March 1, 2018 at 3:36 pm #195547
I’m a 29-year-old female and 10 years ago I moved 4 hours away from my hometown where my parents, step-parents, and younger siblings all live. 4 hours is a little far, but certainly not across the country or anything. I’ve experienced a lot of milestones since moving away from home, such as: Starting life in a new city, starting college, graduating from college, getting my first post-college job, moving into my own apartment by myself, etc…
My family has virtually been absent from all of it (I’m estranged from my abusive mom, so I’m mainly talking about my dad, step-mom, and siblings). My dad and step-mom never call me. They’ve only made an effort to call on my birthday and even in recent years they’ve decided to text me a happy birthday message rather than call. They never saw my first apartment and they didn’t offer help with moving.
I’ve told them multiple times that I want to strengthen our bond as a family and not be the person initiating ALL of the contact (such as being the only person to make trips to visit them or always being the one to call them). It’s been 10 years and I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve accepted this is how they are and it’s not going to change.
It’s gotten to the point where I don’t feel very comfortable coming home anymore because I feel so disconnected and out of the loop.
I guess I’m just venting because I don’t understand. How can you have a child and feel okay just never contacting them? I recently went on vacation to Miami for the first time with my boyfriend, as a parent wouldn’t you be interested in hearing about the trip? Or wouldn’t you be interested in hearing all the details about your child’s new apartment (maybe even want to SEE it)? Or ask how their job is going? Or randomly check-in because you haven’t heard from your child in three weeks and maybe want to make sure they’re alive?
Over time I’ve noticed I’m starting to withdraw. Like I’ve decided this Christmas I’d like to spend it with my boyfriend and his family. Or I don’t think it’s really worth calling much anymore unfortunately. I’d be curious to see if there’s a community of people like myself who have family members that just don’t really care about being in contact?March 1, 2018 at 7:53 pm #195563
Are there any unresolved issues that hasn’t been addressed between you and your family? Were you guys really close 10 years ago and they feel like you left them? How communicative were you guys before the 10 yrs? How many siblings do you have?March 2, 2018 at 3:20 am #195589
Good to read from you again. Congratulations for leaving home at nineteen, for ending contact with your abusive mother, for successfully living on your own, for attending and graduating from college, for financially supporting yourself, and for having a good relationship with your boyfriend.
You wrote: “How can you have a child and feel okay just never contacting them?…” My answer: it happens a whole lot. It is the child who needs the parent, not the other way around. The child looks up to the parent as the parent, too often, looks down at the child. For the child, the parent is Everything. Too often, for the parent, the child (including the adult child) is .. not much, of not much significance.
It is a tough reality to accept. I cut contact with my mother a few years ago. I expected her to reach out to me, to try and contact me desperately. But she didn’t. I think that we as children (of any age) imagine our parents need us or care so much about us because we need (or needed) them and care (or cared) so much. We inaccurately project our need into them.
anitaMarch 2, 2018 at 5:22 am #195605
You just described the story of my life. I have EXACTLY the same situation, only I live closer. But it’s true. WE initiate. My husband said just this morning, “I feel like we’re family members on the Lost Horizon.” Out of sight, out of mind, a concept.
Well, I wish I can tell you it gets better. My father is now literally dying before my eyes, and hallucinating, so no closure from that source.
The best WE can do is strive to be better than our family of origin. Vow to give, rather than get. I will be in my children’s lives even if they hate it, even if all I can do is wave to them from the shore. It helps to keep in mind that every person is different. You just have the same type of people in your family, unfortunately.
I’m convinced that God created holidays, weddings, funerals and baptisms to force family members to interact with each other and to remind them that the others exist.
Text THEM on their birthday and invite them to the holidays at YOUR place. (Even if you know they won’t come! You, too, exist, have a life, are detached enough to only text as well, yet magnificent enough to summon them hither.)
InkyMarch 12, 2018 at 12:03 pm #196917
Jake, Anita, and Inky: Thank you all for your insightful responses. I’m going to answer Jake’s questions:
1) Are there any unresolved issues that hasn’t been addressed between you and your family? No. None at all actually.
2) Were you guys really close 10 years ago and they feel like you left them? No, I’ve never felt exceptionally close to any of them. Even when I was growing up. My dad worked a lot and was physically absent and my step-mom was emotionally absent.
3) How communicative were you guys before the 10 yrs? How many siblings do you have? I’ve always felt like our communication was a little “superficial” and lacked consistent emotional words. Like they may tell me they were proud of me if it was the day I graduated from college, but beyond that those words were seemingly kept for special occasions only. And I have 4 younger half siblings (my biological parents re-married and had kids with other individuals).
I think even though I’m an adult, deep down my younger self is still looking for validation, love, and reassurance from them. And I think they view me as a capable adult who doesn’t need those “childhood” things anymore.March 12, 2018 at 3:38 pm #196953
I have two brothers are like that. I know they love me. I can try to understand why but for me it is easier just to let that go and accept that this is how they are. They are kind and caring people. They just don’t put any effort to stay in touch or reach out to me.
I occasionally send out an email update on what is going in my life and make an explicit request on what is going on with them.
I feel no need to see my remaining family (parents are dead). I am happy when they have come and visit but that is for rare special occasions like when my son got married.
I understand that not having your parents not interested in you and your life is different. How old are you? Do you see this disinterest from them toward your siblings?
The best advice I can give is to accept what you cannot change and still keep in contact with no expectation any reciprocity. I always use the measure of what to do differently if I know I’ll be dead tomorrow. Or maybe in your case, if knowing your parents will be dead tomorrow.
MarkJune 6, 2018 at 6:00 pm #211309
It’s very painful and I deeply do feel for you, however I think if you continuously make an effort to reach out without them as well trying, that too also leads to pain and a huge amount of resentment. Love meets in the middle, where both parties are giving (obviously you know this). Keep an open heart and try to be respectful however don’t always reach out and take the initiative. Focus on yourself and find the Buddha within! If you’re parents aren’t reliable and supportive, know that that’s a reflection on THEM and not YOU. Thankfully you know better and a time not too far will come where you yourself will be a parent. You will be so much wiser, humble, and loving because you had suffered. You will be an actual parent opposed to a mindless idiot like so many parents who allow their children to get away with anything under the sun. Try to do some research and analyze the types of parents your very parents had. Often times the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Knowing that your parents are simply the products of also bad parenting allows you to feel some compassion, sympathy and empathy for them. Hope this helps.