Paternal Rejection

30 May

Letterbalm Stone Statue with Crossed ArmsDear LetterBalm: Fifteen years ago, I chose to go to a university of which my father disapproved. He cut me out of his life. I tried to contact him several times, but he never answered, and he and I haven’t spoken since. My mother died when I was young, so there was no opportunity for family reconciliation (although I remain close to some of my aunts, uncles and cousins). My older brother, who is very tight with my father, hasn’t made an effort to help me resolve the estrangement. My dad didn’t come to my college graduation or my wedding or take part in any important event over the last decade. I have a good job and a wonderful wife and child he’s never met. For awhile now, my wife has been urging me to reconcile with my dad. I left phone messages several times over the past few months, but I got no response. How can I reach him?

— Disowned and Disheartened

It must give you pain that your own father hasn’t spoken to you for almost half your life, especially since he’s your only surviving parent. It seems extreme that he would stop speaking to his son because of a college choice; presumably, you had to pay your own way. Ms. L.B. sneers at your brother’s cowardly inaction – your sibling might be staying on your dad’s good side to ensure his own inheritance. Your efforts to contact your father are noble, even though it was he who rejected you. Certainly, you and your wife are well-intentioned, but you need to enlist help. Write a letter and ask a family member or close friend your dad respects to give it to him personally and read it together. Ask that person to talk with your father about how unhappy you are and how you want him in your life, especially now that he has a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. Be prepared, however, that your father may continue to be as immovable as granite, even though you are being the bigger person. Try this:

Dear Dad,

It has to be one of the saddest things in life when a father and son are estranged. You and I have not spoken to each other for almost half my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you.

I wanted you there for all my important life events, and I still want you there, especially now that I have a wonderful wife and a daughter who, sadly, doesn’t know her grandfather. I want you to know my achievements, and I want to know yours. I want us to be a part of each other’s life.

I’ve never stopped loving you as my father. Before more time passes, can’t we take steps to heal the discord between us?

Sincerely/With love,


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