Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for the ‘Mother’s Day sadness’ Category

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 »

Dreading Mother’s Day? Me, too.

Posted by Marcia on May 4, 2011

Last year I wrote about Mother’s Day and how I felt about it.

It hasn’t been an easy day for me in years. As I child, I remember looking forward to giving Mama something I had made, and even when I gave her simple beads on a string, she would beam and thank me and she’d wear the necklace. My mother was special, and she died at age 50. I’ve been without her more than half my life. I still miss her, wonder what her life would have been like, what our relationship would have been like had she lived longer. I especially missed her and appreciated all she had done once I had my own child.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that this blog is an offshoot of the book I wrote, “Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens.” The book and this blog came about as a result of my experiences with my son. I’ve talked with many people over the years about difficult or troubled teens, and it helped me to know I was not alone. It also helped that I was an investigator, keeping my own emotions out of it.

This year, more than others, I’m dealing with those emotions. I still don’t talk with my son and it’s been exactly four years and one month since he lived in our home. I really miss the child I had and the time we spent together. There were issues along the way, but really, it’s been since he was 13 that he was someone with whom you could have a conversation. He is 22 now and I’m still hopeful that we’ll repair our relationship in the future.

For that repair to happen I have to grow and learn and he has to do the same. I’m doing my part and hoping for good things for him.

Now I want to say one final thing about Mother’s Day. This is the most painful and cruel day for a mom who has lost a child. My son had a friend who came to our home several times. In the brief conversations we had, I had a richer sense of who he was and what was on his mind than I had with my own son. He was a lovely boy and very close to his family. He died suddenly when he was in college, and it wasn’t due to horrible things you assume with kids that age – he simply died. An adult’s version of sudden infant death syndrome, I suppose. I felt terrible, deeply sorry for his loss, for the loss to his parents and family.

If you’re wondering how you talk with someone who is estranged from a child or worse, that the child has died, here’s what I would do. I would say to that person, “I was thinking of you and I’m sure you miss your child. Do you want to talk about it?” Just acknowledge the loss, the emptiness, and don’t pry. If the person doesn’t want to talk, he or she won’t do it, but the important thing is that you have let them know it’s okay to talk or not talk, that you’re there and you care.

Take care, friends.

Posted in changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, forgiveness, help at the holidays, listen to family problems, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, out of control teens, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, sadness at the holidays, Troubled teens | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to Listen to Disclosure of Family Estrangement or Difficulties

Posted by Marcia on March 2, 2011

In my last post I wrote about the process of deciding to share difficult information about one’s family. This post is devoted to receiving this information.

Some of the richest and most heartfelt conversations I have had have been when someone decides to confide in me or when another person listens to my story.

When your family member or friend is having family problems and decides to share these issues with you, it takes a lot of courage, hope and trust that you will not judge, will listen carefully, offer help if asked, will not gossip. This is a confidential and difficult conversation.

Truly listening means that you turn off distractions: this is not a time for watching TV, texting and taking calls. Turn off your phone and give that person your attention. Listen with your head and your heart. Don’t ask a lot of questions, just a few to clarify the situation if needed.

Don’t change the topic unless you’re very uncomfortable hearing this news, and if you are, it’s better to just say you’re uncomfortable.

This conversation is about the other person, not you and your family, unless you’ve experienced a similar situation. Then it’s appropriate to share but limit your input: this person has a lot to say.

Be private and confidential. If the person wanted all of the family and friends to know, there are many ways to alert everyone. It can hurt the person’s feelings if you talk about this to others and damage your own credibility as a confidante.

Don’t judge the people involved. You’re hearing a part of the story and you’re hearing it for the first time. It may be shocking news, but all of it is in the realm of the human condition: the things that happen to people and the decisions we make.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help and provide resources if you have them. One woman called me regarding her son and after listening to her story, I asked if she wanted resources or how I could best help her. She was looking for resources and I gave her a few places to start, indicating there were additional resources in my book and on the blog if she needed them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re already dealing with a stressful situation. I also keep in touch, ask how things are going, and remember her on Mother’s Day and Christmas, two really hard holidays for her.

When you see or talk with the person in the future, ask about his or her child. I know from personal experience that the concern people show is helpful. It helps me to know that they haven’t forgotten I am a parent, and birthdays and some holidays in particular are really difficult.

Keep in touch and show concern and compassion. That’s the best way you can help anyone.

Posted in adopted kids, apology, behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, FASD, feelings about Father's Day, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, file restraining order against son, forgiveness, juvenile hall, kid on meth, listen to family problems, mental illness, mentally ill son, mentally ill teen, meth addict, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, orders of protection, orders of protection against son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, restraining orders, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, sadness at the holidays, signs of drug use, step-parent, teen and addiction, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, truancy, truancy and penalties, violence in mentally ill people, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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 »

When You’re Not Looking Forward to Mother’s Day

Posted by Marcia on May 6, 2010

I’m one of those who would like to skip Mother’s Day. It’s not because I’m opposed to it: it is due to my life circumstances.

Mama died in 1973. I have a wonderful mother figure in my dear Aunt Polly, and she has served in that role for many of her nieces and nephews who have lost their parents.

I am fortunate to have a terrific mother-in-law, and I call her “Mom”. She’s been such a wonderful addition in my life, so warm and caring. She welcomed my son and me into her life with open arms, has taken care of us when we needed help and has been a wonderful friend to me. I know how lucky I am.

Then there is the most important part of Mother’s Day for me, my own role as a mom. As my son and I are not on speaking terms at this time, and this brings me the most pain of all of my losses. There is no describing the love I have for him, the worry and the loss I feel.

It is my dearest hope that we will reconcile in the near future. I’ve opened my heart, opened my arms, and have invited him to talk with me. The next step is his.

Until then, I think I’ll do what I’ve done for the past few years: honor my mom, aunt and mother-in-law, hope the day passes quickly and that next year will be different with my son.

You’re welcome to share your thoughts and experiences.

Posted in estranged, family difficulties, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | 1 Comment »

 
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