Question: Dear Luise: As an adult child of an alcoholic family, I need to know how to undue the trauma I caused my own children by not being there for them. I unconsciously removed myself from them and my own hurt and did not handle their great emotional needs as wee little boys to adult men. My older son does not want me in his life. I am heartbroken and take full responsibility. How can he know how much I love him even though I shut him out? A.
Answer: Dear A.: That’s a tough one. It’s my guess that he knows, he just doesn’t know how to forgive. He, too, on some level is probably heartbroken and from my experience it looks like it is often the eldest son that expects the most and ends up being the least forgiving.
If we were all tested for parenting skills before we had a family, the human race would probably be extinct. None of us did it 100% right and there are homes out there, I’m sure, that would make yours look like a fairy tale existence.
Many years ago, when I worked as a Review Load Probation Officer at the King County Juvenile Court in Seattle, the worst case I ever saw up close was one where the family looked ideal. I mean it…they did everything that was kind and supportive and wise and what they got was havoc, crime and the worse possible disaster.
You gave your boys life, that’s no small thing. And you gave them food and shelter. In many parts of the world that’s no small thing, either. The gift of life can’t be taken for granted, not really…no matter how strong the sense of entitlement.
Do whatever you can to make peace with yourself. You gave your best and that’ s all any of us can do. Often our best isn’t “the best.” You came from heavy trauma and deprivation and you were wounded. Remember that even when, for whatever reason, others don’t. We simply can’t give what we don’t have. Blessings, Luise