RELATIONSHIPS

The Hugs Not Given — or How Not To Say Goodbye to Your Son

I was teaching him not to feel, perhaps because I hadn’t learned how to feel myself

PlainTalkBadManners
Doctor, Writer, Mother, Life
8 min readOct 14, 2022

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Painting-By-Numbers image of my son, used with his permission and of course, that of the painter

My nineteen year old is in the back seat. We’re sailing down the motorway to the seaside city where he’ll be moving into University accomodation for the first time.

And in place of the serious round-the-table family conversations we never got around to, I’m delivering little lectures to him from the front passenger seat.

I tell him how much I believe this degree is within his capabilities. He’ll need to focus — but he can do it. I’ve always believed in his potential.

I know this is something I don’t say often enough. So much of my communication with him over the last seven years has been about what he could do better, what he hasn’t done, what he should do differently. It feels really important to affirm to him how much I believe in him.

I wait.

His silence continues.

I glance in the rear view mirror. His ear pods are in. What’s new? Has he heard a word I’ve said in the last twenty minutes?

Me: ‘I just said the most important thing I could say to you, the most encouraging thing — how

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PlainTalkBadManners
Doctor, Writer, Mother, Life

Ex-Doctor, Ex-Catholic, Ex-Muslim. Climate Worrier & Wannabe Climate Warrior. Novelist. Human. Label resistant. https://thefriendlyradicalnextdoor.substack.com/