Saturday, September 5, 2015

Reflection on Estrangement by guest author Nina Wornham

photo by Thodoris Tzalavras

Once again I am delighted to share a wonderful article on the topic of estrangement.  Many words of wisdom here.  I especially love; 

"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?"

Family alienation, Estrangement & Being Cut Off
by Nina Wornham. 

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.

photo credits: as marked or unknown

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  1. Really great. Succinctly said and the questions are great. Thanks.

  2. Had no idea there were so many of us out here. I for one am so grateful to & for my UNITY COMMUNITY. that. teaches me how to cope with this HOLY SHIFT my two daughters have chosen ....alienating the grandchildren & now great grandchildren too ! So sad. However i refuse to wallow in sadness . I choose JOY in my life. Their choices are their choices is out of my hands. So i let it go....release it. I continue to send LOVING KINDNESS to them all ....thru birthday cards when i have addresses names & birthdates ! ....otherwise i bless them thru prayer & intention. The one thing i did not like about this article .....too much written about the money issue ! If you as a parent gave mometary support out of love......let it go ! ! If you gave that support only to get something from your child .....just be quiet ! Blessings to all. Do not allow your hurt to make you bitter.

  3. Lifetime sacrifices are indeed made with expectations of respect and honor and a relationship. It is not a one time gift which can, over time, be forgotten and a lesson learned. Taking care of our sick children, losing sleep etc, is done out of love. Supporting our children with love, time, money, two jobs, looking after grandchildren, driving and attending functions are all part of family. Many times parents go overboard and do too much when our children are adults; we want to give them the best start in life. So when we are abandoned we cannot help but remember all the giving and sacrificing, because parents need to be appreciated and not thrown away. Yes we did it out of love, but love needs to be both ways. Parents are not to be used; they have feelings and need to be honored.

  4. A Table for One

    In the mid-fifties I began this incredible journey that lasted till now much to my astonishment because I would not be one for hiding behind closed doors when it came to trying new and possibly dangerous things. My mother gave one last scream to announce my arrival and it was the end of nine long months for her nurturing me within her body; ah a mother’s love is so pure, so fantastic. I remained with her until she passed over which was over twenty years later and still I miss her presence and antiquated sayings. If I ever thought that she was from a different planet well, she certainly thought I was with all my boisterous ways and cravings for adventure. However she always backed me even if I was not always right and she would pick up the pieces and preserve my dignity as only a mother can. Family and Loyalty were special traits engrained within her psyche and if anything untoward happened to anyone within her family, sure the ranks were firmly closed and the wagons circled. Her mother, my grandma, and her sisters, my aunts, were also of the same mind caring for their own families like wheels within wheels and no one was permitted to be abusive never mind encroach in our circle.

    This was great for me because not only did I feel I belonged but I could feel safe in knowledge that any mistakes I would make, and there were many, I was not alone and my error would be rectified. I suppose that this is what family is all about, belonging, and in a loving environment where all have a place at the table. I tried to bring this sense of family with me throughout my life especially when I started a family of my own where I nurtured my own offspring in a likewise manner as I am sure everyone would do but we do not all think the same way.

    Alas this new generation seems to have lost this sense and they drive through life without sentiments and without emotions which is sad really. Some of the older people have adapted to this devil may care attitude which is even worse because they should know better.

    There is nothing worse than being isolated and abandoned by family especially when there is no reason, no major dispute, and no sign of leprosy at all. Maybe it is just lack of thought or more sinister, plain downright selfishness but I would like the think that it is more a case for the former. Now no matter which way, my mother would be turning in her grave should any such thing happen to any of us, her children, and if we were the cause we would definitely have to answer to her when we eventually joined her. This is because she is loyal and would never betray any of her family nor would she stand for any of us that did as it only empowers the outsider thus sanctioning their wrongdoings against any of her beloved. She would not listen to any excuses either to try to justify our hypocrisy because family are family and others are not. I know that I could never betray any of my siblings with anyone nor could I sanction or approve any wrongdoings against them. I would be so ashamed, so, so ashamed and I too would have to answer to God and to my mother for this treachery.

    Yes isolation is an awful thing not only with loneliness but also that feeling of not belonging except in a leper colony. My advice to everyone is go visit as life is too short. So ‘do the right thing’ and cease after all you know it makes sense that your family is your family, no one else is.
    So my table is set for one on my birthday 2 cards from my 3 sisters sure 2 out of 3 ain't bad. Alas none from my 3 children as they chose to ignore my very existence. This is done because I chose to speak the Truth after they publicly humiliated me for all to see.