Dear Annie: My son, "Robert," is 50 years old. He has no contact with his older sister or me.
When Robert was 13, my husband and I divorced. His father was a troubled person. He was a typical old-fashioned European father who believed in physical punishment, and used a belt when disciplining his son. I tried to protect Robert, and this often caused a great many arguments with my husband.
After the divorce, the children lived with me. When Robert was in high school, he got into drugs and became too difficult for me to handle, so I sent him to live with his father, who lived close by. Robert continued to act out and was punished often, but he graduated with honors and was well-liked. He went on to college, married young and had two children. The oldest is autistic, which put a great deal of pressure on the marriage and they divorced.
I love my grandchildren. Robert used to bring them to visit every summer. We helped them financially. Robert cut his father out of his life, but still kept in touch with me. But in therapy, he became convinced that all of his problems are my fault and that his sister didn't experience what he went through. Now he wants no contact with either of us. I write and text, but get no response.
Annie, I thought I was doing the best thing for him. I love my son. What can I do? -- Hurting Mother
Dear Mother: It is not unusual for children to blame the parents when their lives go off the rails. Robert sees only that you left him with a father who may have been abusive. He doesn't see the reasons behind it or that you thought it was best at the time. And right now, he'd find any explanation from you to be self-serving.
We cannot guarantee that this can be fixed, but we suggest you leave Robert a voicemail or write a letter or email saying you are sorry for the decisions you made that had a negative impact on his life. Do not make excuses or give explanations. Simply say you regret those choices and that you love him. You'd be surprised what a sincere apology can do.
Dear Annie: "Fed Up" said she is both tall and a size 14, so clothes are never long enough. She dislikes shopping online because she has to pay for delivery and returns.
Please tell her to check out sites like Amazon that often have clothes available with free shipping and returns. That way, if something doesn't fit, she won't have to pay to send it back. Some people order three different sizes -- what they think will fit, one size down and one size up. -- John
Dear John: There are many online retailers that offer free shipping and returns. While it may not be as quick as going into a store, it is the best option for people who have difficulty finding clothing in their size.
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