Oh, my goodness. Well, our difficult child wrote my husband an email today, in which he said that "mommy and I are on the outs," but wondered whether he and my husband could stay in touch because "I have recently received some upsetting medical news." My husband pushed the panic button, of course, and called, asking what I knew about all this and wondering what to do. You may recall that our difficult child had made similar comments to me last week in a phone call - to the effect that he'd gotten bad medical news, but didn't want to tell me about it in that specific conversation. After I calmed down, I realized that (a) there is a remarkable synchronicity to John's receiving bad health news and our instituting consequences for bad behavior; (b) that what he did (implying horrible news, about which he knew I'd worry, but refusing to tell me what it was) was actually really cruel; and (c) that there is really nothing I can do anyhow, since I'm neither a doctor nor responsible for his care. I had made the decision not to share this with my husband, who is suffering his own health problems (cancer which may or may not be in remission) because reasons (a), (b) and (c) are also valid for him. Now, of course, my husband wants to resume contact with difficult child (this is after less than a week!) so that we can stay abreast of John's health issues. I told him, flat-out, that I thought John was manipulating us again, and we did have a bit of a personal dust-up over it (not uncommon). When I got off the phone, though, I started thinking about things and I realized, John knows exactly what he's doing, going to his dad with this. Certainly it's true that if John were on his deathbed, or presently terminally ill (neither of which he is), all bets would be off. Of course at that point, yes, time would be very short and all would be forgiven. I think that what John is thinking is that his dad is acutely aware of his own mortality, and it is true that (John implies but never comes out and says this) the days that he and his dad spend together may in fact be numbered, whether that's because of John's health issues or my husband's. John also knows that husband lost his own father (to the same cancer husband has now) at a very young age, and mourns all the lost opportunities and chance for reconciliation that represents. I can see that my husband and I really either need to figure out a consistent approach to difficult child, or seek counseling to decide how we're going to handle things between us relating to difficult child. I think that an awful lot of the time, husband feels that I'm just "being mean," "cold," or "unsympathetic" when it comes to difficult child and his health issues and his conduct. And I feel that an awful lot of the time, husband is being a squishy waver-er who brings a lot of this down on us, by sending out inconsistent messages and by refusing to choose a plan for difficult child and stick to it. Sigh.