Tried reaching out to my mom to see if we can try and mend our relationship. Didn't feel great, I want to try again though (

we’ve been no contact with my family on and off for a while - we were able to use covid and my daughter’s premature birth as a scapegoat (which honestly was a worry anyways), but we’ve been starting to try and attend family events more now that my parents have grandkids other than my own kids. Having more in-laws and grand kids has seemed to help them mellow out a bit.

To over simplify, my mom and I’ve never gotten along. I know I have a lot of blame for that from when I was a kid / teenager, and I think my mom has some unresolved challenges of her own from her dad abusing her as a kid. That being said, as a Father of a few kids myself, the idea of my kids eliminating their relationship with me kills me inside, and I gotta think my mom feels similarly - I hope so at least. I’ve tried reaching out a few times a few different ways, trying to talk about things I know she loves - old Abbott and Costello movies, good food, baseball, etc. I feel like I’m talking to a wall - and at family events we do go to, she wont talk to me. I try to, and she’ll respond with a smile, but she wont actually talk to me. Often at family shin digs (family pictures, birthday, holiday dinner) I wont get a word out of her. I can’t tell if she’s scared of me or if she just doesn’t care.

This latest attempt kind of stung - I stuck my neck out and transparently stated I wanted to spend some quality time together. I’m trying not to read into it too much, but it seemed like time with me was a chore - which when I look back at any interactions we have, I can see that could be her perception. I want to get this to work. I’m not sure what to try next, I’d really love to have a good relationship with my mom. I’ve genuinely apologized for my actions as a kid a number of times, and I’ve been consistenly trying things like this in person or over messages for a few years now. I’m kind of at a loss.


You shouldn’t have to apologise for your behaviour as a child. You were a child, she was a parent. If anything your childhood behaviour is to some extent HER responsibility.

From what you’ve said, it sounds as if you’re bending over backwards trying to repair your relationship while your mum is being stubborn & petty. If it were me, I’d make a final attempt to reach out and explicitly say that I am desperately trying to mend our relationship, but it seems as if she isn’t interested in doing that… and if that’s the case, can she just be upfront about it so you can both move on.


This, a thousand times this. You were a child and it was never your responsibility to be anything but one.


If apologizing to your parents for your behavior as a child doesn’t scream childhood emotional neglect, I don’t know what does.

The fact that mom is still blatantly neglecting OPs emotions, too.

uhauljoe, avatar

To be fair he did say teenage behavior, and I know I said and did some truly awful shit as a teenager. My parents sacrificed a ton for me, and I was just a petty and ungrateful brat tweeting shit like “a homeless man would be a better dad”

Makes me sick just typing that out and knowing that at one point, I said it with my chest.

I’ve definitely gone to my parents and apologized for the fucked up stuff I said and some of the worse things I did. Because sometimes it is the kid.

I was depressed, and dealing with undiagnosed anxiety but that’s not an excuse to say hateful, cruel things, probably just because they said no to going to the mall or something.

I’m 27 now and my dad and I are just starting to get back to having a normal relationship where we talk about things other than like, my taxes or my car maintenance. We can chat now, and talk like a father and daughter.

So in regards to OP…idk what his situation was but maybe the apology was warranted. But for her to still be digging her heels in…yeah it might be time to just lay it out and be like “Hey, I really want to mend our relationship. Are you interested in doing that? Because if you are not I would rather know so that we can both find peace.”


Dude, that’s not that bad. Your parents were being oversensitive adults if that can’t understand a situation wherein a teen would legitimately feel that way about their parents.

I told my dad that I’m too much like him and it makes me suicidal. I meant it when I said it. We still have a healthy relationship.

I think you’re beating yourself up too much, and your parents sound like they’re indifferent to your suffering.


This latest attempt kind of stung - I stuck my neck out and transparently stated I wanted to spend some quality time together.

Have you tried being explicit? That might look like:

Hi Mom, I would like to try and improve our relationship. Are you interested in doing that with me?


I think I will do that. Maybe she’ll say yes!


Sometimes the best thing you can do is not waste anymore time or energy on someone who will never return the favor


I’m not sure if it’s relevant here, but I’d recommend taking a look at the book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. I picked up the audiobook from my library and it really helped me understand myself, my development, and my parents a lot better and to have a healthier outlook on our relationship. I always understood my parents had their own baggage, but I didn’t realize the specifics I could be on the lookout for, the specific reactions I’d had that could be linked to it, and how to move forward.

It could at least be a good start. Best of luck!


Frankly, the way you describe it sounds a bit patronizing. “Oh, what a cute little hobby you got there. I demand that you spend time with me and tell me all about it. I know I’ve gone no contact with you, but now that I’m back you have to do it, because we are family.” I know we only have your perspective here, and maybe also it’s my own introversion speaking, but I would not want to hang out with you under such circumstances either.

Instead of adding extra chores to her life, consider doing something like offering to take her on a cruise - where you take care of all the planning and expenses, and all she has to do is show up. You get to spend time in proximity (separate cabins of course), and get to chat at the dinner and share activities like you wanted, but where ultimately she can also relax on her own and not feel an obligation to entertain you.


Take her on a freaking cruise? That’s your advice?


EhList, avatar

If you want to reconnect with family going away to a place where neither party is at home and neither is responsible for things like food or entertainment can make it easier. OP was basically reaching out and asking if they want to do unpaid work.

Edit: im not saying the Mom was ever in the right only clarifying why a vacation is suggested.


Do you think she wants a relationship with you? Like it sucks beyond a doubt, but one of the hardest and most important lessons of my life has been that my ex father wants nothing to do with me. A relationship requires give and take and what you’re showing seems to be very much a display of her not wanting to spend time with you


Sigh. I hear this very deeply. I’m pushing 70; both parents died a few years back.

First, as you likely know, you’ve opened the door, but it’s up to her to walk through it. It may take more time leaving the door open; it may never happen. “It’s not you, it’s her.”

You mention sexual abuse in her past. I’ve lived with that with my current partner for many years. It’s always been a 600-lb gorilla nobody wants to talk about, because what is there to say? I know it can distort relationships in odd ways.

My mother and I also had teen angst issues. And she had other forms of trauma in her youth which informed our issues as mother & daughter. After years very low contact, she broached the issue when I was in my 50s, and she was mid-80s. But she did so in a place or at a time where honest, open discussion was impossible—in a very public venue, or at a time when we needed to leave for another obligation. So she both wanted to get it off her chest, and really didn’t want a discussion she couldn’t control completely.

By that point, I realized she’d done her best as a mother, and it wouldn’t benefit either of us to have her Go to Glory feeling like she’d screwed me up. She had—but there was no way to fix or repair the damage, nothing to be gained by rehashing shoulda, coulda, woulda. And she had done the best with the resources she had. So I said “okay.” And let it go.

half, avatar

>we’ve been no contact with my family on and off
>why doesn’t my family want to connect with me

“Going no contact” ends relationships. I’ve noticed a lot of people will defend “going no contact” as a normal and healthy relationship tool because they’ve done it, erected massive walls of pain and mistrust in core relationships, and need the support of others with similar blockades to defend the disastrous results. I’ve seen it recommended as a response to bad table manners. The problem is you’re inflicting a death on someone while refusing them permission to grieve. There is a void in their life where a person used to be, but they can’t even come to terms with that and move on because the person might come back. It is the strongest possible ultimatum. Now, boundaries are healthy, and if a relationship is giving you more pain than support, it’s your prerogative to end it; that’s what “going no contact” usually does. If someone lets you back into their life after you’ve done that, you shouldn’t assume that they’ve forgotten what it was like to live without you.


Could you just say that to your mother? Just tell her what you said here. In a letter or a text just tell her you would like a better relationship with her and are looking to see if she is open to the idea. You can explain it is important to you. Be direct and ask her what you would like. Everyone communicates differently and perhaps she did not understand this as a method to improve the relationship. If she says no, perhaps she will give a reason. If not you can say okay and ask her to let you know if she ever changes her mind. Unfortunately we cannot always have the relationships we want but it is best to be direct about your needs and also boundaries. But also know that just because you want or need something doesn’t mean you will get it if you ask. I often find we do not directly ask the questions we really don’t want answered. It is possible she will say no and give no reason and that will be sad but at least you did your best to communicate with her. But perhaps it will open a door. In my own life I often didn’t directly ask for what I needed and tried to pad the questions do as not to be rude or hurtful but sometimes people can’t see what you are asking that way. When I asked directly I was often surprised by the answers in a good way. Good luck.


Like they said therapy

BUT imo…

Go full honesty. Call their bs smiling and such out, peacefully though. Make it known you see how they respond to you. Clearly communicate am I, your offspring, even worth your time at this point? Or do you not care to mend any relationship left? Save me the time now.

They had you, not the other way around.

average650, avatar

I agree, but you can be polite about it. Be blunt and ask “do you want a relationship with me”, but you don’t need to ask “am I even worth your time”. The second is unnecessarily accusatory.


Yeah it was a quick type.

But i mean if you wanna cut through the bs real quick


Yeah I think there’s value in a blunt asking if she wants to spend time with him


Thank you

I get respecting people and their opinions, until it’s not reciprocated


As a parent, my kids underestimate how much I just don’t know how to put one word next to another. I’ve learned to compensate with simple "I love you"s and such, but that took me awhile to figure out.

My own father and I don’t really talk, and that’s mostly because his father was an asshole to him. I’ve learned to accept that, and appreciate that my father chooses quiet instead of repeating whatever his father spewed.


I’m sorry that your relationship is so tough. You are worthy of love and respect, and I hope things get easier.


Thanks, I really appreciate that


One thing I’ve learned, and it’s totally not fair, is that in some relationships (frequently familial), you have to accept the relationship how it is. If that works for you, great, if it doesn’t, then move on, and deal with your own feelings about it.

What I mean by that is that you may never be able to have the relationship you want with your mother (I know I can’t). What you have to decide is if you can deal with it the way she wants it. Because it may never be different/better.

I guess one big question I’d have is is she likes that with everyone, or is she able to be social, and “normal” with other people? My mother is the former. She has no friends, no life, not hobbies, no nothing. Every time I talk to her it’s a negative fest about the world being out to get her. She learned it from her horrible, horrible mother (I no longer talk to my grandmother at all) I have mostly removed myself from the situation, only talking to my mother as necessary/out of guilt.

BUT I don’t let her get under my skin anymore. I may piss and moan to my husband or therapist about something she did or said, because I want to vent, but she’s going to do her, and in her 70s now, I’m not changing her. What I had to conditioner her to not do, by putting her in timeouts, is to be abusive to me.

TL;DR decide if you can deal with the relationship as is, because it may never change, then change your actions based on your decision.


Ya, it could be her tendency to not talk to many people. She talks a lot to my siblings and their spouses and kids though - but outside of that she doesn’t go out of her way to chat with people.

This is good insight, thanks for sharing


It may be worth laying it all out on the line, and asking her if she even wants a relationship with you (either asking her, or writing a letter). But, I don’t know her, so I don’t know how she will react. My mother, it would start WWIII through WWIX in pretty quick succession, so I just let it be.

The other thing you can try, if you have decent relationships with siblings, or maybe an aunt of uncle that know her well, is ask them how they keep their relationships with her going, or if she has said anything to them to indicate why she is standoffish with you. If that’s even something you care enough to peruse.

All of that said, this may be the best you get from her. It sucks because you clearly want more, but tempering expectations will definitely help your own mental health.


Couldn’t agree more. I spent years trying to form the relationship I desire with my closest family members. Then I looked at their lives and realized that they simply don’t have relationships like that. So I dialed down my expectations, which is sad to me, but it’s helped foster more enjoyment at the times I do see/talk to them.

The most challenging times are when I hear these people speak about how “family is soooo important.” But yet they can’t make time, commit to plans, or even have open, honest communication. Hell, even just responding to texts is a stretch for most.

I know it’s virtue signaling now. It’s stuff they say to coworkers or friends. It does not mean they are actually interested in fostering a close relationship.


Ah yes…. Buut faaaamily. I’ve heard that one many times. I come from a terrible awful abusive family, so the only times it’s ever said is when you refuse to take more abuse from them.

I think the worst one my mother ever uttered was “I was born to be a mother. That’s what I was meant to do in this world”. Oh. Yeah? Your one and only daughter begs to differ. A lot.


My parents are great for the most part, but they had an ease with yelling at me that still gets under my skin. I got yelled at when I broke my ankle as a kid, stopped me from telling my parents when I got hurt later on.

I had to hang up the phone recently because they started yelling. I’m in my 30s, I don’t need that in my life anymore.

I circled back and apologized for hanging up but told them I’m not doing the whole yelling thing anymore.

My neighbors yell at their kid. It puts me in a state of panic every time I hear it through the walls.


Been there. I’m sorry they are like that.

Timeouts work well, in my experience. Of course this assumes they want a relationship with you. My mother very much does, not sure why, we are oil and water. Every time she starts being her awful self, timeout. If the timeout ends and she’s still being herself longer timeout.

The best thing I’ve been able to do for myself was to recognize unhealthy behaviors and remove them from my life. That heart racing, jaw clenching, fight or flight feeling isn’t good, and I’m not a kid, so I have the control now.


I’m sorry you have to deal with that. I learned, not that long ago, that I’m an adult and I have the control in the relationship now. I’m not going to be grounded for not answering my phone, or not telling someone something. I don’t HAVE to see anyone, or talk to anyone if I don’t want to. If they treat me poorly, they don’t GET to be in my life. It was pretty liberating and it took too long to understand it.

dan1101, avatar

Yeah I feel like TV and movies and books and social media brag posts all paint this wonderful rosy picture of people spending quality time with their parents. Unfortunately not everyone has parents that are willing or able to do that.


I truly wish mine didn’t want to. It gives me all the power because I’m indifferent, but it’s this weird guilt I shouldn’t have too.

I feel for anyone who doesn’t have the parent they want/need.


Why would she be scared of you?

Need more information.

But it seems like she wants nothing to do with you


As a teenager I didn’t conform to her will without question, I asked questions and pushed back on decisions if it didn’t make sense to me. I’m positive I was rude very often, but the only physical interaction was her hitting me - I didn’t do more than be a smart ass trying to understand things. Which honestly was a pain for her to deal with, I wish I hadn’t been so difficult for her.

Ultimately I think I was hard to parent because of my ADHD which want diagnosed till later. Having a kid of my own with ADHD I see how hard it is to parent a neurodivergent child if you’re unaware of their needs in that regard.

So as far as her fear, I dunno what she fears of me or if she does fear me. It could just be a knee jerk reaction of hers to limit interaction with me. Maybe she’s afraid of acknowledging our bad relationship or things she’s done?


I always find it really hard to reach out to people because I’ve gotten responses like this in the past. Good on you for trying - don’t let the cold response get to you, not worth it.

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