My husband and I are separated. He had severe addiction issues and went to rehab multiple times. It finally “stuck” in California. He lives there now. I live in NJ with our 6 year old son. My son was super close to him and misses him terribly. I have no desire to move to California, but am I doing my son a disservice by not going? There is no guarantee his dad and I would work it out anyway even if I lived there. Am I being selfish for staying in NJ with my son?
Dr. Zoe Answered:
It’s interesting to me that you didn’t ask if he was being selfish for not moving back to New Jersey where his son lives. Planes go both ways, my friend.
Your question indicates to me that you still have some co-dependent behavior which is quite common with people in relationship with addicts. They take on too much of the responsibility for the addict, which actually impedes the addict taking responsibility for his own actions.
I’m thrilled to hear that he has been in rehab and is healing and improving himself. You’ve been busy picking up the pieces left behind and caring for your son in this transition. I wonder if you have had time to work on your own issues regarding the effects of your husband’s addiction on you and your relationship.
No, you are not being selfish by choosing not to uproot yourself and your son and follow him to California. Your sentiment is right, though. A son does need his father in his life. Your son misses his father terribly. How often does he see him in person? How often does he see him virtually? If your husband isn’t making a big effort to see your son when he is gone, then moving close to him may not solve the problem.
A better option would be facilitating more connection on a day-to-day basis and increased in-person visits. Have you spoken to his father about how much his son misses him and how he can connect with him better?
You don’t need to follow him all over the country to achieve this. I know boys who have an amazing, connected relationship with a parent who lives across the country, and I know boys who have completely disconnected relationships with a parent who shares their own home.
Parenting a child almost by yourself is not easy, my friend. But you can’t make up the slack for an absent father by doing his work. Your job is to not impede the process and his job is to do the work. If he is unable or unwilling to take his role seriously, release yourself of the guilt, and show up as the best mom you can for him. Help your son build connections with other male role models and trust that God’s got him.
You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.
Dr. Zoe has even more great advice for anyone in a codependent relationship. Watch now…