Common Myths About Estrangement
This is copied from an email sent out by Dr. Joshua Coleman who works with estranged parents. He was once estranged himself.
Six Common Myths of Estranged Parents
MYTH #1: I can’t have a happy life without my child or grandchild in it.
FACT: While the pain of estrangement is enormous, the biggest obstacle isn’t just the absence of your child; it’s your guilt, shame, and inclination to punish yourself. It’s your belief that not only could you have done better but that you should have done better.
MYTH #2: If my own child rejects me, it proves that I’m unlovable.
FACT: Your value isn’t for your child or anyone else to determine. Your value is part of your birthright, and you should guard it with your life.
MYTH #3: I should always be thinking about my child. Otherwise, I’m being a neglectful parent and a bad, selfish person.
FACT: It isn’t good for your mental health to obsess about the estrangement or the well-being of your child. Putting your child out of your mind can actually be useful for your happiness and serenity. You are still a good person and a good parent even if you don’t think about him or her.
MYTH #4: If I hadn’t made the decisions or mistakes I made, my child’s life would be completely different.
FACT: Perhaps, but parents are only part—and sometimes a small part—of determining how a child’s life turns out.
Genetics, class, neighborhood, siblings, peers, culture, their choice of partners, and random luck are sometimes far more important.
MYTH #5: My child is the most appropriate person to say what kind of a parent I am or was.
FACT: Sometimes one’s children are the least able for the following reasons:
1) They are too influenced by your ex or the person to whom they’re married.
2) Their mental illness causes them to view you through the distorted lens of their illness.
3) Their therapist has changed their perception about what kind of a parent you are or were.
4) They devalue you for reasons that don’t have to do with your parenting. They have to combat their fear that they’re too dependent and to prove to themselves that they can stand on their own.
MYTH #6: If only I’d raised them differently or gotten them help, I wouldn’t be estranged today.
FACT: No one knows who is going to estrange and who isn’t. There are many truly abusive parents whose children would never dream of estranging them; conversely, there are plenty of dedicated parents whose children choose to end the relationship. The fact that so many dedicated parents are estranged today shows that this is part of a larger social phenomenon, more than the problem of any one parent.
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Author: PEAK facilitators
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