Prodigal daughter wants to return home

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Dear Koren,

I know you will think something is wrong with me but I’m writing because I need to unload and get this off my chest. My parents are well known people and although while growing up my friends thought I was fortunate to have material things, deep inside I was sometimes jealous of them for just being so normal. My parents don’t argue, my Dad just talks and my Mom obeys and she cannot even stand up for herself, much less for me. They hardly hug or play. As a young lady, I felt unappreciated and misunderstood and felt that once I had good grades and sports achievements, that’s all that mattered to them. After a time, I rebelled to get them to really see me and to understand I’m human, and I know I hurt them badly. I left the country. Now that I am more mature, I feel sad about my behaviour because we do not have any kind of relationship. I want to reach out and come back to Antigua to spend time with them, but I feel like a prodigal daughter and I am afraid they will be their usual stiff, cold selves and they will reject me. How do I find the courage to meet with my parents and express my feelings and try to put us back on track?

Prodigal Daughter

Dear Daughter,

I’m deeply sorry for the hurt you felt as a youth in your parents’ home. It’s not easy to open up about your past so I commend you for taking this step. What is even harder is taking responsibility and acknowledging that you might have had a role in how things turned out. That is surely a sign of maturity on your part.

Many parents parent their children based on how they were parented, and some parents based on their personality or whatever their goals and objectives are for their children. Also, some parents demonstrate love with physical affection, some in their words and some with providing what they see as the essential things in life. It is natural to harbour certain emotions towards our parents, especially when our experiences of love and support may have fallen short of our expectations. Your friends could have looked happy to you, but maybe you have no idea what went on in their homes.

I agree with you that a reconciliation is a good idea. This would require an honest and open conversation with your parents to understand their point of view and why they acted the way they did. Express your feelings in a calm and non-confrontational manner, focusing on your own experiences rather than placing blame or judgment. Let them know how you felt as a child and why you rebelled against them. The conversation is not about blame but about everyone doing their best to understand each other.

Are you prepared to extend forgiveness to your parents for their forgiveness? Are you prepared for the harsh truths they might share about your behaviour? Are you prepared for the fact that nothing might have changed in their mindset from then to now? Are you prepared to accept them as they are? Flaws and all?

Be prepared for a range of responses from your parents, including defensiveness, denial, or even acceptance and reconciliation. Understand that healing takes time and may require multiple conversations and efforts from both sides.

Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who can offer guidance and a safe space to process your emotions. Remember that forgiveness is a journey, not a destination, and it is okay to seek help along the way.

Ultimately, the path to reconciliation lies in your willingness to extend compassion and understanding to yourself and your parents, to understand that no one is perfect but we are all striving in our own way to do the best we can and to embrace the possibility of healing and growth.

Send your questions and comments to [email protected]. Your confidentiality is assured.

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