Father’s anger issues stem from head injury

Published 8:15 am Thursday, November 18, 2021

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DEAR ABBY: I’m a divorcee who has reconnected with a childhood neighbor, “Levi.” He was physically assaulted as a teenager and badly injured. He has made almost a complete recovery, but has a metal plate in his skull and a traumatic brain injury. We have always been friends, and after my divorce, he asked me out.
It felt strange, akin to dating my brother, but he was persistent. We had fun, enjoyed parties and hanging out, and I got pregnant. Immediately I began to resent Levi. Neither of us was capable of raising children. Our 5-year-old now lives in chaos.
I didn’t know Levi as well as I thought. His TBI is a much bigger problem than I realized. He cannot control his temper. He’s quick to yell at our son, “Jaden,” and me, and puts me down in front of him. We have to move to a different area of the home to give Levi space.
He truly cannot help it, but it’s hard to tolerate the tantrums. Jaden loves his father anyway and never holds a grudge. Levi frequently apologizes, but the behavior never stops. He has never been physically abusive, but he’s walking a fine line with the verbal nastiness. I’m constantly a referee to prevent escalation.
I love both Levi and my son. We are not married. Should I continue trying to make it work? Or should I run for the hills with Jaden? It’s loud and often contentious. — SECOND-GUESSING MY LIFE

DEAR SECOND-GUESSING: Your love for Levi is beside the point. The longer Jaden is subjected to his father’s irrational outbursts — whether they are aimed at you or at him — the more the boy will feel this is what a normal adult relationship is like. For your son’s sake, you should separate. If Levi’s abuse escalates from verbal to physical, THAT’S when you should “run for the hills.”
DEAR ABBY: I am a mother of three adult kids. We are all comfortable financially. My eldest and youngest are successful. They work hard, and enjoy their homes and their lifestyle of entertaining and eating out.
My middle child lives far away and is happy to say he is not a capitalist. He works for nonprofits and barely makes ends meet. He went to college, but dropped out in his last semester. He has no health insurance. He drives a car, but has no insurance or driver’s license. He clearly knows better, but insists that all these concerns of mine are “old world and overrated” and that I worry about “nothing.”
I’m sick about the mistakes I’ve made with him, but I’m not sure what they were. I try to focus him on his license and insurance, but nothing gets done. What’s the next best step? — HELICOPTER MOM IN MICHIGAN

DEAR HELICOPTER MOM: I am sorry you didn’t mention what exactly your son does for these nonprofit organizations. Because they are “nonprofit” does not mean there is no money to pay their employees. Not only do staffers at nonprofits earn good wages, there are also benefits. The next best step for YOU would be to step back, and allow your adult son to conduct his life the way he has chosen and to accept the consequences of his irresponsibility.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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