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How to Love a Son Who Doesn’t Love You Back


image of father disciplining his son

How to Heal Our Relationships

Integrity and Empathy

Words don’t teach. Our children learn what they live growing up.

And my son, James, aged 38, modelled himself on his father — a passive-aggressive, controlling, and hurtful man.

I’d like to believe my son has a sense of his integrity and feels deeply for the people in his life he loves. I’ve seen snippets of that gorgeous, caring man. Though who James is now, I cannot honestly say.

My son had little empathy for his mother after I ended my long, unhappy marriage. He pulled back, preferring to stay close to his father and new partner.

Birthdays, christenings and Christmases came and went. I was excluded. I have grandchildren who don’t know me as their Nanny. I sent birthday cards stuffed with money that their parents’ (my son) never acknowledged.

Stuck in Life’s Drama

In my marriage, my life was one hysterical drama after another. I measured my self-worth by how my husband and children regarded me. That led to my descent to the bottom rung of the pecking order of my family. I was devalued and mostly invisible. Easy to throw away.

But rather than be crushed by all of it — the abuse, betrayal, loss — I set out on a quest to liberate, heal and transform myself.

And, after three years on that path, I’ve emerged a changed woman. I have reconciled with myself. I accept myself. And I’m more aware of the world and my place in it.

My Son is My Teacher

Self-awareness brings with it the ability to get above the drama and observe my life as it’s playing out. It allows me to react to people dear to me from a place of love.

I’ve learned it’s not what loved ones think about me but how I FEEL about them.

And so, my son’s rejection no longer has the power to disintegrate me. He is both my son — and my teacher!

Saying “I Love You”

I wanted to leave things with James in a good place before I came out on the road in March 2022 to housesit. He allowed me to visit him, my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren, aged one and five.

I embraced my son — all 6’6″ — and told him how much I loved him. My heart swelled with the bigness of that moment.

I played with grandies and snuggled up on the couch with my daughter-in-law as she shared how much she loved my son. There were plenty of warm hugs, laughter and love to go around.

After a blissful morning and lunch, James waved me off with a broad smile, grandbaby nestled in his arms. That’s the memory of my son I hold dear.

My attempts to stay in contact since have been met with silence.

A Prayer to Heal

Whenever thoughts of my son flitter through my mind and my heart reminds me how much I miss him, I call on the Hawaiian Healing Prayer — the Ho’oponopono.

Ho’oponopono eliminates all our limiting beliefs and data. And the great thing is, we don’t even have to know what these limiting beliefs are.

According to this powerful ancient Hawaiian healing and problem-solving process, on some level, I’m creating this disconnection with my son. And to heal “us”, I need to take responsibility.

The Ho’oponopono four-step mantra reads:

“I Love You – I am Sorry – Please Forgive Me – Thank You”

Although the words must be exact, there is no correct order for the four phrases. We can say them in any order we want. But it is necessary to repeat the mantra four times.

“I love you” is the code that unlocks healing — the healing of ourselves.

We petition love by asking, “I am sorry for whatever is going on inside of me that manifests as the problem. Please forgive me.”

By saying, “Thank you”, we express gratitude. We show our faith the problem will be cleared for the highest good of everyone involved.

The Ho’oponopono is not about correcting other people. It’s about correcting our perceptions and feelings of everything we see as “outside of us”.

This beautiful healing prayer has transformed my relationship with my youngest daughter. She has found her way back into my life.

And in this new, mature love we are exploring, all past hurts and judgment falls away!

Might that be true for my son — one day? I pray it is.

Wishing you all lots of love and light on your journey.

Catherine (Cat) Farrar

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