Teen son battles insecurity exacerbated by absent father

Published 8:19 am Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: My teenage son has a difficult relationship with his dad. They talk roughly once a week, but his dad hasn’t exercised visitation rights in nearly four years. He’s retired, very well off and has the time and resources to utilize spending time with our son; he simply chooses not to.
My son has some very understandable negative feelings about this. He’s in counseling and is now recognizing he has the power and responsibility to set boundaries for his own well-being. However, he struggles with deep insecurities. Despite having other male role models (grandpa, coaches, neighbors) who model positive behavior, share time, give advice and support him, he struggles to trust that he is deserving of it.
I regularly point out the wonderful male influences in his life and provide resources for him to spend enjoying activities with them. This helps, but it doesn’t seem to overcome my son’s deep sense of rejection and insecurities in peer-to-peer male relationships.
Boundaries are necessary in life. Embracing the good in our lives is equally, if not more, important. How can I help my son recognize that both good and bad are included in “when people show you who they are, believe them”? – AWARE MOM IN COLORADO

DEAR MOM: Continue to reinforce how proud of your son you are and how much you love him. Explain to him as often as necessary that the treatment he is receiving from his father has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with what is lacking in his father.
Under the circumstances, your son’s reaction to the treatment he has been given is understandable. But the person who may be in a better position to get through to him is his therapist.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend of 35 years and I had a falling out about a year ago. I would call it an unfortunate misunderstanding, and as a result, we are no longer friends. Having said that, I wish nothing but the best for her.
Many years ago, when I was sick with cancer, she gifted me a painting she created. She’s a talented artist, and I know she spent many hours working on it. I recently moved and I can’t bring myself to display the artwork because it is now a painful reminder that our friendship is over.
I have thought about returning it to her with a brief note, but I don’t know if that would be in bad taste. I certainly don’t want to create any hurt feelings. However, I’m wondering if she might want her painting back because she put so much effort into it. Your opinion, please? – REMINDED IN IOWA

DEAR REMINDED: Write your former friend an email explaining that you have moved (if she doesn’t already know) and will no longer be able to display her painting. Ask if she would like to have it back in light of the fact that she devoted so much time to creating it. If she wants it, send it to her. If she doesn’t, sell it, donate it or stick it in a closet.
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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