Celia wrote and said, “I have been practicing Real Love for several months now, and the most striking thing I’ve learned is how many mistakes I’ve made with my two adult children, especially my son. I hear from my daughter once in a while, but my son hasn’t spoken to me in several years. I haven’t ever seen his two young children. I want to heal this, but I don’t know what to do.”
The wounds we inflict on our children can be horrifying, and for multiple reasons we couldn’t possibly appreciate the extent of the wounds we have inflicted:
- It is the very nature of pain that the person experiencing it feels the pain more than the person causing it. If I hit you in the face with a shovel, for example, you will feel much more pain than I will as the shovel vibrates in my hands.
- The wounds caused in a young, developing soul always have a greater effect—often for a lifetime—than the wounds experienced by an adult. The pain of a child’s early years often defines his world for the rest of his life.
- We can’t begin to remember the number of times we wounded our children. They happened far too long ago.
Because your son isn’t speaking to you, you might begin with a statement of responsibility and hope—by email or text—perhaps something like the following:
“As I have been learning about parenting, I am stunned by how stupidly I raised you and your sister. Unbelievable. Only lately have I learned that what children want most is to feel unconditionally loved—without anger or manipulation or disapproval—and I certainly didn’t give you what you needed. I didn’t make you feel loved. I have been very, very wrong. I’m committed to learning how to be a more loving mother, and I apologize for all the pain I’ve caused you to this point. I’ll keep making mistakes, but I’ll be working on them.”
He might respond to this. He might not. The odds that you’ll eliminate his pain with one message, however, are very small. So, you’ll probably need to follow up with other texts, emails, and letters. Think short:
“Thinking of you.”
“Hoping you’re having a good day.”
“Loving you. Mom.”
Occasionally you might want to send a small card or gift. Relax. The goal here is for you to gradually communicate your love, NOT to get your son to respond to you. Show your love, and allow him to respond as he wishes.
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Eliminate confusion and conflict with your children, old and young.