Discussion Topic

What do I say to our estranged son?

Posted on 09/20/10, 01:39 pm
Can anyone offer suggestions?

My son, upon getting married 3-4 yrs ago, stopped having anything to do with us. Wasn’t that way before he got married. I don’t know who he is; he is not the son we raised. He and his wife now have a toddler who I’ve seen once in 2 years for 15-20 minutes. My son and his wife live 5-10 minutes from us so distance is not an issue.

Periodically, about every 4-6 months or longer, something will happen and my son will say he’s going to be contacting us to see us. Most recently, last night my husband ran into our son getting gas for his car – this is the first time we’ve run into him out and about in our community. He told my husband that he’ll be contacting me. Same thing happened in May. Said he’d be in touch. These occurrences go on and on, but nothing comes of them. Not for 3 years.

I’ve seen my son once in almost two years. He is our only child. It’s not a good situation for me …. I’ve grown to feel unsafe around him. I’d like some suggestions on what I do or say if he should follow through and actually contact me and come over. When given the opportunity, for the past few years, I’ve asked him to please bring over our grandson for an hour once a month, on a Saturday or Sunday, so we could know him and he could know us. His reply for two years is that he’s working on it.

Any suggestions as to what I should say and do? I am fearful ...
Showing 1 - 10 of 14 Replies
  • Reply #1 09/20/10  2:01pm
    I am new to the group but no so new to estrangement. My middle son, 31, has periodically been withdrawing from family and friends. What is so hurtful of late is that it seems to be just me he has estranged himself from. This all follows he and his companion and her child moving closer to where I live. He habitually would not respond to emails, telephone calls, texting and would withdraw generally. With the estrangement focusing primarily on me at present I found I very quickly went through many levels of emotional response, anger, frustration, hopefulness, resentment, disbelief, belief. However, now that I have made it known I do not want anyone to contact him on my behalf or communicate anything about me to him, I actually feel a sense of relief, that I am back in control of my emotions. I am vascillating with the notion of no longer paying back a loan that in his name which I promised I would do. In some ways I feel I am sinking to his own level, whatever that is. But from a practical standpoint it has been financially difficult for me to do so and I do not feel continued sacrifice is warranted at this time. While undecided I do not feel ashamed or bad to feel this way. It simply is what it is. Indeed, I think once I can own my acceptance of this situation not of my own making, I will have the peace our relationship has lacked for a long time. Detachment can be a positive thing. Perhaps this is what he is working on. If that is the case, I can respect that and move on.
  • Reply #2 09/20/10  4:38pm
    Have ya tried making an "appointment?" I know, sounds so calculating and business-like...AND IT IS. I have done that just to get a few glimpses of my grandsons...sounds pithetic...but I can be PATHETIC. Hey, I'm a mom and a gramma.Guilt may keep them from darkening our doorway...so to speak, but in their own environment (sounds like our kids live in a zoo...ha) perhaps it might work. Just to get thast occassional gawk at the gk's was worth it to me.
  • Reply #3 09/20/10  6:17pm
    Thanks for your replies. This, too, is my situation which began 4 years ago .... he would not answer my emails or phone calls (even in an emergency when my husband was out of the country and I needed help) I can count on one hand the times I have phoned him in 4 years. So I don't pester him. And it's only me this applies to, or so it started out. Now my husband and my side of the family are all included. But my husband's mother and his two half-sisters spend time with my son, his wife and child. They're not excluded. This is NOT something anyone can figure out.

    I have come to some calm and have accepted the situation ... it's been a long 4 years, after all ... as long as he doesn't make contact. My emotions are mostly calm, and I don't think about my son every week - or every month. But at times my emotions are raw. I've come to realize he is 'playing me' and with my emotions. The worse time is holidays, Mother's Day, birthdays. People who have seen him say he looks sad and unhappy. The situation is not of my own making. And I have accepted that I cannot do anything about it.

    I've never talked with my son about what's occurred ... or how I feel the shame of his turning his back on his parents. He has set up quite a few times to come over and see us ... but doesn't show. So yup, I've tried appointments. He is very vague about making any type of commitment re. time for his parents -- says he is busy; and is not good about following through on any attempt to see us. It's all words at this point.

    For awhile several years ago, I groveled and said I was sorry for anything I did to cause this situation ... to no avail. My apologies weren't even recognized. Like ImQuarterflash, I'm a mom and a gramma -- but a gramma only by birth and not by reality. Very few people know I have a grandson. My son may feel guilt .... he has done terrible, neglectful things in these past 4 years. There is no way I can make him let us see our grandchild. Or know anything about this child.

    What I'm wondering is what would I say to him face-to-face? Do I act as if nothing has happened .... this is how my son acts. Or do I say how I feel .... my embarrassment and shame that our family feels. And that I feel cheated. What do I say?
  • Reply #4 09/20/10  9:36pm
    Well kid, I have just recently been bestowed the "honor" of seeing my grandsons. I know it wont last. It never does. But I am prepared...sort of. I'll let ya know when it happens tho...har. I dont mention shit. But there was a time, I too, groveled. Didnt do me a damned bit of good either. I even tried to BUY their love. Spent hundreds in one pop on toys for the kids on my credit card. Even told him,"If I have to buy your love, I will". Gee whiz...that WAS me. Dont be embarassed! I used to too. But anyone who would think less of me could kiss my big...and I do mean BIG, white derriere.xxxxx
  • Reply #5 09/21/10  9:18am
    You are funny ... I am smiling at your last comment. :)
    So you don't mention shit. Have you ever had the opportunity to tell your child what has happened to you in all this .... how you feel and have been affected? I haven't and sometimes feel that I would like to ... to get it out of me .... for me to validate my feelings about actions done to erase me.

    Do you even know your adult child/children anymore? I didn't catch if your child/children were man or woman. Do you see your grandsons often enough that they know who you are?
  • Reply #6 09/21/10  9:54am
    Wonderingmom, I so understand your question. What do we say when the time finally comes. I have been estranged from both my sons for over 10 years. They were teenagers and now are grown men. I missed out on high school graduation, first dates, first cars..even my youngest got married and I didn't even know! All because of my ex's "parental alienation". Several months ago my youngest ES's wife tracked me down via email. She seems like a very loving, caring person and her hope is to get us back together somehow. After all these years the door is opened albeit just a crack. Recently she emailed me that they are expecting a baby. I'm going to be a grandma. So now what? My ES still won't talk or email me, though his wife tells me he does read all my emails to her. (PS: he is now estranged from his father, my ex, his father's decision, not my son's). They live in RI and I live in NJ. So when, and if, the time comes it's not like a day trip. And then what to say. I'll tell you one thing, I agree with QF, I'm through apologizing. I want to keep it in the here and now...the past is the past. What good can come out of comparing our wounds? Who got hurt more? I say bury the past...move on if you can.
  • Reply #7 09/21/10  11:13am
    NJgirl1958 ... nice to hear from you. How very sad for you that you were cheated of the growing up and high school years of your two sons. "Parental alienation" ... I've heard of that although never personally known anyone affected by it.

    The few times I've talked with my son in the past 4 years, it was with the ground rules that we not talk about the past. We wanted to move on .... he wanted to get the 'blame' out. So things have never been talked out ... in any meaningful way. You see, there's a lot more going on in the dynamics of this than merely my son, his wife and our grandson. There are other relatives fueling the flames ... due to jealousies, insecurities, intolerance. The dynamics of this all has kept the estrangement going.

    Yup, I think you're right about not saying anything and moving on. That's what I did for these past years. It seems to have caught up with me ... my feelings are so buried that at times they come bubbling up. the anger, the sadness, the embarrassment. And it's the most awful feelings in the world. But you know that too, NJgirl. I'm not looking to compare wounds, I'm looking for understanding and working toward resolution and release of these feelings that have never been acknowledged.
  • Reply #8 09/22/10  11:51am
    Trust me I know all too well how you feel WM! And even though I haven't seen my ES's in many, many years, I have let them know via email and letters how sad I am and how there is an empty hole in my heart because of the estrangement. All to no avail. I too hope that someday I'll open an email from one of them that will say, "mom I'm sorry for the pain I caused you". And I'll tell you something...that's all it would take. I wouldn't ask for explanations (even thought I sure would like to know) why they treated me with such disregard. But I have apologized and explained and poured my heart out to them so many times. The ball has to be left in someone else's court now. My sons, just as I am sure your son, knows how very much they have hurt us. What we want is for them to acknowledge it, apologize for it...and move on! Should be so easy...so why is it so hard???
  • Reply #9 09/22/10  1:39pm
    NJGirl, I think you've nailed it. You've experienced what I have. Yet I dread what will happen if our son decides to talk with me. What do I say? Act like nothing has happened? Tried that for four years .... like wandering in the desert. The stuff is still going on to this day ... the invitations to other relatives to their house parties or birthdays ... the get-togethers ... we are excluded. Would it do any good -- or harm -- to say anything??

    Yup, all I'd like is for him to honestly acknowledge the pain and sorrow I feel. (I don't expect an apology). And then make some very small changes. You see, for him to acknowledge the pain I feel, and then turn his back on me again for another 3-4 years, what's the point?? Think it would be toying with my emotions. I agree ... should be so easy. What happened, I have no idea. It's not coming from my son himself .... on his own he wouldn't have even imagined this could happen. Can't really say that my son fully knows that he's hurt me. Don't know what he thinks anymore. Would think he'd be confused. I sure am.

    For the past 2-3 years, the ball has been in my son's court. I have no control over whether he sees us ... whether he lets us see our grandson. I don't like focusing on myself ... unfortunately, that's all I can do.

    How did you ever get on with your life ... not seeing your sons for so many years? How great for you that your youngest son's wife contacted you. And that you're going to be a gramma!!! Let's hope it leads to good things and better times!!
  • Reply #10 09/27/10  3:39pm
    I too live in the same town as my son and GKs. Everything changed when DIL came into the picture. I tried emailing for years, and it just made everything worse. I did have a few recent face-to-face meetings with just my son and that has helped a lot. We are doing much better now, but the problem is (and always has been) my DIL. She wants to alienate all family and friends. I can find no way to reach her. Even my son is at a loss as to what to do. Is it possible WonderingMom that your DIL is keeping you from your son?


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