How to PREVENT an estrangement

sirensApril 22, 2008


I'm a happy parent of a 13-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old boy.

I love both my children and am so grateful to have them in my life. I would give my life for them, yet, I realize as they grow, I must learn that they will become their own persons.

I must assist them to become adults who are emotionally healthy, and I try to do so.

They are both good kids.

My question to all of you people is, is there any way that a person can prevent an estrangement from happening?

Can you look back and pinpoint something - not necessarily something you did (this isn't about blame) - but something like a family dynamic, that perhaps contributed to your estrangement from your adult child?

Forewarned is forearmed! I'm hoping that, if I think about these issues now, that maybe it will never happen to me....because I can't imagine living with that pain.

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Life is so complicated--kids get estranged when they are adults or at least late teens. sometimes it happens because your life has changed --divorce, illness, financial problems.sometimes its because their life has changed --they marry somebody from a dysfunctional family who hates you. sometimes you have misunderstandings. If we could prepare ahead for life's travails--it might take the fun out of life.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:36AM
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Thankfully my family is still intact, so I cannot speak from the awful position of being part of an estrangement.

But I think it is important to always have good communication in a family and no matter what happens always work towards resolving conflict.

Respect and love are good words to remember, oh and trust.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 3:51AM
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Well, I don't want to take the fun out of life - I live in the moment, but I really don't think trying to head off this kind of situation will take any fun out of my life at all....LOL.
But I do agree...if we could see the future, we might not be motivated to even live, so I don't want to know what's ahead.
But I do want to do, whatever I can, to prevent my little family from breaking down.
I can see once my kids are grown, my husband and I travelling.
I never want to smother them, but I do still want to be close to them, emotionally, and still know that they love me.
That is all I will want from them...I don't expect them to take responsibility for me, or take care of me, if I become disabled.
I wouldn't want them to.
I just want to still be close to them, when they are adults. =)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 9:17AM
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As a DIL, I guess I have a different perspective.
I married DH 3 years ago.At first MIL seemed nice enough.
My MIL is very demanding of her kids' time. She cannot or will not go out. I feel bad about this, but she asks for too much. It isn't about her needs, it is her wants and whims.She also feels her experiences and opinions are the only right ones. Her children should follow her advice, or else. She would run my DH ragged, if I let her. He feels guilty saying no. Closeness is one thing, constant contact and errand running is another. How can one woman need more shopping, banking and help around the house than a four-person family with kids?Can I have DH bring me lunch EVERYDAY? I think it is a control issue. No one ever does "it" right, so someone else is called. Usually it is DH, who is super busy. And I refuse to get sucked in! I would never be good enough, anyway.
I pray that my desire for my children to have good marriages will outweigh my desire to be their mommy/friend/boss.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 3:35AM
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This is my 2 cents, for what it's worth considering my kids are still young.

I just took my kids on a family-visit trip to FL. I stopped at my in-laws for a day ... without DH... again. They were understandably irritated that DH did not make the time to come with me and spend some time with them. He could have, just a matter of asking for the time off, he gets 3 weeks/year. He just didn't want to go. They, in turn, decided not to stop at our house on their way back to Ohio this month. They say they just want to get farther down the road on the first day's drive (we are almost half-way). From their tone and body language, I believe they are making that choice out of hurt and anger. DH is relieved.

It makes me sad. DH does not want to see them b/c it causes him stress and anxiety. For him, visiting them is like a job evaluation or final exam, graded pass or fail (usually fail).

So if I could tell them what to do differently it would be
1. Love your kids for who they are, don't think you can criticize them into being who you want them to be.
2. Forgive them for not being perfect. And don't take their imperfections personally. They don't have to be perfect to make you happy and "look good." Their accomplishments are theirs, not yours, and so are their mistakes.
3. Don't give up on the relationship. Keep putting into it what you want to get out of it. As frustrating as it is to work through, I think the effort will pay off.

Oh, and I do tell DH the flip side of all this all the time. I keep telling him his parents want a happy relationship with him, with the kids, they just don't know how to make that happen any more than he does. Just keep forgiving the minor "offenses" and focus on the positive. I also tell him when I think he is starting the same behavior with our kids. Afterall, I don't want them to stay away from us one day b/c their dad makes them feel stress and anxiety!

Maybe I just sound naive and clueless about the parents side of estrangement. I just really see DH and his parents on the path to it. I feel like I am watching a train wreck in slow motion, and I cannot stop it. I hurt for all of them knowing what they are missing out on, as I always have a great time with my parents. I know my parents don't agree with everything I choose to do, but they accept me as a whole person and don't bother me about it. They never, never tell me what I'm doing "wrong" or give me unasked-for advice or make me feel like I disappoint them. They don't treat me like I'm an angel, but they treat me like I am human and a competent adult even when my kids have a tantrum or I forget to send a card.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:44AM
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Stephenie, are you sure you are doing the right thing, by taking your kids to your in-laws?
If your own DH cannot tolerate the treatment he receives from them, why do you want them to have a relationship with your children? I would worry about the hurt they might experience.

Yes, I do want to prevent an estrangement between my daughter and I, but I also know there are times when an estrangement is the best thing.

But I don't want that to happen to me and my kids.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 1:50PM
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Sirens, the short is yeah, I'm sure I'm doing the right thing. I keep starting to explain, but it gets long so I delete. The short of it is I think DH is wrong to avoid them. OK, yeah, they can be hard to get along with. But we're not talking about unforgivable behavior here, just people who can't figure out how to say the right thing to each other. The more time goes by, the easier it is to keep avoiding and the harder it is to connect. Easy for me to say, my relationship with them is by nature less complicated, they are not my parents.

At the same time, I admit I will not allow unsupervised visits. My kids are uncomfortable alone with them, unsure of how to behave or what to say. The kids have already learned they tread on thin ice w/g'ma, you never know when what you say can and will be used against you. She can set you up with loaded questions before you see it coming. They have been hurt and confused by g'ma's comments and questions sometimes. I need to be there to help them out of uncomfortable spots for now.

All that said, there are good, fun times. DS#2 and FIL, especially, are so much on the same brain wavelength that it's funny. DS knows he has inherited g'pa's best traits of an analytical mind and smart wit, it is something he feels good about, the two of them should spend more time together.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 1:13AM
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I think one of the biggest pitfalls parents make that cause estrangements is to let their son or daughter know that they don't like the child's choice of a partner or spouse or date. You can't help liking some people more than others and as a parents can't help but noticing that the characteristics of this person suit their child better than the characteristics of that. But keep your mouth shut. Adults today do not switch partners because mom doesn't like the one they picked. There's no upside to saying anything, and lots of downside. As they say, you don't know everything until you know when to shut up, and this is one of those times you just need to shut up.

And no fair saying you like him or her, and then showing through body language and actions how much you despise your child's choice. This sometimes flies under male radar, but females ALWAYS know it's going on, and you'll get blamed just the same.

Conversely, don't expect your child or their spouse to be your best friend. You see this with mothers of all boys sometimes who always longed for a daughter; maybe the MIL and DIL will get close, but it will take years, and they will probably never be best friends. Psychologists say that emotionally healthy people find their most satisfying relationships among their peers. (Not to say that there shouldn't be close relationships between generations. I love my mother dearly, in fact, the older I get the more in awe I am of how amazing and unique she is. And I love her company and look forward to visits; but she's not my best friend.) Women who say their daughter is their best friend always seem sort of sad to me. There are not many women over the age of 25 who think their mother is their best friend. Parents who expect their adult children to meet their social and emotional needs are usually unhappy with the results.

I kind of see it this way: you get your social and emotional NEEDS taken cared of by your peers (husband, friends, siblings), so that you have the resources to GIVE to the generation before and after you.

So I'd add to the discussion:

1. Keep your dislike of your child's partner to yourself, don't even betray your true feelings non-verbally, and

2. Don't expect your kids to fulfill your social and emotional needs. A clue that you are doing this is when they say things like, "Mom, you need to get a life."

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 10:19AM
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Forms - your comments are so truthful. My DIL and I danced around with body language - she could see mine but I didn't; I could see hers but she didn't - and both were that we didn't want the other in my son's life.

Then she got really nasty. She called me up to "tell" me where the groom's dinner would be and when I said that usually the son and his parents pick the spot and pay for that, she just rebutted "well, it will be where I want it to be and are you going to pay for it or not?" The following month she called me to say "I am tired of your family traditions, you should have been told off a long time ago and I think you and your husband should give us more for our wedding than my parents because my parents have 2 teenagers still at home and you don't have any kids living at home." Very bold, don't you think? It turned out that we were not allowed to invite anyone so we didn't give them any money. We attended the wedding, played the part, only to have them come to our house 3 weeks after the wedding to tell us how mad they were we didn't stay until the end of the wedding dance and even though they really didn't want us there at all, they were mad we left early. Then she started to swear and they left the house with her shouting at my husband and me "F _ _ _ you".

I have tried to connect with them, saying we need to put last year behind us and start anew with respect for everyone, but my son sent me an email saying he doesn't want to hear from me again, although I got a call from his doctor regarding results from tests and learned he put my name/phone number as second contact and nowhere did he put his wife's name or phone number.

I don't know if I had given in to my DIL's demands and ignored her outbursts if it would have been better or not.

My husband and I have a ton of friends and other siblings so we didn't care how much time they spent with us, only that they gave us the same respect they gave her parents. And that since we all live in the same city, that we share holidays equally.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 12:24PM
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I think that was very bold. I would have given a set amount of money for the dinner and that would have been that. Of course, they would have been unhappy, but ...

When they complained about you leaving the wedding early, I think I would have tried, "I'm sorry, what can I do to make it up to you." If it was reasonable, I'd have done it, if not, I'd have said, "I'm sorry, I can't do that." A lot of times, people haven't got any idea of what you can do to make it up to them; they just want to complain and blame. Asking them what you can do to make it better makes them think.

Most of the times I've used this, the person just says, "I want an apology", and I give it. "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings by leaving the wedding early; if I'd known it mattered to you I would have stayed longer." (Leave out how you didn't feel welcomed or had no one to talk to because they didn't invite your side of the family). The worst you'll hear is, "Well, you SHOULD have known." How hard is it to say, "Yes, I should have."

What can they do with that? Yes, of course, people can complain and argue about nothing, but beyond that, why should you participate? If they still wanted to carry on, it would have been time to end the visit. But most people when they are agreed with when they are angry, calm down.

There is a theory that one reason why young adults and teens are so difficult is because they are for the first time facing a mean, hard, rejecting, pitiless world--and if they had nurturing protective parents, they are kind of thrown by it. So what they do is they take all the nastiness that gets heaped on them from peers and the establishment and repackage it for their parents. How their parents react, is what they learn for themselves how to react. So if they go to school and some stranger calls them an idiot for dropping their change, they go home and call their parent an idiot for asking them to feed the dog. Then they copy the parent's reaction and (over time) incorporate it into their own personalities and life skills.

In your situation, they made an angry complaint to you, if you accepted it calmly and gave the type of apology you'd want when YOU make an angry complaint, EVENTUALLY they will return the favor to you. So while you apologized calmly for hurting their feelings yesterday, you might have to wait 5 years to get them to apologize calmly for hurting your feelings about not making them feel welcomed at the wedding. This is the sucky part about being the parent, and why it's good you have strong peer resources.

It definitely would NOT have been better to give in to your DIL's demands. They would have escalated into eternity. She is allowed to demand anything that concerns her property or business, but she can't demand what you do with your money.

I'm intrigued by the remark, "I'm tired of your family traditions..." How did she know of your family traditions and why would they matter one way or another to her?

Was your son also shouting 'eff you' to you and your husband? Why would he?

She's probably not going to give you the respect she gives her parents or you think you feel entitled to. Respect means so many things to so many people; probably your definition and hers don't match, particularly since you don't like each other. If you want respect from her, she's 'gotcha'. Hopefully, you can reduce the tension between you to basic, distant civility. That sounds like it would be an improvement, over what you got now.

Your son and you will respect each as your relationship from his birth to now has developed. How he feels about you is a separate entity from how she feels about you. Just as a practical matter, I wouldn expect too much from her.

As for the holidays, I doubt you'll get equal with her parents. If you have any quality happy holiday times with her around, that's something to be grateful for. It's better than 'equal' time with everyone unhappy.

In the long run one of a few things will happen. She and your son will grow up, and a good relationship will develope between all of you (she sounds very young, early 20s?). She will prove herself to be intractably mean/mentally/emotionally disturbed and your son will divorce her or she him. Or she will stay unreasonable and your son will stick with her and find a way to make his life work for himself around her, which will include you. Or the stress and tension between all of you will cause you all to go your separate ways--which will probably be a relief of sorts.

Only one of those possibilities is really disastrous, so you have a 75% chance of the relationship working out in some way or form. I'd keep a low profile for the next year or so (not cut them off, but just not expect much), and see how they sort themselves out.

People think they know a lot at 20; they are more interested in others at 35.

But don't ever think of financing their brattiness or second guess yourself on whether you should give in to financial emotional blackmail.

I wish you luck.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 3:29PM
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Form - you are so knowledgeable; I can't thank you enough for your insight to this. It is so new to me since we were such a loving family and my son and I were very, very close.

The family tradition she was referring to was having my son's godparents (my sister and her husband) as host and hostess at the reception.

My son sat silently when she would bark at us. My husband looked at my son and said "we left because we didn't feel very welcome" to which my son responded with the most hateful eyes "that's because you weren't." I responded with "then why would you care if we left early?" They didn't respond.

At the end of this year I sent my son a note and a week later a voicemail saying that we are entering a new year, there have been misunderstandings on both sides and needless hurt, let's stop the hurting and go forward. Can we have lunch and talk?

A half-hour later I received this email: After our last meeting in September, I spent the next 3 weeks in the hospital for Chrons Disease. The stress that I received throughout all of this and the stress that I experience every time I get a message from you or a note, or an email sends me right back to pain. So, no more notes, no more emails, no more cards, no phone calls. Ill contact you when I feel that I am up for that again. But until that happens, please donÂt send birthday cards or cards for holidays. I canÂt afford another visit to the hospital or to take more time off work.

He exaggerated a bit; he was not in the hospital but he does have crohn's. I got a call from his doctor saying he had his test results. I was told he put my name down as a second contact. The office didn't know he was married as he hadn't indicated he had a wife or give them her phone #. Instead he put down my work number, where only I would answer.

Yes, they are young - 24.

His birthday is next week and keeping with his email I will not send him a card or gift.

Someone told me that our son has "wife-ology" since he never acted mean before at all. Because she has never gone to church and thinks all people who do are terrible, he has decided to leave the church too. What is sad is that he was always happy and funny and light hearted, but even his MIL commented on how sober and serious he is; yet he is madly in love with this woman and rushed to marry her. She is very self-centered so I'm guessing one of the 4 paths you wrote about will happen; we just have to be patient and go forward.

Regarding the groom's dinner, my husband dropped off a check to cover the cost of the guests she wanted to include at the restaurant she chose. Our son tore it up into little pieces and mailed it back telling us we were not to attend.

Would you suggest any more contact from my end?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:08PM
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I'm sorry.

No, I would not send him anything. He said no bday card, so take him at his word. Words have meaning, he said no contact on his birthday--so give him what he really wants. He probably has another 60 years of birthdays, as hard as it is for you, I'd let this one go.

The good thing about that email is he said he'd contact you again when he was ready. He'll be ready sooner if you back off now.

I once had a wonderful, lovely favorite uncle who married a really horrible woman. Everyone always said, "What does he see in her? How can he stand to be around her?" Turns out the answer was, he was so invested in 'being nice' and well thought of, he was unwilling to act out or even acknowledge his meaner, selfish, nastier normal impulses. So he married someone who had no problem expressing what he couldn't. He would sic his wife on whomever displeased him, and got to stay the 'good guy'. Plus he got bonus points for 'putting up with her'. It was a win-win situation for him all around.

I don't know if this would be true in your son's case, but the Crohn's disease could suggest internally held emotions (or not). It could be not that he suddenly 'changed' because of the evil influence of his wife, but that he chose her because she makes it easier and safer for him to explore feelings he's been afraid to examine. She acts out his feelings as well as her own, and he follows along in her shadow, letting her take the hit for her behavior. After all, he knows what she's doing and he allowing her to do it, and he's voluntarily participating.

So let him at it. Let him see what hostility and rudeness and anger get him. If he doesn't like the result, he'll burn himself out and stop. If actually not getting acknowledgment on your bday feels a lot less like victory and more like emptiness, maybe he won't spend the next thirty years holding a cut off over your head.

But if he finds the rush of shouting at people outweighs the lonliness of spending your birthday more or less alone, then that's that too, that's who he is, it's the cumulation of his personality and 24 years of his raising and his life experiences. It's disappointing but that's who he is. A wife of one or two years can't change 24 years of personality and character. This woman as disagreeable as she is is meeting some need in him. JMO. It's worth 'what you paid for it', as they say.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 7:02PM
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"So he married someone who had no problem expressing what he couldn't. He would sic his wife on whomever displeased him, and got to stay the 'good guy'. Plus he got bonus points for 'putting up with her'. It was a win-win situation for him all around."
Sometimes I feel like this is my relationship with my DH.It mostly applies to HIS kids, but also whenever we decide to say NO to anyone, it is always my fault. I don't do very well at pretending to like people I can't stand, or enjoy an event that bores me silly. DH used to just go along, then complain to me. I would rather have people hate me for who I am, than like me for who I pretend to be. I feel like DH enjoys being the nice guy and the pity he gets for having a wife who speaks her mind. I used to suppress my own needs, and found myself resenting him. I felt like he cared more about other people's feelings than mine.Or his own. Now, sometimes that is a good thing. But, if you always do that, even when you feel resentment, it is not healthy! DH felt like he was always being pulled in 50 directions. He started to dread answering the phone.
It is also quite possible that OP's DIL is a b*tch, and her son is just "in love." If so, he will come back to reality and when he does, OP should allow him to "save face" gracefully.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 2:23PM
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THANK YOU SO MUCH Form for your response. I really hadn't thought of it that way but it makes perfect sense. He has always been the "sweetheart" of our family and extended family - the cute one, the funny one-the entertainer with his humor, the smart one (went to college on scholarships), the good looking one (modeled in high school), everyone loved him who came in contact with him.

When he and my DIL got back together (after she dumped him 5 years before), he was ecstatic (the rest of us were thankful and prayed he would move on to someone much more suited for him). He never dated in college hoping she would return to him someday, so when they did run into each other (by accident) and started dating, he rushed to her ever demand. When I tried to warn him, he just kept saying how much he loved her, etc. Everyone in our circle of family and friends saw a red flag except for him.

When she made the comment early on "I have never seen a mother and son as close as you two", I resopnded with "yes, we are close, but I have always told my sons that when they marry, they will be closer with their wife and that is what I want. I still want to be in my sons' lives but will not be a threat to anyone they marry." My son said to her - "yup, that's what mom told us always." So I never saw the war begin until much later.

When we all met to talk about the wedding, her step mom said each set of parents should give the kids $6,000 and that she would be inviting 120 and we could invite "up to" 60. Red flag. I responded that we would pay for our guests and other miscellaneous things of the wedding, i.e. wedding cake, liquor, etc. A few months after that is when my DIL called to tell me that my husband and I should pay more since we had no children living at home. I said I wanted to talk to my son and she said I didn't have to because he agreed with everything she said. A few hours later he did call to say that he ageed with anything she said to us. I responded with "your grandparents are rolling over in their graves at the way you are behaving" and he hung up on us.

As the minister said, they are very immature and she is a drama queen.

Thank you for reminding me to not send a card or do any contacting. He send the email distancing himself.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 8:46AM
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Forms you advice is golden, you express yourself so well, and have great insight into how people act with each other.

When my children get married I would like to think that I will let them organise the whole event, however they want to do it. It is their day, not mine, whatever they want to do is fine by me. I think Garden had a lot of input into her son's wedding and this has caused a lot of complications.

I can understand her son's fierce loyalty to his wife, what else would you expect?

You know your son, I would let things cool, and take Form's advice on how to diffuse volatile language. When your son grows up a bit he will realize he wants his parents in his life.

All the best to you and your family.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 8:10PM
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As I look back, I perhaps gave them the impression I wanted to be part of their wedding plans because it seemed as her step mother was so involved and all they wanted from us was our money. The comment from her that she would invite 120 and told me we could invite "up to 60" just didn't sit well with me. A few months before the wedding I asked my son "If dad and I had just given you $6,000 and you didn't see us again until the wedding day, is that what you wanted?" His response was "Yes."

Someone on another blog did give all the money asked for to their son's wedding and now they are in the same place we are. I have had 2 counsellors tell me my DIL probably has NBD. She definitely is in a "me" world saying that her childhood was so terrible because her parents divorced and at age 14 went to live with her dad and step mom because her biological mom was so terrible. I have no basis to know if that is truth or exaggerated.

She controls my son 100%. I know if she told him to cut off his right hand or she would leave him, he would do it. And, yes, I agree with him being completely aware of her actions but he is so in love he just has become her puppet.

A few months after they reunited, he withdrew $10,000 out of his savings to give to her and her step mom to put down on the townhouse "they" picked out. My DIL's name went on it first, then my son's name. Their reasoning was that because my DIL had $40,000 debt and my son was debt-free, he didn't have a credit rating and he bought into it.

It all has been a nightmare that I just want over. While I think about them every day and pray for them, I am getting much better at moving on and enjoying my life. He will be 25 tomorrow and has asked I not remember him with card or gift. I guess I will oblige.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 8:16AM
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Just as a follow-up from a dear friend - thought I would share with you her insight since she has known him and our family for 20+ years.

I don't think your son is being mean; he has part of your personality ... meaning that when his mind is made up he stands strong on that decision. He has made a choice. He chose her over family and, therefore, everything you do is wrong. Everything she/they do is right. Every time you questioned anything they asked for, he took that as a strong NO (whether it was or not) and she took it as, I don't want you to marry my son. The gap between you just got bigger and bigger with every word or action. Everything you did became a negative, to the point of where you are with them today. Break the circle and give him what he wants, no contact.

As someone said earlier on this blog, he knows what she's doing and he's allowing her to do it, and he's voluntarily participating.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 10:42AM
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I can tell you how, "don't have any". Relationships are so confusing. I didn't meddle in my adult children's lives. The daughter in laws had no reason to dislike me. I have a friend who walks into her son's home and orders the wife or GF to clean up the "filthy mess". Now that is just one example, I'm sure there's more that I don't know. She has a good relationship with her kids. Go figure.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 10:51PM
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stargazzer - what is your relationship with your DILs? I'm sure each has a different personality. If one of them, prior to the wedding, had told you (1) I will decide where the groom's dinner will be, (2) you should give us more money than my parents, (3) swear at you, and finally (4) say to you f_ _ _ you. How would you have handled it? My son never once came to us to discuss the wedding; everything went through his fiance.

I have tossed around in my head a million times, should I have just given in to every demand she made? I truly don't know what I should have done because I had never met anyone quite like her.

I welcome your thoughts.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 8:07AM
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As a human being you have to have dignity and respect for yourself. If someone treats you badly, you cannot be walked all over like a dirty rug.

When my son threatened to throw me down the stairs for allegedly insulting his girlfriend who at that time he knew 60 days, I told him that he did not have to worry about throwing me as I was leaving. As the girlfriend concocted lies about what I allegedly did and takes everything anyone says as an insult- even my son is always apologizing to her for things he has said and done. His life is akin to a 24/7 confessional booth as he is always begging for forgiveness.
I do not beg for forgiveness when I have done nothing wrong.If I have wronged someone, I apologize.
I took all the things I had brought to the apt. and left. People who disrespect me not deserve rewards and gifts. This is what I would have done if it were a neighbor or any other person who disrespected me.

I was not going to be treated like a piece of dirt. I have respect for myself and if that is how he wanted to treat me then to hell with him. He does not deserve my time as he does not know how to treat me.
I did not put up with disrespect. If a stranger said those things to me I would have done the same thing.

You were not wrong in what you did. Your son and his fiance were at fault. Anyone who tells you to go f off does not deserve respect.

I am pretty sick and tired of people implying that parents have to be walked all over to keep the peace. If being abused, disrespected and trampled are the price of a relationship with your kids- is it really worth it???

I sometimes regret that my son hates me for not liking his choice and my not being able to smile and pretend I love her. I am not a phoney fake 2 faced person. I have always treated my son with love and respect. I have always told my son the truth about things even if it was not the nicest truth. He grew to expect that of me. That is who I am. I always told him what I honestly thought. If he cannot stand the truth and choose to banish me for honesty then so be it. No loss as I cannot sit and monitor my every word to be sure that it will not offend someone. That is why I honestly think that I do not want to speak to him. He owes me an apology for the hurt and disrespect he has aimed at me. I will not grovel to him. I am the parent- I raised and loved and nurtured him and deserve respect. Hew has to learn that blood is thicker than water. To falsely accuse your mother who loved and nurtured you because someone you know for 60 days said she did something wrong is not right!

Hang in there. I know of what you speak and feel your pain.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 8:38AM
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Garden, My relationship with youngest son and his wife is over. I moved, got an unlisted number and have no contact with them at all. Most of the problem was money and the closeness my son and I had when he married her, she was jealous. My oldest son is separated from his wife, she is violent, she threatened to kill me for not buying her son, my grandson a $200. Nintendo for Christmas. I don't worry about it, it is their loss. The grandkids are grown and only know me by what their parents have taught them.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 5:02PM
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Just came back to look at this thread; since it was brought up as "proof" that I still think of my estranged mother.

I didn't even mention her in the original post...LOL!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 2:38PM
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Sirens, picture this. Some day your kids won't think of you, won't talk to you, and won't want you to contact them either. Who'll be laughing then? I bet it won't be you. You know the old saying, what goes around, comes around?

I read an article in the paper not to long ago that kids who estrange themselves from their parents stand a huge chance that their children will do the same, afterall, they learn from example.

Good luck.

Glad it makes you happy to boast that you don't think about your mom.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:09AM
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I wasn't laughing about my estrangement. I was laughing about the other thread.

You sound quite bitter, I feel sorry for you.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 8:21AM
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Sirens: If losing all contact with your beloved child because he chose the wrong mate is not a reason to be bitter, I don't know what is. They are grieving. They are stunned that all of the years they have poured into loving, and parenting their children, could so easily be tossed aside, because of some spoiled girl.

You are a mother with children. Can you envision the pain because one chooses a mate who would prefer you not in their life?

The LOL's tossed about in your posts on such a forum seem out of place and odd.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:06AM
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Well, it seems out of place and odd to me, that people tell me that I "really do" think about/miss my mom, when I said that I don't. This isn't a new situation in my life --- I was NEVER close to my mother. I've been living with her attitude my entire life.

Can people not comprehend? I said that my mother DOES NOT WANT a relationship with me. Short of storming her home with a gun and taking her hostage, I don't know what else I could do.....

I feel like I am already much, much closer to my children than I ever was to her....but yet, I'm not going to take anything for granted, either; which is why I'm here. I want to make sure that I do whatever I can to prevent any sort of problem. I'm not going to just sit back, and feel "that wouldn't happen to me." I love my children. I don't want to lose them, is that so hard to understand? I'm not fearful, but mindful that it can and does happen. If anything, I feel like my experience will help prevent this from happening to me and my kids.

I know that one's relationship changes when they become adults, though, and that's why I'm trying to prepare myself. I know they will be living their own lives. I want them to WANT to come home to me....not make "duty visits." I want them to come to me because we love each other. Not because they "should." I guess I want the real thing....

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 11:02AM
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On this, we are on the same page. I could have written your last paragraph word for word. I spent all my children's years teaching them that communication was the best way to resolve conflict, that counseling was a good think, etc. In a way, you could say that failed, since my youngest went ahead and used the ultimate passive-agressive conflict resolution, estrangement, for over 5 years. But I don't see it as a failure. In the end, she learned what I taught her by seeking counseling and reaching out to me when she was ready. I think that all that teaching really stuck with her and has come out with her maturity level.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:17PM
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Born, I'm so glad you are reunited with your daughter. I'm happy for you. You sound like you have a really good relationship now.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 10:16PM
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bnicebkind, thanks for understanding all my 'bitterness' that sirens speaks of. How right you are with what you said.

Sirens, why doesn't your mother want to see you? You state you were never close to her, do you know why? How much effort did you really make, and have you ever considered counseling? I just can't believe any mother doesn't want to see their child, it is so unnatural. Yet, that being said, if a child is disrespectful, unloving, violent, abusive, etc. I can see a little bit, but still, not complete estrangement.

Your mom doesn't want to be close with your kids at all either?

I admit, there are relationships that go bad for justifiable reasons. Many kids are emotionally or physically abused, and for this I completely understand cutting off a relationship. In those instances it is survival at stake, both mentally and physically. However, other than those differences, I really can't see how one cannot get along with their parents, when most parents expect so little?

If parents are overdemanding then the child needs to sit them down and talk about it. As bornintheusa states, communication is the key, which I also drilled into both my kids heads from day one.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 3:25AM
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Sirens, I'm sorry you got a mom like that. My husband is estranged from his father, but that was his father's choice. When my husband was 17, his father divorced and his mother devoted a couple years of her life to the drama. She refused to sign divorce papers, tried to turn the kids against him, and really acted up.

But when his dad left, his dad LEFT. That was it. Mom's drama didn't affect him one bit because he just cut her out of his life and rebuilt himself a new one and totally ignored her. And ignored his kids. When my husband went to college, his father drove him there, gave him $50 and handed him his sleeping bag and said, "If you need something, don't call."

And my husband didn't see him again for about 12 years. When he did go to visit he was 30, had a year old son, a well paying job, a paid for house, and apparently his sibs and him went to visit their dad and his new wife. His wife was very hostile and accused them of 'abandoning' their dad when 'he needed them' and accused my husband of toilet papering their house (ok, get real lady, he lives in another state, is 30, grown up and a nice person, sorry to hear you have enemies, but it wasn't one of your stepkids).

So they left on bad terms, although my husband did think he saw his father roll his eyes behind his wife's back or look embarassed by her behavior.

Fast forward another 20 years or so, Dad is retiring. He invites all his kids. My husband wants to go and take me with him from out of state (I've never met the man), but life intervenes, and we don't go. My husband is disappointed, but not devastated. Oh well.

For 30 years there's been almost nothing between them. About 5 years ago, his father started sending a card at Xmas. "Oh that's nice." my husband would say, "We should send something back." But we'd never get around to it.

There was a phone call or two, short, nothing much to say, from his father to him. The first 10 years or so, my husband would have liked to have had a relationship, but then he lost interest. He was busy, he had a life. Dad was a stranger. And one with a touchy wife. And my husband had his own problems and lived out of state, and just didn't care.

When his father retired, he wanted his kids to come--the kids were all shocked at getting an invitation. There was a lot of discussion about, 'does Dad know we got an invitation, we don't just want to show up and make it awkward, does the lady organizing this know none of us have seen him in a couple decades?'

Yep, Dad knew and wanted it. My sister in law went and talked to him a bit. Dad has another daughter by a subsequent wife who is severely austistic. Dad told SIL that he thought he might be somewhat autistic as well.

Dad would like a relationship, but isn't going to do a lot to foster it. My husband's interested, but has his hands full with life and won't put much effort in either. There's interest, but it's been too long, the estrangement was too complete, everyone's a stranger, and everyone is used to not being in each other's life. So not much, if anything is going to happen.

Dad chose to walk away, and life went on without him.

I tell you this because I for one know that sometimes parents just don't care much, and it's not the kid, it's because of the parent's own limitation. Is my father in law a bit autistic like he suspects? Was he just so fed up with MIL's divorce drama he wanted to put as much distance between himself and anything attached to her? Was he never really much of a parent, it just never interested him? Did he just get involved in rebuilding a life and then dealing with a very dysfunctional daughter that time got away from him?

Who knows. All the hurt has died away decades ago. He'd like to mend some fences, but doesn't want it very badly, although he wants it more than my husband. My husband is receptive, but it doesn't really matter one way or another.

I don't think there's anything unusual at all about your reaction to your mother. She didn't put much in, so she's not going to get much out; you wish she'd been a more conventional mother, but got used to her non-involvment in your life. I'd say that was a natural and sane response to the mothering you got, not a reflection on you at all.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 7:05PM
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" I just can't believe any mother doesn't want to see their child, it is so unnatural. Yet, that being said, if a child is disrespectful, unloving, violent, abusive, etc. I can see a little bit, but still, not complete estrangement."

I seems unbelievable. I always felt it was odd.
Really, the reason I got back in touch with her, was sort of because my husband just couldn't hardly believe it, either!
Of course, he knew I wasn't lying or misrepresenting, but he came into my life after this happened...and he just thought it was so strange!

So, I guess I did it just so he would know what I've been dealing with all my life.

I called her and she spoke to me in the most God-awful tone of voice I have EVER heard. Just pure HATE dripped from her was just sickening!!!

She is a sick, bitter old woman who needs *help.* I've never wanted ANYTHING!!!!! from her - except to be loved, and to know that I was loved!

That is all I ever wanted - to know that she loved me.

Have I tried counselling? I've gone to counselling, at a couple of "low points" in my life; when I needed emotional support. I had no family to draw upon. (My older sister doesn't speak to me, either - hasn't for 14 years, since she's been living with my mother). We were never close, either....I guess I was sort of the "black sheep" of the family, in the sense of the one always cast aside.

Years ago, when I was in my twenties, I seriously considered suicide, but I realized that if I killed one would really care.

You would think that alone would make me do it --- but strangely enough, facing the truth empowered me and made me realize that hey, all I really have in the world is myself.
I never looked back after that...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:19PM
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I'm so sorry Siren. But now you have lots of people who care.

My FIL doesn't hate his kids, he just doesn't care, just indifferent, altho maybe a slight bit regretful now.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:46PM
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Yes, the opposite of love really is indifference.
Don't feel sorry for me - not at all. I'm a very happy person and I feel very blessed!
I love my life now.
I have a great husband and I love my kids. I have no complaints at all about my life....

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:47PM
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The comment from her that she would invite 120 and told me we could invite "up to 60" just didn't sit well with me.

What more did you want? Half of 120 is 60 and you being able to invite up to 60 seems pretty reasonable to me. Half for his family and half for her family, plus not to mention THEIR friends.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 4:07PM
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I think you missed it, Khandi. The bride's mother was going to invite 120 people herself and the groom's parents were only going to be able to invite 60.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 7:04PM
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I did not have any daughters so haven't been through this, but. If the bride's parents pay for the wedding can't they set the rules. Maybe they only have a set amount they can spend on the wedding and have 90 family members they want to invite. Maybe they can't afford to invite 90 member's of the groom's family. Personally I think wedding expenses should be paid for equally between the bride and groom.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Khandi - the bride's step-mom told me the reception hall held 225 people. She said her side of the family invites would be 120, that the groom's parents (that being my husband and I) could invite "up to" 60 and that would leave 45 for the kids. Then she said that we should "each" give the kids $6,000. A few months later, my FDIL called me and said "you and your husband should give us more for our wedding than my parents because you don't have any children living at home anymore and my parents still have 2 children living at home." Personally, I think that was a bit rude!

SAtargazzer - I agree with you. Let the kids pay for their own wedding!

Because I wouldn't bend over to the unbalanced rules set for us, we were not allowed to invite anyone to the wedding, thus we didn't give them the $6,000 either.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 8:28AM
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Ah, okay, sorry for my misunderstanding. Doesn't sound fare to me either. Seems to me that it should be up to the groom and bride to do the inviting.

My nephew is getting married at end of June. Huge wedding with 6 bridesmaids. Everybody is getting a camera too! Both sets of parents gave $3,000 but it's the bride and groom doing ALL the planning. The $3,000 was all both sets of parents could afford. Anything more was the responsibility of the bride and groom.

A person has to be REALLY bold to say "you and your husband should give us more for our wedding...". Wow!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 12:18PM
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When I was young I said I would never be married in a big wedding and I didn't, I eloped. I didn't know what I would do if I had daughters. We were just simple country people and my mom never had a lot of friends, just family. She would not have known how to handle a wedding and couldn't have paid for one any way. Only one of us four girls had a wedding in a church. She wore an ordinary white dress, was married in a catholic church with just family there. The groom took us all out for dinner and everyone was happy. Never have I heard one of my sister say she would have loved a fancy wedding. I would have been scared to death having all of those eyes focused on me. LOL

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 7:27PM
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Stargazzer, I think that sounds fine.
I would much rather feel comfortable, with my family, than spend $$$ on some big display.

"The following month she called me to say "I am tired of your family traditions, you should have been told off a long time ago and I think you and your husband should give us more for our wedding than my parents because my parents have 2 teenagers still at home and you don't have any kids living at home." Very bold, don't you think?

Garden60, that was BEYOND bold. I wouldn't have given them a dime....
I don't see that parents are obligated to throw a big wedding, anyway. Marriage is an ADULT event - if they are grown-up enough to marry, they are grown-up enough to foot the bill.
Of course, if the parents WANT to do it...that's another story.

But I wouldn't feel like I "had" to --- especially when dealing with someone of this ilk!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 10:33PM
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I don't understand people who expect money out of you simply because you have it. I asked one of our son in laws, "why does everyone (5 children) come to us for money, why don't you go to your parents for help?" His reply you are the only ones who have any money. It just blows my mind that people think they are entitled. If I had a daughter that was going to get married I would offer her the down payment on a modest home instead of a big wedding. The last time I heard 3 out of 4 couples divorce anyway, so the memories don't mean much.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 12:38PM
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Sirens - thank you for your comments. Early on when we were asked to meet with my DIL's parents, they had already convinced my son that he really didn't want to invite many. He told us the names, which were about 14 people, and then my DIL's step-mom told me we should split the bill equally. Did she really think I/we were that stupid? So, of course, my response was that I would pay for our guests and they could pay for theirs (she said she had a list of 120).

Stargaazer - I agree a big wedding and the costs is a bit ridiculous considering the divorce rate. In that meeting I said, we were thinking of buying the kids some furniture instead of contributing so much to a big wedding, I see they do not have a dining room set so perhaps we will give them money for that. Both kids, being very immature (the minister told me he had never seen 2 that immature), for a wedding preseng we gave them $1,000 gift certificate at a furniture store. I know they would have preferred the "cash".

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 8:44AM
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" Both kids, being very immature (the minister told me he had never seen 2 that immature), for a wedding preseng we gave them $1,000 gift certificate at a furniture store. I know they would have preferred the "cash"."

If the minister feels that way, he shouldn't perform the ceremony!

I tell you....I wouldn't contribute a DIME towards a child's wedding, UNLESS and UNTIL they agreed to go through a very THOROUGH program of pre-marriage counselling sessions!
Not one dime.
Young people have no idea what they are getting into when they marry.
If the minister made this remark and the parents give the $$$ anyway, then they are just turning a blind eye to a disaster waiting to happen.
Of course, the kids might refuse to do the counselling, but if so, I would then inform them that I wasn't bankrolling the wedding. JMO

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 10:32AM
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There are no guarantees in life. Even if you did everything right for your children, they may still find dissatisfaction with you. For me personally, my estranged adult child chose not to address the issue/issues we had. I had to come to the realization that the real issue was her own anger.

Somehow I just didn't measure up! Up to this point, I thought myself an excellent mother. Now I know that I overindulged my daughter. I never said, "no". She never appreciated my efforts/sacrifices. I made life way too easy for her. I paved the way and made sure that she did not have anything to worry about.

And this I believe is the source of her anger. I stole her character from her. Really, in the end, it is a parents' job to instill character. The only way to do that is to let them earn their way. Never hand anything over to your children without some effort on their part.
They will appreciate it later in life.

I can't go back. And the future looks bleak. And so I have to accept what is. Maybe one day she will face her anger and direct it toward her own cleansing. Who knows?

Just my opinon.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 8:50PM
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