Estrange: The divorce of one’s parents; the last frontier in a “Messy Family” saga

Estrangement: No longer being affectionate or friendly. Alienated; separated

When an adult has concluded that their parent or parents is/are unfit, it may be time for a separation. Unfortunately there is no legal recoil for the adult who wish to “divorce” their parent. But let’s talk about this phenomenon of adult children estranging their parent(s). It is becoming common.  In the cases I have encountered the reasons are petty and immature but my colleagues have described their adult parent/child relations equal to horror stories from hell.

I do not condone the act of estrangement, the refusal to speak to, visit and having absolutely nothing to do with a parent or parents. I think it is cruel and inhumane treatment. As for using the analogy of divorce, there is not a court on earth that will grant a divorce without a reason. Just as you must have a reason or an excuse to give the court and judge, it should be the same when you sever all ties with family. You should tell them something; don’t just cut all ties with them and they are not given a reason why you made that decision. “Irreconcilable differences” is often used for divorce; that same reason can be used in distancing one’s self from parents or family.

Are there ever good reasons for alienating family?

What do you do when a person confides in you that the abortion they are planning is the result of their father’s actions? What do you say when your student tell you they are in trouble with a gang because their mother stole their drugs, gave them to her boyfriend and have no intention of paying for them? “So! Possession of drugs are illegal…so who you gonna tell?” Where do you go when an adult child is beaten by their parent for being gay? You cannot report the parent to Child Welfare because the child is an adult. When the police arrive the child is not going to say anything because they are ashamed of their sexuality. How do you counsel a teen whose parent committed a crime but allow the kid to pay the time because the law is lenient on kids and first time offenders? Today, it is common for parents to beat, BEAT, their kids for their sexual activity. Severely beating kids for their sexuality or sexual behavior is a dirty little secret among clergy. (Ooops! Did I just say that?) Some throw their kids out of the house and lie on the child claiming they ran away. “That sin cannot live in here!”

As I said earlier, some people need to be avoided and that include bad parents. Forgive them and leave them. I often say, “Yes I love you. I love you from here but you must stay over there.” I say it, I mean it and I live it.

If you have been mistreated in any way, by anyone, forgive them. They may mistreat you because they are sick. But don’t forgive them and give them another chance to mistreat you by sharing space with them. Leave them alone.

It is important to get professional counseling after you have been victimized in any way.  We are now learning that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not something reserved for returning veterans, it is experienced by any person who been traumatized.

Violence is not limited to the physical treatment; violence can be verbal abuse, emotional abuse and mental abuse. Constantly, regularly saying hateful things, making fun of one’s physical or mental shortcomings, laughing at a child are examples of verbal abuse. These negative things build a home in the child’s psyche and self-worth.

Manipulating someone to the point where their mind is mentally altered is a form of abuse. “If you loved me you would”… (You fill in the blanks)… have sex with me; steal for me, do anything morally or legally wrong.

Threatening to kill a child’s loved one, either human or pet is a form of abuse. Making a child or an adult witness some type of violent or unnatural act is abusive. Cruelty and playing mind games on children and weak people can mentally alter a person and is mentally abusive.

If you have experienced any of these acts you are or have been mistreated and you need to seek help and counseling. If you think “l’ll be ok” and skip therapy, you will repeat the process with your children or you nieces and nephews or somebody’s child because “it is OK.” If or when it becomes difficult for you to share space with anyone who has abused you, for your sanity, peacefully leave them. If you are not able to look at them without spewing hate, leave them alone for good; for your good. Do not overstay your welcome.

If you are treating a child or an adult in any of the above ways, you are an abusive person and you need help.

Honor you father and mother so that you may live long… Exodus 20:12

You honor your parents by forgiving them in spite of their actions. Do not commit matricide; do not commit patricide, no matter how heinous or cruel their treatment was toward you. Just leave. Run away and never return to them. Forgive them, love them from a distance. Before you leave them alone tell them why you are leaving. Tell them how you feel and leave.

The scripture command you to honor. You are not required to like them, you are not required to visit, send gifts, none of that. Christian doctrine requires you to forgive them. Most psychologists will suggest to you to forgive to drop the mental baggage that comes with repeatedly thinking about the mistreatment and mentally playing and replaying the video in your mind.

They don’t think they did anything wrong? Well guess what? They are not going to apologize to you because they have nothing to apologize for. Don’t waste your time or your life waiting for an apology from someone who ‘did no wrong’. You have choices:

  • Stay in their presence, wait for their apology, get mad when they refuse to apologize, demand an apology, get mad when they refuse to apologize, remind them of what was done, watch them deny anything like that was ever done, get mad at the denial, reason with them, watch them ask questions because now they have forgotten, answer all their questions, get mad that they don’t remember and repeat the process until you are done or one of you die.
  • Forgive them, seek therapy and counseling and be available for the next wounded child that you meet. You will be a valuable source to participate in their recovery. Help someone break the cycle.

Ephesians 3… There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away….

What time is it for you???

How does that gospel song go? Just stand. Stand as far away from the thing that inflict pain on you. Stand on God’s word that He will not leave you or forget you. Stand on you faith in God that help is on the way. Stand and receive power from the Holy Spirit to be well and whole in spite of what was done to you. Stand


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