TIna, my heart breaks for you - you sound like a good mother and person. I wish I could give you peace in all that you are going through. It is sad for so many of us trying to deal with the losses we are. You just have to keep hope in your heart and believe the best will come to all.
I would love to know you and LH. You are women who have obviously, like me, worked on yourselves and looked within to figure out how you may influenced the estrangements you have with your kids. Your advice is solid and intelligent. I hope parents are on this site who come here to truly get help, and not just blame their kids all the time, will appreciate those of us who are not really "abusing them" as Kim W. has implied, but through us, I hope they learn that it takes two parties to make an estrangement. We can't sugar coat it!!! I am really sick of parents coming on this forum who blame, and blame and blame - it is NEVER them! They are the ones I am speaking to - the ones that go to great lengths to hound their kids just to know their every move and what is worse is to drag their other kids into the fight those kids don't want to be party to...that is selfish and manipulative. They are the parents who think they own their kids. Our kids are never and were never ours to keep....from the day they were born. I once told my son, I didn't put him on this earth to make me happy, I put him on this earth to have a his own life and find happiness of his own. Too bad many parents just don't get that. It is crystal clear they are not and may never do the work to figure out why their children don't want to be in their lives. Sad really. I have gone from shear anger and crushing dispair in the first 3 months of the estrangement to how I am now and believe me it is a much more peaceful place to be. All because I got real with myself, learned to focus on my own life - not my son's or why the estrangement. Sometimes we just have to not ask why...we just need to be silent. I do not stalk my son or try to figure out his every move...I never have. I don't check social media (in fact we blocked each other in the beginning to allow us our personal space) and even though I used to work with intelligence agencies I would never in a million years ever dream of having my own son checked out - ever! He has been very ill for about the last 2 years so I had good reason to want to know everything but I had to have faith in him that if he really needed me he would tell me. In fact I have followed Dr. Coleman's advice to a "T" - I have sent a card for holidays and birthdays, Veteran's Day (my son is a vet), etc., but kept it light (miss you, love you and think of you every day type of stuff) to allow him to have peace and not have to fret about what mom was writing - is it good, is it bad, etc. As horribly painful as it has been for me especially knowing how sick he has been, I honored the fact that he wanted the time to himself for reasons I don't fully understand yet. When he is ready he will tell me and he has said that. But I could not sit for past year and just blame, blame and blame him some more. It only made me more angry and unable to sleep, eat or get through the day. How can any real parent do that to a child they say they love? To place blame all the time is not going to fix any relationship that is estranged. I hope that parents are able to get to a more peaceful place and sometimes that takes the "reality" from others on this forum like us to tell it like it is to get them into gear. I hope it does! I had a few boots in the butt from friends over the past year going through this, no I didn't like it at the time - it stung to hear their words and now I will be forever in their debt - it forced me to progress, to work on myself, to be a better parent and person - one that my son will love knowing and being with again. I am sure he has been working on himself too - he has told me that. All in all, when we reconcile, the years ahead will be good ones - I am 100% confident in that. I stopped blaming everyone else and took responsbility because a life without my son is not acceptable to me.
I am sorry, I also have children with mental problems. Not much you can do but constantly focusing on is problem is a relationship killer. He feels your pain at how he is and this makes him move away from you. You want to be his rock and a person who accepts him that he can trust. Right now, he probably feels that you feel he is "less than" for having issues because you try to talk to him or confront him. My kids with mental health problems only want to talk about it when they want to talk about it. They hate being asked or when we pry.
For your son with the emotional problems -- he probably feels terrible that he is this way, that he is so different and odd. When you and your other son try to talk to him about "his problems" it makes him even more aware of his "failings." Therefore, my suggestion is to praise him only. Tell him how much you value him, how much seeing him and his family means to you. Take the pressure off of him. Tell him that no matter what, you love him forever. Anything he needs, you are there. Then drop it.
It sounds like he is not really estranged, meaning in anger, but is very troubled emotionally. He could be "just" depressed and when you are depressed you are well aware that you are not normal. Had a psychologist talk to my work today and perhaps this son has what they call "schizoid personality disorder" or "avoidant personality disorder" (google it). If so, you can't change it or make it better but you can change your reaction or over reaction to him.
You have to forgive yourself if you hold guilt over his problems. You have to let go of trying to rescue him. Just love him and accept him for how he is. Foster a relationship with your daughter in law. Show her love and respect and lots of praise. Call her to talk sometimes, send her flowers and gifts. Should she need to divorce your son, you will have a good relationship with her and won't lose your grandchildren. I can hear how you love them all and I wish you better tomorrows.
This is the first time I have reached out for input. I have two sons, one son who is 28 years old "C" and married. My other son, "D" is 26 years old and married with a gorgeous grandson of 15 months. My relationship with the 28 year old "C" is very good and we talk and visit regularly and I am very grateful. My 26 year old son is married to his high school sweetheart and they have a rocky marriage but work through things. Sometimes his wife calls me. I live on the West Coast and "D" lives on the East Coast (My son and his wife are in the Navy).
I don't know if the history will help, but their father abandoned them when they were about 11 and 13. He went to Mexico to preach the gospel and the "price" was his children. (his words). He has not attempted to contact them. They both tried to get in contact, but he never would reciprocate. My oldest "C" has decided to go on with his life and has given up on his father. (many reasons and attempt on my son's part to share his life.) These are two amazing men and would have forgiven their father many times. When they were young, their father was very involved in their lives. We were the parents who went to every baseball, volleyball, soccer practice and games and very involved with their education. We both loved being parents. He coached the boys teams up until our divorce. After the divorce, he had less and less contact with the boys until he left for his ministry. My son, "D" fell into a deep depression when he was 12. We went to seek help together and he went to counseling and was put on medication. He was suicidal and felt terribly rejected by his father. As a parent, this pains me still. I am so sad that my son felt so incredibly close to his father and then so much pain from rejection of someone he loved so deeply. I assured him, he did nothing wrong. I became so concerned for his welfare and found as many outlets and support for him as possible. We were close then that he shared many of his dark thoughts with me. He now suffers greatly with emotional connections and socializing. Currently, his only friend is his wife. He does have co-workers but they do not spend time with others. My other son attempts to call him but he shuts down with either one of us call. I will keep calling ...I limit it to every 10 days as not to bother him to much. Some of the calls are ok and he might engage, but others it is like pulling teeth for both "C" and I. We will never stop loving him and we are hoping he will learn to trust again. I am sad, because I would love to be part of their lives. They do let me visit my grandson, and I try to go every 6 months as I can afford to fly back east. However, the visit is strained and I try to just be happy and enjoy the visit as they are few. "C" and I have approached him to try and talk but he can't even look at us ...and he gets very upset almost a panic. I know he loves us...I truly do. How can I help him and keep him in our lives more ? We both miss him so much.
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