route, as many angry men won't, is there some other person he'll listen to? A priest, a pastor, or his own parents?
It's entirely possible that your man and your young man love each other as you say. Love has some twisted ways of expressing itself. But this is one of those times when love just isn't the most important thing.
I'll let you know when my law passes, and maybe you can move to California, if you're not here already. But until then, good luck getting help.
What would you do if your husband and son were battling it out?