Dear Annie: My 27-year-old son, “Scott,” is married with one child. Twelve years ago, Scott’s mother and I divorced, and I think he is still angry about it. My ex-wife and I have both remarried, but Scott wants little to do with either of us.
Scott rarely visits. If we want to see our grandson, we have to go to his place. They did show up for Christmas and were terribly cold to everyone. They didn’t even let my wife hold the baby, which broke her heart.
Last week, we ran into Scott near his job. He looked as if he hadn’t shaved in weeks. My wife gave him $20, and when I saw his car in the parking lot, I wrote on the dirty door, “Haircut?” Three hours later, I got a text calling me every name in the book and claiming I scratched his car. I did no such thing. He insisted the reason we don’t speak is because I make bad decisions.
I’ve had it with Mr. Ungrateful. I thought when Scott became a father he would understand what we went through to give him what he needed. He was the best kid growing up, funny and happy. Now he hates me, and I’m not too happy with him, either. But I have a grandson I want to see. Now what? — Sad Dad in N.H.
Dear Dad: Some kids never get over a divorce. Scott could have benefited from counseling (he still could), but no one addressed his particular issues at the time, and so they festered. We agree that your son seems difficult and hypersensitive. And knowing that, it was not a wise move to criticize him publicly by writing on his dirty car. You need to apologize to Scott for that. If you want the relationship to improve, please try not to provoke him, even unintentionally. Ask him sincerely to let you know when you upset him so you can rectify it to the best of your ability. A conciliatory gesture on your part may allow things to get better.
Dear Annie: You printed a letter from “Venting,” a 20-year-old man who wants to know how to meet people, especially girls, because he is too young to drink. He doesn’t sound very interesting, just wanting to dance at a club or hang out. Volunteering in an ongoing activity with committed, purposeful people would be a much better way to go. I suggest his local hospital or Habitat for Humanity. — Boston
Dear B.: Those are excellent suggestions, but when you are 20, dancing at clubs and hanging out is often what friends do. Here are a few more ideas:
From Florida: He should look in his area for dance clubs. If you don’t know how to do certain dances, there are people in the clubs who give lessons.
Chicago: Please tell “Venting” that he should join a community chorus or church choir. Choruses are always short of men, and he will be welcomed with open arms, whether he has a good voice or not, whether he can read music or not. Whatever he needs to learn, a sympathetic chorus member could teach him, or he could take voice lessons. I have made tons of friends and met my husband through music.
Annie’s Snippet for St. Patrick’s Day: An Irish blessing: May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.