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Dear Chump Lady, I’m just the dog sitter

Dear Chump Lady,

Last week my youngest son asked me to watch his dog while he and his wife flew up to spend the weekend with my older son and his wife. I enjoy watching his dog so I said sure. I was glad to hear that my two sons and their wives were going to be spending time together.

Yesterday I found out that my ex was on this vacation as well. It brought back the pain and rejection all over again, although I did my best to not feel jealous. Lately I’ve been wistfully watching other families getting together with their grown kids and it makes me feel sad. Both my kids and ex moved away and I’m the only one left in the town where we raised them. To hear that my kids were together with their dad over the weekend while I was home alone was tough. I’d love to spend that kind of time them having fun! Unfortunately I can’t afford to pay for their air flights like my ex can.

My kids weren’t able to be with me for Christmas, and I’ve not spent more than a few hours with them at a time in the past year. Since they’re newly married they tend to spend holidays with their wives’ families. They also spend the weekends with my ex at his grand new home with a 6′ wide TV. It’s all so hard. My parents are elderly and I spend the holidays with them, but I sure miss my kids.

Should I tell my kids that withholding information about who they were vacationing with hurt me? It reminded me so much of their father constantly traveling on “business trips” but not revealing who he was really with. I know my failed relationship with my ex is different than the one with my kids, but I’m so tired of people in my family not being honest with me.

I’m happy for the kids to spend time with their dad. My oldest has especially been estranged from his dad since D-day and I’m sure it helps him to have his brother there as a buffer. Still, I wish they’d have told me the truth about their trip so I wouldn’t have to hear about it from someone else.

My sister says I should act nonchalant but let them know I realize that their dad was there. She says they’ll realize it’s no big deal and be more forthcoming in the future. I’m sure they’re being quiet about getting together with their dad to protect my feelings.

What is your opinion on how I should handle this situation?

BTW, my kids are 28 and 26. Their dad left me two years ago, a couple of months after the oldest got married. The dynamics are different with adult children of divorce.

I have a great group of friends, a good counselor, and am dating someone I enjoy spending time with. I’ve done everything I can to help myself, but this situation just sent me into a small tailspin.


Dear Lyn,

Before you talk to your kids, figure out what you’re upset about. Once you’ve got a handle on that, then figure out how to approach them.

Sound simple? Not really. It’s hard sometimes to figure out what we’re really upset about. Being chumps we’ve got the spackle ready, and will pounce on our truth at the first sign of discomfort.

I think you need to tangle apart your kids’ relationship with their dad and your kids’ relationship with you. The part in this story that would piss me off is NOT that they took a vacation with their father — it’s that your son took a vacation with his father, didn’t mention it, and left you his dog to watch.

Why didn’t he mention it? Because I think the odds would substantially increase that he’d be paying kennel costs. It’s a lie of omission to gain advantage — free dog sitting. It’s treating you like a chump.

Now, you might be very generous and agree to watch his dog so he could vacation with his brother and cheater dad — but that should’ve been your choice. I think you’d be completely within your rights to not want to put yourself out to accommodate that vacation. Your children are adult men. It’s NOT your job to facilitate their relationship with dad. You don’t have to remind them to send him a birthday card, you don’t have to drive them to the airport, and you don’t have to dog sit.

Where you may be spackling is thinking, oh it’s churlish of me to feel resentful, it’s my job to Be Above This for my kids and not harm their relationship with dad. No, the issue is feeling disrespected. Like you weren’t worthy of the truth.

If your son moved away, then he went to some effort to visit you to leave you with the dog. So apparently he IS capable of visiting you.

This is what I’d do. I’d tell the younger son that you learned secondhand that he was on a vacation with his dad. You would’ve preferred to have heard it from him. Then, set a boundary. Son, I like your dog and I’m happy to watch your dog, but not so you can visit your dad. You can tell him why (it stirs up resentment, I feel abandoned) or you can just leave it there. It’s your boundary.

You only control you. You don’t control their relationship with their dad. If they want to accept plane tickets, and spend Xmas in front of his widescreen TV, that’s their business. All you can do is maintain your own relationship with your sons. Invite them to visit. Or — if you’re like my mother — invite yourself over to visit them. That’s one plane ticket, or a long car ride. Hey, I’d love to see you, what’s February look like?

If you want them for Christmas, speak up! Don’t just accept it’s you and your elderly parents. Sure, your kids might have other plans, but go ahead and ask.

But you want them to come to you. You want them to value the relationship enough that you don’t have to chase them. I get it, Lyn. I think this is the push me/pull you of parenting young adults. Maybe wiser chumps will speak up on this one, but this is what I would do if I were you — fill your life up. Book a trip for yourself over the next holiday. Visit a friend. Next time son needs a Fido sitter? Be unavailable. Why? Because you’re busy with your new life.

Change the chump dynamic. Don’t be the parent who always does for them and can be taken advantage of. I think your kids might not mention dad, or visit, because maybe they too feel like you were abandoned. It stirs up their guilt. They’re busy with their new lives and new wives. Better to avoid you. (Except as dog sitter.)

So don’t act abandoned — be relieved to be rid of that cheater’s sorry ass. Hope he and his widescreen TV are very happy together. Project to your sons that you’re okay, really. Share your new life with them, whatever that is. New friends, talk of new hobbies, new responsibilities at work. Be more than the Sad Left Behind Woman. Be more than the dog sitter. Be mighty.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Right On. My mantra is Pull up your big girl panties and get busy living. I too don’t make a lot of money but I prioritize and save up for the important visits. This last Christmas my ex showed up in our hometown (I am living on my parent’s property in a very small trailer) to spend Christmas with our children. He lives elsewhere. My father spent over a thousand dollars getting them here, flights from college, etc. and my children spent Christmas dinner with their father. And had a rotten time. Shared that he actually got tears eyed and said he missed them. My children are learning. I know our exes have all the sparkle to go with their new lives because they need it. Same old dogpile though. My daughters see right through it. One stated she no longer wished to invite him to graduation and the other tossed all those crappy gift cards my way. I think we all know we can never go back. We don’t want to. Make a new life. Recognize you are free.

  • You know, I might have to disagree with CL on this one. I do NOT recommend saying that you aren’t willing to dog-sit for them to visit their dad. That sounds bitter, and game-playing, and tells your children they were right to hide this information from you: because now you’re upset, *and* if they had told you before you would have refused to dog sit (so there is a penalty for honest communication).

    I’d suggest (and I don’t have adult children yet, so bear in mind I’m totally making this up!) a two-pronged approach.

    First, tell your children you heard they were with their dad, you are happy they are reconnecting (if you truly are!), but you are disappointed they felt they had to hide this from you. Remind them everything you’ve likely already said: their relationship with him is a separate entity, you’re doing well and they needn’t worry, and you value honest communication. That solves the “family keeping secrets from you” problem and puts the “correction” in a very positive frame of good lessons learned. Sure, we chumps shouldn’t overly spackle, but in this case I think the diplomacy is warranted because a) they’re your kids and b) it’s plausible they were trying to help you.

    Second prong: Beyond keeping secrets, the second problem is that they (whether intentionally or unintentionally) treated you like the dog sitter. I do think that requires fixing, but would not enmesh it with the issue above – or any direct confrontation. Here I’d second all of Chump Lady’s suggestions: build your own life, be a little less available (so they occasionally have to pay kennel fees and learn how much that costs), and reach out to your kids on your own terms (e.g., by visiting them). I think it is easy even for good kids to take mom for granted.

    Just my two cents!

    • Great points by both Psyche and CL. There is a lot of conditioning to undo. Like it or not, these kids enjoy an all-expense paid trip with all the trimmings by the ex, and knowingly or not, they are allowing themselves to be manipulated by his sparkles. Everyone has their comfort level, Lyn, and as CL says, only you know the boundaries with which you are comfortable. But having had my share of family issues in which I was the one expected to be the perpetual doer and giver, I no longer sell myself cheaply. Without any malice involved, let your kids wonder how you are, why they don’t hear from you, or get invites. Let them call you and come to you for a change…and because they want to enjoy your company, not because you cook, clean, pick up after and dog watch for them. Parenting “older” kids does not mean the onus is permanently on you to maintain the relationships.

    • I think yours is a good approach too, Psyche. I just wanted to err on the side of — it’s OKAY to not want to watch the dogs for the visit with Dad. It’s a legitimate POV and it doesn’t make you “bitter.”

      He’s got other places to put the dog. He had to realize it was insensitive of him to leave the dog with mom so he could party with dad. Which is why he didn’t mention it.

        • I have used a combination of both CL and Pysche approaches with my 26 year old son. My son appreciates my honest and upfront communication. It is not bitter or malicious to state your truth. Lyn be honest with your adult son that he hurt you due to his secret agenda. Just be calm, upfront and state your truth. It will open the lines of communications with your children to know that you will not be a chump with them.

            • Yes, I think it is okay to be “bitter” if that means “having an emotional reaction to being abused by your spouse.” Hell yes, I’m angry, and sad, and I will own those emotions! And if that offends anyone, they can stuff it.

              But if “bitter” actually means “consumed by my pain, and stewing in it, and intentionally nursing it to keep it alive, and lashing out at others so they feel it, too” – then no, I reject that – because it’s not healthy for me. That’s the “gain a life” part: I’m focused on healing, growing, becoming stronger, and moving forward in my life – including by building healthy relationships.

              For those of us who were chumps, it takes a while to figure out what healthy relationships should look like. So, we naturally have moments like Lyn – of feeling uncomfortable and not being exactly sure how to respond. And that’s why it’s so great that this community exists: Chump Lady and the fellow chumps can offer great insight, in validating our concerns and then suggesting great practical strategies for finding a different way to respond.

              • Psyche, I agree with you 100%. After stewing around and wanting to throw things for a little while I thought “I know, I’ll ask Chumplady’s advice on what to do.” LOL. Anyway, I really like what you said here:

                “I’m focused on healing, growing, becoming stronger, and moving forward in my life – including by building healthy relationships.”

                That just became my mantra for the month.

  • This avoidance of the truth (or lying by omission) behavior seems to be common in adult kids of parents with acrimonious divorces. My kids are closed mouthed about their associations with their father, too, but I suspect it has more to do with trying not to be put in a position of having to walk on eggshells. I think it is a subtle form of triangulation on the part of the cheater….all the fucking “secret keeping” that these assholes love so well and seem to thrive on. Seems to be just one more piece of fall out (from a messy divorce caused by cheating) that the kids have to deal with.

    This indirect “secret keeping” happens to me, too….at their father’s request… because he is still (after 6 years) a paranoid narc who believes he is the center of the universe and that I actually care about his comings and goings anymore. He is SO important–don’tcha know? I don’t care if they spend time with him. He IS their father. It’s just the whole compartmentalization thing (“We don’t need to tell your mother about this”) that can still irk my butt.

    This kind of behavior was so typical of my X’s narc family, with his narc mother being the queen of compartmentalization and manipulation among her own children–the “don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing” attitude. When we back off and take an analytic look at the FOO of our dysfunctional X spouses, their behavior begins to make perfect sense, but we need to view all these silly machinations for the dark comedy that they are and not allow them to be a personal spoiler for us in the here and now.

    • Well, I would argue that keeping the trip “secret” is their business. They’re adults.

      It became Lyn’s business when she was asked to dog sit.

      • I agree with CL. Being asked to watch the dog under these circumstances seems like you’re being shit on, literally and figuratively. Part of responsible dog ownership is being able to make appropriate kenneling arrangements, whether paid or for free. If you enjoy having the dog with you (and I am a long time dog owner and lover), great, but never under these circumstances and never so that it limits you participating in your fabulous new life!

    • Sounds like my ex and his family, his mother in particular. They love to keep secrets and play these weird games. Take today. I had to discuss something with him and he lied about something that was irrelevant. I knew the truth and was just ‘are you seriously going to lie about this thing that doesn’ tmatter or have any bearing on anything?’. It’s hilarious.

    • I love my children dearly, but one of them (bless her heart) is the proverbial “apple not falling far from the tree”. This site (as well as many others) gives a lot of advice about how to deal with a narcissist (ex-)spouse – what about the kids who spend years watching their mother bend and sway to their dad’s every whim and have learned at the feet of the master? All my new self-protection habits are designed to separate emotionally from my stbx, but they get tested on a daily basis by the entitled teen who seems confused and disappointed that I’m not still a house slave or an ATM. All this to say that it seems that Lyn might benefit from stepping back from the Mom role a bit with her grown children. Maybe her kids need to hear that Mom is not their trivial, assumed back-up plan. Mom can say “no” with no other reason than “I can’t, sorry!” The people-pleasing habits are exploited by narcs, but we can easily become chumps to our kids, as well…

  • Thanks to everyone for the good thoughts and suggestions. I agree that the thing that most bothered me was the “lie by omission” of going on a fun vacation with dad. Now, I like my son’s dog, and would have kept her anyway. Not being honest about who they were going on the trip with was what hurt, plus the fact that I’d love to be able to spend that kind of time with both my sons. I agree that I tend to back off so as not to appear demanding but should probably speak up more about wanting to spend time with them.

    I actually ended up having dinner with my youngest son and his wife last night when they came to pick up their dog. The good thing is they bought me dinner at a nice restaurant and talked about their trip. I let them know that I knew they were with their dad but acted nonchalant about it. They ended up spilling their guts about lots of tension between my older son and his dad, and how they felt like they were the buffer. I listened but didn’t offer much advice. Just sympathy with how much my younger son would like to heal all the relationships in our family. Hopefully he saw that I didn’t get upset or blow up and won’t be afraid to be honest next time. I will try to find a way to work in how I value honest communication and that I’m okay and have a life of my own. I do feel like I’ve made good headway with creating my own happiness in the past year, but I sure do miss spending time with my kids.

    • Sounds like you handled it really well. And extra points for listening but not offering advice on the tension.

    • Yay, Lyn! Sounds like that worked out really well. Two years is not that long, so early in the healing process, and of course your sons are also having to navigate the standard renegotiation of relationships with parents that just come with that age and their recent marriages. I think it’s great that your son felt comfortable sharing all that with you – and that you could listen empathetically without stepping in to fix!

    • Outstanding that you handled it so beautifully! Excellent job on remaining silent and not giving any advice! Brava!!

    • I think you handled that very well, Lyn, and it sounds like there’s love between you, your son, and his wife. A Mom usually has a unique and valuable place in a son’s heart, make the most of that. If you are patient, and keep expressing the desire to get together, and wanting that Mom/Son connection, I think they’ll love that and reach out.
      I’d probably ignore what their weirdo Dad was up to with them. Put your energies into those sons you raised, I’m sure they love you back, but may need suggestions about how to show it in a way that is meaningful to you!

  • My opinion in this is that Lyn has been betrayed and lived the lies and omissions. She has been used in every possible way. She also let it happen to her whether she realized it or not. In her new life, she should not have to let that happen again. The adult children should realize this and it not should be told. I have stated numerous times, do not lie to me and do not protect me no matter how you feel I will react. I always say I don’t like surprises, I have had enough of them in my life. Some listen and some don’t, those who don’t walk a very fine line. I have set those boundaries, they are my boundaries and if you care you will honour those boundaries. Somewhere in this madness you have to get back your control as to who you can trust. Getting back trust in all relationships is so important.
    Just my thoughts.

    • “do not lie to me and do not protect me no matter how you feel I will react.”

      I think that is the crux of the matter and what I’m so tired of! So what if I get upset, or cry, or whatever, it’s not the end of the world. Their dad taught them that emotion is bad and you’re supposed to tough everything out and go on like nothing happened. I like your statement because it lets the kids know you’re willing to hear the truth even if it’s hard, and you’re strong enough to deal with it for the sake of a better relationship with them.

      • Lyn said, ” Not being honest about who they were going on the trip with was what hurt,..”

        I am curious Lyn. Did you hurt more for yourself or for your kids because you suspect they somehow feel manipulated into the “secret keeping” position? This was what I was driving at in my earlier post. In retrospect I should have made my comments more succinct and to the point. As follows: I am long past caring what my X thinks of me, but I still resent it that my girls were unable to retain the innocence and transparency that they enjoyed before their father went rogue.
        Does that make sense?

        • notyou, I hurt for myself. It made me feel excluded and rejected again. It felt like everyone in my family was off having a great time on vacation and I was kept in the dark. That reminded me of how it felt to find out my ex was doing a lot more than working with his coworker on all those business trips. Still, he came home and assumed his role as dutiful father and husband. Looking back I now recognize that he was distant. I thought he was just super busy and stressed with a heavy work load and tried to give him space, although I wasn’t getting my needs for companionship met at all. Anyway, it just brought all that back. Yes, I guess it also made me mad that my kids have learned the lie by omission behavior from growing up in our family system.

          • Lyn,

            Your descriptions are so typical of the situations these cheaters create for their families. I think we all feel isolated and rejected to a huge extent in the early years. I am so sorry that you must endure this, but can promise you that it will get better and that you will reach a point where you don’t care what X does or says…that his rejection of you will be relegated to a distant backseat.

            Early on, when I was in the state of misery that you are now, my mother kept telling me that things would come full circle–that the children would come to resent and then resist Xs manipulations. She was right. (As she put it, “Bide your time. He who laughs last laughs longest.)

            Somewhere along the line my adult children (especially the two sons-in-law) lost patience with Xs continued immaturity and refused to be affected by it. These young men’s attitudes are, ” We have families and are busy with productive lives, we don’t have time for BS, and we are not going out of our way to accommodate. There will be no more multiple holiday and birthday celebrations, etc., because our wives are NOT going to be inconvenienced by his issues. He can suck it up, deal, and show up…or not. The whole world does not revolve around him.” My daughters followed their husbands’ leads and relaxed…becoming much more of their old transparent and feisty selves.

            Guess who is present for the celebrations now? Me. Because I don’t bring subtle drama and a feeling of tension for everyone.

            I hope this happens for you, and suspect that if you keep your cool and play your cards right, it will.

            Hang in there, and I wish the best for you.

            • Thanks so much not you! I dream of the day that the pain is a distant memory. At this point it seems like there will forever be things that bring back the initial feelings of rejection. Hopefully one day it will stop hurting so much.

  • It’s walking a fine line here – Psyche has a valid point.
    It can come across as churlish and bitter to say Lyn won’t dog sit in order to facilitate a vacation with their father, but is happy to oblige at other times. While it’s a legitimate POV and is not being bitter and bitchy, it can easily be viewed that way. I totally get what you’re feeling Lyn.
    But to lie by omission is insulting to Lyn (however unintentional on her son’s part). I do see how that happens with adult children though. In their own way they are trying to “protect” us from more hurt. Lyn’s feelings are valid. It’s just another shit sandwich handed out on a plate. Lyn has no option but to bring this up and let her feelings be known, otherwise this will continue.
    My children are 26(almost) and 24. They are still students (just about to finish their schooling). Every year they visit with their Dad and GF’s adult children just after New Year at a local ski resort for a few days. Their father makes the arrangement and gives no further thought regarding their transport to the resort. My children then ask if they can borrow my car to get there (3 hours drive away). I work in Health Care, so my shift start and end times are either very early in the morning (5:30 or 6 am) or late @ night (10, 11:30 or midnight). This then necessitates me taking a cab or riding my bicycle (I don’t ride if it’s raining – which is often, or snowing) when they borrow the car. This certainly puts me out a few dollars over the course of a few days plus the gas of getting them there and back. This scenario will change now that they will both be finishing with their schooling shortly. Was I continuing being a chump? Probably, but they were still mostly-dependent children. (When I asked Mr. Cheaterpants via e-mail about the transit the first year this transpired, he ignored me and told both my children that I was jealous and mean for not wanting them to borrow my car.) I lent my children my car for the last 5 years and have just got myself to work on my own steam. My kids have felt bad about leaving me with no car while they visit their Dad. They have at times filled up my car with gas when they could afford it.
    Point well taken though CL – this is a really good post. I do need to move on more with my life and be more mighty. I sure was Mighty in many, many ways and need to act mighty again, therefore BE more Mighty.

    • That is a really tough situation. I think you are going way above and beyond to let your kids use your only car for their vacation with dad. Wow. Here you give so much and go beyond what is reasonable then ex accuses you of being selfish when you suggest he might help them with transportation. The problem with us chumps is we don’t want anyone to call us selfish or unreasonable, we’ll do anything to keep that from happening. It’s a great tool for manipulative people to use to shame us into doing what they want us to.

  • Oops! Didn’t see your post Lyn and how you handled it. Well done! Way to go and handle it so appropriately!

  • Accepting Aristotle’s ancient words “we are what we do” is very difficult when it comes to our children because we assume that we helped mold them into how they behave. These are your children’s choices and it is so painful to have them lie by omission to have a good time when $$$ calls.

    I’m not clear why anyone would seek a relationship with a liar, a cheat who teaches his/her children that dishonesty, deceit and denial are some of my more sterling qualities – parent or not. It seems sometimes that we rant and rave about how awful the cheater is but believe it’s reasonable that our children “give ’em a pass” because it’s “your parent”. WHY? Why does that make it OK? We’ve identified this as abuse, correct? Would we expect our children to tolerate any other type of abuse of a parent? If adultery is wrong, isn’t it also wrong to foster/support/expect/respect adult children making the decision to have follies with the fool who caused the destruction of the FAMILY? It’s not just the spouse whose way of life had to disturbed,changed, rearranged, unmolded. So if they’re spending time with someone who has caused such havoc in your life, they are also telling you who THEY are and what they value. Love them in spite of themselves but know your worth.

    • You know, I wonder how we’d answer the question if it was Mom hates handguns. She goes to marches against hand gun violence. Son wants mom to watch the dog so he can go the shooting range.

      But maybe the equivalent is — mom got shot. Son wants mom to watch the dog so he can hang out with the guy who shot her.

      Lyn’s values say, rightly, I don’t want this man in my life. I need to be NC with him. She respects that her children do want him in their life. That’s their business. And it can stay between them and NC with the cheater and what he’s up to is maintained. TH son makes it Lyn’s business when they asked her to watch the dog.

      Now, even tangentially, she’s involved in facilitating this vacation.

      • I know!! And it appears as though the expectation is that mom will get over being shot if in fact is not mortally wounded by the assault. Adultery, lying, disrespect, abuse are all assaults on our psyche, it’s a wonder we can function at all some days with what we’ve been expected to endure. And life shouldn’t be about just scrapping by, waiting it out, given no options and being dumped on.

        My issue is with what we probably all hoped for in our children and for our children, especially as adults, more than glory, fame, $$$, or prestige – that they would be independent people of CHARACTER. That they could discern and decide what and who is important based kindness, honesty, respect and love – none of the qualities a cheater in their life displays. Why the association with a self serving fraud who fractures our families for the rest of our time?

        We ask/teach our children early on to live by oaths, creeds and disciplines. We tell them to avoid bullies, not bully, be respectful, tell the truth, help those in need. Should those teachings disappear as they age? What fallout can we expect for the generation that follows as we welcome grandchildren? What do wish for them to learn?

        Why would anyone want to associate with/spend time or be in the company of a cheat, a thief, an adulterer? How can that person still be a “good dad” or “good mom” when they wounded so deeply the other parent? Isn’t honesty the most powerful lesson a parent can model? I guess being mentioned in the will can be powerful for our 20 and 30 somethings….

        • ITA, Nain. It’s like the societal pressure to stay together “for the kids.” As if the state of being married and living in the same home with a liar who broke the marriage and the family is healthier for the kids than seeing the betrayed spouse end the marriage, clearly define his/her boundaries as to what comprises healthy and appropriate adult behavior, and start a new life as a single parent who reinforces integrity and decency with the kids.

          I know that I don’t spend time with anyone who is a known adulterer, and I felt that way long before I was cheated on. We need to shun these people more as a society, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a kid who is old enough to make his/her own decisions to say, “I don’t want to be with the cheater parent. I don’t like what he/she stands for, and I don’t want that in my life.” Instead, we worry more that the kids will feel abandoned or have “daddy/mommy” issues when we should be far more worried about what is being modeled for these kids by their cheater parents and what sorts of mind games the cheaters play with them, so we push the relationship.

          If my children decide that they are done with their dad some day (and the way things are tracking, it will happen), I’m not going to try to change their minds, and I will be disappointed if they keep hanging around him simply because he might be able to provide more in the way of material items/fancy vacations than I can. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to expect that our adult children also behave with integrity and don’t allow themselves to be bought.

  • My parents have been divorsed for over 20 years, and I still keep from talking about the other parent from each of them. My dad is gay, and cheated with many men over 23 years on my mom. Neither of my brothers see him at all. My dad is always trying to SPY at my house for pictures or ask my kids info about my sibs and their families. It’s sux for me! My mom goes ballistic if his name or his parents name is even brought up. All 3 of us sibs have to keep her from knowing that we see our grandpa on my dad’s side She even had a meltdown when dad’s mom died 7 years ago when we went to grandmas funeral. I think lynn you handled that situation like a champ! Your kids will appreciate you trying. My mom Being bitter has not been good for all us kids, but we love our mom, so we try to keep her from hurting anymore. Your kids probably love their dog and wanted the BEST person to take care of it. They probably weren’t thinking of using you, just thought like I would just think that’s MY mom and she’ll help us give a safe place for our dog.

    • I think your mom needs to respect that you have a relationship with your dad’s family.

      I don’t think, however, that you should ever ask your mom to watch your dog while you go visit a man she despises.

  • My son is only 17, and lives with me full-time. He sees his dad a couple times per week for dinner. I know son does not tell me a lot of stuff his dad tells him/does, because son wants to protect both me AND his dad. This puts my son in a bind, and is totally unfair to him. He does know his dad is gay, is a cheater and is a liar and a mooch. Son chooses to continue having a relationship with his father, and I bite my tongue and say nothing against it. I think there will come a day when son has to sever the relationship, but that will be up to him, not me, especially while he is still a minor.

    I think Lyn’s son was probably protecting her by not saying he was going on a trip with his dad. He didn’t want her to feel bad, or left out, or lonely or whatever. I don’t think he was being malicious. I see how it was hurtful to be asked to watch the dog under such circumstances, but I tend to doubt the son was intentionally hurtful. More likely, he knew she liked the dog and that the dog would be well cared for, something you can’t be sure of with a kennel.

    It seems Lyn has already handled the situation beautifully, so as usual, I’m just adding rambling thoughts here.

  • Just a thought regarding some of the posts speaking to adult children wanting a relationship with the parent who cheated. My own mother cheated on my father when I was 10 and divorced him to marry the abusive asshole when I was 11. I didn’t know what was happening at the time but even when I did know (as a teenager), I never stopped loving my mother. I hated her for a while, I was disgusted by her for a while, I felt sorry for her as the abusive shit she married got worse. I didn’t forgive her even knowing why she did it. I accepted her flaws and loved her anyway.

    Lest you think that’s just a chumps answer; I cut both of my sisters out of my life due to repeated boundary crossings and some evil shit in my 30s. So I was/am again capable of enforcing boundaries, living with integrity and self care.

    As chumps, I think we can also understand how easy it is for the manipulative ex to keep a relationship with his/her kids no matter how awful they are.

    • When I was young my mother and my grandmother got into a huge fight. My mom cut off communication with my grandmother for 5 years. I had a good relationship with my grandmother and didn’t want to lose her. My mom was bitter and angry, even after my grandmother died she couldn’t stop criticizing her. I was stuck in the middle and did whatever I could to bring them back together. I respected my mother’s wishes and didn’t communicate with my grandmother during those 5 years but it hurt me to cut off my grandmother. Eventually I wrote to my grandmother and told her my feelings about not being able to visit her because of the rift between her and my mom. That act facilitated my grandmother reaching out to my mother and brought them back together. They were civil with each other after that, although they never liked each other.

      My youngest son is trying to stay in contact and support everyone because he wants to heal his family. I told him I could relate to how he felt because of my childhood experience. Still, I’m done with putting myself into painful positions for the sake of making other people feel better, even if they’re my children. My ex hurt me deeply, and repeatedly, and I’m going to protect myself from unnecessary pain.

  • I think it was inconsiderate of Lyn’s son to ask her to watch his dog, knowing that she would probably be hurt/upset if she knew it was so he could vacation with his father. Lyn’s son is a grown man and could have made other arrangements for dog-sitting, but probably didn’t do so because of the inconvenience and/or cost.

    If Lyn is doing a favor for someone, she has every right to know what it is for. Of course, if Lyn were trying to actively obstruct her son from seeing his father, that would be one thing; here, it seems like she was tricked into unknowingly going out of her way to facilitate something that, were she fully informed, she might not have chosen to do and is well within her right to refuse. Why should she be the one to take care of the dog so her ex can enjoy time with her son when she has better things to do with her time? Her ex also could have arranged/paid for someone to watch the dog.

    • I’m coming at this from a different direction. While Lyn should have had the option of whether to watch the dog while her son was vacationing with his dad, I personally would be upset if I was asked why each time a favor was needed (and I am). Either say yes or no but doing something for someone is an independent act and shouldn’t be dependent on WHY you’re being asked. That begins to feel judgemental & controlling (you get to decide what is a “good enough” reason to help me). I understand why she felt hurt & her response after the fact was perfect.

      I’ve kept things from my uBPD mom not to try to “protect” her but to protect me from her responses. She also claims to want truth but then falls to pieces if it’s not what she wants to hear. Having feelings (rage, tears, sadness, etc) are good things are totally justified…just don’t make your feelings someone else’s responsibility. Own them, deal with them, and act reasonably within your own boundaries or you will push others away.

  • The kids sound a bit avaricious to me. So they will visit their father if he pays for the plane tickets, coz he has a nice house and presumably spends money on them. But otherwise, they spend holidays with their wives’ families. Nice kids.

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