Love, Always

What to do… when your grown-up child doesn’t want a relationship with you.

You raised your child. You love your child. Now, your child is all grown up…

And all you want is to enjoy a healthy, happy, mature relationship with them.

Only problem is…

Your kid doesn’t seem to want the same kind of relationship with you.

Or maybe…

Your kid wants absolutely nothing to do with you.

Right up there with death, divorce and adultery, this is probably one of the most devastating experiences that a human being can go through.

It’s so easy to assign blame. “After all I’ve done for you… this is the thanks I get!”

And it’s equally tempting to blame yourself. “I screwed up. I was a terrible excuse for a parent. No wonder my kid hates me.”

If this is something you’re going through, as a parent, my heart goes out to you.

There’s so, so, so much I’d love to share with you about how to resolve the emotions that might be pummeling through you.

But for now, in the limited space on this blog, I have just a few words to share.

I hope that these reminders bring you some comfort.

Comfort, or even… hope.

1. Deep down, very possibly, your child is craving your acceptance. This begins with your acceptance of where your child is at, right now. No matter how painful this may be for you, it may very well be the first step in repairing your relationship.

2. If you want to start a conversation with your child about what’s going on, do it with care, compassion and love. First, ask if it’s OK to open up that kind of conversation.

“I’m aware that you don’t seem to want a relationship with me and I respect your feelings, but I really would like to talk about it. Can I please talk to you about this?”

3. If your child says, “No, I’m not open to talking about it”… respect that. If you don’t respect your child’s decision, you’ll probably be giving them another reason to resent you. Let it go. Perhaps you can try to open the door again later, but for now… let it go.

4. If your child does give permission to talk about the relationship, it’s best to calmly, simply and briefly say what you want to say. Don’t justify or blame. Just express what you want.

“I would like to have a happy, healthy, loving relationship with you. Are you open to mending what’s hurting, and co-creating that kind of relationship… together?”

5. In order to express yourself calmly, you will probably need to vent and release the strong emotions you’re holding inside, privately and safely, before you talk to your child. Otherwise it’s likely to be difficult, if not impossible, for you to stay calm during the conversation.

6. It’s important to grieve your loss — even if it’s only a temporary one. Let yourself cry about it. It’s OK. Of course, if the grief is interfering with your life, career or other relationships, you might consider seeking assistance from a qualified emotional health professional.

7. It’s important to forgive yourself. You did the best that you could with the skills that you had, then. As Oprah’s mentor, the late Maya Angelou, so accurately put it: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

8. Honor yourself for giving your child the gift of life. Be the mother (or father) that you truly are. Be unconditionally loving. Love your child, no matter what. Accept your child, no matter what. Bless them and wish them well. Believe in their ability to heal whatever is ailing them… and when they do, be there waiting… with open arms and a loving heart.

Until then…

9. Keep the love burning, inside.

And…

10. Keep hope alive.

. . .

PS. Have you made a change for the better (as a parent or otherwise,) once you learned a better way?

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