A friend told me the following story twenty years after it had occurred.

She found him, she told me, her thirteen year old son, in his room sobbing. Here he was just back from his two month summer visit with his Dad. He’d seemed happy to be back and had had little to say about his visit.

“I’ve done it,” she thought, as she sat down beside him and put her arm on his back. While her son had been gone she had married Ken, the man that had been in their lives for the last three years.

In the years since Jeremy’s father had just up and left them she and Jeremy had become very close. The older boys were teen agers and off doing their own activities so there had been just the two of them so often for supper or watching TV of an evening. Then as Ken became more involved in her life he’d joined them for a game or a movie. He’d started taking Jeremy to ball games. An avid fisherman, when he realized that Jeremy wanted to go, he’d taken him along. “But doing things together, and his mother marrying the man must have been too much,” Grace concluded thoughtfully and sadly.

Patting Jeremy’s back gently Grace asked very softly, “Can you tell me what’s troubling you so much?”

Jeremy, between sobs, sputtered out, “I love Ken more than my own Dad.”

It is so easy to listen carefully and then draw our conclusions which may or may not be an accurate reflection of what is actually bothering our child.