does an adult son need his mum?(16 Posts)
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Since I left their father my 24 year old son has refused any sort of contact with me. That was 2 and a half years ago. I have continually tried to establish contact, but he doesnt answer e mails, phone, texts, letters. The next step is to turn up on the doorstep. My ex (who he still lives with) says that my son hates me, is over me (?) never really liked me anyway, and has no need or interest in having a relationship with me. My question is...who am I trying to re-establish contact for? He doesn't need me in a practical sense now at all. He obviously thinks he doesn't need me on an emotional level either. Should I leave him alone until (hopefully) some time in the future (10years?20?) he may decide he wants a mum in his life? I can't express the pain I feel with this estrangement, and desperately want to be reconciled.. but is that fair on him?
I would keep up contact. What are you saying in these letters etc?
not a lot really.. no point in trying to explain what went on with his dad.. I know he can't understand.. just asking what he's up to, telling him I miss and love him.. asking if we can meet up for a coffee. I'm pretty certain he doesn't read any of them.. I think that his e mail is blocked, he immediately deletes texts without reading them and his father says that cards, letters and presents (bd and christmas) remain unopened. It's always been my intention to keep up this contact...but is it time to push him harder? Is being estranged from me doing him damage? reconnecting will mean having to deal with the way he feels, where as cutting me off means that he doesn't have to think about me.. and has the added benefit of punishing me. Is it that easy to dismiss the person who gave birth to you and took care of you? That can't be right can it?
I'm sorry you're going through this, more. The same thing happened to a close friend of mine, so I have some idea how much it hurts. There was a long history to it in her case - it continued a pattern, really. I wonder whether that's true for you too...?
Her boys were much younger when she separated from their dad - something like 4, 6 and 10. He stayed very involved in their lives, and had them 50% of the time at first. This was obviously good in one respect; but he was/is a very controlling man, and he was very angry with my friend, so he was often difficult. He operated 'contact rules' (and 'rules' generally) in his favour. So for instance, if birthdays or parents evenings or other significant events happened on his days with the kids, my friend was not allowed any involvement; but if they happened on her days, he would just turn up. He banned the DCs from eating sweets without discussing it with my friend, and then harangued her when she did not enforce the ban.
Over the years, he caused a lot of scenes, some of them quite outrageous - for instance withdrawing one boy from his school and enrolling him in another, without talking to my friend first. She hates conflict, and had been bullied by him for years, so did not deal with it well and was quite 'brow beaten'. From my POV as an outsider and friend, ExH's behaviour was not just controlling but abusive. If it had been me, I would have told him where to go; but she was always afraid of 'making things worse' and was quite conciliatory.
As the boys hit adolescence one after the other, their DF's behaviour became even more difficult for my friend. Whenever they argued with their mum, as teens do, ExH would milk it and encourage them to complain to him. Each of them, one after the other, learned they could phone their dad and say "Mum won't let me X", and he would drive over, pick them up, and very often let them do X. DS1 (who of course hit his teens several years before the others) was living with DF full-time by the time he was 14, which hurt my friend hugely.
When my friend met and married someone else ten years after leaving ExH, he called her a 'slag' and encouraged the boys to be angry about it. Both the younger boys were also encouraged to leave their mum and live with their dad full-time, and did for periods; DS3 lived with his dad for most of his teenage years. He refused to talk to his mum for over a year, and there was another 6-12 months where she saw him only once a week in a 'neutral place' like Pizza Hut.
Effectively, IMO, ExH continued to abuse my friend for over a decade after their relationship had ended, using the children as 'weapons'.
The boys, through most of this, thought their father was marvellous.
But then there was a turning point: each of them in turn got to a stage in their lives where they wanted to make their own choices and do their own things, and this did not make their father happy. They started to fight with him. They started to notice how controlling and unreasonable he was. One by one, they asked my friend if they could come back and live with her.
Now, about a decade later, the boys have all left home, moved away and have their own lives. When they come back to visit, they stay with my friend not their dad. They keep in touch with her regularly, but with their dad only rarely, because it still causes problems. (For instance recently ExH phoned up my friend to say they must 'ban' DS3 from going travelling... He's 23).
Sorry more, I didn't mean to waffle on so long. But maybe some of that rings true for you... I suppose my point is that I think children often pick up one parent's anger, and adopt it as their own, so to speak. I think it happens if there is separation/divorce, when DCs are encouraged to 'take sides'. I think it particularly happens if one parent is dominant and controlling - perhaps because the kids are just used to being 'controlled' by that parent and thinking what they're told to think; or perhaps because it feels 'safer' to join their side.
It's incredibly painful and unfair for the other parent, who really is quite powerless, because the 'choices' are to 'fight dirty' and be as nasty and manipulative as the controlling parent - which you won't do if you are a thoughtful person who doesn't want to mess with your DCs' heads - or to 'play fair' and refuse to fight, therefore 'lose'
It can go on a long time. In my friend's case, it took each of her boys 7-10 years to work out their own opinions about their parents. (Sorry, more). I reckon the only thing you can do, is to wait. There will come a time where they will work things out and form their own opinions. This will probably come when your DS stops living with his dad and wants to make his own choices.
Meanwhile, you just have to let him know you are always there for him, that you love him... And beyond that keep it light - just send cards, the occasional chatty letter, without making any attempt to 'explain' or engage emotionally.
Remember Maryz's old mantra for dealing with difficult teens? "Detach, detach, detach". Your DS isn't a teen any more, and isn't being 'difficult' in the usual sense (drugs, crime, violence, etc.) but he is 'rebelling' in a quieter way - possibly against you because that's the only rebellion he can manage (yet)... It's difficult for you - probably more difficult than having a 'normal rebel' - and detaching and protecting yourself emotionally will help you cope.
Also, look after yourself. Do nice things for yourself. You are hurt and bereaved - that is quite natural and understandable - and you will find that it really helps if you treat yourself kindly (even if no-one else will) and make sure your life has some good things in it to help compensate for all the bad.
I wish you well, more.
thank you flow4, i do have lots of good things in my life. I am very lucky. and I am an optimist. its just a recent mail from my ex smashed into my confidence as a mother, and I need to get through that. He says the only thing I did right for my children was chose him as their father. It's ridiculous, but he has me questioning the years I spent looking after them all. I actually am a strong and confident woman, and am surprised at how much he can still hurt me.
I'm not sure Exes ever quite lose their power to hurt. I think the same character traits that lead them to want to try to wound you, even after the relationship is over, are the traits that made the relationship impossible to continue.
Glad you've got lots of good things in your life. Your son was one of those good things, and will be again one day.
Your ex sounds like an arsehole but your son is an adult and can make his own choices. When you left did you give him the option to go with you?
Your son is perhaps having poison dripped into his ear on daily basis. You have no idea what his dad is saying to him - that you never loved him, etc etc.
you also don't know how much of your communication is actually getting to your son and how much your ex is intercepting.
I think all you can do now is send him a message in whatever form you think has the best chance of actually being seen by him, saying that you love him, you will always love him, and if one day he wants to see you, you will welcome him with open arms.
And wait for him to grow up or for his father's influence to lessen.
what I really want to know is whether leaving the issues unaddressed is going to do him long term damage? Whether I need to try and make him front his (our) issues, or just let him carry on with whatever it is he is feeling (rejection?hatred?guilt?nothing?) until something happens (which could be never) to make him re-establish contact with me. He has had one long term relationship which ended badly, and with that, me and his sister (lovely.. but completely opposite to him) he thinks all women are mad...I let him down very badly somewhere along the line.. long before I left, but can't pinpoint it...although I think I had undiagnosed postnatal depression after I had his sister who was born when he was 3. I had that for 4 years. But I was fully functioning.. just not happy. The only way I realised I must have been depressed was when I started having the occasional happy day.. which gradually became more happy days than sad. I guess I don't want to admit that that is the cause of all that went wrong, but I suppose it could have been... though I thought that only my ex really knew what I was going through (no help, head completely in sand.. please let it all go away) Is it too late.. is the damage to ingrained?
If he has asked for no contact, then maybe the best tactic would be to back off a bit and maintain contact through cards so he knows that you are there for him.
FWIW I don't thing you can make someone address and deal with issues until they are ready. You may feel that it is the right time, but he may need to do some more growing up first to allow him to move on. He may need to deal with them on his own first before you can both talk them through.
Does he still have contact with his sister?
I am backed off... I have no other option ..he lives with his sister but she doesn't talk about me to him or his father.. I can't ask her to get in the middle... she wouldn't anyway.
think you're right about not being able to make people do things.. believe it or not I learnt that early on in their childhood...just wonder how easy it would be to continue ducking the issue, if the issue is standing in front of him...
I'd say that if your DS is still ducking it, more, he isn't ready to deal with it. I agree you can't 'make' him.
He needs to take responsibility for his own thoughts and feelings now. You may have had a lot of the responsibility for his emotional state at 2 or 4 or 8, and still some at 12 or 13, but he is very definitely an adult now. I think we (parents, mums) get so used to 'fixing everything' for our kids that we forget we can't do that for them any more when they grow up...
And honestly more, let go of that guilt. It doesn't help you and it doesn't help your DS, and it doesn't reflect any useful truth. If you had PND, this perhaps did affect him... But (a) this wasn't your fault: PND is an illness, not a choice or a weakness. You didn't do it to him - it happened to you; (b) it was 24 years ago (ish) - he has had plenty of time to deal with it; and (c) pretty much everyone has something difficult to deal with in life - that's just the way it goes - and we all choose whether to become a victim, or whether to learn and grow. No-one else can do that growing for us. No-one else can live our lives.
And no, it's not too late for your DS. It's never too late.
Thanks flow4.. your posts are really positive... I am much better today and have my hope trickling back...have a fantastic christmas, all of you, those of you with younger ones, make the most of it, it goes past like a flash.. i know it seems hard at the times, but think of all the snuggly cuddles in return for all your efforts...
You're welcome And I'm very glad you are feeling better today.
I have more energy to be positive now because things with my own DS1 are about 100 times better than they were even 4 months ago. I have been totally desperate at points over the last year or two, and had a lot of support here, so am happy to 'pay it back', so to speak!
More - just read this thread and, boy, does it resonate.
Hang on in there, as others have said. Go lightly, keep contact regular, keep as as upbeat as you can manage. Above all, keep the door open. 24 is young. But your DS will outgrow this manipulating, arse hole of an ex. I firmly believe that there is a yearning - however hidden, however unacknowledged, in children and young people for mother. We bring them into the world, we nurture them, we stand by them (oh, so do many, many dads but I feel that mums are particularly skilled at standing by their kids) - and they know this. No amount of apparent brainwashing by your ex can take this knowledge away from your DS.
flow's first response, in particular, I found encouraging and positive - thank you, flow.
And she's right to remind us of Maryz's mantra: 'detach .....'
Good luck - and a happy New Year.
My exH is doing this to my 14.5 son.....Son lives 75% with Dad...as he changed Schools. Dad a control freak...now controls my son..its horrid...tells him bad things about me in the hope my boy will opt to not seeing.me..I feel sorry for the Japanese GF he has who will never actually understand what he is really like..... I just make sure I stay in contact...fetch him when he asks and try and dismiss some of the things he says that hurts.... good posts!