- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband is deployed (as is everyone I know). I won’t complain about this being his third deployment because it’s just a fact of military life now.

I read that you also are a military spouse, so I know you will agree when I say it seems like everything happens when your husband is away. The car breaks down, there are maintenance problems with the house, family members get sick and now I’m dealing with a hard-headed son who won’t listen to reason.

He is dating a 34-year-old woman who is bragging about the great sex they are having. My son will be 18 years old next month and has vowed to never speak to me again if I report her to the police for having sex with a minor. He keeps saying he is a grown man.

My husband knows about what is going on, but he tells me this is something every young boy will go through. He knows it isn’t right, but believes there is nothing we can do about it.

I feel so alone on this issue and I know this “cougar” is doing nothing but ruining any chance my son has of having a decent future. At midterms he was failing two subjects, and recently he did not come home from school because he had spent the night with her.

What in the world can I do about this? — Cougar Takes Advantage Of My Son

Dear Cougar,

I hear many dynamics in your letter. First, I can tell you are stressed out and anxious. Your husband is deployed and you have taken on additional responsibilities that require even more of your time and attention, specifically raising your teenage son.

I’ve walked in your shoes, but when it came to giving our sons clear messages, my husband and I always would present a united front. On this issue, you and your husband don’t seem to be on one accord.

Granted, he is thousands of miles away, confronting things every day the rest of us don’t have to face. So in your husband’s defense, this is probably why he is telling you to accept your son’s behavior rather than having you deal with the additional burden and stress by yourself.

You also said your son has given you a warning: If you report this woman to the authorities, he will never speak to you again. I would take him at his word. Mom, let me be candid but respectful with you. This woman has rocked your son’s world. At this point, he is willing to do anything for her and he is not going to listen to sound advice from anyone.

I think you should have a talk with the woman. Tell her about the negative changes you are noticing in your son — his falling grades, staying out all night and becoming disrespectful with you because of his relationship with her, etc. Let her know it’s your desire as a mother to see him graduate from high school and have a chance to go to college. If she cares about your son in any way, she should be willing to make sure he has a chance for a good future.

On the other hand, you could contact the police and make a report. I’m not sure what they will do, especially since he is a willing participant and he is almost 18. Additionally, you will have to confront your son’s threat to never speak to you again.

In the even bigger picture, I’m concerned about your mental and emotional health. It’s important that you have peace of mind, especially during your husband’s deployment. Your major support is away right now. You should try to build a network of supportive family and friends. You also should consider speaking to a professional counselor or therapist for additional support, advice and techniques to help you deal with your children.

Contact Social Work Services on your base and ask about counseling services. Another option would be to contact Military OneSource (800/342-9647). They are staffed 24/7 and can connect you to a therapist in your community for free services. Take care of yourself and keep in touch.

Send e-mail to dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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