Son Is Distancing Himself

Question: Dear Luise: I have an adult child who has been married less than a year.  His wife has not had a positive relationship with us since the wedding, and even though I have tried to talk to her and heal any hurt feelings, she is not interested and will find all kinds of faults with me, saying that I am smothering when I give her space, and changing therules all the time.  If you do not do something exactly the way she expects it to be, she will cut you off. Both her and my son feel that I have not been there for them, when I have tried, but their expectations and lack of proper communication made it difficult.  Now she has not allowed him to celebrate his 30th birthday with my husband and I.  He was going to, but changed his mind the next day and said that because she was so upset, he couldn’t do this.  She does not wantto see us, but now my son is not calling us much, and acts not himself when he does visit.  We have been heartsick over this, and are seeking Therapy to try to cope with this.  Our son came from a good loving home, and his wife has been pampered all her life but her family wines him and dines him.  They are very well to do.  He is much more with her family than with us.  What can we do? R.

Answer: Dear R.: We can’t realistically do anything about the choices our adult children make. They are on the bumpy road of cause and effect and learning to be responsible for all of that. It’s really hard when our expectations aren’t met. It sounds like you raised your son to be loyal. My guess is that he is trying to do that. He chose his spouse. He has established a separate family unit he feels responsible for and rightly so. He is probably finding some of it, at least, pretty difficult. You would be both wise and kind if you didn’t add to that.

I have gone through something very similar. It was really hard for me to get that my influence when my son was a dependent child was no longer a factor. When our adult children move into maturity, our job is done while theirs has just begun. We were whole before we became parents and we can be whole again. For some of us an extended family and continued closeness becomes a reality but it’s not a given.

Because the situation you find youself in is much more common than most of us realize, I established a Web-forum several years ago for women dealing with issues concerning adult children and extended famiies. The interactive venue it offers by providing an understanding  community can bring caring and sharing, problem solving and often healing. If you are interested, please come over to .

You deserve better, there is no question about that. However, be careful not to get stuck in self-pity at the injustice of it all. I fell into that trap and it was a very difficult one to get out of. I thought I still had some influence and what I thought and how I felt should be factored in. Not so. Blessings. Luise



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