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Marine Vet Takes Problems Out on His Mom

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

As the mother of a three-tour combat veteran, I have seen so many gut-wrenching emotions and outbursts from my son.

It has been amazingly difficult to experience. But he is my youngest child -- the most extraordinary, brave and wise person I will ever know.

My son has been out of the Marine Corps for a number of years. He has done a brief stint in jail. But he has bought a home in the forest and now has a girlfriend.

For all intents and purposes, he has adjusted well and is leading a full, meaningful life. So why has he chosen me as his whipping boy?

All his anger and bad feelings are directed at me. I am nothing short of heartbroken, and he only contacts me when he needs something and is very unpleasant when he does.

We were always so close, and I do not know what to do. I am devastated. Please let me know if this is uncommon or if I have indeed lost my child.

A Caring Mom

Dear Caring Mom,

My heart goes out to you. I am a mother of three sons, and I can’t imagine my relationship being strained to the point that we are not communicating anymore.

Your son’s isolation and his habit of making you his “whipping boy” have me concerned. I hope he is not using alcohol or any other drugs because that would definitely make things worse.

You said he contacts you when he needs something. This tells me that he knows he can depend on you.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be the “whipping boy.” You can still set boundaries about the type of support you choose to give to him.

For example, you don’t have to give him money every time he calls, OK? You can set limits.

At the same time, I know that it kills you when you don’t hear from him. For this reason, it’s important that you keep the lines of communication open.

My quick advice would be for you to try and build a relationship with your son’s girlfriend. This way, you can have her as an ally. Even if you don’t see your son, you can call her and she should be willing to give you updates.

I hope this helps. Just know that I understand and I wish you the best. Please write me again with an update.

Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki, a native of Dallas, has been the ‘Dear Abby’ for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her column has appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Ms. Vicki has retired from writing new columns for Although Ms. Vicki is no longer offering new advice on, you can still email military benefits questions to our Questions and Benefits team. Need military spouse career help? Email our Dear Career writers.