Dear Barb—The Ties that Don’t Bind

Dear Barb:

My adult son has cut off all ties with me and I am devastated! Since his dad and I divorced my son and I have always had issues.  There seems to be a tension between us, almost like he is blaming me for the divorce.  I did make the choice to leave the marriage, but I don’t see how this should have damaged my relationship with my son. 

I have tried to contact him, sent him cards, texts, Christmas and birthday presents, but this has gone on for over a year this time.  He has done this to me a couple of times before and each time when we got back together I tried to find out what the problem was.  The last time he told me it had nothing to do with me, it was just things that he had to work out.  He told me he has now matured and is able to handle stress better.  Obviously, that wasn’t the case. 

This last blow up occurred because my son expected me to remove some pictures of his ex-wife on social media and I refused.  My son gave me an ultimatum: if I didn’t do it he wouldn’t speak to me again.  I refused to remove the pictures because other family members are in them. 

I love my son tremendously, but I have been through this so many times with him, and unless I do exactly what he wants, he does this to me.  Why would a child do this to a parent? I did not abuse or neglect him in any way.  I am finding this very difficult to deal with, some days I’m ok and other days it makes me extremely sad.  Do you have any advice for a heartbroken mother? Thanks, Anne.

Hi Anne:

So sorry to hear about your situation.  I have gotten a few letters about similar scenarios.  There are a lot of people who have a hard time dealing with conflict, so rather than face it, they chose to escape.  It sounds like your son may be struggling with this.  It is extremely painful when an adult child cuts off contact with a parent, especially a mother.  Mothers are always dealing with feelings of guilt and questioning whether they were good mothers, so something like this just magnifies those feelings.  Plus there is the belief that other people will think they must have been a terrible parent for their child to do this.  You have a right to take a stand and make your own choices and decisions, as does your son.  You are not flaunting this by tagging your son in these pictures and he has to respect your right to put whatever you want on your social media accounts.  It seems he doesn’t want to see any reminders of his failed marriage, but eliminating the pictures does not make the failed marriage disappear.  When you feel bad, remember that you did not cut your son out of your life, this was his choice.  Try not to let anger get the best of you.  Perhaps at some point you will be able to have a conversation about what is really bothering your son and you may find out, as he has said, that it really has nothing to do with you.  In the meantime a support group may help you get through this difficult time.  Thank you for sharing with our readers.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org.  Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed.  This column is for entertainment only.  The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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