My son (in his 30s) and I had a huge argument over something he’d done in 2019. We’d always been very close, but this was a big deal.
He left our home and moved in with his girlfriend. Contact became difficult and sporadic.
He went away for work for a couple of months and spoke with us a lot by phone. Two months later, he flew home for the holidays.
No contact for days.
There were sightings from neighbours/friends saying he looked great. I received a text saying he hadn’t come to our house because he’d been ill.
I revealed that people had told us about seeing him. We then heard that he got engaged to his girlfriend. It was posted to Facebook. He hadn't called us. Heartbreaking.
Since then, we get no response.
In this world of Covid-19, I’m afraid of something happening to one of us while we’re still estranged. I’m in my 50s with Diabetes and Crohn's Disease. Any advice?
Apologize. Whatever the initial “big deal” was, it’s nothing during this virus and its threat.
If you said something negative about his then-girlfriend, apologize for that and say you were wrong. He was old enough to choose whomever he wanted.
You may’ve given him an ally in whatever grievances he already had with you.
Even if he doesn’t respond, send emails but don’t harass him. Write the positive feelings you two have for him as your son.
Ask how he’s dealing with the virus - is he employed, are he and his wife feeling well?
You can tell him your own virus concerns but don’t go heavy on him. This is to re-establish contact, not to immediately lay expectations on him.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding untoward advances by a “friend”:
“My husband and I had many friends, including one couple who had two children, as we did. We shared many meals together over the years, and cross-country ski weekends with them and some other couples.
“We’d drink but not excessively. One evening, my girlfriend said to me “You’re not going to get my husband.”
“Shocked, I said I had no interest in him. My husband thought that the fellow must’ve told my girlfriend that he liked me (he’d told mine that he was lucky to have me).
“Her husband was always joking. I enjoyed his humor. Since we knew each other so well, we’d hug hello at gatherings.
“My husband and I decided that it was important to be very cautious so we saw them less.
“My friend became less friendly. One day, her husband was at my door, alone. He said he had an appointment nearby and thought he’d drop in. Strange, because he lived nearby.
I was very uncomfortable and showed it. I said that my husband wasn’t home so I couldn’t invite him in. He left.
“We’ve since noticed that he’s very friendly to most women and caused the split of another couple.
“The very close friendship I had with this girlfriend no longer exists.
“I’m early-70’s and still feel sad about it. I could never tell her that he came to my home alone even though I didn’t let him in.
“Should I have done something to keep this girlfriend? I think she knew he was untrustworthy.”
Given her comment, she apparently suspected the possibility of a mutual interest.
Had you confided his attempt at seeing you alone, she would’ve ended the friendship anyway. She chose her marriage.
Through a nasty divorce, I abandoned my children. I have not seen them for at least five years. I now beat myself up for being so stupid. I miss them.
I barely know where they live and my attempts to reconnect have not been received well at all.
They are 37, 35 and 27-years-old.
Desperate to Re-Connect
Your brief account here is sad but also revealing… it’s all about your loss.
While I empathize as a parent, I know you must also face hard truths here: You abandoned grown children because of your own pain over divorce nastiness, but didn’t help them through or consider their pain.
Forget the drama of beating yourself up. Email them and apologize. (See above). Ask about their lives, how they’re managing during the coronavirus demands of staying home, possibly unemployed, raising children out of school, etc.
Keep reaching out (without harassing) showing genuine concern for them, not you.
Tip of the day:
At a time of pandemic fears, try to smooth family squabbles any decent way you can.