Q: How can I get my ex to stop calling me? I maintained a congenial relationship for our son’s sake, but my son is now 21. Dad was verbally and mentally abusive and I spent thousands on therapy for son, with limited success. I don’t hate ex, but don’t like him much and do not care to have contact. I told him so when he demanded info on son, who specifically asked me not to divulge info. Help, please!

A: Sounds to us like you have made yourself indispensable, and now you’re paying for it. We’re guessing, but here’s what we suspect happened: When Dad had trouble communicating, being that he was somewhat abrasive and could possibly hurt your son’s feelings, you helped by reshaping the messages and then passing them on. And, we suspect your son looked to you, too, to buffer his messages to Dad.

But as you can see, when you do this, they never learn to communicate with each other. Since father and son have depended on you to communicate, your withdrawal equals no communication between father and son. And, the more you pull away from Dad, the more he works to get you to intercede. That’s when exes start asking, “How do I get …” questions. You can’t “get” an ex to do anything. You can only control how you act and respond.

We often tell divorced parents not to make their kids their messenger. If they have something to communicate to each other, communicate directly. We offer similar advice here. You have two adults — father and son — and they have to learn to communicate with each other without you interceding.

If your son does not want to talk to his father it’s up to your son to tell him, not up to you to continue to pass on buffered information. If Dad wants to talk to his son, it’s up to him to initiate the communication. So, we suggest you give your son his father’s phone number. Let Dad know that you have done so and that your son will call when he’s ready. Tell both they are on their own when it comes to communicating and do your best to no longer mediate.

We always find it amusing when parents say things like “I can’t wait until the kids are 18 and then I won’t have to deal with the ex.” It doesn’t stop when the kids become adults. You’re parents forever.

Jann Blackstone-Ford, Ph.D., and her husband’s ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, are the authors of “Exetiquette for Parents” and the founders of Bonus Families.

— McClatchy-Tribune