Parental rejection is one of the most devastating things a parent will ever experience. Especially amid a high-conflict separation or divorce, it can feel as though you’ve lost everything. Whenever your child chooses not to be a part of your life, it is incredibly challenging not to become overwhelmed by negative emotions. Many parents describe feeling “stuck” in a state of powerlessness, as though they’ve lost all control over their situation.
Thankfully, there is hope. Through understanding, compassion, and a healthy, forward-looking mindset, parents can overcome rejection from their child and work towards rebuilding family bonds. Read on to learn more about how to cope with parental rejection, as well as how Pathways Family Coaching can support your healing journey through every step.
Understand What’s Really Happening
A child’s rejection of a parent is a complicated emotional issue caused by many factors. Whether it’s the stress of family upheaval, the malicious and manipulative behaviour of the co-parent(s), or the lingering effects of emotional trauma, there are many reasons why a child may choose to reject a parent. Before tackling the issue, rejected parents should seek to understand the root causes of their family bond obstruction, approaching their child (and their complex, nuanced response to their circumstance) with compassion and a willingness to understand what they’re feeling.
While seeking to understand the “why” behind your child’s actions, be wary of leaning on pseudo-clinical terms like “parental alienation [link to “The Problem With Parental Alienation,” Q2:4].” Even though these terms may resonate with you and validate your situation, focusing too much on a label can distract you from solving the problem and beginning your healing journey. Your family dynamic is unique; regardless of whether it fits neatly into somebody else’s definition, you can still work towards repairing your parent-child bond.
Seek Support (And Understand Its Limitations)
While working through these challenges, parents need emotional support. For many, this can take the form of support groups where parents share their experiences coping with the trauma of parental rejection. Sharing your story can be uplifting, validating, and cathartic throughout this difficult experience. Additionally, merely being around parents experiencing the same grief can help mitigate feelings of isolation, judgement, and loneliness.
While support groups are a vital part of the process for many parents, it is crucial to understand their limitations. It’s all too easy to get lost in an echo chamber of commiseration while losing focus on moving forward with real-world recovery strategies. Further, be cautious of any advice or feedback received from fellow group members. Everyone in a support group (including you) sees the world through the lens of their own trauma, clouding judgement and sometimes resulting in dangerous (if well-intentioned) advice.
Set the Stage for Reconnection
As painful as it may be, the reality is that you can’t force a meaningful reconnection with your child. Despite your best intentions, your child ultimately must be willing to welcome you back into their life. For many rejected parents, this is a painful truth to confront, often resulting in feeling “stuck” with very little control over their situation.
These feelings are more than understandable, but becoming consumed with them will hinder any progress towards rebuilding a relationship with your child. The best step forward is positioning yourself to be open to reconnection by developing compassion and understanding for your child’s emotions, as well as living a life that your child will want to be part of. It’s not easy (especially in the wake of high-conflict separation and divorce), but it’s ultimately the path towards meaningful, lasting reconnection with your child.
This post was previously published on pathwaysfamilycoaching.com.
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