Social Question

canidmajor's avatar

Where would you put the blame?

Asked by canidmajor (18495points) 1 month ago

I belong to a group online of people who have estranged themselves from their families, and this issue recently came up for someone.

The wealthy parent is on their deathbed, and has so stipulated in their will that none of the children will benefit unless the one estranged child come visit. That person has been estranged from the parent and siblings for a decade, and a reconnection would cause emotional pain.
The sibs have started to harass the estranged one, as time is running out.

The person in question has absolutely refused to go. Blame has been liberally bandied about.

Curious as to how the people here stand on this.

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96 Answers

rebbel's avatar

If there’s one to blame here, in my opinion, it is the dying man.
He’s blackmailing the estranged person.
Without knowing the ins and outs of all involved, this guy makes me angry.
Very, very self centered/egoistic.
Let’s all his children suffer (extra) for his own damned satisfaction…

elbanditoroso's avatar

The estranged kid shouldn’t go, for two reasons:
– i assume he is estranged for a reason, and if that reason still exists, then all he is doing is succumbing to greed over princple. If he pwas principled enought to keep his way for ten years, why change?

- the dynamic between the guy and his siblings needs to be explored. What is their role in the estrangement? Have they tried to reduce it? Or did they make things worse?

The siblings seem like a bunch of greedy shits.

Unless there is something you aren’t telling us, I have no problem siding with the estranged guy, for having a spine.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s horrible the other siblings are put in this spot. Really incredibly terrible

My answer would partly depend on what type of abuse caused the estrangement.

Assuming it was verbal abuse, I think the estranged sibling should suck it up, medicate themselves if they have to (assuming they are not addicts) and make the visit or negotiate some sort of reasonable interaction that will satisfy the parent like zoom or a phone call or emails if possible.

canidmajor's avatar

Not sure what I can add without getting too deep into someone else’s wish for anonymity. One of the sibs is experiencing pretty severe financial hardship, and would really benefit from the windfall.

@JLeslie, why would the reasons for estrangement matter?

ragingloli's avatar

First of all, what is important is, what the reason for the estrangement is.
For example, if he was the victim of abuse, then I would say ‘fuck that family’.
Second, the harassment indicates that the rest of the family is only interested in the money.
They do not want to reconnect for the sake of mending relationships, they only see it as a means to get the gravel. And people can sense that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The sibling who needs the money – if he or she needs it that badly, they should straight to the dying person and beg.

There’s no reason to put pressure on the third person (the estranged person) nor make him feel guilty.

It goes back to the relationship between him and his sibs. Why would he want to do something that would benefit them? What’s the benefit to him?

canidmajor's avatar

@ragingloli I ask you also, why does the reason for estrangement matter?

JLeslie's avatar

Sorry so long.

@canidmajor Well, someone who was physically beaten, raped repeatedly, I just have more understanding for why it might be just too much to ask.

I understand that verbal abuse causes incredible scars, but the other siblings likely endure some of the stress from the parent all this time and have taken on even more stress because of the estranged child. The other children have carried the load. Not because of money, but because they either don’t see their parent as abusive or more likely have mixed feelings about the good and the bad regarding their parents. Each child is different.

I can tell you in my family my sister was completely estranged from my father for many years. My dad would call me desperate in pain. I got caught in the middle and it screwed up my relationship with my sister, which is something that saddens me beyond belief. I blame my father for putting me in that spot but I blame my sister too. I also have incredible empathy for my sister because I know how much my dad causes her anxiety.

I have listened to my father for years talk about the estrangement and while I do think part of his motive for still wanting to have a relationship with my sister is selfish, I am also absolutely sure he also is concerned that not healing the relationship harms my sister. He feels like it has affected her relationships and happiness in life, and that hurts him even more than anything. The latter is what he obsesses about when he gets triggered and starts talking to me about it which thankfully is far and few between in more recent years. He perceives her as being in pain, and he wants to fix it. Part of his motive is absolutely altruistic.

The thing is, I think with most situations like this it is extremely difficult to repair. Anything the parent says is turned into horrible by the estranged child. It’s all egg shells in my experience. I don’t mean it’s all the child’s fault. Like I said above the other siblings are carrying the load, and what I meant by that is the parent is probably horrible at times.

In almost every relationship there is some fighting or someone says something that is hurtful. It’s a matter of degree. The parent isn’t perfect. No one is.

KNOWITALL's avatar

This scenario is entirely plausible in my current situation with my bio-father. I’d face the Devil himself for my siblings, and we’ve been estranged my entire life. They didn’t get to choose their parents anymore than I did.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie so you would support the emotional extortion of the parent?

@KNOWITALL it sounds like you were estranged from your sibs through no choice of your own, not that you estranged yourself from them.

To reiterate, the person in this group estranged themself from their family.

chyna's avatar

The guy has been estranged for a decade from parent and siblings. He must’ve had a damn good reason to be and probably has lived peacefully in that decade. If he chooses not to reconcile for his own peace, his own mental health, I applaud him. The other siblings should be mad at the dying parent for trying to blackmail everyone into receiving an inheritance. The sibling who is in financial trouble needs to find another way out instead of counting on the death of a relative for money. Shame on that sibling!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor I’m not sure that matters between siblings, it doesn’t to me. My brother has had issues, but he needed help and I gave it to him several times. He was so ashamed he couldn’t even face me, but I’ll always show up if they reach out, that’s just the way it is.

cookieman's avatar

Agree with @rebbel and @chyna. Dying person is blackmailing the estranged child and putting his children against each other over money.

JLeslie's avatar

I missed that he was estranged form the parent and siblings. I would really need more details. I would say there is a good possibility the parent doesn’t want to die with the siblings estranged. Remember the parent is dying, the parent is not gaining a relationship with the estranged child, that time has run out. I know the estranged child might feel like they do not want to give the parent the satisfaction of having control again, but the estranged child might also be completely misreading the intentions of the parent. None of us can know. Most parents want their children to get along.

My one experience with someone being estranged from their entire family is my FIL. He didn’t talk to them for over 40 years except a sibling would call him if someone died. In the last ten years they are back in touch. In his case I feel that long estrangement was a loss to him and the family (my husband and his siblings). Each situation is different though.

@cookieman Or, trying to unite his children, force a meeting. Dying wish. We just don’t know. The siblings already don’t talk, how can the parent make them more against each other?

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie “How can the parent make them more against each other?” This. By blackmailing his children to meet up to receive an inheritance. He’s going to die and not have the repercussions the kids will be facing.

canidmajor's avatar

Interesting, @KNOWITALL, and I am glad for you that you have a relationship with your sibs. If you are not estranged from them, then this scenario may not apply to you, personally, but obviously it does apply to the person in the Q.

@JLeslie so bottom line, you do support the emotional extortion thing, thinking it might be justified. You think the parent has the financially strapped child’s best intersects at heart by likely denying them any help?

And just for clarity, @all, remember that no one estranges themselves from their families lightly. Even if the reasons may seem frivolous or unreasonable to outsiders, it is not done on a whim.

filmfann's avatar

While I think we don’t have enough details to properly answer the question, I would support the parent trying to resolve things in their final days.
The alternative would be that these things never resolve, and would continue festering until they are all dead.
Sure, it’s extortion, but the parent is trying to do something positive.

canidmajor's avatar

@filmfann By pitting the sibs against one of their own?

canidmajor's avatar

@all, this is very interesting to see the differing points of view, thanks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I disagree that he’s doing something “positive” @filmfann. He’s being a manipulative, controlling asshat.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor Our rule is that I may not like you right now, but I always love you. Estrangement doesn’t mean eternal hate or apathy, it just means we’re not on the same page right now and need a break.

Maybe it’s a Midwest thing, but family is family, and not much is truly unforgiveable and sometimes you can just greet each other with a hug and move forward without talking everything to death. Trust the universe and always move forward with love & positivity, sometimes really good thing’s happen.

rebbel's avatar

One could see it as a, potential, final power trip from the dad, over (all) his children.
It’s not on us to judge the reasons for the estrangement; if the person feels justified themselves then that’s all that counts.
For all I know he has ‘only’ foul mouthed his child; could be enough for feeling humiliated and enough reason to break off of them.
Speaking from personal experience (won’t go into detail).

canidmajor's avatar

@rebbel Yeah, it is interesting to me that people who would likely enthusiastically support a divorce from a mean and manipulative spouse, declare that the exact same behaviors (or often worse) should be unconditionally forgiven because of shared DNA.

Forever_Free's avatar

No blame here. We don’t know all the original details on what created the estrangement and who are we to place blame.

It is not right of a person on their deathbed to try to control this situation with money. It will only cause more hardship.

I wouldn’t go anywhere near a person who was trying to control like that. Money or no money!

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor I stick to what I said in my first answer, what the parent is doing is horrible.

You think of it in a black and white way possibly. I have been the person on the outside of estrangement where all parties are telling me how they feel and the miscommunication and misunderstanding is immense.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Sorry for another answer in a row. Most people who support a bad divorce still support some interaction for the sake of the children. Depends on the situation of course, like everything.

This adult child is put in the situation of choosing to be stubborn with their heals dug in, most likely what they see as self preservation (totally understandable) and not letting the parent have another win. Feeling giving in is like feeling run over, extorted, even metaphorically raped, but helping the family. They might have no interest in helping anyone and feel they don’t care if they never speak to their siblings again. People do go through life like that, but usually estrangement eventually ends.

The meeting might lead to reconciling with the siblings, but maybe not. If the person doesn’t do it the siblings will likely never forgive the sibling who has estranged themselves. Even if they see how horrible the parent is for creating the situation. So, the adult child becomes like the parent possibly, the very person they hate, because it’s now a power struggle. The person will be sealing their own fate by not doing it. If all of this time the siblings have wanted to still talk to their estranged sibling, the power will likely shift now.

Like I said, the situation is horrible.

Usually, the situation is the estranged child is cut out of the will and still expects some money and that creates problems among the siblings.

Inspired_2write's avatar

The father is to blame for trying to bribe, or buy back undeserved attention and problaby now on his deathbed as he is faced with judgement ( possibly) in the afterlife….a very selfiish manitipulative person.
A good loving father would just say that he LOVES his children and regrets his behaviour towards them WITHOUT mentioning any inheritance.
Becaue he mentions money/inheritance, its a bad sign showing manipulation and control not loving feelings mentioned at all.
Clear as day what his interntions are.

Demosthenes's avatar

Both the dying parent and the sibling are being stubborn, and since we’re not factoring in the reason for estrangement, then their stubbornness is equal. However, the dying parent controls the money so they have more power in this situation and they shouldn’t be using the threat of disinheriting for this reason. It isn’t fair to the other siblings. So as tragic as it is for the sibling to refuse to see the dying parent, it sounds like it wouldn’t happen either way. The parent is to blame and should not disinherit over this. That’s my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if the children will actually be disinherited, or if this is just a ploy and in the end the money will be given to the children.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie: ”Usually, the situation is the estranged child is cut out of the will and still expects some money and that creates problems among the siblings.”
Actually, not even remotely true.

And you seem to be missing a major point here. If the sibs are blaming the estranged sib for the actions of the parent, reconciliation would be entirely for the purpose of financial gain, not a great basis for renewing a relationship.
And why on earth would the estranged sib even want to put themselves right back into a potentially abusive situation? It is enormously difficult to deal with all this in the first place, let alone to satisfy some petty power play.

@all, so many are caught up in the reasons for estrangement, which leads me to ask, what are acceptable, in your minds, reasons for estrangement?

Demosthenes's avatar

@canidmajor Part of the reason I’m interested in it is because it’s affected people I’m close to and the reasons are fairly stupid. My best friend is estranged from his sister because he failed to show up to help her move in to her new apartment. It led to discussions about him being flakey, about their dad paying for her grad school but judging him for his marijuana consumption, etc. Now they haven’t spoken in three years. And it pisses me off because they used to be close and I was friends with both of them. So yeah, it’s one thing to be estranged because of abuse. It’s another to be estranged because of a series of petty differences that you’re too stubborn to work through. I’m a very stubborn person so it’s not like I can’t relate. But when it comes to family or close friends, I do everything I can to work things out.

I also know people who don’t talk to their family members because of how they vote. I’m sorry but I’m not giving up on family because I disagree with their politics. It seems to be a trend among some millennials to blame their parents for “fucking them up” and consequently becoming estranged from them even if no abuse was involved (it’s telling that it’s rarely the parent initiating the estrangement). It also just seems manipulative sometimes. It’s one thing for family members that have little in common to become estranged over time. That’s not the kind of estrangement that would result in refusing to visit someone on their deathbed, though.

So yes, I do judge certain reasons for estrangement.

tinyfaery's avatar

The blame is 100% with the father. He’s being emotionally manipulative and placing the estranged child in a place to be blamed for his decision. So what if one child is in financial hardship, that is not your friend’s fault nor is it their fault that the father is putting all his children in this situation.

I also agree with those who say the reason for estrangement is of no consequence. It is obviously enough that your friend doesn’t want to be involved with their parent or siblings. It’s not for us to judge if that reason is legitimate in our minds or not. Just because we happen to feel certain ways about things is no reason to demand others feel that way as well.

Zaku's avatar

I don’t know them, but an educated guess based on what you wrote:

Dying Douche-Dad is utterly to blame. So are the siblings who are still trying to shift blame to the one child with integrity.

canidmajor's avatar

@tinyfaery, excellent and concise response.

@Demosthenes, I think you are missing a lot of the picture. There is often a much greater backstory than not helping her move.
And voting differently? That can be about family members supporting policies that directly harm others.

The people that are frivolously estranged from family members are so few in numbers that they don’t even register on the meter. I am glad for you that your family is pretty functional, that is a gift, cherish it. There are a lot of parents that take their dominant role in the power dynamic very seriously, and really don’t want to relinquish it when the children become adults.

I have had people tell me that my actions were frivolous or ill thought out, and that I was foolish or childish about a decision that it took me years to implement. Your assessment is very common, and the surface has barely been scratched.

rebbel's avatar

By the way, and this may not be applicable to this group of siblings: my kid brother would do (and does/has done) everything in his capabilities to help his other two brothers (one of which is me; and he has helped me numerous times), be it financially, logistically, psychologically, you name it.
I was wondering, in this case, if the other siblings could not chip in, and help their financially stricken sibling out (instead of waiting for the dad to die, and get money from there).
In a healthy family relationship that would/could only be normal (to help each other).

Demosthenes's avatar

@canidmajor That was the trigger that set it off, but ultimately it was a build-up of many small issues. Now the primary issue is that they both feel the other refused to talk to them for too long and they won’t respond to any attempts to speak from each other.

I wouldn’t assume that the estrangement in this example is frivolous, especially if it’s serious enough that the sibling doesn’t want to visit the dying parent. That seems like it probably is quite serious. I’ve just come across examples where it isn’t and could be worked out and I hate seeing families torn apart. So I can’t assume, especially knowing my own stubbornness, that it’s not an example of two people too proud and resentful to take the first step toward reconciliation.

canidmajor's avatar

@rebbel I have no idea what the dynamic of that family is, as my source has been away from them for 10 years. They hear snippets of news from mutual friends, and of course receive accusatory and petty bits from people who don’t approve of their actions. They only found out about the parent’s will because the sibs are starting to harass them.

@Demosthenes Most of the time, what outsiders see as something that “could be worked out” really isn’t.

rebbel's avatar

@canidmajor I hear ya.
I understand.
I think, in hindsight, I meant it more to be a hypothetical question.

Demosthenes's avatar

@canidmajor I don’t agree. Not most, at least. But I think we’re going to have to end it at that. Without knowing the details, not much more I can say.

Jaxk's avatar

I have some experience with this situation. It sounds like the father is merely trying to reconcile or at least see the estranged child before he dies. Maybe his methods are a it excessive but it’s the only tool he has. Frankly I can’t understand why it would be so horrible to let him die in peace. I could never hold a grudge like that either against my father nor against my siblings. Let it go. He’s dying and with or without the money let it end reasonably rather than carrying the grudge to the grave.

rebbel's avatar

@Jaxk Suppose a father had sexually abused their child from the child’s fourth till fourteenth?
Also reconcile?
So he can die in peace?
This is not meant to sound passive aggressive; sincerely curious to your thoughts.

Forever_Free's avatar

It’s not what happens to you (or has happened to you) that matters, but how you react is what matters most.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Do you know why they are estranged?

You seem to be using your personal situation and projecting it. Most of us are doing the same. People cut off for a variety of reasons.

Some cultures estrangement is very common. I have a text book used for psychology classes about subcultures in America, and I read about Mexicans years ago since my husband is Mexican. It said they often cut off and then a wedding or funeral will cause a meeting and they start communicating again. My SIL and BIL (siblings) didn’t talk for 5 years. The entire time each of them waiting for the other to make a move. They both told me the other didn’t need to stay away. Finally, my SIL invited her brother to her wedding, she wondered aloud to me if he would come. I knew for sure he would go. Literally, text book. I could not believe it. My SIL would be furious if I told her she behaved like the text book. My MIL doesn’t talk to one sibling or another for stretches of years and then starts talking again.

If this dad has some sort of old world notion about events like death bringing families together that might be his reasoning. We don’t know.

I fully accept in many cases it takes years of difficulty for people to estrange themselves, that’s how it was in parts of my family, but not always. Sometimes it’s just the way a family is, or misunderstandings.

I am not judging this person. I think everyone here wants to help that person or is just stating what they would do in that circumstance.

JLeslie's avatar

As for disinheriting children, some states have laws protecting children from full disinheritance. The siblings can go to court for the money if the money means that much to them.

If the father really cares about the children they need a relative to tell him that this situation will like cause a more permanent rift rather than repairing it.

Maybe once he is dead the siblings will finally reunite. He might be the thing that keeps the situation tortured.

Jaxk's avatar

@rebbel I suppose that the cut could be deep enough that forgiveness would be difficult if not impossible. One last meeting doesn’t have to mean you forgive them. In my own case it was difficult but I’m glad that I don’t carry the burden from not letting it go. It actually allowed me to get over it. Family is hard to let go and sometimes you only get one shot at getting past the past.

filmfann's avatar

He is being manipulative. He is playing the highest card in his hand. He is shooting the moon on his best shot. It’s his money, not theirs yet.

rebbel's avatar

@Jaxk It would be very hard for me, but I can see it happening, although the anxiety would be sky high, in my case.
Kudos to you, that you did it, and that it was good for you (is what I read in it; hope I’m correct).
Thanks for your answer.

canidmajor's avatar

@all, I do know why, but I am not comfortable revealing more detail, it’s not my story to tell.

No, @JLeslie, I am not projecting my personal experience, I know the whole story. The question isn’t that complicated. And as far as whether the courts would let the will stand, this isn’t just some person, this involves serious wealth, and estate planners that would know how to word such a document. And no one knows if this is actually true, or just a threat.

@Jaxk, I am glad you were able to work things out for yourself, that is truly a wonderful thing. Personally, I would not respond to such a bullying tactic, it has pitted the other sibs against the estranged one.

@all, I really appreciate all the different perspectives, thank you.

canidmajor's avatar

I am interested that the general assumption here that the rift is between a father and son, although that was never mentioned.

rebbel's avatar

Yeah, I thought I possibly had missed that, the gender.
I kept it gender-neutral, just to be sure.
(Actually, I find myself doing this in general, lately, ever since gender is a serious point of debat/discussion; I’ll not assume genders if its not clearly stated.)

jca2's avatar

I think that by the son going to the bedside of the dad, nobody specified that he has to go to make up with the dad. He might go to get some things off his chest, and he could still be mad if he wanted to. Maybe he has already told the dad how mad he was, and maybe this would be his chance to reiterate that. Maybe the dad has changed his perspective, and the son doesn’t have to accept what the father says, but it’s a chance for them both to listen.

If the son doesn’t go, he’ll never get the chance to know what the father had to say.

They can both speak their minds. It is fucked up for the dad to punish all and the son can also say that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@jca2 your statement assumes that the son wants to know what his dad had to say, and that the son wants to reconcile in some way.

I don’t see evidence of that. Whatever the issue, the son had ample opportunities over the years to talk to Dad, and he didn’t. Where’s the impetus for him to do it now?

jca2's avatar

@elbanditoroso: We have limited information so I don’t claim to have a perfect answer for all the possible issues.

I am aware that the son might be so full of rage and not want to know what the dad has to say. I’m just suggesting that maybe he goes to listen, and can speak also.

As I said in my first post, maybe the dad has changed his perspective. Maybe the dad just wants to apologize and the son can still tell him to go fuck himself. Who knows. There are so many “what ifs” and “maybes” and no perfect answer, especially with limited info.

I was asked for my opinion and I gave it.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor I might have missed it, but in the online group you belong to of people who have estranged themselves, was everyone on the same page as you? Or, were there differing opinions?

No one can decide for this person. Whatever they decide they should consider the consequences (I do not mean the money) and then once decided hopefully the person’s friends will be there to be supportive. I realize the estranged person might have been waiting for their dad to die for years. Waiting to feel the relief.

Inspired_2write's avatar

“A good loving father would just say that he LOVES his children and regrets his behaviour towards them WITHOUT mentioning any inheritance.”

If the parent wants to state that he Loves his child and regrets the reason for lack of communication, then he can leave it all in a letter for his now adult child, or in the Will after his passing.
The parent does not need to have the adult child in person to relay his/her feelings.

canidmajor's avatar

Again, interesting that people keep assuming it’s a father-son dynamic.

@JLeslie We all know the situation, we are all supportive of whatever decision the site member makes. My position is how I personally feel about it, which I have not discussed on that thread, nor have the others, that is not appropriate to the context. We are careful not to voice our opinions of others’ family members, as the circumstances are almost universally fraught. So no, I have no idea if the others in the group feel as I do.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor That’s interesting. So people are just there to be a sounding board and supportive? Or, if the person asks for opinions then people would offer opinions?

Jellies might be using male pronouns because others have or because they use he or him when they don’t know the gender, which isn’t uncommon. I personally didn’t assume the person was male.

Response moderated
raum's avatar

That’s a pretty manipulative move. He’s using his money to have his other kids pressure the one kid. It’s incredibly fucked up.

Yet, at the same time, I get it. Old man is on his death bed. Not a lot of moves left. Doesn’t sound like empathy or healthy communication are in his toolkit. So he’s playing the money card.

I’m probably the minority here, but I’d blame the siblings. Old man seems dysfunctional. And I’m guessing this last power play isn’t all that surprising. He’s desperate and is going to lash out.

The siblings are not on their death bed. In theory, they are in a healthier place (mentally and physically) than their father. Yet they seem to be enabling this atrocious behavior.

Without their enabling, this situation wouldn’t even exist. It would just be a crazy old man railing on his death bed.

Without their enabling, he might actually realize that he needs to reach out and make amends like a functional human being.

So, I’d have no guilt if I were that kid. Their enabling, money-grubbing siblings can shove it.

Their estrangement is between them and their father, that’s it. It’s between them and needs to be resolved between them.

JLeslie's avatar

@raum Just curious, reach out how? How does the dad on his death bead reach out? Once a child cuts-off, the parent is imprisoned. If the dad tries to talk to the estranged child it is considered both crossing and disrespecting the boundary the child set up.

canidmajor's avatar

OK, this is just making me nuts. It’s a mother-son dynamic!

And @JLeslie, no. “Once a child cuts-off, the parent is imprisoned.” Not even close, but points for dramatic presentation. That’s really not at all how it works in the real world.

raum's avatar

@canidmajor Haha…thanks for clarifying. :P

@JLeslie That’s a bit dramatic. I’m sure the mother can call or email her.

Siccing her siblings on her isn’t exactly being respectful of her boundaries.

canidmajor's avatar

@raum Closer, but mother-son dynamic. :-D

And yeah, “contact” is a complex thing. When people estrange themselves from their parents and/or families, that doesn’t mean that they are out of contact with every single person that they know who also knows the family. I am still in contact with cousins, old family friends, my niblings and their families, professionals with whom we all do business, and I have encouraged my daughter to stay connected to the people I am cut off from, because all of this is my beef, and not hers, and she makes her own choices.

JLeslie's avatar

@raum Why do you think that? Probably the mother has tried. The son probably gets sick to his stomach or full of anxiety just seeing her name come into the mailbox. Maybe it is different with men than with women, but the women I know that’s how it is, the anxiety and dread is huge.

He is estranged from his siblings too in this situation.

@raum and @canidmajor My sister cut off my dad, so I have real world experience. I know what it is like for my dad, and I feel my sister really has no idea what it is like for him. I am not so sure all estranged children understand what it is like for the parent. I would also say the parent does not have a clear understanding of what it is like for the child.

Another friend cut off her parents, first it was her dad, then her parents, then she went back to only her dad. He cannot call her, trust me.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie You didn’t actually read my post above yours, did you.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Yes, I did. You said this particular person is estranged from their parent and siblings. WTF are the siblings and parent supposed to do to be in touch? If his mom calls him will he pick up? If she emails will he respond?

Is the mom supposed to get an aunt or cousin to try to get in touch with her son before she dies, having to put family members in the middle?

What do you suggest is better than this obvious manipulation with money that the parent might actually repair the relationship before dying, or at least bring the siblings back together? What should the mom do?

rebbel's avatar

I think, @JLeslie, that your sister being estranged from her father is not the kind of personal experience that @canidmajor is referring too.
You are more indirectly involved, and @canidmajor directly.
Is how I see it.

JLeslie's avatar

@rebbel Again, what should the mom or the siblings do?

I am not sure what you mean, I know better than my sister the anguish my father has gone through. I know better than my sister the real sentiment my father has regarding his regrets and what he wants. She is overloaded with her own anxiety and pain to see straight, which I completely have sympathy for, I am not trying to make her the bad guy.

rebbel's avatar

You think you know better what anguish your father is going through.
I believe you do.
But there’s a chance, quit big, that your sister doesn’t give a rat’s ass about his anguish.
Since she’s the one that estrange herself from him.
She has reasons to have done just that.
And you telling her (don’t know if you do, or not) about the anguish is your ‘problem’, not hers.

JLeslie's avatar

@rebbel Exactly right. I am not talking about telling my sister about my dad, you are bringing that up. I am not saying she should have empathy for my father either.

I am ASKING, what should the mom do to try to repair things while on her death bed? You said it yourself, she most likely cannot do anything.

Edit: Most likely the estranged son does not give a rat’s ass about his mom’s feelings or repairing things nor with his siblings, to use your terminology. He probably will not pick up the phone or answer an email from his mom.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She’s “trying” by blackmail. Way to go Mom.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think mom and siblings should just leave the man alone. If he knows and chooses not to respond, then that’s the answer. You can’t force someone to care if they don’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Do you mean now after this extortion offer was made? Or, that the mom should have done that to begin with, no contact period, no asking anyone else to carry a message either. There was no right way, and just die with her son estranged from her and the siblings estranged as well.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Now that he’s been contacted and is aware, it’s up to him to decide if he’s emotionally available. It sounds like he is not and they’ll just have to accept it, unless they want to be emotionally abusive, which doesn’t seem constructive.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL I completely agree.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie It’s hard to defend either parties actions since only Canid knows the full situation of the estrangement.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie Let me try this again. Contact is way more complex than someone simply saying “tell so and so this and that for me”. There are countless ways to suss out how someone will react to things. But that’s OK, you seem to be intimating that unless the son was beaten or raped, he should fall on his metaphorical sword for siblings, from whom he is also estranged. These siblings, who are supporting the parent who is using these tactics to emotionally blackmail her child.

These circumstances would (to most people) be pretty good indicators of behaviors that would drive someone away in the first place.

Would you have asked your sister, while she was still estranged from your father, to drop all of her hurt and anguish just so you could benefit financially?

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor My situation would never be like this. It’s so drastically different from what would happen in my family. That’s partly why I question if the mother is really going to withhold the money. I can see she might from the estranged child, but the other three? Of course anything is possible.

If I was one of the siblings who needed the money, as I said above I would communicate the situation and hope my sibling would do it. I would not harass or nag about it. If they say no it’s no. It certainly makes it almost impossible since the person is estranged from the siblings also. Do the siblings want to reconcile with the estranged sibling?

I think the siblings should tell the mom that the estranged child doesn’t want to reconcile and not to punish them.

We don’t know the real intent of the mother. Does she want to force something to happen to make things better and going about it in a really crappy way? Or, does she want to torture everyone one last time?

canidmajor's avatar

Fine, @JLeslie. You support the extortion. Your concept of prison is very…er… creative.

JLeslie's avatar

So, now communicating to the estranged child the parameters is supporting the extortion?

Are you saying the siblings should just flat out ignore the mother’s request?

Maybe so. Maybe that is the way to go. Does the estranged child deserve a warning that there will be zero inheritance?

JLeslie's avatar

Thought about it more. In this situation I think I would not tell the estranged sibling anything. He wants to be disconnected from the entire nuclear family, I assume it’s been going on for a while. I’d honor that request. No communication. I would not carry the message for my mom nor for my sibling.

raum's avatar

@canidmajor Mother and son!
Third time’s a charm? Heh.

@JLeslie Respecting boundaries is one thing. Attempting contact on your deathbed is another.

Trying to make amends is one thing. Using money to pressure siblings is another.

JLeslie's avatar

Deleted by me.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie Most of us that have done this assume that we are taken out of the will when it happens. Most of us don’t care.

Carrying the message to the estranged child purely for the purpose of personal financial gain is indeed supporting extortion.

And, as was said in the details and in the thread, he has been estranged for a decade. You assume actions that have not been mentioned, and don’t take note of the things that have. It’s frustrating to interact in those circumstances.

Jaxk's avatar

As I said above, a visit from the estranged son does not mean forgiveness, I can’t think of any scenario where I would deny such a simple last request from a dying parent. Death has a finality to it that can’t be undone. With or without the money, I fault the son for being a jerk. The mother is merely desperate and grasping at straws. Granting a dying person a last request is not unreasonable.

jca2's avatar

I agree with @Jaxk.

@canidmajor: Has the OP on the thread updated as to what they decided and how things worked out?

canidmajor's avatar

@Jaxk You are very firm about that, interesting. I don’t agree, but then I don’t believe that the act of simply dying (we’re all going to do it) bestows absolution for sins and harm inflicted during life.

@jca2 No updates, no indication that he has changed his mind.

Jaxk's avatar

@canidmajor – You’re conflating contact and absolution. They’re not the same. Stubborn revenge will not bring anyone comfort in the long range.

chyna's avatar

@Jaxk Like you, I don’t know the details of the estrangement. But what if the mother did something so horrible, like drown the sons child, shoot the son up with drugs while he was a minor, sell the son out to trade for drugs, on and on. In my mind those types of things aren’t only unforgivable, I would never see the mother again, ever.

canidmajor's avatar

@Jaxk I don’t see continuing the state of No Contact as revenge at all. It was likely done to afford some peace of mind for the son, and he has been glad that he did it for the ten years. Reconciliation is not always on the table in these cases, and why should it be? No one would insist that he make a death bed visit to an abusive ex-spouse, this is really not that different. I understand your position if revenge was a component in your situation, but it is not, in this one.

ETA, in my case also, there is no thought of stubborn revenge (a few people have suggested I “make up” with my estranged parent). I removed myself from a relationship and situation where I was clearly not wanted (no awful physical abuse, just a lifetime of emotional and verbal abuse) and I have no reason to believe that any death-bed plea would be anything other than a last chance to renew the abuse.

raum's avatar

There’s a whole lot of grey area between revenge and reconciliation. But it’s really up to them to decide what feels right for them.

I don’t think anything is owed to the mother, just because she is on her death bed. But I do think there is finality in death. And it’s worth deeply considering whether the son would regret forgoing this last opportunity to see his mother.

Not necessarily a reconciliation. He could still reject her money. Perhaps just to see them and say, yes, I still feel XYZ because of what happened. And you were a shit mother.

canidmajor's avatar

@raum Well, I don’t know about the son in this exact case, but for me, and others I’ve talked to, there is still a power there, held by the parent. Some I’ve talked to have felt only relief when the parent has died, no regret. I personally wish my mother a loooong life, because the federal government keeps screwing up (we have the same unusual name) and I am afraid they might simply erase me when she passes. Too much annoying paperwork! But the power these people carry is often palpable. The sound of their voices, a turn of phrase, and some still want to inflict damage.
Thanks, I’ll pass.

It speaks well for the relationships with their parents that a lot of people on this thread seem to have, that they assume that the estranged parent suffers so from the estrangement that they will go to such lengths to see that child again. Very often it ain’t so.

raum's avatar

Estrangements are complex. And I never assume to understand another person’s situation just because I’ve experienced my own. (General statement. Not saying that you are doing this.)

I’ve actually been contemplating an estrangement these past few weeks. (That seems like such an odd thing when I type it out.)

Though it wouldn’t be because I don’t care about them. I love them deeply. More because the trajectory of our relationship is becoming untenable.

I do know that the parties involved know their boundaries best. And even then, there’s still a lot to work through.

I wish the best for you both. Whatever the resolution may be.

canidmajor's avatar

Thank you, I appreciate that.
And I hope for you, in your case, that lessons will be learned and boundaries respected without extreme measures being taken. There is no one road when it comes to these things, relationships can be so complicated, especially in families!!!

And if we didn’t care, these measures wouldn’t be necessary. We’d just go “meh” and avoid them.

jca2's avatar

I don’t equate a visit to the deathbed with reconciliation.

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