My “estrangement” story is different from most.
The majority of estrangements occur between parents and adult children, and/or grandparents prevented from a relationship with their grandchildren.
I’m the eldest of three adult children, ages 39, 37 and 34. My sister, the youngest, remains in contact but lives overseas. But my middle-child brother’s rejected me despite knowing I was first estranged from our mother, now 70, by her second husband’s doing.
He distrusted me, feeling I had too much influence on her. My children were her first grandkids. He resented her spending on special gifts for them and the frequency of her calls arranging grandparent visits before the pandemic.
The pressure must’ve been intense because my mother suddenly ended contact without explanation. (My sister checked up on her safety under his influence but nothing could get her to change).
This left my middle brother, who also has children, resenting me. He’s allowed to visit our mother and husband who live in another area not far from here and develop more connection between them and his children.
But he doesn’t speak to me. I called when I first recognized his distancing, but he blamed me for our mother’s “need to control her problematic relationship” with me.
My brother used to be my best friend. I taught him to ride a two-wheeler, shot hoops with him, swam with him to improve his strokes for a Red Cross test. He looked up to me and I let him tag along with my pals.
My wife has called his wife who avoided any discussion of what’s going on.
Now, he’s like a stranger to me. Any advice to repair this?
It’s hard to change the mind of someone who’s fully bought into a belief of wrongdoing. Yet, there’s no apparent “fault,” only suspicions, interference, pressure, and misunderstanding.
As with many sibling stories, your younger brother may’ve quietly resented your being someone who “let him tag along” without his feeling equal to you and your friends.
But now, with adults and young cousins involved, there could be years of estrangement ahead.
Reach out any way possible. If rejected, try again in time. Ask about your brother’s children, send small gifts/cards at Christmas, on their birthdays or special occasions.
Try to reach your mother by phone/email, unless you hear that it causes backlash from her husband. Encourage your sister’s interest in what’s happening without putting her under any pressure.
Most important, despite believing that you’ve done nothing wrong, apologize. It’s the one gesture, delivered with sincerity, that can soften and change fixed beliefs.
My wife and I live in a friendly neighbourhood where several streets surround a park. Everyone walks there.
When this summer brought high temperatures, we were happy to see lots of kids at the playground, and we all also noticed a young couple who recently moved close to the park entrance.
The guy is young and very fit. He walks/jogs/does stretches daily in the park, bare-chested.
I’m a decade older than him, much less fit, and can’t help noticing some female neighbors now going to the park daily and ogling him!
Whenever my wife says she’s taking our dog to the park, I get an uncomfortable stab of jealousy. Is this common to men in their 40s?
Age-related envy can be contagious. Some remedies: Buy weights and use them properly, regularly. Walk the dog with your wife, around the blocks surrounding the park. Ignore the oglers there.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who read a stop-alcoholism book and changed his life, marriage and future (July 17):
Reader – “It’s nice to read a positive column. I can’t say that I was ever diagnosed as an alcoholic but I definitely drank more than normally recommended.
“I stopped completely two years ago because I chose to do so. No meetings. Nothing. It has to be a personal choice, I believe.
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Reader #2 – “I could relate to your column.”
Ellie - Alcoholism affects countless lives. Anyone wanting to quit should know that the condition is treatable with ongoing treatment and continued recovery efforts. It can also be overcome through a person’s very strong will, or the motivational aid of a book (e.g., Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Drinking) or a recovery program such as Alcoholics’ Anonymous.
Tip of the day:
Estrangement usually causes innocent children to lose out. Apologizing can open the door. Worth trying.