Even some seemingly impossible relationship problems have solutions. Choosing one is far healthier than accepting continuing hurt, disappointment, and feelings of failure.
My wife and I have been married 60-plus years and have three sons, now in late middle-age.
We provided everything we could to them growing up even when we had little income.
We thought we were doing well with them - no problem with police, drugs, or alcohol.
The two older ones have two children each. We haven’t seen or heard from those sons nor three of the four grandchildren for too many years to remember.
Our youngest son lives with us, unmarried, and our youngest grandchild always calls us.
It’s very disheartening when you raise a family and never hear from them. We’re in our early-80s and go to sleep many nights wondering if we will see our offspring before we die.
The simple details you’ve included are sad indeed, but they do not tell your relationship story.
I’m hoping that you and your wife have some idea of what that story really is, because no matter one’s age, understanding what happened between once-close people is better than just feeling abandoned.
I’ve received many accounts where adult children end contact with parents.
Some cite reasons like negative attitudes to their partners, or anger at favouritism to another sibling during and after childhood years.
Or they feel some injustice from their parents’ handling of finances, support to one child, wills, etc.
Of course, there’s always another side. And it’s possible that there was misinterpretation or willful nastiness on either side.
Something happened within your family circle. If you truly don’t know what it was, then for some reason you didn’t recognize it and didn’t ask.
Maybe your live-in son or your grandson knows.
But you can still reach out. It may be one last time, yet you may gain insight, a chance to try and right something that went wrong.
If not, spend these precious years enjoying the relationships you do have with one son and grandson.
Most important, you and your wife need to love, support, and understand each other.
FEEDBACK – Regarding the mother whose financial circumstances have changed, and can’t afford the same expensive gifts for children and grandchildren (Feb. 1):
Reader #1- “The issue here is that so far she’s behaving like "before." And her children, not experiencing the financial hardship because they don’t live with her, don’t realize what the reality is.
“They’re used to something as it has always been.
“The best way is just change the behaviour. Do not replace the scotch she keeps on hand for her son. Do not buy expensive gifts.
“Ask for help when Christmas is coming.
“Mention the fridge is empty when she’s babysitting (Ask: Should I bring my own food?).
“The kids will eventually get used to the new reality - or not.”
Reader #2 – “She should do what we did many years ago. We sent donations in the children’s’ names to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“She could incorporate this into the entire family – should she wish. She can use whatever charity appeals to her.”
Ellie – An excellent suggestion. The amounts she donates is her business; charities need and are grateful for the financial boost at every level.
The gesture also helps children grow up aware of other people not having all the same benefits and privileges they have, hopefully instilling some humility and gratitude along with this awareness.
FEEDBACK Regarding the roommates who can’t get along over their nighttime room temperature (Feb 28):
Reader – “The issue isn’t just about one of them breaking an agreement.
“It is sleep. The heat wakes her during the night and she finds it hard to get back to sleep.
“She needs cool conditions to sleep well.”
Ellie – You may be correct. However, living together as roommates or couples isn’t only about agreements (who cleans up, who cooks, bathroom time, room temperature, etc).
It’s more about learning each other’s needs, respecting them, and trying to accommodate some of their wants as well.
Most essential is a willingness to compromise, and, as above, settle on some solutions.
The woman in this scenario needs/wants less heat. A fan might help.
The guy who admittedly “messes up,” needs to take responsibility for his part in affecting her sleep comfort, by remembering to lower the temperature when he’s raised it earlier.
Tip of the day:
Solutions aren’t always perfect or easy to accept. But depression and feelings of failure are much harder on you.