Themes of Estranged Parents' Forums
Just think about all the things we own that came with an instruction manual and yet we were handed a tiny human being without instructions. I think we all did a pretty good job or we wouldn't be on this board trying to figure out what went wrong. We should be looking at them as adults who are making a terrible mistake by throwing away the very people who wanted nothing but the best for them. If I did anything wrong it was loving them too much.
Certain themes show up again and again across all forums, and even in independent accounts written by estranged parents. This is a selection of the most common.
Themes in bold are links to pages of commentary.
- Our children want to hurt us.
- I just want to beat his ass.
- We're not perfect, and neither are they.
- I'm contacting my estranged child for me, not her.
- Unwanted contact isn't stalking.
- Abuse is rare.
- Truly abusive parents don't care.
- Real abusers know they're abusive.
- Our children know we weren't abusive.
- We did the best we could with what we had.
- Children don't come with a manual.
- If they heard my side of it, they'd understand.
- Estrangement is a power play.
- Estrangement is abuse.
- Estrangement is the worst abuse one human being can inflict on another.
- Not letting us see our grandchildren is multi-generational abuse of both us and our grandchildren.
- They're giving us the silent treatment.
- They want us to chase them.
- They keep track of our lives and can't stand it when we're happy.
- Their posts on Facebook are aimed at us.
- They're laughing at us.
- They're using the grandchildren as pawns.
- They're teaching the grandchildren to be estranged from them in the future.
- I'm worried that my children are hurting themselves by being estranged from me.
- They're missing out on so much by being estranged from us.
- We were wonderful parents.
- We used to be so close.
- They act like they've forgotten about all the good times.
- After everything we did for them!
- Parents deserve respect no matter what.
- Honor thy mother and father.
- My own parents were horribly abusive, and I took care of them to the day they died.
- The rest of the family should take my side.
- How can we resolve this if we don't talk about it?
- We didn't choose the estrangement, they did.
- You can't know what it's like until you've walked in our shoes.
- I hope it happens to you.
A historical footnote: In 1873-1884, Samuel Butler wrote The Way of All Flesh, a semi-autobiographical novel about his relationship with his parents. His description of his father:
On these, his black days, he would take very gloomy views of things and say to himself that in spite of all his goodness to them his children did not love him. [....] How base, he would exclaim to himself, was such ingratitude! How especially hard upon himself, who had been such a model son, and always honoured and obeyed his parents though they had not spent one hundredth part of the money upon him which he had lavished upon his own children. "It is always the same story," he would say to himself, "the more young people have the more they want, and the less thanks one gets; I have made a great mistake; I have been far too lenient with my children; never mind, I have done my duty by them, and more; if they fail in theirs to me it is a matter between God and them. I, at any rate, am guiltless."
Some things are eternal.
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