I lived in an unhealthy family for more than 40 years, but I didn't make the choice to "break up" with my parents overnight.
Why Would Someone Cut Off Their Parents?
For most people, it's unimaginable for a grown man or woman to choose to stop all contact with their parents. The people who provided food, clothes, and shelter, attended dance recitals, volunteered at school, or cheered from the bleachers during every Friday night's football game don't deserve to be abandoned in their old age just because they made some parenting mistakes, right?
According to Monica Ross, LPC, "If either party feels as though they cannot be respectful, loving, and supportive towards the other, then yes, it's time to move on and find those with whom one can. This is true for family members, friends, coworkers, and really anyone one would surround oneself with."
Dysfunction, especially when combined with abuse, does not end once a child reaches adulthood or because the abuser begins to get old. By then, the abusive parent is well-versed in the tactics needed to make their children do what they want, and these behaviors are likely to continue right up until the parents' death unless someone—usually the abused—makes it stop.
I am one of those people who recognized slowly what was happening to me. I didn't make the choice to "break up" with my parents overnight, and I'm not happy I have no relationship with them. I'm sad my family is broken. I wish it were different, but it isn't.
If my parents had been willing to really listen to what their adult child had to say, to respect and consider it, the outcome would have been different. Yet as I've learned in my journey to understand and heal, I am not alone. Thread after thread of internet discussions are filled with the stories of people who've made multiple attempts to repair unhealthy relations and have eventually disowned or gone no-contact with the people who raised them.
Alternatively, forums for the parents of estranged children are frequented by those who claim their son or daughter never explained their reasons for walking away. If you are estranged from your adult child, chances are they have told you why—you just chose to ignore it. And it's likely that it was one of these five reasons:
Why Do People Stop Talking to Their Parents?
1. The Parent Disrespects the Adult Child's Spouse
Like me, many consider their parents' behavior normal until they marry. Looking at your parents from your significant other's perspective can be eye-opening.
Not having grown up under your parents' manipulations, as a new daughter- or son-in-law, your spouse may be unwilling to participate in the dysfunction that feels so natural to you. The parent who has always controlled you also expects to control your spouse, and when this fails to happen, it often results in contention, smear campaigns, and petty complaints designed to either force the new son- or daughter-in-law into compliance or get rid of them entirely via divorce.
Parents must respect their adult children and their spouses, regardless of whether they like them or not, even if they have different expectations about family roles. You do not get to choose whom your children love. Respecting your son/daughter-in-law does not mean condoning or agreeing. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are not—nor can you ever be—the most important person in your adult child's life at all times. He cares about other people just as much as he cares about you. The sooner you understand that the better off you'll be.
2. The Parent Refuses to Apologize
The refusal to apologize is a red flag for narcissistic personality disorder. Narcisitic personality disorder allows someone to justify their hurtful actions and words and blur reality. Time and again, their children will try to make them understand a different perspective, but they continue to fail to see their own culpability. They gaslight their children into believing they are at fault and force them to apologize in order to mend the family.
To paraphrase the late Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This applies to the relationship you might have with your parents. You've been running for years and yet you're still in exactly the same place as you were as a child. You might realize you have to get off the hamster wheel.
When we hurt people, we ought to apologize without making justifications. Just a simple "I'm sorry, please forgive me" is enough. As Dr. Phil once said, "'But' means 'forget everything I just said.'"
I confronted my mother.... She gaslighted me, meaning she told me my perceptions were incorrect.... My mother sneered, 'You have a very vivid imagination.'
— Misty Kiwak Jacobs, A Word Please.org
3. Overbearing and Undermining Grandparenting
A disordered parent sees their child as an extension of themselves, not as an individual, and grandchildren are but one more step on the ladder of "me."
- Did you insist on participating in naming your grandchildren? Not okay.
- Have you ever said, "It's okay, Grandma will let you do it" when the parents said no? Undermining is not okay.
- Did you ever demand to have your grandchildren for certain events or visits? Ask, don't demand. If you're told no, respect it.
- Stop giving the grandchildren sugar when their parents ask you not to. How you did it then wasn't the way they did it before and certainly not the way they do it now.
- If you still think Mother's Day or Father's Day is all about you, you've got another think coming.
- You're not smarter than the pediatrician.
- Sparing the rod does not always spoil the child.
- No, it's not okay to encourage your grandchild to love you more than their parents.
- Stop trying to buy your grandchild's love with gifts.
- You're not entitled to "alone time" with your grandchildren and your insistence on such is creepy.
- Quit taunting your grandchildren with scary stories and insulting "jokes." You're being a bully.
- And last but not least, for the love of all that is good, quit buying the grandchildren pets without the parents' permission!
The older generation must learn the difference between parenting and grandparenting. Your days of making all the decisions are over. In this new chapter of your life, your role is to give unconditional love and guidance, but it is a privilege, not a right. A grandchild is not your prodigy, nor are they your property. Be thankful for the time you are given rather than resentful over what you think you deserve.
Read More From Wehavekids
If you want to make sure you don't repeat your toxic parents' mistakes, read 8 Signs of Bad Parenting That Every Parent Should Know.
Parents will always hold their children in their closest circle of relationships. But those children grow up to have children of their own who fill their parents' closest circle, and the oldest generation gets bumped to the outer edges. If this happens, the older generation loses a primary relationship, so you might say that the parent's loss is greater.
4. The Parent Plays Favorites Among Siblings
In early childhood, siblings in disordered families are assigned roles as either a scapegoat or a golden child. A golden child seldom suffers consequences for misbehavior and is often praised and applauded, while the scapegoat shoulders the blame for the family's dysfunction and suffers the brunt of the consequences.
Although the role one plays may be fluid, those who are mostly scapegoats are often the first (and sometimes only) ones to see and name the dysfunction—and this seldom goes very well. Eventually, the scapegoat realizes they are alone, even among family. Some will continue to try, but many will just walk away. Cutting off toxic parents is often the only way to make sure the cycle doesn't continue.
Get therapy if you have been accused of playing favorites. Even if you don't believe it's true, talk to a therapist. Seriously, therapy.
5. Ignored Boundaries
Last but not least is the refusal of the older generation to respect the boundaries of the child/parent relationship. Because disordered minds struggle to understand boundaries, I believe this reason is better explained with examples.
- Prying into your child's finances and/or offering unsolicited financial advice is overstepping.
- Insisting on being present for the birth of a grandchild is wrong. Nobody but the mother-to-be and her birthing staff have the right to be in the room.
- Giving undergarments and sex toys as gifts is inappropriate. Doing this is crossing more boundaries than I have time to list.
- Stop insisting on spending all holidays with your adult child and behaving badly if it doesn't happen. You're an adult, for goodness sake, quit acting like a child.
- Quit demanding "alone time" with your adult child away from their significant other. Sure it's nice, but as I mentioned with grandchildren, your insistence on such is downright creepy and concerning.
- Discussing your marital troubles with your adult child is wrong and crosses so many hill-to-die-on boundaries. Tell it to your best friend, or may I recommend a therapist? Whatever you do, don't discuss it with your child.
- Criticizing clothing choices, hairstyles, companions, careers, religion or lack thereof, parenting styles, and the like is crossing boundaries. It shows utter and complete disrespect for your children's right to choose what is best for themselves.
A majority of boundary crossing is rooted in parents' inability to believe in their children. Ask yourself, "Why would my child make a bad choice? Did I not teach him the tools needed to make good decisions?" If your immediate response is to think, "I did teach them to make good decisions but they've made so many bad ones in the past," your inability to accept your role in their repeated bad decisions is having severly adverse effects on your relationship.
At some point, the older generation must trust they have raised their children to make good decisions and respect those decisions. If you can't do this, you need to work out why with a therapist. In the meantime, keep your opinions to yourself and stop trying to "save them" or "fix" things. You're only making it worse, I promise.
They had been maligning me my whole life. . . not in a way of telling people I was a horrible person but making it seem as if I was a poor, befuddled soul, a hapless idiot, borderline mentally disturbed, a pathetic loser. None of this was true. It never was. Once I got away, my life got so much better. Oh, so much.
— Anonymous, r/raisedbynarcissists, Reddit.com
Statistics About Family Estrangements
A British report called "Hidden Voices: Family Estrangement in Adulthood," which describes a survey of over 800 people who self-identified as having estranged from all or part of their family of origin, offers some relevant data:
Who is more likely to break ties: males or females? How does gender affect familial closeness?
- It's more common to be estranged from a mother than a father or both parents.
- Conversely, it's more common for daughters to estrange than sons.
- However, when males estrange, it seems to be more final or longer-lasting: the average estrangement from fathers lasts 7.9 years (compared to an average of 5.5 years for mothers), and estrangements from sons average 5.2 years (with 3.8 years for daughters).
Who tends to estrange permanently: males or females?
- 29% of respondees described a final break with a mother, and 37% reported a final break with a daughter.
- Conversely, 36% described a final break with a father, and 41% with sons.
So sons and fathers are more likely to experience permanent closure than daughters and mothers.
What about intermittent estrangements?
We have some insight into on-again-off-again estrangements where family members cycle in and out of closeness over the years. 21% said there had been five or more of these cycles with mothers, whereas 16% experienced them with fathers. So it's more likely for mothers to experience intermittent estrangements over the years.
Who is most likely to cut off contact: parents or children?
The younger generation is usually the one to break ties. Over half of people who "divorce" a parent say they were the ones who made the move.
Is there any chance the relationship will be mended?
- According to the parents, yes: Most parents hold out hope that they will reconcile with their child.
- But according to the younger generation, no: More than 70% of respondents said there was no chance they'd resume communication.
- And according to experts like Sheri Heller, LCSW, an NYC psychotherapist and interfaith minister in private practice, "If PD abusers lack the capacity for insight and positive change, it is likely they will persist with predation, denying their perfidious motives, and evidencing an absence of sincere remorse. To re-engage with this degree of pathology puts the adult victim at risk for regressing into dysfunctional interpersonal patterns, succumbing to guilt and cognitive dissonance, getting mired in confused roles, and being flooded by abandonment panic. For many, this constitutes a deal-breaker which results in finality."
If you are having trouble cutting the ties or want to know the healthiest ways to do it, read When and How to Cut the Ties of Bad Family Relationships.
Will You Ever Find Out Why Your Son or Daughter Abandoned the Relationship?
The British study found an interesting generational discrepancy when it came to the communication of the reasons for the estrangement. When asked if they "concretely" told their parents why the relationship ended, over 67% said they had. This contrasts dramatically with the parents' response, where over 60% claimed they were never told why. In other words, many abandoned parents who are rejected by a child don't consciously know the reason, even though they were explicitly told. So they either forgot or didn't listen. In fact, they don't even remember the conversation.
This disparity only emphasizes the breakdown in communication in these families and suggests that the older generation might not be listening or has a hard time hearing what their children are saying, which is probably at the core of the problem.
Is That the End?
In closing, I want to say I am very well aware those listed aren't the only reasons for estrangement, nor will my advice apply in all situations. I haven't mentioned trauma, abuse, divorce, or substance abuse. I haven't talked about undiagnosed mental health issues or those who simply refuse to take their meds. That said, people don't just walk away from families that are healthy. All families have their issues, but functional families talk about them, try to understand one another's perspectives, apologize for any hurt they've caused or wrong they've done, and truly move forward, beyond all that suppressed anger and resentment.
The exact opposite is true of unhealthy, disordered families. I know. I lived in one for more than 40 years. Sadly, I didn't realize it until the abuse was heaped upon my husband and children as well, but when it became obvious, I demanded that it stop. I tried discussing the matter, only to find myself enmeshed in bitter verbal arguments. I tried using parables and comparisons, pointing out other family dysfunctions and relating them to our own, but that failed, too. I tried many ways to rectify the situation, but every time, I was met with anger and resistance.
Contrary to what they think, I didn't estrange from them to punish them, I did so to protect myself and my children. I realized I had become just like them and I made a conscious choice to change myself and to bring to an end the generations of dysfunction in my family tree.
Sadly, our story doesn't end with a happily-ever-after, but I know I made the right decision, and I know I'm not alone. Every day I read stories, online support group threads, estranged child forums, and talk with people around the globe who feel they had no other choice but to walk away. Not a single one of us is happy about it. Relieved it's over, yes, but certainly not happy with how or why.
I'm also privy to the perspectives of rejected parents. One commonly stated complaint among parents who have no contact with their children is that their child's behavior toward them reminds them of how they were treated by their own parents when they were young. If this is you, I want you to ask yourself, "If my parent was that way and my child is that way, isn't it possible I am, too?"
Some will read this and take it to heart. They'll reconsider the things they've said and done because they want to repair their broken relationship with their child and are willing to do whatever is necessary to do so. Unfortunately, however, many readers will be inclined to argue and resort to writing long comments complaining about their child to a bunch of internet strangers.
I can't change everyone. I couldn't even change my own parents. Hopefully, however, I'll get someone's attention and set in motion positive change for another dysfunctional family out there.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why are you putting all the blame on the parents? Do you honestly believe children are responsible for none of it? Children are ungrateful, cruel, inconsiderate too. People like you are sending the wrong message to society. It’s not always the parent's fault.
Answer: Once again I have an estranged parent tossing out accusations and innuendo when she or he clearly hasn't taken the time to read what I wrote.
If you had, you would know that I have adult children. Our relationship was extremely strained and heading toward full-on estrangement. However, instead of blaming them, I took an inward look at myself.
Whether you want to hear it or not, children are created. Who we become is a reflection of how we were raised. While there are some exceptions to this rule, there are not as many as people would like to think.
Please stop being so angry at your child and seek out the services of a family therapist in your area. I'll admit it wasn't easy taking a long, hard look at myself but it was worth it.
I'll leave you with this caveat: I sought help, and every day my relationship with my adult children is growing stronger because it's healthy and being nurtured. My parents, however, continue to hold on to your attitude and I no longer have any contact with them, and the contact my adult children have with them is decreasing every day. Whose shoes had you rather be in?
Question: Adult children can be cruel and heartless. To keep your children away from your parents when they are asking to spend time with them is heartless. I believe that they are entitled to spend time and bond with them unless they are child molesters. What are you worried about? That they will love them more than you? That’s just you being selfish and self centered! Sad to read this and think that this is what may be shaping our future.
Answer: It's so sad to read your question/comment and think that adults old enough to be grandparents feel entitled to their adult children and grandchildren. Just as with everything else in life, you must earn the right to be in their life. I can say this because I have lived it. I strongly suggest finding a therapist and discussing your intricate family issues with him/her and work toward changing your attitude and behaviors so that you can be a part of your children and grandchildren's lives. Doing so was the best thing I have ever done in my life. The relationship I have with my adult children is better than ever. My parents, alternatively, maintain your attitude and having no contact with their daughter or grandchildren. Question is: which do you prefer? And are you willing to do the work to get it?
Question: I have two daughters that cannot forget the past and these are things that have happened over 10 years ago. What should I do?
Answer: Nobody likes hearing they’ve made mistakes. It’s a difficult pill to swallow. But trying to wash it down with whataboutisms never works.
I’ve been in your daughters’ shoes and I’ve been in yours as well. Somebody has to be the one put down their pointing fingers, listen, and then try to make changes and amends if the issues are ever to be resolved.
The question I present to you is this: if you’re unwilling to do it, why are you expecting your daughters to do so?
Question: Why do adult children today cut off relationships with parents when earlier generations did not?
Answer: Because how you did it then isn't how it's done now. In 1950, no one cared if you beat your wife and children. In the 70s, someone stood up to child abuse. In the 80s, domestic violence laws were created. In the 2010s, parents who abuse their adult children through cruel words, manipulation, and the likes is being recognized for what is. It's called progress. Just because it's not the way you did it, doesn't mean it's the way it should be. Change, once again, is upon us; parents either have the choice to get on board or risk having their children estrange when they're older. It's as simple as that.
Question: I am a mother of a child who doesn’t speak to her father. In the beginning, I’ve tried to talk to her even though I don’t get along with her father. However, she just ends up getting mad at me, and now my other two children feel it’s my responsibility to get them to talk again I need to know is it really my responsibility to get them to talk again?
Answer: Well, to be frank, that depends on why she refuses to speak to her father and any possible role you played in it. Because I’m not (and shouldn’t be as I’m not a therapist, only a veteran of both sides of this family dysfunction), I would recommend retaining the services of a family therapist and discuss the issue with him/her. Be willing to talk openly, see yourself and her father from her point of view and take heed of any advice you are given. I can’t tell you it will be easy, but I speak from experience when I say it can be a positive life-changer.
Question: Do you think you, the author, might need to look in the mirror?
Answer: I did actually and in doing so realized I was exactly what I have written about here. Much of what I write here was just as much about who I was as it was about my own parents. After that realization, I made the conscious effort to seek therapy, practice cognitive behavioral therapy, and as a result, changed my life and the relationship with my adult children for the better. So yes, looking in the mirror is exactly what I needed and now I encourage you to do the same.
Question: When is the adult child expected to stop blaming Mom and Dad for his poor choices? Are you certain that blaming the previous generation for the current generation’s screw up, just allows the “adult child” to absolve himself of responsibility for his own actions.
Answer: Have you ever heard the term "sins of the father." Family dysfunction gets passed through generations until someone finally makes it stop. It's not just an excuse, it's truth. The problem comes in when it's used as an excuse or dismissed as an excuse and no one makes any effort to change it. Unfortunately, for those of us who do work to change it and estrange from the source of our problems, this is what we hear from those who are not willing to do the work to save the relationship. So I suppose you could say that blaming the younger generation for using it as an excuse is a way to absolve the older generation for their (in)actions.
Question: Wow, parent blaming. Why can't we look at both sides?
My parents were raised in dysfunction and in turn, raised me in the same dysfunction. I grew up, awakened to the abuse, and tried to make it stop. They refused, I walked away, apologized to my children, began doing the work to correct my behaviors/perspective, and now live a peaceful life with better-than-ever relationships with my adult children.
So, yeah, that parent blame... I'm not a big fan of placing blame, but I think the majority would agree if you wanted to put the blame label on someone, it's the parents.
They could unburden themselves, of course, but most are unwilling to put forth the effort.
If that's you, stop holding on to your anger and seek out the services of a qualified therapist in your area to help you work through your issues.
Question: What if there are grandchildren involved when deciding to become estranged from your parents?
Answer: Personally speaking, my oldest two children were subjected to parents I feel belittled and betrayed me and I came to realize, as my children grew older, they were being subjected to the same manipulations and other emotional abuses as I once had. When I walked away from a situation I felt was toxic to protect myself, that meant also protecting my children.
Would you hand over your children to someone you felt had abused you in some manner? Of course not. So just because one’s abusers is their parents doesn’t mean it’s okay to subject them to toxic, dangerous people. As a matter of fact, doing so is a form of abuse in and of itself.
Question: My daughter left home. She went to her boyfriend saying she got kicked out. She left everything at home, and I'm not sure if she works. What should I do?
Answer: As long as she is an adult, let her be. Give her some time to cool down, then you can attempt to have a conversation with her. Be willing to listen to her without defensiveness (I would suggest the same if I were talking with her) and be willing to compromise where possible. In the meantime, seek the services of a good therapist to examine yourself and how she may have learned this behavior. It was the best thing I ever did for myself, and it helped to repair the relationship with my own children.
Question: Our 28 year-old son earns quite a good salary. However, his only pair of shoes are about 8 years old and literally falling apart on his feet. He wears pants that are torn at the bottom. He can get away with it at work, to some extent, as he is in high-tech where the dress standard is more casual than usual. He rarely dates and I suspect many women would see showing up like this as a lack of respect. He won't listen to advice and says nobody should care what he wears. Any advice?
Answer: I want to share a story with you. When I reached the age where I could choose my clothing, my mother suddenly became very critical of everything I wore. While I was still young, she had a bit more control but, as an adult, when I moved out on my own, the criticism became even greater. Despite wearing fashionable, decent attire, my mother couldn't stop being critical. My pants made my legs look too skinny; a shirt made my chest (read: breasts) look too big; many pieces were ugly. Those are but a small sampling of the things she said because I don't have the time nor the inclination to write them all out here.
Each and everything she said, hurt. It wasn't constructive criticism, it was flat-out telling me how everything was wrong. Not only did it destroy my self-esteem as a teen but it assured I had zero as an adult and had no effect on getting me to change to what she liked because as an adult, I was still passively aggressively rebelling against her cruelty.
Fast forward to when my oldest son was in college. I thought his choice of attire was "too small" or "ugly." I blamed it on young adults not having any fashion sense. Without even realizing it, I was doing the same exact thing to him that my mother had done to me. Finally one day he said to me, "Mom, no matter how often you tease me or give me a hard time, I'm going to wear what I want to wear. You choose your clothes, I'll choose mine."
Now, I hadn't quite started changing yet, but his words hit me like a ton of bricks and later on when I began to understand where my life was headed (that is, without my adult children in it), that was one of the first things I changed. Do you know what happened? Within months his entire choice of clothing had changed. You know what I understand now? My son was rebelling against me just as I had my mother. When I stopped criticizing his choice of clothing, he no longer subconsciously felt the need to rebel.
Your son is an adult. Not even a young adult but very much a grown man. Leave him alone. Like my son said, just as you get to choose your clothing, so does he. If you don't like it, fine but keep it to yourself, and you just might be wind up pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
It should be said, however, that as we age, we lose a sense of what is in style. Torn jean bottoms are trendy these days. And maybe his shoes are just comfortable. My fifty-year-old husband has a pair of work boots he refuses to replace because they are the most comfortable shoes he's ever owned. It's not to my liking but he's an adult, and it's not my choice.
Let go. Stop trying to control your son. You had ~18 years to guide and instruct him; now it's time he does what he feels is best for him. And as for dating, the right woman will love him for WHO he is, NOT what he is wearing and that's exactly what you want.
Please, don't make the same mistake I did. I almost caused my adult son to walk away from me, and I did walk away from my parents. Ask yourself, which outcome would I prefer?
Question: How do I reconcile with a daughter who absolutely has false memories?
Answer: In the 80s with the satanic cult daycare scares, we saw proof of memory manipulation, but too many times parents accuse their adult child of having false memories when in fact it’s a case of different perspectives and denial.
I can’t say which case applies here. Please seek the services of qualified therapist to determine the issue and how to seek resolution.
Question: I am a mother of a child who doesn't speak to me, but does speak to his father. Should the father be more supportive of the mother?
Answer: Estrangement isn’t a sport with teams. Instead of focusing on getting Dad to take your side, try instead to work on conflict resolution.
I recommend seeking out the services of a competent, qualified therapist in your area that will help you work through the issues.
Question: I suffer from a disease that the meds l was taking became an augmentation. After two months of nearly no sleep and no doctor help, l swallowed a bottle of pills. I don’t remember, but l sent nasty text messages to my children and husband. I was treated for my disease and now have it under control. I have also been diagnosed with bipolar, which is being treated. My son has walked away from me. I can’t apologize for something l can’t remember. Am l wrong?
Answer: You attempted suicide and sent nasty messages to your children and husband, yes? Those are pretty serious offenses. And if I understand you correctly, because you finally got diagnosed with a mental illness and got treated for the same, you think they should just forgive and forget?
That's not how this works; it's not how any of this works.
As someone who understands and shares your diagnosis, I will tell you straight up that yes, you are wrong.
The damage our disease inflicts on our loved ones isn't just a once or twice incident, but years of disastrous behaviors that scar and traumatize those closest to us. Just because we finally get the help we need doesn't mean they have to forgive and forget overnight. Even if they wanted to, they probably couldn't; it's just now how the human is designed.
I can't remember all of the things I did either and not really sure I want to, but I encourage my children to talk to me about things that bother them, listen to what they have to say, and apologize even if I can't remember as they do because, you see, I am willing to own what I was and the effects it had on them. I know I traumatized and scarred them over a number of years and understand it will likely take years to reverse it.
While my adult children and I have fantastic relationships now, it was a long, hard road to get there and I know I must be willing to continue to work toward bettering our relationship.
Patience is a virtue and an important factor in healing broken relationships, but your son has clearly run out with you; now it's time to exercise patience on your end. You must SHOW him you've changed (which takes time for him to see) rather than just expecting him to believe it when you say it.
Please make sure you're seeing a therapist. While medication for Bipolar is a tremendous help, you will find the true life changes through cognitive behavior therapy.
I wish nothing but peace and reunification for you and your family.
Question: Why do you feel only parents can be toxic?
Answer: Because no one is born toxic, it is created within us. For example, in my case, I can trace the toxicity all the way back to my great-grandmother (it probably goes further, but that is the furthest back I can pinpoint without a doubt). My great-grandmother favored her sons over her daughters and her attitudes and behaviors exhibited as much. My grandmother was the same way. My mother repeated this. The cycle was destined to be repeated with my lot, but fortunately, I recognized it and have now changed my ways.
My grandmother, my mother, and I were once children too; none of us were toxic then but because of the behaviors we had learned from our parents, we became toxic adults who chose to become parents.
Don't misunderstand me, adult children can be toxic (I was, once upon a time, living proof) but as I want people to understand, it is (99% of the time) learned behavior, just as it was for at least three generations of my family. For the toxicity to end in a family line, someone has to be brave enough to do some serious inner-reflecting, confront the issues, and find a resolution even if it means walking away from the toxicity if the source(s) of these learned behaviors is unwilling to work on healing themselves.
This isn't an issue of parents vs. children. This is a matter of healthy minds vs. disordered minds. If you are willing to look at it from this perspective, it can have wonderful results in your life.
Question: I am a mother that decided to break off a 30-year friendship to be with a man I fell in love with who happens to be this best friends ex-boyfriend. My 26-year-old daughter disapproves of my decision, and has been very hurtful and disrespectful of me. Does she have this right to treat me this way, and should I let her disrespect me?
Answer: No, you have the right to your choices just as she does. However, breaking a 30-year friendship for a romantic relationship is a cause for concern whether it be the parent or adult child. I would suggest trying to have a civil conversation about it and as long as she’s willing to state them civilly, listen to and consider her concerns.
Question: My adult son has all but cut me out of his life. He never stops by, nor do his children ( my grandchildren), where did I lose him?
Answer: I would recommend asking for a discussion of the issue. If you are granted the opportunity, hear him out. Leave anger and defensiveness at the door. Even if his perspective on his upbringing is different from yours, remember each person’s perspective is unique; just because you didn’t perceive something one way, doesn’t mean he had the same perspective.
Yes, it hurts to hear we’re not perfect parents. I cried many tears in the discussions with my own children. At times, the emotional pain was so great that I’d rather someone physically hit me because I think it would have been easier to deal with. Once I worked through it, however, it was a life changer that has only strengthened my relationship with my own children.
Question: Why haven’t you gotten help for your problem with your parents?
Answer: I have gotten help. It’s through intensive therapy that I have learned how I became the person I was, why I behaved badly as a parent to my own children, and the tools to modify my behaviors.
You must first understand that I am not better than the parents I am dissecting here; I was that parent. Through questioning and contemplating my own behaviors, I was able to make positive changes that allowed the damaged relationships I had with my own adult children and with others in my life. In turn, I’m hoping my words make others take the time for self-reflection and undo the damage done.
Question: My son and daughter in law told me not to come for Christmas last year. Why? They hate my partner. My husband died thirteen years ago and needless to say; I have not had great relationships since. I was married to my junior high sweetheart for thirty years. It was a good marriage. The man I am with now is the opposite. He is very confident and speaks his mind. I have had a turbulent relationship with him.
Answer: Even for adult children, it’s often difficult for them to accept a new partner, which often resolves with time and patience. But you mention this man is opposite of their father by noting that he’s outspoken. If his choice of words when being outspoken are unkind, crass or hurtful, that could very well be the problem. Their anger with you being because you condone his behavior.
“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” was likely said by some verbally abusive jerk. Words do hurt and to think otherwise is simply wrong.
Question: I am estranged from only my father. He physically abused me from a young age of just six and it continued until I turned twelve. From then the abuse got more verbal than physical which got made me depressed and played a serious lowering on my self-esteem. I am living in a different country now and waiting on my first child. How do I nicely tell him that I do not want him to be there for the birth of my child or be involved in his life?
Answer: Congratulations! But why must you tell him at all? There are no laws saying that we have to notify our parents of major life events. If you're already estranged and still do not wish for him to be involved in your life or that of your child, do nothing. Focus on you and your little one only.
Question: I'm 71 years old, and my mother is 93. She was always overbearing and mean, but she had a nervous breakdown. She asked for my forgiveness because she never loved me. How should I handle this?
Answer: I’d at least hear her out. Something as severe as a mental breakdown can have tremendous effects on one’s personality. But protect yourself and don’t be afraid. I know it's particularly hard at your age, due to societal pressures, to enforce boundaries.
Question: You state, "...suggests that the older generation might not be listening or has a hard time hearing what their children are saying, which is probably at the core of the problem." That seems to be the theme of your article. It's the parent's problem. Do you really believe that it is only the older generation not listening?.
Answer: Parents not listening to their children come both young and old. However, it's the older parents who have adult children who can choose for themselves whether they wish to continue a relationship with a parent who chooses not to listen to them.
That said, I will say, as we age, instead of becoming better at listening and reasoning, we tend to get worse. I chose to combat this by seeking help from a therapist when my children told me I was repeating the same things I disliked about my own parents. Doing so allowed me to see things in a new perspective and I was able to change my attitude and behaviors and save the relationship with my own children.
Right now you're feeling what I felt. Stop the pity party and the ridiculous battle of ages and get yourself into therapy. It'll be the best thing you'll ever do for yourself - and your adult children.
Question: Why would my daughter ignore me at her wedding and not include me in anything?
Answer: There is no way for me or anyone else to know the answer to that question. I suggest talking with your daughter and asking.
That said, over the years, I have heard multiple reasons why adult children have not allowed their parents to play a role in their weddings. The most popular of said reasons included the parent(s) being demanding and overbearing, history of embarrassing behaviors, and unresolved conflicts with the spouse-to-be.
Question: Both of my kids married strangers due to pregnancy. Their partners are odd-acting and disrespectful. I'm not sure how to deal with this or if I should back away. What do you suggest?
Answer: The questions you need to be asking yourself is: what did I do in my role as a parent to cause my daughters to choose bad spouses? And be honest with yourself. Work through it, preferably with a good therapist who isn’t there just for money but a desire to heal. Chances are it’s going to be emotionally brutal, but worth every bit of the pain to reconnect with your daughters and be a part of their life. Be willing to do the emotional work, and remember that you have no one to blame but yourself. That may sound cruel, but it is the absolute truth.
Question: My son has alienated himself because his girlfriend hacked his emails and read conversations where I and another person have been speaking of her. For 11 years she’s given our family trouble including my son, off and on. I’ve been hurt many times by her. Why should I as the Mother fix this?
Answer: Straight away, it was wrong for your son's girlfriend to hack your email but let's look at the issue at hand here: your talking about the girlfriend with friends/family.
Maybe you have tried in the past to talk these issues out with her and it hasn't been successful. The problem is you then took your complaints to others. And that's not okay. Yes, we all need someone to talk to, but when it comes to issues such as these, I recommend talking only to the person with whom you have issues (your son and his girlfriend in this case) or a therapist.
Or alternatively, you haven't tried speaking with her directly. In that case, give it a try.
Bottom line here is I you've got a mess on your hands. I strongly suggest finding a therapist in your area who specializes in family dysfunction.
Question: I grew up in multiple foster homes. Mother faked cancer, seizures, tumors, swine flu, Ebola, fibromyalgia among others. She is addicted to opioids. Others see an innocent disabled woman who could do no wrong, but she took thousands in debt out in my name, she sold my car without permission, she speaks terribly of me to others. Last year I moved countries and have not spoken a word since. Now she says I've burned my bridges. Am I wrong for cutting my mother completely out of my life?
Answer: No, you are not. It's not what any of us wish to do but unfortunately, it is often necessary to protect ourselves, heal, and ensure that our own lives stay on a positive, productive path. I wish you a future full of peace and happiness!
Question: Do me and my husband have to have my daughter's in-laws in our lives for Holiday function and every time we get together?
Answer: No, of course not, but please remember by choosing not to do so, your daughter may very well choose to spend holidays with them. As an adult, that is her right; just as not inviting the in-laws is yours.
Question: This is about you and your parents, not your kids. I couldn't even change my own parents. I didn't make the choice to "break up" with my parents overnight. Where are your kids? I guess you were doing all these things you say cause a breakup?
Answer: I wasn't do all of these things because this is based on the voices of thousands of adult children but indeed I was doing some and then adding my own flavor of crazy into the mix. When I realized the truth, I got myself into therapy and began the hard work of changing my attitude and behaviors. Today, my adult children and I have a relationship that is based on true love and respect for one another. Having grown up with parents who refused to see me as anything more than extension of myself and having lived that way until in my 40s, I had no idea just how great a relationship with an adult children can be until I changed my perspective.
Try it. The results are priceless.
Question: How do I deal with parents who are pushy about telling me what school to attend when I am the one covering all expenses?
Answer: As long as your covering your expenses, they get no input. Firmly but politely tell them you appreciate their input but the choice is not theirs. If they continue to insist, then you will have to decide how best to deal with it. If you're unsure, I recommend seeking out a therapist who specializes in family dysfunction to help guide in choosing the best course of action here.
Question: My parents are into drugs, and I really want to break contact with them. My grandparents don't know anything about it, and won't have anything to do with me even then. Even if told them the truth, they wouldn't believe me. What should I do?
Answer: Use your words. Tell your parents you are done with having a front row seat to their addictions and will no longer be coming around until they've taken steps to get healthy. Sounds cruel, right? You need to realize that any other decision only allows them to continue harming themselves and puts them at a very real risk for an early, and possibly tragic, death.
Then talk to your grandparents. You can't make them believe you; you can only make them aware. If they choose not to believe you and cut you off because you are setting healthy boundaries for yourself, then you need to take another long hard look at your grandparents as they could be part of the problem.
Decide what is or is not tolerable for you. Set your boundaries. Enforce them, even when they try to bully you otherwise.
And please, don't try to do this alone. Seek out the services of a competent, qualified therapist in your area. If money is an issue, check with local churches and civic organizations for free or low-cost services.
Question: Why would all four of my sons disrespect me?
Answer: I don't know your sons or your family dynamics so I can't answer that. What I can say, however, is you are the common denomination in that equation and should be asking yourself, "What am I doing that makes them disrespect me?" It's not a question you can answer in an afternoon or even a week, but takes serious inner exploration, preferably with a therapist.
Question: Couldn't adult kids be selfish and entitled without the help of their parents?
Answer: The question then becomes, "Why did my kids become selfish and entitled adults?" When we take a long, hard look at the way we raised our children and answer that truthfully within ourselves, the solution becomes markedly more clear. I recommend the services of a therapist specializing in family dysfunction to help do this.
Question: I'm almost 40, married, and my parents treat me like I'm 8. I have multiple health issues, they don't like my husband, they are always telling me how to live and what to do. Thankfully they live far away. I am so angry and irritated with their lace of respect for me and my husband that I don't even want to talk to them on the phone. Any suggestions of what I should do?
Answer: “We teach people how to treat us.” - Dr. Phil
No truer words have been spoken.
As my therapist taught me, only I have the power to stop the disrespect and abuse. As an adult, I have (and did in fact) the ability to cut such cancer from my life.
I strongly suggest reading the book Understanding The Borderline Mother by Christine Lawson. This book has become my bible in understanding my parents, working on myself, and ridding myself of the beliefs I owe my abusers something just because they gave me life.
Also get yourself into a competent, qualified therapist who will retrain you on how to best tackle your specific situation.
Question: I'm 25. My mother doesn't approve of my relationship because my boyfriend has a different religion but he's willing to convert, and he's from a different country. My mother threatened me that I won't see her die in old age if I stay with him. What should I do? Once I delivered my boyfriends greetings to her, but she ignored it.
Answer: Only you can decide who you would prefer to have in your life: your mother or your boyfriend. Please seek the services of a local therapist who can help you see the truth behind your mother's attitude and guide you in a direction best suited for you.
Question: I have parents and a sister. We don't have healthy communication. I cannot stand when my mom is lying, and she is not changing. My sister is not respecting my boundaries, and my father is judging and controlling. I don't see me growing with them. Because I am a twenty-year-old student, I dependant on them. I feel like manipulating them, because I can't stand them. What should I do?
Answer: While I understand finances are more difficult for millennials thanks to the debt, we previous generations ran up, freedom from a toxic family is still achievable.
I recommend getting a job in addition to your studies. Also, apply for every scholarship you qualify for. Look into student housing, both on and off campus to find affordable accommodations.
It is work, but it is worth every bit of the effort.
Question: I read most of what you wrote, but I try to guide my adult children not to make the same mistake I have, but they do anyway. Should I lend my adult children money if the alternative is letting my grandchildren go without school clothing? I will be lucky if I get the money back. I am not a rich woman.
Answer: Only you can decide if you want to keep giving money. That's solely up to you. To say no is okay. That said, you can guide but don't demand. Mistakes are how we learn. You made yours and suffered the consequences, allow your adult children to do the same. As a matter of fact, parents who don't let their children try and fail are doing them a grave disservice, as many therapists will tell you.
Question: Aren't children to blame just as much as parents when the relationship is estranged?
Answer: Why does blame have to be placed anywhere?
For example, I understand my parents were just carrying on an old family tradition with the dysfunction they raised me in and I, in turn, raised my oldest two in the same dysfunction.
Today, I don't blame my parents for our estrangement. I don't even blame them for how they raised me. However, as someone who has managed to come out of the fog and into the truth of abuse, what I blame them for is being unwilling to listen to what I had to say, respect my boundaries, and get the help they need in order to live a better life.
And I will take no blame. Why? Because I was willing, and actively practice, such with my own adult children. In other words, when my children talked to me, I listened and I did the work to correct it. My parents, not so much; so they have no one to blame but themselves for not having their daughter in their life.
And just for the record, too many parents claim their child never told them of the problems. Sure, that may true in some cases, but in most it's a parent unwilling to listen or comprehend what their child is saying to them.
Stop trying to place blame and start working on healing. You'll be much happier and freer.
Question: I'm currently estranged from my mother. We’ve always had a strained relationship due to the fact she chose my sisters over me. She shows zero interest in my life. I've gone above and beyond trying to have a relationship. I have told her how I felt. She responded with “ okay have a good day” no empathy, no apology. I'm done with her. Should I write her a letter or just move on?
Answer: If you're sincerely done, just walk away. Adult children with parents like ours have learned over many years of trial and error that written letters are simply an invitation to said parent(s) to berate again, deny, and skew our words. It's simply not worth it. Instead, I suggest writing the letter but never sending it. When you doubt your decision, pull it out and give it a read. It's a great reminder of why you chose to walk away.
Question: How can I improve my relationship with my children when they don't accept my apologies?
Answer: You are at the threshold to healing! I’m so happy for you!
Having been in your shoes, I found the best guidance came from a therapist who focuses on family. I told him everything. I was brutally honest about myself, my childhood, my parenting style, etc. He has helped me see things from a different perspective and also guided me through changes. It’s been tough at times but absolutely worth it.
One of the first things recommended to me was the book Understanding the Borderline Mother by Christine Lawson. This book will help you understand how you became the person you are and how to break free of the hold so that you can have a better relationship with your children.
Question: My son and daughter-in-law told my husband and I that they were pregnant and asked us not to tell my daughter. A month later we were told that they lost the baby. Not until that time did we tell my daughter, were we wrong?
Answer: Yes. Many couples choose not to tell anyone they are expecting for this very reason. Miscarriages and the sorts often leave women feeling embarrassed, helpless, confused, feeling inferior, depressed, and angry. The fewer people who are aware, the fewer they have to face when such a tragedy occurs.
Your daughter-in-law's miscarriage was not your story to tell. You owe your daughter-in-law and son a sincere apologize and a promise to never renege on your word again (and don't).
And please remember, you have betrayed their trust. It will not be reinstated overnight. Please be willing to do the work and have the patience to regain what you took away.
Question: What should parents of estranged children do when they follow these suggestions, yet the adult child does not respond?
Answer: Patience. As parents, it took several years to create the trauma and heartbreak we did with our children and thus it will take a good deal of time to undo what we've done. The key is to remain consistent. Exhibit to them and to others (because they are watching and listening, just as they did when they were kids) your changed behaviors and attitudes. I can't promise every adult child will come around (sometimes the damage is too great and/or has gone on too long), but it certainly never will without any effort whatsoever.
Question: How can I maintain a relationship with my daughter when my husband doesn't wish to as well?
Answer: It's very hard for an adult child to have a relationship with the enabling parent when they've decided to walk away from the abuse, and from what you describe that's what you are in this situation.
Please see a therapist specializing in family dysfunction in order to discuss how to reconcile with your daughter based on this very scenario.
Question: why does my daughter who lives in another state insist I fly there or move there to live when I cannot afford to?
Answer: There are many factors that could cause her insistence. Some would be legitimate, while others may not. The only way to know is to ask her.
Question: I am estranged from my daughter because she insists on living with an abuser. I can't forget the abuse stories, but she says he has changed. What to do?
Answer: As a parent, I can certainly understand the urge to protect your daughter; however, as an adult, I understand she's old enough to make her own choices.
Personally, I would bite my tongue, respect my daughter's wishes to be in a relationship with this man, and remain in contact. If you are estranged and he is, in fact, abusive to her still, you want to stay in touch so she knows she has someone to turn to should she ever need help.
If she still chooses to estrange (and it is possible because abusers tend to separate their victims from family and friends), then the only thing you can do is pray (or meditate or chant or whatever you choose).
Question: What should I do when a family member blames me for their abusive relationships and prevents me from visiting their children?
Answer: I'm only going to vaguely answer this because, frankly, this an issue that should only be handled by a therapist.
First I want to say that abuse from our past does affect our present-day relationships, so she's not wrong. Possibly where she is placing the blame is wrong but saying that the molestation affect relationships now is not.
That said, she was an 8 year-old child. At that age, we count on our parents to protect us and when you don't, whether it be that you can't/won't, it leaves a lot of ill will within us. If by chance she claims this was done by your husband/boyfriend/etc., then you really must be understand why she would hold you accountable.
As I said, however, this isn't a scenario for casual conversation. Please seek out a therapist in your area who specializes in family dysfunction and PTSD.
Question: I'm estranged from my parents because they both are constantly obsessed with their past infidelities that they act like me and my sibling never existed, me and my sibling harbor suppressed anger towards them because we both can't stand their self-obsessed nature and immaturity. How can I tell my parents the truth in order for me to move on and let go of my anger?
Answer: Put it in a letter or just simply say it to them. To be perfectly honest, however, don't expect them to be receptive; at least at first. If communicating has no effect as I expect, then I recommend seeking out a therapist and discussing the issues with him/her and they will guide you to and through what is the best course of action for you.
Question: I have custody of my two sons, but my daughter cut me out of her life. My sons are respectful to all. Will my daughter ever change?
Answer: Will your daughter change? That's dependent on too many factors. However, you mention you had custody of your sons. Based on that I assume you did not gain custody of your daughter. If that's so, therein could lie the issue.
I can't answer your question completely. It's simply too vague, but hopefully, I've at least given you a starting point.
Question: My other children object to the fact that their older brother has got back in touch with us after 20 years. Even now, 3 years later, they still hate to see him visit. He does have to fly or come over by ferry. How should I deal with this?
Answer: This article focuses on estrangement between parents and their adult children, while this is an issue between siblings. The only thing I would suggest (and please remember I am not a therapist and this should not be construed as such) is sitting down with your non-estranged children and asking why. Has he emotionally or physically hurt them in the past? Is it jealousy? Those are questions only they can answer and will contribute to your decision whether your son should visit or not. You may also consider having him visit when they are not around. There are simply too many unsaid variables here that may come into play. I believe the best thing you can do is get yourself into therapy and discuss with him/her the reasons for estrangement, the current developments and then follow his/her advice.
Question: Any suggestions regarding a remarriage? My husband divorced his first wife after a 13-year marriage. They had two sons together, one who is developmentally disabled. He claims his 2nd wife was wonderful to his son who visited often and lived with them for a bit, but that stopped, and he doesn't know why.
Answer: There’s only one way to find out: ask. Your husband needs to sit down with his son and ask. He should leave anger and defensiveness at the door and be prepared to really listen.
Are there things he’s going to be confronted with that would crush his soul? Probably. As someone who has been both the estranged child and a mother whose two oldest sons were beginning to estrange, I know this isn’t easy but if both sides are willing to do the work, it can be resolved.
I wish nothing but peace, love, and happiness go your family.
© 2017 Kim Bryan
Nicola on August 22, 2020:
I am estranged from both of my parents. 12 years (father) & 5 years (mother) They are both divorced. I am very happily married & have a totally different marriage to what theirs was. Thank God! While I see many positives into walking away & know deep down I made the best decision for my own mental health, I still feel sad when I watch movies like Father of the bride or here friends talk about how their mothers are like their best friends etc Things like that just suddenly bring old memories back and automatically lower my mood which can last for days. I feel as though I have missed out on so much and crave what I missed out on. My parents were abusive in all ways you can think of & are very toxic, manipulating people so I can’t understand why I still feel sad after all these years over people who don’t deserve it. I have put off having children incase I turn into one of them but my husband always reassures me I will be an amazing mother. I deep down would love to have a baby especially with him. How can I just push the past away and get on with my life?
Theyleftmebroken on August 20, 2020:
I ended my relationship with my mother 2 years ago and my father yesterday. They have been divorced since 1987. He moved half the country away. Military until the divorce, violence, verbal abuse from both so awful I refuse to remember my childhood. Dad grew pot, in itself no big deal. Putting the responsibility of his cultivation on me big problem . We moved back near her awful family right before the split. She started screwing someone from high school immediately. Kept my younger sisters and sent me to my drunk grandmother to live for 6 months. I reminded her of dad. Saw him 3x until I was 20. Moved near him and he bounced my head off a brick wall. Eventually I moved back to finish college. Bullied into nursing. (Whole other side of the lasting damage and control).
I left almost 20 years ago and had only gone home 4x. Never longer than 2 days.
She has no interest in my kids. Raised my nephews and never showed up to a birth, party anything.
Last time I saw her she was upset her husband's cousin who raped me at 14 had died. I told them. They called me a liar and whore.
Neither daddy nor step dad gave me away. I went through the miscarriage alone. My husband was there but I needed a mom.
Then 2 years ago I hit a windshield at 50 mph. Broken neck, 5 destroyed discs 3 cervical. 4 broken knuckles, over 20 hairline fractures in my back, fractured skull, tbi, and 80 stitched in my head they shaved. Neither parent came nor cared. My mom made a big deal on social media for appearance and sympathy for her. And I finally broke.
Since Oct 30 2018 no contact and none have my phone or address.
Dad finally pushed too far. I've even flown to nurse him after knee replacement for 2 weeks of the most vile verbal abuse. But my auntie telling me the awful things he says about me ended it. I allow the kids limited phone contact because they love him and he's not allowed the opportunity to abuse.
Both see themselves as perpetual victims. Both still until estranged told me everything was my fault. Criticized my parenting, that we're secular, my political stance, belittle, still try to control, manipulate and use sick tactics of passive aggressive guilt instead of I'm sorry or I shouldn't have used you to tell your dad to pay child support or ruin your credit.
Children are not born bad. Children are not bad. They are traumatized and abused. They develop coping to survive. Yes it's always the goddam parents fault.
Bob on August 11, 2020:
Interesting article and perspective. I agree with much of it. I have to wonder how healthy it is to only focus on the negative aspects of the relationship though. I realize that emotions are powerful but my personal feelings and perspective changed when I accepted my own failures without laying blame and acknowledge the positive things my parents did do when I was growing up.They are both deceased now and I wish that things had been better when they were alive but none of us could seem to get beyond the emotional fog of the past.I think this is what forgiveness feels like. I guess I'm saying that I accept things as they are.They did the best they could even though it wasn't what I needed and I have failed at times and those failures lay squarely on my shoulders.I'm not naive, I do realize that there are varying degrees of toxicity and some people will not change but I have to wonder if our only real power lays in our ability to empathize and forgive. just a thought.
Tamara on August 03, 2020:
What if you tried many times to develop a healthy relationship but only to realized that I was wasting my time with my mother. For me it wasn't just one time its really been all of my life She has managed to talked behind my back and much of which wasn't correct or nice that I. Finally had enough . It was so bad that relatives would come to talked to me and mention things. When I confronted my mother she would deny it . But when you get more then lets say three different relatives coming to you telling that they got this from my mother . It showed me she was never going to stop. Then my sister and brothers feel like I'm ganging up on my mother so now we don't speak to each other. I speak to no one in my immediate family and to be honest with you I like it. I can say I have peace now,Yes it hard to leave behind those who are suppose to love you. However if it hasn't happen by the time your 60 years old it isn't going to happen . Better to cut the ties the suffer their backstabbing two face ways. The final straw for me was when she shared her will with everyone in my family but me and refused to show it too me or even give me a copy of it.. My mother used her Will as a way to control her adult children. She left me no choice really.. You cant change those who refused to accept that they are part of the problem. You cant force a woman who gave birth to you to love you.
cherylbenyacko on July 29, 2020:
This article is so eye opening. I am estranged to my mother for many of these reasons once I cut the communication to a minimum I was able to see how controlling my mother actually was and how unhealthy it made my adult interactions. Now that has changed and I feel so much more positive about life after reading this article
Angela on July 15, 2020:
At 35 I am no contact with both parents. They were neglectful and emotionally unavailable the entire time I was growing up. My dad was an alcoholic who left me alone too much and egg donor is “mommy dearest”. It took me more tries to make it work with my mom, but after 34 years of invalidation, criticism, calling me a loser, making me the scapegoat of the family, trying to hold me back from success and believing in myself and loving who I am...the bomb just went off one day when I finally realized she was just as narcissistic and terrible to me as some of my ex’s had been (no surprise as a codependent empath I attract Cluster B’s). I was just DONE. Fortunately as I got older I naturally got out from under her attempts to hold me back and take out her misery on me, became very independent and self sufficient to the point where I do not need “family”, in any sense. Not that it ever truly existed. I’m finally at peace, I have quiet, and I’m living my best life away from my abusers.
It is cringeworthy and pathetic how many comments I see from parents who have lost their children. Chances are, you are narcissistic yourself but you can’t see it. What feels like “tough love” to you is actually pain, invalidation, betrayal by the one person who is supposed to love a child unconditionally. If you tell your kids to “get over it” and “move on from things that happened in childhood”, or accuse them of being too sensitive or gaslighting them by telling them they don’t remember it right...you ensure you will never have an adult relationship with them. Most abused kids get strength as they get older and will find a way to get out from you.
When I was done, I was sure, and after 34 years of being sad and neglected and treated like shit because my parents are disordered.. it will never change. I changed my phone number, blocked in every way possible, sent a cease and desist letter threatening a restraining order and am prepared to pursue it if I’m EVER contacted again. (Read: narcissistic hoovering). If they are done with you, let them go. For once in your life just let the person live in PEACE!
And you can spend the rest of your life wondering if all the neglect and criticism and abuse was worth it.
Ensigntilly on July 01, 2020:
I went low contact for six months and to my surprise, I got an apology
Glenda on July 01, 2020:
I have three kids. My oldest was from a previous relationship. I am recently estranged from my oldest son. We talked and he explained that I treated him badly during a year period when he was 5 yrs old. Looking back I realize I did treat him differently from the two younger kids and I was just awful with him. I am trying to come to terms with how I treated him during that time an I am sickened thinking about it all. I was just plain miserable during the time (still no excuse), I saw a lot of his biological father in his face and his biological father leaving me for another woman was still fresh in my mind. I feel like that anger was misplaced onto my oldest son. I have not told my son that this was why I treated him so badly during that time. Over time the memory of his biological father diminished and just like that my treatment of my son changed drastically. I can't explain it. I was better with him and treated him lovingly after that. We still had rare moments of aggravation but I was much more kind to him. I'm so ashamed of how I treated him and try as I may there is nothing in this world I could ever do to make it up to him. He and I will begin psychiatric counseling sessions together in a couple of weeks and I am hoping that the sessions will help me to understand how he feels and that I can become a much better mother to him. I hope young mothers out there read this and take heed that how you treat your children is very important especially during their formative years. My son really opened up to me about how he felt and it was a very hard pill to swallow but I needed to hear it so that I can try to make things right.
Gray Life on June 28, 2020:
I just found this article while searching for info on daughters who suddenly reject their mothers.
I read the article and comments, and i would welcome a perspective on my situation.
I had an emotionally abusive mom, and the invalidation/blame/refusal to see that everything i experienced, reacted to, felt and did was not about her hasn't changed although I'm now 44. I remain a "mistake that its her duty as a Mom to love, but doesn't like or respect one bit. She has always refused to see my behaviour in context of trauma I endured, or acknowledge her role in my poor self esteem.
I left home at 15, rather than be sent to a foster home as her new boyfriend "wasn't comfortable" having me in the way of their "spontaneous" new relationship. She was glad to see my back, disowned me, and based on only her version of events, the family followed her lead.
Years on the streets followed, filled with emotionalpain
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 25, 2020:
I'm very sorry that you had such a difficult childhood. From this whole article, it seems to me that you really tried to understand your past, you investigated possibilities for reconciliation, and after having gotten all this data together, you did what you felt you had to do. This article has been helpful to me and I'm very thankful that you wrote it.
Mauricio Smith on June 23, 2020:
"If either party feels as though they cannot be respectful, loving, and supportive towards the other, then yes, it's time to move on and find those with whom one can. This is true for family members, friends, coworkers, and really anyone one would surround oneself with."
I ABSOLUTELY AGREE!!!!
Mireille on June 21, 2020:
Thanks for your post, it means a lot to me seeing that cutting ties is sometimes the only solution for situations with toxic relatives. I had to cut off the ties to my mother, her partner, and my grandmother. My mother is completely and extremely abusive and dangerous. When I graduated, she tried to kidnap me so that she would never lose control over me. Luckily, I managed to escape from her abusive toxicity and I could hide from her as I moved to another town which is 300 miles away from her and her partner. Both of them are an extreme danger for everyone's mental health and I'm not exaggerating.
Even when I was a toddler, I noticed that my mother was totally toxic, abusive, manipulative, dangerous, narcissistic, ableist, but nobody believed me, just because I was a little toddler...
After moving out, they tried to stalk me whenever and wherever possible. They called me all the time, no matter if I was at home or at university. They texted me all the time, despite I went more than once to my advocate in order to get a restraining order to my mother and her partner. When I blocked them on every media, they told a police officer to convince me to stop cutting ties to them, but I have been so tired of their psychological abuse that I told the police officer the whole story sincerely and his shocked reaction really surprised me, his apology of being used by my mother surprised me more. But this wasn't all, they always did meaner things, their meanest thing was forcing me to move back to them and my mother tried to commit suicide "just" in order to regain control over me and my life, but as my father was there, I asked him for advice. He told me that she was trying to repossess me as her puppet. He also told me to call the hospital where my mother was in, in order to check what happened. When she picked up the phone, I got furious at her and I cut off the contract with her forever and it is still as necessary as the air I need to breathe.
I did the same thing with my grandmother, because she tried to fix the cut off ties and she didn't stop trying it. Talking to her is draining and self destructive too. Just because she didn't accept that I need to kick her abusive family out of my life, she is the 3rd one of the "kicked out off my life gang", and losing my grandmother for my own mental health really hurt me, even if it is still necessary as well. Now, I live a better life, together with my father and my husband and I'm very thankful for having them in my life. They help me to cope with my PTSD and my recurring upcoming horror trips
Brandi on June 17, 2020:
Hi, I see you have a lot of negative comments on this post. I want you to know I found this very helpful. My Husband is considering cutting ties with his parents. They constantly push their religion. Not only that but now they push it on our children (who are 6 and 9). They absolutely feel entitled.I struggle with cutting ties because I have lost my Dad whom I loved dearly. I also have a great relationship with my mom and step mom(My fathers widow). My husband's parents are very fake. Nothing they say or do seems genuine. It is difficult for me to try to have a relationship with them as well. I have been married to their son 11 years. They hated me for the longest and treated me as if no one would ever be good enough for their only son. I hate the thought of not trying to resolve the issues but honestly I don't think they will listen. After years of begging her to stop forcing her religion on us she still sends my husband books of scripture. My husbands siblings have already cut ties. Both Daughters have moved far away. He is the last child around and they are doing the same thing to him.
Sylvester on June 09, 2020:
It's very disheartening. Many parents can't learn simple things and continue in their corrupted ways hindering their children.
secretsinthestars_* on June 01, 2020:
Hi guys hope everyone is well
Just wanted to express how grateful & glad i am to have fallen upon this website & above article/post gargh whatever it is lol! :') I feel less alone
Starlight444 on May 31, 2020:
This made me chuckle, because yes, EPs, it's ALWAYS "their women". Men are completely incapable of thinking for themselves.
Estranged mother: "I blame their women. They weren't like this before them. And I've loved them with open arms. Babysat when asked, with love. Something changed them & it wasn't "my" behaviors. So no more apologies. I am what I am & I know they had a great up bringing full of love. Letting it go."
TD on May 23, 2020:
I estranged from my mum since about a week before christmas last year. I had given birth to my daughter a month before and am happily married. My mum and grandmother have always judged and disliked my husband. Always demanded time with just me, deliberately excluded him. Talked to and treated me as a child, who can't make her own decisions. Growing up, anything I did that they didn't like they blamed on my friends' influences. I was never recognised in my own right except for when I appeared to be what they wanted (by me molding to their expectations and wants). In november I had a severe family situation. I really needed the love and support of a mum - Social Services were investigating my family. My only child was just 4 weeks old. For observations, they needed someone to observe myself and my husband together with my daugher to see all was actually ok and not abusive for at least 2 weeks. My relationship with my mum had been better since baby was born, she'd set uop a room at hers for if daughter and i wanted to stay a night, my flat was too small to have anyone stay to observe us..extenuating circumstances in mind, I asked mum if we all 3 could stay with her. She immediatly said she wouldnt have my husband stay. next asked what would happen if she didnt take us in, and also said she didnt want her life inconvenienced. that was it for me. after battling for a relationship of respect and understanding from her and bancing my relationship with my husband, i realised at that point for sure that me, my husband, and our daughter deserved better. what mum would choose her own selfishness over her daughters crisis hour of need??? the only problem, is raising my daughter, how can i NOT constantly think and feel the loss of the mother i should have had? the grandma my daughter deserves? ..as for the 5 most common reasons, my mum ticked four out of 5..probably only not all of them because my daughter is so young and i was having limited contact with my mum before i estranged from her. so how DO i stop thinking and hurting over it???
Elly The Autistic on May 12, 2020:
Starlight -- I cannot believe (oh wait, yes I CAN) that someone who calls them-self a therapist of any description could write that and think it is in any way an emotionally healthy mind-set.
"They withhold kindness, thoughtfulness and respect whose main goal is to make us feel unworthy and the dreaded silent treatment, being cut off is their need to prove their point. I have read "That our parenting is only a small percentage of who our child chooses to become"..." I love that. That is a whole lot of projected truth. The goal IS to make their CHILDREN feel "unworthy" and with 'parenting' like I received that's mostly true. I had to choose to become 'one of them' or go it alone and be my own, better then "them" person.
As Kim said, "Okay, estranged parents, go see this lady. She’s validating every thought you have.
But BEWARE, she has clearly failed as a mother. So I ask: is talking with a therapist like this going to help solve your issue of estrangement?" And her answer was "No". My answer on that is, "Would you go to an eye doctor that has three blind children that had preventable eye conditions? I wouldn't, but hey, they are your eyes."
NarcFree said -- "Being a psycho and a psychotherapist are not mutually exclusive." So it seems...
Life without Annette -- "It’s funny. The above quotes, given by an embittered parent estranged from her adult child(ren), apply just as readily to those of us who found estrangement our last resort for coping with parents who never moved beyond the abusive dynamic they established with us in childhood." Brilliantly said.
KB -- Welcome and don't worry. We've all had a wrong read or two here (or a few more in my case). Unlike other sites, we are all okay with going, "Oops." understanding each others' missteps and moving on. You said, "It's a vile piece of text and the kind of thing that most of us have heard from our own abusive parents." -- Indeed it is.
Vicky -- "They dont take your pain or complaints seriously because they are sure that you need them." On point, I just saw a parent (on her way to estrangement) say, "My son would NEVER cut me off." on a site fully of fully estranged parents...
Elly The Autistic on May 12, 2020:
Raina -- You can talk to me here or l can try to think up a safe, private way to communicate.
Peace be with You and everyone else here.
Raina on May 08, 2020:
@ Elly the Autistic
Your posts makes me tear up because it voices so many things that have driven me crazy. Is there some way I could reach out to you?
Ronald on May 08, 2020:
Hi kim.i live in zambia and am a grown man.27.i have very unhealthy relationship with my parents.my father is callous and my mother has no respect for me,she is intransigent, self-righteous.gaslights me and engages in double binding
Vicky on May 02, 2020:
You said it very well.The reasons are given several times before the adult child goes no contact.In my case,I had told pointed out every single thing that caused me pain and they just ignored it. I ended uo feeling like a beggar ,begging for breadcrumbs of love and respectful treatment .the problem with this type of parents is that they refuse to acknowledge your pain or discomfort unless they have something to lose. They dont take your pain or complaints seriously because they are sure that you need them . This is not the way to treat anyone ,its disrespectful and once you realise that there is no point expressing your discomfort/pain /complaints anymore you decide to walk away
Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on April 29, 2020:
At some point you realize they only cause you pain. The healthy choice is to stay away. They usually don't even notice until they are old enough to need YOU. At that point, they reap what they've sewn. Or (as evidenced by the Trump children) you are so grateful your parent is finally interested - even for selfish reasons - you can't do enough for them. Then you find out - it will never be enough to replace what you lost as a child when you needed them.
Kim Bryan (author) on April 29, 2020:
I like the way you worded that. Like you, the anger has passed. Now when I have any sort of interaction with an angry estranged parents, I find it leaves me with a ton of emotion: sadness, confusion, frustration. To say disoriented and ungrounded is a perfect way to describe it.
Starlight444 on April 29, 2020:
Easy mistake. It's a vile piece of text and the kind of thing that most of us have heard from our own abusive parents. I've not been in contact with my family for many years, but now and again, I can still be triggered by some of the posts that EPs make. They don't tend to make me feel angry anymore, but rather, disorientated and ungrounded.
Kim Bryan (author) on April 29, 2020:
@KB We’ve all made that mistake before. Personally, I tend to misread something once a day. lol
I just wanted to make sure you knew this is a safe place for adult children and you are welcome here. We all relate very well to your feelings. :)
KB on April 29, 2020:
@Starlight444 and Kim....my apology for misunderstanding.
Starlight444 on April 28, 2020:
The post was taken from social media, and had originally been posted by a mother who described herself as both an EP and therapist. Unfortunately, there are some well dodgy 'therapists' out there, and some of these individuals sound more like abusers/abusive parents (and probably are) than professionally objective health professionals.
Kim Bryan (author) on April 27, 2020:
@KB ... Starlight is an estranged adult child. Her last comment was mocking an article on estranged parents.
KB on April 27, 2020:
You sound like my father pathetic and desperate. Till this day my dad still refuse to take any responsibility for his actions. He still refuse to make any hard changes in his behavior. And he still dish out abusive, narcissistic attacks at anyone that confronts him about it. For God’s sake stop lying to yourself and distorting reality to make yourself feel better, and face the truth for a change. It can actually feel pretty good.
Starlight444 on April 19, 2020:
Absolutely shocking. Guilt-tripping, trying to buy and manipulating your AC is nowhere near wanting a healthy parent/AC relationship.
Life without Annette on April 18, 2020:
“... we had no choice but become stronger to restore our damaged dignity, and self respect.”
“Through their cruelty...we had no choice but take our power back.”
“ With our newly empowered self, we now feel we are worthwhile, we have value, we have dreams, we have a life to live with a bright future ahead.”
It’s funny. The above quotes, given by an embittered parent estranged from her adult child(ren), apply just as readily to those of us who found estrangement our last resort for coping with parents who never moved beyond the abusive dynamic they established with us in childhood.
“Though my father and my mother should forsake me, yet the Lord will gather me up.”
— Psalm 27:10
NarcFree on April 18, 2020:
Kim and Starlight:
Being a psycho and a psychotherapist are not mutually exclusive
Kim Bryan (author) on April 18, 2020:
Wow. Just wow. And yet she feels as though reconciliation is her child’s responsibility.
Okay, estranged parents, go see this lady. She’s validating every thought you have.
But BEWARE, she has clearly failed as a mother. So I ask: is talking with a therapist like this going to help solve your issue of estrangement?
Spoiler alert: no.
Starlight444 on April 18, 2020:
Don't go to this therapist.
"From an estranged mother & therapist:
"Our estranged children lack reflection and In turn feel no empathy. Once they got to this point, their mindset is permanently altered." Those words from an estranged parent resonated with me. They will not accept apologies. They will slap you down at every attempt to mend fences and at times take great satisfaction from it. They cannot be guilted, bought, manipulated, negotiated to reconcile. They are dug in with their warped perceptions on all the wrongs that made them victim whose main goal is to punish. They elevate themselves where in their self righteousness, they sit on their self appointed thrones so they can look down on us to be our Judge and Jury and punish us as they see fit. Forgiveness is only theirs to give to us parents. They hold the highest cards. The parent child relationships. Their time and our Grandchildren. They withhold kindness, thoughtfulness and respect whose main goal is to make us feel unworthy and the dreaded silent treatment, being cut off is their need to prove their point. I have read "That our parenting is only a small percentage of who our child chooses to become"... With this knowledge in conjunction of the cruel treatment from our children lead us parents to a place where we had no choice but become stronger to restore our damaged dignity, and self respect. Through their cruelty and the silent treatments We come to realize That we had no choice but take our power back. The power they over time, deliberately and systematically took from us until there was nothing left to fight for. With our newly empowered self, we now feel we are worthwhile, we have value, we have dreams, we have a life to live with a bright future ahead. Just Reflecting !!!!! yes... this is my story."
Charl on April 03, 2020:
Sadly, my mum passed away earlier this week because of Covid-19 and because of socila distancing I was unable to be there. My sister lived my mum prior to her death and took on the "husband" role as they were always together. My sister and I haven't been close for over 20 years. I felt and feel totally estranged by the both of them. So much so that my sister is now treating me as if I am the child and she is the mother ! I know we are living is strange times but I still want to be part of my mum's arrangements. I'm so confused and upset. I feel like the child especially as she has the control - key contact with the hospital authorities / mum's assets/ key decision maker
Kim Bryan (author) on April 02, 2020:
Hello, everyone! I hope everyone is doing well during this pandemic.
In reading the message boards and Reddit, I see the virus has created a lot of chaos for estranged adult children as many parents are using this as a reason to reach out.
Please know, if you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone.
There are hundreds of online forums where you can talk to others facing the same issues. There is also many groups on Reddit for support. Additionally, many organizations are offering free, or extremely low cost, online counseling until we get through this.
Others are taking up yoga and meditation too. Both are fantastic tools to help keep the mind at peace and the body healthy.
Please, don’t despair. Take care of yourself, especially your mental health.
There are so many of us who feel our childhood traumas prepared us for this crisis. Whatever you do, don’t let it break you.
As in any emergency, remember to breathe and think slowly and clearly. And never be afraid to reach out for help.
Elly The Autistic on April 01, 2020:
To Starlight and everyone else: I too hope you are all staying safe.
To Michelle: I was Low Contact with my 'family' when I met my husband and he was No Contact with his 'family'. He brought up the topic of being estranged from his 'family' on our first date. If I had invalidated his decision for even a moment? There would not have been a date #2.
No one wants to feel so devalued within their 'family' that walking away is what they come to know is the most emotionally healthy choice for THEM.
Having a spouse/partner NOT support that? I'd question that relationship as well. I agree with NarcFree -- My husband could be yours and the thought of undermining His choice makes Me feel ill.
Andre -- I agree, that definitely happened in my life and then I got healthier and moved past that... Healing/recovery is a process and the difference between survivors and abusers is, Us survivors know there is a "problem" and keep hoping for/looking for a 'solution'. Abusers DO NOT. Stay strong.
Peace to all.
Starlight444 on March 27, 2020:
RE: COVID 19.
Hope everyone's okay. Keep safe.
Andre on February 11, 2020:
As an estranged child (now ~60) I walked away in order to breath and become a proper human being. Yet my bitter childhood set me up for so many failures and disappointments later - but still no regrets!
Life Without Annette on February 09, 2020:
Kim, I can’t tell by your comment whether you are estranged from your children or your parents. Either way, since you are terminally ill, I urge you to focus on your relationship with God.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
— Revelation 21:4
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
— Romans 10:9
I know Christian evangelization is often frowned on, but if you are facing the end of your life, the most important issues you face are ”What happens when I die?” and “If eternal afterlife awaits, where will I be spending eternity?”
I hope you aren’t facing death alone. I pray you find someone who can comfort you, and that you know God will never forsake you, if you let Him in.
Kim on February 08, 2020:
I can’t stop crying! One of the five? I’ve experienced all five repeatedly. Sadly, after years and years of resets on my part, letting go and starting over they were the ones who cut me out of their lives What they call drama and fighting, I call accountability when you have hurt someone that you’re supposed to love and protect I am in heart failure from chemo and I am terminal, this is the most horrific and painful thing I’ve ever experienced
NarcFree on February 05, 2020:
Did none of the points of this well written article register with you?
I wouldn't want to be married to someone who sides with the parents. There are so many things wrong with your complaining. It's not your decision to make. And this is not about you, or what is easy for you to imagine. It's about what your spouse decides is good for his mental health. Did you even read the article? Maybe try again. And again. Until you get it. And then support your husband in whatever decision he makes, if you want to stay married. If sounding self righteous is more important to you than supporting your spouse, then you are not a partner worth keeping. I pity your husband.
Michelle on February 05, 2020:
I have been married to my husband for 15 years and in that time he has suffered with depression. Also he has had anger issues and is trying to mend the errors of his ways as he wants to make it up to me. He has two older brothers who love abroad. He had contact with one of them and then 5 years ago they fell out. I know it wasnt my husbands fault. His brother wanted an apology and every time we saw his parents they said his brother will not talk to him unless he gets his apology. My husband wouldnt give an apology as he felt he had nothing to apologise for. Finally over christmas my husband sent an olive branch and sent a message to his brother saying you win you have got your apology as wanted to move on. His brother said he didnt want an apology after all those years and had let it go a while ago. My husband was upset as his parents kept saying he wanted an apology. My husband is angry at missing out on more time with his parents. All they keep saying is move on and leave it in the past and are sticking up for his brother and tell him to see a therapist. They have seen his brother more than us but deny it. My husband has stopped contact with his brother and parents. I feel upset as trying to play peacemaker between him and my parents. My husband has made his mind up that he doesnt want any contact with them. He said they went abroad to live when he was ill with depression. He doesnt say much about his past except that his dad had anger issues and gave him no encouragement. His mum treats him like a child and will not take any responsibility. I am in the middle of it and feel upset for his parents but my husband has made his mind up and says its better for his mental health to cut contact. He says they were not there when he was ill. Shall I give up. Cant imagine not talking to your parents. Though you should forgive and forget
Starlight444 on February 01, 2020:
This sentence should be: "The blogger doesn't fail to feed her children enough, they simply 'fast' them or the children 'fast' themselves to treat and cure health problems."
I think some abusive parents pre-empt and spread lies about their children pretty much from the day they're born. My mother did it. It's horrifying how they carefully plan the abuse in this way. And yes, it is planned. They know damn well that somewhere along the line the child might try to get help or leave when they're old enough to do so.
I had a friend who 'diagnosed' her son with dyspraxia. She tried hard but failed to get him diagnosed with a special educational need, so made something up. She was in an emotionally abusive marriage and this was negatively affecting her son's behaviour. He was a bully, and could be very aggressive towards girls and women. She didn't want to accept that the abuse and not a SEN was the problem. Over time, I realized that my friend wasn't just a victim and enabler, but another abuser. She started to abuse and spread lies about me, often to cover up what her husband had done. The authorities were involved on at least one occasion, but no action was taken.
Elly The Autistic on January 31, 2020:
Starlight -- My fave was, "how about if we had have shown them NO love and just done the basics?" Well gosh, that's a 'truth leak' if I have ever heard one because that's exactly what mine DID. The absolute BARE MINIMUM to maintain the illusion of, "I'm a good mom!"
As for, "It can be pre-emptive, so not only will the parent try to convince the child that the problem lies with them, but if the child tries to get help they won't be believed, because a narrative has already been put in place where there's something wrong with the child." Oh my is this the truth. My 'mom' would always lead to 'new people' with, "Elly's such a disruption. She's always 'acting up' and complaining..." Which meant when my sis started the bullying and ring-led others to do the same and I would 'complain' to the adult in charge, of course I was ignored/dismissed because they were "forewarned". And she would say it to them in front of me with a satisfied smirk like, "Now they won't believe you! Joke's on you!"
The funny part was, on the rare occasions when I was left with adult 'strangers' to my dysfunctional environment and in the absence of my sis, I didn't have any problems getting along with others'. My 'mom' would come to pick me up and open with, "Well, how 'bad' was she?" and those adults would look at her like, "Elly was great..." like they couldn't fathom her negativity toward me. Needless to say, those encounters were rare. Wouldn't want me figuring out my 'family' was the issue and not ME.
Everything an abuser does is to make sure you know 'your place'. They have no idea what love is AT ALL. It's all a contest of who is better/'righter' and it is never the scapegoat or 'lessers'.
Starlight444 on January 31, 2020:
I don't think love is a commodity that anyone can owe. You either feel it or you don't. My mother could mimic love, empathy and compassion, but she didn't have the ability to feel these things in any meaningful way, if at all.
What do we mean by love? Narcissistic parents believe they love, but tend to view love in terms of what we can do for them (always conditional). They love the attention we give; using us to maintain a particular image; taking their rage out on us to make themselves feel better...but they don't love us. The minute we stop giving them what they want, no matter how unreasonable their demands, the love just ends (might then project and accuse us of not loving or hating them). Their love was never love to begin with, just a superficial imitation of it.
The EP that replied doesn't understand love. They can no more understand it, than we can understand what it's like to not feel unconditional love for others. Yes, parental love is an action and not just a feeling (when we love we behave in a loving way), but the feeling must still be there. Otherwise, we're just going through the motions.
Starlight444 on January 31, 2020:
There's a mummy blogger/parenting coach in the UK, and both she and her husband have been investigated by child services on and off for almost 10 years. Her children are home-educated and the eldest (son) is unsocialized, has behavioural issues and is unable to read or write. She's in the habit of 'diagnosing' her son with health conditions to explain away his behavioural problems and developmental delays. The latest is a rare autoimmune disorder that can be very difficult to diagnose, and can only be diagnosed by a specialist. This blogger is strongly opposed to mainstream medicine, there's no mention of proper investigation and the son's received no treatment.
It doesn't appear to be uncommon for abusive parents to 'diagnose' their children with conditions that they don't have to hide abuse and neglect (mother in vid says children have eating disorders to cover up starvation. The blogger doesn't fail to feed her children enough, they simply 'fast'). It can be pre-emptive, so not only will the parent try to convince the child that the problem lies with them, but if the child tries to get help they won't be believed, because a narrative has already been put in place where there's something wrong with the child.
'Diagnosing' children is a huge red flag that child services doesn't take seriously enough. It's a surprisingly effective way of hiding past and present abuse, because people don't tend to question it (what is the specific diagnosis? Who diagnosed the child? What treatment have they received? Why haven't they received treatment? Why is their condition or behaviour not improving?). All you need to do is repeat the 'diagnosis' (the lie) enough times until the lie is firmly embedded in the minds of others.
Starlight444 on January 31, 2020:
OMG. This is both horrifying and heartbreaking. Notice how the mother smirks when one of the boys (Bruce, I think) is detailing the physical abuse in court. The mother doesn't accept she was abusive, but repeatedly covered it up in order to hide what she and her husband were doing - decides to homeschool the children, makes them wear multiple sweaters to hide their emaciation, lies and says they have eating disorders.
Before the boys are removed from school, the teacher refuses to help them. Denial is a way to turn-a-blind-eye and justify doing so. It's easier than doing the right thing. Who else chose not to hear or see what was happening?
"PLEADING GUILTY" - In the case of the sexually abusive GF that I mentioned, he only admitted to what he'd done to lessen his sentence (there was something in it for him). He still maintained he was the innocent party and the victim of a 7-year-old seductress.
"Truth is in the middle somewhere" - Code for they deserved it or made me do it. If a man walks down the street and is randomly attacked by a stranger with a knife, is the truth somewhere in the middle? No. He didn't provoke or deserve it, no matter how bad a day the attacker was having. Objective reality is based on facts, not feelings, beliefs and perspectives.
"...none of the 4 children actually died, so it couldn't have been that bad." - When a child survives this level of abuse, it's often sheer luck. Things can easily go either way. Abusers and enablers can set the bar very high for what constitutes abuse, and most abuse will never be seen as abuse. If it is recognized as abuse, it won't be viewed as severe abuse, even when it is (in their minds, severe abuse is also the only thing that justifies estrangement). A parent is only truly abusive if the abuse is severe, but the abuse will never be viewed as such. If the parent kills the child, they're still not abusive, there's always an excuse - mental illness, the child drove them to it, there was something wrong with the child, it was an accident, if the child was really being abused they would have asked for help, if they asked for help and the abuse was genuine then someone would have helped them, the child was fed and clothed (set the bar very high for what constitutes abuse. Set the bar very low for what constitutes good parenting).
The boys were fostered and adopted. Fresh new victims and a way to maintain a particular image, in this case, good Christian parents. My abusive, alcoholic mother planned to foster (with the help of family to cover things up), but I intervened. She was genuinely shocked and angered by this, because it made her look like a terrible parent. She was. She tried to kill my brother when he was a baby, and would intentionally place me in dangerous situations. As a young child, I almost drowned as a result. In her mind, she'd always been a perfect mother, superior to the other mothers. That IMAGE needed to be upheld and remain untarnished no matter the cost to others, including vulnerable children.
Elly The Autistic on January 29, 2020:
Estranged Parent -- "I was told my child didn't OWE me love."
EP reply -- "OMG...no, they technically don't owe us love BUT, how about if we had have shown them NO love and just done the basics? Then, they would be saying that they were somehow cheated and hated us for not having shown them love. ROFL. How stupid of them! We couldn't win with these little twirps for losing, could we?"
Ponder on that...
NarcFree on January 20, 2020:
Lol on the grandparent argument. If only they applied all those rules to themselves when they were the ones parenting, like "grow up" and"it's not all about them anymore". Typical entitlement complex where they make the rules that apply to you, but same rules don't apply to them.
I agree it's the abuser/victim relationship, but don't you dare say that to anyone who firmly believes that all parents do right by their children. You'll be accused of playing the victim card, and being ungrateful for all the "sacrifices".
To me, it feels more accurate to describe the relationship as owner/slave (in my particular family). Most people in their right mind don't expect a slave to be grateful. But they still won't believe that parents can treat their child like a slave. And instead of accusing me of being ungrateful, they might say I'm overdramatic or misunderstanding.
Starlight444 on January 20, 2020:
"But how on earth can I abandon something I've never had."
So many people don't get this. I never had a parent-child relationship with my mother. I only ever had an abuser-victim relationship which is something entirely different. It's like when you're told to rebuild or fix the relationship with your parent. What relationship? You can't repair what never existed.
I find their behaviour fascinating, but sometimes take a step back when I feel I need break. There have been some right crackers from EGPs lately. On one group, a parent states that she hopes her children would put firm boundaries in place to protect themselves if her behaviour is harming them. She also makes it clear that if you have to put boundaries in place to protect your child from a harmful GP, so be it. This is someone's (EP/EGP?) '0 to 100' response to this comment:
"Yeah, It would be best that kids live with strangers and possibly be raped or beat to death, than a grandparent that shows love and kindness. You sound like a Human Trafficker CPS Worker ??"
From another commenter on same group, but a different post:
"A fit parent, in their right mind, doesn't listen to this bs (from therapists, doctors, licensed professionals) nor do they keep children from having a relationship with their grandparents. When modern parents realize it's their own problems causing them to alienate parents and grandparents, they'll then smarten up and realize they're doing more harm than good. It's a control issue for young parents who mentally need to grow up and stop being selfish and self centered. Its not about them anymore."
"A family oriented parent will make a child feel much more loved when all family join in their upbringing. It causes less stress for the children when they aren't programmed to pass judgement on certain family members."
Dizzy-making it is.
Elly The Autistic on January 19, 2020:
Starlight444 -- I've been asked many times why I still "pick at the wounds" of my childhood by watching people like PL and following/watching sites like SM's etc. and why I comment on/point them out at times.
One of the reasons is the continuing quest for insight and you provided some. I had never been able to figure out the 'Narc logic'/thinking on how they can ignore 'slappy lady' and her behavior. Your explanation/translation seems spot on.
Their 'house' -- Their 'rules'... And there are TWO SETS. Anything bad they do is 100% justified and an obvious reaction/response to what the other party did. Anyone reacting to their shite is actually abusing THEM because they are always 100% "justified" in their behavior and NEVER take accountability for their actions/words.
A great example of that is, "I knew as soon as I opened my mouth to address the issues that they would pack up our GC and stop all communication with us." and yet she went ahead and said *whatever* ANYWAYS. So clearly, on some level, this EP DOES KNOW what they say/do is problematic/caused the estrangement.
Then denial kicks in... She goes on to say, "At least my husband and I have a clean conscience that we have done nothing wrong to bring this about, nor can we fix things." So, let me get this straight, in her mind she's saying, "I know I said something that I KNEW would lead to being cut off, but because I was 'justified' to say *insert* it's not MY fault we are estranged." I'm dizzy.
NarcFree on January 19, 2020:
"Victim of abandonment" makes me laugh, because the parent who is not handling parental duties, is abandoning the child. So the child never has a good enough parent figure in their life. Then all of a sudden, a grown child is guilty of abandoning the parent. But how on earth can I abandon something I've never had.
Starlight444 on January 19, 2020:
Narc logic is right. Slappy lady repeatedly slaps adult son, but that's okay because she's his mother and decides he deserves it. The slapping happens at her house, and that's okay too. Being at/in your own house means you have a right to mete out violent punishment for real or perceived slights, and because it's your right it's never abuse.
Slappy lady says "Now [my oldest son says] we are violent...". She IS violent. Refusing to accept that you're violent isn't the same as not being violent, and this refusal means that she WILL be violent again.
Elly The Autistic on January 18, 2020:
Starlight444 -- I too have been following that train wreck. The fact that no one called out 'slappy lady' kinda says it all of that site, but now they're a "moral authority". Hypocrisy and Narc logic at its finest.
The insight on Issendai's site is beautiful.
Starlight444 on January 18, 2020:
Been mulling over 'abandonment' as part of parentification.
I went into full-time employment at the age of 16, saved some money and moved to the city just after I turned 18, financially supporting myself. My family never forgave me for leaving home, and because I wasn't there to be at my mother's beck and call or give her the level of attention she wanted, it was viewed as selfishness, rejection and abandonment. I was treated like a parent (my role) abandoning and neglecting my young child (my mother). As my mother was prone to behaving like a young child, e.g. sulking, hitting and tantrums, and I was expected to manage her behaviour from the time I was about 6 or 7, I didn't see it as that strange (she was very well-behaved around other people). Now I find it completely bizarre.
To my mother I was a non-person without needs or wants. I was there to serve her and be whatever she wanted me to be, e.g. parent, friend, and occasionally, child. In order to function as an adult and meet my own needs, e.g. work, study, spend time with spouse, estrangement was necessary. The demands of my mother were all-consuming and disobedience, e.g. having to work instead of spending time with her, was met with punishment. By the time I went no-contact I had nothing left to give. She would chaos-manufacture, life revolving around her tantrums, demands, attention-seeking behaviour and addiction. I reached a point where my toddler-mother just became too much, but she sees herself as a perfect mother and an innocent victim of abandonment.
Starlight444 on January 14, 2020:
Hi everyone, hope you had a good New Year.
If anyone's interested, there's a thread on Issendai's website right now - "The slow build: Getting details one drip at a time." It gives a fascinating insight into how some EPs think and behave.
There's a discussion about a post on Sheri McGregor's forum that includes talking about "a sort of anti-insight" that EPs on EP forums can possess. Good parents don't know what they've done. "Only bad parents know why they were estranged." If you know or admit to what you've done, then you're not one of them (a good parent), or you're a fake. The bad or fake EP can then be ignored and rejected, creating an echo chamber of purportedly innocent EPs who'll keep insisting that they don't know what they've done. http://issendai.com/wp/estrangement/the-slow-build...
Kim Bryan (author) on December 24, 2019:
Happy holidays to everyone!
Here is some interesting reading for anyone who may not have yet seen this:
Starlight444 on December 22, 2019:
I knew a grandfather who was sent to prison for sexually abusing his granddaughter. There was evidence, and when she was in her teens, the GD went to the police. The GF kept insisting that he didn't know what he'd done or couldn't remember. It was made very clear that he wasn't going to get away with it, so he then portrayed himself as the victim. In his reality he was seduced by the child, and it was a sexual relationship, not abuse (subjective). The court didn't agree (objective).
Unfortunately, some of the family turned on the victim, viewing her as a troublemaker who should've kept her mouth shut for the sake of the family (leave things in the past, forgive and forget, e.t.c). The lack of concern for the victim was shocking. Most of the concern was reserved for the GF (he's elderly, didn't know what he was doing), and his behaviour was sometimes viewed as a good thing. It was part of God's plan, or the Lord works in mysterious ways (the grandmother's stance).
Before the abuse was revealed, the GF had already started behaving inappropriately towards another very young GD, and the only reason she wasn't sexually abused was because the other GD went to the police (assessed for sexual abuse by child services). I pointed this out to the mother of this child, but she didn't agree, also viewing the victim as a troublemaker, and the GF as some kind of innocent simpleton (the abuse was well planned. All this came out in court). Her argument was the GD didn't need to go to the police, because she'd never leave her own daughter alone with her GF for a minute. What about other children/potential victims? Why would a mother be too scared to leave their child alone with a grandparent for a minute? She must have known all along that there was something very wrong with the behaviour of the GF. She might not have known everything, but she knew something, and still didn't hesitate to turn on the victim and make excuses for the abuser.
NarcFree on December 21, 2019:
I agree, each person's reality is not always "just that". Daddys who violate their daughters sexually often resort to "that never happened". Are they entitled to their own version of reality? I think not. They are entitled to a prison bed. And that's just one example. There are many others where abusers tell blatant lies and call it "their reality". I am not going to respect their right to deny.
Starlight444 on December 21, 2019:
@No Clue Dad.
Where I live, adults don't just have a right, but a legal right to end relationships or cut off contact with others. AC are not the property of their parents, so have a right to cut off contact whether or not the parent or anyone else agrees with it.
I agree that abuse isn't the only reason for estrangement, but it is one of the commonest. Estrangement can occur for many different reasons, but doesn't tend to occur for minor reasons and is normally part of a process rather than a one-off event. There's more than one kind of estrangement (emotional, physical, low-contact, very low contact), and EPs don't always make this clear. Estrangement can also be about perception. What one parent views as total estrangement, another will see as an acceptable level of contact. With abusive parents, it's not unusual for them to say that their AC initiated the estrangement, even though it was the parent.
Who gets to decide if the child/AC was abused? Most abusive parents won't accept that they are, no matter how horrific the abuse.
"victims of unjustified estrangement". Are you talking about no-contact or the silent treatment?
No-contact is something you do to yourself, which means the other person is not your victim. You remove yourself from a situation in order to keep yourself safe, e.g. emotionally, physically, and it tends to be done in the longer term or permanently. The parent normally refuses to accept that you need to protect yourself, and will accuse you of abusing them, portraying themselves as the victim.
The silent treatment is a form of abuse and is something that you do to another person, and tends to be done in the shorter term. It's done to control, manipulate, punish or humiliate, and will be part of a wider pattern of behaviour. When an AC uses the silent treatment, it's learnt behaviour from childhood, and can indicate that they were raised in an abusive or dysfunctional environment.
"It is prudent for all of us to keep an open mind about each person's individual situation and to respect each person's personal narrative." Yes and no. Abusive/ estranged abusive parents often think and write in a particular way that shows they're not telling the truth, so sometimes need to be challenged. For example, repeatedly contradict themselves; talk about their feelings not facts; omit important pieces of information (saying they can't remember or the info isn't relevant); timelines are jumbled (saying that their estranged 30-year-old AC is selfish because they just made them a birthday cake, even though they made the cake when their child was 5-years-old); lying (saying their child has always been a narcissist from the time they were young, even though children can't be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder). I will say that challenging them is a waste of them, but it doesn't mean that we should never do it, and this isn't the same as disrespect.
"Each person's reality is just that." Yes and no. We all have a subjective reality or personal truth (feelings and beliefs), but there's also an objective reality or verifiable truth (facts and evidence). Estrangement often occurs when a parent refuses to accept objective reality.
"make the choice to reach out". When dealing with an abusive parent this won't end well. The EP will abuse the victim and attempt to regain control. In my case, any reaching out would result in me experiencing anxiety attacks, nightmares, and flashbacks. In regards to your comment about peace, I knew no peace as a child. I lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear, and the abuse didn't stop when I grew up. If my family want peace then they'll have to learn to create their own. Their feelings are not my responsibility. Only my own actions and feelings are my responsibility. This is an important lesson for victims of childhood abuse to learn. They're often raised to take responsibility for the actions and feelings of others, particularly the abusive parent.
mama to four on December 21, 2019:
Thank you so much for reconfirming my feelings. And the question at the end sums it all up.... I miss the family I wish I had. Thank you so much for your kind words. I really needed to hear them. My husband says it all the time but it is nice to hear it from someone else. Thank you for the continued support!
Bluu on December 20, 2019:
Do y'all have recommendations for support groups or forums for estranged adult children or dysfunctional families/in-laws?
Just really need to vent right now and... This is the only place that comes to mind.
NarcFree on December 20, 2019:
No Clue Dad
You are contradicting yourself. If everybody had a right to choose to opt out of toxic relationships, then why are you hoping that all estranged children will one day reach out? If you consider physical and sexual abuse "legitimate" reasons for estrangement, then why do you want ALL estranged children to one day reach out? Do you know how complex ptsd works? Do you know what flashbacks are? Do you know that nightmares about my parent tormenting me are NOT welcome back in my life? And do you know that hearing that parent's voice brings back the nightmares? You acknowledge that we all have a right to disengage, but at some point ALL, you hope, will reach out for the sake of peace? Peace is something i never experienced, until I removed predatory parents from my life. Are you saying that i owe my parents peace? No thanks. They Will have to create it for themselves, if they want it. They are not my responsibility. I was their responsibility, for 18 years, but they pretended that it's my fault that i came into this world. You know what? It's theirs. I did not put a gun to their heads and force them to f$ck. Yeah, i know, crude. But I'm fed up with people telling me that those monsters deserve peace and it is my responsibility to provide. That was to address your point #8.
As for point 2, who is the judge of what reasons are proper? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Who are you to say which estrangement was improper? It is not your decision to make, nor is it yours to approve. Again, you sound like someone who believes that SOME parents will always be entitled to a relationship with their adult children. Children are not property. And if you think that they are, then you better be so good at gaslighting that your children will never figure you out. Because when they do, it's game over. There is no such thing as unjustified estrangement. You don't live in anybody's skin. And you don't own anybody's relationship decisions. Right or wrong, every adult makes their own decisions and lives with consequences.
No Clue Dad on December 20, 2019:
Some time back, I posted on this page my personal observations about the subject of estrangement from my perspective as an estranged parent of not just one adult child, but 2--and at that, my only 2 adult children.
I have continued to follow this page. I decided to repost my post for the holiday season. Happy holidays to all.
Since becoming estranged several years ago, I developed a deep interest in the subject, far beyond my personal story. I was initially interested in hearing from other parents, and was amazed at the vast network of parents that were grieving. I read their stories with great interest and learned considerable amounts about the subject. I gradually shifted towards searching for adult estranged children that have chosen to go “no contact” with their parents, and have taken the time to share their perspectives publicly in social media platforms. I find it especially interesting to read the comments from young adults that have chosen to go "no contact" with a parent or parents.
At this time I would like to share some general observations I have formulated over time about the entire subject of parent-adult child estrangement.
1. I whole heartedly agree with any adult child that has made the decision to cease contact with a parent that has been either physically abusive or sexually abusive. In addition, I equally support an adult child's choice to go no contact with a parents that suffers from a severe personality disorder, and based upon such disorder, engages in various forms of substance abuse and/or emotional abuse on their children, grandchildren, and/or adult children. I get it. I applaud those choices that have been made by those adult children. I agree as a parent myself, and as an adult who enjoys free choice to disengage from abusive dysfunctional relationships. We should all enjoy the right, regardless from whom it is that we are seeking to disengage (i.e. parents included). We should all aspire to healthy relationships with others, and part and parcel of such aspirations is to distance oneself from those that we perceive as bringing dysfunction and hostility to our lives (friends, family, business associates, etc.).
2. I do not think the subject of estrangement is a "one size fits all" matter. There are some adult children that have made improper choices in choosing to estrange, just as there are adult children that have made an appropriate choice to go no contact. Likewise, there are parents out there that are victims of unjustified estrangement, just as there are parents that have been cut-off from their adult children for truly justifiable, objectively based grounds.
3. Each of us has our own narrative of our own individual situation. Some of us have shared our narratives. None of us can know the other side of the narrative, and it is possible that were we to learn and understand both sides of a given estrangement situation, we might find that our opinion about a person's situation is different from the narrative initially presented to us. As such, it is prudent for all of us to keep an open mind about each person's individual situation and to respect each person's personal narrative. The bottom line is we just do not know the whole story, nor can we.
4. As a parent, I want my adult children to not just survive, but to thrive! To be happy. To be enjoying their lives. To find love. Inner peace. Emotional fulfillment. Harmony with nature, people, and the inner self. To enjoy the pleasures a life affords. Etc. Given these wishes, if my adult child feels, in his or her judgment or opinion, that his or her life would be better served without me in it, then, as painful as it is to accept, in the bigger picture of my own life and my own wishes for my children' happiness and success, this is something I must accept. As for the pain I experience in this "rejection", that is my personal issue, and it is for me to deal with.
5. I note that many parents feel they did not do anything to deserve being estranged. I happen to be one of those parents. I further note that many adult children do not agree when an estranged parent expresses this opinion. In my view, even if a parent feels he or she did not do anything sufficiently wrong to deserve estrangement, the fact is, the adult child has made this decision, right or wrong, and it is the adult child's life that must be lived, and it is definitely not the parent's life to control. Thus, for all of us, not every decision we make is correct, and none of us know whether our choices are going to be correct until they play out over time. It may be that over time, the adult child that has chosen to go no contact with his/her parents regrets the choice--or not. Either way, it is the adult child's exclusive choice, and we all have to live with our choices, good and bad. Yes, it is sad, but a full and complete life comes with its share of sadness, and that is just part of the ebb and flow of living a real life. All of us—parents and our adult children-- will, over the course of our lives, make choices we regret. Things happen in our lives, and we will look back and say: “if I had to do it over again, I’d make a different choice.” Our estranged adult children may now, or at some point in the future of their lives, engage in that look back. Or not. They may look back with great pride at the choices they have made. Only time will tell. There is nothing to be done in the interim by the estranged parents. We cannot force our adult children to make a different choice no matter how wrong we think their choices may be, or how strongly we feel about their choices.
6. We all look at life through our own filtered lenses. Each person's reality is just that. For some, it is a highly religious reality. For others, religion has nothing to do with it. For some there is a perception that a parent has a right to have "say" about an adult child's adult choices including sexual orientation, marriage partners, academic and professional choices, and much else. For others, myself included, these are all subjects that a parent needs to lay off of and allow an adult child to find for himself or herself, even if that means falling down.
7. We all fall down. It is the getting back up that is the testament of our lives. We must rise, dust ourselves off, and continue on in our journey. None of us should allow estrangement to define us. If estrangement has touched your life, no matter which side, may it simply be one aspect of the total you.
8. To all adult children that have chosen to go no contact with your parent or parents, it is my personal hope that all will, one day, make the choice to reach out to that parent or parents from whom that adult child chose to cease contact, and in a healthy, respectful way, express some positive wish or communication to bring peace to the family, both to the adult child, and to the estranged parent(s). This is not to suggest that the adult child should re-establish a relationship, or anything of the sort. There is no timetable. It is only a wish that at some point in time, when the adult child feels ready, and it is my hope that each adult child that has chosen to go no contact will reach a point in life when he or she feels ready and sees the value of reaching out. And if it should happen that an adult child makes such a choice, is my hope that it brings some inner peace to all concerned.
9. Sometimes a thimble full of love is all our loves ones have room for from us. We may wish to heap bounties of our love on others, but we must give love with respect for our loved ones--and isn't that the most loving thing that we can do? Is that not love to love with consideration for the needs of our loved ones? Thus, if our loved ones do not want anything to do with us, or want little to do with us, the most loving thing we can do is to respect that wish, and even as it may feel painful, it is an act of giving love to step back and give that loved one space--and that is a thimble full of our love for that person that we are giving of ourselves.
Apologies for the length.
NarcFree on December 19, 2019:
I understand everything you are saying. And agree with the middle portion of your message.
I wouldn't call her "therapy" by any stretch of imagination. She is anti therapy. Some sort of masochistic therapy! :) The type of intervention that aggravates old wounds that are best left untouched.
If a food makes me sick, I stop eating it. If a person makes me sick, I stop looking and listening. That woman makes me nauseous literally and figuratively speaking. Viewing her videos, commenting, and/or sharing the link with others, drives traffic to her channel, which in turn results in youtube moving her up in search results. I think she should just be left to marinade in her own toxicity, in oblivion. I don't care what she has to say because it's too exhausting to try to keep up with her sick(ening) ideas. Like she says in her video, "I don't care that you have a reason, or what your reasons are". Well, I don't care that she doesn't care. LoL. It's not like I'm about to seek her approval. My decisions are none of her business. Her approval is not needed, not even by her own children apparently.
So she's going cookoo with her video camera, and other dysfunctional abusers are typing supportive comments. Reading them reminds me what i walked away from. I walked away because i want none of that psychopathic chaos in my life. And listening to her twisted arguments is like allowing that craziness back into my life. I would rather focus on my own healing, than on her sickness. I can't change her, or convince her. Nobody can. So why bother. That's how I see it. I stopped trying with my own family because i gave up hope that it will ever get better. I am not going to try to convince a stranger on the internet who is clearly just as twisted as my own "mommy".
Maybe we all heal differently. Or maybe it's a matter of timing. Right now I'm in a place where I find comfort and healing listening to other survivors and/or "experts" that help survivors. Watching that witch with crooked teeth does not bring anything other than unneeded aggravation into my life, so I steer clear, for now.
Maybe some day i will feel differently, maybe i won't. Who knows.
And yes, i also was appalled by her "true abuse" gem. As if there is also false abuse. In Her head , false probably equals not validated by her. Which is all of it. Because she would never.
Elly The Autistic on December 18, 2019:
She's 'therapy' anyone can afford. She could BE my 'mom'. Not only her videos but her general attitude and comments/replies. She is so EVERYTHING that abused AC in recovery can recognize. That and it's time that people spreading agendas based on false facts are pointed out for what they are. Frauds. Pondering Life is selling that she knows why AC have estranged and it's all the usual BS.
I see abusive people like PL as just as repugnant as anti-vaxers, who feel/believe vaccines are 'bad' because that is their view and it became a "truth" because THEY said it was. The anti-vaxer campaign hurt children. People like PL making videos, with her pretty disclaimer/gaslighting, is gross and should be called out.
How ironic is it, that in her disclaimer she says, "I'm not talking about true abuse here..." all the while acting like a typical Narcissistic abuser? Defining abuse HER way. Accusing EAC of all the usual things... Enough is enough.
I believe my 'mom' had kids for the same reason a 5 year old wants a puppy. They want something to love and adore that will unconditionally adore them. And that's an OK thing to think as a 5 year old... but a 5 year old is in no better position to care for a puppy properly then a NP is to raise a child. Both may want to do well at the "job" but can a 5 year old drive the sick dog to a vet even if they know the dog needs a doctor?
That's what emotionally deficient parents offer... They want to, "drive the dog to the vet", just like a smart 5 year old would. They are just unable.
So yes, I watch and learn from channels like PL and want them called out and highlighted for the garbage they are. That's why I "do this to myself".
As always Peace to All and most of all NarcFree for making Me reflect.
Elly The Autistic on December 16, 2019:
Starlight: Part of PL's comment in reply to Chris L was beautiful, "It wouldn't matter if the parents listened until their ears bled (as most in here have tried and tried), saying ANYTHING that goes against what it is that that adult wants to hear..."
She switched from, "We'll 'listen' but You have to LISTEN back..." and by LISTEN I mean, "You have said what You had to say, so now you will LISTEN while I tell you how 'it' really is..." In other words? They never "listened" at ALL. They are/were just busy preparing their returning salvo.
I mean FFS, they don't even grasp the concept of LISTENING. In my world "listening" means, "Hearing information, processing the information and acting on/storing the information." In their world, every view that does not mirror theirs must be challenged regardless of the validity of the challenge.
Another example of the same mentality, "Last time ED wanted to meet, she ran the show. I just listened and she had lots of mean things to say to me. I defended myself but did it calmly and thought that meeting was good but then she still didn’t speak to me after that." Well, no shit. What do EAC bet that one of the things 'mom' didn't listen too was, "Stop trying to justify/'explain'/gaslight Me to pardon yourself for your shite behavior."?
Again... Once they think/believe something? That becomes 'reality' like, "and thought that meeting was good..." like a half admission that they are aware of how the other side may not agree with that. I thought the meeting "went well" so that = the 'other side' must as well, right?
And PL's little nauseating song about Narcissists and her tone... "Don't you want to be a Narcissist too..." I think she knows exactly what she is and honestly believes healthier people envy/want to be like HER.
NarcFree on December 16, 2019:
Why do you keep doing this to yourself?
Starlight444 on December 16, 2019:
Only had time to take a quick look. Where do I even start. They're so far down the rabbit hole they're never coming back. No wonder their children walked away.
Elly The Autistic on December 16, 2019:
They all say they are sooo willing to do ANYTHING to have a relationship with their children and grandchildren. BUT they can't even listen to random EAC on the internet. So sure... They'll 'listen' to what their AC have to say... Some time AFTER hell freezes over.
NarcFree on December 14, 2019:
Mama to 4
Leaving you out of family events when you're a child, is abusive. Making comments about your weight and undermining your self esteem is abusive. Make no mistake about it, abuse does not have to be physical. If your mom knew or heard step dad's comments and didn't try to stop him, she is abusive too. Looking the other way is allowing abuse to happen on your watch. If they've never owned their bad behavior, then it's never going to stop. They are toxic people and you can't change them. It's not your fault that they are who they are. A healthy normal woman will not remain married to a man who demeans his stepdaughter or comments on her body parts! That is dysfunctional. They are both messed up, and only they can fix themselves. You can't fix them. Don't blame yourself for Their behavior. You are responsible for yourself, not for the rest of them.
Think about this - do you miss the family they were, or do you miss the type of family you wish they were?
Starlight444 on December 14, 2019:
And they wonder why they're still estranged.
From EP Facebook page.
"I DON’T GIVE A RAT’S (EXPLETIVE) WHAT ADULT ESTRANGED CHILDREN ARE THINKING.
You heard me. That’s a pretty strong statement, and it comes with some pretty strong feelings. After scanning the estrangement pages this morning, I am just so overwhelmed with sadness and anger for parents of EC’s, I needed to say something, and I wanted to make sure everybody heard me... so I put it in all caps.
I come to these communities and what I see are parents of all shapes and sizes with broken hearts pouring their guts out... parents that would do anything to have their children back in their lives. These are not bad people or abusers. These are not battle-hardened narcissists that want their children to suffer as they have. These are good people bearing unimaginable pain and hoping that something... anything they say will open a door and bring their children home.
So, you heard me. I am not interested in understanding adult estranged children.
I “get” them just fine. I don’t care why they do what they do, and I don’t care how unbelievable their actions are. I am not interested in their side of the story, and I am not interested in making them feel better. They are adults, they are creating this situation and they have plenty of “Dump Your Family Now” pages to help them feel better about the choice they have made.
I don’t care what estranged adult children are thinking.
I don’t care if there is a reason for their actions in their mind or not. I don’t care if their behavior is erratic and difficult to understand, or just downright cruel. I don’t care if Mommy and Daddy were imperfect humans and I don’t care if they never got that pony they wanted growing up. When a parent loves, cares, and tries, this stuff is inexcusable.
What I AM interested in is saving lives.
Because this stuff nearly killed me... and make no mistake, it can kill you too. Whether it’s your literal death through suicide, heart problems or diabetes from stress and other diseases, or the figurative death of your soul through long, slow, endless agonizing self- doubt, make no mistake this stuff can kill you.
IF YOU LET IT.
I think most people that know my writings by now know that I am a pretty sensitive person. But I am also unbelievably strong. But I didn’t start out that way... I earned it. through tears, pain and hellfire, I earned it. But the funny thing about hellfire is that it “Tempers” you. It makes you harder and stronger... you go into it red hot, but when you are done pouring a bucket of tears on it, the steel that is left is stronger than ever before. If you haven’t already, you are going to need to learn that strength as well.
I have said it many times. I don’t want any parent to ever go through what I have been through... and still, most of you already have. I was too late. But there is still something I can do. I can say this... over and over until it helps someone...
We all get down and depressed about our children’s choice, but you can’t stay there. You can’t. The world needs you. Stop the questions. You know the ones. We all miss our children. But your job was to raise them... not to die for them. That’s a futile sacrifice that will fall on deaf ears... and frankly, I believe it’s an affront to God to throw away your life... the beautiful gift that has been given you. Stop wasting it pining away for someone that couldn’t care less if you live or die.
I don’t care what estranged adult children are thinking.
BECAUSE ESTRANGEMENT IS ABOUT POWER. You may not understand why your child has chosen to do this. Their reasons may make no sense at all. That’s common, and it’s the most painful part. But you better understand this, and learn it quickly. Estrangement is about one thing. It’s about power and control... and you have two choices: You can either watch your life slip away mired down in those swirling thoughts... Why? What happened? Do they love me? Why won’t they love me? Can you believe this? Well... have you ever seen what happens to toilet water once it gets done swirling around in the bowl?
Or, you can reclaim your power, your life, and your place in this world by saying “Enough kid, I love you, but I have paid enough”.
Who is the parent in this relationship anyway?..."
mama to four on December 13, 2019:
I don't know if anyone else is finding the holidays difficult, but it is for me. Not only is it Christmastime, it is my birthday and I am about to give birth to my child. I haven't spoken to my parents or sister in over a year and a half. I haven't spoken to my brother really in 3 and a half years (can't believe that). Part of me is like "Is it me???" But I don't think so. My brother was always "okay" but was an ass. His new wife is the reason why we don't speak. She thought I got pregnant to upstage her wedding. Whatever....
But my parents, I look back on my upbringing and wonder "was it really that bad?" I mean... I never really talked about the stuff that happened when I was a kid/young adult with others because it always seemed normal to me until I got married and had children. I have been looking back and tell my husband about things that happened. I wasn't "abused" but I always felt like an outsider in my own family. My step dad always made comments about my weight (I was a very overweight child when he came into the picture and had always been) and later on when I was a teenager he would make comments about the size of my butt or breasts. My mom came into my room at least once that I remember and borrowed my clothes when she was too pregnant for her clothes and didn't have anything clean.
I look back and think "well.... does everyone do that?" Those are just a few things that I have been thinking about in addition to other instances that I have posted before. My husband thinks that the things that happened to me when I was growing up were despicable. I have asked him if he would still have married me if he knew what he was getting into... His reply brought tears to my eyes "I would have taken you away sooner".
Sorry for the random words but it has been something that has been heavy on my heart. It seems like it is all my fault that communication has been dropped from pretty much my entire family. I feel like maybe it is my fault and things weren't as bad as they were. Didn't know if anyone else felt that way.
NarcFree on November 30, 2019:
I'm in the same boat. I feel like I make 2 steps forward and 1 step back, but overall it's still progress. I think it's important not to judge yourself too harshly when that 1 step back happens. Considering the decades of conditioning, it's understandable, and it's a good thing we are aware now, and are working on it. Sometimes I have to remind myself to cut myself some slack, the same way I would for anyone else in this situation. It helps to remember that you can give yourself a break sometimes. Control freak parents groom you to give a break to everybody but yourself, and it takes some time to transform that habit, but it is worth the effort :)
Bluu on November 23, 2019:
This is what I needed to hear. You're right that I shouldn't have to explain myself to people. It's just a hard habit to shake, just based on the environment I grew up in. I'm still working on kicking that vice with baby steps. Thanks for putting it into perspective for me.
NarcFree on November 23, 2019:
You don't need an excuse to not go. You don't need an excuse to go. You don't need an excuse for anything else you choose to do. As an adult, you get to make decisions and not have to explain yourself to people who don't like your decisions. All you have to say is, it felt right for me. Or, that's my preference. If people don't like it, it's their problem, not yours.
I feel like people telling me what i *should* do, are telling me that they don't respect me as an adult capable of making good decisions. They need to learn boundaries and not stick their nose where it does not belong.
Whatever You decide to do, there's no need to explain yourself. You can share if you want to, only with people who have earned your trust. Everyone else need to learn to mind their own damn business.
Lerato Nyembe on November 21, 2019:
This article describes my mother like she was the case studied in this regard...
Bluu on November 21, 2019:
Thanks for the response. After thinking it over and seeing your reply as well, I will most likely avoid the holiday party(or go during a certain time when she's not around and leave early, but honestly I don't want to go because holidays are a stressful time for me). You're right about trusting the instinct. I talked to my lil brother over the phone and he mentions how nothing has changed with our parents, they're still the same.
I was mostly nervous about the backlash I may receive from my family and my significant other's family for not going because of my mother.
Though, I do kinda have an excuse for not going. The little one hasn't received all of his vaccinations or shots yet, so he can't be around a lot of people. He will have some of his shots on his next appointment.
And... I don't celebrate any holidays honestly. Always spent them alone. Only will celebrate them now for the little one now that he's here.
I'll have to talk to my SO about this...
It's difficult to explain to people because they usually tell me "BUT THEY'RE YOUR FAMILY!! THEY'RE BLOOD!" excuse---whether their family is good to them or not. But if you interchange "My mother hit me and says I'm useless so I don't want to see her" with "My friend/SO hit me and s/he says I'm useless so I don't want to see him/her", they'll agree with no contact with that friend/SO but not with doing so toward family...
I just don't want to be bothered by my parents anymore. I don't have any feelings or any sort of bond with them. If we talk, it's like we're strangers and my mother always has something negative to say.
I guess the real question is, how do I hold my ground despite what other people say(about being no contact with my parents)? I don't have any support in real life. I've always been on my own. Online, everyone has been so kind to me, understanding, and supportive
It's just more difficult with a kid involved. I won't stop him in the future(he's an infant) if he would like to see his grandparents on my side, but I don't want anything to do with my parents based on how they've always treated me(physical and mental abuse).
Elly The Autistic on November 21, 2019:
If you know how your family is and if you don't feel that it would be a positive experience I would say don't go.
Usually when someone asks a question they already know how they are feeling. Trust your instinct.
Bluu on November 19, 2019:
Wow, this article describes my mother to a T!
I need some advice though... Scroll to the button of comment.
Anyhow, for each point in the article that describes my mother:
1) She does not like my significant other because he's "too short", isn't her race/ethnicity nor religion, because he smokes, and that he's pre-diabetic so "don't have a kid with him".
Funny, she wants me to date within her race/ethnicity but I'm mixed race. She gives me grief for it too, because she hates my father. She used to smoke a lot in her younger years and she still drinks like a fish. Lastly, she has health problems too, I don't know what her beef is there. My siblings and I turnt out fine, no ma