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Senior Contributor

What would you do?

My youngest turn 18 today.  Love him a lot but for a variety of reasons he has not been an easy child.  Mostly I think it is my husband and I not him.

This kid is very independent, a quit angry young man and pushes buttons here at home all the time.

What he has wanted to do for 2 years is join the Marines.  Not happy with his choice.  Have talked and talked but he has not wavered and has pretty much conducted himself in a manner that leaves him no other choice.  It's either the military or a dead end job if he can find even that.  Scored a 27 on his ACT but would not look at any school much less apply anywhere.

So finally in March his dad and I relented, signed the release form and on April 1 he joined the Marines.  His leave date for boot camp is March 3 2012.

The Marines have activities he can participate in working with the local recruiters between now and then.  They also have events that the families are invited to.  The first is later in April.  I will be going with my son.  My problem arises with my husband.

We talked about this event when the recruiter was here at the house when we signed the release forms.  When Alex came with a firm date for It I told my husband about it.  His reaction. and I quote "go watch them play at being  soldiers, people yelling at them.  Been there, done that, I don't need to go"

Well this is not about him and what he did in his youth.  It is about our son.  I will be there for my son, but I am really puzzled by my husband's attitude and don't know how to go about getting him to see how wrong he is.  He is a man who always believes he is right, rarely changes his mind and as my oldest daughter once said about him, believes loudest make you right.

I would also say that his attitude is a big part of the reason our son has chosen this path for his life.

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4 Replies
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Honored Advisor

Re: What would you do?

Don't know your husband's age...if he was an enlistee or a draftee.  That would tell us if he was in the military for his own reasons, or for the country's call.  I don't know if he saw active duty, and if so, if that recollection is painful for him or not. 

The only veteran I know much about in terms of his regard for the experience he had is a guy a few years older than us, a Vietnam Marine grunt, one of a precious few who survived the capture of one nondescript Southeast Asian hill.  He will not even register to vote to this day, almost forty years later.  I think that says a lot about the military and its effects on some men...their service does leave a lot of them jaded and negative.   

As for your husband and your son...do you remember the post Lisa made a couple of weeks or so ago: "Leave me out of it"?  You are - and with these two probably always have been - caught in the middle. 

The truth is:  You cannot fix their relationship.  They are responsible for how they present themselves to one another. 

In your description of him, your husband sounds like a classic bully.  The conventional wisdom on bullies is that they were bullied themselves - probably at home, since that is the pattern he seems to be living out now.  Possible?

I will also observe this:  His comment about them "playing at being soldiers, people yelling at them" sort of indicates to me that he had issues with the same sort of military training (which is definitely a form of bullying behavior - drill sergeants chew kids up and spit them out) in that part of his lifetime.  If he'd had that same issue earlier in life, and it repeated in his training, it's easy to se why he's resistant to attending. 

Coupled with you daughter's  "loudest is right" observation, it all seems to add up to the fact that somewhere, he encountered being the weakling to a loud, bullying presence.  Is that possible? 

I will add: "Always being right" is sometimes a narcissistic tendency...and from what I've read of that emotional type, it also stems from serious, base-level insecurity. 

I guess your question about "What would you do?" refers to whether or not to try to force him to attend the event.  You can try, and may succeed.   He will probably make an a$$ of himself, maybe even sabotage the trip, and possibly even make it so you can't get there. 

Is it more important for you to go, or to drag him there at any cost?  He's exerting a lot of power over you, just by making it difficult for you in this way of withholding his presence.  That gives him a LOT of influence he doesn't deserve, don't you think?   

I have made it a point in my life to be there when I think I need to make it to an event, and let Mike do his own thing.  I go, enjoy myself or give support to the person I'm there for, and then go home and have little to say about the day.  I refuse to drag around a six-foot tall, 185-pound recalcitrant toddler, who wants to be somewhere else. 

Go and enjoy the day, take lots of pictures to share with the siblings.  Don't bother to make the first excuse about your husband's absence...your son knows better than anyone why he's not there if he decides to skip the event.  You can announce your plans, and let him know that he's welcome.  He's a big boy who knows where his clean clothes are, if he wants to ride along. 

As Dr. Phil says, I'd rather be happy all my myself, than miserable with someone else. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: What would you do?

I'm sorry to hear about all this tension. All you can really do is support your son and be there for him, and your husband has to make peace with his decisions. He'll either come around or he won't, but you probably won't be able to change his mind. Go, enjoy yourself, and tell your son you're proud of him!

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Senior Contributor

Re: What would you do?

I would add to Kay's remarks that he may be for the better in the Marines. He's had 17 or 18 years of negative behavior and wants to get away from that bullying. Is there a reason why he chose the Marines over the other branches? Service to the country is an honorable career. We can only wish that the people who send our boys and girls to war decide prudently which conflict we should be involved.

Make the decision for yourself whether you want to attend the activities. DH's absence will say plenty about him to others in the audience. Also, since the youngest will be leaving, consider your own health dealing with DH's bullying. When there are no children to abuse, you may become a larger target of the yelling.

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Senior Contributor

Re: What would you do?

I would go by myself or maybe take along any other relatives/friends and enjoy the day as well as you can.  He'll need all of your support.  I remember when DS joined Nat. Guard.  He joined right out of high school & he was one homesick kid.  Still have his letters he wrote saying

"PLEASE WRITE"!  Funny now that he's grown man with family.  Anyway, I went twice to Ft. Knox; once w/DH and once with my folks & DH's.  He couldn't get away both times.  Don't remember how we did it with milking but I was so glad we did.  Hopefully your son won't hold it against his dad.

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