Have you ever stood at the sink with a large pot in your hands, waiting for it to fill with water from the tap? Even if the water’s turned all the way on, it can take a frustratingly long time for the pot to fill.
Estrangements are frustrating in the same way. “What’s taking so long? Why isn’t this resolving?” It’s kind of like saying, “Why isn’t the pot full yet?” when you’re tired of standing at the sink.
There’s another similarity between estrangement and filling a pot: You can’t speed up the process. But you can easily slow it down.
If you get tired of holding a slowly-filling pot under the faucet, you can move it away from the stream. But doing so will only prolong the task.
Once the water is on full force, there’s no way to get to the goal any faster. Anything and everything you do, besides waiting for the project to complete itself, will only delay the desired outcome.
But while you can’t make a pot fill faster, you do have choices. You can stand there, as I often do, fuming about how long it’s taking. Or you can cast your mind to the pasta you’re going to cook. Will you cook it al dente or make it more tender? What kind of sauce will you serve with it?
You might even remember, while you’re standing there pondering your dinner, that you forgot to buy pasta.
Reconciliation is a Process
Parents are typically in a hurry to reconnect with their estranged adult children. But too often they don’t think about what’s going to happen after reconciliation. It’s as if they’re in a hurry to fill a pot with water, without having any plans for what to do with it.
Reconciliation isn’t the end of estrangement; it’s the next phase. What you do once your child is back in touch has an impact on how long your reunion will last.
Imagine that you’re holding a pot under the faucet, and you have only the time it takes to fill to make all necessary plans for an elaborate new meal. Now how long does it seem to take that pot to fill up? Any impatience is soon replaced with laser focus on your meal planning.
That’s how it needs to be for rejected parents. You have only as much time as your child decides to take right now to figure out what happened, and why, and what changes are needed so that it doesn’t happen again. Don’t be in a hurry to reconnect; you need the time you’ve been given.
Acting impulsively, reacting to negativity with negativity, reaching out when you’ve been asked not to… these common behaviors, while understandable (because we’re all human), usually delay reconciliation.
Focus on learning and growing during this forced hiatus in your relationship. Most adult children estrange for reasons that make perfect sense to them. You need to know your child’s reasons, or be able to figure them out based on past conversations or behavior.
And then you’ll want to put yourself in a position where you can address those reasons, once and for all. This takes time.
Think about that the next time you’re filling a pot.
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