He Said, She Said: Mom forced to deliver sad news to son at basic Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 February 2015
By Shaun and  Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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I am a proud Army wife and now an Army mom. My son left for basic training about six weeks ago and now I am left with a huge problem. You see, his fiancé came to me about two weeks ago and said she did not want to be married to a Soldier and that she wanted to move on with her life here. She and my son have been together for almost three years. They were high school sweethearts and he proposed to her several months before shipping off to basic. I told her that she needed to break it off with him but she refused. She gave me the engagement ring and said that I should give it back to him. So now, I am faced with having to go to his graduation in just a few short weeks, break the news to him, and give the ring back. What should be a momentous occasion in his life is going to turn out to be a huge letdown – he is going to be heartbroken.

I guess I have no choice but to do this but do you have any input into how I should do this and how I can ease the blow?

HE SAID:  I do not envy your position in the least, but this is something I think you and your husband should discuss at length, come up with a plan and deliver the news in the most productive way possible.  I would be inclined to tell him before you head down that she won’t be able to make it so he won’t be asking a million “where is she”  questions when you arrive.  I’m sure he already has a clue, derived from his inability to contact her and her lack of correspondence.  

When you do sit down with him, you should be there to comfort him, but do not make him feel like a victim. I would offer this as an opportunity to be thankful, if they agreed to get married knowing he was joining, but she could not make it through basic training at his side, what would happen if she left him in the middle of a deployment?  

Not only can such news be demoralizing (which is the greatest risk from him learning about it in training), but also it could put him and the people counting on him in danger.  If he isn’t focused in that environment, people can die. The fact that she did not care enough about him to tell him herself should tell you that he just dodged his first bullet — I say better now than later.   

Remind him he has his whole life ahead of him and that we all get our heart broken a few times before we find someone whom we can be true partners in life with. He needs to see the good in this. Your son will be fine, he will find someone more caring and loving, but if you make him feel like this is the end of the world when you break the news, he will hold onto that and could spiral into a depressed state. 

SHE SAID:  Wow, what a peach.  I think as parents the worse thing we ever have to experience is watching our children get their hearts broken. I would think that by the time he sees you, he should have a clue that she is no longer committed to this relationship. After he is through with the ceremony, I would sit him down privately and tell him.  

There are many things you can say that he will appear not to hear but he will remember.  He is young, and he has this new exciting life in front of him. The pain won’t last and he will move on. It is better that he finds out now before they make this commitment and have children and they are both miserable. Initially, I thought one way to ease the pain would be to say he wouldn’t want to be married to someone who was too cowardice to break off their engagement face to face. You don’t need to tell him that; he’ll get it.  You also need to refrain from badmouthing her. He will feel bad enough already. Also, if they work it out, it would be very awkward for you. Just be loving and supportive. He will get through this and be stronger for it.  

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 February 2015 )