Question: Dear Luise: My son has had nothing to do with me for four years. He has a wife and two children, 7 and 13. His mother moved him 2500 miles away after our divorce in 1975. She wanted me to send more money to make her life easier. I would not and she said she would turn him against me. He broke off our relationship over an extremely trivial matter as if he were looking for any excuse to do it. Thinking back over the years, I remember he never invited me to come see him. I always had to invite myself. I helped him finish college, always sent money, bought two cars for him, took him on many ski trips including one to Europe, and I always paid for his and his family’s transportation to visit me. When I visited him I never saw a photo of me in his house yet there were several of his mother and husband. Even during my visits I could sense that I was a liability. I always had to carry the phone conversations. In other words, he always seemed indifferent to me. I tried in several letters to find out what his real problem was with me to no avail. Finally, I gave up but still would want a relationship with him and my grandchildren, but I know that is impossible. Knowing he made it clear he does not want that, I need to forget him and my grandchildren, but I cannot seem to do it. My feeling is if someone does not want to have a relationship with me, I cannot see having one with them. It hurts me to think about it, and I do not know how to deal with it or forget my son and grandchildren. What can I do? C.
Answer: Dear C. I did find your question. I agree that we can’t create warmth and caring where it doesn’t exist. Many people write to me about similar situations without divorce even being involved. Adult children who use their parents at their convenience while evidencing no concern for them or loyalty are sadly becoming more and more common.
Where we get stuck is in our totally reasonable expectations. We know we deserve better, and we do, and so we factor in compassion where it doesn’t exist.
I established a Web-forum for women facing this issue that offers the exchange of ideas, experiences, hopes and despair several years ago when I realized the question and answer venue wasn’t enough. We have had men come there to work through rebuilding their lives without their adult children and grandchildren being involved. If you would be willing to come to www.WiseWomenUnite.com you would be welcomed into a community where a great deal of healing has taken place over the years. I hope you will consider it. Other men have come and shared their anguish over the three years it has been up and running. Blessings, Luise