Man’s estrangement from son compounded by incarceration

Published 8:30 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Dear Abby: my 38-year-old son is in jail for meth. he’s been an addict for many years. i tried several times to help him, but he always relapsed. he has been in rehab. his mother and i divorced when he was 7. he was a great kid until the divorce. after that, he became distant and wouldn’t talk much to me.
His mother tried to make up for the divorce by doing everything for him. When I wanted him to do something, like his homework, he would just sit and stare. I couldn’t punish him because I was afraid he wouldn’t want to come to my place when it was my weekend to have him. I did things with him and tried to show him I loved him, but I think he blamed me for the divorce. (It was my wife who wanted it.)
I don’t think he ever loved me like a son normally loves his father, the way I loved and respected mine. He rejected any advice I tried to offer and paid no attention when I tried to teach him something.
I’m trying to decide if I want to contact him. I feel like I have always had to do the heavy lifting to try to have a relationship with him, and he made no effort at all to sustain one with me. If I never heard from him again, I really wouldn’t miss him. All he has ever been is a taker. So I’m asking: Should I bother trying to get in contact with him while he is in jail? — FRUSTRATED FATHER IN TEXAS

DEAR FATHER: Your son is sick — an addict. That he is in jail will hopefully mean he can attain sobriety. Reach out to him one more time. He may believe you deserted him and his mother because she allowed him to believe it, which would explain his attitude toward you all these years. It might be of some benefit to him to be reminded that you love him and care about his well-being. Once he is clean, he may have a different attitude where you are concerned. If not, at least you tried.
DEAR ABBY: I have ended a four-year romantic relationship. When times were good, they were very good. I had some of the most joyful and wonderful experiences of my life with him, my children and his family. We were planning to spend the rest of our lives together.
However, when the going got rough, he started seeing other women and, later, was hateful to one of my tween children. Even as I write that last part, I am appalled. I know in my head the relationship had to end, yet I continue to cry over the loss every day, and my sleep remains disrupted.
What’s the matter with me that I’m pining over a man who turned so sour? I should feel relieved, right? How can I help myself move through this? — TOO MANY TEARS

DEAR TEARS: I sympathize with your disappointment. We have all been there. Now wipe your nose, dry those tears and remind yourself that, had the romance continued, you might have married someone who would verbally abuse your children and cheat on you. You aren’t crying over the loss of “him” as much as grieving the loss of a dream that didn’t come to fruition. Stay busy and focus harder on looking ahead, and you will move through this more quickly.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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