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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. There is nothing I can do about it now but own it.
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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.
If you can’t wait because your entire family is toxic, I totally understand. Sometimes you are forced to walk away to save your health, or you are in danger emotionally or physically. Or perhaps you are protecting your kids. Whatever the reason, I commend you for your courage to stop the abuse.
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. Since they are adults, they live in different states.
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. It would have been nice to call my parents when I had an issue with my kids and ask for their advice. Or even send my kids to my parent’s house when we all needed a break from each other.
Kids can be an enigma at times. Having the experience of your parents helps because they were raising you not too long ago. They remember a few things. It’s really nice because you don’t have to spend a lot of time filling them in on details. They already know some context. Not having that resource was more difficult than I ever thought it would be.
So many times I wished I could have picked up the phone and called my mother just to talk. Perhaps about something that was important or maybe not. The only bright side of this is that it made me run to God for everything. And He does not disappoint.
God is the best parent to us all. He hears and knows all the pain and disappointment of your life. And He alone is the only one who 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 hard.
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, 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. Your kids are watching what you do. Your situation is not an exception. They are going to repeat what you do, not what you say.
When a Family Member Cuts You Out of Their Life
When family cuts you off, it is good to start asking yourself why. I suggest you get into counseling or find a mediator.
Learn how to set boundaries, work on forgiveness, and see if you can find solutions that work for everyone. It is an option worth pursuing before completely cutting off all ties.
Estrangement should be a last resort. Believe me, when your family stops talking you don’t know exactly what you have signed up for in the process.
If you still decide to break away or a family member cuts you out of their life, work on yourself. Your part may be nothing but forgiveness, but it is everything. Unforgiveness eats at your heart and burns into your everyday life. It colors everything you think and feel.
You can choose not to deal with unforgiveness, but eventually, it will deal with you. It may come in the form of sickness, an explosive temper, or failure at relationships around you. Even if your parent/family member is gone, it is still important to completely forgive.
Here is a thought to leave you with as you consider your difficult relationship:
Estrangement takes you farther away than you ever wanted to go, leaves you there longer than you ever intended, and the consequences are much worse than you ever thought they would be.
Lauren Daigle has a song called “Rescue.” I have played this song over and over. I love the way God chases after us when we are broken.
Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. 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.
Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.