Have you, as a parent of an estranged adult child ever considered the idea that estrangement is a form of punishment which is more reflective of the adult child who has estranged from you than it has to do with you as a parent?
No? You’re still too busy taking pot shots at yourself? Why are you doing that? Isn’t it time to move on and forward? How?
The first step in any venture is to understand what it is that is happening, why and how then, and only then, can you as a parent move on without feeling the blame or shame that gets heaped upon us.
Our adults who have estranged themselves from us are not the only ones who will load our shoulders full of blame. Society will do it for us if they don’t do it to us first. While there are cases of true abuse or neglect that happen in this world by parents, the reality is that there are few of them by comparison to the sheer numbers of adults who have estranged themselves from perhaps, not simply their parents but, from family, former friends and many others as well.
Estrangement is in fact, not truly being used by those who are abused or neglected or have been as a method of self-preservation but, rather as a tool by which it’s trendy to distance oneself as a form of punishment. Punishing oneself may be part of the package as it’s no doubt, something that these adults will have to deal with or cope with now or down the road. One way or the other, not only are they punishing their parents by such an act but, they are also punishing themselves both now or will have done it to themselves as they will come to figure out in the future. In other words, estrangement is a form of punishment to the parent(s) but, it will also have ramifications upon those adults who have done it in one or many ways either now or at some point in the future or perhaps, both times in their lives.
Parents can wail, cry, feel lonely, suicidal (where I hope parents are getting counselling or therapy as I’m not a professional here) but, while it’s understandable as to the why’s, it’s also important to put this act into perspective rather than hiding out of shame or blame and even self-blame.
It’s normal to grieve a loss of any type or for any length of time but, in the case of estrangement, the grieving not only needn’t take place for long. Why is that? It’s a reality because your adult has chosen to punish you through their own justifications versus anything that you’ve truly done wrong to that adult unless there has been true abuse or neglect in which case, you’ve got some apologizing to do with not only your adult who has estranged but, also to others and most importantly, yourself. However, if you know that you haven’t been truly abusive and can bypass the excuses, labels and re-written histories given out so freely by your estranged adult child and Society then, grief shouldn’t be a forever thing for any of us. While it’s ok to mourn a loss or losses, there has to be a point at which we absolve ourselves and move ahead. Even truly abusive parents still may have their children around them. If you’ve not done anything abusive, it’s tie to put these excuses into a nice neat little package and sail it off into the sunset while labelling it all as “damaged goods”. That’s not meant to put down your adult child as it’s meant to wrap up the grief, their excuses and wave so-long to it all for good reason.
Estrangement has become almost epidemic nowadays. It’s much akin to eating Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto or The Carnivore Diet. It’s deprivation at it’s best eventually but, it’s also a fad and it’s trendy to join the band wagon. If there isn’t a reason to do it, one can easily create one. In other words, an ant hill can be built into a mountain if needed. Lots of adult children are doing it today, convinced that it’s needed in order to be the people that they want to be or to do what they wish to do especially when they know that their parents won’t approve of their behaviour, friends, lifestyles, addictions, substance use or, they’ve plain and simply convinced themselves or had others do it for them that they are somehow smarter or superior to their parents. It’s mostly self-serving in some way or another. As parents, we need to get that idea through our thick skulls somehow and sooner rather than later.
Estrangement is a control method for the most part. The adults who estrange themselves cannot stand the idea that their parents are moving forward, reading pieces such as this one or becoming part of groups which may help propel them out of the trap that these adults have oftentimes, unconsciously set for their parents. They would much rather see their parents stuck or mired in the mud, crying, shivering, chasing them and apologizing until the cows come home for things that they’ve created in their own minds or via turning a molehill into a mountain. While they may be off, living their lives, they truly don’t want to see their parents moving on. It’s much like the inmates have put the staff into rooms to think about the evils that they’ve allegedly imparted upon these kids. If they’re not thinking about it, lamenting, crying or grinding their teeth much like being in Hades, these adult kids will throw more and more at their parents, hoping to hit something. They don’t want to hear that parents can move on. They want them miserable. That’s part of the “punishment”.
Frankly Scarlett, I Don’t Give A Damn
If adults who estrange themselves truly don’t care, they aren’t going to care what you do or don’t do while they’re on their estrangement and guilt trip away from you anyway. Why lament? Why sit and cry over them? If they have made themselves believe that they don’t care about you and stay away from you, why sit and think about it, being miserable? What good does that do anyone? Are they going to know what you’re doing or not doing? Does it really matter to them whether you’re a song bird, singing your heart out or that you’re sitting in a corner day after day, wasting away, getting ill, wads of tissues surrounding you?
I Get It…They Might Come Back If I’m Good Enough
Uh-huh and the sky is green with purple polka dots.
Let’s get this straight right here and now. Preparing for the possibility that your estranged adult child might waltz back into your life is like preparing yourself for a nuclear attack or being hit by lightening. It may or may not happen but, honestly is it doing you any good to stock pile canned goods, water, building a bunker while hunkering down or for you to never venture outdoors if it’s thundering even off in the distance outside? Let’s get real here. Even if our adults who have estranged themselves from us do try to return to us, does it make any sense that we should sit in that rocking chair in the corner, crying and waiting or even apologizing to thin air with apologies that may or may not hit whatever they’ve created in their minds whether they believe it all or they don’t? Will is serve them or you to stay still, quiet and never go out of your way in the event that they do want to be part of your life again at some point or another? Isn’t that a bit like not going anywhere else lest Santa not be able to find us come Christmas Eve?
Heaven forbid that we should laugh again at anything or have any fun times. That might be taken as a put down on these kids to do so. Best to stay somber and cry, right? They’ve walked away and out of our lives, having nothing to do with us and bad-mouthing us to others. We all need to be quiet, say nothing, do nothing, only go where we need to go, do what we absolutely have to do and even though they don’t care about whatever might be happening in our lives, we shouldn’t rock the boat by seeking out fun, laughter or especially talking about it to help ourselves. It all might make things worse. Of course, no one can tell me how much worse it can get than their walk-offs and no contact but hey, let’s just all keep quiet in case it does. That makes it all better now, doesn’t it? Oh yes, and may thunder strike me down if I were to consider moving away and selling my home. How on earth will Santa find me?
My Child Estranged For A Reason Though
Yes, they did. What do you mean that you wouldn’t or couldn’t stand being your spouse’s punching bag anymore? How dare you leave that loving scenario! You’ve got rocks in your head to do such a thing to your child. Don’t you know that you were supposed to endure that so that they could walk away anyway in the future while calling you “nuts” or putting you down or blaming you for putting up with it all? Why didn’t you walk away? Oh wait you did leave it all behind. Stay and get battered while your child blamed you for not walking away or get away and get blamed by them for doing it. Hmmmm…now that’s a choice, isn’t it?
Dear heavens, you mean that you swore at things and told your child that you loved them? How dare you do that! That’s incomprehensible and totally unforgivable. Don’t you know that you placed a burden upon their shoulders. They feel guilty enough and have so much on their shoulders already or didn’t you know that by virtue of the fact that you gave birth to them, raised them with the best of your ability, you owe them a lot. Actually, you owe them everything. The moment that they were born, you owed it to them to stop being a human being with a past, warts, flaws and faults. You were supposed to be omnipotent, know it all, do it all, never have a problem, a health or mental health issue. You were put on earth to be a perfect person once you became a parent. Don’t you even consider straying from that expectation. That’s cause for estrangement.
Wait, hold the horses here. What’s your problem that you don’t, can’t or won’t accept them being drunk or high or with a group of people or person who advocates hating all “grey hairs” who are “stupid” by the way? Why aren’t you accepting and liking their choices? After all you are their parent and you’re supposed to love them unconditionally along with everything that they choose to do, who they pick to be with or whatever they choose to become. That’s your job as a parent. You’re supposed to bend and sway like play dough. You don’t get to have any likes or dislikes. How dare you do that! You’re a parent and you’re supposed to push aside all of your choices in favour of theirs and loving those choices that they’ve made or are making. Never mind that they’re stoned, drunk, high or driving while under the influence. Them there’s grounds for estrangement again.
While we’re at it, you Narc/Narcissist, Bi-Polar, Toxic Being, change yourself totally. Forget that these labels came off of Dr. Search Engine and were put there by your estranged adult and are so false that a $3 bill looks real by comparison. You’re a Narc/Narcissist, Bi-Polar or Toxic because they’re all professors and psychologists. They know and you don’t. They’re smart. You’re stupid. They have cell phones and tablets. They’ve also graduated from university. Even if they didn’t diagnose you themselves, they’ve had a session or 2 or 10 with a therapist who said that you are. They know. Your 15 years of therapy don’t matter. They’ve had a session or so with a therapist who pegged it all, put it all into a gift box, wrapped with a ribbon and pretty bow based upon their words. They know. You don’t. You’re actually stupid! Now you know.
Forget that you’ve had years of university, Life experiences, raised children to adulthood and they made it. You don’t know a thing. They do though and they don’t mince words in telling you that much. Your knowledge counts for nothing with them. You’re dumb by comparison to them. Remember, they have cell phones, lap tops, tablets and they know how to search engine whatever they want to. Your experience and education mean nothing. Search engines are better. They read things and get it through drugs or alcohol as well as possibly some guru or shaman who has imbibed ayhuasca. The Walking Dead televison program told them so or their video games, an MMA pay-per-view or some dude with a guitar that they adore up on stage has uttered written lyrics to some song that they heard while high or drunk and watching fog machines and laser lights. No, you are wrong, they are right.
If I haven’t hit your specific situation with my examples here, insert your own. If not, you’re free to believe your estranged child…errrr…adult while crying in a corner quietly so as not to gather shame or more blame. Or, you can come out of the proverbial closet and stand up and say, “I’m the parent of an estranged adult who is bonkers” and take it like it was meant to be, a fad or a trend.
Be a parent even if you’re not feeling like one right now.
Love and Light,
Have a GREAT day or evening!