Fractured parental relationships can result from divorce. Children or adults whose parents’ divorce may take sides, they may become the victims of parental alienation and, as a result, may stop communicating with a parent.
My own children have had this experience. Their relationship with their father since we divorced has been “on again, off again.” More off than on. They’ve both suffered emotional pain due to what appears to be indifference by their father. But, is their father indifferent? Is he somewhere suffering pain due to what appears to be indifference by his sons? Are all three parties suffering because they are reading the situation wrong and allowing their pain to keep them from reaching out to each other?
I’ve watched, firsthand, the pain of a parent/child relationship as it falls into the chasm of anger after divorce. Joshua Coleman, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families sees so much of this problem that he calls parent/adult child estrangement a silent epidemic. “Nobody wants to talk about this,” he says.
If you Google, parent-childd estrangement,” you get 314,000 results. Most of those results are advice for how parents can breach the estrangement and put the relationship back together. I’ve had this discussion with my sons who, I believe, as adults bare some of the responsibility for the fracture in their relationship with their father.
I’m a problem solver and I know that problems aren’t solved if there isn’t any communication. As children become adults, in my mind, they have the opportunity to take steps to resolve the conflict. They are just as able as the estranged parent to reach out and work toward rebuilding that parent/child relationship. Or, at the very least a relationship that allows communication with each other.
My sons stubbornly refuse to reach out to their father. He, for some reason, doesn’t reach out to them. And every year they all mark the anniversary of that broken bond. If you, as the adult child are in a similar situation is it time for you to reach out? To be the one who opens a line of communication and attempts to repair the relationship with your estranged parent?
I will admit, there are situations in which an adult child doesn’t owe an estranged parent any effort as far as repairing the relationship. If this article does one thing I hope it can help an adult child decide if they should be the one to pursue reconciliation with a parent and how to begin to do that.
If you are dealing with a fractured parental relationship and wondering if you should reach out, ask yourself the questions below:
- Was your parent abusive?
- Did your parent abandon you?
- Did your parent engage in immoral or illegal activities?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, go on with your life, you don’t have a parent worth the effort of reaching out.
On the other hand, if you felt loved and genuinely cared for by your parent until the divorce you owe it to yourself to reach out. Do you have children of your own? If so, think about it this way, you would give your all for your children and, there was a time when your estranged parent felt the same about you. Maybe they still do.
If that is a possibility, what have you got to lose by writing an email or picking up the phone and saying, “Let’s talk or get together, we need to resolve the problems between us.” I apologize if this suggestion takes a broad view of a very complicated situation. Only you know what you need to heal the pain you’ve experienced but, healing won’t begin until issues have been discussed and, hopefully worked through with your estranged parent.
There is no shame in being the bigger person, having the bigger heart and showing the desire to repair something that is broken. Bottom line, the decision is yours to make. Don’t wait until it is too late.
If your parent taught you valuable lessons, skills, and habits and, showed you love before the estrangement. Reach out. If they had little time for you and nothing to give and there was always dysfunction move ahead with your life.