Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Adoption of Reconciliation...?

A colleague in her twenties, *Jenny, shares a flat with three female flatmates in a nearby town. Friends since childhood, Jenny is the only one of the four whose parents are still together.

Of Jenny’s three friends and flatmates, one sees her father a couple of times a month for a meal or cinema outing, interspersed with weekly phone chats, and the other two do not see their fathers at all. Their fathers have moved away, remarried and started new families. One sends his daughter Christmas and birthday cards but makes no effort apart from that. The other has apparently told his daughter bluntly; ‘I have a new family now. You’re my past.’ and wants no contact at all. 

Needless to say each flatmate has been affected to a greater or lesser degree by the outfall from their parents' break-up and the flatmate who has experienced total paternal rejection is, not surprisingly, the one most affected in every aspect of her life as her friends/flatmates find themselves consoling her over one disastrous relationship after another and her daily struggles to hold down a job and control her weight whilst feeling worthless most of the time, despite plenty of assurance to the contrary.

As a caring and loving father who has not seen his (similarly aged) daughters for three and a half years now since they decided to reject him and take their mother’s side following an acrimonious divorce (not of my partner’s choosing, much as he accepts his share of responsibility for the marital breakdown), my partner finds himself in the opposite situation. Although in his early 50s, he has borne much emotional trauma and not a few health issues as a result.

So upset has he been over the loss of his daughters I have (not entirely jokingly) suggested that since there are clearly rejected adult children out there as well as rejected parents like him, maybe he should start a ‘late adoption’ agency so that rejected parents and rejected adult children could all be matched to the parents and children who really need them and value that relationship in their lives. Such 'adoptions' would also benefit from a blame-free zone since there would no history between them.

None of us can control what others think, do or choose after all and blood is not always thicker than water, particularly if certain family members are not open to any kind of forgiveness or reconciliation or another member of the family is coercing them or giving them no choice but to take sides through threats of dire consequences if they re-establish contact.

Ultimately, no one should allow their lives to be ruined by decisions that others have made, particularly if, like my partner, an individual has been prepared to do everything within reason to offer the olive branch and help the healing process commence, but has been blocked and prevented from doing so at every turn. 

I am not a child of divorce myself, but a child of dysfunctional parents who had their own unique ways of screwing kids up and making them feel worthless so I have some understanding of difficult family situations. It took me many years to come to terms with my upbringing and realise who I was so that I could finally be at peace with them.

As the serenity quotation goes;

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

*Jenny is not the real name of said colleague.

1 comment:

Wisewebwoman said...

How terribly sad for all concerned. The fallout from marriages have a huge effect on the children, no matter the age.

I sympathize with your partner Laura, it must be a terrible ache and lost years can never, ever be made up.