When family members stop speaking everyone loses. In fact, there is collateral damage you don’t count on.
Looking back, I now realize there was a trade-off when I walked away from my entire family. Sadly, I didn’t feel the consequences until years later.
If you are considering breaking away from your family, first of all, I am sorry you are even considering this option.
It is a horrible decision, and not one to be taken lightly.
Second, I ask you to count the cost. Consider what is at stake. If it is at all possible, wait, and take a step back. Try to set boundaries.
If your family members won’t adhere to your boundaries or you are in a toxic family system, I totally understand.
Sometimes you are forced to walk away to save your health, or you are in danger emotionally or physically. Additionally, you may need to protect your kids.
Whatever the reason, I commend you for your courage.
However, before you put the final nail in the coffin of your relationship, make sure you understand what you will lose because some of the effects take years to manifest.
By then, it is too late to repair a broken bridge across a wide canyon. When family members stop speaking, sadly, it is hard to ever go back.
When Family Members Stop Speaking
There are at least three things to consider when family members stop speaking. I experienced all three of these things when I walked away. Additionally, I had no idea I was going to trade one set of problems for another set.
Most likely, you will have some of the same issues if you decide to do the same thing.
1. You Lose Time When Family Members Stop Speaking
When family members stop speaking you lose time.
My kids lost their grandparents at a crucial time in their life. I left the family when my son was 15 (9th grade) and my daughter was 11 (5th grade).
When we reconciled, my son was 22 and a senior in college. My daughter was 18 and a senior in high school. My parents missed my son’s high school years completely.
They never got to see him play baseball, celebrate his awards, meet his girlfriends, or watch him walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.
It was even worse with my daughter because they missed all of her growing up years. They missed elementary, junior high, and high school. This time can never be regained.
My kids were both growing and changing so much that when we did return, my parents didn’t even recognize them.
Now that my kids are adults, they are busy. It is hard for them to take the time to see their grandparents.
We can only move forward from here, but that gap of time can never be regained. I never wanted to be estranged for seven years. It just happened. Time got away from us all.
2. You Lose Resources When Family Members Stop Speaking
When family members stop speaking you lose resources. I no longer had the wisdom of older and wiser family members who could help me.
So many times I wished I could have picked up the phone and called not only my mother but other family members as well. Perhaps talk about something that was important or maybe not.
There is something reassuring about hearing the voice of a family member on the other end of the line who loves you no matter what you say or how bad it gets.
The only bright side of this is that it made me run to God for everything. And He does not disappoint
He hears and knows all the pain and disappointment of your life. Furthermore, He alone is the only one who completely understands and can change things.
3. You Lose Family Connection When Family Members Stop Speaking
When family members stop speaking you lose family connection. There were seven years worth of holidays, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries we missed participating with extended family.
The holidays were especially difficult not talking to my parents or relatives.
I didn’t just suffer; it hurt my kids too. They missed seeing their eight cousins together at one time. This used to be one of their favorite things to do as a family.
All of this went away after we left. It not only broke up my family, but it also broke up the other families too.
Nothing was ever the same. Now all the cousins are adults, as well as my own kids. It is next to impossible to get us together all on the same day. Some of the kids are married now and have their own family holidays.
Unfortunately, the family connection wasn’t just lost with extended family, I also set an example for my own kids to possibly walk away from me someday.
I have spent an enormous amount of time in prayer breaking a stronghold that has been going on for several generations. Don’t be fooled, your kids are watching what you do more than what you say.
How Common Is Family Estrangement?
Family estrangement is more common than you think. Sadly, people are embarrassed to talk about is so it stays hidden in the dark.
I had no idea that several of my close friends were struggling with this very issue until I started talking about my own family problems. Ironically, I had known these friends for over fifteen years and it had never come up in conversation.
If you are feeling too much shame to talk about your family estrangement or rift, I suggest you get into counseling or find a mediator. Perhaps talk to a godly friend who knows your family and the way you interact with each other.
The important thing is to start working through your feelings. (Many times dysfunctional families don’t allow for feelings to be expressed.) Don’t stay in the shadows grieving alone. There are things you can do to move on from where you are right now.
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What Causes Estrangement in Families?
Estrangement is not an easy thing to unravel. In my research, I have found nine things that cause families to split apart.
Some families are guilty of doing one or two behaviors while other families, who are more toxic, do all nine.
It also gives 15 solid tips to help you when your own family refuses to talk to you. It’s time to break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
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