I have two adult sons who are very different. They have fallen out and refuse to talk even calling to make sure the other has left before visiting. Each complains about the other and wants me to take sides. I love them both so how do I handle this?
We all want the people we love to get along with each other and it is very uncomfortable when they don’t. The discomfort comes from seeing our loved ones as they really are.
Most people hide their baser nature and that enables us to believe the best of them. When two adults carry on like these sons of yours, you are faced with the darker side of human nature. That is always challenging, and even more so when it involves the people we love.
These two have had a disagreement. There is nothing wrong with that. People disagree all the time. The problem is they have decided to escalate it into a feud. They are hanging to their anger at each other. This is pure ego. It means that neither of them feels particularly secure within. What each sees in the other, stubbornness, animosity and dishonesty, are the very qualities that each refuses to address within his own self.
Until they are willing to look within, they will try to protect their egos by holding onto their pride and the fiction of ‘I am right, and he is wrong.’ It takes courage to face ourselves and our inadequacies. Neither of these men is that courageous just yet.
Family feuds do occasionally last a lifetime but most wear out as the adversaries age. People tend to mellow over time and real losses such as a death in the family can make the estranged family members come to their senses.
Unfortunately you have no choice but to allow your sons to act out this drama. No one has the power to change another. Each of us alone is responsible for changing ourself. You will have to forego the dream of the happy family, at least for the time being.
You need to work through your sadness at this situation. Do this privately. Berating them or shaming them will not help. These two already carry enough negativity, and getting upset with them will only reinforce what you do not want.
Resist the temptation to get directly involved. Don’t point out the positives of the other son. Ignore any negative comments either makes about the other while changing the subject.
Don’t make separate arrangements just to suit them. Let them suffer and work around each other but not at your expense. For example, invite them both to special occasion events and let them work out whether the other is coming.
Don’t protect them from each other. Remember, it is not your problem if they both turn up at the same time. If this happens and they become abusive, tell them to leave. If they refuse, call the police.
And then, within the boundaries of these rules, give each as much love and understanding as you can.
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