Dear Barb—The Lost Wonderful Time of the Year

Dear Barb:

The happiest time of the year is quickly approaching, but I am not feeling it.  Most of my family members have passed away and my only son is not talking to me.  He gave me an ultimatum and he didn’t get the response he wanted from me.  His father and I have been divorced for many years and my son became my whole life, but I found out from other family members that my son will be spending Christmas with his father.  I don’t have regrets about not giving in to my son, but I do feel sorry that he cut me out of his life so easily.  I feel very alone and I’m not sure what to do about it.  I have always held the Christmas dinner at my house, and I will still be preparing dinner this year, but it won’t be the same without my son and his family.  I wish Christmas day was over, so I could move past this.  Do you have any suggestions on how I can get through this heartbreaking Christmas? I don’t want to cause the few people who will be coming over to feel as I do.  Thanks for your help, Victoria.

Hi Victoria:

Sorry to hear about your situation.  Parents who are estranged from their adult children are becoming an epidemic and there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution.  This generation of parents have often allowed their children to call the shots in the relationship, especially in cases of divorce.  Many children learned to play one parent against the other to get what they want, and it worked, and they continued this behaviour into adulthood.  A friend of mine, whose parents were divorced, made the observation that children of divorce are forced to choose between their parents, which is not something children of intact families do.  You said your son was your whole life, so I’m assuming you did everything your son wanted while he was growing up, and now you chose to say no, and this is the outcome.  You have two choices, you can continue to spend your life catering to your adult child’s wishes, or you can hold your ground and hope at some point he will come to his senses and respect your right to have your own opinion.  If he doesn’t, you owe it to yourself to let this go and be happy.  Focus on the people who want to spend Christmas with you and be thankful.  There really is no easy solution.  Thank you for your letter Victoria and I’m sure there are a lot of parents and adult children who will be able to relate to your situation.