Last year when I began researching the topic of estrangement, there was little out there on the internet other than a deafening silence. I may have made mistakes as a parent but I know I did my best. Being snubbed, left out of important events, discredited and cut off from both my adult children for several years, I knew I did not deserve such treatment especially after I had given money and other help along with all the sacrifices most parents make.
On the occasional forum, I observed a handful of posts written by shy parents fearful of the shame of being judged if they opened up and poured their hearts out.
In only a year, how things have changed. The floodgates are open as parents who have been cut off by adult children now openly tell of the daily heartbreak and pain in which they exist. Their bonds cruelly severed after being disowned, cast out and left out in the cold by the very people they gave birth to, the ‘tribe’ to which they belong.
Greeted by only an invisible wall of silence, they are cruelly and dismally left emotionally stranded. Uninvited to all the important occasions a parent looks forward to but are made painfully aware of through social media such as Facebook, they are unable to collect their natural heritage of precious memories. Excluded from the essence of family life, deprived of any sense of belonging, they are denied the opportunity of being part of the family they gave birth to. This often includes grandchildren as the aggrieved adult children force their own children to live their grievances, deprive them of belonging to a wider family and also deprive them of knowing their own gene pool. The long term consequences of such action can only be disastrous for all concerned especially for the grandchildren who by nature will at some point want to reconnect with their own roots.
At first it’s easy to imagine that this newly emerging social ill only exists as a result of divorced families, but it’s more than apparent that estrangement affects even the most solid, nuclear married families too. Alienation and estrangement are not biased, they can arrive within seconds of any kind of dispute where the word that lands out of a loving parent’s mouth has been NO or ‘I don’t agree’.
Stories of endless sacrifice where parents often did two jobs to cover the bills, gave up careers, borrowed money to pay off their adult child’s debts, paid for them to attend university and gain degrees, free childminding service, taxi service, free banking, loans that never got paid back, undisputed accusations, character assassinations, emotional blackmail, threats, discrediting their lives and achievements when the answer was still NO and then creating a smear campaign to make the parents look wrong to cover up the adult child’s reasons for ‘unfriending’ and casting out a devoted parent or parents into an emotionally bleak existence.
After years of servitude and sacrifice, magical Christmas mornings, birthday parties, trips away, never a forgotten special moment, estranged parents in their 1,000’s now face Christmas and birthdays alone without a card or any kind of explanation.
Meanwhile, all over the internet, messages abound, ‘stay away from toxic people’, ‘walk away from negative people’, ‘don’t give a care for anyone but yourself’, ‘only YOU matter’.
It’s easy to see where the attitude of selfishness and the right to be ‘right’ lays. The influence to be ‘your own individual and ignore everyone who dares to offend you’ is mind blowingly clear. Yet human beings rarely succeed as individuals on their own. They always operate better when they feel connected within a group.
But things are changing. A new voice is emerging and it’s an angry voice. It’s the voice of a responsible public, many are parents who have given their best only to find themselves rejected when they can no longer live up to the expectation of their adult children. They want to know what happened to loyalty, compassion, tolerance, discussion, and most of all, they want to know why?
No longer are the experts laying the blame at the door of the parents. There are too many of us. Something else in our modern world is blatantly wrong.
Why does the word ‘rights’ not equate to responsibility? Why is the word ‘entitlement’ one sided?
Why is estrangement a secret? Who wins from being estranged? What will happen to our adult children in the future when they wake up and realise they have chosen to make themselves orphans disconnected from their roots?
The parents will and are coping by coming together in their masses to share their stories and support each other. We’ve all been through loss and chaos before, we have coping strategies. We know how to survive the curved balls life has so often thrown at us. We’re surviving now.
But we’re not even concerned with ourselves. Our hearts still look out for our children. Their behaviour is guaranteed to bring them nothing but failure in future years. Estrangement is failure.
While they may believe their actions are justified in their 20’s and 30’s, what happens when they meet life in their 40’s and 50’s? They’ve trashed their family connections, blown up their bridges, burned their parents in anger and rage because of some perceived injustice that they just can’t get over and ripped the family apart till it no longer exists.
What then for our adult children?
Written by Nina Wornham. Copyright 2014.