Support group for estranged parents
‘‘He may have locked me out, but I've never let him go’’ Lynn Cawood
Some have been separated from their children because of a breakdown in relations. Others don’t get to see their grandchildren.
Parents who have been cut off from their adult children now have a support group in Palmerston North. Estranged Parents had its first meeting last week.
For 20 years, Lynn Cawood has been estranged from her married son.
‘‘He doesn’t talk to me – he doesn’t actually like me.’’
Cawood said she had gradually come to terms with the situation.
‘‘I can’t do anything about it. He may have locked me out, but I’ve never let him go.’’
She was heartened that one of her grandsons has since been to stay with her, but said there were thousands of people in her predicament.
‘‘They don’t like talking about it because they feel so humiliated, ashamed and embarrassed their children won’t communicate with them.’’
Collateral damage from these breakdowns affected the wider family, with members taking sides, and cousins not knowing their other kin.
Estranged Parents group coordinator Jacque Aldridge said parental estrangement was not due to any one cause.
‘‘One woman has been told by a neighbour she is a grandma for the third time. She has never met any of her grands. A common question these parents ask is ‘why?’.’’
Aldridge said many didn’t know the reason for being cut off, and couldn’t even have that conversation because their children weren’t talking.
The process of dealing with estrangement was similar to grieving someone’s death, except this grief was always tinged with the hope of reconciliation.
‘‘Even when all evidence is to the contrary, people hang on to that alluring possibility.
‘‘Everyone hopes that it will come right, and they don’t want to jeopardise those possibilities,’’ Aldridge said.
Dee (not her real name) lost contact with her teenage daughters while she faced charges and did jail time.
‘‘I haven’t met my daughters’ partners ... they don’t know who I am.’’
Isolated and unable to present her side of the story, Dee came looking for a support network among people who had similar experiences of being excluded from their children’s lives.
Lynn Cawood and Jacque Aldridge are members of a support group for those who have been cut off from their children.