Mothers Day Hurts When You’re Estranged From Your Child
Mothers day is upon us once again. A time to give a shout out for all the amazing mothers out there, a day to spoil them and remind them how much they are loved.
In the last few years there has become an increasing awareness in the media and on social media that some people do not find Mothers day easy. For mothers who have lost children, children who have lost their mothers and women who want to be a mum but can’t be, it can be a really hard day to get through.
This year I’ve noticed a news report about a London church that is holding a footprint services on Mothers day. An alternative service for parents who have lost children. This is something I hope other churches pick up on in future years as I’m sure it can offer some comfort on an otherwise difficult day.
Another group of people who will find mothers day every bit as difficult as those mentioned already are estranged mothers. However you wont find any mention of this group of women in social media this weekend. You wont find these mothers openly expressing their pain either.
Parental estrangement in relation to mothers isn’t something that is widely spoken about in the media. When it is mentioned it’s usually from the viewpoint of the child (however old they may be) who has escaped from a toxic relationship with their mother.
The assumption is that when a child is estranged from their mother, it must be the fault of the mother. It is said the bond between mother and child is special, so it is natural to assumed that for a child to reject their mother there must be something seriously wrong.
The reality is far different though. There are many different reasons why a mother and child may become estranged.
Often the major factor in an estrangement will be a parental split. There is a lot said in the media about mothers who withhold visiting rights from fathers and how children are used to punish errant fathers, but it can and does happen the other way round as well.
When children are co-parented by two adults that do not like each other there is always the risk that the child will be subject to a negative portrayal of one parent by the other. This poor parenting is not restricted just to mothers and does sometimes lead to children choosing to live solely with their fathers.
Sometimes the factor that causes estrangement come from outside the family. This is particularly true of teenage children. When boyfriends, girlfriends, peer pressure, alcohol and even drugs are combined with teenage hormones and attitudes, relationships can suffer.
Sometimes the child is just a little bastard. Yes, I did just say that. This is a big unspoken thing among parents. When children are born they are pure and innocent and your hope as a parent is that you can help them develop into good people.
But sometimes that doesn’t work. A child may inherit the worst traits of both their parents and despite all the good work a mother puts in they grow into nasty, selfish individuals who reject their mother because they are the poorer parent/the stricter parent/the more boring parent.
Whatever reason a child has for cutting their mother out of their lives, it will be incredibly difficult and painful for the mother.
So many situations can cause the pain to surface. Bumping into an old acquaintance and knowing their first question will be ‘how are the kids?’ Facebook posts from friends celebrating their children’s achievements, Christmas and birthdays can all be triggers.
I often hear mothers say one of the consistent feelings they have since becoming a parent is guilt. There are so many things parents can feel guilty about, but this general parenting guilt is nothing compared the guilt if being an estranged parent. No matter what logic or other people say, the guilt remains. There feeling that there must have been something that could/should have been said or done that would have made all the difference. Then there is guilt’s partner in crime shame. Shame for failing as a mother. Fear is another biggy. Fear that people will find out and judge you. The other big feeling is anger. Anger at yourself, at the other people and factors that caused the estrangement and also rightly or wrongly a great deal of anger at times towards the child themselves.
This concoction of negative feelings lie in the background all the time, but on a day when images of motherhood are everywhere, these feelings can be overwhelming.
But I’m here to say if you’ve read this far and know exactly what I’m on about, you don’t need to bury your feelings. There are people out there that understand, that have been or are going through it. I am one of those people.
My aim in writing this post is to reach out to other mothers of any age who are estranged from their children and ask them to contact me, in the comments on this post or via Twitter – @hooksanddragons if you would like to talk about your experiences to someone who understands. It would be great to put together a group of mothers who can support one another especially during this weekend.
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