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  • Grace Dowd

Navigating Parenthood When Dealing with Estranged Parents: Finding Peace & Balance

Becoming a parent can be an incredibly joyful yet difficult journey, that brings about feelings of love and fulfillment. However, when estrangement or rocky relationships with your own parents brings complex feelings to this experience, it can become overwhelming to think about and to know how to feel about it. Navigating the territory of becoming a parent while being estranged from your own parents is a delicate dance. It is an experience that may require an immense amount of self-care, self-compassion, and boundary exploration. Below are some key points to consider in navigating familiail relationships while creating new bonds.

1. Acknowledge Your Emotions

Facing estrangement from your parents while raising your own family can evoke a wide range of emotions, such as anger, sadness, guilt, or even relief. It is crucial to acknowledge and process these feelings instead of suppressing them. Seek support from your partner, friends, or a therapist to help you navigate these emotions and prevent them from affecting your parenting.

2. Focus on Your Family's Well-being

As a parent, your primary responsibility is to create a loving and nurturing environment for your children. While dealing with estranged parents, it's important to prioritize the well-being of your immediate family. Shield your children from any negativity associated with the estrangement, and maintain an open line of communication with them so they feel secure and loved.

3. Set Healthy Boundaries

Establishing boundaries is essential for maintaining your emotional health and protecting your family. Determine what level of contact or interaction is suitable for you and your children. Be firm in communicating these boundaries to your estranged parents, ensuring that they understand and respect your decision.

4. Seek Clarity and Closure

IF it is safe to do so, and if you are comfortable and open to it, consider seeking clarity and closure with your estranged parents. Reach out to initiate a conversation that allows both parties to express their feelings and perspectives. However, be prepared for various outcomes, and remember that reconciliation may not always be possible or healthy. This step may be best explored and addressed with the support of a professional.

5. Focus on Self-Care

Dealing with estrangement can be emotionally draining. Make self-care a priority to nurture your own well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, practice mindfulness or meditation, and take breaks when needed. By taking care of yourself, you can be a more present and balanced parent for your children.

6. Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Building a support network is essential when coping with estrangement. Surround yourself with friends and family who understand your situation and provide a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on. Online communities or support groups for individuals dealing with estranged family members can also offer valuable insights and encouragement. Building a network of chosen family can be a healing experience for those who have been ostracized or outcast.

7. Embrace the Present

This is not to say that you should "forgive and forget," but rather identify if there are things you want to take from this experience and discard the rest. The greatest gift you can give to yourself and your child is to live fully in the present. This is an active choice and may require some deep work with a therapist. As a parent, your focus is on creating beautiful memories with your children. Embrace the present and acknowledge the parts of you that may feel resentment or anger towards your estranged parents. Living fully in the present is not about condoning their actions but freeing yourself from the emotional burden and moving forward into a more fulfilling life that you deserve.

Dealing with estranged parents while navigating parenthood is undeniably challenging, but it's possible to find peace and balance with the right approach. Acknowledge your emotions, practice deep self-care and self compassion, set healthy boundaries, and focus on the present moment with yourself and your children to create a new emotional equilibrium. By fostering an environment of self-nurturence for yourself and your children, you can begin to shift the landscape of parenting for generations to come. Know that there is always hope and support available to you as you navigate this difficult terrain.

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