Help me, Chloe! My Son Won’t Call Me!

by Chloe Jeffreys · 78 comments

in Adult Kids, Sandwich Generation

Good parenting is hard. Welcome to the part of the show where I share wisdom from my vast wealth of agonizing experiences parenting young adult children.

Today’s question comes from a longtime reader who lives in the Adirondacks. She asks:

Dear Chloe,

Please help me! My 22-year old son hasn’t called me in weeks. I’ve left messages on his cellphone, and even resorted to messages on his Facebook page, begging him to call his poor, old, grey-haired mother at least once more before I die, but all I’m getting back is silence. What can I do to get my son to call me?

Signed,

I Breastfed Until My Nipples Fell Off And Now I Can’t Get A Lousy Phone Call?

Dear Nippleless,

First, let me congratulate you on your great momming achievement. YOUR SON ISN’T LIVING IN YOUR BASEMENT!!! That right there should entitle you to a parade down Main Street.

Sadly, I know that even a parade, attended by everyone in the world, will not make up for the lack of one measly phone call from your kid, so I am here to help.

Let me begin by reassuring you that you aren’t alone. All of us moms whose children have left home have experienced The Silence at one time or another. And it hurts. It hurts real bad. But let’s take a moment to consider the matter from your son’s point of view.

Realize that your young adult child has a constant, as in 24/7, tape recording of your voice running through his head. He’s heard you yammer on for YEARS about every topic under the sun. He knows without asking what you think about this or how you feel about that. And part of being a young adult is learning to turn off your voice so he can hear himself think.

The reality of this constant playback of our nagging voices in our kids’  heads cannot be over-estimated.

Remember Kunta Kinte in Roots and how he needed to go live in his own hut after he became a man? That’s what is happening with your son right now. He’s like Kunta Kinte.

Unfortunately, you and I both know that Kunta Kinte was an idiot and, while off looking for parts to build his new drum, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery by evil doers. You’d like a freaking phone call once in a while reassuring you that your son isn’t being held against his will by modern-day evil doers somewhere!

How hard could that be!?!

Now, how to get that phone call.

Knowing that just the sound of your voice is laden with emotions for the young adult, you want to find ways to connect that reduce all that angst for your child. Especially if your child is doing something they know you’ll disapprove of–which, by the way, they probably are.

Facebook is a terrible way to connect. Kids do not want to see their parents on Facebook! It makes them feel sick inside. So whatever you do, DO NOT post requests for a phone call on Facebook.

Calling directly on the phone or leaving voice messages is also a terrible way to try to connect to your young adult if your kid is in a silent phase. Don’t even bother. It would be better to write a short letter and snail mail it instead, preferably with a $20 bill folded inside.

Texting is the best way to connect. Most people check their texts several times a day, and since texting is the least emotional means of connection, that’s where you’ll have your best shot getting some response back.

No matter what method you try, ABSTAIN FROM ANY GUILT-MONGERING IN YOUR MESSAGE.

Do not mention how long it has been since you last spoke. Do not mention that you don’t have much longer to live. Do not mention that you are worried they’ve been kidnapped by slavers.

Keep it short. Keep it sweet. Something like,

“Hey, I just drove by our favorite ice cream shop and was thinking of you. Hope your day is terrific!”

or

“Stumbled across your old Good Charlotte CD today. Good times! I love you!  Hope you are having a good day.”

Messages that bring up pleasant memories the two of you shared along with a short message that you simply love them are best.

And leave it at that.

Then go out to lunch with your girlfriends, or go take a walk. It is unlikely that your child has been abducted by slavers or killed in a gang-land shoot-out. They are just very busy learning to live without you.

Don’t worry.

They’ll be back.

You are the stupidest, uncoolest person in the world until your young adult child hits about 25. Before you know it you’ll be getting smarter by the day. I promise.

Love, Chloe

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula June 27, 2015 at 8:46 am

Your comment is wise and funny, but somehow diminutive of mothers here, reduced to a nagging voice in our 20 years old children’s head, that even prevent them from thinking…
Wow, sad really,
Although a mother can be overbearing at times, or even annoying, she has forever loved and cared for her child with selfless love and sincerity, that she deserve better than being disregarded as a nagging voice. I mean ,unless she is disrespectful and crazy or abusive or bad. But these are rare cases in my opinion. Your typical normal mother just loves you and wants you to be happy,like nobody else. A little consideration at every age and stage of life, goes a long way

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Sad in Athens June 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

I have a 20 year old son who we have always supported and loved with all of our hearts. When he was in high school he dated a girl through most of his high school years. She was more of a “mother” to him and when he would be involved in things that were not appropriate such as drugs and being places he should not be, she would tattle on him. This made me worry about his well-being and then we became “controlling” in his eyes. I tried to keep him away from friends that I knew were involved in the drinking, drugs and partying. He graduated high school barely and then he started college. He did not go to class, he didn’t do his homework and was not doing well with test taking. I convinced him to withdraw since obviously he wasn’t ready for college. He was working at a grocery store and was not happy doing that either but promised to work more hours and pay us back for the tuition he basically threw away. His girlfriend at the time who was a year older convinced him that he was 18 and he could move out (with she and her mother) and quit his job. So he did that. He was looking to join the Marines but ended up signing with the Army. After about a year after moving out of our house and in with her, he realized that he made a poor choice. Also, right away he had met a new girl in that September and two weeks later he left for the Army. We were excited that he was making an effort with his life and did join the Army. We thought he found a nice girl too, but again we just were getting to know her. He was in boot camp from Sept – Dec. He spent two weeks home for the holidays on leave after his graduation in December and then he left for his duty station. Also, we had actually included her in our family welcome weekend with him and his graduation from boot camp prior to his visit home for the holidays. He left for GA and would “sneak” home on unofficial leave to visit this girl and her family on most weekends and did his best to keep it from us because he knew we would not be okay with that. The girl and her parents live in the same county and so we would hear from friends that our son had been home. So when we talked to him about going against Army rules, we were the bad parents and her parents were the good parents because they didn’t care that he was breaking rules. So, then the talk of marriage comes up in April. Mind you this was 7-8 months into their relationship (after him coming out of a four year relationship with another girl) and this girl is a high school senior. They really didn’t have the opportunity to know each other over the 7-8 months because he was in the Army the entire time (other than sneaking home), and no engagement period. So, I tried my best to convince them to wait. I asked her mom in a FB pm if she was crazy enough to go along with this wedding after only 8 months and with her daughter just graduating high school and why she wouldn’t want more for her 18 year old daughter because I wanted more for our son and she went off on me and even left me two very nasty name-calling messages on my cell phone and the girl friend sent me a text stating this was none of my business. So, when my son took official leave in May to come home for her high school graduation, he was upset with us and wouldn’t let us know he was home. They posted pictures with his arm around her mom (the lady that cussed me) at her graduation party, after the way she talked to me —it hurt. Then they got married a few days later at the courthouse and did not even let his family know. My daughter found out by messaging him and he finally replied to her but asked she keep it from us. He left that following Saturday to go back to GA and this girl and I have exchanged some hurtful messages and then her mom and her mom’s boyfriend and the grandparents buy them everything they need to furnish their apartment and move her there the following Wed and her parents spend about a week with them on what should be their honeymoon. I am just so heartbroken that this is the wedding memories he and we all will have and hurt that he rushed into this marriage just turning 20 himself and the girl he barely knows just turning 18 a few months before. He doesn’t have a great income and hasn’t saved money over the time he has been in the Army. That is a concern. I am hurt that he wants nothing to do with his family over a girl and her family he has only known of for 8 months. I have tried reaching out and so has my husband to talk this out and to work through the disrespect, distrust and lies that we have had to deal with over the last several months but he will not answer our calls nor our texts and it just brings back the hurt all over again and then I say hurtful things to him about her and her family because I hurt, just not understanding the reason why this happened. How can our family get through this hurt and disappointment especially if he will not reach out to us when we have tried so hard to reach out to them only to be disappointed and hurt once again. He has connected with our in-laws a couple times but I feel like he did that so that I would feel more hurt that he didn’t take the time to reach out to his father and me. Of course I am sure he makes a point to reach out to her family because they are the “supporters” and we were just concerned about his (and really her) future. Help!

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Chloe Jeffreys June 18, 2015 at 9:00 am

Oh, my poor friend! I wish I had some help for you that would fix this situation with your son. I do not know why this happens. I was in a similar situation with my son a a high school girl and her mom. I could not believe how she enabled such stupid ass behavior!! When our son finally broke up with this girl this mother cried on my husband’s shoulder about how sad it was. It wasn’t sad. She was a nut.

I know this is going to be a hard pill to swallow, but there’s nothing you can do. You have to let him go. Start focusing on your own life and your own happiness. Eventually he will likely wake up and smell the roses. The Army will not let him get away with this forever. He will either pull it together or face the life long consequences. And that is so very hard for a mother to take. But I’m afraid that’s reality. I’m so sorry for your pain. I wish there was more I could do to help you.

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Theresa March 25, 2015 at 4:05 am

Hi, This is good advice, thanks… However, I do text message my son, my fourth son to be exact… I have left him nice text messages, inviting him for dinner, to the art gallery (he has said he would be interested in visiting the art gallery if we went sometime), tons of nice texts just saying “Have a great day, love Mom.” I get nothing, absolutely nothing. If I left a message telling him there was a check for ten thousand dollars at my house he would call right away. But if not he never calls or texts myself or my husband. However, funnily enough, he does call my Mother and Father In Law. Very funny, right? Not! I have a difficult relation with them at best of times and know they enjoy enormously (but don’t say so) that my son calls to come to dinner at their house but never comes home to our place. I know this because every time he visits them, they call me the next day or that evening to let me know he was at my house and are very sorry he won’t come to our house or even call us. Then one of them tells me don’t worry that they’ll make sure he’s okay… Aggggghhhhh! I want to scream! It
s as if they’ve taken over a relationship we took 21 years to build and there’s nothing there for us anymore. We live a bit further out than my parents in law from where my son now lives. I just don’t get it. You say, he’s just trying to grow up… Well, he used to be the most sensitive, caring, loving little child and a very nice teenager until he hit grade 10 or 11 and started smoking pot and generally trying to have his own life. We disagreed. I ended up sending him to another school for his last year at high school (his sister and brother were there as well). I believe he still harbors resentment toward me because of this after all this time. Also because I would try to talk to him about God, told him smoking was bad for him, asked him, told him not to smoke pot in our house. Got rid of his friend who giving him the pot (from his life) at the time, and etc. So in his eyes we are bad parents. He has told me that there is nothing wrong with smoking pot and he knows this and all sorts of drugs enlighten people. Well, I’m not stupid, we had drugs when I was growing up and I didn’t see any of my brothers or sisters who used it and other things ‘enlightened’… I saw them lose their capacity to succeed and saw them lead useless lives. I am sure you are correct and my son knows we don’t agree with his pot or anything else habits (he smoked for a time) and doesn’t want to hear what he already knows… but come on, can’t he be nice and return a text once in a blue moon. I have helped him move 3 times since he has moved out and I have an awful back and hip, I am always been there for him, I have given him money to help once he moved out… I made the mistake at this last place he moved to in saying “It’s okay, I’d just like to see my child living in a nicer neighbourhood in a better apartment, that’s all.” He told me to shut up and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. This after helping him all day, by myself, carry his boxes of books up and down stairs. He isn’t living in a very nice neighbourhood, there are a lot of drug addicts roaming the streets and many homeless persons and he lives above an old scummy grocery store. I guess I shouldn’t have said what I was thinking. I would understand it more if he didn’t contact my parents in law, who are only too happy to let me know with a phone call that my son has just come over for dinner or stayed overnight at their place or just popped in for a visit. I know he doesn’t feel pressured to go to church, believe in God, he says he’s an agnostic now… and I know we probably make him feel uncomfortable because we try to live our lives without drugs, without getting stoned/drunk and with God. We aren’t saints, we drink alcohol but not to the excess he does. At this point in time it doesn’t feel as if he will ever come back. He seems so far away… it almost seems he doesn’t like to visit because we might say something he doesn’t agree with. He is going to Asia soon and was going with a friend. We met him for coffee on his terms one afternoon (after months of trying to get hold of him, we had to go where found it convenient so we went to his apartment and neighbourhood)… anyway, he told us he is now going alone. We said that might not be the wisest thing to do, since having someone with you helps if you get sick or run out of money or in trouble with authorities or just stuck somewhere… He disagreed and said he’ll be fine. He trusts people too much and thinks the world is his friend. He doesn’t have a lot of common sense, even his brothers call him ‘Calamity Sean’ because he’s always accidentally getting into trouble. He refuses to check out vaccinations he may need, he refuses to go with a companion, refused to check with us once in a while (he’s going to be gone 3 months) to let us know hes safe at least and actually said “I’m going so I can be alone without anyone, I don’t want to report to anyone or let anyone know where I am, I’m not going to be emailing or texting you guys… that’s the idea.” Well it sounds more like he’s running away from something than going on a vacation. I think it’s ridiculous not to have a person to check in with back home to let them know you are okay, especially if he is going to Kuala Lumpur, Thailand and Japan. And isn’t the idea of going to a different place so you can share that with someone, your friends or family? So for 3 months my hair will turn a little grayer and it seems he almost enjoys this. We took the kids to California two years ago. One last family blast. Sean hadn’t flown anywhere before. We were traveling by car with four of our kids. Two of them had their own car and we had the younger two with us. It was a lot of fun, at times. My eldest had been left behind at his home and my son Sean. they were going to fly together to California and meet us there because of job commitments. My eldest son told Sean he had to come and sleep at his place overnight since it was a lot closer to the airport. My son knew this months ahead of time. Two weeks before we left unbeknownst to us he started telling my eldest son that he couldn’t do this as he had to work a late shift at his job. They were flying at 4:30 in the morning. My eldest son said I am sorry but I cannot come and get you at 11:00 p.m. to bring you to the airport, I’ll be asleep. I am going to sleep so that I can be awake to drive to the airport from my place and get there in time. My 4th son Sean, said, tough I’ll get there myself. this wasn’t a good plan. Sean worked until ten thirty at his job, came home and picked up his clothes and bag to fly with. Then he was afraid that he would not wake up on time and he was very tired.. so instead of ringing my other son and going to his place, he idiotically got on his bike and headed for Vancouver. He went to a friends party until 3 a.m. in the morning and then left on his bike. He biked out to the airport and tied his bike up. It was now almost 3:50, he was supposed to be there 1 hr. ahead of time. He brought his bag in with him to the airport. My eldest son then texted him. “Where are you?” Sean texted back, I’m just here now at the airport. My eldest texted again, telling him where to meet him. My eldest son was frantic as the plane was beginning to load the passengers and my son hadn’t gone through with his ticket yet even. No text back, no call nothing… My son went to the line up, he told the official he had to find his brother and to pls not let the plane leave. The official said he’d stall for a little bit but not long. So my son Max took off across the airport and he’s fast. He ran everywhere looking for my son Sean. Finally, he gave up but then thought, “What will Mom think, holy crow, they’ve paid for this expensive ticket for him. So instead of looking in the international area, he ran all the way over to the domestic flights area. He couldn’t find him anywhere. He thought I can’t do anything about this now, I have to go, and began to run back to the international area. On his way he spied a lump of clothes on a bench near the flight of stairs upstairs. He was just about to run up them and back to international flights when he decided to check out the lump. Well, there was Sean, his bag beside him, passed out on a bench behind the stairs at the airport. My eldest son started smacking him and shaking him. He said he smelled like cigarette smoke, pot and alcohol. He woke up finally and my eldest said “We r missing out flight, you have to come now.” So Sean, bleary eyed not know ing where he was, grabbed his bag and went with with him. Fortunately, my eldest son had his plane ticket with him. He took him to the flight running like crazy to get there. He arrived barely in time, they were closing the doors they told him, his girlfriend was already on and they decided after looking at Seans ticket that he could get on with his bag and stow it. My eldest was so afraid they were going to see my son Sean’s red bleary eyes that would have told anyone he was stoned but he said fortunately, they were in a hurry like himself and just ran them through to the plane. They got in just before the doors were closed. This is the boy going to Asia by himself. He also went to Florida to go on a cruise with his friends after xmas. He said the trip there was okay, and the cruise was good… on the way back his friends had told him how easy it was to get a standby flight home and much cheaper. So he (although needed back at work the next day) listened to them. So they all got on a flight they had pre booked at the airport and he went to a station to get a flight. There were no flights home, nothing close. So Sean had to wait for two days at the airport for a standby flight, if he left they said he wouldn’t be going anywhere. He missed getting back to his job, then was given a flight path which was rerouted over and over again on his way home. He was supposed to be home the same day. It took him three days to get home because each time he had to get another standby flight home. They finally put him on a bus home from Seattle. I don’t know why he thought he could get a standby that easily whenhe was so far from home and expect to get back to his job. This is the kid going by himself to Asia. Yes I am very worried about him going there. I realize I have to let it go and have told God to please take care of him, but I still worry. I don’t tell him this at all. His Dad told him to be careful of his money in Japan because it’s a very expensive place. He rudely told his Dad who reads about other countries, finances, stock markets constantly… “What are you talking about, you’ve never been there before in your life,” and he smirked at him. This kid has me at the end of my rope and he used to be such a nice person. His Dad was just trying to help him with some good advice. He treats us as if we are cave people who don’t know up from down. I don’t know whether I should just give him up and pray for him or keep trying to communicate with him. It’s exasperating and he laughs at me a lot of times because he thinks his Dad and I are naive, worry about nothing & don’t know what we’re talking about. I have six kids, four moved out now and two at home still. All are at University except for the last who is still in high school, one more year. I haven’t had this problem to this extent with any of my other boys, but they all do the same thing… don’t text, don’t return texts, don’t call, don’t Skype unless I ask them to or I do it myself. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother it seems. I understand not needing your parents as much, but as least they could remember they have parents. They are all doing well on their own either at University or jobs/careers. They all communicate once in a blue moon but definitely not often. I just don’t like that they expect to (which happened this past year) not text or call or Skype but expect to be able to come home at Xmas and get lots of good gifts and eat the food I cook and sleep in the beds I’ve made, go visit their friends, use our home as a base etc. etc. I had a lot of work to do this past christmas, I gave one son extra money to be able to fly home and to another I gave him my birthday present money to fly home with and I just can’t figure out what it’s for. And then they leave and leave me with the mess and the heartache of not seeing or hearing from them for months on end. What’s the point? One of my sons, #3, told me he was coming to town. Oh good, I said. No, NO, he said, I am going to do “Tough Mudder” at Whistler. I’ll be coming on a Friday morning and my friends are picking me up at the airport & we’re driving straight up to Whistler. I’ll be up there three days. I’m leaving for Calgary on Monday morning. Oh, Say, he said, I could come down from Whistler and have dinner with you Sunday night, how would that be?” “Oh, yeah, also I’ll probably need a ride to the airport int he morning if that’s okay…” I wanted to laugh… Sure come into town for four days and drop by so we can make you Sunday dinner… sounds great… Shouldn’t I just give up contacting them? They contact me when they need something or are sick and that’s it. Do I keep texting them and saying “Hello, Have a great day, Love you Mom! constantly when I get nothing in return? Oh wait, I do get something in return… Sean did say, “Hey Mom, I can probably visit you for a day or two before I have to leave for Asia, I could come out and stay at your place.” Well isn’t that nice I thought, “sure okay son.” “Oh yes, he said, “I’ll be renting out my apartment room for 3 months so I need someplace to stay for a few days and I’ll need a place to store my clothes and stuff, ’cause I’m not allowed to leave it there when I’m renting my room out…” Ok? Great, thanks!” lol… it just doesn’t make sense to me… that when they lived here they were my friends, my family and companions. They cared most of the time and actively sought me out to talk to me at times and ask advice and give me a hug and tell me they loved me… now silence… In one year, my son Sean #4 moved out in Beginning of September, my eldest son in same year moved out the beginning of March, my son #3 moved out in June and my son #2 moved away in beg. of August. All four in one year… the house went from being a busy and crazy and lively place, with lots of laughter, teasing, fighting, sibling rivalry, talking and caring (and some arguing) to two kids only… which is a lot to some, but not to me… I grew up with a big family of eight myself… now there’s just a lot of silence… a lot… don’t get me wrong, my kids are all nice enough persons (except for one, who was very difficult growing up and no it isn’t the fourth one). This fellow is actually turning out nice and maturing nicely since he moved out, except that he doesnn’t text, or call or Skype me… unless I ask and I’m getting tired of that. I thought they would miss me a little you know? Guess not… and you can say they are trying to grow up, and I know they are, but I always called my Mom, just to make sure she was okay and say Hi and tell her I loved her and make her laugh. Sigh! Kids!

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jackie August 6, 2015 at 1:30 am

Thanks for sharing. I only have one child, a 20yr old son and i am so hurt for the lack of love and apprection i feel he should have for me. Nothing seems to work…play it cool and back off from asking too much about his life…or involving myself. He talks behind my back and has done it for years. I dont deserve to be treated this way. I have been a very good mother to him. Damn, some kids are just poor investments. All that love and support with no return. It hurts. Sorry you are feeling sad, but you sharing your story helps me to take my son’s abandonment less personal. Im tired of being used though. That part is ending now. Hope your little stinkers come around as they mature and get families of their own (and of course they will – they will need a babysitter)! Thanks again, wish you all the best:)

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Lillian January 24, 2015 at 2:01 am

Our son suffered from depression so badly that he admitted to feeling suicidal. He is now through this although has only been off medication for around 6 months. He went to uni we live in the UK. Dropping him off hurt like he’ll, never told him that. He came home for Christmas and has been different since he went back to uni. We are worried he is becoming depressed again. The asking him is he ok and txting with small talk has made him tell us to back off. He is 23. During 2013 my nephew his cousin hung himself and I supposed that he would understand our concern. My heart hurts I don’t know what to do.

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Chloe Jeffreys January 25, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Oh Lillian, I’m so sorry. I wish I had some advice, but I really don’t Do whatever you can to keep the lines of communication open, but this age is just tough and don’t be surprised that he’s not responsive.

The only piece of advice I do have is to take care of yourself. Pray, text, and hope, but this really is his life and as hard as that is there really isn’t a solution. I’m so sorry.

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usasusie December 27, 2014 at 8:42 am

Help Chloe – I have a similar situation except my son is 15. I am divorced and as a result I have some vacations and weekends where my kids are with their Dad. My son was in a phase of “not responding”. It started to get slightly better after I tried to talk with I’m about it. He is away at his grandparents this week (his Dad’s side) with his cousin, and he has not responded to any of my texts. He refused to text to say he arrived ok (first time flying by himself). I received a bunch of messages last night fro the airline, as it appears his luggage was lost in transit and I was the phone number on record. No response. (I eventually connected with is Grandpa and all is well). I was even awakened at 1:00 am last night with a phone call from the luggage delivery guy for the airline saying he was delivering the luggage in 20 minutes. I texted him to ask if it arrived ok, again nothing. I understand he is seeking independence, but I find the lack of response disrespectful and rude. I have considered everything from taking away his phone (which is a privilege not a right) to just backing off and letting it be. It’s both frustrating and comforting that he only calls me when he needs something. It leaves me feeling manipulated on doe level. What should I do?

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M. Higgins January 12, 2015 at 2:32 am

I understand exactly what you are saying. I’m going through the same thing with my 2 girls (Age 16 & 13). My situation is even I worse I feel. My kids are only 30 mins away, and they don’t want anything to do with me. I have asked them to come over to spend the night, but they always refuse. That hurts, but yet; they are quick to ask me for a ride to the mall or movies and give them money. That really bothers me, and after 2 conversations with my oldest daughter, she still doesn’t get it. I know i’ll probably get some flak for saying this, but I just gave up. After spending the last 7 year working in Iraq to give them any and everything they could possibly want, they can’t be respectful enough to even call me once a week. Sure I could call them, but I want to know that I’m at least being thought of. I know my soon to be ex (wife) is filling their heads up with a lot of negativity, but I have been very good to my girls through all of this and to get this from them since I moved out is heartbreaking. Should I continue to try harder, or should I reach out to them once more. I already feel defeated, and fighting back with negativity against their mother for what she is saying about me is not my style.

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jj September 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I just sent our oldest son to college. And I’m a mess. Initially the concern was, will he be lonely, will he make friends, the feeling was more of deserting your baby some place else. Two weeks into college, my concerns have changed into anger.. I’m having to force him to call us and talk to us or facetime with us whereas he seems to have no time for us. He has probably talked 3 times in two weeks that too in a hurry as he has to hang out with other kids in the dorm rooms, or he has to go out outside the campus with friends on friday night. I am just feeling too depressed at this time. I am not sure what to do? Force him to talk to us at least 5 min if not longer..it just feels like we are not his priority at all, friends, hanging out is all that is most important. That also makes me worry about him getting into wrong company or bad habits as it is there’s no supervision left. Up until now he has been a good focused kid with A grades etc. but now I feel too scared and sad. I am having a tough time coping with this feeling that he is already going far from me. I fear if I let him not call us, we’ll loose the affection and connection that was built over so many years. I have seen friends making a point to call/skype/ Facetime their kids every single day and still being attached after so many years.

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margaret July 27, 2014 at 4:04 pm

My Son is married and has 2 children he never phones me or comes to see me, I have phoned him and sent a text but no reply, we always got on and never had a row, the only time he phoned is when his wife walked out and he didn’t have anyone to mind the children. He has sorted out his marriage so he is ok. I love my grandchildren and they love me but I don’t know his children as I seldom see them, I cant just go and see them without arrangements in advance and it never seems to suite his wife. I was mother and father to him as his Dad had no time for him. He was not an only child as I also have four Daughters. Your advice please.

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Diane Moran July 23, 2014 at 6:33 am

Dear Chloe, My son is 26 and has been out of the house for a couple of years now. He doesn’t seem to be getting smarter by the day as far as calling his mom is concerned. I love him dearly and miss him. I don’t expect a weekly phone call but once a month would be nice and oh, by the way I have tried texting, needless to say a big NOTHING! Very sad :(.

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Donna November 13, 2013 at 9:51 am

As uplifting as I found this article and comments, there are still some of us out there who aren’t so fortunate. My son, after years of living with me without paying rent, was fired from several jobs that he did get so otherwise was unemployed, smoked pot and reeked up my house, started bringing women in and sleeping with them in my house, even after I told him not to. The final straw was when he betrayed me and lied to me about something very hurtful, I threw him out. I had been saying for moths I wanted him to leave and get his own life in order, but he wouldn’t leave. Now, 4 + years later, he has bought a house less than 2 miles away and had 2 children with a woman I have never met. I do not consider myself a grandmother. Thanks to Facebook, which I am not on, everyone knows more about them than I do. I have tried to contact him several times over the years, but I have stopped because I was told he would never speak to me again. I have a sadness very deep. People used to say, don’t worry, he will grow up and come back. This may be true for others, but not me. I have to live with this.

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Chloe Jeffreys November 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Oh Donna, how very difficult and sad this must be for you. I guess I would suggest you keep trying, and don’t give up. I wonder if a counselor experienced in family dynamics might be able to help you and your son reunite. It sounds like there are very deep hurt feelings on both sides that need to be heard by both of you. Again, I am very sorry about this. I cannot imagine how sad this must make you.

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Michelle Christine Sichley-Raynor August 31, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Wow, well said, AND THE TRUTH! And even with ALL MY GRADUATE LEVEL WORK IN PSYCH, even I benefited from your words! Its an awesome accurate reminder to bank on the positives, stress those points and BUILD A LIFE WITHOUT WAITING FOR THE ADULT CHILD TO GROW THROUGH THEIR NATURAL PHASES! Indeed, much harder to do than say, and hiw wonderful your reminder has been, IT’S NOT PERSONAL TO ME, MY WEIRD TRAITS OR WHATEVER, it is just the way the cookie crumbles, thanks so much, you lifted me today!

Warmly,

Michelle R
of
Portland, Oregon

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Melinda June 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

As a mom of six who rarely receives phone calls from two of
my young adult children and another who can go days
without even saying’boo! ‘ though he lives in my house
your encouragement has given me some hope along with
Some much appreciated humor! Thanks.

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Chloe Jeffreys June 17, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I’m glad to cheer you up! They do eventually grow up, right?

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Kelly April 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Hi Chloe,
Mom in pain here. My baby left in august for the army
And I have been missing him everyday since then.
During boot camp he could only call twice and he wrote
Me once. He’s not a big communicator.
But now in his AIT training he has a computer,
Cell phone, and weekends off so the time is there…
But still very little. I did what you said for awhile.
But being ignored is painful. Its rude! Isn’t my
Continuing to just send happy texts saying that its
Ok to ignore me ? (And his grandmothers who have
Learned to text to keep in touch with him)
No answers. I have resorted to stopping the texting
And i simply send a card or care package from time
To time… Is that harsh??? Am i a bad mom???
Maybe if I raised him different he would call…?
Argh!!!

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sabrina August 15, 2014 at 10:30 pm

My son is in the Army too and never calls I think the Army teachescthem you dont need your mom anymore and to be self reliant. Its hurts my heart terribly.

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Chloe Jeffreys August 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

Oh, Sabrina, that is so hard. I finally did get through to my son, I think. After years of telling him how it felt when he wouldn’t call, or call me back, I sent him this image:

What Your Mom Thinks When You Don't Answer Your Phone

He seemed to finally get it. Now we have an agreement. At least once a week I get at least something letting me know he’s not dead or dying. It’s out little joke.

I saw your comment on my FB wall. I hear you pain. I know it is bad. I don’t know how young your son it, but I know that it has gotten better as my son as gotten older. He seems to need to show me he’s his own man less and less as he is his own man more and more. But it’s been a long and painful period of time for me. And yes, I do think most daughters are different. Daughters aren’t under this social pressure to show the world they’ve separated from mom. Boys are. It’s just the nature of the beast. Hang in there! It will likely get better with time.

The ONE piece of advice I have is to refrain as much as possible from making him feel guilty to not calling you. That NEVER works. That will only make his more reluctant to contact you. Try to frame what contact you have in the most positive light. Be happy when you hear from him, excited to hear what he is doing, AND, for God’s sake, make sure you’re doing some fun things that you can share with him, too.

This is the time when your relationship needs to even out. Your life isn’t all about him anymore. It’s also about you. So take up a new hobby or interest. First, it’ll help take your mind off of your son, and second, he’ll start to see that you are a woman separate from him. Seeing you separating from him doesn’t put all the onus of separation on him. He’ll see that you aren’t trying to keep him a child to fulfill yourself. That will help. And let me know how it goes. I do understand.

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Lisa January 31, 2013 at 4:52 am

Wow! I just happened to come across your website and this really hit home for me. Great advice for yet another mother who can’t get a simple phone call from their 20 something sons. So glad I’m not alone and there really may be a simple reason why this happens!

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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I just have to keep hoping that it will get better with time and distance.

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Colette November 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hi, I like your blog! I’m glad you went to Paris, fantastic place. I’m writing to ask you about the music you have on your “About Me” video-I love it. Will you please tell me the name of the musician/track? Thank you for your time.

Colette

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Chloe Jeffreys November 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Carla Bruni, the former First Lady of France.

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Faiqa August 24, 2012 at 8:47 am

I’m totally sending this to my mom.

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Laura B. August 24, 2012 at 5:43 am

I love it ~ yes, we are the ‘stupidest’ humans on the planet until our children hit 25. Funny, in a meeting the other day, we both said, 17 year olds – going on 30 and 2. That is what makes them 17. So SO hard, because they often crush our spirit, yet, if not for the Grace of God ~ and remembering that HE holds them close, even when our ‘kids’ push us away.
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Angela Parson Myers August 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

That’s one of the reasons I love Facebook. I know what the kids and grandkids are up to without being obtrusive.

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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook where my kids are concerned. I’m sure someone is going to ask me for my advice about that very soon and I’ll talk more about adult kids and Facebook: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Laura B. August 24, 2012 at 5:44 am

Funny, I am ‘friends’ on fb with three of the six. One has a fb page, but, doesn’t use it. The other two? nope! We are not friends on FB probably better that way.
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Nina Knox, http://over50andhappy.com August 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Excellent advice, Chloe! I know I have 2 grown sons and I only know what’s going on with them through their wives. Boys are kind of like that! And you’re so right about the age 25. I always tell moms of teenage boys (the worst age and time ever!) that they will turn back into the boys they used to know at about age 25. So true!
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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I know that when I hit 25 suddenly it is like my brain worked right. My husband was also 25 when it happened for him. I’ve seen it with so many kids that I think there much be something that happens to brain chemistry at 25. I’m hanging on for 25!

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Laura Morris August 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Hi Chloe,

I could SO relate to this, as my son is 25 and very involved in his own world. I rarely get a call from him. At the same time, when we DO communicate through facebook mostly or text, he showers me with loving words, and lets me know how important I am to him. I comment on his posts at least once a week, just to stay plugged in to his life, and I know he really appreciates that. It’s working for us, and it’s much better than me waiting and wondering why he has not called me. That never works. My grandmother did that and we always felt so terrible. Your advice is perfect.
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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

My son is also very affectionate when we do communicate, but sometimes the long silences do get hard. I know he’s just very busy living his life and not thinking that he needs to call and reassure me that he’s not on a slave boat to the New World or anything.

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Grace Hodgin August 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I’m loving all the great comments and ideas people are giving here. There are a lot of smart moms in the world!
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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

The comments are pretty good, huh? We moms of adult kids need to get together more and talk this out. I sometimes feel very alone and think that everybody else’s kids are calling them all the time, and maybe there is something wrong with me. But then I read that I am not alone. It doesn’t make The Silence not hurt, but it does let me know that this is all perfectly normal.

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Tabitha August 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

I so remember my phase of not calling because life was just too exciting. My mum once opined with ‘ so you’re not dead then’. Have been calling everyday for at least the last ten years and friendly before that so I know there will be hope at the end of the tunnel if I can just avoid pissing them off in the next ten years.

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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I remember it too. I think this is part of the weirdness of the Circle of Life that we seem to forget how we were when we were kids. I didn’t bother calling my mom when things were going well because, well…things were going well. I was busy and thinking about myself.

When I hit 25 I started calling my mother a lot more and she and I talked at least once a week for an hour or more from then on. I know I set a good example, too. And that’s important.

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Risa August 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

Great post! When I talk to my grown-up kids and they tell me not to worry, I tell them I have to–Gotta keep up my worry hours or I’ll lose my mom license. Two of my three are parents now and I think they get it.
Texting always gets a response, especially if I add some emoji!

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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm

They just don’t understand until they are parents themselves, do they? We have to worry. For me, my children will always be my babies. There is a part of me that will always be very vulnerable where they are concerned. And that’s what they won’t get until they experience it for themselves.

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Darryle August 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Absolutely adorable and absolutely true. Texting is the only way to go.
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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Thank you, Darryle. So nice to see you.

Texting is the way to go for sure. I’m so glad that was invented.

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Sharon Greenthal August 23, 2012 at 10:39 am

The young folk NEVER listen to their cell phone messages. So leaving one is pointless.

I actually have had the opposite problem sometimes – TMI from my kids. Some things I don’t need to know or want to be included in!
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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Exactly. They don’t even bother listening. They look at missed calls.

I have also been on the receiving end of TMI. I just smile. I prefer TMI to The Silence any day.

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Karen August 23, 2012 at 7:05 am

Great post. I think the key is to remember when you are a parent how ineffective those guilt-inducing calls from your own parents were!
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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thank you, Karen!!!

This is what my daughter says ALL OF THE TIME! “Have parents forgotten what it’s like to be the kid?”

Just think how you feel about your own mother’s guilt-fests and you’ll know just how unmotivating phone calls like that are.

When someone starts a conversation with me by whining, “You haven’t called.” Everything in me thinks, “Yep, and I won’t be calling again any time soon after this either.”

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Wendy August 23, 2012 at 5:39 am

Chloe knows what she’s talking about. I’ve been texting my adult son for years. He still likes me. I even get a hug and a kiss on the top of my head when he says good-bye to me in person.

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Chloe August 23, 2012 at 9:43 am

What a good boy!

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Jennifer Comet Wagner August 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I completely agree about texting her son. That is how that generation talks to everyone and it is so much less confrontational. My friends with young adult daughters get calls all the time, but my sons don’t call regularly and I think that is common with many boys.
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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Absolutely everyone who reads my blog trying to parent teens or young adults NEEDS to read your blog, Jennifer. Texting is the way to communicate with this generation. And the sooner we learn how the better our relationships will be. Thanks for such a great comment. I appreciate an expert weighing in on the matter.

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Marla August 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I love the text thing, but with my child a simple text isn’t enough. If an actual questions hasn’t been ask-well there is no reason for him to even bother to text me back. So in order to check to see if he is still breathing, I drop at least one question. If he’s feeling generous, I’ll get a one word response with. Lov u. But hey, that makes my day. Glad to know I’m not alone.

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I LOVE the question thing. Great idea. I’m stealing it. Tonight.

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Susan in the Boonies August 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm

GREAT advice! Loved this post!!!
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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’m always available to help. Us moms have to stick together.

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Julia August 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Seeing that son #2 is off to college in a week, this was a timely post. I may need you to remind me of this in a week and a few days….sigh.

I’m so glad that you are ahead of me on the mommy trail so that I can learn from you!!

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm

You are entering the darkest time. Sounds like you need a trip to the beach this winter with some really cool friends who will make you laugh and forget it all. I hope that happens for you.

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Bethany August 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Chloe, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and I always love it. I’m pregnant with my fifth child, so Vagina Whispering is certainly welcome here, I’ve always been partial to really good love stories *especially* if they have warning labels, and I wasted my 20’s (my *20’s*, dammit!) in humorless deacon-wifery. Most of what you write is what I need to hear or is already bouncing around in my head, but this feels like you wrote it to me.

My fifth child is probably going be my fifth son: one more male to hold 100% of my heart in his hands. My biggest fears are a) them forgetting how much I love them/never calling me and b) them marrying harpies who purposefully misinterpret everything I say and do, driving us to situation a). I always get hella weepy while I’m pregnant, and a ridiculous, probably unhealthy, portion of my tears are shed over that ambiguous, powerless stage when the boys will grow up and not need or want me around.

Anyway, thank you. I needed something like this.

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hey Bethany! Thanks so much for letting me know that you’re here.

Congratulations on Baby Boy #5. I have plenty of advice for dealing with those pesky harpies girlfriends that I promise will work. Well, at least they’ve worked up until now.

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Still Blonde after all these YEARS August 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Here’s an even better way to get them to call. Mail 1/2 of a $20 bill!
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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Now that’s working it!

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Patti Purelli August 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Call him ~ keep calling him!! Eventually he will call you just to make you stop calling him, lol ~ But never give up on them! Call, Call, Call

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April B. August 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

My brother has an app on his smartphone that reminds him to call our mom. The app shows when he lasted called and if it’s been over a set period of time it sends a reminder. Now if I could only get him to return my calls… but then I’m just his sister.

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I got no advice for siblings. Good luck with that!

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Grace Hodgin August 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I had that problem once and left this message (text wasn’t in then) for my son named Jonas who had the nick name Jonasty (he was a good kid and was not nasty, just so you know.)
I wrote this in my best Snoop Dog fashion.
This is said as a rap:
“Now this is the mom of the man
named Jonasty
Women flock around him cause they
think he’s fantastic
Little do they know his charm they
owe to me
I’m the one that beat his butt and made
him say please
Uh huh, uh huh”
Call me to get the next verse…Bye, love you
Worked like a charm and he called two hours later.
By the way, you gave great advice and I totally agree.

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I like your style!!!

That’s a great idea. If you can get them to associate you with something pleasant for them then you are more likely to get a call. You worked that perfectly!

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Jo Heroux August 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

So then I’m guessing calling and leaving the following wasn’t a good choice…
“Hi Baby, it’s Mom. I am just calling to give you my new phone number and address. Guess you aren’t home. Darn my luck. Love you Sweet Girl.” click

or my number 2 best seller…

“Hi Honey. If anyone calls you to see how I’m doing, please don’t give out any details. I don’t know what Dad has told you, but seriously, I don’t want my business out there, you know. I love you, ba-bye.”

Those are not good? hhhrrrummmmph.

Dang it.
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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

No! Those are pretty good. But only if you’ve actually moved or you have been taken into the FBI’s Witness Protection Program.

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Natalie August 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I need to re-read this in about 5 years. At least I hope I’ll need to re-read it and said person isn’t in my basement!

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm

If your child doesn’t end up in your basement then you get an A+!!

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Robin August 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I need you in my life. I forget so quickly.
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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm

This too shall pass. That’s my mom-mantra. Right after, “Good luck with that. Let me know how that works out for you.”

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Gina August 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

But I’m sooooo goooood at the whining and guilting…..c’mon. I’ve practiced too hard to not give it my best! Bah! :)

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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

I know, I know. We practice these time-honored skilz and then can’t use them. What was is all for?

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Anne (@notasupermom) August 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

What, no guilt mongering? I never get to have any fun.
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Chloe August 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

You don’t to have any fun if you want any phone calls. You gotta work it like a job. At least during this phase. If you work it right then you’ll be home free…once they realize that you are the wisest more wonderful person in the world.

Which I’m afraid might not happen until you’re dead. But that’s another post for another day.
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