Family Relations/rift with adult son


QUESTION: Okay, to be more specific. I would like suggestions on how I should respond to my son's refusal to get the Internet in his home so that I can skype with my grandson on a regular basis as I had been doing.
Right now I am angry but I am keeping it all inside and it is affecting how I relate to him.
Should I express my anger? Explain to him how this is damaging my relationship with him? Or just continue to bide my time and hope that he will see that it is not a good thing? Or none of the above? I am looking for an objective perspective on this.

ANSWER: Ok, well, some thoughts......

--- As you know, we cannot force other people to do something that they don't want to do.

--- In fact, the harder you try to push them into something, the more they resist it.

--- Sometimes the official 'reason' someone gives for doing something is not the 'real' or 'main' reason. Sometimes, by listening very carefully, and asking open-ended, nonjudgmental questions, one can find out reasons that can be solved (e.g., "I'm addicted to the internet" is a hard problem to solve). For example, if he feels upset, hurt, or offput in some way, it can be a very convenient 'reason' to avoid contact by using an excuse such as 'addiction'.

--- Typically, we often have difficulty negotiating with family members, for the reason that we are emotionally involved with them. Add to this, the problem that we cannot force others to do what we want, and it becomes a real problem.

--- Sometimes we can influence the other person - we can open their heart and make them more amenable to negotiation if we bend over backwards, putting our own needs aside, not talking about ourselves, listening 110%, and completely meeting the other person's needs. However, that's hard to do, when we REALLY love them and want reciprocation. It can be done, with practice, tho

--- consider offering alternatives, such as you flying down to see them, other something else.

--- no, I don't think you should express your anger. In fact, I think your anger is misplaced. We don't have a right to make other people do what we want them to do. How would you feel if he forced you to do something you felt was wrong? You likely would not consider it at all.

--- I don't know if it is damaging or not. I see that you think it is, but he may not see it that way. In fact, he may never see it that way. One of the challenges of having children is that, at some point, we have to let them go, let them live their lives in the way they see fit, and be thankful for what it is that they have given us and continue to give us. We should not dwell in 'what's missing' / the glass half full. Some parents have children who never speak to them - there but for the grace of God go we.

--- We really don't know how lucky we are, having the technology we do today. Just a few years ago, you would have been happy to have received a phone call, because there was no internet. 100 years ago, there were no phones - parents just got letters, once ever few months. Before there was mail, parents sent their children off, not knowing if they would ever see them again. So, I would advise looking past what you think you need, or want, or deserve. Do you love your children? Do your children love you? Not all of us are so lucky - it is only providence that we are not one of those parents whose child was killed at Newtown, or whose child is locked away in prison, or whose child was as disturbed as Mr. Lanza, or whose children have died in a 3rd world country, of AIDS, or malaria, or famine. I would advise adopting a different, larger, viewpoint. You will be more satisfied.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you. A lot of what you say is helpful, although not so easy. I am trying to see the glass as half full, but it's a little difficult. As you know, it's harder to do without something you once had than do without something you never had. I really missed all the times we used to skype and I could see my grandson playing, reading books, etc. It's just not the same. But I hear what you are saying and will work on adopting a better viewpoint.

Ah, yes, grasshopper (that's a quote from the old TV show, Kung Fu). Many things in life are easy to say, hard to do. Being a parent is one of those things. Sometimes the best we get is knowing that we did our best, gave it our all. In the end, we set them free and it breaks our hearts..... it's bittersweet.

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.


questions framed similarly to 'what are some ways to respond when someone does/says X' are best. Questions posed in the form of 'why does my father do/say Y', or 'how would you diagnose my mother when she does/says Z' are difficult, if not impossible, to answer. I will probably reframe your question to fit the first question (what do I do). Nay question regarding any family member is fair game. Some of the most difficult are in the area of step-parenting and divorcing families.


I've been a licensed psychologist in Florida since 1994. I've evaluated and/or treated thousands of patients.

American Psychological Association Florida Psychological association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology


Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993 M.CS., U. of Dayton, 1984 B.A., Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978

Awards and Honors
Award for Years of Dedicated Service, Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, 1999

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