Question: Dear Luise: My son is grown, married and has grown children of his own. Yet he seems obsessed with what a bad mother I was. He tells his wife and kids stories of how I upstaged him at his birthday parties, and gave unsolicited advice. He constantly reminds me of phrases I repeat and is always ready to think the worst of me. He tried to poison his brother against me but hasn’t succeeded. I love him dearly and always have. He was a planned for child and a great little kid. I just can’t understand why he can’t let me live in the land of humans, forgive me my trespasses and get on with his life. Will this ever end? Betsy
Answer: Dear Betsy: How incredibly painful to be reminded of every failure without any references and thanks for every success. Parenting, for the most part, is a combination of the two.
You ask when this will ever end…for whom? It may never end for him if he’s really become attached to making you the evil force that was ever-present in his childhood. It can end for you when you’ve had enough. Put him on notice that you are not going to listen to any more of his pitiful, attention getting childishness.
Your son is an adult. His job is to keep what he liked from his upbringing and change the rest. He’s responsible for remaking himself, honing off the rough edges and standing tall without whimpering. If he doesn’t choose to do that, know that you did your part and let it go.
You are not his punching bag and you are not the root of all evil. You did your best and that’s all anyone can expect. There are people out there who were not welcomed into a family the way your son was. There are those who never knew a mom…perfect or otherwise. There are moms who never should have taken on the job and who were really abusive. I’d be willing to put my money on the fact that you’re not one of them.
Make it very clear that you will leave his presence any time he starts in on you. Let him know that you’ve heard all the bad stuff, and he now needs to devote equal time to relating every caring and wonderful thing you ever did. His only other option is silence. Stand by your guns. Blessings, Luise