Angry son

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    My son will be 20 years old this next month and he is very angry with me. I divorced his father when he was 9 years old and his father and I both re-married with in a few months of each other. His father has bi-polar disorder and my son was diagnosed with the same disorder in his teens. My son got along wonderfully with his step father until he was 14 years old. My son began resenting the structure we had in our household and began to spend more and more time in his father's home until he stopped coming home and moved in with his father. His father's house is very laid-back. Unlimited computer time, tv time and many other things a young man would want, ie: drug use. I understood that he wasn't willing to live in the structure he and his brother's needed and I was unwilling to compete by offering such a “free” lifestyle to my son in our home. At this point my son has started to either ignore me or attack me for my “selfish” choice to leave his father. He is unwilling to talk face to face and lashes out at me in texts or doesn't talk to me at all. I have expresses my wish to talk and have been willing to listen to his feelings. I have tried to be receptive and excepting of how he feels even though his anger is quite painful I have worked hard to be loving and supportive. He finds fault and attacks anything I say. He says he will speak to me in person when he thinks I am ready and not one minute before. What should I do? What should I say? Do I wait? Any help is most appreciated.




    Coping with anger directed at us is difficult, especially from our children. I'm sorry for the pain you're experiencing with this and hope my words can help. A few things came to heart as I read your word.

    First is that children often rebel against their parent as they try to understand who they are as people. It takes on many forms, but it sounds like what you're experiencing is a painful and dramatic version of that. Couple the atypical mind he has with his pain over the divorce (plus other factors such as drug abuse and permissive parenting from dad), and it seems reasonable that his responses are expressions of where he is at right now.

    Love is often requires us to be patient as those we love grow to be people we can connect with more easily (less painfully). In the mean time, however, its not like we can just turn off our feelings and ignore our kids. So what to do?

    The main thing that our children need is the unconditional love we have for them. It seems like this might be the best potential way to let your son know you are there for him. This is more difficult when they are expressing to us, so it is good to practice alone (such as in meditation if you do that, or in the tub or whatever else you do to self nurture where your thoughts settle). To practice, you could: “breathing in I remember the beauty of my son, breathing out I send my love to him”. As you feel the kindness for him strengthen in your heart, move to “breathing in as your mother I am able to hear all you have to say, breathing out I am here for you my son.”

    Consider it this way: if your son is saying lots of painful things, he has painful things inside him. When he does his fault finding and name calling, it is not that much different than when he cried for your attention as a baby. You didn't say “why did you wet your diaper, don't you know that now I have to change it?” You were moved to help him for his sake. Now though It is “you said hurtful things to me, don't you know that now I suffer?”

    During difficult communications, it is often helpful to be validating to their side, then tell them we are there for them. For example:
    “I hear you telling me you're angry, and i am here for you my son”
    “I hear you telling me that I am selfish for divorcing your father, I'm sorry for whatever hurts you have from that, and i am here for you if you want to talk more.”

    The goal isn't to be a punching bag, where you absorb his anger and bounce around in your head and heart. The goal is to be more like a lightning rod, where you give his pain back to the earth through your love. Said differently, as you practice breathing acceptance and love in and out in regards to your son, you can hug his crying and not make it about you.

    Then, if he needs help or opens up, he will have those loving seeds in his memory and heart, where his mom held his views close and loved him through them. Even if he doesn't forgive you to your face, if and when those seeds blossom, they will offer him a path home. Either to your love or his own, but it will help him for sure.

    With warmth,

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