Question: Dear Luise: My 31-year-old son is getting married this fall and I like my future daughter-in-law a lot. But I’m very unhappy about several things. 1) I was very much looking forward to being close to them and sharing our lives, but a few months ago they moved 2,000 miles away. 2) They moved to an area of the country where my birth family lives… the family in which I experienced sexual and emotional abuse so serious that I’m disabled by PTSD and other emotional disorders. But now my son and his future wife are building a life with them instead of with me. 3)Several years ago my son had some serious mental health problems and I lent him about $20,000 total to help with medical costs and basic living expenses while he was unable to work. I have been trying for 3 years to get him to make payments on that debt… even if it’s only $5/month to show some respect and appreciation. He will not make payments. 4) Several years ago, before my son’s mental health problems, we bought a small apartment building together as an investment. He wanted to be a property manager and was to handle those aspects. I was to invest some inheritance money and manage the finances. He has never lived up to his responsibilities, and since he moved away, it has all fallen on my shoulders… a serious burden given my disability. I cannot sell the building due to the present economy. 5 )I just learned that they are hoping to get pregnant right away. So now my 1st grandchild will be 2,000 miles away, in the arms of my estranged family members. I am absolutely heartbroken and fear that I will have to spend the rest of my life acting happy for them and being miserable. What can I do? G.
Answer: Dear G.: Your son is making young-adult choices that you see as unwise and irresponsible. I agree that leaving you holding the bag on the loan, reneging on managing the apartment building and relocating to a place that is emotionally toxic for you is pretty tacky. However, I don’t honestly think you can do anything about it. You trusted him and hoped for the best and you are getting the worst. He has a lot of growing up to do and a lot to learn. That may happen or may not.
Yes, you may have to spend the rest of your life being “happy for them” but it is your choice whether you spend the rest of your life being miserable or not. You were a complete person before he came into your life and even though it seems impossible at present, you can be whole again.
I would suggest that you find an advocate and get some supportive counseling. I would also suggest you come over to the Web-forum I created for issues with adult children and extended families: www.WiseWomenUnite.com I hope to see you there. Blessings, Luise