Gransnet forums


estranged son

(48 Posts)
MRSH74 Thu 04-Mar-21 12:08:27

Hi, This may be a long post as I’ll start at the beginning about my estranged son.
I have two sons, the eldest I am close to, the youngest I have been estranged from since 2001.
There is a five year age gap between my sons and they are totally different in character. My youngest was always closer to his father I would say and we had some problems with him growing up, lying, not washing properly, disgustingly dirty bedroom over and over again and occasionally stealing the odd bit of change here and there. I had nothing like that with my oldest son. When my youngest was 9 his father was diagnosed with aggressive cancer that eventually claimed his life when my youngest was 15 and my eldest 20.
Both boys were devastated as was I, but I did my best to keep the family together and my boys close. The two boys had never had a particularly close relationship, the eldest I would describe as a stronger character with my youngest being a lot more passive but it seemed on the surface that they were closer due to the tragedy we had faced. While my eldest went on to higher education my youngest left school as soon as possible at 16 and got a job. He always had a lot of girlfriends and as he started work he started going out and socialising with older people which lead to drinking. He would come home at all hours blind drunk and wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say to guide him and we had a hard few years. I met a new man who is now my husband when my youngest was 17 and surprisingly it was my oldest who was the coldest towards him and his family. He has 4 sons and a daughter with whom he is very close. We have 9 grandchildren from them and are a very close family. My youngest was happy for me and said he just wanted me to be happy.
I was so proud of him as I know he stood up to his brother and also my first husbands family to say that I deserved to be happy and things eventually calmed down. Around this time my son turned 18 and met an older woman of 23 who he seemed keen on. I was never that keen on her and thought she messed him about a bit and I know she cheated on him with an ex but he said he loved her so I accepted that. My eldest and his partner got along with her very well and became friends independently of my youngest. She then announced she was pregnant and my son was delighted. He was 19 when his son was born and unfortunately they split shortly after with her going back to the boyfriend she had cheated on my son with.
He was devastated but seemed to be coping well and was absolutely enamoured with his son and fought to share custody. They were so close like watching two buddies playing together and it was lovely to see. Things went on like this for years until my grandson turned 5 and my son was starting to look unwell. His ex had married her boyfriend and was still very close to my oldest son and his wife and they would tell me that my son was breaking plans at the last minute and acting somewhat erratically. He wasn’t seeing his son as often and I found out he had also lost his job, the same job he had kept since leaving school.
Going to his flat, which looking back nobody ever did, he always visited us and had done for months I looked through the window and it was like a rubbish dump. Spirits bottles and beer cans, just revolting. My son was nowhere in sight and then I get the call from my bank saying my account had been almost drained. I knew almost straight away. My son had gotten access to my account and stole around £5500 from me. He had lost his job 6 months before and had told nobody. I was furious and heartbroken at the same time and phoned the police. I spoke briefly to my son who said that he was sorry, wouldn’t say why he did it and that he deserved to go to prison, something that at the time I was willing to let happen.
His ex began custody proceedings against him. She won and my son was not allowed to see his son pending evaluation by medical professionals.
Before he was formally interviewed by police, my father stepped in and gave me the money back so my son didn’t have to face police action. He then invited him to live with him to try and straighten him out. I couldn’t have him live with me as my husband wouldn’t allow it and was furious with him.
My eldest son decided there and then he was finished with him and would never speak to him again.
I spoke with my father from time to time to see how he was doing and he my son had been diagnosed with mental health issues and alcoholism which he having treatment for but desperately missing his son. I managed to build a very close relationship with my grandsons mother through my eldest son so would see my grandson regularly and it was heart breaking as he idolised his father.
My father tried to get my son on his feet and was told if he could get a place to live and stay on medication, visit therapists etc he could fight for his son so he eventually got another apartment and went for round two of custody proceedings. During the proceedings it was uncovered that he had taken money from my fathers bank account without his permission to secure and furnish his apartment. My father was devastated but refused to press charges. The court was notified of what my son had done and it was case closed and that was the final break, the whole family disowned him.
You have to understand that I found out about the theft from me and how far off the rails my son was in February, by the end of May he had been disowned. In four months all that lot came out and my son as I knew him was gone.
It was very hard but my husband, eldest son and extended family didn’t even want his name mentioned. It caused a rift between me and my father who was so upset and worried for my son.
For the next few years, I would see my son in passing on the odd occasion. We didn’t speak and he looked like he was on something. He wrote to my father apologising and saying he was too ashamed to see him face to face so gave no address or phone number on his letter for return contact.
He phoned me once in 2002 and said he was sorry, cried like a baby down the phone and said he was trying to get better and asked me to tell his son he was sorry and how much he loved him. I told him at the time that sorry wasn’t enough to undo what he had done and he could never make it right as I was sort hurt by him. I would never see him any other way than a liar and a thief who had almost killed his grandfather with his deception. So that was that. I was still so angry and wish I hadn’t said that too him. He then kind of disappeared and nobody heard a word about him. Although it was hard it was easier that he was never mentioned and although I longed to know if he was ok, I supressed it, replaying the hurt I had felt at what he had put me through.

In 2010 my father died and left a letter of forgiveness and love for my son that he has never seen. I thought he would somehow make contact if he found out about his grandfather but he didn’t.
It was only once I became computer literate and got properly connected to the internet a few years ago that curiosity got the better of me and I searched for my son. There was so much about him online. He has a really excellent job that he started in 2004 and holds to this day as well as being a mentor and volunteer at rehab and homeless centres. His picture is all over the web not only for his work but also in press articles about the charities he helps at and he looks a healthy, handsome lad that I remember.
I also found him on facebook and that he was married, since 2004 with three beautiful children, grandchildren that I never knew existed. The relationship I built with my sons ex and grandson broke down years ago so I haven’t had any contact with my grandson for years but I can see from facebook that they are back in contact.
My oldest son is resolute, as is my husband that my son is dead to them but I wouldn’t stop thinking of what might have been so just before Christmas last year I sent him a message on facebook. I know he read it as there was the little tick but he hasn’t replied. I also sent one to my grandson who also hasn’t replied.
I sent two more messages, the last saying if I didn’t hear from him I would leave him alone but was ready to try and build bridges and reconcile but again heard nothing back. Perhaps I left it too long, but I thought I would at least get a reply.
Very very long post but I needed to get it off my chest and wondered if I should try again or maybe contact his wife on facebook? I know I have made mistakes but the enormity of seeing a stranger that I knew really well with a completely different life that I knew nothing of spanning almost 20 years was like a gut punch and all the what ifs are consuming me.
I really don’t have anyone else to talk too about this as my husband doesn’t like speaking of it and after all these years, it’s like another lifetime. I have wanted to post before but have been terrified of being judged but here goes.

I wish I could have been a better mother and wish I could get that across to my son.

tickingbird Thu 04-Mar-21 12:30:34

As a mother of three sons, one having gone off the rails and been very nasty to me, I have to say that, although, there have been times, indeed long periods of time, when I haven’t seen him, I could never turn my back on him. No husband or anyone else would get away with forbidding me to see one of my children. Your father obviously loved your son very much and I think you should do all you can to ensure your son receives his letter.

I think it’s wonderful that your son has turned his life around so successfully and it shows great strength of character. From his point of view he may feel that you didn’t want him when he was at his lowest (even though you did) and now he’s turned his life around he perhaps doesn’t want to revisit that time.

If I was you, I’d send another message letting him know about his grandfather’s letter and love for him and ask if there is some way you can get it to him. He may wish to have the letter and it may lead to a reconciliation with yourself. Don’t try and force it. Good luck.

BlueBelle Thu 04-Mar-21 12:36:05

I m not going to judge you at all but I m not going to gloss it over with a ‘there there’ either and I can’t advise you at all I only know that I would never give up on a child, never, no matter what they did I would have kept trying
I felt sorry for your damaged son reading your long story although I can totally see how hurt and upset you would have been so many times , my heart also went out to his granddad who did love him enough to care for him through all the many downs of your lads life, bless him, he was a strong man and if you can get his letter to your son I think that should be top of your list to do He deserves to see his granddads forgiveness and love
Being a parent is like a marriage through sickness and health, thick and thin, badness and happiness I feel for you so much but I think you were influenced by your new husband and his loving family I couldn’t have him live with me as my husband wouldn’t allow it and your eldest son who hasn’t put a foot wrong

Now he has straighten himself and built a good and meaningful life you are ready to talk to him or see him, he obviously doesn’t feel able to open himself up for more hurt, he’s now stable, got over his problems and is using that experience to give to others, sound a great young man so you must have done a lot right before he ‘went off the rail’
Should you keep trying ...I don’t know, your new husband will be even more angry won’t he? perhaps send him Christmas and birthday greetings telling him you’ve always held him in your heart and hope one day he and you will have something to build on
A very sad story all round

keepingquiet Thu 04-Mar-21 12:44:03


I read your post with interest. Yes, it is long but I gleaned a few things from it.
Your youngest son screwed up but seems to have got his life back together in a positive way. You should be proud despite all the previous anguish he caused and maybe find it somewhere in your heart to forgive him. Only in doing this will you be able to move on. Also maybe also accept there were things you could have done wrong. No one is perfect. You say your father forgave him and that should be your model for doing so too.
You have tried to contact him and he knows.
The what-ifs are consuming you. Discard them. You can't change the past but you can move onto a more positive future as he has done.
Don't contact his wife. Don't open up those old wounds.
Wait. He knows where you are and one day he may feel able
to contact you or maybe he never will. You can't change that.
You will feel sad but from here your son sounds as if he's got things together after years of struggle and he won't want to jeopardise that. Let him live his life and one day you may hear from him again but you can't force it.

AmberSpyglass Thu 04-Mar-21 12:45:09

That’s so difficult, but I’m glad things worked out for him. Perhaps your cutting him off was the push he needed to get his act together, and maybe he’s worried about relapsing if he encounters people from his old life.

Peasblossom Thu 04-Mar-21 12:47:29

He has a good and happy life now as he is. You have tried but now you must let it be. He knows what is right for him and his family.

Be glad for him and don’t upset what is working well for him.

Ashcombe Thu 04-Mar-21 12:56:58

My word! This would make a great plot for a book or film. It was wonderful to read of the change in your son but poignant too and extremely sad for you.

There are reconciliation services for families with issues which could help but probably not if your son isn’t willing.

or Relate:

Talking to expert counsellors might help you come to terms with your situation, whether or not you ever see your son again.

Meanwhile, try not to become consumed with having contact. He might come round in his own time. Otherwise, it’s important for you to preserve your own emotional health and perhaps talking to someone beyond immediate family would help you with this.

I will be thinking about you. 💐

AmberSpyglass Thu 04-Mar-21 13:05:13

But at the end of the day, he has a right not to want to get in touch. And it looks as though he’s made that clear.

Smileless2012 Thu 04-Mar-21 13:37:54

Such a sad story MRSH for you, both your sons and your dear father.

It is wonderful to see how your son has turned his life around, you must be exceptionally proud of him even though that pride must be from a distance.

You lost a son, one son lost a brother, a loving GF lost a GS and your youngest lost everyone.

My advice is to contact him again and tell him you have a letter too him from his GF. Ask him if he would like the letter forwarded and if so, you'd be happy to do this with no expectations from you that there'll be any direct contact between the two of you.

Wise words in AmberSpyglass's post @ 12.45.

I hope that you will find some peace and comfort knowing that he is well, happy and successful in the life he has made for himself, especially as you could never have known what became of him.

Tell him about his GF's letter, ask if he wants it sent and then leave him be. Being estranged from our youngest son I realise it's a big ask but I really believe it's the right thing to do.

MRSH74 Thu 04-Mar-21 14:04:18

Thanks for all your advice so far and for reading my long and sometimes a bit rambling post.

You've been so much kinder than I thought you would be and I'm so grateful for that. Sharing it is cathartic in a way I hadn't anticipated.

It's almost easier to be estranged when you're angry but when that subsides, which it did some years ago all that's left is a void and sadness.

I will try and get the letter from his grandfather too him if he wants it without expecting anything. I am extremely proud of him although I don't feel as though I have a right to be really.

His family looks beautiful and happy and there is definitely some comfort in that.

Hithere Thu 04-Mar-21 14:06:43

I am so glad your son turn his life around.

There is so much trauma in your lives - being compared unfavourably to his older brother, cancer diagnosis of his father at such a young age, 6 years of treatment, his father passing away, being part of a blended family, being enabled by you and his grandfather....

Did anybody ever get closure and able to address so many severe issues head on?

He knows where to find you if and when he wants to contact you again

Smileless2012 Thu 04-Mar-21 14:21:18

"It's almost easier to be estranged when you're angry but when that subsides, which it did some years ago all that's left is a void and sadness".

There isn't anyone who lives with the pain and sadness of estrangement who wont identify with that MRSHflowers.

gt66 Thu 04-Mar-21 14:41:22

Is it possible your son, with the benefit of hindsight, now he is older, is actually terribly embarrassed with his younger behaviour?

It sounds like you did all you could for him at the time and, although he was young, with possible mental health issues; stealing the amounts he did from you and his GF were inexcusable. You would put up with a lot from your children, but surely there comes a time you have to draw a line, otherwise you're almost enabling them to continue to treat you badly.

I would let him know about the letter and offer to send it to a friend, in case he's worried about you knowing his address, or, if he was willing to give you an email address, you could send him a copy that way.

Armadillo Thu 04-Mar-21 19:34:46

It looks like your son left his problems behind and started a new life. I bet its very hard to realise he could sort himself out without you when he couldn't with you. Maybe just try and be happy for him and try not to look at him online. It's very hard to follow someone you are estranged from if they won't talk to you. Better to stick with all your step children and grandchildren and people who love you. Maybe he will reach out one day when he feels ready.

MyPlacentaTreatedMeBetter Thu 18-Mar-21 10:42:50

I feel sorry for you. Given that your son has a happy life now why does he not share that happiness? Happiness is all about sharing happiness, not being mean with it. He is a grown adult and if I were to guess I would surmise he now knows full well how complicated it can be to bestow love to four individual demanding children and be misunderstood. He undoubtedly knows how any parents good empathetic intentions can be misread as bullying, intrusion, control, guilt tripping and all manner of accusations children hurl at parents. I suspect that because he now sees how difficult parenting can be he now may feel uncomfortable about how he demonized you in his juvenile years. He is maybe not avoiding you per se but is avoiding how uncomfortable he feels. You bring all that to the surface and that may be why he feels a need to push you away, its not you he is rejecting but his own uncomfortableness. Please be kind to yourself and put yourself need cossetting now. There are NO PERFECT PARENTS. What you want is love and THAT IS NORMAL. Dont punish yourself anymore. You must have done something brilliantly, after all he seems to be well adjusted now. Buy an adorable, loyal, forgiving, considerate, caring pet dog. You have a lot of love to give.

FlexibleFriend Thu 18-Mar-21 16:08:34

You were all way too judgemental and not supportive enough. It was easier to give up on him and get on with your life with your Husband and his perfect family. No I couldn't have turned my back on my son like you did, yes he did wrong but it was only money and he was desperate. You should have talked to him and sorted it out and told your husband to butt out. The poster above is right about there being no perfect parents just like there are no perfect kids. We all get through it as best we can by helping and not judging and trying to understand what prompted the behaviour. Now you know he's doing well and has a lovely family you want to get back in touch and replace the GS you are no longer in touch with. You need to take a long hard look at yourself and leave the ball in his court, if he wants to get in touch he will. In order to receive love and understanding you need to show it.

Oopsadaisy1 Thu 18-Mar-21 16:17:33

Your father was a wonderful man to try to help your son.

Sago Thu 18-Mar-21 17:22:46

I feel you didn’t so much turn your back on your son as stop enabling his dreadful behaviour.
It perhaps had to be done.
I’m sure that through the good work your son is now involved in he now will understand this to be the case.
I would not use Facebook as a medium to contact your son but perhaps an intermediary, could the mother of your grandchild help?
Good luck.

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Mar-21 18:00:42

I agree with your post Sago. The OP's son's behaviour was as you say dreadful and had MRSH not taken the action she did, but enabled him to carry on in this way, he may not have the productive and successful life he has now.

MRSH74 Tue 23-Mar-21 11:04:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smileless2012 Tue 23-Mar-21 11:39:02

I'm glad you didn't reply MRSH and were able to recognise that your initial desire to do so stemmed from your hurt and anger.

Sending the letter from his GF was absolutely the right thing to do as is your decision to not attempt to contact him again.

FWIW I thought the letter from his wife was thoughtfully written although of course it would have been difficult for you to read.

You know from her that your son is a much loved an valued member of her family and that he has found happiness.

I hope you can find comfort in that knowledge and will start moving on with your own life so that healing can beginflowers.

Armadillo Tue 23-Mar-21 14:50:44

I agree with that, I think the letter is as kind as it can be with how your son feels and how he has made a life without you now and remember husband and wife is a closer relationship than even parent and child as they share everything in adult life. Did you send on the grandfather's letter?

Armadillo Tue 23-Mar-21 15:40:12

Oh I've just seen you have sent it. I think that's at least a positive thing. It takes me so long to read it sorry. What happened when you were in the restaurant?

AmberSpyglass Tue 23-Mar-21 15:44:09

It sounds like he has a wife who loves and supports him and that, like it or not, he’s drawn a line under your relationship probably for good.

MRSH74 Tue 23-Mar-21 16:07:05

Trying to move on and heal is really all there is now I think.

I read the message from his wife sort of sticking it to me to be honest about how loved he is and you're only interested because he's doing well etc but I might be being a bit sensitive as I'm all over the place.

It helps to talk on here. Thank you as hubby doesn't want to hear it and my eldest tantrums like a spoilt child when I mention my younger sons name.

Nothing really happened at the restaurant and I didn't see my son as I was sat behind a pillar. We had gone for a family meal me, hubby hubby's kids and my eldest and his wife when they saw my youngest come in with what we now know is his wife.

My husband and step kids were not sure it was him though my eldest said it was. I didn't look, self preservation.

My eldest was eyeballing him before his wife told him to stop it.