Monday, November 7, 2011

My son offers his advice

Mom's been after me for awhile to share my thoughts on our blog. Here I am, finally. She told me that she's been asked several times by readers about how I felt during our separation and what she could have done differently to help heal our relationship. She believes that what I went through, too, can help other parents and kids. I hope so.

First, I'd tell parents to give your kids space. Lots of it.

The more Mom pressured me back then, the angrier I'd feel. Her pushing even seemed to accelerate my anger. It sure didn't help me. What I needed most was time and space to understand and process everything that had happened. I remember how infuriated I'd feel after I heard she'd contacted the lady I worked for.

See, I'd had a vision of The Perfect Familly, and that was us. Then one night, it was all taken away. The loss was a substantial blow to me. I felt so angry. I was in the house where Lindsey, my sister, and I had grown up. It was the physical boundary that had held our family. When Mom left, she left our "tribe," so to speak. Afterward, she'd e-mail me or call like crazy. I eventually blocked her e-mails, and that actually made me feel good. Real good. She was the one who wanted to leave so why was she still trying to contact me? When I blocked her e-mails, it was like shutting the door behind her. That felt great.

At the time, I really wanted the space, and Mom eventually gave it to me. Later, she e-mailed me again, using a different address, but she wasn't as aggressive as she'd been before. She came across less desperate and frantic. Which helped me feel a lot less pressured. So later on, when she invited me and one of my friends over for supper, I accepted. With my friend there, I felt less awkward.

In a nutshell, that's the main thing I'd tell parents: back off and give your kid plenty of space. E-mail and text them occasionally. Give them time to process the anger and pain that they're dealing with. They'll come back to you. When they're ready.


  1. Thank you, Patrick, for your vulnerability. Your advice is good and it helps hearing it from your perspective. It's difficult, as a parent, to know that we hurt our children and then cannot quickly remedy the situation. We reap what we sow and then have to trust God to restore.

    For all of us who feel the pain of broken bonds, may all our hearts heal as yours and your Mom's have. Thank you for sharing with us and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

  2. Patrick-
    Your words of advice to others who are out there and hurting from the same Pain you went through will benefit so MUCH from your amazing honesty.

    I heard your heart "talking" and am so proud to see your willingness to help others, something I am always seen in you.

    Just wanted to say, "I am so Proud of you."

    Love, Martha

  3. Patrick-
    A very thoughtful and honest insight posted by you and what a blessing for you to share your story with others, giving both those who are hurting, and the parents-some wonderful advice on coping with such deep hurts.

    I am very touched by this and so proud you are reaching out to help others. Way to go!! Martha Herden

  4. Thanks Patrick, this has opened my eyes. Melissa from La,

  5. Patrick, I never read or you didn't say why your mother left? I can understand why you would be bitter, but being a mother myself I can't imagine a mother just walking out on her childern. But, if you know anything about God, we serve a forgiving God and he expects us to do the same thing if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven, I hope and pray that your mother and your relationship continues to grow. In Jesus Name Amen. Thanks for sharing

  6. I havent talked to my son in almost 4 years... one argument and thats all it first I tried reaching out to him for the first few years like crazy ....I didnt even call him for his bday yersterday...I thought I would be okay with it.... But here I am crying a day later with a massive headache.... He turnned 21... He maintains a good realationship with my side of the family...and attends family functions like birth days christmas thanksgiving snd other family celebrations... But I dont anymore.. its a horrible feeling when your son Ignors you like a stranger around your own family.... I rather stay away.... I miss him... But im done trying....

  7. Bless you, friend. I'm am so deeply sorry for your pain and heartache. I'm wrapping my arms around you now as I write this, and I will add you to my private prayer book. I will also add you to our Prayer List here. If you want, please email me privately. I understand your suffering...separation from a child hurts terribly, no matter the cause. You are loved. From one mother to another, sheryl

  8. I just want to say thank you for sharing your prospective. I too left our home and moved into an apartment. My teenage boys stayed with their dad. I've been desperately trying to repair the bond I have lost with them but I'm thinking now maybe I should back off a little bit, maybe that's the reason he won't respond to my constant emails. My sons mean the world to me, but I cant make them want to see me I guess. thank you for your kind words and hope.

  9. Patrick (if you see these comments at any point, that is!), or maybe your mom can just pass another "Thank you!" along to you :-)

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your memories of those times and what you were experiencing and processing/working through back then. Because my situation with my sons is very similar to your family's, I can see that my sons (14.5 & 17) are likely going through some very similar (if not identical) thoughts & emotions. It's only been 5 months since I moved away from the family home. Because of many things I've read online & in books, and probably mostly due to meeting several times with the therapist my sons have seen a few times, I am really trying to back up and give room and space (though at times it feels like my heart is tearing down the center). Above all else, I want what is BEST for THEM and I want to respect their needs & wants. If that means putting aside my own wishes for contact, that is what I will do. Thank you for sharing and Congratulations on your marriage!

  10. What a wonderful letter, it gives me hope. And for the person who can't imagine a mother walking out on her children...sometimes you don't have a choice. You need to do what's best for your children; it doesn't mean you're leaving them emotionally. And you're always their mom...always. I was a hands-on, stay at home mom for 15 years. I fought all the time with my ex, and made a very difficult decision to leave. He's a great dad, but was a terrible husband. When we divorced, I could no longer afford to live in the same town as my kids, and they wanted to live in the house they've lived in since they were little. I sacrificed so much to let my kids remain in the same house, same school, around the same friends....don't get me wrong, it's difficult for them sometimes. And heart-wrenching for me most days. But my daughter has even said, she much prefers her life now over the constant battles that would ensue. As a mother, you HAVE to put your kids first, even if that means making major sacrifices for yourself.

  11. I've had this thought a lot lately. That I need to let him have his space. It's so hard because I love him so much, but I guess I just can't force him to speak to me. If only he knew what I went through all those years in the marriage. If only he could understand my sadness and loneliness at the time. Hopefully, that would let him connect to me again. I did leave the house, but I didn't leave their hearts. It's so easy to allow anger to control us. His anger is larger than his love is right now. I pray that changes.

  12. You expressed yours heartache so beautifully. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing, dear friend. And that was often my wish too....if only they truly UNDERSTOOD the reasons. You are in my prayers. With love, sheryl

  13. Dear Patrick-
    Thanks for sharing- I am going to go out on a limb and say that at the time you thought your mom was pushing you- you may not have had the maturity to do anything different but reject her-- supposedly-- You sound just like my 17 year old who for the last 7 years has done what you have to one extent or another-- reject me his mother -- I know you were just a teen as my son has been for 3 years-- but then I say-to myself-- you must have been brought up Christian No?? My son was and he was an altar boy and in Catholic school and went to church every week--received Holy Communion-- but he still acts/acted like he never knew God at all-- I think what you said in your blog- for moms to back off and give you your space was a teenager speaking who did not know God- like my son-- or who knew God at one time only because I made him go through the motions-
    BUT-- I believe that sooner or later- as a person of any age- we have to decide- do we believe in God- Yes- ??? Then we have to act like it-- we have to dig down deep at any age and say-- I am going to be loving and forgiving and respectful to my parents-- even if I do not agree with them--I am going to act in my life as best I can as a Christian in any situation- (knowing we may sometimes fail-- but we put a strong effort)-- I truly believe any child who has been taught about God and faith can do this- even a very young child- but it has to come from within them--- and with the grace of the Holy Spirit. I do not think you had that grace and neither does my son- so --- he continues to keep rejecting me-- and justifying it -- just as you did- back then--same reasoning-- "BECAUSE HE NEEDS MORE SPACE"!
    This is what we all say-- when we make an excuse for not being Christian and following what we profess to believe--
    I for one- do not back off -- from writing my son from telling him what he is doing is not Christian-- because I believe I would be coping out of my duty to diligently remind my son that this is NOT OK--as a Christian parent. As a parent it would be easy to stop- and I have just stopped trying on occasion for several months- but something bigger than me-- maybe the Holy Spirit draws me back to keep trying- keep reminding my son that I do not agree with his actions-
    In the past when I have stopped communicating for a time- it did not change anything- I did not see or hear from my son either way--
    In my case, my son says he will visit- then he lies-- and that is even worse--He has not seen my family for 4 years and he is only 3 hours away-- We went to Catholic church every Sunday as a family- my son attended Catholic school and my former husband was a Eucharistic minister who took my son with lies to the court (he worked for) when my son was only 10.
    So--in a nutshell I would say- to you--Patrick it is great that you have come back to a relationship with your mom- but as an adult Christian man--you could also maybe consider an apology to her for hurting her do deeply-- and take ownership that what you did was wrong. That to me would be what a true Christian man would do-- and then possibly ask God for forgiveness- because if you go the rest of your life thinking-- you were justified in hurting your mom- it will eventually come back to you. In the end, you will not have grown into the better man God would want you to be-
    And - one day-- if and when your child/ren reject you- you will at least know that you made amends with your mom and with God--Just a thought-

    1. Thank you so very much for sharing from your heart. God most certainly leads us in different ways. With love and prayers, sheryl

    2. Just a thought too: Yes God do command us to honor our parents, but He also does not endorse divorces, less giving up an old partner for a new one. It's very hurtful for children to realize that what they once hold to be sacred -- aren't their parents' union sacred? -- can so easily be broken and be deemed replaceable! This is something akin to a "crisis of faith". It can definitely help if parents, when forced to leave a painful marriage, wait at least several years to move on with their lives! Please don't give children the impression that their parents' union, the reason they're born into this world, would just die and be thrown away without even a proper mourning...