Mothers sink so much time, love, and effort into caring for their sons. It can be devastating when all that work feels forgotten by their sons the moment they become adults.
The situation can leave you at a loss, but there are a few reasons that might explain your current dynamic. Understanding how things turned out this way is the key to solving the problem.
Your son might be dealing with tough situations that demand their full attention. Alternatively, they could be trying to set boundaries – though whether it’s to protect their independence or emotional health depends on the relationship you had prior.
Sons don’t try to forget their mothers without good reason – look into what that might be, and work with them to figure out the best way to address this hurdle in your relationship.
Outrage and impulsiveness have no place here. It’s okay to be worried about where the two of you stand and it’s okay for you to be frustrated about your son seemingly forgetting you. Just don’t let these sentiments cloud your judgment – hopefully, things will turn out better in time.
1. They Might be Occupied with More Pressing Responsibilities
At times, it might feel like your son is purposely omitting you from their lives. It’s easy to feel that way, and without communicating your concerns this perception only gets reinforced further.
Your son might not be trying to forget about you entirely. They could just be really, really busy with things right now – totally not your fault!
This type of problem tends to come up around the age your son is already acting as a full-fledged adult, with responsibilities that demand attentiveness and extreme focus. It would be too early to assume that they’re deliberately ignoring you – consider other factors.
- What kind of work is your son handling?
- Are they responsible for managing others – or maybe even teams of others?
- Have they recently gotten into a new romantic relationship?
- If they already had prior, have they crossed any new milestones recently?
- Are they treating others (family and friends) the same way they’re treating you?
Your son is doing their best to power through an intense workload. They could be distracted, exhausted, or just plain frustrated with what they’re handling. They’re not just forgetting you here – they might even be forgetting to care for themselves now.
Your son might act tired or standoffish – to the point where you feel they must hate you, or seem to just be waiting for an excuse to cut ties with you. It’s not an impossible outcome, but it’s not very common either. In most cases, they’re just bogged down and badly drained emotionally.
Until you’re absolutely certain, give your son the benefit of the doubt. Give them a week or two to cool off, then check again if things might have changed. There’s nothing to gain by forcing this conversation when they’re still busy – you’d just get an argument for your troubles!
While your son might be omitting you from their lives here, remember that it wasn’t done intentionally. You just happened to slip out of their minds while they were hyper-focused on other things. All they really need is time, patience, and gentle reminders to make things better.
2. They May Want To Exercise Their Own Independence
Personal agency is crucial for a child’s emotional health and development, being a key factor in promoting their self-actualization into capable adults.
This freedom of choice even extends to making mistakes on occasion. Certain upbringings don’t permit that, leaving the child aching for the opportunity to decide things for themselves.
Your son might be distancing themselves to prove their own independence. Whether they’re trying to prove this to you, to others, or even themselves varies across cases. While this goal is admirable, it’s scary watching your son try to come into their own, mistakes and all.
How to Help Them
If your child wanted independence from you, the simplest way to return to their lives is by respecting their agency as adults. You need to accept that they’re fit to decide things on their own.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to help them, and no parent should look the other way when they know their own child is self-sabotaging.
Just accept that they won’t always need your help, and they’re allowed to make a few mistakes here and there. They don’t need to be perfect at this “independent living” business – they just need to be able to manage things reasonably well.
Independence vs Isolation
While your son will eventually outgrow their immaturity, they will never stop being your child – just as you’ll never stop being their mother. There’s a huge difference between independence and isolation, but your son might not be able to tell them apart the moment he gets both.
Independence constitutes decisions, choices, and even mistakes. It doesn’t mean you have to be alone while doing it, and you certainly shouldn’t expect to suffer alone when others could help.
Remind your son of that difference – make them understand that you love and respect whatever they do, but you’ll be on standby for the moment they need anything from you. Respect their personal autonomy but don’t leave them out to dry when consequences could be dire.
Your son will no longer depend on you here, but that doesn’t mean they can’t rely on you. Right now you can be their safety net – the kind that lets them experience the exhilaration of falling without breaking any bones.
Respect your son’s independence, but don’t let them be lonely. Offer them all the support you can, but don’t force them to take it: this is still their choice.
3. They Could be Establishing Boundaries With You
On the other hand, your son might be trying to establish clear boundaries with their actions. The problem might not be you being a helicopter parent so much as you constantly asking for help.
Your son depends on you for a number of things, but this dynamic likely goes both ways. It’s easy to think nothing of what you ask them to help with, but those tasks could be getting in the way of other things they’d rather be doing. Be mindful of this possibility, since it can get hard to tell.
- How often do you ask your son for help on stuff?
- What kind of things do you usually need help with?
- Do you learn from what they teach, or do you take them for granted?
- Do they feel that you’re respecting their time and effort to be there for you?
For instance, let’s say your son might be helping you handle tech or internet issues. It’s fine to ask them for help navigating a website or connecting to wifi networks. If they try to teach you how to do it and you refuse to learn, that can get annoying fast.
It’s important to recognize that your adult son has their own issues to tend to – they can’t be expected to be at your beck and call just to troubleshoot things. That goes double for when you brush off even entertaining suggestions that could make things easier on everyone.
They’ve got a lot of things on their plate right now: friends, finances, or maybe even a family of their own. Asking for help is fine, but try to be considerate enough to respect their time and effort.
No one likes being taken for granted, and they won’t tolerate it if they can find a way to help it – even if it comes from their mother. You might not notice them feeling this way, but there are a few ways to check for it.
When you get in touch with your son, how do they usually sound? Do they seem to expect that you’ll ask something of them? If so, what do you think got them to feel that way talking with you?
Establishing boundaries is fine, but it can be hard to say no to one’s mother. The lack of open, equal communication is the priority issue you need to settle here.
What to Do
Give your son’s words importance! Don’t test their patience with constant requests for their time, attention, and assistance – you’re calling them for favors. You aren’t entitled to their total subservience, and they aren’t obligated to put up with your demands forever.
If your son is trying to teach you, make it a point to pay attention to their instructions. Ask them to write it down if needed – show them that you respect their time and effort. Make them feel valued and respectable. Otherwise, they might associate these frustrations with you as a person.
If you happen to do this a bit late, they might already have a good deal of frustration built up. They could refuse to elaborate or even cooperate, but meeting it in kind would just sour your relationship. Ask your son what’s bothering them – never assume you don’t have to.
Avoid coming across as judgmental or skeptical here. They could misconstrue your intentions and act even more guarded and irritable in your presence.
These little interactions might feel like bonding moments, but you’ve got to consider whether or not your son feels the same way.
They could be getting frustrated from these encounters with you none-the-wiser. Don’t assume you already know the answer – always ask your son how they feel about these encounters.
There’s no need to hide your intentions behind false pretenses. If you want more time with your boy, work it out properly – schedule something both of you would enjoy. It may take a bit for them to warm to that idea, but it’s the best way to get your mother-son relationship back on track.
4. They Feel Traumatized with You
In some sad cases, your son might genuinely think they’d be better off with you in their lives. They could perceive you as a source of trauma or anxiety, and these feelings can build for years.
Convincing them to change their minds would be difficult – but not impossible. It could very well depend on some things that are out of your hands, so don’t get your hopes up too much.
- How did you treat your son growing up?
- When they spoke as a child, did you listen?
- Were they allowed to speak up, even if they disagreed?
- Did they have their feelings validated or disregarded more often than not?
- How did you discipline them when they made a mistake?
- Have you given them a reason to hate or fear you?
Right now it’s not about intentions or even being correct: how does your son feel about you? Their feelings are their prerogative, and they’re entitled to be upset about things.
Your son might feel that they need to cut you out of their lives for their betterment. Chances are, they’ve got fair reason to feel this way. Kids don’t wake up and choose to hate their parents – there’s likely been a lot of leadup to this choice that went unnoticed for too long.
Your son could feel that you’ve wronged them in some way. They could be right or wrong, but that won’t change how they feel. The last thing this situation needs is you insisting that they’re being too sensitive or that they aren’t allowed to feel this way.
Talk this out with your son – understand why they’re so upset with you. They might not be comfortable discussing this openly when you ask, so give them a wide berth until they’re ready.
If they’re ready, remember to pay close attention and let them finish speaking. The priority is fixing the relationship, not clarifying who’s to blame. Both of you need to walk into this willing to find a way to improve the situation, rather than expecting the other to simply fall in line.
The Sad Reality
In some cases, you may not even get this opportunity. Sometimes, sons can completely cut their mothers out of their lives over a dispute. Whether they’re right to do so or not is up for debate, but the harsh truth is there’s nothing you can do to mend things if they refuse to meet you halfway.
You aren’t entitled to your son’s love, but you can keep hoping things will change in time.
Maybe one day, the two of you can try to mend that relationship. Just remember that it’s their choice as much as it is yours.
General Tips to Improve Your Strained Relationship
Gently Remind Them of Your Presence
Your son could be forgetting you for any number of reasons, and you can’t control their response. You can, however, control your own actions – keep extending the offer to be part of their lives.
Check in on your kid from time to time. Ask them how their day went, what they’re taking care of, and how they’re feeling. Steer clear of providing your own input unless they ask, and definitely avoid criticizing them if they don’t seem open to hearing your unsolicited feedback.
Give your son the importance they deserve. You want to be a kind, non-judgmental part of their lives. You want to be seen as someone they’d feel comfortable confiding in.
Prioritize the Relationship Over Pride
There will be times you might wonder if it’s even worth it – times when your son is acting needlessly difficult, petulant, or plain disrespectful. You’d start to believe that you deserve better, and you’d be right to think about that.
That said, consider all of those difficult moments… and see how big they are compared to the bright times you had raising them, walking them to school for the first time, watching them graduate, and everything else in between the harsh now and the wonderful then.
Kids get rebellious phases, while adults get difficult phases. If what they’re doing is unacceptable to you, you can forget them just like how they forgot you. Will you, though?
No matter how old, how annoying, or how cranky he might act, he’s still your son. Loving them is worth more than your pride. That doesn’t mean you tolerate their worst traits – you simply prioritize being there to help them improve themselves.
Don’t Start Blaming People Around Your Son (Even if You Might be Right!)
Lastly, don’t start blaming people who might be encouraging your son’s distant behavior. Blame won’t help anyone get better, and might push people to dwell on the problem’s perceived causes rather than actually work to implement the solution.
They might be influenced in their thinking by other families, their friends, or even their partner. It could very easily be those people’s fault, but the fact that both you and your son reached this strained point means that it could have easily happened for other reasons as well!
Think of it this way: if you missed a class, you don’t just look into the subject and bump it up in priority. You look into factors that allowed that sort of mistake to happen, like poor sleep schedules, lack of effective alarms, bad internet connection, etc.
Analyze what could allow problems of that nature to develop, and improve to avoid the situation – not just how to deal with the current manifestation of it.
Focusing on “who” made things worse in this relationship ignores how things even reached this point. The sources of this problem are irrelevant and interchangeable – you’d be better off looking into what you should do to avoid future recurrences of this issue entirely.
Being a mother is exhausting work, and it’s devastating when it feels like your son is distancing themselves from you after all the time you spent together.
You won’t be able to blunder your way into a good dynamic. You’re looking for solutions here, not people to blame. Addressing this healthily needs you to be tactful, patient, and understanding with your son. Fortunately, you’ve already got plenty of experience with doing that as a mother!