Dear Estranged Adult Sons and Daughters,
This open letter is for you. Every single day I hear from mothers and fathers who are grieving your loss. They can’t imagine how this happened and how the son and/or daughter that they loved and raised could so easily dismiss them from their lives.
For almost 17 years now my child has been estranged from me. She left home as a teenager. At one point she was the absolute love of my life. I would have died for her, period. I wanted more for her than what I ever wanted for myself. When she was growing up many friends shared with me that they wished they had the kind of relationship we shared. I really believed we were close, very close. I never dreamt that one day she would walk away and never turn back. Nor did I ever comprehend her hatred and deep desire to hurt me. More than 15 years into the estrangement and she still tries to hurt me.
When children are little they are easy and often their love for us comes easily. When they grow up they begin to judge us. I can say that I have letters in my child’s own handwriting that told me how much she loved me. I can say that she attended numerous proms and the one time I could not go to the dress shop with her, she shared this dialogue with me; “Mom all my friends were bringing me dresses, lots of dresses and none of them were right for me. Then I asked myself “what would my mom do?” and “I knew that you would look for an ivory colored gown and as soon as I realized that, I immediately found the perfect gown.”
I share this because it was unsolicited when she shared this with me. My sense was that although I had to work and couldn’t make the appointment she had at the dress shop with her girlfriends, I was in essence there with her! Yet not long after this she would estrange.
For more than 23 years I was estranged from my own mother. What did my mother do to me that I felt this was an appropriate thing to do? It was confided in me that my mother’s husband was a sexual abuser. I believed the child that shared this and I never wanted my children around him after this information was made known to me. My mother didn’t want to hear it or to believe it. It was easier for her to make me out to be a bad person rather than face the truth about the man that she married and stayed married to until he died. She loved him above all else. I was eliminated from the family. And I made it easy for her to do this by walking away.
Regardless of how justified I thought I was in removing myself and my children, this was not an ideal situation. I was angry and I was hurt and I was disappointed in my mother. This lasted for many years until I came to peace and acceptance. We never reconciled before she died. My sisters would decide to delete my existence from her obituary. Today I have more peace than ever before, I know that she knows the truth now.
Regardless of the details of my story I am here to tell you that there are no winners in estrangement. As justified as you may believe that you are in estranging from your parents, it is not healthy. It is not normal. It is not an act of love. If anything it is an act of intolerance.
The saddest thing for you is that if you have children, no matter their ages and or how close you may be at this time, by virtue of the fact that you have chosen this, you have now modeled behavior for your own children. They are very likely to dismiss you from their lives the same way they have witnessed you do it to your mother and/or father. Believe it. Case studies support this.
What you are in essence modeling for your own children is that 1) parents aren’t important and can be easily erased from your life 2) disrespect 3) silent treatment 4) judgment 5) lack of tolerance and lack of forgiveness. What you are losing is your roots, your family history and heritage. If you are a biological child you miss out on your family health history. Your children are missing out on knowing their family and their grandparents. Lost years can never be made up.
I believe that most all parents love their children. Maybe it isn’t perfect but they aren’t perfect and neither are you. No one is perfect.
If you are estranged because of what you have done you should try and make amends before they die. As bad as it may be, most mothers and fathers are loving toward their children. If you do the work and fix what you broke they will probably at least try and forgive you. And if for some reason they can’t at least you will know that you tried.
Like many of you I have other relationships that I created through the years, I have “other mothers” and “other children” that I have loved and have loved me too. They have helped me to heal and to fill many of the voids. But the reality is that no one can take the place of our birth parents. That history cannot be re-written. And our children come from us. They are a part of our being and our souls and our hearts are forever connected.
Do you need to be “right?” or do you need “peace?” Loving ourselves allows us to love others, loving our parents is an extension of self-love because whether you like it or not, that is where you come from.
No one said that you have to see them every day, no one said you have to speak with them every day but having peace with your parents is what you do for yourself. Remember one day your child will grow up and they too will judge you. Could you measure up to the same yardstick you have chosen to use to measure mom and dad? Would you want your grown adult child treating you the same way that you have chosen to treat your parents?
It’s not over until we take our last breathe. Making peace with your parents is making peace with yourself. Forgiveness is the gift that you give to yourself!
Make 2015 the year of love and of forgiveness and watch how much better your life becomes when you aren’t holding onto anger or ill will toward others.
Peace and love,
Bernadette A. Moyer
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New book ALONG THE WAY includes this article at http://www.createspace.com/5705583?ref