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by Abigail Van Buren

Angry Son Uses The Silent Treatment As Punishment

DEAR ABBY: I have a 21-year-old son, "Jeremy," who doesn't like me much unless he needs something. I suspect it may have something to do with my tough parenting during his rebellious high school years.

He lives in another state with his girlfriend and their child, who will be a year old. Jeremy cuts off communication with me over the simplest disagreement. When I try to contact him, he won't respond, and it can go on for months. It hurts me, so I back away because I don't know when it might happen again.

Do you have any advice on how I can handle this and be part of Jeremy's and my grandchild's lives? -- RETREATING FROM THE PAIN & STRESS

DEAR RETREATING: Healthy people back away from painful situations, so it's no wonder you're "retreating." What's happening is you are on the receiving end of a dose of passive-aggressive behavior from your angry son. Jeremy's manipulation is hostile and deliberate.

Family therapy might help, if Jeremy and his girlfriend are willing. But as it stands, it appears the only way you will be a part of his (and your grandson's) life may be to buy your way in. However, do not mistake it for respect or affection, or you will only position yourself for more heartache.

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