Opinions are never hard to come by.
"Experts," other estranged parents - even people who aren't estranged! - talk as though there's one right way to "do" estrangement.
We hear: reach out, extend an invitation, continue to show you care, send gifts to grandkids...
Or - why bother? Stop trying, take down the photos, see what your child's done and disconnect.
I mean, honestly.
If there was a simple formula we wouldn't be estranged, right?
When my daughter cut contact I was fully immersed in coaching. But coaching helps you figure out what's right for you. And I didn't want that. I wanted to be told what to do.
I talked with friends who listened but didn't have answers. I talked with other estranged parents. For me the advice was scattered in so many directions. Much of it didn't feel right for our circumstances, our personalities.
So I went to therapy looking for the solution.
In a nutshell, I was told to walk away.
At the time that didn't feel right. For one thing, my daughter said her decision to walk away came with the help of a therapist. It wasn't lost on me that I was getting the same advice.
And I simply wasn't ready. I feared we'd seem angry or unforgiving or like we'd given up.
For some, to stop trying is what feels right - when first estranged, or maybe years down the road. For some, reaching out is the answer. Sending gifts to grandkids may feel like the right choice. Or taking down photos might make sense. There's no right/wrong, one-size-fits-all quick fix.
What I've learned and seen with clients is that coaching is beneficial because it doesn't give the answers, but helps you find your own. (How ironic I'd devalued it for that reason, right?!)
Not being told what to do is valuable for 2 reasons:
You are the expert on your situation. You know the personalities, the family dynamic and history better than any outsider could. Being coached helps you sort through all the thoughts. You're asked questions to find answers you can believe in and live with.
That's so important because our mom-confidence is shaken when a child cuts contact. Not consciously, but looking to someone else for "what to do" reiterates to our brains that we're not to be trusted. That's the opposite message we need.
Actions are not answers. We focus on "what to do." But clarity on our thinking is the real and lasting solution. Example: some moms reach out and feel like a doormat, maybe devastated if there's no reply. Other moms reach out and feel proud and confident in that action, believing it's who they want to be as a mom right now, and aren't let down by a lack of reply.
Same action, different thinking. Seeing what's in our own brains can be a challenge when we're so "in it" and action-oriented. That's why coaching can be such a gift.
Life is one big experiment. Experts and others may assert there are answers to be trusted, but the real truth is: there isn't a manual for life, and no rule book for estrangement.
Of course it feels easier to be given direction. For me, I was always second-guessing the rules I was given. Without understanding my thinking, I couldn't find peace or confidence in my actions.
Sorting through thoughts and feelings on such an emotionally-charged subject is incredibly empowering, gratifying, and strengthening. I know this because I've done it and I've watched other moms absolutely transform through coaching. Amazing.
So if you want some help, I'm here. There are many ways to find your answers, so coaching or not, I do hope you find what you need. Your wisdom is there waiting for you ❤️