April is Stress Awareness Month – Part 4

The 8 Stages of Estrangement
Looking at Both Sides of a Coin

From a Parent’s Perspective

Stage 3 | Rejection

Rejection is an emptiness and a feeling of loss that causes physical and emotional stress. The rejection of a parent by a child is a traumatic experience. It is very much related to power and control. A child has exerted influence and control over the relationship by walking away from it, which is hurtful. Reactions such as anxiety, panic attacks, and other physical pain or stress occur when rejection occurs. If estrangement happens during a divorce, a rejection by a child can add fuel to the fire of feeling rejected by the spouse. Sometimes, an entire set of relatives and friends disappear in what may seem like an instant. During this stage, a parent feels physically and emotionally depleted. Lost. Loss of a child. Loss of a marriage. Loss of a family. Loss of what was. Loss of what was to be

I feel rejected by my son because he doesn’t even acknowledge me. He walks right past me with his head down. I hate seeing my son in so much pain. It makes me sick to my stomach. And I have so much pain too. The pain of rejection runs so deep.

A parent’s perspective
Artist Credit: Vivien Szaniszló

From a Child’s Perspective

Stage 3 | Anger

Remember that these stages ebb and flow, and each person will experience them differently. Certainly, most will travel in and between stages simultaneously as well as distinctly from each other. In this Anger stage, children want nothing to do with their parents. They are angry. They are mad about something and might not even know what makes them angry. It could be a misunderstanding. It could have nothing to do with the parent. It may be from social media. Whatever it is, the child feels anger, spewing it out on their parent or further harming themselves by bottling their anger within or maybe a little of both.

The adult child may resent that their parent(s) didn’t see their distress. They felt unheard. The anger might stem from their birth order, political differences, or something else. They view their parent(s) as toxic. In their perspective, they see their parent as a stumbling block to their own mental health. It is easier for them to break off and cut the opposition out of their lives. The child does not see a way back at this stage. It is not in the realm of their consciousness.

I don’t know why I am so angry. I don’t know what my triggers are. My anger comes from nowhere, and I don’t know how to tame it. I lash out at my parents, and they just don’t understand. I don’t understand, either. My parents are know-it-alls, and that fuels my anger too.

A child’s perspective

Author’s Note: Estrangement caused me to feel unloved, and I knew I needed to love myself before I could love others again. From my experience in participating in support groups with other estranged parents, there is a choice to make. You can choose to blame, distrust, and be bitter. Or, you can choose to love and heal yourself, from this incredibly harrowing experience, by opening up to others. It’s up to you. A special thank you to Kathryn Kollowa, EdD, MSN, RN for her feedback and added insights incorporated in this most recent update.

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Thanks so much for your support!

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