Ritual for Separating from Abusive Parents

Need: Two witnesses and an officiant, plus supporters. A physical object that the person has brought.

Officiant: {Name} we gather around you today to mark your separation from your parent(s) _________________ (and _________________).

You have not come to this decision and this moment lightly. It is an understatement to say that it is challenging to decide to separate yourself from your parents. And, sometimes, it is the only way forward.

Our tradition holds that children are obligated to honor their parents. This can be difficult even in the best of circumstances, but when a parent fails their child, through abuse and neglect, this obligation to honor the parent can cause great pain. The Shulhan Arukh teaches us that “even if one’s parent is an evil-doer and a violator of the law, one must honor and show reverence for that parent.” Rema offers an oppositional view: “one is not obliged to honor one’s wicked parent unless that parent has repented.”

Adapt this section so that it fits the needs of the person separating from their parent(s).

{Name} you have offered tokhehah (rebuke) and tried to engage with your parent, tried to help them see the damage done to you, and have been so patient and forgiving through situations that you should never have had to live through. Your parent has not repented, and it does not seem as if they will. At this time, you seek to release yourself from your obligation. If your parent does repent and you accept their teshuvah (atonement), you agree to re-evaluate your separation, and re-think your obligation to your parent. Until then, know that you are free. You are released from your obligation.

Pick up object(s) brought to symbolize this moment

You have brought this {stone} today as a reminder of your strength, your persistence, and your dedication to living fully, wholly, and healthily into your own life. When you look at this stone, when you hold it, remember this moment and all the strength, love, and support that has brought you to this moment, to your ability to stand up for yourself, to make the life you have always dreamed of. You are good. You are beloved. You are strong. And, though there will always be a hole in the place that there should be a kind and loving parent, you are, somehow and sometimes inexplicably, whole, and wholly yourself. You have done this with your own spirit and grit, and with the kindness, love, and support of friends and loved ones.

Hand object to the person saying

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

(blessing the boats, by Lucille Clifton)

{Name}, you deserve love, care, compassion, and forgiveness. You deserve a wide world and the knowledge that the ones you have drawn close to you will not act with malice towards you. You learned as a child, too often and too deeply, that you are but dust and ashes. As you mark this separation and continue to live into the fullness of yourself, may you learn, repeatedly, and even deeper still, that this world was created for you.

To close, can sing a song, make a l’chaim, invite blessings, whatever is right for the person marking their separation.

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