Family & Education

Mother Prays to Heal Relationship With Family

You can still find peace, even if you don't have all the answers
BY June Kellum TIMEMarch 21, 2023 PRINT

Dear June,

I am in over 80 and struggling with my relationship with my children. My daughter and granddaughter, and one son and his wife (who live far away) avoid, disregard, mock, ghost, and shun me. I love them deeply and have strongly invested myself to try for more positive relationships. I have so much pain over these losses of relationship. What have I done that makes me so undesirable? How is it that good professional people can treat me in ways that are beneath their status and dignity? Should I not come to family gatherings? In my birth family we braced ourselves to spend time together at holidays. It was spending precious holiday time with those we least wanted to spend time with. Now I am reliving those stressful times in my own family.

I have prayed for my daughter since before she was born. Now 50 years later, I am praying all day long and know less about this situation. Over the years, I have apologized to my 4 children for things that the Lord showed me that I needed to make right, but it has not helped. They avoid me more.

I saved and re-read your article “Ostracized Sister Seeks to Mend Sibling Rift” because I thought it might be helpful. After reading, I went to apologize to my daughter for a recent incident. The incident was this: While hurrying across the parking lot of my granddaughter’s school to greet my daughter and my granddaughter after volleyball practice, I saw my teenage granddaughter hastily jump into the car while my daughter pushed it into reverse and stepped on the gas coming to a stop right by the place where I was standing. My daughter leaned forward to obstruct her window. After a quick hello they hurriedly drove out of the parking lot and I could see a man with a hat on in the passenger seat. I found out later that the man was my grandson, visiting from out of town, and I was deeply cut.

Before I apologized, I prayed: “Work humility in my life that I may be authentic. Give me the words to say and gentle demeanor. Please go before with your Spirit and prepare the way.” I wrote down what I would say and looked at it for anything that might sound accusatory or be judgmental. I called my daughter and asked if I could see her for 5 minutes during her lunch hour (she works from home) and she agreed, her children were home and heard everything. She knew that when I walked through that door “that I would not be fun.” “I am responsible for your speeding away from the parking lot. There is something about me made you do this. You are a good person and would not have done this without my causing it. I am so sorry for what I have caused you to do. I have humbled myself to come over here and apologize so that you might feel better.” I felt no judgment for her actions as I talked to her. I humbly and sincerely apologized and took responsibility for her driving away and trying to conceal my grandson.

She stood up and was crying, yelling, gesturing, and speaking very loudly as some of her offenses were angrily pouring out. “All you ever do is say NO, no, no! I would love to have a relationship with you. I pray many times a day for our relationship. You don’t even know me! I have told many people about our relationship. You are a difficult personality.”

She prays and I pray, but there has been no change in attitude that I know about. If we could get help at this time of impasse it would be very helpful. She seemed open to that at the time of our talk. I hope that we could move ahead in our relationship. She wants to go ahead without talking about our relationship. I suggested that we could try it, but it usually does not work to ignore the problem and try to go ahead. I emailed and asked if I could bring lunch over and just relax and talk about her rewards. She has earned 4 awards and a raise in the last several months. She never told me so how would I know. That was two weeks ago and she hasn’t responded to lunch.

Last year, I had so much pain and anxiety over this that I went to a counselor provided by Medicare (not Christian). We got to the point that counselor wanted my daughter and I to come in for counsel. I don’t think I will live very much longer since I have multiple serious health problems. I don’t want this to be unfinished when I die and I also prefer Christian counseling so I discontinued the counseling. I did not think that counselor had the skill to help us.

A Hopeful, Elderly Mother

Dear Hopeful, Elderly Mother,

I empathize with your struggle. Relationships with children are so dear to a mother’s heart; when they are not right it brings us deep sadness.

It seems you have long been working hard and sincerely to better the relationships with your family, but to no avail. You have been praying a lot over this matter, but no answer has come.

My first suggestion is then to surrender your worry and hopes to God. He certainly has an answer and a plan for you; however, it can be very hard to see this when we are in the midst of suffering.

I recall a story that speaks to this:

There was once a man stranded on his rooftop during a flood. He was devout and had great faith that God would save him. Soon a neighbor in a rowboat came by and called to him to get in. “It’s OK, I’m praying and God will save me,” the man replied.

Then a man in a motorboat came and the driver yelled, “Come, get in.”

“It’s OK, I’m praying and God will save me,” the man replied.

Next a helicopter came and the pilot lowered a rope to pull him up, but the man replied, “It’s OK, I’m praying and God will save me.”

Shortly after water covered the house and the man drowned. In heaven the man had the chance to ask God, why despite his faith, was his human life not saved? God replied, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?”

I think this story points to a truth and a pitfall that we sometimes encounter—we can get so wrapped up in certain ideas about what we think our spiritual path should look like, that it becomes a narrow mindset. Perhaps instead of asking for and seeking discernment, thank God for giving you an opportunity grow spiritually. It’s OK to be clueless about the solution. Give the timing and solution to your problems over to God. He made you a mother. He knows the sadness in your heart. If He is not answering yet there is a reason.

What I do when facing a stressful situation is to first of all calm down. Being fearful, upset, or nervous does not make it easier to find a solution. I do this by first looking at my energy—when I don’t feel calm and peaceful, this tells me that I need to look at what in myself is triggering these feelings. Often the cause is a thought deep in the back of my mind—an assumption I was not aware of connected with a fear or desire.

For example, once when my oldest son was a year and a half and I was babysitting another toddler, my son grabbed a stick and started hitting his friend on the head. As a young mom, my reaction was fear and embarrassment because it happened just as the father of the other child walked in. I feared if I didn’t correct my son’s behavior he would continue to hit other children. I was also embarrassed because I didn’t want the father to think I was not raising my child well and so in a rush of emotion I spoke sharply to my son and smacked his hand. My son cried for a bit, more out of surprise than pain because I didn’t hit him hard, then he immediately picked up something else and proceeded to whack his friend on the head again.

This was of course not the only time my fears have caused me to make bad parenting choices and it was a huge relief to me when I read a parenting article which pointed out that overreacting is often due to fears we have as parents. Now in parenting and in life in general, I try to handle issues from a place of calm. When I’m not calm, I take the time to look for why—to figure out what I’m afraid of and or what I’m desiring that’s making me emotional.

You mention that you want the issues with your children to be resolved before you die—a perfectly natural wish, but since you also don’t think you have much time, is there perhaps some fear? If so, then it may be that the fear is blocking things from resolving.

Also consider that it may not be possible to have the resolution you want in your lifetime, but I do think there will always be a spiritual resolution. I do believe that God loves you and wants what is best for you, and so it may be that you need to let go and have faith and trust. There are things we humans just cannot see, and the divine is always good and just, even though we suffer hardships.

It is wonderful that you and your daughter pray for one another. To me this indicates that she does not bear you deep resentment, despite the difficulty of the relationship. Perhaps she does not want to be in your company, but it does not seem like this arises from deep bitterness.


In the way you described your apology, there were a couple of things that stood out to me.

The first was that when you apologized to your daughter, you took all the responsibility onto yourself. I can see that you sincerely wished to make her feel better, but in taking the blame for her behavior onto yourself, you may actually make her feel frustrated—she may feel you are treating her like an incapable child, not the free-willed adult she is. After your apology, your daughter said that she does not feel understood by you.

Secondly, she might have been better able to hear your apology at a different time and place. This was for her an emotional topic, and so it would be best to arrange a time and space for discussion when you can both be prepared and focused. The timing of this apology might have added to her stress because she was in the middle of a busy day, had her children around, maybe hadn’t eaten her lunch yet—and then to be asked to focus on a situation that clearly made her uncomfortable was perhaps too much for her at the moment. Maybe at a different situation she would have wanted to share with you but at such a moment she didn’t have time or the mental/emotional space to open her heart.

One benefit of counseling is that both people walk into the session prepared to talk about emotional issues. It can also be helpful have these conversations outside in nature where people tend to feel calmer. Also, walking while talking can make difficult conversations a bit easier for some people.

Building Relationship

My final thought is that perhaps you can start to build the relationships you want in small ways and with simple things. First of all, try to be relaxed and happy yourself, appreciate and enjoy the time you do spend with your family. Put “fixing relationships” on the back burner and focus on getting to know your family, as if you are making a new acquaintance.

What are some things you can do together that you would both enjoy? Or you know that they will enjoy? Maybe a movie night, or going to the theater, a church function, or a local attraction together.

Listen more than you talk. Find out what hobbies and interests your family is excited about.

Figure out their love languages.

Let others decide when it is time bring up deep emotional topics.

Also, if there is any help you can render them, do it. And ask them for help with things you need and thank them for it.

Hopefully, some of this helps.

I would like to end with a disclaimer. This is clearly a very complex situation, and many of the questions I get are. I recently had someone write to me and say that after reflection, they decided to do something totally different than what I suggested. They were clearly very satisfied with their own solution and I am very happy they found something that works for them. I do my best to respond thoughtfully and sincerely to questions, but there is a lot I cannot know individual situations and so my suggestions may not work at all for you. So please, consider them and see if they work, and if not, hopefully the act of reflecting and perhaps trying something new will lead you to your answer. I do believe that each of us has a great deal more wisdom than we are aware of.




Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 6, New York, NY, 10001.

June Kellum is a married mother of three and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.
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