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The beat goes on: Politics dividing families

Election cycle exacerbates existing
problems between parents and adult children
 

by Sheri McGregor

politics dividing familiesIt’s happening again. Adult children are insisting their parents change their political views—or else.  Are politics dividing families?

Tunnel vision

Four years ago, several parents wrote to me, distraught over sons and daughters who threatened to disown them because their politics didn’t align. This time, more parents are sharing their stories, and the rhetoric is more intense. 

Here are a few examples: 

  • A father writes that his grown daughters started college and adopted an entitlement mentality. Although he raised them with values that included working for what they wanted in life, he reports, “They say life should be easy and believe that everything should be free. An odd teaching from a college that isn’t cheap.” He has required that they work to pay for part of their education and pitch in around the house, which his daughters don’t like. They have decided they don’t like him, and have become downright rude. While not physically estranged, emotionally and in their worldview, they’re on another planet. As the Presidential election draws near, they disrespect his views, and often tell him, “OK, Boomer,” (a new phrase young people use to dehumanize elders). The daughters, though, may be in for a surprise. Dear old Dad is growing weary of their surly superiority. He’s contemplating booting from the house and no longer paying their tuition. 
  • Another father says his son, who had been fully estranged for more than two years, was careless about Covid-19. The son called to check in on his dad but wasn’t empathetic to his fears. “He says the virus is politicized,” the father says. “He doesn’t get what it’s like to be in your seventies plus have another health risk factor.” 
  • A widowed mother writes that her 34-year-old son cannot tolerate her fiscally conservative views. When he repeatedly made every conversation political, insisting his “far-left” opinions were right, she suggested they agree to disagree and talk about other things. He said he couldn’t separate politics from the rest of his life and called her a racist. Shocked by the charge, she says, “I asked him for examples, which he couldn’t provide.” He yelled at her, repeating the word “racist,” louder and louder as he stood over her chair. Shaken by his obnoxious rancor, she asked him to leave and stop coming around until he could control himself. That was two months ago and, other than a few emails in which he continues to harangue her, there has been no contact. She says, “I love him and wish things were better between us, but he doesn’t get to choose what I believe.” 

 

  • Another mother says her son rejected her and her husband (his father) during the last Presidential election year. When it came to their votes, it was his way or the highway. Two years later, he began reaching out and even brought their grandson for a visit. After that, they video chatted every few weeks. Recently though, his demeanor has changed. “As the election draws near, I can feel him rejecting us again,” she says. Their daughter, with whom they have shared a good relationship, is also now putting political views ahead of them. She recently sent her mother a text saying if they didn’t dissolve their assets and “support the revolutionaries,” she would stop all contact. The mother replied that at their age, they would support just causes on their own terms. The mother went on to encourage her daughter to do something to make a difference about what she believes: “Volunteer to clean up, rather than destroy. Get a teaching degree and educate the next generation for a better life. Or get a law degree and help those needing assistance.” The daughter’s reply was “rote.” These children are 37 and 39. “Old enough to know better,” as their mother says.   

What I see in these stories is bullying, disrespect, and even arrogance. That’s not so different than other estrangement situations. These “children” are like many who harshly judge their parents in terms of what they determine are unchangeable traits. Then they use these so-called traits to justify the rejection. This is the opposite of parents, who most often try to sidestep conflicts and get along. Or, as the widowed mother above says, “Agree to disagree.”  That’s why the parents whose son rejected them over the last election welcomed him back with open arms. They try and empathize. Living and working where he does is worlds away than his quaint hometown, where his parents still live. He’s adopted different values. It’s too bad that, at least during the election cycle, he has trouble seeing his parents as whole people. They may differ politically but are still worthy and good.  

Do politics bring out what’s already there? 

The political season amps up the opinionated and highlights the intolerance of those who insist that others agree, but some parents have faced similar strong-arming all along. Those whose children make a stink about their views might look at the current behavior with an eye to the past. Upon reflection, the widow whose son calls her a racist says, “He’s always been a bully. Politics just makes it more intense.”  

 Maybe your political views are very important to you, so when your “children” say those opinions are immoral, wrong, or stupid, it’s tougher than usual to try and keep the peace. That thought begs the question: Should you always stand down? Sometimes, preserving your own peace takes precedence over trying to get along.  

I can understand the father whose daughters dishonor him. It’s tough to live with adults who devalue you and your beliefs. Maybe he’s right, and the school of hard knocks will remind his daughters of the lessons he once instilled in them: ideals about adult responsibility that their college culture has apparently erased.  

For the parents whose son and daughter have rejected the salt-of-the-Earth values they were raised with, peace means recognizing that the world has changed. Nowadays, political rhetoric is often about right and wrong. Everything from global warming to eating meat has become an issue. These parents believe the fear that now permeates every facet of society has taken away all the fun. “People used to get dirty, drink out of a hose, and not be so worried all the time,” the mother says. The couple can only offer their children messages of love and encourage their interests as they always did. Meanwhile, they’ll vote as they deem best.   

Politics dividing families: What do you think? 

In the peer support forum here at the site, political discussions are not allowed. That rule has not changed, but I want parents whose children reject them for their political beliefs to know they are not alone. Here, in comments to this article, I hope you will share your experiences in this regard and support one another. Please be respectful and kind.   

 Related reading

 The turning point

When your estranged adult child wants nothing to do with you: Go with the flow?

Estrangement: Parents, use weepy days for your own good

Estrangement: Parents whose children have rejected them may have weepy days, but they can use them for their own good 

By Sheri McGregor

my son hates meThe 18-year-old face that looks at me from the photocopied passport is strong. It’s my handsome son—only I’ve seen a more recent photo on the Internet, and he doesn’t look the same. He’s changed so much that if I passed him on the street tomorrow, I might not recognize him.  

Stapled to the top left corner of the page is a receipt for registered mail. Many years ago (it seems like eons now), I made the copy before sending the original to an address my son had given me. He was moving far away, so I would send it for safekeeping to the mother he’d exchanged me for. When he married, he got a new sister, brother, and father too. I don’t know who he’s with these days (and it’s none of my business anyway).   

I pause in my clearing of the desk drawer to remember the day we got our passports. We stood in line at the post office, filled in the paperwork side-by-side, and had our photos taken. We needed passports for an out-of-country trip we were taking together. Just him and I. Back then, I could never have imagined all that later transpired, that he would reject me and his whole family, and that I would look back on years of estrangement that have become the norm. 

The desk chair rocks slightly as the memories fill my head. On that trip with my son, we took dozens of digital photos. Mountains and cows and fields and sky. Tourist spots, views from a paddle boat, and a banana-sized slug we encountered on a trail.  It was a fun trip. When we got home, I printed out a few of the photos, and then asked my techie son if he would burn the rest onto a CD—that’s also here in the desk drawer. In black Sharpie ink on the disc, my son’s strong, square handwriting says, “Trip With Mom.”        

I feel my mouth droop into a frown, but I don’t cry. I’m long past the early years of estrangement when finding a photo or some other memento could instantly reduce me to tears. One thought would lead to another and before long I’d be having one of those weepy days. Most parents of estranged adults have had them, those days when the question pounds—why?–and we feel so powerless that several days might be lost to sad, looping thoughts. Or we spend several nights sitting up in the dark, our faces streaked with tears lit silver in the moonlight.  

 Get a new perspective 

I grew tired of those sad, out-of-control days. I didn’t like feeling powerless, unable to change the reality of my son’s decisions, yet still enslaved by them. I learned to overcome those tearful days when a memento sent me reeling. I saw those times as a chance to reaffirm the truth.  

Before I explain, let me tell you about a technique called “imaginal therapy.“ Commonly used with people who suffer PTSD, imaginal therapy safely exposes the person to past trauma, triggers distress in a neutral environment, and helps them to process associated feelings, come to conclusions about the experiences, and even resolve their sense of guilt, powerlessness, or responsibility for them. Repeated exposure to past trauma, through safely imagining and recounting the experiences, promotes healing.  

Next time you come across something that triggers all the pain of estrangement, consider sitting with the reality, confronting your feelings, and using the remembered exposure to reaffirm the truth for your own good. We’ll get to more about how in a minute. 

When adult children hate parents, it’s time to reaffirm the truth 

Parents cut off by adult children first blame themselves—and there are plenty of people out there to echo those thoughts.  We must have been too nice … or too mean. We did too much for them … or not enough. We were too strict, too lenient, too this or not enough that. The stories we come up with ourselves or accept from authority figures to try and empathize and even justify an adult child’s rejection, go round and round and dump us off in the same old place: We failed and it’s up to us to fix it. 

The trouble is we often can’t fix the relationship. Certainly not when the “child” comes up with revisionist history, is hellbent on blaming us for his every problem, or won’t talk. To continue trying keeps us in the line of fire or suffering repeated rejection. While we stall, hope, and fret, we remain in limbo, unable to move beyond the pain or get on with living life. And since we’re surrounded by memories and mementos, reminded by relatives who ask if we’ve reconciled, or faced with uncertainties about how to handle the holidays or whether we’ll run into our child somewhere and whether they’ll make a scene, our lives become mine fields for emotional triggers.  

As a mother of five, it was second nature for me to forgive my children. Spilled milk, lost library books, a dented car.… Parents forgive and forget. It can be the same in estrangement. In an adult child’s absence, even when it’s an abusive one, we might idealize the good times or qualities we miss, while dulling the memories of the bad that we don’t.   

The next time you have a weepy day, use it to reaffirm the history as it really went down. Instead of howling down an alley of despair, find a safe, quiet space, and go over the events as they occurred. Re-imagine the traumatic experiences, write them down even, all the while recognizing that you lived through those times. Tell yourself you’re growing stronger and more able to move beyond the pain. Imaginal therapy allows for repeated exposure through memory and recounting so that it becomes less traumatic. The process can be the same when we remember the incidents of estrangement. 

Remembering the painful experiences involved in my son’s cutting-off has helped me remember details and come to conclusions I originally missed or wasn’t ready to accept. At first, most parents remember episodes or events through a lens of personal failure and imagine that if they had done something different, they could change their child’s response or prevent the estrangement. That’s why I recommend an exercise in Done With The Crying (and in the WORKBOOK) that is designed to help parents remember all the good they did and validate the job they did as parents. All parents make mistakes, but once we lose the self-blame that so often darkens our memories when our children turn on us, we can see the events as they occurred. 

My son’s choice to estrange from our family didn’t start with anything his father and I did or didn’t do. My husband and I are loving parents who accepted and supported our kids the best way we knew how. By looking at the hurt by reliving the trauma, we’ve moved beyond it.  

The last laugh 

I take another look at the photocopied passport, marvel at the strong face of the handsome son I once held in such high esteem, notice, and then detach from the longing that surfaces. It’s only the mom in me. Setting the photocopy aside, I pick up the CD, and put it in the disc drive. When the album loads, I begin to click through, instantly confused. The same picture appears, over and over and over. Is there some message here? No. It’s just an ordinary scenery photo taken from the car window. Nothing of significance.  

A memory hits. A day when he came to see us a year after his estrangement began, and he fanned the flames of hope he later extinguished. I remember the quirk of a smile on my son’s lips when he asked if I still had the pictures from our trip. I thought it was because he had happy memories of our time together. He told me he had only one photo left.   

I look at the repeated photo on my computer screen, thinking I should be angry or sad, but realizing that I’m not. I’m confused. Did he purposely copy the same one over and over?  Was he asking me about the pictures that day to see if I’d discovered his trick? I take the disc out and re-read his strong handwriting marking our trip in thick black ink. And then I laugh—at my clever son. I can still appreciate his precocious nature that once enchanted me. I loved that boy. I thought the world of him. I place the disc in its sleeve and tuck into the box I’m packing for my new home. Whatever the joke is, I guess it’s on me.  

 Related Reading

Estrangement: In my garden

Wall of silence: An artistic expression about living with estrangement

 

Restful respite: a moon garden

by Sheri McGregor

ways to get to sleepWhen the still of night hits, rejected parents often have difficulty soothing their minds and settling into slumber. Hot summer nights (and unrest in the world) can add to the trouble of getting any sleep. Don’t just lie there feeling miserable as the whys and what-ifs loop through your restless mind. Get up and take a dose of the moon! Create something fun and calming: a moon garden. 

In the early days of my estrangement from my son, I would often wander outdoors in the evening. By the light of the moon, the bright, sunny colors of my daytime garden faded, making room for more demure features to shine. The chalky leaves of Artemesia and Dusty Miller, a shallow, solar-lit bowl, and glowing spheres that mimicked the moon itself became a tonic. 

A dose of the moon 

There’s a poem I love: The Moon, by Jaime Sabines. It speaks of taking doses of the moon for a variety of ailments, including insomnia. In my moon garden, the blooms of Angel Trumpet softly scent the evening air. Tiny toadstool-shaped lights glimmer from the backdrop of shadowy bushes along a meandering walk. In the quiet of evening, the softest breeze rustles unseen leaves. The tinkle of a fountain soothes my ears.  

I hadn’t planned my moon garden where the pale flesh of an echeveria seems to glow in the moonlight. It was purely by accident that I chose a few plants with silvery, ashen leaves and white blooms that took center stage at night. That accidental moon garden was restorative for my estrangement-weary soul. As Sabines’ poem says, there is no better tonic. Taking my moon garden in doses calmed me and helped me find the peace to sleep. 

Your moon garden 

Next time you have trouble settling in, go outdoors. Find what’s already in your moon garden and then enhance those features. Even a patio or terrace can transform into a restful respite by night. Add a comfortable chair, a table for a cup of calming herbal tea, and a soothing sound like a tiny tinkling fountain or bamboo chimes.  

Recently, we have begun a long-distance move to a new location with the most enchanting yard. Tree frogs sing, owls hoot, and ponies occasionally whinny when startled by a passing deer.  Periodically, a string of dragonflies around a tree trunk blink on, their wings a rainbow flash in the night. As we settle into our new home, I’ll be adding elements to enhance my new moon garden. Sabines is right. There is nothing better than the moon as tonic.  

Related reading:

Moon garden design

About the history of moon gardens

For parents abandoned by adult children, sleep can be elusive

Abandoned parents, let your light shine

Troubling dreams, why do I have them?

The turning point

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

rejected by sonAll over the world, as businesses shuttered and people sheltered in place during the Covid-19 lockdown, parents rejected by adult children began to hope. Maybe their sons and daughters would have a change of heart. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of members to my Rejected Parents Facebook page and/or this site, their hope was fruitless.

For those who did hear from their estranged adult children, it was by text, in conversations  that often went something like this:

How are you?

Dad and I are fine. How about you? Are you and XX okay?

Fine.

That’s good. I’ve been thinking of you. Love you guys.

Then comes S-I-L-E-N-C-E.

done with the cryingAs the social distancing and isolation has continued, more and more parents have expressed their dismay. If a pandemic can’t get a wayward son or daughter to care about them, then nothing will.

Have you experienced this sort of letdown? Did you hope, maybe send a text or two, yet receive little or nothing in response?

Many moms and dads call the lack of concern shameful, a disgrace. Deafening silence or a a bare minimum response triggers a resurgence of all their emotional pain. Even parents who have worked hard to regain their footing feel bewildered and rejected again. They find themselves back to asking WHY?

Don’t Get Stuck

The takeaway from this pandemic is something others have learned in other ways:

  • A father whose heart attack and near-death experience didn’t prompt his daughters to care or call.
  • A mother whose life-threatening illness brought nothing but meanness, and accusations the disease was her own damn fault.
  • A parent whose adult children didn’t care when a grandparent faced life-and-death circumstances or a beloved family pet died.

Don’t get stuck in the sad stage. Don’t allow the shocking cruelty of someone you once knew and loved to dictate your life.

Turning point

Is this pandemic, and the lack of care or concern from your estranged adult child, a turning point? Make positive changes for yourself now. You’ve done your best to love your child, to empathize, to try to understand….

If there was ever a turning point, this is it. What will you do to change for the better?

I hope that you will use my book, Done With The Crying, to help yourself. It’s available in paperback, as an e-book, and on audio. If you get the e- or audio book, be sure to get the accompanying Done With The Crying WORKBOOK: for Parents of Estranged Adult Children so you don’t miss the exercises.  What can you do today to fight past the shock and dismay, and move toward your own healing and happiness? The book’s exercises offer specific assistance to aid your journey forward.

If you already have the book, what did you find most useful? I hope you will leave a comment. Parents who come to this website find relief in knowing there are other parents who understand.

Hugs (and happy Mother’s Day 2020).

Sheri McGregor

Related reading

Put on your 2020 vision

Do your questions keep you stuck?

Don’t get [sun]burned this Mother’s Day (when adult kids cut parents off)

When adult kids cut parents off:
Don’t get [sun]burned by Mother’s Day

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

when adult kids cut parents offA few days ago, I learned of an annual event called “World Naked Gardening Day.” Held the first Saturday in May, the event encourages people to tan where the sun doesn’t shine (usually, anyway).  The event that encourages getting as naked as a jaybird in the garden doesn’t (yet) pull at heartstrings to make a commodity of the holiday. That isn’t true of another well-known holiday which, here in the United States, also falls in May—Mother’s Day.

Those who follow this blog know the serious tone of my work to help when adult kids cut parents off. However, once in a blue moon, I can’t help getting a little cheeky. So, please bare with me as I use World Naked Gardening Day to expose a little more of that now.

Mother’s Day when adult kids cut parents off

When Anna Jarvis first founded Mother’s Day, she didn’t intend it to become commercialized. The naked truth is that marketers realized Mother’s Day was a gold mine for their bottom line. Especially for greeting card companies, candy makers, and jewelers who cash in on the day. Knowing that may help you to cope as the holiday draws near each year.

While it’s nice to be recognized, we all know that a duty-bought bouquet or a one-line text doesn’t do motherhood justice. As mothers of estranged adult children, you have some skin in the game as to how you respond—even if an estranged adult child reaches out.

Don’t get caught with your pants down. Have a plan!

when adult kids cut parents offWhen adult kids cut parents off, it’s important to prepare ahead for situations that cause parents pain. For many of us, Mother’s Day qualifies. Below, I’ve stripped down to the basics of getting by.

 

  • While plans help, it’s okay to recognize your heartache. Mother’s Day can arrive like a bunch of wilted flowers on a day you would rather skip. You may feel sad or angry as you mourn the loss and wish things were different. Even gardeners who wear their birthday suits know that a sad, wilting, and maybe wrinkled plant needs attention in order to thrive. Your heart can be like that. Read on about tending to your heartache.

 

 

  • Part of your plan must be looking ahead. I hope you’ll get my book, Done With The Crying, and take the time to do the included exercises that focus on your emotional healing and future happiness. When adult children cut parents off, those who have processed the pain and strengthened themselves will be better prepared if or when any reconciliation does occur. It may be the night before Mother’s Day now, but tomorrow will come. Will the world be your oyster?

 

This Mother’s Day, clothe yourself with preparation by reading through the articles linked above. You can find more about how to cope when adult children cut parents off by using the site’s search box and inputting key words of your choice (Mother’s Day, holidays, etc).

In all Seriousness

I hope you were not offended by this blog post. I don’t typically let it all hang out with silliness. If you look past the puns, my real message is visible to the naked eye. As a mother whose adult son estranged himself, I understand your pain. I hope that this Mother’s Day and every day, you will allow yourself to laugh. It’s good medicine.

Related reading

Mother’s Day 2019 radio interview with Sheri McGregor

 

 

Abandoned by adult children: Structure infuses certainty into uncertain times

daughter won't talk to meAs the parent of estranged adult child(ren), you know about uncertainty. You’ve dealt with the questions of whether your adult child will reach out, respond if you try to talk, or remain no-contact . . . maybe forever. Uncertainty about those things becomes a new normal as you navigate what to do at the holidays or contemplate the up-and-down moods or on-and-off contact with an adult child who has become abusive or estranged. You may be practiced, but when disasters of any sort strike (let alone this pandemic), worries can resurge, or new emotions can surface.

In uncertain times, structure provides a sense of control 

In times of uncertainty, the things we can control promote well-being. As Covid-19 causes layoffs, worries about the safety of an estranged adult child and other loved ones, renewed feelings of rejection or even anger that our own children don’t care, focus on what you can control. Inserting structure into the shelter-in-place landscape helps (and it’s the same for anytime parents abandoned by adult children try to cope). Instead of ruminating over what you cannot control, ask yourself how you can add in structure, which can make things feel more predictable.  

Make plans for yourself and follow through with them. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Create a schedule for your day.  Do things that are productive.
  • Cook healthful meals and eat at prescribed times. 
  • Consider ways you can exercise and make time to move your body. 
  • Participate in social connection time by telephone or in another way that maintains the recommended distancing. 

A friend of mine has often mentioned that in anxious times, her mother always said, “Give them a job to do.” Her advice fits now. Give yourself a “job.”  

A few more ideas: 

  • Catch up on organizing.  
  • Rearrange your furniture. 
  • Reach out to friends you’ve been meaning to say are important to you via email or written cards and letters.
  • Take a class online. (There are a lot of free ones right now!) 
  • Love on your pets.  
  • Repot a plant (or start cuttings for propagating). 
  • Learn to meditate (try YouTube). 
  • If you’re able, think of ways to help others. One friend of mine is making masks and mailing them out. Another friend told me that she has been calling her neighbors just to see if there is anything that they might need that she could leave on a doorstep.  

 What structure is best? Choose carefully  

For parents abandoned by adult children, ordinary pastimes can become triggers for pain. I’ve been going through old photos and have found some emotional landmines among them. My response has been to recognize and accept the thoughts and feelings that have emerged, considering them a sort of purge, and practicing self-compassion in the process. Another mother said that she tried organizing photos but decided that amidst all the uncertainty, this wasn’t the right time for her to face the rejection again. Awareness is important, so thoughtfully consider your activities now and be kind to yourself.  

My husband has been doing a lot of weed whacking. He tells me that his mind wanders as he works. The activity has become a sort of meditation. I feel the same about trimming my Golden Doodles’ and poodles’ long hair.    abandoned by adult children

What can you do to fill your time and provide a predictable structure in your home or yard? Promoting agency, as in personal action, helps promote positive feelings. While we may not be able to control how our leaders handle the current crisis, the trajectory of the pandemic, whether our estranged adult children are safe, or how soon we can get back to our lives and careers, we can intervene for ourselves, take charge of our own safety and our daily lives.  

What will you do? Take time right now to make plans for your day or week. How can you help yourself? 

Related Reading

Covid-10 pandemic: When the world is scary, bend and twist

Parents abandoned by adult children: Shape your “new normal”

Is your adult child estranged? Be careful

Spring cleaning for parents when adult children want nothing to do with you

 

Rejected parents: In trying times, “check in”

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

adult son hates meSeveral years ago, I created a self-monitoring kit for a mental health organization. It was based on the concept of “checking in” with yourself each day. Testing the wind, so to speak, but about your own feelings. (Or is that “tasting” the wind, like Gingersnap is doing in the photo?) When it comes to nurturing our well-being, awareness is important. In troubling times, awareness can be a first line of defense. So try checking in.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, or any stressful time (such as estrangement), try “checking in.”

Notice your how you’re feeling physically and emotionally upon awaking and at checkpoints throughout the day. By noticing, you can then take steps to take care.

If you awaken worried, take note. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do in this moment to solve the worries? If not, is there anything you can do on this day, this week, and so on. Jot down any insights. Then, thank your mind for trying to work things out for you, and give yourself permission to let the worries go.

Check in later in the day, too. Are you unusually grouchy? Are you sniping at other people or gravitating toward Internet doom and gloom. Check yourself. Also, consider what may be fueling your feelings. Be careful of your media diet. While it’s never good to bury your head in the sand, it’s also not good to fill up on hype or hysteria.

Are you thinking about how much it hurts that your estranged adult child doesn’t bother to see how you’re doing, even in such a scary time? It is hurtful, so allow a few moments to feel those emotions. Cry or vent (a little) if you must. The intensity of the feelings will pass. And how you respond can help them move along.

Take good care of yourself

Sometimes, a negative mood, fitful sleep, or physical issues are best managed with good old fashioned TLC. Even if you’re staying in, get up, groom, and dress. You’ll feel better when you catch a glimpse of a tidied-up you in the mirror (rather than a slouchy robe and food-coated teeth).

Eat purposefully, too. When we’re stressed, it’s easy to reach for the chips and chocolate. Anything in moderation, but be sure you’re giving your body what it needs to thrive. You’ll feel better emotionally when you’re running on healthful fuel. If you’re checking-in with bodily complaints, take heed.  Indigestion: Could it have been all those mixed nuts? Sore lower back: Could it be from too much sitting? Connecting physical symptoms with behavior can help you gain awareness toward positive change.

Exercise is another way to care for yourself. Sitting around can feel paralyzing. Make your house and/or yard a walking track. (Try singing while you walk. Beats ruminating about everything you cannot change.) Try standing on one foot and then the other. Sweep the floor, clean the walls, vacuum your car. Exercise doesn’t have to be a standard fitness routine. Just get moving. All the better if what you do has a purpose (my car is filthy right now).

Get a dose of social connection

Confined to home in Italy, neighbors strummed guitars and sang from their balconies. Their social distancing while socializing nurtured a basic human need.

Reach out to friends by telephone or email daily. Share a coffee break by phone, or at lunch with a friend on Face time or by phone. Wave to your neighbors and your mail clerk. If you’re video conferencing from work, allow a few extra moments for each of your associates “check in” about how they’re doing personally before the work starts. If you go out for essentials, chat with the store clerk (they’re extra busy and stressed right now, too).

Members of the support forum here at RejectedParents.Net value the social support of fellow members. Internet forums abound. Do you want to do more gardening this year? Maybe it’s time to join a planting forum. Are you planning to restore a classic car? There are forums with like minded individuals who have lots of knowledge to share. Planning an RV trip? You’ll find a forum for that … and just about any other subject. Think for a moment: What do I want to do or learn? (Check in with yourself.) Then take action.

Look for the beauty

Whether that means physical beauty such as a sunrise, sunset, or blooming flower, or the beauty of the human spirit such as neighbors helping neighbors, seek out the good. Although the ugly is so often pointed out, there is also beauty—-take note, let it infuse you with compassion, joy, and a sense that all will be right with the world again.

In Done With The Crying, there are numerous strategies to build a happier spirit, take care good of yourself, and regain your footing when estrangement has tilted your world. During times of uncertainty (this Covid-19 pandemic qualifies!), turn back to some of those strategies.

What are you doing to help yourself? What can you share to help other rejected parents? Please leave a comment.

Related Reading

Dealing With Uncertainty

When the world is scary: bend and twist

Parents abandoned by adult children: Shape your “new normal”

Covid-19 pandemic

Pandemic: When the world is scary, bend and twist 

By Sheri McGregor 

Right now, with Coronavirus in the air and on the airwaves, I’m working on relocating. Not the best time to be moving hundreds of miles but life doesn’t always go as planned. Of course, if you’re familiar with estrangement, you already know that. Whether you’ve only just been rejected or are years or even decades into the cut-off, the uncertainty of the times can make life scary. Some of you may be wondering about your estranged adult children, hoping they’re doing okay, or that this crisis will bring about a change of heart. Maybe you even call and ask because as a parent, you feel the need, but then are miffed when there’s no response or a very lukewarm or self-centered one. Or, you may have called so many other times that now, even if you’re wondering about your estranged adult child(ren), you refrain from reaching out.

Let’s leave all of that aside for the moment. You can only control yourself…. And even then, amid this Covid-19 scare, it’s a good idea to remain calm and flexible. That’s what this post is about.

Daffodils and you 

One thing I’m looking forward to after my move is the new climate where daffodils will thrive. Imagining their sunny faces on the gentle slopes of my new backyard has been a safe spot for me when the news of quarantines and stricter guidelines for social distancing has made me anxious. Thinking about planting daffodil bulbs had me doing some internet research. I learned that the flowers have a secret: daffodils can bend and twist. When storm winds blow, they’re flexible. They even dance! 

The poet William Wordsworth knew this and wrote about daffodils just as I imagine they will be at my new home. You can read his talk of them in his poem: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud . By the way, is his name a pseudonym? It’s too good to be true for a writer! Isn’t it? 

Long ago, Wordsworth wrote about something today’s scientists study. Researchers at Duke University are fascinated by the daffodil’s ability to twist and flex. Turns out the blooms have another secret: they turn their backs to the wind. The researchers put the flowers in a wind tunnel to discover that the force is strongest when the flowers face the wind. No wonder daffodils turn away from the storm. It’s a little like the idea I recently shared in this article: going with the flow.     

How can you bend? 

Staying supple is more than just a mental exercise. If you’re isolating at home, this would be a good time to consider your physical flexibility as well. The body and the mind work together. Even if you already have a good exercise routine, consider trying Feldenkrais. You can read more about it in a guest post at my other website written by a friend: Learning to Move Freely 

As you try this gentle movement, you may also find your thoughts and activities getting organized (in this time of world chaos due to the Coronavirus, or anytime). With that thought in mind, let’s consider a few other ideas to stay calm right now. 

  • Consider what you can control rather than what you can’t. Your response to any crisis makes it tolerable or not.  
  • Focus on the precautions you can take rather than worrying about possibilities that prompt anxiety and stress. Living in fear creates stress in the body that can hurt you physically. Learn to soothe your anxiety with a few deep breaths, guided meditations (look on YouTube), or a cup of relaxing herbal tea. A couple that I find useful are Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea and the Yogi Tea Relaxation Varieties.  
  • Come up with a few calming phrases (this too shall pass; we’re going to be okay; this is just a blip) and repeat them as needed. Or turn to a spiritual reference that gives you strength (Joshua 1:9, for instance). 
  • Limit yourself. A steady diet of news can make things scary. Tune in enough to see the latest guidelines or local information that can help, but don’t make the news a meal. Just as you consider what’s best to focus on in the wake of an adult child’s estrangement, prescribe yourself something helpful now 
  • Keep calm and carry on. Be extra careful. In times of stress, becoming distracted is common–and may be dangerous.
  • Use your time wisely. Many people and organizations are offering free services right now. Museums, lessons, even the opera. See the resources list below.  

This too shall pass 

Do take precautions. Wash your hands often, stay at home as much as you can, and practice social distancing. Stay abreast of news at reliable sources such as the CDC , NIH, Cleveland Clinic, or Mayo Clinic. Or maybe you know of a reliable local source to keep up to date on the Covid-19 pandemic in your own community (a good idea).

Beyond that, make the most of your time. Laugh as much as you can and enjoy your life in the present moment. Right now, when the world can feel uncertain and cause added stress, think of daffodils—and maybe even dance! Daffodils do. 

RESOURCES FOR TIME WELL-SPENT AT HOME 

Metropolitan Opera streaming for free

Georgia Aquarium Live Cams

Open Culture (free online classes, movies, books and more.

National Park Tours online

What will you do with your time at home? Let others know what you’re thinking about and doing during this time of social distancing by leaving a comment.

 

Happy New Year 2020

A reader sent me a link to this beautiful New Year’s blessing for the New Year, and it is too touching and wonderful not to share. I hope you will be as touched by the video and the beautiful music and sentiments I was. Hint: It’s even more moving if you allow it to open full-screen.

May we all have a joyful 2020 filled with love, beauty, and peace.

Hugs to you from Sheri McGregor.

Related reading:

Estrangement in the New Year: Blanket of Snow

New Year New Attitude

Freedom for a new era

Put On Your 2020 Vision