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DS unhappy and feel I am partly to blame

(76 Posts)
Loveneverdies Mon 08-Feb-16 17:32:31

This is really hard for me to write so please be kind bit honest. I lost my DH to a heart attack 11 years ago had a DD aged 12 and DS 19 then at university. We all went through a lot including financial worries almost lost the house and grief. Extended family kept their distance, fortunately some good friends rallied around. Through all this and for years after DS was my rock and the person without whom I could never have got through it. He is amd always has been a very caring and grown up young man. He moved back after university and got a job not his dream one but one that would lead to a good career. Fortunately we live in a part of the country where jobs are to be found. He was working really hard as was I amd he helped with bills, paid rent etc. If I am honest I came to rely on him like a husband and didn't exactly encourage him to move out and make his own life. Add to this my grieving DD was a terribly difficult teen and in his 20s DS had to deal with this and she would barely acknowledge him or accept his authority. He worked worked worked and helped me plan my finances, drove his sister around and generally had the life of a forty not twenty something. He did socialise but well realistically it was curtailed as public transport isn't great where we live to get to the local station. He qualified in his field and started looking for a place a few years later and moved out into his own flat aged 28. I am so ashamed to admit I was a nightmare possessive mother and didn't even make this easy for him. His friends had all moved out years before. He continued to help with bills and so on even though he has his own mortgage now. He is 30 now and I overheard him saying to a family friend how hard it was for him having early responsibilities. He has a good job but doesn't much like it and I think he feels he will never have a personal life as his 20s passed him by and people seem to have moved on. Again I am mortified to confess I never made it easy for him that way too and he never brought anyone home partly because there was such a bad atmosphere and he felt I would want him all to myself. Life is a bit easier now but I wish things had been different. Am I a bad mother?

mumsonthelash Mon 08-Feb-16 17:42:14

TBH yes you probably were. You acted in a selfish way and placed demands on him that shouldn't have been his. But life goes on and we cant change the past. So think of ways to make amends. Acknowledge this to your ds and thank him.
What has made you realise this now?

ZiggyFartdust Mon 08-Feb-16 17:49:25

It's a bit late for all that now, and to be honest your post is quite self-indulgent. It's about how tough your son had things but your actual question is about yourself and your feelings. You are looking for validation to ease your guilt.
Have you ever apologised to him? Have you tried, now that you realise how unfair it was to treat him the way you did, to make it up to him? Have you encouraged him to think about himself?

If I were you I'd be making a gesture. A big one.

Joysmum Mon 08-Feb-16 17:52:02

What's done is done.

I think what's important now is that you don't accept any more help and go to him, explain just as you have in your opening post that you continued to allow him to take on far more than any son should have had to at such an early age, that you are so sorry and that you'll never be able to thank him enough for all that he's done for you hen he too was grieving. flowers

pocketsaviour Mon 08-Feb-16 17:52:45

You seem to have had a bit of a realisation that the way you acted was wrong and unhealthy for you, him, and your poor DD.

I think a good way forward would be to write both of them a separate letter explaining how you feel and apologising for the things you got wrong (expecting DS to discipline DD, parentifying DS and putting too much responsibility on him, being nasty to DS's potential partners, failing to support DD's grief process, etc.) Accept what you did, don't make excuses for it, tell them you now realise how wrong it was and that you hope they can forgive you and you can have a better relationship going forward.

Gazelda Mon 08-Feb-16 17:57:01

he sounds like a wonderful son, who will accept any apology you make to him with good grace.
But have you changed? Do you still over-rely on him?mdoes he still contribute to your bills?
How is your DD living now? Is she still with you?

PovertyPain Mon 08-Feb-16 18:04:14

I'm sorry, but yes, you were incredibly selfish and instead supporting your poor son, you pushed him into looking after you. I understand why your daughter wouldn't have accepted his authority, he should never have been permitted authority over her. Do you truly feel guilty about what you overheard or are you embarrased? I hope you do not relie on him for emotional or financial support now. My heart breaks for that poor boy. He ended up losing both parents.

Loveneverdies Mon 08-Feb-16 18:15:57

I asked for honesty and it looks like that is what I got. No excuses, nothing. I know I was wrong and selfish. Please dont do this to an adult child if you are ever in a situation like mine. There are no words to express the guilt, remorse and sadness I feel. If I could turn back the clock I would. I so dearly want for him to be happy in his life. He has done so much and achieved so much against the odds and I suppose because of all he saw and suffered he just cannot see what a great person he is. He always measures himself against others achievements and puts himself down. He is very shy and reserved and I think he thinks because he hasn't had a relationship women don't fancy him,so he just throws himself into his work. I know I am his Mum but he is a really handsome and intelligent young man if only he had the ability to see it and some confidence. I don't take anything off him now. I have taken enough. I am so very very ashamed of what I have done.

foragogogo Mon 08-Feb-16 18:16:35

This happened to my family as well. The two eldest children (including me) had already left home and were well into our twenties so it didn't affect us as much. My sibling had just started university and my brother was 16 and still at school. To be fair to the OP a similar thing hapenned to them, they stayed at home for much longer than us - we both left for uni and never came back. My brother is still there now at 30 ....... Though he has a busy live as well and was in the army etc. I think, unfortunately, there is a bit of an inevitability about this when husbands die suddenly leaving young widows who are of a generation where the husband did everything - my Mum can't drive, couldn't write cheques, hopeless with money etc. I did all her finances, the will etc, my sister moved abroad and sidestepped the whole thing but the younger ones boar the brunt a bit I think.

The good news OP is that everyone came through it, 15 years later my Mum is enjoying grandchildren and everyone is getting on well with careers, relationships etc.

Don't be too harsh on yourself, grief is a terrible thing and a sudden death from a heart attack is life changing for everyone left. I thibk you should talk to them about it and move on, he is still young and has time to make his own life as well as being part of yours.

PovertyPain Mon 08-Feb-16 18:25:38

Well done for staying on the thread OP. I really thought you would disappear. I think you should write a letter to your son, accepting responsibility, however with no but..but..buts in it. No looking for sympathy because you feel bad about his unhappiness. I suggested writing a letter because I think if you try to talk to your son about this, you run the risk of him falling into the habit of trying to make you happy and downplaying how badly this has affected him. If you feel as bad as you say then you may end up breaking down in front of your son and making him feel responsible again.

MsJuniper Mon 08-Feb-16 18:30:48

You obviously went through an awful time and it is admirable that your son stepped up like this, rather than leave you to it.

My brother feels a bit like this happened at home although from my perception it wasn't that way at all - and the circumstances were much less extreme so it is not comparable to your situation but certainly he seems to feel that way. He just wants some acknowledgement from our Mum and I think he would feel a lot better about it.

Possibly when your DS came home it was what he needed too: he must have been devastated by the loss and being able to step into his father's shoes may have given him a sense of pride. From a practical point of view, it sounds as though he continued his education or development and it is not unusual these days for people in their 20s to stay at home for this purpose. I am sure there were benefits for him as well as self-sacrifice.

It sounds as though over time you took him for granted and probably felt quite frightened to give him the freedom that might take him away from you through friends, relationships etc. which has tilted the balance and that is what you need to repair.

If your financial situation is ok now, can you make a gesture towards him to show your appreciation? A gift of something which relates to a passion or something he may have done if he hadn't taken the safer career route?

If not, then at least make sure he is no longer contributing to your life financially. Make time to see him and take him out for coffee or lunch. You aren't going to re-establish the parent-child relationship but you can find something new.

Be honest and tell him you have been thinking about how much you appreciate what he did and that you feel that you could have done more to make his life easier. Take care not to make it about you or ask him for reassurance. Just give him the reassurance and acknowledgement he may be needing.

If it goes wrong and you end up saying the wrong thing, or it opens the floodgates to him saying some things which may hurt, try to keep perspective, it may not all be sorted in one meeting or letter. Lots of small things over time have caused this, and lots more small things are what will make it right.

Loveneverdies Mon 08-Feb-16 18:39:12

I will write a letter and no I wont look for sympathy, I've done enough of that.He was training btw but earning a normal kind of salary for 3 years so would have had the means to move out. More than anything I wish I could repair the self-confidence my actions have caused him to lose or never have. He is relocating abroad in June and must be so much looking forward to leaving this life here behind

mumsonthelash Mon 08-Feb-16 18:39:43

Why on earth are you saying please don't do this to posters who quite clearly wouldn't.

AlwaysHopeful1 Mon 08-Feb-16 18:49:42

I think the letter would be a great idea op, followed up with a heartfelt chat. He sounds like such a wonderful, amazing man. He probably had a great example from his dad stepping into the role.
What's done is done. You can change the present by proving to him how sorry you are and giving him the space and letting him get on with his life without guilt.

tigermoll Mon 08-Feb-16 18:57:04

Am I a bad mother?

Honestly, yes you were. It may be too late to change the past, but that doesn;t mean you shouldn't:

1) Apologise to your son. Not just in an 'I'm sorry for everything' way, but list all the things you know you were at fault for.
2)Do not demand his forgiveness.
3) It's not too late to offer him parental support -- reverse this incredibly unhealthy dynamic of him parenting you.
4) Offer to attend therapy sessions with him/pay for therapy if this is something he would find helpful

Loveneverdies Mon 08-Feb-16 19:05:26

this is very very hard for me to read, but I know it is true. You all hate me don't you

PovertyPain Mon 08-Feb-16 19:12:13

Stop it OP. No one hates you, we don't even know you. People are upset for your son and you did ask for our opinions.

Costacoffeeplease Mon 08-Feb-16 19:18:20

you all hate me

It's still all about you isn't it?

Footle Mon 08-Feb-16 19:18:22

"You all hate me". No, it's not all about you. We probably all feel sad for ( both) your children though.
Brave of you to confront your own behaviour though. Good luck.

tigermoll Mon 08-Feb-16 19:19:04

You all hate me don't you

Self pity isn't going to help. Buck up.

I was curious about what has caused your change of heart -- you say that throughout your son's twenties you continued to rely on him, sabotage his romantic prospects and be a 'nightmare possessive mother'. He is thirty now, so it's not that long ago. You see to have had a Damascene conversion and are appalled at how you've treated him.

What caused you to realise how damaging your behaviour was?

BeyonceRiRiMadonnna Mon 08-Feb-16 19:21:47

Oh wow easy Tiger, calling her a bad mother, that is a horrible thing to say. I'd hate to be told I'm an bad mother!

A bad mother is a mother who abandons her children, who allows them to be abused and does nothing, who doesn't take care of them. You are a woman/mother who dealt with the death of your husband in the only way you knew how.

Love for what it's worth I really do feel your pain and I hope I learn from this as this is the one thing I'm constantly hoping I do not do to my children.

Through all of this do you think you and your son/children are close or has it made your relationship difficult?

goddessofsmallthings Mon 08-Feb-16 19:22:51

By all means write your ds a letter and have a heartfelt chat with him, but fgs don't undermine whatever self-confidence he may have by banging on about why you think he thinks women don't fancy him because he hasn't had a relationship, or other such matters which should be well and truly out of your remit as his dm.

He may be 'shy and reserved' by nature or he may simply be a late starter, but it's to be hoped living abroad will suit him and that he'll be free to reinvent himself and overcome whatever difficulties he may have with getting to first base with the opposite sex - if he's as handsome and intelligent as you claim I'm sure he'll soon be snapped up by an equally lovely female.

It's a great shame you've learned a lesson at the expense, in more ways than one, of your ds but, as Joy has said, what's done is done and you have the rest of your life to prove to him that you are not the self-absorbed and controlling individual you once were.

tigermoll Mon 08-Feb-16 19:24:21

Oh wow easy Tiger, calling her a bad mother, that is a horrible thing to say

She asked, I answered. And FWIW, I think that forcing a child to take on an inappropriate adult role in the family is a form of abuse.

choceclair123 Mon 08-Feb-16 19:25:45

Tbh I feel sad for all of you. No one can say what they'd do or how they'd react until they've been in your situation. Im sure you would never intentionally do anything to upset your children. You do sound like a nice lady and one who can see she has made some mistakes in life. Who hasn't?! I think some of the responses are quite judgemental and heartless. Must have been v difficult for you too. You can't change the past, write to him... Good luck, he sounds like a good guy so you must have done something right! thanks

mumsonthelash Mon 08-Feb-16 19:27:16

The best gift you can now give him is to be happy and share that with him. It's never too late.

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