I am a grieving mother of a 31 year-old son who is married and has three children. We are strong members of the church and so is he and his family. Two years ago we had a disagreement with him and have apologized for our part several times but he is no longer talking to us. Phone calls are greeted by the answering machine, letters, cards, gifts to the children, etc. go unacknowledged. We are desperately trying to restore this relationship, but prayer and placing their names on the temple rolls have not seemed to help. I know and respect that he has his free agency. We were very close before his marriage nine years ago and are confused and hurt. We feel we are being robbed and will do whatever we need to mend this, but don’t want to grovel and beg. Does the Lord mean for us to learn a lesson from this or are we being too hard on ourselves? We have been to our bishop and his bishop at our bishop’s advice. What more can we do?
Anonymous, from Tennessee
Groveling and begging wouldn’t do any good, anyway. Perhaps one of the greatest virtues in a case like this is patience. Some wounds take time to heal, and if they are continually addressed they may be irritated rather than healed. The best possible balm for healing such wounds is love, respect and acceptance. If you demonstrate your love for your son by accepting the way he feels, by respecting his feelings and opinions and by showing no animosity, by being cheerful and pleasant- in other words, by acting as if no disagreement had ever happened, he will eventually come to accept your feelings of contrition. He must first come to believe that they are sincere. Words seldom demonstrate sincerity because they can be so easily manufactured, so sincerity must be demonstrated by kind actions.
If he won’t communicate with you, you could send cards and remembrance for birthdays and other special days. You could write occasional letters that would be informative, positive and cheerful-never addressing the difficulty between you. Even there you must be careful not to overdo it. In time, as he becomes aware of your sincerity and has time to contemplate his own part in the difficulty, he will undoubtedly come back. One thing is certain, there is always hope for change and reconciliation.