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Living With Divorce

Real Danger Signal Is Son's Depression

June 20, 1986|VIRGINIA DOODY KLEIN

Question: My ex-husband feels that our son, 15, is exhibiting increasingly effeminate behavior. He tends to be a loner, with only one or two close friends at a time. He spends a lot of time alone in his room. He and I are very close, but he has no real rapport with his father or brothers and sisters. He seems depressed and unhappy, but I cannot get him to open up and tell me what's bothering him. I don't know how to help him or to let him know that I'd love him no matter what's troubling him.

Answer: I would be far more worried about your son's apparent withdrawal than his sexuality at this point. A teen-ager who isolates himself and is depressed is sending out signals that he's in real trouble. There are any number of causes for depression. Begin by finding a psychiatrist or internist who specializes in biochemical imbalances. Please don't put this off. Your son is trying to tell you that he cannot cope with his life right now. Once you discover the problem, you can then deal with it appropriately. It can never hurt to tell those you love that that love is unconditional.

Q. Any help you can give me will be appreciated. I have been married for six years to my second wife. I have custody of my son and daughter from a previous marriage. Laura, my wife, has a drug problem that is destroying our marriage and alienating the children. She has been through several drug abuse programs, but eventually she always starts sneaking back to her old ways. My kids are teen-agers, and I'm afraid that they will be influenced by her habit as they get older. Right now they are disgusted by her unpredictable behavior. She's a lovely person when she's clean, but I hate what's happening to all of us because of her habit. She promises to go back into treatment but always finds an excuse to put it off.

A. You cannot live your life hoping that something will happen to make your wife change. Set some time limits for Laura to get into counseling and a detoxification program. Make it clear that when the time is up, if she has not complied, she must leave. If that happens, then give her another time period of several weeks to get the help she needs before you file for divorce. Telling her exactly what you are going to do and giving her a definite timetable will give her some structure to work within. But this can work only if you mean what you say.

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