When Family Betrays You

It hurts the most. When a loved one or family member betrays you. The emotional or psychological cut is deepest.

Maria, a single Mom, has a son.  Now a working young adult.

She sent him to school working as a sandwich vendor, working day and night. When he finished engineering and got a job, he relocated to another city to be near the plant of the company where he worked. Maria felt proud of her son.

However, for some unexplained reason, Maria’s son stopped seeing her since he got a job a year ago. He used to come with her to church on Sundays but now no more. He would not communicate with her any more.

Understandably, Maria felt betrayed and hurt by her son whom she loved and sacrificed for. Despite her best efforts to reach out to him, he was silent.

What would you do in this situation?

Betrayal of a child, or any family member, is shocking. No one of course has “perfect parents.” Whatever the reason - plausible or not - there are often no clear explanations or immediate solutions.

Not surprisingly, powerful feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression may be involved here.

Forgiveness and understanding are major keys for healing - both for the child and parent. Worthwhile things like this need enough time, patience, and perseverance.

Between parent and child, who’s the grown-up here?

Many times, the call is for the parent to let go of his or her ego. And, prayerfully and hopefully, to continue waiting and reaching out.

Author and psychotherapist Winnifred Reilly writes:

“ ... those who distance themselves or choose to have zero contact haven't all done so because their parents failed them in some significant way. (Though, of course, some have.) Many fine parents have children who pull away -- sometimes for reasons the parents cannot figure out. If your grown child has pulled away, ask yourself this: Is there an unresolved issue that needs to be addressed? Is there something I might do to make that resolution possible? Is there something I need to apologize for or forgive? Difficult as it is, I've seen many parents remain openhearted to their estranged children, reaching out, inviting contact, expressing their love, with no expectation or insistence that it be reciprocated. Sometimes all we can do is leave the porch light on with a key under the mat.”