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How Estranged Mothers Can Find Acceptance and Healing

By Christine Field August 23, 2020 Family

Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

It is a thought that has a lot in common with Alcoholics Anonymous and Buddha. They all believe that there is healing power in acceptance and refusing to be drawn into other people’s drama.

Today, I want to talk about how estranged mothers can also find acceptance and healing.


Remember the Serenity Prayer? It says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

When we say that prayer, we seek serenity, which is defined as the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. Isn’t that what we all want?

If that serenity could be achieved by crying, arguing or carrying on, hurting mamas would be pretty serene.

But that’s not how serenity is attained. It’s attained by accepting what you cannot change and learning to know the difference. It’s attained by living with an outcome that you don’t care for, while retaining your own inner peace and joy.

Acceptance for Estranged Mothers Starts with You

The point is that we have to accept some problems, some situations, and learn to live with them. It’s an acknowledgment that the road ahead will not be rosy, but if you accept it, you can learn to move on in your life.

This inability to accept and move on can be a stumbling block for struggling or estranged mamas. We want to resist and fight and turn over every stone and possibility to try to change the way things are.

A Buddhist would advise us to stop resisting and find acceptance. Life always changes. A part of the beauty of life is that it’s unpredictable. Nothing here in this realm is permanent.

Change Can Be Positive

Can we learn to look at change through a positive mindset? If everything in life was always the same, we would stagnate and stop growing.

In our society, we watch way too many TV shows where the problems or dilemmas are wrapped up in a tidy 30 or 60 minutes.

In our real lives, not every problem is solvable. We may not have control over every facet of our lives. What we can control is how we react to these obstacles and whether we accept them or struggle against them.

When we struggle against them, we beat our heads against a wall. It doesn’t change the situation, and it leaves us with a headache.

I often think about how people with chronic illness cope. There are some that fight and fight and try every new medicine and untested procedure under the sun. For others, acceptance that there is an illness, it’s chronic and there’s nothing that can be done about it can be the beginning of freedom.

Accepting an illness doesn’t change the fact that you or a loved one may be ill, but it frees you from that extra layer of suffering. It allows you to accept the situation and roll with it. Now comes the creativity – how can you enjoy life under this new set of circumstances?

Is It Time to Stop Fighting?

If you are living with that extra layer of suffering, like a child who becomes estranged from the family, who does it help to continually fight against it?

Your suffering will not cause your child to change. Chances are, they are so caught up in their own drama that they do not even notice your distress, much less care about it.

So, you have a choice: futility or freedom.

You can invest your energy and your tears in a situation that appears futile (reconciliation with your adult child), or you can reach for freedom by letting go of the painful ties that keep you miserable.

You Are Not Giving Up

Does that mean you are giving up on your child? Absolutely not. Rather, it means understanding that this is something that can’t be changed by your suffering. Stopping the continuous battle can save you energy and grief and allow you to focus on things that you can change.

The thing that you CAN change is whether you will choose to live the rest of your life in misery, or choose joy and freedom.

It takes some creativity. It takes acknowledging that the birds are circling your head, but refusing to let them build a nest.

The next time you find yourself drowning in the grief of having an estranged child, consider whether or not this situation is something you can change. If you can’t, consider simply accepting it and moving on.

Paddling upstream, fighting wave after wave against a rough current, is difficult and not the way the river is supposed to flow. It exhausts you. Follow the current, glide with the river and accept your situation.

You are not giving up hope. But you are giving up control over the outcome.

You might find that choosing freedom over futility will not only make life easier, but also much more enjoyable. You deserve to put pain behind you and reach for contentment and joy.

Do you know anyone who is an estranged mother? What did they do to find acceptance and healing? Have you been in pain long enough over a situation that you cannot change? Does it benefit you to continue in pain? What are some small steps you can take toward freedom? Please share your thoughts below!

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Dear Estranged Mother and Father,
For those of you who have been truly abusive, kindly distance yourselves. The remaining individuals, please pause and diligently attend to the following: The actions of your grown child are not a reflection of anything you have done. Your grown child never required a legitimate reason to sever ties with you. Your grown child understands that you are not a narcissist or an abuser.

To your grown child, you represent an easy target. You are readily accessible and a convenient sacrifice. Furthermore, there are countless others like you. This means that your grown child can attain the one thing they desire above all else: witnessing, presuming, and being aware of your suffering in their absence.

They want you to agonize over what you may have done wrong. They want you to invest time, money, and excessive energy into reconnecting with your beloved offspring.

Additionally, your grown child derives satisfaction from discussing with fellow adult children how they have severed ties with you. They claim to seek ‘peace’ and accuse you, as the offending party, of refusing to take responsibility for your actions.

When you attempt to defend yourself, a united group of adult children embark on seek-and-destroy missions to promptly negate any speck of truth you may offer. A collective assemblage of uncredentialed and a few credentialed psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists dissect each word you utter in order to establish your evident narcissism.

Alternatively, they may assert that you have bipolar disorder or that you are a psychopathic sociopath. Even if you have received a diagnosis ruling out the aforementioned ailments, you (and your psychiatrist, by extension) will not be granted belief.

Furthermore, your grown child will rationalize any parental abuse they inflicted upon you. That time they siphoned money from your bank account? Well, surely that was your fault. You failed to provide them with the extravagant items they desired. Or that instance when they physically attacked you with no provocation? Well, you simply would not cease communication with them. Never will they consider that you were discussing their responsibility to clean up a mess they had left behind.

Neither will they acknowledge the significant property damage amounting to thousands of dollars that they caused in your home. No, to them, you are the problem. You are the parent. Their behavior must inevitably stem from your shortcomings. No, scratch that, it unquestionably originates from your flaws. They will stop at nothing to ensure the world remains ignorant of, or refuses to believe, your account.

At some point, your cherished children held you in high regard. They viewed you as their loving parents and experienced a profound connection and sense of belonging in your presence.Then the advent of social media intervened. They observed other children garnering attention by blaming their parents.

Observing the transition of a ‘my parent is a narcissist’ post, from garnering a mere like to reaching millions, is not an uncommon occurrence. It depicts a frenzied congregation of individuals seeking a sense of unity. The underlying cause is inconsequential; the hunger for belonging and attention-seeking takes precedence.

These individuals are well aware of their influence. Additional parents, often wanting to avoid the same fate, other family members, and strangers hastily join in, condemning you, despite their lack of insight into the true nature of the events that transpired between you and your adult child.

Everyone feels entitled to passing judgment, even without any personal knowledge of you. In this chaos, you unwittingly play your part as well. You plead, you shout, you proclaim, ‘But I am innocent! I did nothing wrong!’ Yet, this is where you falter gravely, as the veracity of your actions holds no significance. It matters not whether you committed any wrongdoing or were an exceptional parent.

The sole relevance lies in the fact that you must be subjected to punishment. Cease this behavior. Release your grip. Parenthood is a lifelong commitment, occasionally accompanied by ease and joy. Witnessing the development of the little, precious being you once brought into this world, watching them excel in academics, embark on careers, enter matrimony, have children, and embrace contented lives, can bring immense satisfaction.

However, there are instances where the path is marred by ugliness. You find yourself discarded like refuse. Blame is attributed to you, falsehoods are spread, trust is shattered, and rejection becomes your unwelcome companion. As a parent, your innate instinct demands that you correct the perceived wrongs, striving to prove to your cherished offspring that you are not their adversary.

Nevertheless, your beloved child has matured into an adult, having assumed their own chosen identity. The arduous endeavor begins now. You must relinquish your hold, severing emotional ties. Embrace your own existence, flourish, discover joy, and reestablish self-belief, perhaps even for the first time.

This is your moment to find your kin. Seek out other parents, akin to yourself, who comprehend that refraining from discussing adult children is often the most prudent course of action for estranged parents. After all, these individuals are now adults, capable of weathering life’s storms independently. It’s ok to let go. The time has arrived for you to embark on your own journey.

Choose you.

The Author

Christine Field is an author, attorney, speaker, listener and life coach. She has four grown kids, mostly adopted, mostly homeschooled. She provides MomSolved© resources and reassurances to moms facing common and uncommon family life challenges. Christine helps moms rediscover their mojo for wholehearted living after parenting. Visit her website here

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