Author Topic: Letting Go of Hurt  (Read 3001 times)

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Offline luise.volta

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Letting Go of Hurt
« on: May 19, 2010, 09:17:21 AM »
A dear friend just sent me this article by Dr. Joshua Coleman:

WHEN SHOULD I STOP TRYING TO REACH OUT TO MY ADULT CHILD?

I often get asked this question by parents who have been through an estrangement. I think it's an important question so I'm posting it here and on the NYT's website where the article is.

I don't think that parents are required to reach out forever to their adult children, nor do I think it's always productive for them. Many parents come to a point where they feel too traumatized by the ongoing rejection, blame, and anger of their adult children, and choose to make peace with the loss of their child, rather than continue to be hurt by them. Parents who have been loving and dedicated may be especially damaged and disoriented by continuing to reach out to a child who continues to blame them for something that they didn't do or for advocating a narrative of their childhoods that is so at odds with their own.

If a parent is confused by an estrangement it may be because they're in denial or overly defensive, as some adult children argue. On the other hand, it may be that their child's perspective of them and their lives together is so different from theirs that they are completely at a loss for how to respond.

I do recommend reaching out early on in an estrangement in order to understand and make sense of why the child has initiated it. There are separate realities in every family and it's reasonable for a parent, as a parent, to try to comprehend why the adult child feels the way that they do. In addition, some parents give up too soon because of the intense feelings of loss, anger, guilt, and humiliation that an estrangement creates in them.

So, in the early phase, I recommend that you send birthday and holiday gifts, emails, phone calls on a somewhat regular basis to demonstrate your commitment, dedication, and willingness to take a long, hard look at yourself and whatever part you play in your child's unhappiness with you or with the way that their life has turned out. Assume that this may be a matter of years, rather than months.

However, if a child isn't a minor and has very clearly stated that they want absolutely no contact with you after you have dedicated a reasonable amount of time and effort trying to re-connect, I think it is reasonable for you to work toward grieving the loss of that child, healing your anger about feeling so misused and misunderstood, addressing your emotions of guilt and regret, and resolving the inevitable feelings of heartbreak that come from being rejected by your own child. It's no small task. But, as some of the parents in my practice have shown me, it's sometimes easier if you just let go.





     
         

                     
               

       

       
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Offline Nana

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2010, 01:49:59 PM »
Luise

Good post.....
I absolutely agree with Dr. Joshua Coleman.  It will be very helpful for many moms who are dealing with this kind of loss.

Thankis Luise for sharing
Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:
Shakespeare

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 03:13:38 PM »
Thanks Nana, for reading!  ;D Sending love...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Marilyn

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 05:52:25 PM »
I agree Luise,this is very good.I have been trying for 6 yrs.What ever their issues are,i'm not going to let it effect me any more.By deciding to just let go,i feel more peace.I cant keep putting my self thru the heart ache.I guess i have been in denial.I know there will always be a hole in my heart,but i will make it thru this.I know i was a good Mom,and they are the ones that are really, really missing out,more than me.

Thank you Luise for the post,and WWU

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 06:35:45 PM »
You're welcome...thanks for being a contributor!  ;D Sending love...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Offline Pen

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2010, 08:20:46 AM »
Last night I read the article again on the NYT website, complete with reader's comments. It was quite different from reading it here; there is a lot of unresolved anger towards parents out there! I've been thinking about it since then, wondering where my situation fits on the scale of "worst parents ever" to "walks on water" and why some children can accept being the progeny of average humans and some cannot.

MILs who want to mend the rift are in a difficult spot; if we continue emailing and calling it can be interpreted as stalking and backfire on us. If we back off it can be seen as disinterest (as in the "should I respond to DIL's email" thread elsewhere.) I certainly understand that there were needs, perhaps unknown to me at the time, that my DS feels were not met. While he was growing up, I made sure to let him know that I didn't consider myself the end-all, be-all in parenting strategies but that he was loved and we were doing our best to make sure his needs, and his sibling's very different needs, were met. I did this because my own parents led me to believe they were the world's most amazing, in -tune parents and when I didn't feel accepted and loved by them it was my fault for being unacceptable (can you imagine feeling that way as a young child?) I didn't want my kids to suddenly wake up as young adults and realize that I wasn't as advertised.

"Respect" comes up a lot in the comments for this article, as well as here. I'm beginning to think it's a bit of a slippery slope to decide whether or not to maintain a relationship with parents or ILs based on whether or not one respects them. For instance, if someone like my DIL decides that only wealthy, ambitious people are worthy of respect, and that my DH & I don't fit her rubric, we're out. Instead of seeing how honorable and giving and socially-conscious and funny and caring and hardworking we are, she might feel justified in saying, "I don't respect you. Until you earn my respect, you aren't worthy of a relationship with your son or grandkids."

Because respect means something different to everyone, it's an unfortunate emotion to bring into already tenuous relationships. I work with people who have done some things in their personal lives that I don't respect, but in their professional lives they're amazing - it is possible to separate those feelings and treat them with professional courtesy while not pursuing an outside relationship. I don't respect my dad for treating my mom and us kids poorly, but he is my dad and the positive things he gave us aren't diminished by his poor relationship skills. He opened up a world to me that few kids get to experience.

Can our adult children and their spouses possibly try accepting the good in us and letting go of the things they perceive as less than good? They'll have their chance to raise their children how they see fit using everything they learned from our mistakes...do we also need to be cutoff?

I realize I'm thinking aloud here and I apologize.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 11:22:01 AM »
Hi, P. - Yes, I read that, too but thought it was too much to reprint here. Thanks for your thoughtful and useful post. When you "think out loud" here it is always a gift, not something to apologize for. I think we often look for logic where there is none, don't you? Sending love...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Marilyn

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2010, 02:23:51 PM »
Luise,or penstamen where is that article?Do you have the link to the web site?

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2010, 04:08:10 PM »
This isn't the same one...but it's great because it's the author's Website and Forum:

http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/forum/when-parents-hurt/
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Marilyn

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2010, 04:25:14 PM »
Thank you Luise   :)

Offline elsieshaye

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2010, 02:09:07 PM »
"why some children can accept being the progeny of average humans and some cannot. "

Penstamen, the assumption that all the angry posters had "average humans" as parents isn't necessarily true, unfortunately.
This too shall pass.  All is well.

Offline Pen

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2010, 02:14:39 PM »
I'm talking about the average ones, not the abusive ones. In the article Dr. Coleman is talking about average, non-abusive parents who are cut off.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2010, 02:36:10 PM »
A really important distinction.
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Offline elsieshaye

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2010, 03:14:20 PM »
Ah, sorry Penstamen - I thought you were referring to the commenters (all 46 pages of them - yikes!!) not the article itself.  There were some pretty awful situations there.

This too shall pass.  All is well.

Marilyn

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Re: Letting Go of Hurt
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2010, 11:35:22 PM »
This article was writen by... Joshua Coleman.... the same one that wrote the book................  When parents Hurt