Dear Dr. Darcy:
I am the mother of 2 adult sons who refuse to speak to me. They are angry over their childhood. Their father was physically and emotionally abusive to all 3 of us until he was finally sent off to jail when my boys were 16 and 17. I’ve tried to explain to them repeatedly that I did what I could for them. I got pregnant at 18, a child myself, and I was completely dependant on my husband. I tried to leave him several time and he pulled a gun on me. I’ve been beaten by my husband, threatened and terrorized. Why can’t my boys be men (they are in their 30’s) and accept that their childhood happened and there’s no was of erasing it?
Your boys will never forgive you for failing to keep them safe until you demonstrate that you truly understand what they went through. Your inability to see things through their perspective or to validate their pain only drives a wedge further between you. Furthermore, it makes you sound like a narcissist, which you very well may be.
I don’t hear you taking any responsibility for the fact that you were the only person in their lives who could have saved them. Your question is a series of explanations, which adds insult to their injury. They don’t want to hear why you were helpless to keep them safe. They don’t want to be lumped into a category with you as though you were their older sister and not their mother (‘Their father was physically and emotionally abusive to all 3 of us,’). You were the adult. Yet you still sound like an immature child, filled with reasons why nothing was your fault.
I’ve got news for you: EVERYTHING was your fault. Every cruel word, every frightening experience, every physical pain that your boys felt during their childhood…it was all your fault. The idea that your husband had to be carted off to jail for them to be spared of him is horrifying, and sadly, they had no childhood left because they were practically grown.
You want to turn this around? Sit them down, listen to everything they have to say about their childhood, paraphrase what you heard them say so they know you are listening and so they feel heard, and for the love of God, do not offer up one fucking explanation. Don’t talk about how frightened your husband made you feel, how young you were when you got pregnant/married, how you tried to leave him but couldn’t. When you do this, you essentially tell them that you are not responsible for their pain and suffering, and I’m here to tell you lady, you are 100% responsible for it. And until you can listen to your boys without defending yourself, they won’t let you in their lives.
Writer’s Stats: Female, straight.