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Parenting --Teens/13 year old son won't come home

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I have a 13 year old son (will be 14 in 2 weeks) who left home 2 1/2 weeks ago to stay with his dad.  He says he does not want to come home with his step-father there because he does not feel safe.  Even after assuring him that as his mother, it is my job to keep him safe, he still will not come home.

Some background information would probably be helpful.  His father and I divorced nearly 10 years ago due to an affair he was having.  We have two children together, the son I am asking about and an 11 year old daughter.  My ex ended up marrying the woman he had the affair with and the children have consistently visited their house two evenings a week, every other weekend, every other holiday and 2 weeks in the summer.  Their father is very involved in their lives as was their step mother until she took her own life almost 4 months ago.  This has obviously been very hard on both my son and my daughter, but my son has had the hardest time dealing with her death.  They also have a 6 year old sister from their dad and step-mother.

5 years ago I remarried, my husband has a 14 year old son from his first marriage and together we have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son.  My husband has always had trouble controlling his anger.  He is a door slammer, a yeller and he does tend to throw things.  I have to admit he has seemed to be hardest on my 13 year old son.  Mind you, it is not all of the time, and there have been some great fun family times but we never know what might set him off.  Over the course of the past 5 years my husband and I have had arguments over his anger issues, as I do not want to raise my family in that type of environment.  I have had him leave, he/we go  to counseling, things change for a while but then it goes back to status quo eventually.  

2 1/2 weeks ago, my son and husband got into an argument.  It was over something very trivial but my husband did not like the tone in my son's voice when he responded to him and everything escalated.  My husband ended up getting in my son's face, yelling at him-my son had his fists up ready to fight.  My husband is 6'4" and 350 lbs.  My son is 5'4" and 180.  I ended up stepping between them, my husband then began to yell at me and throw things around the kitchen.  While I was in the midst of telling my husband to leave the house, my son went to the neighbor's house and called the police-I had no idea he even left let alone called the police.

The police came to investigate, apparently my son had told them my husband hit him and pushed him.  Although I was there, I did not see him do either of these and there were no marks-the police ended up bringing him home from the neighbor's house but his dad picked him up a short while later.  He has not been home since.

I did not let my husband return for about a week after this all happened.  I was contemplating divorce.  After much prayer and consideration, I decided if he would really work on himself this time and make clear permanent changes I would give it one more try.  So my husband is home now, but my son is not.  Of course this is a hard place for me to be in as a mother.

I guess my question is, how do I get my son home?  Or do I have to accept the fact that he won't be coming home?  He does have his younger brother and sisters who miss him terribly as well.  I just don't know what to do.

Thank you for your time

Answer
Dear Leigh,

It is not safe for anyone to stay with a man who has anger issues. Your son did the right thing for himself, but he is probably still concerned for you and his sister. Changes must be made, and your husband must commit to coming to grips with his issues, or you cannot stay with him. Men like your husband "lose it" all the time, and the body count goes up. You think, since there are also good times, that you can put up with the bad ones. Nope. Cut your losses and get out of the marriage, or make sure he commits to change.

I sound like a broken record here, but reading the book, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle may help him a great deal to see himself and address his issues. He is also quite overweight. With a Body Mass Index of 42.6, he is technically morbidly obese, which means he will die if he doesn't do something about his weight soon. http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ If you choose to stay with him and help, you will need to train him to eat better and take care of himself, so he can live a full and good life. You didn't mention if he has a drinking problem or not, but many with weight, self-esteem and anger issues also tend to drink to excess. That means any more than two standard size drinks per day for men; one drink for women. I do not recommend AA, as it makes you constantly talk about how you're an alcoholic and will always be one. I prefer programs where you admit it, forgive yourself, and go on with the rest of a happy life, free from alcohol consumption. Food is the same way. You used to overeat, but now you're going to make sure to serve only healthy foods, and you're all going to get well.

Some of my friends have been helped using essential oils called DoTerra (or something like that) so you may want to research it.

Is your husband depressed at all? Sometimes taking anti-depressants can help, but for others, they can make things worse. If he seems depressed and is not already taking something for depression, and is otherwise healthy, ask his doctor if taking the supplement, Sam-E may be beneficial for him. (Don't be surprised if the doctor has never heard of it. I honestly don't know why I go to regular doctors anymore, they are so uneducated about health supplements that are often far superior to prescriptions. Best advice: educate yourself, and try through trial and error to see what works best for you and your family.) Also, a good multivitamin and extra (at least 5,000 mgs) Vitamin D3 can be very helpful. These are available at any Wal-Mart, and are cheapest at Costco or online. (Deal online only with USA vendors with a good rating.)

After your husband has gotten to a healthy BMI (187 to 229 lbs.) .rush.edu/rumc/page-1108048103230.html and read A New Earth and come to terms with what made him angry, so he is able to control it, (it will take a year or two) invite your son over for a weekend to meet his new step-dad. It's not safe to force the issue until your husband has come to terms with himself.

You may also benefit from these things. The book I recommend is available online used from Amazon for just one penny, plus shipping. Best investment you could ever make. (Even though he talks about reincarnation, which I don't agree with...so just skip over the parts that don't match your belief-system and take the good that he offers there.) Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0452289963/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condit

Good luck to you all. When you talk to your son, tell him he made the right choice to leave, and that you are protecting yourself and his sister. Tell him his step-dad is making changes (if he is) or that you will be leaving him (if he is not.) Tell him when his step-dad is well (for he is currently unwell) you will have a special dinner and invite him over to your home, but that it may take a year or two. You also need to contact your ex-husband and thank him for his willingness to take over completely when his son needs him. Remember, your ex is also in mourning, and taking over may not be easy for him right now. On the other hand, having his son there may be just what he need now, too.

Good things will come with making changes in your husband's diet, and helping him. Weight Watchers has a fine program, or perhaps your doctor or a nutritionist at work or your gym may be helpful.

May God bless you and your family, Leigh. You have a bright son with a head on his shoulders. You will be blessed.  

Parenting --Teens

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My own dysfunctional youth in an alcoholic family helped me decide to raise my children with love, acceptance, and honesty. It must have worked. We`ve got terrific kids. Those I've answered on this site usually feel I've been helpful in their unique situations. Our world is so much better when we lift instead of crushing. Every child is worth more than any bank can hold. If I can help at all, it will be in teaching both parent and child of their own personal value to humanity, and how to punch through the noise of the moment to find their greater purpose. Together, we can all make a better world.

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