People become estranged from their parents as adults is not an uncommon thing, but even despite that, this can be a tough subject. There are many reasons why one decides to pull away from their parents, and if you don’t understand what the situation is, discussing it with the estranged person can be tricky.
Even with that being said, you also don’t want to pretend like there is nothing to talk about, so when the topic comes up, it’s important not to say the wrong thing. First and foremost, in this case, you need to set your own opinions aside. You are not the person who is going through this, and unless you’ve walked in their shoes, you don’t want to make the wrong assumptions or give advice that doesn’t apply.
Here are 10 things to avoid saying when speaking with someone who is estranged from their parents.
1. Your parents only want what’s best for you.
When we think about situations, we tend to think with our own bias. However, at the end of the day, not every parent wants what is best for their child. Even if they think they do- if their behavior is toxic, then this is a moot topic.
2. I could never cut my parents out of my life.
Remember, do not push your own bias onto them. They are already likely hurting because their parent is no longer in their life. In most cases, people do not willingly choose to remove their parents from their life, they are forced to.
3. They are your parents, you need to work on things.
It is not your place to tell someone they need to work on things. It is their life, and there is likely a lot of information that you do not know.
4. When your parents die, you will regret pushing them away.
This comment may come from a good place (maybe you want them to live without regret) but it’s likely they already know that when their parents die, it will be especially hard. To them, they are likely already struggling with knowing they could reach out to their parent at any time but knowing that is a bad choice because of how toxic their parents are.
5. You seem to find, they can’t be that bad.
Many people overcome the odds of the consequences of being raised by bad parents and end up turning out just fine. Keep in mind that you do not know their journey. Even if you do, there is a lot more beneath the surface that you will never understand.
6. What did they do that was so bad?
Unless this person offers to tell you what the reason was, do not ask. This is a painful journey for anyone to have to take, and ripping open their wounds will cause more harm than good.
7. No one is perfect.
This much is true. Just because no one is perfect does not excuse the actions of toxic parents.
8. You can’t cut them out, they are your parents.
YES, you can cut out toxic parents. Sorry, not sorry. When you’ve exhausted every other option, estrangement is sometimes the only option.
9. Stop living in the past.
Whether we like it or not, our past is what has brought us to the present moment. Just because you are estranged from your parents does not mean you are living in the past. If you think about it, it means you choose to move forward.
10. Why can’t you just get over it?
People cannot just get over the trauma of living with toxic or neglectful parents. This is their healing journey, not yours. So be mindful.