“My Dad Called Me the Night He Died, and I Ignored It. I Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Answer That Call.”
Everyone goes through relationship failures and is forced to find their way alone. But there comes a time when parents need their children by their side, at least to say a final goodbye. However, youngsters who've cut ties with their parents are now guilty and confused.
We rarely acknowledge fractured relationships with parents. Meanwhile, some get trapped, unable to resonate with the reason why families break. On the other hand, society has fabricated “rules” on how family dynamics are supposed to look or function in a certain way.
But holding yourself accountable to such rules that you can’t interpret why they exist is quite bothersome. We assume healthy relationships bloom by coincidence when they actually require a lot of commitment and work, individually and collectively. Honestly, doing that work is very hard, and most of us have been through rocky relationships.
Fractures can occur in friendships, romantic relationships, and family. We love happy endings, but unfortunately, some relationships don’t make it past specific stressful incidents. But is it completely okay that some broken relationships don’t heal despite several attempts to fix them? Several adult kids wonder whether their relationship with their parents is “normal” when it isn’t.
Ask yourself—how do you call the parent-child relationship normal when the dad or mom’s number hasn’t appeared on the child’s “recently called” list in years? The irony is, there are plenty of adult kids out there who feel trapped in an emotional cage, unable to decide whether or not to take the next step to contact their parents, whom they haven’t spoken to in years.
It’s Okay Not to Blame Yourself for What Happened
Some people feel their world collapse in those teary eyes when guilt takes over. Their conscience fires hurtful questions, and they eventually realize it's too late to mend the broken relationship with their estranged parents.
Some wounds take a lot of time to heal, significantly when the parent who brought you into the world cuts you out of their life right then and there. The reasons may be plenty and personal, and even more, some parents might’ve even tried contacting their grown-up kids through a few texts or calls, only to be turned down.
Papers aren’t filed, and no judge announces the case, but more and more adult children are “divorcing” their parents, often completely cutting contact. However, there have been challenging times when these adult kids are guilty and confused whether they’d done the right thing.
For instance, a Redditor posted that she was guilt-ridden for having not spoken to her dad in 16 years, and he died of a heart attack.
Having grown up in foster care along with her older brother and younger sister, the Redditor heard from her father for the last time when he tried to contact her a week before her A-levels. Like any youngster who has been distanced from the typical family-oriented upbringing, she’d assumed her dad had moved on with his life when she didn’t hear from him again.
Years later, she discovered that her dad had died of a heart attack, leaving so much wealth for his kids. Though the Redditor realized how much her dad loved his family, unfortunately, it was too late.
The Redditor posted her touching story, stressing how painful it is even to think how miserable her dad’s life had been, especially with a daughter who never reached out to him. While several Redditors shared their pieces of advice, one person wrote:
“Grieve for losing a father, but don’t let others guilt you for not having a relationship with him—that was his responsibility, not yours.”
The Negativity in Relationships
Speaking of the guilt factor in fractured parent-child relationships, this youngster is one in a few hundred who took to social media and revealed the reason why he’s guilty though he knew about his father’s health condition.
According to the Redditor, he didn’t care despite knowing his father’s health was at stake. In his opinion, the Redditor’s father never took good care of his health and would vent his frustrations on his kid. Growing up, the dad-son relationship stringed with anger, rage, and absence.
Deep inside, the Redditor has been trying to be a good father to his kids and be reasonable with them, though his childhood never turned out to be this rosy with his father.
Seeking some advice from fellow Redditors, the dad of two even questioned whether he should give himself the last chance to tell his dad that he’s failed him and added:
“Please, for me... hug your dads! Call them today. A caring, loving Dad (or Mom) is special. And if you’ve got one, you are lucky.”
While several people shared their pieces of advice, one Redditor commented:
“In the end, it’s your decision. I said goodbye to my abusive father and cried—not for him, but for what he could have been. Closure is closure, even if it’s negative.”
Like the commenter here, some people claim that there isn’t any rulebook or law that demands people who’ve been neglected by their parents to be by their side to say goodbye. But it works out differently for people who are attached to their parents and are guilt-ridden for being so ignorant when their mom or dad needed them the most.
Ignorance Leaves an Ugly Scar
For instance, one Redditor vented his emotional fallout on social media, recalling the one last time his dad wanted to hear his voice and that he’d ignored it.
According to his post, the Redditor’s dad had called him just as the football game ended. However, the son was busy with his friends and thought he’d talk to his dad in the morning. Unfortunately, that call could’ve also been the last time he ever heard from his dad, who died of a heart attack that night.
In his post, the emotional son mentioned how badly he wished he could go back in time and answer that call. Several Redditors shared their condolences, while one user recalled a similar incident with his dad and commented:
“I forwarded his call to my voicemail and ignored it. He died an hour later. Now all I have is a voicemail of him crying and telling me he was in so much pain and that he wished I were there to be beside him and comfort him. “
Though this wasn’t a scenario that bloomed out of a parent-child conflict, several Redditors found the situation relatable. Meanwhile, the reasons for disputes between parents and adult children vary. For instance, some children have severed relationships with their parents due to traumatic childhoods.
Occasionally, friction in the family also arises due to money. In the majority of cases, the critical reasons for estrangement aren’t so clear-cut. Still, several themes occur repeatedly where youngsters cut the ties with their parents, never talk to them, and later realize that they should’ve done something about it.
Situations Aren’t the Same for Everybody
However, scenarios that provoke guilt aren’t the same for everyone. For instance, another Redditor, who happens to be a mom herself, hasn’t spoken to her mother in over a year. She spilled her emotions on Reddit, narrating why she’s been trying to find solace and let her relationship with her mother fade.
Though the Redditor’s relationship with her mom isn’t a smooth sail anymore, she’s tried to work on becoming a good mom to her kid. Based on her story, another person commented:
“I had to put my parents on very low contact for my own mental health, and even that’s tough. I’m doing the right thing for myself, but I feel guilty at times.”
Sometimes, people end up being burden bearers of the rocky equation in their families. Also, many parents blame their divorce for the estrangement of their children and claim their children blame them for not trying harder to preserve their relationship. However, several studies suggest that most people don’t see divorce as a significant factor in estrangement from their parents. Instead, the younger generation attributes the separation to the parent’s behaviors, such as criticism and neglect.
Parents who are cut off from their children are grandparents cut off from their grandchildren as well. Do you think time will heal it all? Will the guilt factor that is still stalking these people fade with time? Most importantly, do you think these youngsters should walk the extra mile to help their parents despite feeling guilty and neglected? Your comments are much appreciated. Thanks for reading!