There was a young woman I recently encountered through an online forum who had “come out” to her parents, only to have them seemingly reject her in some unhealthy and painful ways. She did not give much detail, but it was clear it was a painful experience for her (as many of my friends and readers have also experienced, or can imagine).
Here is the counsel I gave her (with some minor edits), which I hope may be of help for others who are also experiencing rejection. (…Though we must also recognize that there are many out there, especially those who are the survivors of abuse, for whom such an approach will only promote or increase the pain they are experiencing, rather than bringing the healing they are looking for.)
…From the tiny bit you’ve said it sounds to me like your parents are going through an identity crisis. They see you as an extension of themselves. (And we are all extensions of our parents in many different ways, aren’t we?) So, they are confused and distraught because their daughter has suddenly turned out to be someone entirely different (in their minds) from the person they thought she was.
This has shaken their own self image to the core, and they are probably reacting in all sorts of unhealthy ways because of it. I suspect they love you deeply, but are realizing – at some deep and probably unconscious level – that to love this person who is their daughter as deeply as they do means some major readjustments in their own life, with their relationships with you, and even with their relationship with each other and with their God, all of which is scary. They are no longer the parents they thought they were, but something else, some other kind of parent.
Speaking as the parent of an adult child myself, it’s a hard adjustment. Your parents have to learn to accept you as an adult, someone who has their own life to live. They raised you to be such a person, but didn’t really realize until now that raising you to be a strong and independent person resulted in you becoming a strong and independent person!
In a way, your roles have been reversed: you are now the adult, and they are the ones who need to grow up a bit more. They’ll need time and space to come to that place of acceptance, so don’t give up on them, but also don’t try to “make” them see and accept the truth of who you are, it is best to let that happen when the time is right.
Show them how to love you as you are, that you are a wonderful person in large part because of who they are – just as they hoped you would be. And, let the Spirit of the God you share with them give all of you peace as you weather the storms and adjustments that are taking place as they adjust to this new reality in their lives.
My prayers are with you all.
In my experience, rejection is less about the person being rejected and more about the person who is doing the rejecting. Rejection occurs because you do not fit the mold that another has sought to place upon you. This does not mean they don’t love you, but it does mean they do not know how to love you.
You cannot change how they see you and love you. But, you can continue to love those who reject you in some fashion, perhaps distantly, and give them the time and space they need to confront themselves and to learn that they need to grow and change, just as you have grown and changed.
Copyright (c) 2015, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)