Here’s some advice to parents in this situation. (1) Remember it’s their story and they’re sticking to it so don’t try to change or correct their version of the past. (2) Express your regret without letting them guilt-trip you; regret is guilt without the neuroses. (3) Stay open to their overture – who’s the grown-up here? – but don’t allow them to abuse you emotionally, physically, or financially.
Jane Adams, Ph.D., author of When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us
The estrangement of adult children from parents, in cases where overt parental abuse had not in fact occurred, can in some instances be read as a mark of immaturity on the part of the adult children, who may not yet have experienced the emotional challenges of parenting; for this group, at least, there is the hope that if they find themselves in the same role a few years later, they will gain compassion, if not forgiveness, for their own parents. Some older parents can at least can hold out for this hope. No one, of course, had “perfect parents.” Forgiveness involves understanding and identification with the difficulties one’s parents may have had, and as such, forgiveness is an expression of love and maturity.
Robert C. Abrams, M. D., Professor of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College