Sadly, it is not uncommon for a mother or father to be estranged from their grown child. Being estranged from a grown child is likely a painful and frustrating situation for any parent. Perhaps, as a parent who is estranged from a grown child, you would like to find a way to open the lines of communication again in an attempt to mend your relationship. As the grown child of a parent from which I found myself estranged for many years, I’d like to share the steps my parent took to successfully mend our relationship.
Be willing to acknowledge painful truths. This particular step will likely be the most difficult in your journey to mend the relationship with your grown child from whom you are estranged. Most grown children who have become estranged from one or more parents have been pushed very far emotionally by life events that involved both of you. Some of these life events may have been something you had no control over, and could not change even if you had the opportunity to go back and try. But for those events that you did have control over, and which hurt your child deeply, you will have to be willing to acknowledge them if you are serious about mending your relationship with your grown child. It will be likely be a scary experience to acknowledge the painful truths that have caused you to be estranged from your grown child. But if you are not willing to do just that, you may have no hope of mending your relationship.
If your grown child deserves an apology, give one. This is where you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Were the events that hurt your child to such a degree that they later became estranged from you simply a series of unfortunate events that you had no control over? Or did you make decisions that served only yourself? Decisions that caused your child to be neglected, or even abused? It must be tremendously difficult and painful to own up to these kinds of truths. But if you know in your heart that your child deserves an apology from you, then give one. Do not apologize solely out of obligation. Apologize only if you sincerely feel remorseful over personal decisions that hurt your child. If you are not sincere, your grown child will know it. Offering an insincere apology just for the sake of appeasing your child really isn’t going to affect your relationship in a positive way. In fact, you may only make things worse.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you are serious about your desire to mend your relationship with a grown child from which you have been estranged, you must be willing to communicate. How can you help them to understand why you made certain decisions if you can’t talk to them about it? You are only human, and they will have to accept that you are only human if they, too, want to mend the relationship. Humans make choices, and sometimes those choices turn out to be terrible ones. Your grown child will, of course, learn that for themselves over and over in life as they make their own choices, some of which will turn out to be bad ones. If you can commit yourself to trying diligently to communicate to your grown child, you will have the opportunity to help them see you as simply a person who made some mistakes. Mistakes that you regret and would change if you could.
If you desire to mend a relationship with your grown child from whom you are estranged, you probably have a lot of work, and a lot of emotional pain, in front of you. From experience though, I can say that the mended relationship between myself and my estranged parent has healed my heart, mind, and soul to such a degree that I don’t even know how to express it in words. Not only was I finally able to let go of a painful history, but I also realized that I had missed my parent desperately during the years that we were estranged. I know that the journey was not easy for my parent; I know that it was painful and scary. But I am so glad that my parent saw me as important enough to be worth the trouble to go through everything it took to mend our relationship.