Please help relationship with young adult son

lov2gardenJuly 1, 2006

Oh what a tangled web we weave! Like many parents, I probably treated my firstborn too special and wound up making him believe the world (and I) revolve around him. After he went to college, it became painfully apparent that his interest in me and contact with me were based on whether on not he needed or wanted something from me. Otherwise, I don't hear from him. He graduated, got a great job and bought a townhouse on the other side of the city. His girlfriend lives with him. I love her to pieces. We get along great. She calls me a couple of times a week, just to chat. Our relationship is like a favorite neice/friend. I really enjoy her.

I'd like to have a similar relationship with son too. It hurts me to feel ignored and used. If I call him just to chat or to come by, he acts annoyed and busy. But if he needs me for anything, he doesn't hesitate to call me and expects me to drop everything to help him (like I always have). I thought I'd try treating him the way he treats me. For example, I just sent him an email saying " $70.for your cell phone is still being automatically taken out of my account. You said you were going to decide on a plan and/or reimburse me. Your balance is $840.00 as of now." I thought I'd treat him the way he has been treating me, keeping it business like, brief & to the point. But after I sent it, I felt like I had done something wrong.

He has other friends and has relationships with some of his friends' parents & older people that he works with but there doesn't seem to be room for me in his life. I haven't heard from him in almost two months now. I get along great with my other son. We enjoy each other's company and stay in touch.

How can I have a warm, friendly relationship with my firstborn? I think about Dr Phil saying that we teach people how to treat us...I'd like to teach my son to treat me more like his loving mom and less like something to be used or an obligatory burden.

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I think this can be done.

#1...Stop being his bank. Call him, tell him that Hey, I've missed talking to you. I have some business first then let's chat. I have to have this cell phone dropped. I am stopping it as of the end of this billing period. I know this seems abrupt, but I did send you an E-mail about it last week, and you didn't respond, maybe you haven't read it. I just wanted to make sure you knew so you didn't miss any important calls by it getting cut off or anything. Now how are things, I've missed hearing from you.

Then DROP THE CELL PHONE, you may not get your money back he owes you (I would hope so, but that depends on your relationship). Then call once in a while. Sometimes I call and leave messages..."I'm so sorry to hear about your hand/fingers. It must have hurt them badly in the accident that you can't call me" Then I laugh and say seriously I just wanted to say I love you and want to hear from you, let's make a lunch date. He may also feel that since his girlfriend talks to you, she keeps you up to date and he has nothing to talk to you about. Boys are like that.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 2:57PM
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I like Vickey's ideas. Whatever the relationship was with him and the cellphone, I'd get out of that one fast. He doesn't need your help with a cellphone, and I don't think you did anything wrong in the email.

I'd back off from him a bit. Don't know how old he is, but he may be in a space in his life where he needs to distance himself from Mom. Also, when he calls for help of some sort, maybe you should just not be quite as available as in the past. It's nice you can stay in touch through his girlfriend.

If he acts annoyed or cross with you, just say, "I don't like being talked to that way," in a calm but matter-of-fact way. You have to stand up for yourself. I know it hurts to be treated that way by a son you love so much. But it does hurt, and you need to speak up to him when it happens.

I doubt you'll ever have the same relationship as with your other son, but hopefully it can be better than it has been.

I'm not Dr. Phil....this is just my two cents! Best wishes.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 3:36PM
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I once had an elderly relative who I would visit occasionally. We were not close. She was my grandfather's sister and I didn't meet her until I was in my 20s. Whenever I did see her she would make some comment about how long it had been since the last phone call/visit. It didn't make it fun to see her to be reminded that I had been remiss. I would lay off anything that is remotely guilt-trip-like including comments about broken dialing fingers, etc. They aren't amusing if the relationship is the least bit strained.

Do drop the phone from your plan as scheduled. Give him another notice the day before that as of tomorrow the service will end. It only takes a day to get another phone. You may not have the number any longer, however!

As for how he treats you and speaks to you. Be direct be clear. Not the same as a guilt trip. I have been through this with my kids. They are not permitted to snarl at me or ignore me or treat me like an ATM machine and short order cook. I have told them how this makes me feel. That it is hurtful. I once left my 12 year old daughter at a horse show (she had a ride home) after being given the bum's rush everytime I came over to where she was. I explained that I didn't like being treated like an annoyance unless she wanted money. Since she seemed too occupied with her friends to eat with me or talk to me, I was going home. I left in tears while she stood there crying and begging me to stay. She got it. Since then she has almost always been very thoughtful aobut my presence at one of her shows.

One thing I learned as a mom and an employee and as a woman was how to say no. When I wore myself out trying to do everything for everyone (and nothing for myself) no one was happy or appreciative. Once I defined boundaries, said no if it was a burden or too costly or I was tired, my family and others became far more appreciative of those things I am willing and able to do. My children thank me for home cooked meals and trips to the mall or rides or having friends over.

One thing to remember about saying no (calmly and quietly with no excuses) after everyone being used to you dropping and doing on demand is that they will be surprised and angry. Trust me, it will pass. In it's place will be new respect and appreciation. Really!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 12:00PM
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