Question: Dear Luise: I was so overwhelmed today from the hurt of my son hating me that I typed in “why does my son hate me” and I found you! I found out when my son was an adult of 23 that my nephew, who I loved and trusted, to baby sit for him and his brother when they were little, had molested him. My nephew was 6 years older than him. I never knew any of this and thought of my nephew as one of my other sons. My son exploded one day with what they call, “re-traumatization.” My husband and I learned about everything in a 2 hour period. It was very devastating. We started family counseling and it seemed to get us through the crisis period. We had to fire my nephew and his Dad (my brother), who worked for us for 25 years. This was done immediately because my son was so distraught and 2 counselors told us this was the necessary action for my son to heal. I cried a lot because I was in shock, devastated, and sorrowful that my brother, who I loved, lost his job. My son was furious that I was hurting. He didn’t care this was ripping the family apart. I learned this is a normal reaction of a molested child. However, he wanted me to hate my brother, who had done nothing to him (I inquired!), and because I was sad, my son hated me for it. I have learned this is a symptom of molestation. It has been almost 5 years and we have done all that we can to support and love him. He is married and has a 3 year old little boy now. He and his family moved to another state to work and be away from “memories.” Me and my husband, of 34 years, have traveled there many many times to visit and to see our grandson. There has seemed to be healing and we have had very nice visits with him. Lately my son has been exploding and saying very hurtful things to me. He will not talk to me rationally and will not answer any calls. He is ruining my relationship with his wife and son. There have been no major problems, no bad fights, no drugs or alcohol (ever),and nothing that I can put my finger on to know why he is shutting me and his Dad out of his life. It’s been almost a year. I haven’t seen or talked to my brother’s family for 4 years. Even though this was a hard separation, I knew this was what had to be done to save our relationship with our son. Now, he won’t talk with us except to yell and say horrible things. We brought him up in church and we had a good stable life. He was an adorable and loving child and he and I were very very close.(the realization of what my nephew did to him flipped my world upside down…) His treatment of me lately is very painful and I have nothing to point at and say, “I wish I wouldn’t have done that.” I have bent over backwards to show him my support since the realization of his abuse. My husband and I would do anything to show our love to him, and yet he treats us like we’re the enemy. We are working with a counselor again, and he thinks it’s misplaced anger. I don’t know, I just hurt and cry and pray all the time. My mom used to be my confidant, but she just died with Alzheimers in Jan. When I saw your picture, you reminded me of her. I thought I would take a chance and see if you can give me any good motherly advice. I don’t know what else to do. It’s been almost a year since my son has really talked to me. Thank you for your time and for reading this. J.
Answer: Dear J.: All you can give your son is your best. You have always done that. None of us can guard our children 24/7. His recent relapse (for lack of a better word) is about him, not you, and I doubt that you will be able to do anything to alter it from your end. He may close the door. Some people find a way to transcend adversity and some get stuck in blame and self-pity. It is actually a simple (not necessarily easy) choice…”do I want to be happy or do I want to be right?”
I would like to invite you to my Web-forum: www.wisewomenunite.com . It evolved directly out of the “My son hates me” thread on this Website and has expanded into a viable and supportive community. I think you will find comfort and wisdom there. My heart goes out to you. I don’t see your brother as responsible for his son’s behavior and I don’t see you as responsible for the fact that your son didn’t tell you and ask for your help. Blessings, Luise