Estrangement from family is no laughing matter: by Annette Howe



Annette Howe

Remember the game ‘Keep Away’ where two, usually bigger, kids take something from another child and then toss it to one another just out of the reach of the victim child?

If you were ever unfortunate enough to be that child in the middle of those bullies, you likely still remember the escalating feelings of panic as the game went on a bit too long.

Would you be shocked to hear that this little game, although banned, I’m sure, from modern day playgrounds, is today carried on by a staggering number of adults and their victims? Yes, their own parents.

There is an epidemic of parental and grand-parental estrangement enforced by cold-hearted, narcissist adults worldwide. I, myself, have been estranged from my son, his wife, and my two beautiful granddaughters for nine years.

Through online support groups, like Facebook, thousands of us have found one another and compared stories and offer each other encouraging words and prayers. Talk of suicide is frequent among this heartbroken group, as the panic builds and we long to see our children and grandchildren once again. We call our estranged children (or EC as refer to them), only to have our phone calls sent immediately to voicemail with no response. Texts, emails, cards, letters all go unanswered.

A common thread we have discovered as we search for a reasonable explanation leads to the spouse of our child. He or she often twists the words and/or actions of the in-law to convince our adult child that we are the enemy; intent on breaking up their marriage. Being a parent-in-law can be a rocky and perilous path. Small incidents of miscommunication, or careless words spoken in a moment of exhaustion, fear, or anger are blown up into “she has always hated me”, “she wants to control you”, “she still treats you like a child”. Forgiveness is completely out of the question for these adult children.

The fine details of each parent’s story may differ, but the feelings of exasperation, frustration and panic are the same in all of our hearts. Our plea, and I feel I can speak for all estranged parents and grandparents when I say, if you or someone you know has cut their parents out of their lives, refusing to allow them to see their grandchildren, please urge them to open their minds to consider reconciliation. To continue breaking the hearts of their parents could likely end up with them estranged from their own children and grandchildren.

Call your parents and let bygones be bygones. Remember, it was usually your mother or father who came to your rescue when the bullies were tossing your favorite toy back and forth, just out of your reach.

Annette is a lifetime resident of Montgomery County, mother of two, and grandmother of four. She graduated from Conroe High School in 1976, but decided to forgo college to start a family. She enjoys writing to entertain her family and friends, cooking, raising chickens, corralling her three cats home and two guinea pigs, but mostly spending as much time possible with her two youngest grandchildren, “Einstein” (age 13) and “Sugarplum” (age 8), who, she promises to feature in many of her upcoming articles. Annette‘s viewpoint of the world is filled with a mix of sarcasm, humor, and wisdom.


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