Hax: Son will make his own choices

The Washington PostSeptember 30, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: Our son wants to join the military, and his dad is vehemently against it. It is causing a lot of anguish in our household.

Our son agreed to attend college for a year and postpone talking about it. That school year is up, and he still wants to join. He is a legal adult now.

I know my husband’s attitude is rooted in fear for his child, and I share that fear. However, I think my son should be able to live his own life. How do we get across this bridge with our family intact?

TORN BETWEEN HUSBAND AND SON

Why hasn’t your son just enlisted?

I suggest marriage counseling, or a reputable marriage seminar, for you two.

One thing you can do, while marital help is pending, is explain the following to your husband: Husband had his say and secured Son’s cooperation with a cooling-off year. The only emotionally healthy response for Husband at this point is to thank Son for waiting, reiterate any remaining concerns and assure Son that Husband will support Son’s right to make his own choices, even if Husband objects to the choices themselves.

Dear Carolyn: A yearslong relationship with a man I was sure would be my husband ended badly. Badly, as in, one day he just never spoke to me again. At all. It crushed me, to the point that I sought counseling.

Out of the blue, I started hearing from him via email/text many months later. No real apology, no genuine interest in my life — just references to old jokes and memories.

My instinct is to cut this communication off completely, since it doesn’t seem like a sincere effort to be kind or express regret. Nothing good can come from entertaining this communication, right?

POST-BREAKUP

Cut it off, please, for your own health, and say you’re not interested in staying in touch — unless and until he’s willing to explain what he did. That’s an invitation to provide answers, one I hope he accepts.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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