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It Is Okay to End a Relationship with a Parent

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Muhlenberg chapter.

​It was June 30, 2013 and I was watching TV in my family room. We had just gotten dinner for myself and my triplet brothers’ 17th birthday. My mom was in the adjacent room and I overheard her speaking with a friend on the phone. I listened to the words my mom was saying with immense anger and pain; I realized that she was talking about how she found Ashley Madison emails on my father’s account. This confirmed that he was cheating.

I always had a complicated relationship with my father. From a very young age, I can remember questioning whether or not I loved him. I watched him physically assault my mother on two occasions, with my siblings and I as witnesses. I listened to my father walk into my brothers’ rooms to say, “goodnight, I love you,” and then hearing him walk by room, leaving me alone in the dark. Sometimes, I would get in arguments with him and cower in the corner of my bed as he screamed at me. I can still see the veins popping out on his neck and his fist clenched while he threatened to “beat the hell out of me.” I remember him missing my dance recital (that only happened once a year) to coach my brother’s 50th baseball game. I listened to him mentally and emotionally abuse my mother, as if her constant support of our household meant nothing to him. Unfortunately, the list of painful memories is much longer and feels infinite.

​​A few months before the cheating revelation, my father had been acting strange and we had labeled it as a mid life crisis. He started coming home from work later and later, got three tattoos (even though he claimed to vehemently hate tattoos), and lost a significant amount of weight. Then, he started to not come home at all. He didn’t even come home for Father’s Day. When my family finally confronted him, we decided to kick him out of the house because it was clear that he no longer had an interest in being a part of our family. The next year and a half that followed was full of vicious emails, deafening screaming matches, and a constant state of fear and anxiety.

It has been approximately four and a half years since I chose to remove my father from my life. One of the harder things that I had to deal with was hearing some of my best friends tell me, “But he’s your father. Of course you love him. You’re obviously going to start talking to him again at some point.”

But, in my head, I knew that I could not let a person who caused me so much pain and trauma back into my life. It was not an easy decision to make. It did not “heal me” of all of my problems. It did not take away all of the experiences that continue to affect me day after day. They manifest in the way I look at men and my own self worth. However, it did make me stronger and allow me to eliminate a negative influence in my life.

The decision to end my relationship with my father was by no means easy. It is something that I think about everyday. I do not know what the future holds, but I know that my mental health and well-being must come first. I need time to heal and recover. As I’ve become more open with my story, I’ve found that there were more people than I expected dealing with the same or similar issues. Some people just had rough relationships with a parent, while others vocalized the damaging and destructive relationship they had with a parent.  I tried my whole life to get along with my father and convince myself that he loved me and I loved him, because that’s how it’s “supposed to be.” I was never able to succeed.

My advice is that, if your relationship with a parent or a member of your family is destructive and damaging, it is okay to remove this person from your life, whether it be short term or long term. Know that you are not alone and if you’re as fortunate as I am, the rest of your family will be by your side to love and support you every step of the way.

I am currently a senior at Muhlenberg college with a Dance and Business double major. College has helped shaped my opinions, views and how I look at the world. HerCampus has given me the platform to express these opinions in a safe and open manner. I'm super excited to share my thoughts and I hope you enjoy reading them as well!