Question: Dear Luise: When my son was 15, he took off and went to my dad and mom’s house. The night he left I called him and he said he would come home if you could do whatever he wanted. I told him no. He then said he was staying there and that was 5 years ago. I love my son. I have three other kids but every day i come close to crying. I suffer. The holidays are the worst. He doesn’t call and he doesn’t come over. He wanted me at his graduation and I asked him why, since you never want to see me and you never call? I did go. It’s like he’s got me on a string. He comes around and then he doesn’t for another year. When I do see him, he seems like he stands there watching me in pain. If I tell him I want to see him more often, he say he understands and will come over more often but he lies. I think he likes hurting me. I cried all day on my 38th birthday because he didn’t call me. He didn’t even care about his younger brother and sisters. I’m so sad. and hurt over all this. Will it ever get better? I do blame my mom, as well. What should I do with the love I have for my son that he has thrown away. He hates me. I wish I didn’t love him so much. Some say that I have other kids but how do I live with the pain of missing him? How do I bury my feelings for my first-born son that I love? At the same time, I’m upset because he tells me he is coming over for dinner and then he doesn’t show up. He’s hurting his brother, too. Thank you. B.
Answer: Dear B.: There is no way to change your son’s behavior that I know of. It’s been in place for a long time and if he ever has a change of heart, it will have to come from him…not from anything you might do or not do. He has decided to act the way he does and because you can’t harder your heart to him, he gets away with continually hurting you. His contribution to this standoff is his heartlessness…yours contribution to it is your willingness to continue to be his victim.
Some day you may decide that you have had enough, or that may never happen. You can’t change him but you can change yourself. You don’t have to stop loving him, you probably couldn’t…but you may decide to love yourself, eventually. That’s where the problem lies. You are keeping all of this in place. You can stop it when you see that you have to power and the right to do that.
It’s horrible…but feeling sorry for yourself and wishing it would change isn’t changing a thing. Self-respect needs to motivate you to wish him well and close the door. If you can’t or won’t do that, then this is what you can expect for the rest of your life unless he decides otherwise. Do you really want to continue to give him that kind of power?
You put you foot down once…you can do it again…and move on. Blessings, Luise