Ending a family’s cycle of abuse

Dear Annie: As a child, I endured horrible physical and verbal abuse by my parents. As an adult, I found myself in an abusive relationship with a man. He lied to me about having a vasectomy and intentionally got me pregnant to keep me in his life “forever.”

I was pregnant and destitute with nowhere to turn, so I made the biggest mistake of my life. I contacted my parents. They fed me and made sure I had everything I needed for my son. Over the years, I allowed my son to have a very limited relationship with them, and I monitored it closely. I thought I was protecting my son by not telling him all of the horrible things my parents and his father did to me.

Now my son is 18 and has a very negative opinion of me. He moved in with my parents. It turns out that both my parents and his father have done nothing but bad-mouth me in every way to my son for years. They must make stuff up about me, because I have never given them any reason to say bad about me. I am a good, kind person. I have spent my life helping others. I have also been in counseling since I became pregnant, making sure I don’t continue the cycle of abuse.

My parents and my son’s father have destroyed the relationship between my son and me. Because they spoil him rotten, he believes everything they say. He treats me not based on how I’ve treated him but based only on how my parents and his father talk about me. I am devastated to have lost my son to them. I have tried telling him the truth about them, but now it is too late. I have tried counseling with my son, as well. The therapist did not realize the scope of the abuse, so counseling failed. Now my son won’t go to counseling anymore. I feel that I am still being abused, and I am completely hopeless.

Is there any way at all to get my son back? — Hopeless in NY

Dear Hopeless: I’m sorry for your separation from your son. Because he is 18, there is no legal course you can take here. Time is the only thing that can give your son back to you. Focus on your own well-being, physically and mentally. Be the healthiest you that you can be. As he matures more, he should be able to see for himself that Grandma and Grandpa aren’t telling the whole story.

Dear Annie: I grew up in the 1950s and was taught by parents, schoolteachers and preachers that a man isn’t supposed to wear any kind of head covering indoors. This was further enforced by drill sergeants when I joined the Army. Now it seems that just about anywhere you go, including restaurants, there are some men sitting and wearing hats or caps, even while eating. Have the rules of common courtesy changed that much? I think it looks disgusting. — Appalled

Dear Appalled: Unfortunately, it’s a custom that seems to have fallen by the wayside, as fashion and what’s considered acceptable have changed a great deal in general. I doubt that the people who wear hats indoors know it is rude to do so; perhaps they were never taught. But I agree with you. It would be nice if we could lift up those baseball hats and show them some manners.