Sup­port group for es­tranged par­ents

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘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.

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