Saturday, September 10, 2011

Parent-Free By Choice

How many of you out there have chosen to separate yourselves from one or both of your parents because of the way they treated you?
That was the question I asked on Twitter. I was blown away by the responses. There were about 20 people who spoke up and shared a little of their stories with me, out of about 400 followers. I was surprised at how common this issue seemed to be. Then I asked a similar question on Facebook, this time asking people to email me their stories, not sure what I would do with them yet.

Here are some of the things people have shared:
Thank you for your curiosity and openness to this subject many find taboo.

Part of me thinks is it easier to just tell people your mom died than to say you just don’t speak to her.
A person can only be hurt so much before enough is enough.

[My father] made my life miserable and then threatened my kids.
I'm teaching my parents a lesson.  I do plan on getting back in touch, but not until they've had a long time to realize that they need us more than we need them.
It's heartbreaking and it's not an easy choice to make. So much baggage goes along with it. People understand divorce more than they do cutting ties with parents.
Many people also shared how they have felt so alone going through this process. Some have people making them feel guilty about their decisions. All this made me wonder: If this is taboo, why is that? Why do we give people a hard time about cutting ties with parents? Do we as a society feel that a person owes her parents something, no matter how badly they have treated her? If this is such a common issue, why aren't we talking about it more?

After reading through the stories I received, I have decided to start a second blog, to give people a place to give and get support from others who are dealing with similar issues. I'm calling it "Parent-Free By Choice." The posts will be stories from (mostly anonymous) readers, who want to share their experiences. It will be a supportive, empowering, compassionate place.

No one should feel forced to endure mistreatment or abuse from anyone else, even (especially) a parent. A person who chooses to be parent-free is not "running away" from problems, but rather running toward a better, happier life. I'm hoping it will help people to see just how many others are going through this, or have gone through it and feel at peace with their decisions.

I'm also hoping that the connection between this blog and the new one will be very clear. Let's just say that so far, I have NOT heard anything like the following:
I don't speak to my parents anymore because they were too supportive and respectful of my freedom.
I don't speak to my parents anymore because they didn't meddle with my life enough.
I don't speak to my parents anymore because they treated me too kindly.
You get the idea.

Please go visit the new blog, where the first story is now up. Read, reflect, offer support. Share your story if you think it might help you or someone else. Details on how to do so can be found in the right sidebar on the new blog.