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Brad The Therapist
Brad The Therapist, LCPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 549
Experience:  10 years of experience in working with youth and adults
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hello:i have a question about my relationship with my adult

Resolved Question:

hello:

i have a question about my relationship with my adult son.

for the last 4 months he has been giving me the silent treatment. over the past several years, there have been certain instances where we have had serious disagreements. at this point, because we are both living under the same roof, i continue to politely greet him once or twice a day. i'm hoping that by doing this, he will see and understand that i am trying to do my part to open up some level of communication.

he has stated that he is no longer interested in having any type of relationship with me. we are scheduled to no longer be living together in several months, and at this moment i'm not sure if i'm making things worse by greeting someone that has asked me to no longer "bother" him.

i understand that for us to have a meaningful relationship it's going to take a lot of work on both our parts and that's not really the essence of my question. i'm more curious, from a psychological point of view, as to the foundation of this drastic behavior?

i believe it to be drastic because the history between us is not one of violence or abuse. i'm sure i haven't been the most ideal parent and probably have been less envolved in the lives of my children than i should have, but for someone to say that they no longer want anything to do with their father in this fashion, doesn't seem normal.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Brad The Therapist replied 2 years ago.

Brad :

Thank you for your question. Before providing a psychological perspective, I have a few questions. First, when did you realize your relationship with your son was not ideal? What is he upset about?

Customer: Thanks for responding. Well, we used to work together about ten years ago and I have a feeling that the relatinship first started to go downhill then. More recently, he had been living far away and during those years the relationship was not negative, but fairly superficial, with only seldom phone conversations. We are probably a bit different and really don't share similar interests. Most recently , approximately a year and a half ago, there was a family emergency where someone ended up in the hospital. I would rather not go into the details, but since that moment his anger towards me has been an issue. I wasn't responsible for the person being hospitalized, but in retrospect, I may not have responded to the emergency ideally. I have been pegged now for some time by my wife and some of my kids as being selfish with my time, and apparently he has decided to run with this concept also. Like I said in my original question, I doubt I'm the quintessential dad, and I'm sure I should have been more involved- but I'm also positive I'm not the devil! Just before cutting me off he told me that he no longer respected me and wanted to be removed from any last will and testament. Again, I haven't gone to many games, I haven't communicated very well, I have probably worked too much- but I have always been there if they needed me and have always been a respectable person. In large part I believe that I can only extend my best intentions. If that isn't good enough for him- perhaps it's more an issue that he will need to work out. I feel all I can do is continue to greet him and extend an invitation. I don't think that agreeing to his request and no longer communicating is correct. By me doing that I would be denying what I believe to be mature and sincere.
Brad : Thank you for your response. Based on what your post, I commend you for continuing your communication with your son. In terms of a psychological perspective, your relationship with your son may be best described through attachment theory. Your early experiences with him indicate that you were not able to develop an attachment with you. Now, you are attempting to create this attachment but you son is refusing your attempts. If you want to improve your relationship with him, have you considered writing a letter to him indicating your regrets and what you hope for the future? Other than the superficial greeting, do you give praise foe his accomplishments?
Customer:

thanks for getting back to me. yes i have considered writing him a letter. he told me that he is not interested in speaking with me in any way, including written forms. with respect to praise, there really isn't much of an opportunity because he will generally leave the room when i enter. he really gives me the impression that he doesn't love me! and to be perfectly honest, i'm begining to think that perhaps he doesn't.

Customer:

so, thanks for your information on attachment. i can understand that point. i'm not sure what your professional training is centered on, but when someone takes this drastic of a stance, could there be a psychological disorder perhaps? there has been a bit of mental illness in the family in the past and i'm a little concerned that he may need some attention.

Customer:

also could you say a few more words about the psychology of a person that is willing to cut people off so readily. i believe he has done this with a few friends in the past. aside from the obvious instances of abuse and the such, are there times when cutting people out of your life is warranted and actually healthy? am i not just angering him more by continuing to greet him?

Brad :

My professional training is in Clinical Psychology. You bring up a good point about potential mental illness. the way I see it is that if a person's functioning is being affected by their emotions (such as getting fired from their job because of a temper or not able to hold on to meaningful relationships although one wants one) then that is how I categorize a mental illness. It is not just the symptoms or behaviors, it is should include how one is functioning because of it.

Brad :

In terms of you son's mental health, do you feel your son is happy at his current situation? If he continues to be angered by yoru continuing greeting, he is trying to communicate to you something that no one is understanding. If him being angry at you is affecting him not just your relationship but other relationships and functioning, then you may want to encourage him to attend family therapy with you if that is possible.

Brad :

Please tell me more about your son...how is like? What does he do for fun? how would you describe his personality?

Customer:

thanks for your help and information. i would say my son is a fairly well rounded person. i always thought that he was a bit stubborn but also willing to eventually compromise and work well with the group. i guess i forgot to mention that i have 5 boys. that's right- no girls!

Customer:

i'm the kind of guy that plays the classical guitar. all my boys are not the complete opposite, but let's put it this way, their mother raised them with far less discipline than i thought to be correct. i couldn't fight her about everything all the time and like i said previously, i recognize that i really wasn't around as much as i should have.

Customer:

he's number 4 out of 5 and is still single. i don't know if this is relevant, but all my boys are grown and none of them are still married and i have 0 grandchildren. sometimes i feel that i'm have had a negative role in that outcome. i feel that if i would have been a better father, they would have wanted to follow in my footsteps. over the years my relationship with my wife has also been tenuous. she is a lot like they are - passionate, impetuous, stubborn. perhaps our personalities have never been a very good match but i have always tried to start each day as if it were a fresh new beginning and have positive attitude.

Customer:

i guess i have gotten a bit off topic. if you could comment a bit on these details, i will have some material to think about and can always continue in the future. thanks in advance for your help.

Brad : Thank you for your response. Please continue to communicate to your son as he will eventually respond (good or badly). If you have concerns about Your son's mental health, please consider family therapy. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Brad : Thank you for your response. Please consider family therapy if you have concerns for your son. It seems as though he is either upset at you or something else. Please continue your communication with him as he will eventually respond (either positively or negatively)
Brad The Therapist, LCPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 549
Experience: 10 years of experience in working with youth and adults
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