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Marian, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 116
Experience:  M.Sc. Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, UK National Health Service
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My son and daughter are back from employment in Europe and

Customer Question

My son and daughter are back from employment in Europe and my son visited for two weeks at Christmas, later joined by my daughter in law (2 day visit) During that time my son visited his brother in a close city several times staying overnight twice and joining his brothers family for part of Christmas eve and Christmas Day. His brother whom he visited has refused to have a relationship with me and refuses to allow my grandchildren to see me. This has been the case for 5 1/2 years. He claims I insulted his wife and that is the reason. He based his decision of not to see me any more or not allow my grandchildren to see me on heresay from his wife. He is a heavy drinker who recently stopped drinking, or so I hear.

My oldest son is now in my home state where his wife will be working, so I anticipate more visits.

The problem: During the holiday season my oldest son was going back and forth between my house and his brother's house. As mentioned, I am never invited to visit or attend family functions or holidays. During the holidays I began to feel like I was just providing a place for my eldest son to stay overnight to facilitate visits with his brother. I can deal with those feelings and let them pass, in the short terms but I started thinking about future visits. Since my eldest son and daughter in law are not in the same state, I anticipate frequent visits to my home.

I thought it best to set up some kind of structure for visits and told my eldest son that I would like to talk to him at some point in the future about how his visits would work out. I told him that I did not want to be just a place he would visit as a convenience for him to see his brother. That his brother does not talk to me or allow me to see my grandchildren, which in my mind in abusive and disrespectful to me. In short, I told my eldest son that I did not want to be a convenience and that is did not feel right to me to facilitate his visits to someone who is abusive and disrespectful to me.

My eldest son informed me , hollering in an angry outburst hat I "was trying to control his life" and that when he visits me he will go where he wants to go. He indicated he will visit whom he wants" and that I am "irrational" for suggesting that when he visits he should either stay with me or his brother. I suggested this so I did not have to feel as if I was supporting the abusive nature of his brother(refusing to see me, inviting me to family functions, refusing to let my grandchildren see me) I also suggested this because when my eldest son visits, I would like to work toward a good relationship and that is not possible if he is traveling back and forth to his brother's house. Also that I feel badly when I am not invited to be a part of the family for something that I apparently said 5 1/2 years ago to his wife.

I am talking about two adult men, one 39 and one 40 who in teenage years were in an adolecent treatment program, who are the children of my ex husband who had a drinking problem, who through a lot of struggles have satisfactory jobs but still seem to act like adolecents. My opinion of course.

I have now suggested to my son that we sit down and talk in a public place about how to find a solution to future visits that is agreeable and beneficial to everyone. And I have indicated a public place to curtail my eldest son's angry reaction and hollering. I also indicated to him that his behavior to me was disrespectful and I did not want to be hollered at.

Actually the behavior of both my sons is feeling familiar, like what was called "druggie" behavior in the program they were in. Also it feels like manipulation.

I do have control over my own house and who visits. I do not want to house a son who is visiting me out of convenience so he can see his brother who has disowned me because of something his wife told him I said 5 1/2 years ago. But I do not want to loose the relationship with this son but I may have to give up if he insists on visits on his terms.

Again, I have suggested we have a conversation about this in the future so we can reach some kind of agreement. However, I don't hold much hope for a good solution or one that is respectful of me.

Input would be helpful.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Marian replied 5 years ago.

Hello and welcome,


Of course you have the right to decide who visits you and deserve to be treated with respect. Hollering is not an appropriate way of talking to someone so I can see why you are upset. I can also see things from your eldest son's perspective and as he was upset and became angry, affecting the way he communicated, I thought it may help to articulate that perspective for you to consider.


To me is seems that you are understandably very hurt by your other son's behaviour. Your elder son is not responsible for his brothers behaviour. You appear to believe that if he visits you when he visits his brother that this implies that he doesn't really want to see you, but is merely using you as a convenience. You know him and this may be correct, however it may also be that he wants to maintain a relationship with both of you and sees your current position as forcing him to choose between you.


It would be a great pity if the actions of your other son were to cost you the relationship with your older son too. Children are not always very considerate of their parents needs and there is no reason why you should not discuss things with him if you feel he is being unreasonable, however you may get further by talking about how his action makes you feel, rather than assuming that is what he intended. So for instance, you could explain that if he comes to stay but spends little time with you, it feels like he doesn't care and that is particularly hurtful in view of the fact that you are also excluded from a relationship with his brother - that what you would like would be to know when he is likely to have free time with you during his visit so that you can plan to do things with him.


I hope that he is prepared to listen, if you are able to communicate in such a way as to avoid accusations. If not, then you may need to decide if you are prepared to let him stay and see how it goes now that he is aware of the issue, or whether you would prefer to risk losing the relationship by making it clear you expect him to visit you and not his brother in the same visit.


I hope you are able to find some form of compromise with him.


All the best,




Edited by Marian on 1/2/2011 at 3:06 PM EST
Marian, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 116
Experience: M.Sc. Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, UK National Health Service
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