by Sheri McGregor
This week, as the third Sunday in June rolled near, you probably faced comments and questions that, although completely normal, were awkward. A co-worker’’s, “Have a great Father’s Day!” may have made you want to crawl away and hide. Or, you may have been asked about your plans and wished your phone would ring so you could be saved by the bell. Those moments may have been worse because you were already thinking about the day set aside to honor you and wondering whether you would hear from a wayward kid, and if you did, how you should respond.
Even though you may be wondering these things, I only directly heard from one father this week. I know a lot of you don’t feel comfortable sharing your pain about an adult child’s cutting-off. I can respect that. Even so, your quiet strength doesn’t make your pain any less real, maybe especially on this day.
Although I don’t hear from a lot of you directly, some of you do share your feelings in reply to my surveys. The original one has nearly 50,000 responses to date. Here are just a few of the comments written by fathers, grouped by subject. Maybe seeing just these few will help to know you are not alone in your feelings.
An adult child’s cutting-off: Inexplicable and sad
- “I worked hard to give my daughters a better life. They’re both very successful now, but the oldest hates us. She calls us materialistic, but to make sure the girls had what they needed, my wife and I went without.”
- “My son and I had a good, communicative relationship, and I actively tried to afford him as much privacy, respect, and support he needed. I’m not a perfect father, but I am struggling to understand why, suddenly and without explanation, he would totally sever ties with me.”
- “The years are passing. I keep photos of my adult children and my grandchildren on my lounge wall, I guess to reflect on, and to feel some attachment. I have tried numerous times in the last several years to arrange to meet up. They will say yes, but there is always an excuse of ‘being too busy at the moment’.”
Fathers on how an adult child’s cutting-off
affects their other relationships
- “Periodic mood changes related to negative feelings over our son’s rejection have stressed my current marriage. It makes it very difficult to be my whole self when interacting with my not-estranged child. My parents, who are not estranged from my son, also struggle because they aren’t sure what they should tell me about him and how he is doing.”
- “Tough on the marriage at times although we agree on the situation and I don’t know how much to burden my other son with it.”
- “I have a strong relationship with my other daughter. But sometimes I feel like I walk on eggshells for fear I will do something to push her away. I know that’s not likely to happen but I worry.”
- “I don’t trust people anymore, so spend my time alone.”
Why fathers don’t talk about an adult child’s cutting-off
- “It is difficult to explain. I worry no one will understand, and I will be negatively judged.”
- “Even people I’ve known my whole life don’t know what to say. My brothers change the subject. Other people tell me it’ll change. After 14 years, I don’t think that’s going to happen. The pat answers only show me they don’t understand. ”
- “Fathers are scrutinized. People suspect us of doing something horrible. That’s even when one of my two daughters still has a good relationship with me and is on a good path. If one child goes astray or won’t talk to you, then people automatically judge.”
Although fathers (and mothers) have a difficult time talking to other people about an adult child’s cutting off, there are more parents facing this than you might think. And opening up, allows other people to also share, as this father relates:
- “I can only talk about it when someone else tells me they’re going through it. Then I feel safe.”
Dear fathers, you’re not alone in your feelings. I hope that you will leave a comment to this post and share with other fathers suffering an adult child’s cutting-off. Your first name is all that’s needed, and your email address won’t show up with your words. You can help one another by opening up, and also by sharing how you’ve managed your pain.
Hugs to you all, and Happy Father’s Day.
Father’s Day when adult children turn away (includes links to past father’s day articles)
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