Testimony from an aunt: my nephew has emotional issues…

I received this as a comment on my blog a few days ago and am posting it here with permission:

My sister is divorced. Her ex is living with a new woman with a daughter. My sister has tried to remarry on a few occasions which fell through. My poor nephew has been dealing with this since he was 7 years old. He’s 11 now. And he has some major emotional issues. He now lies to his dad about his mom. When he’s with his mom, he lies to her. He plays protector to each parent (his dad is a psychopath though so I’m not saying my sister should have stayed. He was abusive too). It’s pretty awful because they are both abusive in their own right. His dad, more so. But she’s also abusive as she swears and yells on the phone to his dad when he is in the room. It’s just terrible. Anyway, now when he’s with his dad he has to deal with a sibling that wasn’t there before. And that is an added layer to deal with. If he already feels invisible, I can’t imagine competing with another kid for attention. It’s just a sad scenario.

My observation: superficially it might be easy to pin his lying on his parents abusive behavior, but that’s only part of the story. Let me repost the diagrams so that we can see what’s going on in this poor boy’s life:

mothers life after divorce

fathers life after divorce

Can you see how the structure of his family requires him to lie to them about the other parent? In his desire to please each parent, he may be telling them what he knows they need to hear to stay in their good graces. He may be in a double bind: if he lies, then he remains safe with that parent in the sense that his lie may virtue signalling that the other parent deserves rejection. If he does not lie, then he fails to virtue signal which may trigger abandonment fears in him. Another possibility is that he is exercising what little power he has by playing both ends against the middle. I was accused of that a number of times growing up. In both cases, it is the parents’ rejection of each other has created this scenario. And he is emotionally isolated in the sense that nobody else has the same family that he has. He is the lone member of his fractured family structure.

I have argued elsewhere that lying is a structural requirement in this sort of arrangement, and also that alternative families are near occasions of sin for children.



Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

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