When your child doesn’t want anything to do with you

Today is my youngest son’s 25th birthday. 25 years ago my doctor smiled at me and told me he had

Today is my youngest son’s 25th birthday. 25 years ago my doctor smiled at me and told me he had never seen anyone as excited as I was, as the nurse placed my tiny little man in my arms. He had big blue eyes and a mop of black hair. This in itself was unusual. We were mostly redheads in our family and I don’t ever remember a blue eyed child. As with my other children, I fell instantly in love.

We were always very close. He was my baby. It had been 7 years since I had given birth to his brother and back then I was considered an “older” mother. I loved my son so much and through the years we became as close as mother and son could get. Then something changed: my son stopped talking to me and I have no idea why.

I packed up and moved across the state after working 10 years in a stressful thankless job at the suggestion of my son. He said he thought I would love living here in Hobart and I would be able to see more of him. I had been divorced a couple of years by this time. It had been a very painful breakup and divorce for me and I had also lost my home and my financial circumstances were at their worst. I welcomed the change and was excited to be living closer to my boy.

At first it was great. I loved Kingston, the little seaside town just outside Hobart. My son and his flatmate came over every couple of weeks for dinner. I was even invited out for the occasional meal with “the boys”. I had known most of my son’s friends for over 10 years. I settled into life in Hobart and was content and happy. Then it happened.

I was booked in for hip replacement surgery and asked my son if he would be able to do the odd thing for me when I came home from hospital. His answer was “Of course Mum. Me and the boys will help.” I was pretty organised and wouldn’t much help, just the odd visit to the doctor’s surgery or a couple of items picked up from the supermarket. Before I even had the operation, my son had words with me over his girlfriend of a few months. I won’t go into details, but despite my efforts I hadn’t been given much of a chance to get to know her. Then I commented on something one day that was absolutely in no way anything to do with my son’s girlfriend. We talked about this and I thought nothing of it. Things changed though and my boy just stopped having anything to do with me.

During my time in hospital, when I came home and later when I became seriously ill from complications, my son refused to come near me. I tried to talk to him, I tried everything. It’s been nine months now and apart from some very hurtful things my son has said to me via text when I have tried to talk to him, he has not contacted me. I sent him a birthday present but don’t expect him to acknowledge it. My marriage breakup from the love of my life was the most painful thing I have ever gone through, but nothing like this.

I don’t honestly know why this has happened. I keep trying to make sense of it and try to move on and live with it. It’s not like a divorce where you grieve and move on. This is my son, my child, part of me. I wonder does he realise the pain and heartache I feel? I wonder if I did something I don’t even know I did? I wonder will that heaviness I feel in my heart every day ever disappear? I love you, son. Happy birthday.

Do you know how Fran feels?

  1. Ken Cusack  

    Yep – same story with my 27yo Daughter. She got married this month to her long time boyfriend in a gala event at Werribbee Mansion – 3 Bridesmaids 3 Grooms, all the trimmings, and I was not invited or even told. Other siblings were told not to give details or put photo’s out, but I did discover some from and old family friend loyal to me. Guttered beyond believe . . . All because I once slapped her 3 times on the top of her head for being foul mouthed and insolent. She claims I assaulted her. She just got smacked…. Sad , sad – tears flow….

    • bernard maney  

      Pray that if things do not work out here, you will be re-united in heaven. I have been doing that for 49 years about my daughter. Like you, I have no idea why I am off the air.

    • Marjory Tomlinson  

      This is a common story. I was involved in a research project on the subject as I’ve had no contact with my eldest daughter in 18 years, and my younger daughter only began communicating again last year. They never told me why but it seems connected to my divorcing their father. I have 4 grandchildren I’ve never met & only learned about through my ex long after the events. I wasn’t invited to the youngest’s wedding, or told about it even though her husband wanted me there according to my ex. At first I had anti-depressants & counselling, then I just got on and made a good life for myself, although there have been many relapses. I send them all gifts at Christmas & birthdays, and they don’t get returned anymore. It still hurts Fran, but not so much, you are not at fault, and you are not alone.

    • Christine Banks  

      I can relate to this story, I grieved for the loss of my son’s love for almost 20 years. I longed to see him & hear his voice. He refused to have anything to do with his brother & sister. However, he has now come back into our lives after years of suffering an undiagnosed mental illness and it is like he has never been away, the only sad thing is that now we have a grandson whom we will hardly see. All I can say to any mother who has experienced this pain, is do not give up hope of a reconciliation but you have to get on with your life.

    • Hi Ken, My father once (and only once) slapped me on the cheek because I said “damn”. It surprised me completely because he was never violent or abusive in any way. I never used any swear word again. The smacking incident apparently was and is much more important to your daughter than to you. Hitting, smacking, sarcasm etc used to be acceptable in society, but times have changed and it is now considered to be totally unacceptable – and is especially dangerous around the face or head. If you can honestly say this was a one off incident and there was never any other abuse, she may eventually come round. Perhaps you could write her a letter to explain your reasons e.g. you were under stress, that was the norm for discipline in those days, and that you fully apologise. You could offer to attend counselling with her to sort out any other grievances she may have.

  2. Shirley  

    My heart goes out to you. I’ve been there too and it has been 22 years . It does get better when you realise deep in your heart you haven’t done anything. The bottom line is, even if you did, and I doubt it, you are his mother and deserve respect. In my case I have three sons ranging in age from 42 years to 37 years and a daughter 22 years. My eldest son lives in Australia (I’m in New Zealand) and we talk occasionally. The other two boys I don’t have anything to do with. Both carry a great big ginormous chip on their shoulders that come back to me refusing to be their ‘slave’ when my marriage broke up when my precious daughter was a new baby. Before that I had been at their beck and call but found I couldn’t do it financially or physically when I was struggling alone. I might add that both boys had families of their own at this point.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, look forward and enjoy the company of your friends. Some areas have a kind of adopt a grandparent group and maybe you can focus on being a adopted Mum and grandma for a family who don’t have one. You are special and I’m sure someone would love to have you as their special Mum and Grandma.

    Take care

  3. Pippa  

    Sounds so fimilar The ache of a Mothers heart I just pray for them and say to myselfas long as I don’t get bitter and always send them birthday and Christmas greetings make me feel I am doing the right thing I’m not responsible for their attitude as long as I dodnt ignore them Hope this helps Shalom

  4. Vanessa  

    I am so disgusted with adult children treating their parents horribly. I don’t care what your parent did, other than obvious abuse, these are still your parents. Stop blaming them for all the childhood problems. Overcoming them is what made you who you are today. I just hope they won’t feel the same thing when their children get older and they treat their aged parents the same. They are just following your example

    • Patricia  

      Thank you for your comment Vanessa. I just wish my son who is in his early 40’s could read this. It is very heartbreaking to have him treat me they way he does. I cannot talk to him as he gets me all tongue tied with his quick nasty retorts. I have made a huge decision to keep my distance for my own health and well being. I live in New Zealand and hopefully can return back to Australia to be closer to family and friends who love me.

    • Elle -Jay  

      My husband’s crime was to leave an unhappy marriage 28 years ago. Roll on 26 years and his now adult estranged children have not come out of their sulk. Spoiled entitled brats. They just never wanted to be involved. I hope they are perfect as it seems their father who gave them the best while he lived with them was not allowed to be human. They were not abandoned but chose not to be involved in his new life. Now that many years have gone by he is finally starting to enjoy life again and has accepted how it will be. I feel blessed that I now don’t have to tolerate their stuck up opinions of themselves as we certainly tried to in the early days until they just struck their father off! They just cut contact, moved away overseas. They are back now but nothing has softened their hearts it seems. Some people say my husband should extend his hand out but what’s the point as they are the ones with the problem. They are adults over 40 now! At this stage of life we can’t be bothered with rehashing old stuff as we lived it for the last 26 years. I resent them for the “elephant in the room” for all those years. No more!

  5. Deb  

    Entitlement. Take take take. Heaven forbid should Mum need some support. I have a 25 year old whom I see but I wonder why?

  6. John Rolfe  

    In my job I see this sort of thing everyday older parents who are just thrown away because it’s to much bother. I for one wish my Mum was still around because even at 61 I still miss her and think of her daily. I try often to remind my children no matter what always remember God only gave you one Mother and one Father.

  7. Stuart  

    It never goes away – I haven’t been able to speak to my son in nearly 20 years and no matter how hard I try to move on the pain is still there every day.

  8. Heather  

    My daughter puts up with having me as her mother, I still do not really know what I did or didn’t do. I am a good grandma but was a terrible mother, that is all I know. Any contact with her is usually made by me and is never long. It breaks my heart every day.

    • Judith Gibbs  

      Same with me Heather… One day I may ask the question. My daughter is very thoughtful when it comes to birthdays, Christmas, Mothers’ day etc but a warm hug and the feeling that I am welcome when I visit (both my children live interstate) does not exist. I made mistakes, of that I am sure but I never did anything drastic to my knowledge. A lot of adult children (X and Y Generations) are selfish, self absorbed takers in my book. I know so many people that have to contact with their Children and grandchildren because they said or did something wrong. I think the problem was when they brought in childrens’ rights, they (and we) forgot to enforce “with rights comes responsibility and respect – the 3 “Rs”. sad.

  9. Laurel  

    My son and his partner won’t speak to us. It has been 20 months since we have seen them or our grandkids aged 13,11 & 6 years old. It’s heartbreaking, who knows what they tell kids why Nan & Pop aren’t around any more.

  10. I have 2 sons living in Australia, both in their 40’s, and with children (my Grandchildren) of their own. I am another heartbroken Mother and Grandmother. Both sons went through marriage break-ups, and both of them chose to break contact with me for no reason. I have tried so many times to talk to them about why and how my marriage to their Father broke up, but they don’t want to know . In their eyes and especially now he is dead, their Father could do no harm. He was a very cruel man, mentally disturbed sometimes, and a compulsive liar. However, I haven’t told them all this, just in case it gets worse. I love my boys, but at 72 I doubt if I will ever see them again. My Grandchildren have been kept from me, and the eldest son will not even give me a photo of the children. I cry sometimes, often at night, and wonder what I can do. It was their choice to become estranged from me, but I wont be here forever and I just want to put my arms around them and tell them I love them in person.

  11. Janine  

    I understand the hurt as it has happened to me also. I had to learn that I rely on no one where it could hurt me and that what others do is their choices and their loss. Try not to hurt and look at what you have, not what you haven’t got. Be powerful in yourself and surround yourself with all things good. Your children, when they grow are adults and independent and generally become your friends. If a friend turned their back on you it hurts but you can walk away. If a child stops respecting you walk away without animosity….if its meant to be they will come back as long as you have unconditional love it may pass, but do not let it destroy you.

  12. Mary Ann  

    I have 3 sons, the youngest who is now 28 wants nothing to do with me. His Dad died when he was 11 and he was a difficult child to raise. Yes, I made mistakes and had to deal with depression but I did the best I could in raising my son’s with my limited resources. I love all my son’s but try to just not think about the one I have lost…I focus on the two I still have, on my daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I send the youngest one and his wife cards and invite them for Christmas. People say give him time…I am going to be63 soon so time is possessing by…sadly he is strong willed and I do not know if time will help. I do not cry tears but act strong. I do not interfere with his relationship with his brothers as when I am gone the only family that they will have is each other. God bless all the forgotten and ignored parents….

    • Julie Glassell  

      Thank you for telling this story. I also have a son who refuses to have anything to do with me. He hasn’t spoken to me for 4 years and it is breaking my heart. I know he isn’t happy and has problems and all I can do is pray for him. He has 2 children. A little girl and a little boy who I have never seen. This dear boy of mine is the youngest of 8 children and was my baby for so long and so special to me. To describe how I really feel about this is almost killing me. The pain is so bad. And I also say God bless all the forgotten and ignored parents…..

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