How old are your alienated children? Do you have adult children and are wondering how to have a relationship with them? As for myself, by the age of 16, I was pretty much on my own and made up my own mind about who, what, when, where, etc. No one could tell me what to do.
A little background: Essentially, I was completely alienated with no contact with my dad from the age of 7 thru the age of 18 when I reunited with him. I was 18 and independent. I was in the process of moving out and finding a place on my own to live. I had a steady boyfriend (which was an interesting five years of an abusive relationship), and when I reunited with my dad he still saw me as a little girl; seven years old. Frankly, I didn’t have time for that. I did enjoy watching childhood home movies and revisiting some fond childhood places and memories with him in the beginning, but at this point I was an adult and I was living in the present, while my dad was still attempting to come to terms with the past and the amount of time that lapsed in our relationship.
At the age of 18, I was partying, getting into trouble, being rowdy and disrespectful, and so full of myself with my new-found “confidence” that came with meeting the high school crowd of really cool people (degenerates, drop outs, thugs, addicts, etc.). My dad wanted to make up for the years that he lost, but I had nothing to give and yet I took freely and without much of a thanks. I didn’t think about it much at that time as I was self-absorbed and still very mentally immature, not realizing the “issues” I had until a few years later.
So, from the years 18, 19, 20, and a few months into my 21st year, I was really involved with having fun, enjoying life, and being with my boyfriend and friends that I really did not have much time for my father. I would see him maybe once a month, but it was as if I had to pretend to be someone I was not; a good girl who made my dad proud. It’s awful to say, but I couldn’t be myself as I feared I would disappoint my dad’s image of me that he held onto since he last saw me at the age of 7.
At the age of 21 I met my future husband and I was going to college, and I had stabilized my life and settled into some more conservative ways of living. At the age of 24 I had my first child; three months after my son was born my dad passed away. We had 6 awkward years together after our reunification, and because of my age and his old age we really couldn’t make the best out of those years, but it was all I could give and it is what it is.
My dad was a very passive and gentle soul. He gave freely and really didn’t expect much in return (even if he did, he never made it known). He never uttered a negative word to me and always lifted my spirits up (especially during my year-long bout with depression from age 18-19). If my dad would have pushed more (for a better relationship, to use authority over me, etc.) I simply would have pushed back. I see many alienated parents almost strong-arming their way into their children’s lives; either by publishing really private matters all over the Internet as a way to prove their love, or by dragging the issue in court for years, or begging, pleading, crying, yelling, etc. Personally, that would not have helped me at all. I was rebellious (and still am), and I would rebel even further if someone attempted to tell me what to do. I think some of that is in my genes (I was born stubborn), and some of it is due to having to essentially raise myself (my mom did what little she could but I basically did a lot on my own for my own self-care) and no one was going to tell me what I should do or what I should think or how to live my life.
At the age of 24, when my first son was born, I was finally settled down into a family setting that allowed me to look back on my life and sort out right from wrong and give back. However, I never had the chance to do this with my dad.
In the end, I think your job as targeted fathers and mothers is to love your children unconditionally and be there for them as they need you. You may not be able to spend the time with them that you thought you might, but as long as you are a positive presence in their life and support them as any father or mother would support their grown children, you’ll hopefully find that it is much easier to live your own life. Just love them, support them, and remind them that you are there for them when they need you. Take them out to lunch or dinner every now and then and treat them as adult children.
That’s all you can do, and that’s all you can ask for.
God bless you and your family.