Adult Child Estrangement
Nearly a year ago we had a falling out with my son and his new wife, now they won't have anything to do with us. We have all tried on various occasions to get together with them but we just get a polite response saying they can't make it. I thought that Christmas would be a good time to try again but my son has just told me they have plans for all of Christmas and won't have time to see us.
He has withdrawn from all his family and friends and I am so worried about him. I am feeling so low and so sad, it is hard to find joy in anything. I have other family members to spend Christmas with but at this stage I just don't feel like celebrating at all.
I'm wondering if anyone else has experience with this type of thing and how you coped because at times I feel like I can't.
In the scheme of things a year isn’t a long time if your son needs space. Any pressure from you to unite will be rejected until he finds the need to do so.
The better thing to do is say “we are here for a cuppa when you’d like one” then leave it.
I understand your upset but he is an adult and any emotions he has needs time to sort out before he’ll be ready.
While it is true that when an offspring marries there does get to be a distance, sad but in some ways natural, after all having one partner still being too close to parents is not necessarily good thing.
Here, from your account, it sounds like something more than that, and to be isolated from the pair is upsetting and worrying.
You mentioned a falling out which I presume you think might be the cause of the current situation. Would it be in order to ask the nature of the disagreement?
I would imagine that you and your husband would have met and interacted wiht your daughter in law prior to the marriage. Is your impression of her, was she very friendly , fit in and enjoyed contact or perhaps the reverse?
With your son, it is not unusual to pay less attention to family and freinds, but once again this seems excessive, and as you have not mentioned any falling out with his freinds perhaps that disagreement may have been a side issue and for whatever reason contact, except between the two of them, is being avoided.
There are obviously many possible reasons for this, what do you and your husband think is behind it all?
Thanks Croix for your in depth response. I really don't want to go into details about what happened but it was a big incident that involved all the family and friends, things have not been the same since.
My son was with his wife for quite a few years before they got married and she was never very friendly and didn't really fit in, she is a very moody person and at times wouldn't even talk to us. We all tried hard for our sons sake.
What concerns me now is not so much what happened but the fact they don't seem able to get over it or move forward. All families have disagreements of some kind but mostly they get over it. With Christmas just around the corner I was hoping it might be a chance to bring us all together again but it seems like it isn't going to happen.
I just want to be able to feel happy and enjoy spending Christmas with the rest of my family.
I think it's nice that you've tried to reach out multiple times. However, as my therapist always says "we can't control what other people do, only what we do". I'm estranged from my parents. It was my choice. I did try to talk to them about the problem initially, but they didn't listen properly and didn't understand, and I decided it was best for my mental health to just go my own way. It's now been two years. What can you do? Can you turn your love and attention to being in the moment with those people who are there? I'm recently out of a relationship, and I find when I focus on my ex and think about how much I miss him and wonder what he's doing and how he can want to be without me, I'm really unhappy. I try to stop those thoughts now and just understand that he's a person that has made a choice that's best for him and I can choose to be ok with that. Then I try to just focus on what's in front of me - whatever that might be. All the best, and good on you for "leaving the door open".
I am beginning to suspect from what you have said that it is not so much your son, but your daughter in law that may be the reason for this family break. Some people do not feel secure unless they are the only one and cannot bear the thought having part of their partner's affection - even wiht parents - divided. Plus she may dislike any social contact, not just with you.
Others seek to control , and part of that is to isolate the partner from family and freinds. While I am not saying this is the case here it is common in abusive relationships.
I think if it was me then I'd seek the advice of those who deal with such matters on a daily basis, for example
Relationships Australia - 1300 364 277
Expertise means they may pick up on matters you have not considered and be able to give a more accurate picture.
As things stand I'm not sure there is a lot you can do other than maintain a stable place your son can come to if in need.
As for feeling less sad and frustrated over the matter, I would think that entirely natural. In my own case the boot was on the other foot and I was disinherited, my parents split from me and my fiancée. Yes it causes grief, and even self-doulbt, wondering if there was more you could have done.
Relationships Australia may suggest a grief councilor, if so, and you can afford it, I'd suggest you take their advice