Shocked By A person'e Behavior Towards Me

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    My stepson is 21 and came to live with us from France. He did not meet his father until he was 18 and then decided to come live in the USA and study here. Their relationship has been less than ideal. My relationship with my stepson has been good and , not having my own children, I put a lot of time & energy into helping him. We have become great friends also, or so I thought. My mother recently passed away and he was a great support. He came with me to the hospital and was clear that he loved helping me. During all this he had a falling out with his father. It was bad and I feel they are both equally at fault. My stepson then decided that he no longer wanted to study here but rather return to France. He then stopped talking to me completely. My mother had just died and his timing was odd. I decided to give him space. I went to my ipad to go on to Facebook…my stepson had used iit last and his message window opened. ( he had never logged out) I saw a conversation between him and his best friend….It was in French but I saw my name mentioned quite a bit. I was curious, of course so I translated the parts that mentioned me. To my horror I read that he was annoyed that he came to see my dying mother and that he did not care about my suffering and that he only visited because I thought we were friends. I know it was wrong to read it but I honestly dont regret it. I told him what I knew and he kept denying that I understood him. I had a french friend translate again for me and I was not wrong. Now he is angry at me and has blocked me from all contact. I know he is young but I am really shocked by his duplicity. I dont even know how to process it as I am beyond hurt. I should be grieving for my mother at this time. I am trying to keep an open mind and heart but I feel incredibly betrayed. I had so many arguments with his father trying to defend the kid..I paid for his English classes, helped tutor him, spent a lot of time etc…..I feel like I was sucker punched. He returns to france in two weeks. I feel just sad and awful and I dont know how to process all this. On top of that is me missing my mother who was my best friend. I dont want to become mistrustful and angry but it is just so unfair. Any words of wisdom or insights?



    I’m sorry for your loss, and wish your grief heals well over time. It is important to give our bodies and minds the space they need to process all the information and feelings that arise during such painful times.

    In regards to the instant messaging conversation and subsequent fallout, I think you errored in snooping. Kids, and especially boys becoming men have a split between their heart and their mind, where images of masculinity conflict and confuse. This goes away with time and maturity. Said differently, many children break away from parents by feeling and stating that they are “obligated but not inspired” to connect. Add on to that the stress of seeing and feeling grief, and it is no wonder he was venting feelings and thoughts to his friend.

    My suggestion is you own up to your mistake and tell him you’re sorry for crossing a boundary. Tell him you respect his feelings and that however he feels, you love him and want him to be happy. Even if its with gritted teeth!

    Then let him go! With time, love draws all thing back together. This is a good time for grieving your mom, not for figuring out relationships. The pain of loss will make you selfish, making things about you that are not. This is OK! Its OK to lash out, wail and flail, though it usually heals better when we do it to a pillow or trusted friend rather than our children.

    Ask yourself, would it have hurt so much if your response had been “oh, he is feeling drained and icky and said unkind things.” My three year old has told me she doesn’t love me, but when I heard that it only sounded like her in pain, her heart feeling icky. It didn’t have to be about me at all. Were I still grieving the death of my father I would have inappropriately made it about me.

    With warmth,


    Thank you Matt. I have already apologized for the snooping. I also said that I care for him and wish him only the best in his life and that I am always open to communication in the future. I have let him go although it hurts deeply to lose him.
    Grieving is indeed a very painful time and I think you are right…I made it become more about me than I normally would have were I not grieving.
    Thanks for your wonderful insight and perspective.

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