Son can’t forgive dying estranged dad | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Dear Emily,

I married my activist high school boyfriend right after college. I taught in university while he continued his political activism. Our lives went smoothly, and we started a family right away. Many of our friends envied our relationship.

On our 10th year of marriage and while pregnant with our fourth child, I was shocked that my husband, who epitomized the decency that my family boasted about, was found to have another family in his hometown.

His mistress and I had gotten pregnant at almost the same time and, like me, was about to have her fourth child. I kicked him out of the house my father gave me, leaving nothing he owned behind to remind me of him.

It has been 26 years and I’ve moved on. Our marriage had been annulled 25 years when I met a guy whose wife left him as well for another man.

My problem is my son, who has refused to see his father or even talk to him. He won’t even acknowledge his half siblings. He is still bitter at how our family life was shattered by the breakup. He said he will not even consider marriage because of this experience. Now that his father is almost at his deathbed, my son said his father can die, for all he cares.

I understand my son, considering how our lives were upended by the selfishness and lies of that man. I feel sad, though, that in this case, blood wasn’t as thick as we were made to believe.


Yes. It’s taught early on to forgive and forget, but for a growing boy, this hurt must have been so deep and traumatic that forgiveness may not come soon enough. Your son cannot be forced to accept a father who broke his heart and who must have been his hero growing up.

For many, it takes a lifetime to forgive, and with his father’s health in peril, it may be too late now to do anything.

The father apparently did not pursue reconciliation with his son. He could have tried using simple and thoughtful gestures that could have chipped away at the animosity that stood between them. Had he tried unrelentingly, his son could have learned to forgive him over the years. It turned out to be an exercise in futility, with no one giving in.

You can probably help a bit by starting to reminisce about the happy family you all enjoyed before the tragedy of his parallel family was exposed. Your son may recall his happy times with his father then, and allow him to miss the sliver of happiness he could remember with him.

He is still a son that loved his father deeply once upon a time. He could still turn around and love him again, however late it is.

Email [email protected] or [email protected].

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