How to survive birthdays, holidays, and special events.
I have three wonderful moms in my immediate circle of friends who have been ghosted by their children. The dictionary defines ghosting as “the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation.” The extreme pain this abandonment brings is the abandoned mom’s daily life challenge.
Some moms have no idea what caused this breach, with no way to find out. When the mom does recognize the source and wants to apologize to the adult child, this may not be an option.
Other moms can identify a heated conversation where opinions differed. This could have been about political, religious, or lifestyle choices.
Maybe unwelcome comments were made about the adult child’s parenting style or poor choices that set an unintentional estrangement in motion. Sometimes we make mistakes as parents, and we admit it! Kids didn’t come with an instruction book.
Stop trying to figure it out
In this brief article, let’s NOT go back to the source of the abandonment issue. You’ve already done this, over and over times one million, to figure out where things went wrong. If you do find your answer, with communication cut off, there’s no way to go back and change it, even if you could or would.
Remember, the answer may not be anything you’ve said or done. Seeking the whys will drive you crazy. It’s a form of mental abuse to put yourself through this every day. Instead, let’s talk about your self-care as a deserted parent.
How to Survive
Here are some suggestions from actual moms who have been there:
Distance yourself from the adult child. Time will help.
You have no control. Release the child and keep moving toward an enjoyable life without them.
Cry and get on with it.
Lean on your best friends to help you at those times that hurt more than others — birthdays, holidays, or special events for grandchildren.
If you have an open communication channel at all with the adult child, just listen… and listen some more.
In this tug of war, drop the rope.
Write notes and cards to the adult child or grandchildren. If you think they are not receiving them, put the notes in a box for them to read later in their life.
One mom keeps sending birthday gifts and Christmas gifts to her estranged daughter. She’s sure they are dumped without opening, yet she will never give up or stop. It eases her mind.
Take Care of Yourself
This unsolvable problem can rob you of your health and mental well-being. You may need to seek the help of a professional counselor to learn ways of handling the ever nagging and uncorrectable whys. Simply take care of yourself.
Look for Abandonment Support
Check into on-line support groups for abandoned parents or books written on the subject to let you know you are not alone.
Find Your Source of Joy and Courage
Where do you get courage? Is it from your tribe of friends? From your religious beliefs? From self-help groups or books? You can lighten this heavy load and experience everyday happiness even though you will never forget your child or stop loving them.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
When you catch yourself for the millionth and one time asking “Why…?” just stop. Stop yourself and say out loud, “Not today, I’m going to be kind to me today.” You have the choice to have everyday happiness in your life.
As you know, life is short. Enjoy the adult kids that are still in your life, or your friends, or your pets, or your garden. Find what lightens your mood even a little and do more of it.
Maybe you were the reason the adult child stopped communicating. In hindsight, you see it, but there’s no way to say sorry. So, forgive yourself.
None of us know how to parent. We just take a very good stab at it and do our best. Sometimes we have said or done things that can’t be corrected now. If you need help with forgiving yourself, professionals in your church or mental health professionals will help.
Figure Out How to Live in the Moment
This is a survival technique. When something good happens, sit in that, and enjoy it to the fullest. You are worthy of this joy, no matter how fleeting. Your past mistakes or your child’s rejection don’t affect your present-day worthiness! Next time you enjoy your morning coffee, or a piece of fine chocolate, or the sunshine streaming in your window, take note and let yourself be there for it! This brings attention to the things that we love and helps us experience the good in each day.
Let me know your thoughts, and if some of the suggestions are helpful to you.