One woman's view: Families are forever


Contributing writer

In a couple of weeks we will celebrate Mother's Day and a month later Father's Day. However, in some families "celebrate" hardly seems the right word. It is sad that I seem to know so many families with some degree of estrangement between parents and children. Being on the outside of the situation, there may be much I do not know about the motives, but I question whether anything is terrible enough to break the parent-child bond and whether either parent or child can be happy with that bond broken.

Apparently one family is sadly divided, because a child made a career move his parents did not approve of. Parents all have dreams for the children, and most are probably disappointed if their children follow different dreams. However, do you really want to discard them from your life?

Divorce is likely to cause great conflict in the mind of a child of that marriage. I know grown children who have severed all ties with one parents, because their sympathies are with the other parent. I wish they would remember that there are three sides to every quarrel — your side, my side, and the right side. The third is rarely identical to either of the other two. It is likely that some of the problems in your parents' marriage were things even you did not know about. Try not to judge.

In a couple of families I know the parent/child estrangement began as a conflict between siblings. In one case the mother took one child's side and refuses to have anything to do with the other. Incidentally, she also is on the outs with two other children, one by her own choice and one by the daughter's. In the other case, the mother refused to take sides, and one of the children cast her off because of it. It seems a parent cannot win for losing.

Another young friend moved out of her parents' home as soon as she turned 18. Both the daughter and the parents are hurting. I am sure there is right and wrong on both sides, but I pray they will find a way to regain a close relationship.

If we can expect to find unconditional love anywhere in the world, it should be with our families. In Robert Frost" poem, "Death of the Hired Man," one character says, "Home is a place where if you have to go there they have to take you in." Another answers, "I should have called it something you somehow haven't to deserve." Perhaps nobody truly deserves love from their children (or their parents). We all hurt each other sometimes. However, it would be a cold, cruel world if none of us received any more love than we deserve.

My parents and my brothers have all passed on, but I cherish many warm memories of us as a family. That is definitely not to say that any of us were perfect. All of us had tempers, and none of us were very reluctant to show them. However, when we got through yelling, we had pretty much forgotten the whole issue. We never missed a chance to be together. I am very glad we did not waste the precious years holding grudges.

Why not pocket your pride and send gifts (or cards) to your parents on Mother's Day or Father's Day? They may be ready to respond generously by this time. Of course, the parent also may make the first move. Why not send your child a letter saying, "The privilege of being your mother (or father) is truly something to celebrate." Biding time expecting the other party in a disagreement to make the first move is surely time wasted.

I have tried to describe my examples in general enough terms not to identify any of the people. But if you recognize yourself, know I am praying for your family to be reunited. You are missing many blessings. I guarantee that when your parents are gone, you will never wish you had spent less time with them or that you had never forgiven them the wrong you feel they did you.