Q: How can we keep up a relationship with our son when his wife severed all contact with us several years ago? We have asked them many times to tell us how we have wronged them so we can make amends but there has been no response.

Focus on the Family Malaysia: Our heart goes out to you. It does sound like this situation was triggered by some sort of offence, whether real or imagined. It could have been something you said or did. It may be a problem with your daughter-in-law. It may be nothing more than an unfortunate misunderstanding. The important thing is to keep your hearts open and communicate your love as best as you are able.

Our counsellors suggest three things you can do to preserve peace and sanity on your end and keep your conscience clear:

Honour the boundaries your son and his wife have set, no matter how harsh or unreasonable. If they have asked you not to call, do not call. If you violate these boundaries, you will only end up validating their negative image of you.

Guard your heart. It would be easy to fall into depression and anxiety or to beat yourself up and blame yourself for what has happened. Do not fall into that trap. Do not become bitter and do not believe lies about your worthiness as a person. Do whatever it takes to stay emotionally healthy and keep yourself psychologically safe despite the circumstances.

If the situation allows – you know best if it does – send your son and his wife a card with a brief message expressing your love and goodwill a couple of times a year, perhaps on birthdays and important festivals. It is a small thing but it will let them know that your hearts are still open towards them.

Q: I am in my early twenties, living in my parents’ home. I have had several relationships over the past few years but my mum and dad have not thought much of any of them. I want to honour my parents but I also need to live my life. How should I respond to my parents’ negative feelings about the people I have been dating?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: To some extent, your present conflicts have less to do with the nature of your romantic interests than with the complexities of your living situation.

You did not mention whether you are working full-time or attending university. In either case, you may want to begin working on a plan to become more independent and self-sufficient. A measure of financial independence can be surprisingly empowering and liberating.

Once out from under your parents’ roof, you will find it easier to sort out the family dynamics that have been frustrating your relationships with members of the opposite sex.

You are wise to take your mum and dad’s desires into account, and you certainly do not want to abandon the values they have worked so hard to instil in you during your growing-up years.

At the same time, someone your age must learn how to think, choose and act independently. Living on your own will help you achieve the distance and perspective you need to do that.

When and if you find yourself involved in another romantic relationship, it is advisable to move forward with caution and discernment. Give your parents’ perspective the careful consideration it deserves but take time to listen to the counsel of wise friends and advisors as well.

This article is contributed by Focus on the Family Malaysia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and strengthening the family unit. It provides a myriad of programmes and resources, including professional counselling services, to the community. For more information, visit family.org.my. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com