Following a particularly awkward Father’s Day on social media which culminated in lots of Glee feels and multiple people blocked on Facebook, a lot of acquaintances learned about my relationship with my biological family.
The short version is: we have no relationship.
The longer version will be detailed in a series next week about how to run away from home.
There are a lot of misconceptions about estranged adult children, which means that the second you tell someone you have no contact with your parents, you need to be prepared for awkward questions and nagging–especially from other parents. Other parents are The Worst. They get crazy-defensive because your existence reminds them that they ultimately have no control or power over their own children, and that is terrifying to them.
For the most part, though, you get a lot of uncomfortable silences and pitying glances, because suddenly your Issues are so much more than someone initially assumed. You might even become Inspiration Porn. Then there are the people who think that you’re exaggerating or selfish–or blame you for the estrangement–because family is family…
And don’t even think about mentioning it on your dating profile or on a date, because then you’re branded with Daddy Issues.
It’s an uncomfortable and stigma-ridden conversation, and even if you try to turn it into a joke (my family’s sooo crazy!) people will inevitably treat you differently for it. So here are the top 10 things estranged adult children are sick and tired of hearing, courtesy of Burt Hummel, your TV replacement dad:
1. But why?
If I never had to explain my childhood to a judgmental stranger ever again, it would still be too soon. Sometimes I prefer to say my parents are dead so I can avoid this conversation, because even if I do give a reason, it’s usually not good enough because:
2. Maybe you were just a difficult child.
Yeah, or maybe I was just too smart to be manipulated and gaslighted anymore.
3. Okay, so they weren’t perfect. But they can’t be that bad.
Of course, stranger who has never met my family or interacted with me as a child, you would know exactly what qualifies parents as bad enough.
Sit down, let me serve you a hot dish of TMI for the next hour…
4. How would you feel if your child did that to you?
I don’t plan on making the same mistakes my parents did–namely, I’m not having children–but if I had a child that wanted out of my life, I’d think long and hard about why.
Estrangement doesn’t happen overnight, or over a single interaction. It’s a process, with plenty of opportunities for fixing the problem before it escalates to full no-contact.
If my child decides to live a life without me in it, that’s their choice.
5. It’s been so long. Don’t you miss them? Won’t you regret this later?
Why would I regret creating a life and family for myself rather than being tied down to one I don’t want and that never wanted me?
6. But they’re your family.
Being a parent is a choice, and so is being someone’s child. A child is not property. They do not owe you anything.
Family should not be about obligation.
7. Think about their feelings.
During a fight, my biological father told me I was almost aborted. Sooo, I’m basically giving him what he always wanted, right?
8. What will you do when they die?
Probably the same things I’m doing now.
Estranged Adult Child Bonus: I won’t be responsible for my parents’ debt and poor life choices.
9. My parents are crazy too! I wish I could just cut them off!
You can cut off contact with them at any point, if you want.
If you haven’t already, then they can’t be that bad, amirite?
10. I’m sorry.
Once I’ve made it clear this wasn’t an arbitrary, spur-of-the-moment decision to spite my parents, people go from defensive to pitying.
But I’m not sorry. And I don’t want random strangers to be sorry either.
This experience has made my life more difficult, sure, but staying in contact with my parents would have made it worse. I’m a better, stronger person now than I was ten years ago. There are things in my life that are hard, but overall it’s pretty awesome, and I’m capable of making good decisions for myself. That never would have happened if I lived with the specter of my childhood clouding every facet of my life.
Being parent-free is the right thing for me.