Question: Dear Luise: Can we ever truly mend relationships with our adult and teenage children. My three boys hate me and they have for four years now. I am not saying I was the best mom. I had many of my own issues and having them all when I was so young didn’t help. I didn’t come from a very nurturing mother, and the truth is I haven’t spoken to my own mother in six years. I don’t know what it is with me but I have tried and for many years I felt trapped in a lonely marriage of misery and when I tried to get out I think I alienated my kids. They blame me they didn’t see anything wrong with my marriage to their father except me. They renamed their dad Skip and he is their friend, they said they don’t need a parent. Four and a half years ago when I met my current husband the boys decided that they were not going to like him. When my dad died four years ago, two of my three boys walked out on me the night he died leaving me to morn my Dad and them. The next day the third one left and I wasn’t able to talk to him for two years. Until he got his girlfriend pregnant and needed my help. I was so desperate to have him in my life I let many things fall to the side and acted as if things didn’t bother me. Like inviting my husband and me to their wedding only to find out after driving four hours to get there, that his Dad (my Ex) decided to go after all we were being uninvited to my own sons wedding. I did express my feelings that day and I was told by my son I should shut up if I ever wanted to know my Grandson. What did I do? I shut up and prayed that he and his new wife would let me know my Grandson. Of course they did let me see him every few months and I was never invited to his birthday parties but I always showed up with a present. Up until last month I was helping to support them ppaying half of their rent giving them gas and food money. His wife doesn’t think she should work and since my son didn’t finish school he doesn’t make more than minimum wage. I asked her to get a job to help out and thats were I went wrong. They lost their apartment last month. I drove four hours with a trailer to help them move. I was yelled at for not being quicker and he wife hadn’t organized anything to move and blamed me for sleeping in the livingroom that she wasn’t able to pack the kitchen that night. Well needless to say we got into an argument she my daughter-in-law told me everything was my fault and that all my kids hate me. Of course I spoke my mind called her names and I left. Did I act right NO,, and I know that. But I just feel as if I have been buying the ability to know my Grandson. I feel humiliated and hated and I just don’t think it will ever change. I have lost my whole famiily and I am reminded of it everyday. Thanks for listening L.
Answer: Dear L.: You deserve better. I think we all do but/and I don’t believe we can mend those relationships. We can’t change ourselves, others or the past. However, sometimes we can “re-frame” them and in the process, lessen our guilt and heal.
Many of us aren’t ready to be parents when it happens; maybe even most of us. We are immature and have issues and short suits we haven’t identified, much less resolved. Into that reality comes the requirement that overnight we become perfect mothers…all-wise and all-knowing and that we never make a mistake for the rest of our lives. What are the chances?
When our marriages fail, we are to blame. The kids don’t see our unhappiness and don’t want to hear about it and the ex-husband becomes the hero. A later marriage carries most of this drama with it…because it comes with us…a package deal, until we learn to let it go.
I say “we, our and us” because I have been there and done that. The only answer I see is to get that I did my best, no matter how lacking that may have been and it is my adult children’s job to do their best. They repeat the same pattern, of course, because they didn’t have a perfect childhood any more that I did and head off into parenthood before they have a chance to really grow up.
I think the answer is that there is no perfect parent and there is no perfect childhood. I think each of us has to take the reins of our own lives and the responsibility for our own happiness. Along with that, we need to let go. We need to step out of the continued drama and get that our job is done, however poorly, and our adult children need to take it from there…and face the consequences.
My two sons have very different perceptions of me even though they came from the same home. One blames me for every problem he ever had and sees me as the mother-from-hell. The other thinks I am the best darn mom that ever came down the pike; not perfect…but human and wonderful. What does that say? To me it says that a whole lot of what goes on with our kids doesn’t have anything to do with us, one way or the other.
We were individuals before we became parents…we can be individuals again. We can get on with our lives and learn and grown and expand. It is our right. Beyond that, I think it is our duty. Blessings, Luise