My married son is very distant emotionally from me. He very rarely calls,
never e-mails me and very rarely invites me over. His wife's attitude is that
since I am his mother, he should be the one to communicate. I used to call
occasionally ("It's not a good time, I'm dealing with the kids") and suggest
that I come over on a Sunday morning. It's the only way I get to see my
grandchildren. I am getting very depressed about having to "invite myself over."
I have suggested we get together for lunch and talk about our relationship but
there never seems to be a "good time" for this, according to him. Any
In order for a relationship to thrive one basic element is needed:
connection. From the situation you describe, it sounds, sadly, that this element
is weak. I have some thoughts about strengthening your connection.
I am not the biggest fan of the “full-disclosure – lay it all on the table”
talks. Many times these well-intentioned discussions turn into confrontational
debates with defensive participants (especially amongst those participants who
have shown no interest in participating). So in terms of your going out to lunch
to discuss your relationship, I would advise against such a direct route. He has
shown no interest in that type of discussion, perhaps in time it will come, but
for now, it sounds that he is not ready for such a big step.
I remember meeting a Chassidic Rabbi who was teaching about the up-coming
holiday of Purim. He taught that it is a mitzvah (a commandment) to be
joyous throughout the month of Adar (the month which Purim falls). He said that
we were literally supposed to fill every day of this month with joy and
happiness. “So, what to you do when you wake up in the morning feeling lousy?”
he asked. “You smile, and the rest of your body will eventually catch on.”
I have a similar line of thought for you. This is a precious and valuable
relationship you are investing in. Your son is apparently not able to see that
now. But you see it. Sometimes we just have to keep putting ourselves out there,
playing the part, as it were, of the supportive and helpful mother,
mother-in-law and grandmother, and trust that eventually, he will see it for
himself. Sometimes when we act as if there is a relationship, and take some
practical steps towards achieving it, it evolves. Once a connection between the
two of you is made, you won’t have to convince him, he’ll know it.
This will require persistence and patience. I don’t imagine you two fell out
of touch in one day, nor do I think it’s a mere day’s work to fix it. There is a
lot of work to be done here, and chances are, that it won’t be easy. But, keep
hanging in there, keep behaving like his mother and his children’s grandmother
and they will begin to treat you as such.
On a more practical note, I suggest that you try to make yourself more
available to him and his children. Instead of inviting yourself to their
house, try inviting them to your house. Consider inviting the
grandchildren over while your son and daughter in law have some alone time. Or,
offer to sponsor a shopping trip, or a trip to the zoo, or an ice
cream…something the kids would like. Just keep moving forward.
As in all relationships, there are two sides. Show a willingness to be
involved on your side. Additionally, when you do spend time together, pay close
attention to the dynamics. Notice what works and do more of that. If there is
tension when you are together, search yourself and see if you can’t pinpoint
something you have done to create friction. Once you find it, try to work on it
for next time.
In the meantime, I suggest that you find ways to be together. Whether it’s a
Shabbat meal, or a Sunday morning brunch, or a school party, find an opportunity
to make a connection. I wish you much success on your work ahead and blessings
of joy for you and your family.