“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”
A few years ago I ended all contact with my parents, and I have not seen or spoken to them since then.
The truth is I am actually okay with that. Initially, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had been brought up to believe that family comes first. Children should respect and take care of their parents. Family should—and will—always be there for each other.
Those beliefs were based on love, and I cherished them.
I wanted so much to feel that connection—that unconditional love those beliefs promised. It was never there.
Our lives were filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.
I told myself that all families have degrees of dysfunction, and our family was no different. I could not allow myself to believe that our family was different. I believed that one day my parents would realize what they were doing and change. I desperately wanted their love and approval.
On the night when my husband and I ended up inside a police station explaining why I thought my father was about to come to my home and hurt me, while my two grown sons waited in the car, I realized I had to wake up.
My fantasy was over. I could no longer go on pretending our family was just like everyone else. That night I said my last goodbye to my mother as she lied to protect my father. The next day I spoke the last words to my father as he screamed into the phone repeating the lies from my childhood. It was over.
Giving up the hope that things would get better was the hardest part. I was terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. I thought I was being a bad daughter. I was going against every cherished belief about family.
It broke my heart to know that my life had been based on an illusion. The picture I had created of my parents was shattered. They had never been there for me, and they never would be.
I had lied to myself to protect my fantasy and keep them in my life. Now I could no longer do it.
Over time I began to understand why I had fought so hard to live out the lie, and I began to forgive myself for not being brave enough to stand up earlier.
One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart.
I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong. That was never my parents.
I also realized that I was afraid I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.
I did everything I could to minimize disagreements between us, keeping quiet just to keep the peace. I knew that if I spoke up we would argue, they would get mad at me, and they would not love me. I failed to realize that this was something I only experienced with them.
It was hard work just to be around them. I was always on edge, cautious, and scared. That was not a loving relationship. I came to accept that if they could not love me, it didn’t change anything about me. I had created other loving relationships around me, and they were the scaffolding holding me up.
My first Christmas after was hard. I had always gone to my parents’ house to live the fairy tale of being surrounded by love.
It was always hard to ready myself for those days. We would act out the roles of happy family, hoping in some way that was our truth. It wasn’t. I had no idea how tense I was at these interactions until I no longer had to do it.
Part of the hurt was that I now had no tradition, so I decided to start a new one. Christmas is no longer a day of obligation. I now spend it with the people who are my true family.
I’ve come to realize that the love I had for my parents was based on a childhood need for safety and security. I had to see them as the parents who loved me, despite the things they did. I could not accept that the people responsible for my well-being were also responsible for my suffering.
So much of the world I had created around my parents was simply not real. I have had to accept that truth and move on with my life.
One of my fears was that by breaking contact with my parents, I was setting an example that my sons could repeat with me. I’d like to think this won’t happen because of my parents.
The pain of my childhood taught me how important it is for a child to truly feel loved, safe, and cherished. I’ve tried to live that truth with my boys. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I can only hope that the love I’ve shown them will have created a space in their hearts where I will always be thought of with love.
I try to imagine how I’ll feel when I find out that my parents have died. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure that part of me will be sad that we did not have a better ending. However, I know in my heart of hearts that I tried for over forty years to make it work. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.
My parents were never who I thought them to be. I have had to let it all go. The fantasy of the perfect ending with them is over. I am setting out on a new horizon where I have redefined my world.
As abused children, we may feel that it is somehow our responsibility to fix the broken parts of our family. It’s not. Sometimes there is no fairy tale ending where our parents realize how truly wonderful we are.
The hard part is recognizing that and moving on. Sometimes it’s the only way to find real peace. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not easy. Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay.
I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.
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38 upvotes in December
This is a small Discord bot intended to bring love to your Discord servers. What it does is allows two users to get married. There are no benefits or drawbacks to being married. It simply is a thing that you can do. Here’s a family tree you can make through marrying and adopting various users:
Note: there’s no command to accept or decline a proposal. Just say something along the lines of “yes” or “no” into chat, and it’ll interpret that from there.
- m!propose @User#1231
This command allows you to initiate a marriage with another user. They, of course, can then deny your proposal, but that’s unimportant
- m!divorce @User#1231
This does the opposite of the marry command, as you can imagine. It opens you back up to the dating pool.
- m!adopt @User#1231
Lets you try to adopt the mentioned user.
- m!makeparent @User#1231
Asks the person to be your parent. This will further restrict you from the dating pool, but makes your fake family trees look cooler.
- m!disown @User#1231
Allows you to disown one of your children.
- m!emancipate @User#1231
The equivelant of running away from home. Removes your parent.
- m!partner [@User#1231]
Shows who the user’s partner is. Defaults to yourself.
- m!parent [@User#1231]
Shows who the user’s parent is. Defaults to yourself.
- m!relationship @User#1231 [@User2#4564]
Shows you the relationship beteween the two given users (or the first user and yourself).
- m!familysize [@User#1231]
Gives you the amount of people in your family tree.
- m!tree [@User#1231]
Shows the family tree of the blood relatives of the given user on the server the command was called from. Defaults to yourself. The bot needs to be able to send images to do this.
- m!stupidtree [@User#1231]
Shows the family tree of the ALL of the given user on the server the command was called from. Defaults to yourself. The bot needs to be able to send images to do this. Command is named after how stupid the trees look when you call this.
- m!treefile [@User#1231]
Gives you the full family tree output for the given user as a .ged file.
- m!prefix [Prefix]
For when m! isn’t good enough (you must have the manage_guild permission to run this command. You’ll always be able to mention the bot to get its attention, so don’t worry about forgetting the prefix).
Shows you the perks you get for voting and donating and all that fun stuff. All of it is totally optional.
Check out the home page for the full Discord Bot List.
I am known for exposing the “elephant in the living room.” Those things everybody knows but nobody is talking about. Not every mother-daughter relationship reads like a Hallmark card, and our culture makes that a shameful secret to bear.
Dr. Christiane Northrup suggested that the bonding hormones that flood a mother’s blood stream at childbirth stay with women for about 28 years.
It is no accident, then, that the first round of truly adult separation (not teenage rebellion) begins to rear its head somewhere around 30 for women and the menopause years for their mothers. For the first time, the veil begins to lift and we see each other for the women we have become.
Some estimate that 96% of American Families are dysfunctional in some way – making it the norm. But “normal” is not necessarily healthy, and it certainly falls short of the abundant life we’ve been promised.
Women are held responsible for the relational health of the world – at work, at home, family health and wellbeing, the sexuality, the promiscuity, the cause, the cure and the results. When a true perpetrator arises in a family, the mother protects ala Mama Bear. If she doesn’t die trying, she can later become a target.
Mom is apparently the one who knew (or should have known) what was happening at every moment of every day to their children – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. After all, moms have eyes in the backs of their heads and are equipped with the unusual ability to read minds, right?
M. Scott Peck wrote, “Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.” The pinch point for grandmothers is that any loss of relationship with our adult children means strained relations – if not severed ties – with the grandchildren who now light up our lives.
I am a mother of three and grandmother to 11. I stayed with their father for more than 20 years believing that somehow I could make him feel loved enough to change.
Over time, each of my children has drawn close to me for healing, and pulled away for the same reason. I am, after all, the one they hold responsible for the shifting emotional sand in their psyche.
Ten years ago, I remarried a man whose children were also grown. We imagined that would alleviate the adjustments of step-families. In some ways, not having children in the home made it easier to forge our identity as a married couple.
Although we shared values, we didn’t share history with each others’ children. We each brought our traditions and expectations to bear. When I recently chose to divorce this man who had played “grandpa” to my children’s children, old wounds surfaced.
Had I known that to leave him meant I would lose my only local family, I probably would have stayed for the sake of the grandchildren. It’s that old programming baby boomer women still struggle with.
If something isn’t working, you try harder. Marital problems? Pray more, love more, give more, be patient, and wait it out. Suck it up, stuff it down, be quiet and don’t make waves.
I have identified four distinct stages in the journey to wholeness.
Our lives become (or continue to be) a carefully constructed illusion based on how it looks, what people will think, and what we imagine will get us the love and security we so desperately crave.
This is why grandmothers continue to “make peace at all costs” rather than saying what they see, need and want. Some have called it the disease to please.
Pretending that everything is okay when in our hearts we know that is not true can only go so far. We go along to get along. We smile in public and cry in private. We live a lie, and it eats at our souls every day.
Women think if we ignore it, maybe it will go away or time will heal all wounds. The thing is, time doesn’t heal buried pain. It has to be unearthed and acknowledged before it will pass away. Pain that gets buried alive poisons the rest of our lives.
Divorce is a harsh word when applied to our mother-child relationships, isn’t it? But it happens whether we acknowledge it or not. Divorce occurs when all communication has broken down and attempts at reconciliation fail.
It is the most painful dark night of the soul. With divorce comes all the drama of severed relationships, he-said she-said finger pointing, and drama triangles where people talk about each other, but never directly to one another so healing could occur. We might as well lawyer up and some do. It’s called Grandparent Rights.
Last is the place of acceptance. There is no anger, no angst, no more bargaining. It is where we accept what life is handing out right now and the fighting is done.
You have decided what you do and do not want, what you will and will not stand for, and are making decisions to move forward with or without the resolution you may have hoped for. You are free to stay or go because you have become dedicated to reality at all costs.
Do I wish I had capacity back then to do some things differently? Definitely. Do I regret what I allowed my children to endure because of the choices I made? Mm-hmm.
Is there anything I can do now to go back and change it? Not a damn thing. Does it serve anyone for me to live in remorse and regret? Nope. Not now, not ever. Never.
Nobody had a perfect childhood – at least nobody in my generational gene pool. We all did the best we could with what we had to work with at the time. That is as true today as it was generations ago.
The biggest healer for women in daughter divorces is to break the shame by breaking the silence. Let’s talk about what’s real and how to help live dreams without drama in our later years.
Where do you find yourself in the process of letting your adult children go? Where are you on the journey to finding yourself in your sixties? Please share your thoughts below!
Families are complicated. And so is the prospect of legally extricating yourself from your family. There is no technical definition of “disown” in the law, and whether you can sever your rights and responsibilities to your relatives depends on your relation to them. For instance, it may seem odd but it might be easier for kids to walk out on their parents than the other way around, legally speaking.
So if you’ve had enough of your folks, or think junior has overstayed his welcome, here’s what you need to know about legally renouncing your family ties.
OK, getting a divorce is its own animal, and we have tons of resources on ending a marriage. So we’ll limit this conversation to parents, grandparents, and children.
Sorry unhappy moms and dads, but just about every state makes it the responsibility of both parents to support their minor children. Even if you don’t have custody, you may be on the hook for financial support. In some cases, the can be waived by the other parent, but those are rare. Otherwise, the only way to legally separate from your child (voluntarily) is to put him or her up for adoption and cede all parental rights. (Parental rights could also be terminated by court order.)
The obligation to support your children generally continues until the age of majority, 18 in most states. At that point, you are generally free to cut them off, without the need for legal documents or court proceedings. However, if you have included your child or children in a will, or otherwise agreed to provide some financial support, you’ll need to amend or rescind that document.
Generally speaking, grandparents are under no legal obligation to provide for grandchildren. There are a few exceptions, however, mostly based on whether the grandparents have stepped in and accepted custody of the grandchildren. Known as in loco parentis (Latin for “in place of the parent”), voluntarily establishing custody of grandchildren can put grandparents on the hook for child support. There are also states that impose child support responsibility on grandparents if both the parents and the grandchildren are minors.
Like child support for parents, this obligation normally ends at age 18 and it’s up to grandparents whether they want to extend that responsibility.
And what about kids who are sick of their parents? There is one legal way out, called emancipation. There are ways to be automatically emancipated — via marriage or military service — but the most common occurs when a minor petitions a court to grant the minor all legal rights to care for him- or herself and take on adult responsibilities.
These petitions are often granted based on the court’s discretion, and judges will consider the state of the minor’s relationship with the parents as well as whether the minor is sufficiently mature, has the ability to provide income shelter, and is obtaining an education, when making decisions in the best interest of the minor. Additionally, most states set a minimum age for emancipation — generally 16 — which can be good news for 17-year-olds looking to move out of the house, but might not be as helpful to younger teens.
Family can drive you crazy. But don’t let them drive you to rash legal decisions. If you’re considering disowning your family, in the legal sense, consult with an experienced family attorney first.
- Find Family Law Lawyers Near You (FindLaw’s Lawyer Directory)
- Can I Reverse an Adoption? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- How to Evict an Adult Child (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Can I Kick My Spouse out of the House? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.