I’ve had several clients in the painful position of have a parent or adult child who refuses to have any contact. Like any loss, this brings a great deal of heartache and grief. Trying to convince the son and daughter to reconnect only makes them angry and drives them further away. All a parent can really do in this sad situation is to accept it and move on. But how can this be done?
Hurt dissolves and forgiveness is possible when we clearly and deeply understand ourselves and those who reject us. Here are some points that might help:
Be realistic. Give up on the dream of having a “happy family.” You think others have happy families, but no family is perfect. There are always limits and compromises.
No human is perfect, neither you nor your offspring. I have found we think we know this but don’t always act on it. It takes time to accept our fallibility and the shortcomings of others. Your aim is to be at peace with imperfection. Most of us have a deep affinity with perfection and order, and this influences our expectations. Life on this planet is imperfect by design and that is not going to change. We are here to learn and grow.
In our modern world, children are given a lot and even indulged. Some grow up and become harsh judges, expecting more than a parent can reasonably give. You can rail against this, but there is no point. You will only push them away further.
Some adult children are not happy with their lives or themselves. When they feel inadequate or overwhelmed, blaming a parent can give them some measure of relief.
When your loved one is angry, ask your spiritual guidance what is going on. Angry energy can be a force for survival. People who are afraid of their vulnerability often use anger to feel powerful instead of weak and culpable. Holding a grudge against you could easily be your offspring’s way of surviving. You are wise to not take it personally.
You look back and see where you could have done better as a parent. Perhaps you feel guilty. Guilt is not going to help you one bit. Why are we here? To learn and experience. Let me assure you, you could NOT have done better. At the time, you did your best with what you had. You are not free of past trauma either. Find a way to let it go. Seek help. Read and research. Forgive your younger parent self and love her or him. Your younger self did the best she could with what she had at the time.
Now you need to see your adult child the same way. At this point in time, she or he is also doing the best they can with what they have. Does this mean you want them around? Maybe, maybe not. You can dislike the behaviour of people you love and choose to avoid it. Seeing them clearly can free you. During meditation, look at your son or daughter very carefully and be willing to see the truth. What motivates them and how do they feel? Ask your spiritual guides for help to be honest with yourself and truly understand them.
You think your child came into the world as a sweet innocent baby. Did she? Did he? I have never had a client who is on their first incarnation. Nearly all have had hundreds of lives and they are carrying trauma from the past that can easily be triggered in their current lives. Why would your child be any different?
When you child is toxic, you need to put strong healthy boundaries in place. The antidote to any abuse or rejection is to value and respect yourself. Putting up with any toxic behaviour weakens you and is exactly the opposite of protecting and building your inner strength and self-esteem.
When you know the specific behaviours that disturb you the most, ask yourself the following question: “When I have been like this?” Again, be honest with yourself AND accept and forgive your younger self for that behaviour. Understand her. There were good reasons why she did what she did. Embrace her and forgive her. Like everyone else, your younger self—in fact, all the parts of yourself—just want to be accepted and loved.
Your job as a parent is to respect the sovereignty of your adult child. What does that mean? You respect their life journey and their right to make their own decisions, their right to make their own mistakes. That is unconditional love. You put their needs first by letting them go.
Once you feel ready, explore what you have learned from your son or daughter. Here are some gifts others have identified:
Although healing the past is painful, she or he helped me choose to heal.
I learnt to respect the journey of others and let them be.
I learned I could be separate from another while knowing I still loved them at some deep level.
To overcome the pain of not having their love and respect, I had to find that within myself.
I learned the importance of building strong boundaries of protection while accepting where others are.
I discovered that everything I did in my life was okay and meant to be. I have found love for myself.
I found self-forgiveness. It never came from my children, so I had to find that for myself.
I learnt the importance of being authentic and acting from love.
I feel great grateful for the privilege of bringing my child into the world and learning so much.
I found a depth of self-acceptance for myself that I never expected. I feel free.
An online site that can be useful is called, Parents of Adult Estranged Children: Help and Healing