Managing Expectations for Reconciliation
Attempting to reconcile with an estranged parent as an adult can be fraught with challenges. It’s crucial for adult children to recognize that everyone’s perspective and life experiences evolve over time. Perceived reality is based on what people knew when the disconnection occurred. Changes have occurred since the time their perceptions of past events were influenced. Therefore, setting unrealistic expectations for the reunion can lead to disappointment.
Open Communication as a Path Forward
Rather than imposing expectations, adult children should focus on open communication. Sharing their perspective and experiences with their estranged parent is essential.
It is important for the adult child to explore the facts as they see them. They can then present them openly to their parents. If the parent is open to the facts and willing to hear them, as well as listening and engaging with an open heart and mind, there may be an opportunity for the adult child to rebuild their relationship or forge a new relationship.
The Complexity of Reconciliation
Reconciliation is a complex and ongoing process that requires effort from both sides. Adult children often struggle with accepting that the traits they were trained to despise in their parents still exist. This can lead to confusion and emotional pain, as they navigate the nuances of a renewed relationship.
Recovery from estrangement as an adult child includes the following:
- Opening the lines of communication with your estranged parent, or family members, to better understand the situation. This will help you to forgive yourself for any part that you may have played in the estrangement and will allow you to rebuild your self-esteem.
- Finding additional support through friends and professional counselling. This can help you accept not only your parents, but yourself as well. You will heal from many of the invisible wounds that have been affecting you over the years.
- Gain a sense of inner peace and power, to help you to let go of the anger that has been plaguing you for so long. You are now able to focus on the future without these burdens weighing you down. You are now ready to be part of your family again.
Parental alienation leaves a profound impact on adult children. It affects their self-esteem, trust in others, and expectations for reconciliation. To embark on a path toward healing and potential reconnection, adult children must prioritize open communication. They need to acknowledge the complexity of their emotions and relationships. It is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to confront the past while keeping an open mind about the future.
For the parents, it is coming to terms with the fact that the rift may never be healed. The outcome is not in your control, it depends on all parties. It also depends on outside influencers who have a vested interest on the outcome of the reconciliation. If a divorce has been part of this, both divorcees involved in the situation may be needed. Time is also a factor; it heals but can also separate further.
Dr. Richard A. Gardner is an American psychiatrist best known for his work as a child custody evaluator in high-conflict divorce cases, as well as for his controversial theory of “parental alienation”.