What is the right thing to do do here?

What is the right thing to do do here?

by Claire
(Toronto, Canada)

When he was a teen, my son fell out with his father (from whom I am divorced)over 20 years ago over a significant matter. He has not spoken to his Dad since. I sent his dad notes from England about Matthew's life but his father never approached us. I have moved back to Canada.

My son still lives in England and his father lives in a small town in Northern Ontario. Every time my son visits me in Toronto, I suggest some sort of rapprochement with his father and he refuses.

He has just been informed that his dad is having surgery on Monday for an advanced brain tumor - he may not survive the surgery, let alone the aftermath of the surgery.

My reaction was to suggest he come back to Canada and see his Dad but Matthew felt that he did not need to. He said that if his father survives, he might contact but he could not promise. I am so disappointed in my son at the moment - I thought that he could get past this thing of not forgiving his father, but he does not seem to be able.

If his Dad dies, what is the right thing to do for me: go to the funeral because he was my first husband and/or on my son's behalf or just send flowers? (My ex is on his fourth wife and I was his first.)

How To Help Your Son
by: Kevin (Modern Manners and Etiquette)

That is a heavy question and there is not an easy answer.

So, let's start with the most obvious part of the answer and work into the obscure areas of it. The obvious answer is that you cannot make your son do anything. 20 years is a long time to hold a grudge and he cannot make amends with his father for your sake. He has to do it because he wants to. That is not something that you can force.

The only thing you really can do is encourage and ask him questions that will cause him to do a little soul searching. Here is what I mean...

I lost my father to an unexpected heart attack over seven years. Although my father was a great man, he found it difficult to have relationships with his children. Even as an adult, I never had a healthy "father-son" relationship. Now that he has passed, I find myself wishing I had taken the time to do things differently. Even though he and I did not have a "falling out" as you describe in your question, we did not have the relationship that I desired. I would give many things to have the opportunity to do things differently now that he isn't here anymore.

With that being said, the question your son has to answer is - "What regrets, if any, will I have if he passes away and we have not resolved this situation?" Only he can answer that question and he has to live with the results of that question.

All you can do is love and support his feelings whether you agree with his decision or not. The worst thing you could do is to let this situation come between you and your son and affect that relationship.

I know it is easier said than done, but he has to make his own choice in this situation. I hope it all works out for the best.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. We wish you the best.

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