Gransnet forums


Uncommunicative adult children

(71 Posts)
NainFron Sat 01-Aug-20 20:56:44

I have 3 sons, now in their 30s. The middle one (who lives 250 miles away) is not responding to my phone calls and messages - saying he's too busy, he'll call back, but he never does. It's 2 months since I last spoke to him. Some time last year, I told him how unhappy this was making me and his reply was that he didn't want to talk more frequently as he didn't feel the need. It suited him if I didn't ring too often.
Am I being too demanding? I never phone/ text more frequently than twice a month. We haven't fallen out over anything - but he'll phone my husband (his stepfather) whenever he needs work/money/advice. (He used to work for DH until 2years ago and still does a little freelancing now and again) Last time he phoned DH was last week when DH and I were in the car together (which DH told him). He totally blanked me. Never even said "Hi Mum" . What would you do in my situation? PS I have good relationships with my other 2 sons.

JuneRose Sat 01-Aug-20 21:08:16

It’s a hard one but I think maybe just give him his space? Let him know by the odd text that you are thinking of him - at least with a text he can reply in his own time. Hopefully no news is good news and if he needs you he’ll call you. It hurts I’m sure but just let him know you care without expecting anything back and enjoy being with your other sons.

Hithere Sat 01-Aug-20 21:11:57

How was your relationship with your son growing up?

I would give him space and let him miss you

NainFron Sat 01-Aug-20 21:26:18

Our relationship was excellent growing up. We've been a close, loving family until they all reached adulthood. I'd like to see more of all of them, (like many mums, I'm sure) but appreciate that they have their own lives to live.

tanith Sat 01-Aug-20 22:00:31

My only son is a hopeless communicator, it’s all a bit hit and miss with him it doesn’t mean he loves me less than his sisters. I’ve just come to accept that’s how he is and appreciate when he does ring or remembers my birthday. As you have two sons that do contact you maybe accept that your other son is different.

Grandmabatty Sat 01-Aug-20 22:02:17

I would step back and not text him. Let him contact you. If he's in touch with your dh then you know he's okay. It's horrible for you, but this is who he is at the moment. By forcing contact with him, you're pushing him further away. Leave him be for a while. This is what I did to my 34 year old son and I replied when he messaged me, but he contacted me first.

welbeck Sun 02-Aug-20 03:24:21

i had assumed you were living on your own until you mentioned a husband.
i guess your son is just being honest; he has nothing to say to you, so doesn't see why he should pretend that he has.
i can see it from both sides.
it would be nice if he could extend himself a little beyond his own immediate interests, to reach out to you.
does he have a partner.
what about yours. seems they communicate on a more purposeful/ worklike basis. some people esp men are more comfortable with that rather than the kind of aimless rambling how are you type conversations.
i used to hear a neighbour doing this with her sons who were so obviously bored/ embarrassed/ exasperated by her.
how would it be if next time he rings yr husband, to get something from him, yr husband says, have a word with your mother first and just gives you the phone.

cornergran Sun 02-Aug-20 08:39:15

I think there’s a need to accept our adult children have their own characters. I don’t think your son is being deliberately unkind nainfron, I suspect he is someone who communicates with a purpose. We have two adult sons, one phones just for a chat, the other only when there is purpose. Yes, step back a bit, accept him for who he is and try not to worry.

Davidhs Sun 02-Aug-20 08:48:16

The relationship with adult children can vary a lot, many are just busy involved in their own lives and don’t make contact much beyond Christmas and birthdays. Others live closeby and get together often.

I was not particularly close to mum but did see her quite often and I’m sure it did not bother her, it was my sister that caused the real problems, mum was upset with that. So I guess I was favored in comparison, however younger brother and his wife were closer.

sodapop Sun 02-Aug-20 08:48:56

I agree with Welbeck and cornergran some people only communicate when there is a reason not just to chit chat. It's not confined to men either, my two daughters are completely opposite in this way. Don't worry about it, just send the odd message to check he is ok. It would be nice if he thought a little about your feelings.

crazyH Sun 02-Aug-20 08:54:25

My 3 children only ring when there's a reason to. I do see them regularly, and we have a what's app Family Group.
Our AC have busy, complicated lives and let's not make it more complicated for them. They are individuals and have different personalities. Just because he doesn't "chat" with you doesn't mean he doesn't love you.

GrannySomerset Sun 02-Aug-20 09:02:05

Our DS is an infrequent communicator and we have learned to leave it to him because we know how complicated his life is, and some days a chat with mum and dad simply isn’t possible or wanted. DD keeps in close touch and uses me as a sounding board so that she can work out what she thinks about something. Glad to be of use!

geekesse Sun 02-Aug-20 09:06:49

Some people need frequent contact to maintain a relationship - the OP appears to be one of them. Some don’t - they pick up where they left off when they meet or talk - the son seems to fall into that group. Before the days of ubiquitous mobile phone and video calling, when every minute of a phone call cost money, and you couldn’t move more than a couple of yards from the wall it was plugged into, people used the phone less frequently, but surprisingly enough most people managed to keep loving their families without daily updates.

I think the need for constant contact between a parent and adult children is mostly a sign of insecurity, sometimes an indication of an urge to be controlling. We should have the confidence that our kids can cope with the world without our regular input, that they love us and know that we love them without frequent reminders. We should trust that they can run their own lives competently without needing to know every daily detail of how they are doing that.

Hetty58 Sun 02-Aug-20 09:07:12

I was the 'uncommunicative adult child' with my mother.

Although I got along well with my father - and could chat away for ages (about anything) I found calls to or from my mother a (very boring) complete chore, to be avoided if at all possible.

There was a set agenda for the conversations. She'd ask about the children (in order, eldest to youngest) their school work, study or work lives (didn't want to know about hobbies, outings or friends).

She wanted many details of their 'progress' and became quite huffy if I didn't know.

She would cut short any discussion of my own work, social life or interests.

I'd be stuck on the phone for two hours, at least, listening to a boring monologue about her latest shopping trip, being told not to interrupt - as she hadn't finished telling me all about it.

I'd say 'I'll have to go:

There's someone at the door
The cat's been sick
I'm meeting my friend now
The dinner's burning'

But she'd say 'I'll hold' or 'I'll call you back later'!

Of course, eventually, I gave up the house phone and just had a mobile!

jaylucy Sun 02-Aug-20 09:19:37

I'd give myself a pat on the back for raising a sensible, independent young man.
He keeps in contact with your DH as and when he needs to, so it isn't as if there is no communication at all like some parents on here have to suffer.
Some adults when they leave the nest don't feel the need to be in constant contact with home, so just let him be! He will be in contact as and when he needs to and sorry, but your constant badgering could only make that contact further and further away.
Maybe just tell him that you would at least like to hear from him on birthdays and Christmas and leave it at that. He amy surprise you!

B9exchange Sun 02-Aug-20 09:32:11

NainFron you have my utmost sympathy, I have a son who feels no need of any contact with his mother, or his father. We haven't seen him for 15 months, and he has no plans to visit or let us visit him. He won't use the phone except in an emergency, doesn't trust any online form of communication, even emails get ignored or he replies months later if you are lucky. His wife lives with us so that she can work in this country, he prefers to live abroad with the GC. This is the only way we know they are okay, as she speaks to him every night.

We haven't fallen out, they give us cards and presents, and if in need of financial or child care emergency help he will contact us. When DiL flies over to visit, I send a homemade cake for him and the children, and occasionally get a text saying thank you, but that is it. It does hurt badly, we see the rest of the family often, but that is his choice. sad

Harris27 Sun 02-Aug-20 09:35:15

I too have three sons two very communitive the middle one not so it hurt at first but I just think now we’ll he’ll call if he needs something and I might be there. We Have accepted this and we too have moved on.

NainFron Sun 02-Aug-20 11:16:07

Thank you all for your comments and advice. It's comforting to know that others are in a similar position, even when there's no obvious solution to the situation I find myself in.
I like Grandmabatty's suggestion to let things be. That's what my head tells me too - it's just my heart that remonstrates. I agree that I could well end up pushing him away. My dilemma is that I have to suppress all my instincts and that's so painful. JuneRose, Hithere, welbeck, cornergran, Tanith, Sodapop, Harris27, CrazyH and Cornergran's replies also struck a chord. Thank you all.

Geekesse, as seen in her replies to other posts has jumped to some unattractive and incorrect conclusions.
Hetty58 - I sympathise with you. I'd hate to be on the phone for hours!
B9exchange, your situation sounds worse than mine. I can understand your hurt, as you do mine.
Thank you all for your replies. Enjoy your Sunday x

constance Mon 03-Aug-20 10:18:48

I found whatsapp groups to be a really useful way to feel connected, even if it is just photos and text messages and watching others chat/tease each other. I have one family group which is just me and my sister and our grown up children, it has flurries of activity when someone sends out photos or shares an update, so you feel connected even if you don't join in the conversations every time. I suppose it's a supplement to other communication channels, not a replacement. But it does make up for the ones who don't think to phone up regularly. And yes that can be daughter or sons. I also have a whatsapp group with my daughter and her two children so I can send them silly videos occasionally which can be fun. Makes up for not seeing them at the moment.

CarlyD7 Mon 03-Aug-20 10:22:58

Look - he's been honest with you but you're not listening (because it's not what you want to hear). This is now an Adult to Adult relationship - he's not a dependent child any more. Sorry, but you have to back off and get on with your own life, and wait for him to ring you. It sounds like he just wants more space and is trying to tell you that. At least he was honest with you (I've known adult children fall out and refuse to speak to parents at all because that was the ONLY way they could get some space from their demands). This is the phase of life he's in - that's all. Give him the space to miss you.

ladytina42 Mon 03-Aug-20 10:27:02

I’m also that uncommunicative child. Could talk to mum for hours (she’s passed now) but never to Dad...absolutely nothing in common..never fallen out or anything...just never had much to say to each other.

He has been on his own 5 years now since Mum passed and I still struggle with conversations with the point I would make a list of things to ask him about (his interests) before ringing but he would never ever ask me anything about me or mine and the conversation was/is always stilted. He talks to 2 of my sisters a fair bit so I know he’s fine but I just have that reluctance to ring as it feels so ‘fake’

fluttERBY123 Mon 03-Aug-20 10:31:29

The middle son of three sons...I'm guessing that is the one op is talking about.

chris8888 Mon 03-Aug-20 10:33:08

If its any help l get one txt a month from my oldest son (44). Usually along lines of you ok? Ring if you need me. X lm fine with that but everyone is different. Hope you feel better after all the good advice.

ReadyMeals Mon 03-Aug-20 10:43:08

My son started off like that, almost as soon as he had left home. I gave him space, then by the time he was in his 40s we ended up totally estranged. I don't think he was ever bothered about having a relationship with me, and based on things that got back to me later, it seems never particularly liked me. Sometimes things are just like that. Just focus on your other kids. This sort of thing is why it's a good idea to have more than one child if you can. These days I say if an adult child acts like they're not interested in knowing you, they're probably not interested in knowing you.

polnan Mon 03-Aug-20 10:47:59

oh I so understand, I think
I have two grown sons, late 40`s,early 50`s. always been close, then dh died and we seem to have drifted,, but being realistic I think it is me, sort of being dependent upon them, not for physical help, just that I am lonely, so I am teaching myself not to be dependent upon them.. I don`t think I contact them , wait for them to contact me,, but yes, I do understand,

perhaps we expect too much of our grown children

I think what I allow to hurt me is when I hear so much of , mostly daughters, not always, being so helpful(?) close(?) to their mums,, yes, I think we expect too much of our grown children,..