Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for the ‘holiday season sadness’ Category

Loss, Regrets and Living an Honest Life

Posted by Marcia on December 3, 2011

This has been a year of loss for me including several friends and now family members. Sometimes, just when you need something to remind you of important lessons, a friend sends you an article. I was sent “Top Five Regrets of The Dying” and recommend this page.

For those of us coping with difficult family relationships and troubled people, it’s easy to focus on the pain and not view the other wonderful parts of our lives and the positive things we can do.

Are you honest about your hopes and dreams and who you really are? Do you express your feelings? Have you established and kept friends, and are you honest with those friends?

Once I was honest with others about my relationship with my son, I found support, understanding, and a whole lot of other people with their own family pain. It was so reassuring to know I was not alone, and it gave me additional courage to write the book, this blog, and reach out to others.

I know that what I read in that article was very true, and I hope it helps you or gives you something to think about.

Posted in adopted kids, changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, forgiveness, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, listen to family problems, missing our son, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Keeping Perspective on Problems

Posted by Marcia on November 21, 2011

Please note I am now primarily posting at Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens. You’ll find all of the content you have sought on this blog. Please follow me over there.

Thank you,

Marcia

 

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written, and I could go into lengthy reasons, but I will instead say we took a fantastic vacation, my old computer died, had to get a new one, suffered though re-doing each program and lost a lot of data. Meanwhile, I learned more disheartening and worrisome news about our son. Just when I think he’s on the brink of getting on-track.

One of the things I’ve been mulling over is that when you’re living in the same house where you have difficult memories, being concerned about your child, where s/he is, how s/he’s doing, what will be in the future, it’s hard to remove yourself from that spiral of thoughts, worries, re-plays of conversations/fights and missed opportunities, second-guessing and regrets. At least, that’s the way it is for me, so I assume it must be the same for many others.

Going away, being out of our environment and going to a foreign country with a different culture worked some magic in reminding me about perspective.

We live in California, and although there are older buildings and ruins we can visit, our area is mostly pretty new. It’s the Silicon Valley, focused on the now. Out trip to France reminded me of our distant past, of Western history and culture, and of the thought that we are still but specks on this planet.

Walking down the street and seeing buildings that have been occupied for a thousand years does tend to put things in place.

It was a good reminder for me that whatever we’re going through with our son, whatever you’re going through with your child or family member, there are only a few ways it can go. Things can stay the same, they could improve a little, or you can turn our relationship around so that it is fully repaired.

If I can hold on to that thought that things may change, that I can control and work on some things, and other things are out of my control, I will be okay.

I hope you can hold onto these thoughts during the holiday season, a really difficult time for many. Best wishes.

Posted in behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, forgiveness, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, listen to family problems, missing our son, parent coping with disappointment in kids, sadness at the holidays, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Another Father’s Day

Posted by Marcia on June 19, 2011

I posted last year about Father’s Day, wrote about missing my own dad, missing my child, and admiring my husband as a step-dad.

There is a pre-Father’s Day interview on Yahoo News with the president. If the video is still up, it’s worthwhile viewing. http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theticket/20110617/ts_yblog_theticket/obama-says-no-more-children-for-first-family-doesnt-miss-his-father

He said that “fatherhood is ‘a combination of complete and total affection and devotion to that child, but also structure and limits and understanding that your child isn’t your friend, at least when they’re young.’ And he expressed the importance of teaching children values. Obama added that his own mother was a great parent.”

His parents divorced before he was three years old, saying, “You know, I can’t say I miss my father, because I just didn’t know him,” Obama said. “And so, I don’t have enough of an emotional bond there to miss him. I profoundly miss my grandfather. You know, I profoundly miss my mom. And my grandmother.”

There is pain and loss when relationships are severed. Sometimes the person is missed, and sometimes it’s the idea of that person that is missed, maybe an idealization of what that relationship could have been.

If you’re struggling with a difficult relationship, are you sad because of what you miss about that person or the idea of what hoped for, or maybe both? Separating out those feelings can help you cope with loss or separation and can guide you into reconciling with that person if possible or finding peace with your feelings.

How are you feeling about your family today?

Posted in changing parent behavior, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, Father's Day, feelings about Father's Day, forgiveness, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, listen to family problems, missing our son, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Made it through Mother’s Day: how’d you do?

Posted by Marcia on May 19, 2011

I thought I should write an update following my last post about Mother’s Day.

Much to my relief, it wasn’t too bad this year.

We spent the day with my wonderful mother-in-law. It was great spending the day with her.

Did I miss my mom on that day? Absolutely, but my world doesn’t revolve around sorrow – there are some trigger points for me to think about loss. It’s appropriate to think about people we’ve lost, especially on special days.

And then there’s my son. Still not talking and I really miss him especially on Mother’s Day, but I’m not devastated as I was in years past. My feelings float in and out of resignation, anger, calm, hurt and so on.

Overall, I am stronger this year. Someone asked me about coping with a severed family relationship, and I think it’s like with death in that it takes time to learn to cope and adjust to a “new normal” as they say.

I’m taking some positive steps and hear my son is doing the same. I started going to a support group to reinforce how not to enable, how to let some things go. I appreciate the group and when I go, I am going in to listen to others without thinking about writing their stories. Whatever I hear there is confidential. I can see that for a few years I’ve written other people’s stories and distanced myself from my feelings. Now it’s time for me to look inward without thinking about what I will write here. I know I’ll find more things to write about and so will my contributors.

If you found this blog or read my post as you were worried about Mother’s Day, tell me how you fared. Was it hard? Easier than it was? What tips can you share to help others?

Posted in changing parent behavior, cope at the holidays, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

How to Disclose Family Estrangement or Difficulties

Posted by Marcia on February 23, 2011

A few of my readers have asked me to address this topic. In my book, the first chapter is devoted to three estranged families. The other families have repaired relationships, but they went through some period of difficulties.

It’s helpful to talk with a therapist or join a parent support group to talk about your experiences and your feelings, and they can further guide you about discussing the issue with family and friends.

Before you talk with friends and family about your situation, consider the reasons for disclosing any information, and that will help you determine what you want to say and which people you trust, which people you should avoid.

What would be the reasons to talk about your family? For me, it was helpful emotionally to lead an honest and open life rather than to keep my pain hidden. I’m careful about details to protect some family privacy, and I’m very careful about what I let the gossips hear.

I learned that when I shared selective information honestly, I received help and support and kindness during this challenging time. If you live in a small town or have a certain network of friends and family, they may have observed your problems and may have been concerned about your family.

The most important lesson for me was that I could be honest, protect details, receive support and learn that I was not alone. That’s a big thing, knowing you’re not alone. It’s helpful no matter what you’re going through in life.

If you decide to talk with others about your family matters, be prepared for a wide range of responses. Some people will be sympathetic and share their own stories. Others will want to be your therapist/coach. We all dread those who may judge you harshly, even though your situation may be extreme and may include violence in your family. The truth is, it’s hard to know how some people will react, but for the most part, you know your family and friends.

The chosen confidants would be people you know are supportive, good listeners, and respectful people. They have to be people you can trust.

The people to avoid are fairly easy to pick: the ones who are usually judgmental, gossipy and/or critical. You know who that is, I’m sure.

Because this is information you’re volunteering, you can also pick the time and place in which to share. It should be private – don’t put yourself in a position where people can eavesdrop. Pick a day that doesn’t have significance for you or the other person: holidays, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries are not times to talk about these matters. If you find you’re not ready to share yet, don’t do it. This is your information, your pain, and you are not obligated to share anything.

You should be comfortable and ready to share, and that means being prepared for questions. Some people have a lot of questions, others just listen. For those who have questions, consider what kinds of questions they may ask so you’re ready to respond. It’s helpful to provide some resources such as books or websites. This helps demonstrate you’re not alone and gives others additional insights.

If they ask what they can do to help, let them know. Sometimes all you need is someone to talk with, someone to say “I understand” or “Do you want to talk about it?” or someone who will say “I’m thinking about you.”

If you’ve been in a difficult family situation and decided to share this with others, what was your experience? What worked well, what would you change if you could?

Posted in estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, out of control teens, Parents and teens, restraining orders, sadness at the holidays, signs of drug use, teen and addiction, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

How I’m Coping During the Holidays

Posted by Marcia on December 20, 2010

I previously wrote that it’s not easy making it through the holiday season when you have problems in your family. Many shows represent some ideal we’d like, not the reality that a lot of people live.

I’d like to share how I’m getting through and hope you share your tips, too.

For the past 3 ½ years, I have been estranged from my son. I miss him like crazy and do have hope for the future, but that doesn’t make it less hurtful, stressful, sad, difficult, and so on. I wrote him another note recently and hope it’s given him something to think about, something to keep the door open.

When people ask me what our family is doing, I talk about what my husband and I are doing, using the generic “we.” “We’re going to a movie.” “We’re having dinner with Mom.”

For those who know me and ask about our son, I say that he has other plans. If they know me well, I’ll just say we’re still not speaking and change the topic.

Now here’s how I’m coping: I’m taking deep breaths, doing things I enjoy doing, keeping up with family and friends. Sometimes I allow myself a little time to wallow in sadness or self-pity, whichever hits me, but I try really hard not to stay there.

I do things for other people and write encouraging notes to clients and friends. Helping others really helps me get my mind off of myself and it does something good for another person.

What are you doing to cope?

www.tellmeaboutyourself.info

Posted in apology, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, forgiveness, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, missing our son, Parents and teens, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Holidays are Tough for a Lot of Families Struggling with Strained Relationships

Posted by Marcia on November 23, 2010

For everyone going through the holiday season without the “normal” family, this one’s for you! This time of year is filled with possible joy and emotional pitfalls.

Many television shows, commercials and many movies celebrate the sentiment of being surrounded by a warm and loving family. We all feel things differently, and for me, the greeting card commercials with all of the images of family and love wound me. I miss our son.

I’ll watch Modern Family or some other show with people and their quirks and love, but intentionally sappy family stuff isn’t what I want to see right now. I want to protect my own emotions.

These shows and commercials shape our view of the way things are or should be, and if our own families aren’t like that, there’s something wrong with us.

I know many people with happy families that are functional, at least for the most part. Then there are all the other people I know: single, widowed or divorced, people with unhappy and strained relationships with family members, and people like me, estranged from their children. There are a lot of people who are alone, hurt, angry, afraid and worried.

Each time I read or hear about some teen or young adult who is in trouble, I think: maybe there is a heartbroken parent at home. I’m not naïve – some families have a history of violence and many repeat those patterns, but I believe that most parents want their kids to be okay in this world. We want them to be educated, have good jobs, form good relationships and make good choices. We want them to be happy and successful.

If you’re fortunate to have an intact family with good relationships, I’m very happy for you! I hope you can extend understanding and sympathy to those who don’t have this. Extend a hand, a shoulder, a tissue to someone who feels emptiness and loss, and withhold your judgment. You rarely know what’s really happening in another person’s home.

For those of us who are just getting through the holidays: hang in there, try to do things you enjoy, visit kind people, volunteer somewhere, get out of your own way and start walking toward accepting the situation and developing hope for the future.

Many people wrote to say that my book has helped them, and there are several ways you can purchase it. You can read more at www.tellmeaboutyourself.info.

If you need personal help, please review the resource page . For personal help, the United Way site links to organizations around the country. If you go to www.211.org, you just insert your zip code and find an agency near you.

Best wishes for a better future for all.

www.tellmeaboutyourself.info

Posted in adopted kids, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, help at the holidays, holiday season sadness, Parents and teens, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens, worried parents | 1 Comment »

 
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