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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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My relationship with my 30 yrs old married son has reached

Resolved Question:

My relationship with my 30 yrs old married son has reached a "an all time low"
I devoted my life to rearing him (not being a working mother). His father was a workalcoholic and not often there. It would take too long to say how kind I have been to him. The latest being paying all his bills which amounted to great money when he got stuck despite him and his wife haveing very good jobs. They do live above their means.. He appears to have great respect for his father who was not around much when he was growing up. When I asked if he could pay back the money I gave him in small amounts as I have no income of my own he refused to let me see my grandchild. I find it all quite heart breaking since he is an only child and I think I did my very best for him. Where did I go wrong?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 5 years ago.

Hindsight is great, Carmel. We could analyse this situation in fine detail, but really to put it brifly - you were too kind.

When people become used to being given all the time, and having their chestnuts pulled out of the fire for them when they get it wrong, they lose track of the reality that food, shelter, money, clothes - all the good things - have to be earned. They are not a right.

So, when the giving tap gets turned off, the giver is seen as being mean and selfish, and that in turn causes the taker to retaliate in any way they can - in your case by stopping you seeing your grandchild.

You did what you did because at the time - and with the information available to you at the time - you thought it was the right thing to do, I suspect that you believed that after all, he is your son, and would appreciate all of what was being done for him and given to him. Sadly, Carmel, it's rarely like that. Yours is a common storey, and the thing to do now is to learn from the experience and never get caught like that again.

Keep communication with your son open at all costs, but don't be blaming and accusative with him.

Never get angry, stay cool and in control, matter of fact and stick to the facts. Avoid drama.

Tell him how you feel about his behaviour, and make sure he understands that while you love him, his bad behaviour is hurtful and will not be accepted.

In the end of the day, he may just not choose to respond, but he IS an adult, and totally responsible for his own life choices. It sounds as if you simply cannot allow him to exploit your love and nurture any more, so it’s time for VERY tough love indeed. Letting him just drift on like this is NOT doing him a favour, it just delays his maturing.

Other than that, you have done all you can. After this, he must live with the consequences of his choices.

I feel too that your self esteem could do with a bit of a boost, si I’d like you to use this tool:

This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.

Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you and discuss with your therapist.

Look at yourself in a mirror and read it out loud to yourself. Listen to your voice grow in strength and volume so that you can really start to feel it inside. In the beginning, you may feel silly or embarrassed. You may hear the inner voice say, "That's not the truth". Just hang in there and keep doing it - you'll notice the change within six weeks, if you do it regularly.

1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I

do, say, think or feel.

2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.

3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.

4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.

5. I have the right to say NO.

6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.

7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say NO.

8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.

9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.

10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.

11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.

12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.

13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.

14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

Try it – it really works!

Best wishes, NormanM.

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