Cutting ties between children and parents is heartbreaking but sometimes necessary
I have always been a student of social psychology. And living in the age of information, it is easy for anyone to learn about anything. But all the research in the world pales in comparison to watching and listening to live people in real-time.
Hosting large social media platforms has taught me the most.
One thing is certain: in many regards, people are collectively consistent. When you receive thousands of comments a day, it is easy to see patterns and notice the popular auto-responses that are often given by viewers.
Today, we will take a look at an idea that permeates Western Culture. That is the idea that your parents and your children are obligated to stay in your life, regardless of how they are treated or whether it serves them.
It sparked beautiful and meaningful conversations.
Low and behold, there it was. Someone always comments something like this…
“So if a person respects themselves, it is ok to shut your parents out of your life completely. Is that what you are saying?”
Of course, I provided a general answer and assured the commenter that the post was not referring to anyone’s parents, specifically.
But the answer — in a space where I have room to articulate the why behind it — is always yes.
Yes, it is okay to remove your parents from your life. And yes, even more heartbreakingly, it is okay to distance yourself from your own children.
Typically, our parents and our children are the ones who do stay in our lives. And ideally, that is how most people would have it. So it is no surprise that many of us put more long-term energy into repairing and maintaining our parent/child relationships than any others.
Since most people want their parents and children in their lives, it is good that we are generally more forgiving and compromise more often with them than other people. But to say that parents and children have an everlasting and unconditional obligation to each other is both nonsensical and, quite frankly, selfish.
If a child is molested by their mother or father, does that permit them to shut their abuser out of their lives?
What about a parent who is verbally and physically abused by their adult child? Is it acceptable for them to stop facilitating their own abuse?
There is a time and a place for people to stop participating in the behavior of their children and parents. Sometimes, only for a time, and sometimes, forever. But when the behavior of anyone is harming you or others, it is not only your right to cease participation, but it is your responsibility.
You are the only one who gets to decide where the line is for you, and I am the only one who gets to decide where it is for me. The same goes for our children, our parents and everyone we love.
You can love people and not be around them. But using your love for someone to vindicate the acceptance of mistreatment or abuse only hurts you both.
Undoubtedly, not having our parents or our children in our lives is heartbreaking. But forcing oneself or others to stay in a harmful relationship is soul-crushing.
If you are the one who needs to walk away, remember this: you are not doing your loved ones any favors by teaching them to allow ill-treatment or render themselves hostage to the toxic patterns of others.
If you are the one who someone is walking away from, whether you understand why or not, trust the people you love to figure out what is best for them. If that’s not you, and you love them as much as you say you do, let them go. It’s not your choice to make. It’s theirs.
You have the right to walk away from anyone — including your children and parents — if that is what serves you. You don’t need anyone’s permission. This is your life.
If you are like me, you want to spend your life loving. But the most important thing I can do for the people I love is to love myself — because the thing I wish the most, for those I love, is for them to love themselves. And I cannot expect them to do that if I cannot do the same.
Sometimes we love others by loving us. Sometimes it is only through loving us that we can show others how to love themselves. Sometimes we have to love people enough to let them go. And although it hurts really bad, sometimes this is the best we can do.
You have permission to walk away from anyone or anything that doesn’t serve your highest good.
Written by Holly Kellums