Dear Annie: I am a 45-year-old single man. I have three children: two sons from my marriage, both in their 20s, and my daughter, who is 14, from an ex-girlfriend. When my oldest son was thrown out of his mother’s home, I had him move in right away.
He got a good job, and I added him to my insurance and charged him $100 a week for rent. That was really to help out with the insurance and to teach him responsibility.
Well, after a few years, there was a nightmare one night. My son’s friends were over, and unfortunately, he had too much to drink and smoke. He blacked out and started attacking his friend’s younger brother. He started attacking me as well.
After an hour of trying to calm things down, I had to call the police to have him removed for the safety of everyone in the house. Well, my son remembers that he spent the night in jail. When he got out, he came to my place and grabbed his belongings, and his mother picked him up.
This was a year ago, and since that time, neither he nor my other son will visit or even talk to me. The worst part is that they are ignoring their sister, who lives only two miles away from them. This really hurts me, and I have reached out, trying to mend fences and come to an understanding. Neither of them will respond.
When my daughter texts them, they mostly ignore her, or when they do answer, they give her a hard time. She is as ashamed of them as I am. I have even touched base and told them via text that they only have one sister and they need to be there for her, as they are her older brothers. Be mad at me, but please, be there for her.
What else can I do? My daughter visits on a regular basis, and I love our time together. I want the boys to join us, but they won’t answer any invitations. They haven’t even met the dog I adopted.
Do you have any advice? I don’t want to give up, as they are my children.
— Lost Dad in Massachusetts
Dear Lost Dad: Your sons are not taking any responsibility for their actions. Instead of thanking you for calling the police, and hopefully helping them clean up their act, they are blaming you for the night spent in jail.
It was your son who committed the assault, not you.
The anger they feel might be old anger they felt toward you for the divorce or other things when they were young. But now that they are adults, they must take responsibility for their actions. They are acting very entitled.
As for your daughter, just continue to love and appreciate her.
Hopefully, your son will get into treatment for his drinking, and once he is sober, he will realize that what you did was for his own good.
Continue to tell both sons how much you love them, even if they push you away.
• • •
— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to email@example.com. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.