Unwillingly estranged from kids
Dear Annie: My situation is the classic example you would find in a college psychiatry textbook in a chapter dealing with mental cause and effect, and your input to solve it is necessary.
Recently, I had serious financial and medical setbacks, including being informed that I must wear a urinary collection bag 24/7. Then I erupted by email at one of my seven mature children over some inconsequential issue and said some nasty words over things that basically had nothing to do with what my son had emailed me about. After several disgusting retorts back and forth, I forwarded the chain to the other six children and got some very bad comments from several of them.
As a result of their (justifiable) outrage, I have not had any contact with three of these adult children for several years now. I have sent what I intended to be sincere apologies and begged for forgiveness, suggesting they recall all the good times of our past. And I accepted all of the blame for the original heated email exchange between my son and me.
I now realize that my lashing out had nothing to do with the actual words that were being said but instead was a result of my subconsciously feeling the need to lash out at the first person who crossed me.
Would a third party be the best way for a final solution to bring the entire family back together? Might one of the four children who are still talking to me act as a mediator, or might they receive the same coldness from their siblings because of their contact with me?
If not one of the four children, who else might you suggest to act as a third party to resolve this? I have done all that I can do, with zero responses! I am in my 90s, and I do not want this complete deprivation of contact with my family members in my very late years, especially considering that I had so many decades of great relationships with all of them before. — Puzzled Great-Grandpa
Dear Puzzled: Kudos for stepping up and taking the blame. That’s not easy. Your children either didn’t fully believe your apology to be sincere or weren’t ready to hear it. Try getting the whole family together in person so you can state again how sorry you are, and enlist the help of a counselor or a religious adviser for mediation. But let go of any expectations. Prepare yourself mentally for the fact that these three children still may not want to hear it. Focus instead on what you can control: your attitude.
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