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OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Man’s estrangement from son compounded by incarceration

by Abigail Van Buren | January 27, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Dear Abby: My 38-year-old son is in jail for meth. He’s been an addict for years. I tried many times to help him, but he always relapsed. He has been in rehab. His mother and I divorced when he was 7. He was a great kid until the divorce. After that, he became distant and wouldn’t talk much to me.

His mother tried to make up for the divorce by doing everything for him. When I wanted him to do something, like his homework, he would just sit and stare. I couldn’t punish him because I was afraid he wouldn’t want to visit anymore. I tried to show him I loved him, but I think he blamed me for the divorce.

I don’t think he ever loved me like a son normally loves his father. He rejected any advice I tried to offer and paid no attention when I tried to teach him something.

I’m trying to decide if I want to contact him. I feel like I have always had to do the heavy lifting to have a relationship with him, and he made no effort to sustain one with me. If I never heard from him again, I really wouldn’t miss him. Should I bother trying to get in contact with him while he is in jail? — Frustrated Father In Texas

Dear Father: Your son is sick — an addict. That he is in jail will hopefully mean he can attain sobriety. Reach out to him one more time. He may believe you deserted him and his mother because she allowed him to believe it, which would explain his attitude toward you all these years. It might be of some benefit to him to be reminded that you love him and care about his well-being. Once he is clean, he may have a different attitude If not, at least you tried.

Dear Abby: I have ended a four-year romantic relationship. When times were good, they were very good. I had some of the most joyful experiences of my life with him, my children and his family. We were planning to spend the rest of our lives together.

However, when the going got rough, he started seeing other women and was hateful to one of my kids. Even as I write that last part, I am appalled. I know the relationship had to end, yet I continue to cry over the loss, and my sleep remains disrupted.

What’s the matter with me that I’m pining over a man who turned so sour? I should feel relieved, right? How can I help myself move through this? — Too Many Tears

Dear Tears: I sympathize with your disappointment. We have all been there. Now dry those tears and remind yourself that, had the romance continued, you might have married someone who would verbally abuse your children and cheat on you. You are grieving the loss of a dream that didn’t come to fruition. Stay busy and focus harder on looking ahead, and you will move through this more quickly.

DearAbby is written byAbigailVan Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact DearAbby at P.O.Box 69440,Los Angeles,CA 90069 or visit


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