Ex's Wedding & Teen

I don't think you should worry about trying to change the arrangements now. Of course any number of things can happen to impact any trip, but the chances of him wanting to go seem so slim. If the Dad was more involved/interested in having him there, he wouldn't have picked this date!!! He would already know about it, how excited the teen is about it etc


I am a doting aunt to two nephews. This situation is so sad. I would vote for letting him stay at the conference the whole time. The fact that dad didn't even know the date of the most important event in his kid's life speaks volumes. I can't imagine that attending the wedding will do anything to help the relationship between nephew and his father, while missing the conference would be a huge blow.


As I said, I have a strong hunch that missing the convention will be utterly unbearable for him. I don't mean to sound alarmist, but you were afraid of suicide before any of this came up, so I certainly wouldn't create a situation that will be emotionally unbearable for him.


so, we had a near disaster with this today. His father decided (against my strong advice) to basically force the kid to attend the wedding. Kid was "informed" last night. Ex texted me this morning to the effect of "he understands the severity of this event and how it will look to his family if he skips it so he's going to attend the wedding". Concerned based on that wording, I texted teen with a simple "just wanted to check before I moved forward on atlanta. You are ok with this? It's what you want?"  Teen called me- which NEVER happens- crying unconsolably that he really didn't have a choice, that he was forced and that he's rather die than go to the wedding. Auntie jumped in and told ex exactly how terrified I was for this kid and how he really felt. It escalated badly but now is resolved as father feels terrible he pushed this and now kid can do what he wants. 

On another note, how hard academically would it be for a kid to switch from NY to NJ for senior year of high school? This is not a kid excelling in school but getting a solid B-. Sights for college are probably community school for 2 yrs to start. 


That poor kid. I really feel for him.  Does he really have to move to during senior year of high school?  That's not a good time to move.  


@lisat might have perspective on the moving for Senior Year thing.  I can't remember for sure if it was the final year but I know from her blog posts here that they moved from NJ to ME late in her kid's high school years.  


If the high schooler is unhappy enough to want to move, and brings his core online social interactions with him, it might be just fine (or even far better than the alternative, from the mess you describe), but agreed that it is generally not a great time to move for most kids.


nan said:

That poor kid. I really feel for him.  Does he really have to move to during senior year of high school?  That's not a good time to move.  

If it is to move in with his aunt then it might be the best thing for him emotionally.  


I feel the same way. No 17 year old needs ultimatums and drama. Life is hard enough. Thank goodness for loving auntie.


Well stated ootg!

oneofthegirls said:

No 17 year old needs ultimatums and drama. Life is hard enough. Thank goodness for loving auntie.

What a tough situation. The dad has not even introduced the fiancee and now it is for the good of the family that he attend the wedding??? Proof positive that his head is up his "you know what"...
Can teen live with you over the summer? The only thing I would be concerned with for transferring senior year would be the social scene. Do you know families with kids his age in your town?


How does your nephew feel about it.   If it is what your nephew wants then DO IT.   If he is happier and can live with more support and less drama it could be good for him academically.   Social adjustment may be difficult.  It's not like transferring in the middle of the year .  Everyone will be starting new classes


Transferring schools at start of senior year is not a good idea.  If the young man does not want to attend the wedding, he should not be forced to.  Why isn't the lad's mother involved and standing up for him?


I think (if I remember previous discussions correctly) that the key things are that this is a young man with dysfunctional parents, limited school engagement, mixed academic success, and a mostly online group of friends.  

If his parents are going to make decisions that threaten his mental health, the standard warnings about changing schools for senior year may not apply.  However...I wouldn't drop him into the standard big, competitive, clique-y suburban high school without support.  Before starting school I would insist on meeting with school personnel to discuss him and make sure that counselors and other personnel at least know who he is.

If there is a year's worth of private school money available, I'd consider having him do senior year at one of the local places that are essentially customized group tutoring (Ivy Education's FlexSchool in Fanwood, or Fusion in Morristown), rather than enter a new conventional school. That way, he would be part of a small group, get customized attention, and have someone who really knows him when it is time to talk about college.

And if you go through with this, reach out to me off-line about Zombie apocalypse roleplaying weekends...I know a group of lovely young people who go camp in the woods with foam swords monthly.  Probably exactly the right place for him to build a new non-high-school community, from what you've said about him.

thechamp said:

Transferring schools at start of senior year is not a good idea.  If the young man does not want to attend the wedding, he should not be forced to.  Why isn't the lad's mother involved and standing up for him?

After re-reading and thinking about some of your past comments, I'm more and more thinking that it might be a good idea if there is a way to muster the needed credits to graduate and there has to be ... sometimes kids HAVE no alternative but to move (parental job change, whatever) and they/their families and new schools make it work ... and susan1014's idea also sounds good.  If he is likely to head to county/community college anyway, then the main thing is to get that high school diploma (or maybe even a GED ... whatever is required for the college.)  Our experience with county college was pretty good and if the student is interested and ready to work there, the high school transcript won't matter at all once they have that associates degree or the necessary credits to transfer to a 4-year school or desired certificate program or get a job commensurate with the college credits obtained.  I have some personal experience with this in my family and happy to share more via PM.


Is the future step-mom's first marriage? Does future-step-mom know about the young man's dilemma or has she met him in the past month?

Sounds like Dad will do the expected and attempt to make everyone happy, get stressed, and forget that you can't make everyone happy all the time.

If bio-Mom (or whoever convinced Dad) has built a reality in her head that son MUST go to a wedding because of "how it looks" to family perhaps you can hold her feet to the fire on that. At the last wedding she attended - who's kids were there and who's were not there? What is her opinion of the "look" of each of her closest family members at her own wedding? When she flips through wedding photos does she only talk about people who were not there, or who don't have a good "look"? If the photos are not her own wedding how much does she actually care? Does she honestly believe that if you get ~50-100 people together for an event, that there isn't at least a few who have something better to do?

Sorry for the situation and hoping adults involved can reach a compromise first and understand the healing that has to happen for the young man afterwards whether or not he's forced to go.


The usual rules do not apply to this teen. He needs to get out of his current situation any way possible. 

Look into a therapeutic school, like Cornerstone in Soringfield. They combine therapy with academics. 


As nice as a therapeutic school might be (not sure if Cornerstone would be the right one), I doubt that is would be easy to get an unclassified student an IEP to go out-of-district without effective parental involvement, especially not in time  to start for Senior year in a district where the student does not yet live.

shoshannah said:

The usual rules do not apply to this teen. He needs to get out of his current situation any way possible. 

Look into a therapeutic school, like Cornerstone in Soringfield. They combine therapy with academics. 

You also need to be careful regarding the therapeutic schools. They follow the NJ curriculum, but they are often quite dumbed down. And, yes, generally you need to be classified and sent by a school district. But it depends on where the school's funding comes from. 


yes, dysfunctional parents so no support from either really. At this point, I think both would agree to let him move. No, he certainly doesn't have to move and honestly, he may still say no if asked anyway, I was just wondering if I'd be helping or hurting him by even offering.

No, no, no. Bio-mom ( my sister) would not encourage him to go to the wedding. In fact, when she finds out, it's going to be yet another way to tear the kids apart because she's going to be adamant they shouldn't go, father is going to be adamant they should. More drama. So, yes, she'll stand up for him but it'll be more about "daddy destroyed us- why would you want to..."- which they don't need either.

Dad is the one that is worried about how it will look. When this issue was raised with dad about 3-4 weeks ago, we talked it though. I shared my concern for the kids mental health especially if asked/ forced to give up the convention. Father seemed to agree and we decided he'd let the kid choose and handle in a very neutral way. Well, something changed along the way and it became pretty much telling him he has to go to wedding, give up convention. It became the guilt trip I was hoping to avoid for him- my family will think you are a loser, you should love my new wife (whom he's met now ONCE), we are all going to be a big happy family, you have a new aunt and new grandma and new cousins you need to meet (yes, he actually told them that). After all this happened, father of the year texts me and says " xxx now sees the severity of this event and how much he'll regret not attending so please change the plans for the convention". The wording didn't sit right with me ( didn't sound like my nephew) and something told me this was not the neutral decision that was promised. So I called teen and said " I just want to confirm this is what you decided..." And the floodgates opened about no, it was not, how much he hates his father, how he wouldn't want to go under any circumstances, how no one cares about what matters to him and that he'd rather die... At that point, I told his father he did the kid wrong and that he needed to let the kid do what he wanted and his father (after being verbally abusive to me for a few hours) agreed and admitted he handled it poorly and decided to let the kid make his own decision.

My opinion ( little experience here - from an intact family, in an intact family, husband from intact family) is that this shouldn't be forced on them as some amazing wonderful thing that dad is getting married nor should it be positioned as some horrible affront to their former family. I tell them that they get to decide how they feel and it's okay if they are happy or sad or mad or confused or all of them. And that they can like or not like new wife based on how she treats them , NOT based on daddy loving her or mommy hating her. They should get to decide. But right now, it's the father doing most of the damage by trying to convince them how awesome this is and him getting offended like a child if they don't play along and smile and pretend they are thrilled. I think it's going to break them with all the different pretending.

I was asking about transferring schools just to see if it's even a decent possibility for him. I don't want to make his life harder but want him to know it's an option if he wants it. And yes, if pay any tuition mount if it would help him. He has a free friends- kids he goes to the gym with a few afternoons a week but no one he sees on the weekends or anything so I don't think the cpsocial part would be the issue although I would imagine even with few friends, coming to a new school for senior year might b unbearable socially. 

Yes, on the zombie apocalypse thing! Susan, I will reach out next week. And yes, sac that's what I am thinking about community college- basically a way for him to start over academically/ socially and emotionally ( hopefully here with me where he belonged years ago)


Your nephew is lucky to have you.


Unfortunately, when I read about his response, I would give high odds that this will not be the last attempt to make him go to the wedding.  I'm guessing the wife-to-be (or others around her) may have very strong opinions about what will "look right", while underestimating the needs and mental health risks of this teen who she has met exactly once.

conandrob240 said:

...And the floodgates opened about no, it was not, how much he hates his father, how he wouldn't want to go under any circumstances, how no one cares about what matters to him and that he'd rather die... At that point, I told his father he did the kid wrong and that he needed to let the kid do what he wanted and his father (after being verbally abusive to me for a few hours) agreed and admitted he handled it poorly and decided to let the kid make his own decision.


yeah, it could be the new wife but I truly don't think so. I don't know her but I don't get that sense. I think it's the father. He is hell-bent that this is the greatest thing in the world for his kids. I truly think he wants to erase the former family and replace with this new wife and new siblings. And he completely, fully expects his kids should and will be 100% thrilled with this. He refuses to see they might be sad or confused. Personally, I don't get that. I would imagine a remarriage would be hard under even the best circumstances and when happening about a year after the dad moved out to a woman the kids just met last week, I just don't get how you can expect their happiness at this. I think littlest one will be mostly happy because he's at that people-pleasing age and if people fawn over him, he's hooked. Niece is going to be crushed and very uncomfortable. She told me the only good thing about this divorce is that she finally gets some attention from dad (because he's alone with them). she's really sensitive and self- conscious and being around a new woman is going to be hard for her. She doesn't really like my sister and I'll bet the idea of yet another mother figure is going to ruffle her feathers a lot. She goes off the rails at anyone trying to guide her or tell her what to do. Eldest nephew I am sure isn't thrilled but He won't really have to ever live with new family because of his age like little ones will.

And the comments about looking bad to the family is more about nephew looking bad to HIS father's family who are all flying in from CA for the wedding. As in, "you never get to see them , how dare you!!!" as if it's his kids fault his grandmother and aunt from CA have visited him 2x in the 14 hrs he's lived here. 

Nephew was definitely upset at more than missing the convention. That's what I was trying to convey to dumba$& ex BIL. That the kid was sad and angry about the wedding, too not just mad he couldn't go to the convention. He refuses to entertain that possibility. 

I agree that this may not be over but, bottom line, you can't make a 17 yr old attend a wedding. Short of tying him up and dragging him physically. Unless the kid tells me he wants to go to wedding and means it, we'll be on our flight to the convention. He begged me for this out with what he said to me about all this (not literally) so I'm going to give him that lifeline. 


I just wonder what'll happen next with other two. Little guy is going to probably want to attend. Niece is not. She's 9. She hates all things hair, dress up and hygiene, LOL. She has sensory issues and every fabric you put her in itches or irritates or hurts her. If for no other reason, she's going to not want to go for that reason alone. Wonder who will make that decision? I'll stand up for her too but that ones even more complicated to me because of her age. Maybe I'm wrong no she'll want to go- I hope so. But God help them both if they say they want to go then go and have a good time. My sister will make them pay I am sure. Little ones don't know yet.


Perhaps Dad is not the type to overcompensate and burn out solving everybody's problems... and is more selfish. Adults all understand that rare events like 3,000 mile trips are worth our full attention for at least some amount of time, because we know about lost opportunities and can count those.

At 17 not only does he not have that perspective, but has good reason to believe that the event is not rare because he's got 30-40ish years left to catch up to Dad's thought process. Dad may not reflect enough on his own thoughts or think critically long enough to "get on his level". Son is not equipped to flip the script, so it's up to Dad to do the emotional heavy lifting.

Dad probably needs to be reminded that nothing happens in a vacuum - in
reference to saying to the kids how amazing and wonderful everything
will be. That could be a risky bet if he hasn't seen all the cards yet.

Looks like you're doing that lifting right now - which you don't have to do and is very nice. For your own sanity it may be sufficient to help him with the CC process but not engage in discussion of moving school and let them figure it out. The longer you continue to bear the weight of Son's complaints, the longer Dad gets to be happily ignorant of them. 


royg, trouble with waiting for dad to figure out what should be done, may be after the kid goes way down the tubes. I agree she is taking on an awful lot, but I don't think it is fair to the kid to wait for the father to wake up.


The father scheduled a wedding date before the kids even met the bride to be.  The father also scheduled this date without finding out if the children had anything important on that date.  I don't hold out any hope for the father seeing the error of his ways at this point.  In fact, I think there will be at least one or two more guilt trips on the son to attempt to force him to attend the wedding with the misguided belief that everything will be wonderful once they are all "family."  The father is mistaking his personal happiness with the family's happiness.


Is there any way to go back to Plan A--rearrange your trip so he can make an appearance (however brief) at the wedding but also participate in the convention? 


As conandrob240 has said before, rearranging the trip would mean missing a great deal of the convention.

So, would you really suggest that she spend money to rearrange a long-planned trip to force a sulky and resentful teen to show up at the wedding of a parent so self-centered/clueless that he didn't even bother to check availability of his own children (or introduce the bride) before picking a wedding date? So that the teen can sit there, knowing at each minute which panel or gathering he is missing...

I doubt that this father would have even listened to his child's interests enough to plan this trip, which sounds like the highlight of the teen's high school years to me, and perhaps even one of the lifelines to his survival of the high school and divorce years.

Perhaps, if timing allows, the teen could show up for a rehearsal dinner as the far flung relatives arrive, full of apologies and enthusiasm for his long-planned and unmovable commitment?  

(OK, he is a late teen, so the apologies and enthusiasm might be too much to ask...or might have to be sent in a lovely and carefully composed note/email from conandrob240, making it clear that this trip has been on the calendar since forever, and is the culmination of a passion, rather than a comment on the ceremony)

berkeley said:

Is there any way to go back to Plan A--rearrange your trip so he can make an appearance (however brief) at the wedding but also participate in the convention? 

I think berkeley's point is legit. If the father is going to continue to hound and guilt the kid, maybe there is a way to take off a few hours from the convention. Not saying they should...but as a reminder. Many, many hours at the convention. If they could manage the timing so that the wedding is only a portion of an otherwise fulfilling weekend...It is a thought worth considering. 


I don't believe that the wedding and convention are in the same part of the US.  


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