When Family Members Are Estranged Over the Holidays

When Family Members Are Estranged Over the Holidays

written by: Dr. Nancy Iankowitz
by: Dr. Nancy Iankowitz
20181214 065422 20181214 065422

You have strong positive feelings for a family member - but those feelings suddenly seem to fall on a stone cold heart. You wonder if it is your choice of words that puts the other person off. Then, upon honest self-reflection, you recognize that there are choices on the part of the other person (either words or actions) that irritate you and, though you lean on your history of shared unconditional love, it becomes clear that your unsettled vibration is possibly more noticeable that you thought. Fix it. You have the power in the second scenario. If, however, this is simply a case of a pattern of mutual sharing shifting, as in 'our caring, loving history seems to have just come to an abrupt halt', you owe it to the relationship to seek clarification.

If the situation is within the realm of the first scenario, you review to be sure you aren't missing anything:

You know you've shared unconditional love over decades, and yet seeking clarification at this point seems impossible. You try and are avoided. Again, you wonder: Why? somehow it seems as if you've entered an alternate universe wherein the other person has morphed into an unrecognizable drone. Is this person being manipulated by a spouse who sees you as a threat? Perhaps. You dearly adore your three grandchildren, but that son-in-law (or daughter-in-law) won't permit you to see them. Your heart aches. Your daughter (or son) tells you s/he wishes things were different; but when you attempt to engage in a meaningful conversation, s/he shuts off. Sometimes s/he says, "This is the way Jim/Susan wants it. I hear the garage door opening. I have to go." Is s/he using the spouse as an excuse to avoid you, or is there true fear of the spouse governing the distance? At this point - if your concerns are unable to be answered by honest reflection, ask your daughter (son) directly at your next opportunity. If your adult child is in an abusive situation, it might be important for you to contact a domestic abuse hotline: in New York State the hotline may be found by accessing a computer and going to : http://www.opdv.ny.gov/help/dvhotlines.html or you can call: 1-800-942-6906

As a parent of an adult child, when your relationship suddenly changes, it is natural to fear for your adult child. Whether the adult offspring has just found a new religion, or otherwise chosen a lifestyle rhythm you can't comprehend, if your child is thriving and clearly demonstrating balance of mind, body and spirit - successful in life and love, it may be time to let go. Seek support through a mental health provider well educated in family dynamics. You may need to learn how to set healthy boundaries for your sanity as well as for the sanity of your adult child.

Although natural to blame yourself for the disconnect - this may be inappropriate. Consult with your mental health counselor so that you can learn how to stop beating yourself up. Healthy self-reflection includes focusing on "Where did I go wrong?" However, it is when soul searching brings you into a state of anxiety that you need additional professional support. If the illogical situation distracts from joy - particularly with holidays just around the corner, of course you want to see your grandchildren open the gifts you sent. You hope they receive them and would like to see their smiling faces. This situation may or may not be about you - although your health is absolutely a factor. It is important to recognize when you need to focus less on the rejection and more on taking care of your own mind/ body/ spirit balance. Do tap into your primary healthcare provider for nutritional guidelines, and your mental health provider for coping skills so that you can sleep at night and be energized by day. Don't attempt to guilt or shame the one who rejects you into keeping you from a nervous breakdown. Fear, shame, guilt and villain/victim/savior scenarios never end well.

You deserve happiness, joy and centered peace. Here's to wishing you, those you love, and all lives you touch blessings and balance throughout every season.

~Dr. Iankowitz

written by: Dr. Nancy Iankowitz

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