5 Reasons Why Adult Children Estrange From Their Parents

Updated on February 13, 2018
Kim Bryan profile image

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 Estrange From 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 was 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 entirely 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:

5 Reasons People End Their Relationship With Their Parent

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 you have differing 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: It allows someone to justify their hurtful actions and words and blurs 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 justifying. 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 his/her 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.

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 way. 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 paying 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 is an utter and complete disrespect for your children's right to choose what is best for themselves.

A majority of boundary crossing is rooted in a 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 to 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 severely 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 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 their had been five or more of these cycles with mothers, where 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, a 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. On the other hand, if you're looking for ways to deal with your parents rather than disowning them, read 5 Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Parents.

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.

Questions & Answers

  • Aren't children to blame just as much as parents when the relationship is estranged?

    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.

  • 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.

    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?

  • I have two daughters that cannot forget the past and these are things that have happened over 10 years ago. What should I do?

    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?

© 2017 Kim Bryan


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    • profile image


      3 days ago

      Hi Sisyphus,

      Yes, I experience both flashbacks and emotional flashbacks, and you seem to be experiencing the latter. When it happens it can sometimes feel like you're going crazy, but you're not! Emotional flashbacks occur as a result of long-term abuse and trauma, and you are now experiencing the fallout. The good news is that it gets better over time, and you'll find that things like flashbacks and nightmares happen less and less.

      My commonest flashback is hearing my mother calling to me from another room in my house. She's angry and ordering me to go into the kitchen, and I know she wants me to go into the kitchen so that she can hurt me. When this happens it's incredibly disturbing and so much more than a simple memory. I can clearly hear my mother's voice, feel her presence and this overwhelming sense of fear and dread. It's like being stuck in a nightmare, but the difference is that I'm awake.

      In regards to emotional flashbacks, this is part of Complex-PTSD, a form of PTSD that's often left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression). When you experience emotional flashbacks, you start to feel what you felt as a helpless child stuck in an abusive situation that you couldn't escape and had no control over. There's often a trigger for these emotional flashbacks, but not always, and these feelings can be so strong and overpowering that it really can hit you for six.

      Pete Walker has provided information on how to manage flashbacks (links to flashback management are on the left). I've found it really useful: http://www.pete-walker.com/index.htm

      I'm not normally big on YouTube videos about abuse, but I do follow 'Narcissism Survivor'. Tom or 'Narcissism Survivor' is a gentleman in the US who survived horrendous abuse, including sexual abuse. His videos are calming and informative, and he sometimes talks about flashbacks and C-PTSD: https://www.youtube.com/user/NarcissimSurvivor/vid...

    • profile image


      3 days ago

      Hey Estrangement Fam,

      Do any of you guys get flashbacks? If so, would you share what they feel like?

      I've been doing really well lately, like really well- and then...

      I had an experience a couple days ago where a colleague's behavior was similar to my father's -particularly from the "blow out" moment. At first I just felt frustrated with the obnoxious behavior, but the anxiety and other feelings didn't dissipate, but got stronger until it was unmanageable. I felt like I was being strangled. Like the floor fell out under me and the walls caved in and all the shame and pain flooded in. I got under the covers and wept and passed out. Couldn't do my usual activities.

      Spent a day just trying to feel normal.

      Still feel sick- nauseous- and emotionally empty. Like nothing is real other than the little girl back in that house who's Always afraid.

      Any ideas? Suggestions?

      Thanks- and good luck.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      4 days ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Darla....I'm not sure I can understand what on earth is stopping you from contacting your son. Do you know where he lives? Have any contact info for reaching him?

      My sincerest advice is to go for it Mom.....now, today, this minute. This is your child, your flesh & blood. Don't be anxious. Act with the love of a mother and just do it. Peace, Paula

    • profile image


      4 days ago

      I have not talked to my son since 2012 and he is 23 now. I am very heartbroken. I guess he favored his father because he had more to offer him when he was younger. After he moved in with him I really didn't see him too much. We argued in the past and now he doesn't want to talk to me anymore. I would be totally willing to apologize but I don't know if I'll ever see him again. I know he has his own life, but just a phone call would be nice. I was thinking about writing him a letter as a last resort. I just wish that I could have some kind of communication with him. Any sugestions?

    • profile image


      4 days ago

      Wow, so much truth in a lot of these comments. My relationship with my father has been strained for about the past thirty years. There was only one way to do things: HIS. My mother was an enabler who would call and make excuses for his behavior which further continued the cycle of abuse. She passed away a couple of years ago and there has been no one to make excuses for his behavior, now. I want a relationship with my father more than anything, but the problem is that it could never be healthy because he is not self-aware. Every time he says he wants to make amends he never follows through. My attempts to schedule things to do with him over the past thirty years have been agreed to at first, but have later been explained away by saying 'I've been busy', or 'I forgot'. You can only have your hand slapped away so many times before you get tired of the pain. Sorry if this post is a bit rambling.

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      6 days ago

      Sarah, I’d suggest you look unflinchingly within. People don’t run from relationships that bring them joy. Also, your comments about your son and his wife smack more of jealousy than estrangement. Don’t get mired in seeking explanations from your children about where your relationship went off the rails. I suggest dedicating yourself to being very deliberately cheerful, gracious, uncritical—and offering opinions only when solicited—to see if that improves relations over the next year or so. In the meantime, seek new friendships and activities to occupy your time, and don’t try to get all your social/emotional needs met by your children.

    • profile image


      7 days ago

      Okay. But my children experienced nothing but support, love and encouragement from me. Everything was great until they met their spouses. The male spouse in the example of my daughter was 10 years older, he resented the closeness my daughter and I had and set about to ridicule her and demean me in her eyes. She was 23 when they met and he was 33.

      My son married into an incredibly close family and his wife insisted on living within 5 minutes of her parents. They interact constantly, vacation 3 or 4 times a year together and his wife is TOTALLY dependent on her mother & father.

      How did I eff up so much that I am excluded from my children's lives based on the partners they chose? I am so confused by this. And very, very sad.

      Seems I am excluded on both ends.

    • profile image


      8 days ago


      Why don't you stay out of your son's marriage. He chose that woman for himself, not for you, so you have no business clashing with her.

      When you make comments, they don't just have to look good in your eyes, they have to be OK with your audience, you have to consider how the listeners will feel after hearing your comments. If you think that your eyes are the only eyes that matter, there's your answer why you haven't spoken in years. If you accept that you need to be considerate, then you will "really know why" the apology was necessary. And then you'll be able to make an apology that sounds sincere. When you call your son's reaction ridiculous, you're saying that your opinion trumps his opinion, and he has to see things your way. Well the truth is, he doesn't. Your power over him may have been strong when he was a child, but now he doesn't have to accept this sort of putdowns from you.

      Abusive parents typically describe their conflicts with children in a very generic manner, providing only high level information, generalizing "it was not that bad", "we clashed" , "it was just one comment". Children of abusive parents, on the other hand, provide vivid details what exactly was said and done, and recall conversations word for word. Hmm I wonder who's covering up for themselves.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      9 days ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      WOW!! Life w/o Annette.....You quite clearly saw within Perry's pathetic comment, his literal complacency & failure to man-up. Talk about being a one-sided, self-indulgent & "clueless" parent! His own words prove how completely inconsiderate he's been!

      He admits that a comment he made which "offended his son" "WAS NOT THAT BAD IN MY EYES!!!" He needn't say much more to confirm that IN HIS MIND, everything is all about HIM.

      He then has the nerve to admit he watched the issue fester & grow contentious over the years, resulting in 10 years of an estrangement from his flesh & blood.

      Kudos to his son for being a dedicated husband and standing up for his wife, against an inconsiderate, unconcerned narcissist father. Perry doesn't explain the offensive comment because he knows damned-well we would see it as fully unacceptable. We can only imagine how weak & insincere his apology must have been for his son and DIL to have rejected it.

      Perhaps Perry has more than one son and couldn't care less about losing one to the benefit of his wretched ego. Too bad, so sad for Perry.

      You got it right, Annette!

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      10 days ago

      Oh, perrya, thanks for boiling down parental hostility against adult children with such black-and-white clarity. You clashed, “in cordial ways,” and then you made a comment which “was taken the totally wrong way and offended my son, which simply festured [sic] so much it became a contentious issue over years. [W]e have not spoke[n] in over 10 years now!“

      Perry, you demonstrate a total lack of self awareness. You have thrown away ten years with your son, your daughter-in-law, and any grandchildren they have produced. Your behavior is pathetic.

      As a middle-aged woman whose has been estranged from my narcissistic, abusive, emotional vampire of a mother for nearly 20 years, I have made my peace with the reality that she is now an octogenarian in declining health, and I will leave her to fend for herself in her remaining years. If you don’t clue into what a miserable turd of a parent you have been, you too will find yourself old, alone, without a loved one to act on your behalf as you navigate geriatric care, nursing homes, and the eventuality of dying...not to mention the joy and love you will have robbed yourself of when you realize that you poisoned the well of love that you may have had with your progeny.

      Now go take pleasure in your certainty about how ridiculous your son and daughter-in-law are. You’re right. They’re wrong. Comfort yourself with your moral certainty as you slide into your cold, lonely, twilight years...unloved, unrevered, unmissed.


    • perrya profile image


      10 days ago

      well in my case, my younger son got married to a woman who I clashed with in cordial ways, but a comment of mine, which was not bad in my eyes, was taken the totally wrong way and offended my son, which simply festured so much it became a contentious issue over years. we have not spoke in over 10 years now! Totally ridiculous IMO and even after I apologized (not really knowing why) nothing has changed.

    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      Many of you will be able to identify with this article - "We Can't Keep Treating Anxiety From Complex Trauma the Same Way We Treat Generalized Anxiety."

      "A traumatized person must be living in a situation which is 100 percent safe before they can even begin to process the tsunami of anger, grief and despair that has been locked inside of them, causing their hypervigilance and other anxious symptoms. That usually means no one who abused them or enabled abuse in the past can be allowed to take up space in their life. It also means eliminating any other people who mirror the same abusive or enabling patterns."


    • profile image


      2 weeks ago


      Your son is not blind. He sees the situation differently than you, that's not the same as blind. If there is going to be any hope of reconciliation, there will have to be genuine attempts to understand the other side and a perspective you may not like or approve of. You don't have to agree with his version of events, but you have to try and understand where his views and feelings came from. Declaring him blind is not going to encourage contact or improve relationships. Genuine attempt to understand might help.

      Why did you support him financially? Was there an expectation of future compliance with your wishes, in exchange for money? If so, was he aware of this expectation? Or did you sign him up for a loan with "Terms and conditions" that he wouldn't have agreed to, if you had made him aware of them? Sometimes people provide for their adult children with unspoken expectations, and I think it's unfair. Even a loan shark makes it very clear exactly what you will owe, BEFORE you take the money. Letting your son know what you expect in exchange for financial support, after he had already spent the money, is not cool. It's manipulative and underhanded. I don't know if that's what you did, but wanted to mention this possibility.

      Why do you say your financial support meant nothing to him? Maybe it did. Maybe it meant a lot. You jump to extreme conclusions because he's not behaving the way you want. Maybe he resents the fact that he's expected to do things that he was not aware he was signing up for, when he took your money.

      You sound like a well meaning person who is just lost as to how to proceed, unaware what's healthy. I can relate to that, because I can recall numerous occasions when I did or said things that were embarrassing, unreasonable, or plain rude, and looking back I'm regretful of that behavior. However, I was unaware what a "normal" person would do, I was simply mimicking the behaviors I've learned growing up in a toxic family. I had no idea how to handle conflict, or discuss boundaries. It took years and years to learn the difference between my impulse reactions versus what a "healthier" person would say or do in similar circumstances. I think there's hope :) You have to learn alternatives to the unhealthy way of relating. It takes time, but it can be done. Having the will to do it, is a major hurdle, and you're well on your way.

      Just one final comment, the most troubling part of your comment, to me, is that BOTH parents are no contact. I hope you guys did not gang up on him. How did he have a falling out with both of you at once? If he's not getting along with one of the parents, he should still be able to have a relationship with the other parent. If someone is taking sides to try to force a resolution, that is unhealthy in my opinion, and a sign of a dysfunctional family.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      2 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kim & all....It's amazing this article is still active and comments continue to stream in. It appears the most important lesson this brings is that the existence of this particular issue (family estrangement) is most definitely a rampant one.

      Many of the disclosures I have read within this thread, have literally both broken my heart and blown my mind. I find some of the saddest situations so difficult to read. For me this has been one of those experiences that make me wish in the fantasy of having a magic wand. I so sincerely wish there was some magical one-size-fits-all solution to eradicate this family destruction.

      However, what I have also been able to glean in part, is that the vast majority of individuals who have gone through this and continue to grapple with this monster, seem to have come to terms with the worst of it. At least, I would hope so.

      The second paragraph of "Andy's" comment (below) is profound and powerful. I hope it has had a beneficial affect on many of you, as you stop and truly focus on his words.

      With a brand new year around the corner, I want to wish everyone comfort, peace of mind and better tomorrows. Hold firm to your convictions and know that all things become ultimately what they must......Have a wonderful holiday season, Paula

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 weeks ago

      To Mila Lewis:

      You said, "I do not know what to do because my son is blind to what is happening. He does not want to talk to neither me or my husband." This is a troubling statement. You call his behavior 'blind' and when I hear that it makes me feel you are invalidating his feelings. Is he 'blind', or in his mind does he have a reason for not wanting to talk to you?

      "I am so sad because he is spending his youth years hating me and my husband. We supported him financially all those 3.5 years when he did not have a job but apparently this does not mean anything for him." This is seriously troubling for me. You are assuming you know what your son is thinking! And then you add the we gave Him *insert* and are attempting a 'guilt trip' by assuming it didn't mean anything to him and that he hates you. How do you KNOW what your son is feeling and thinking?

      My 'mom' was a master always telling me what I was thinking and feeling and she stunk at it. It's one of the bigger reasons I went No Contact.

      You may very well be being scaegoated in your family but it sounds to me you are attempting to do the same to your son.

    • profile image

      Mila Lewis 

      3 weeks ago


      I think my sister is narcissist since she was the golden child in my original family. I assume she is a narcissist from her behavior, like she wants everybody to listen to her and do whatever she says, she also make her kids believes that she is always right. That is what her daughter told me years ago that her mother is always right and she does everything her mother tells her. Now her daughter has her own family and 2 kids. My son fall in the trap of his ant because she needs somebody to take care of my old father. It is very complicated. I do not know what to do because my son is blind to what is happening. He does not want to talk to neither me or my husband. The good things is now he is separated from my sister because he went to work in a different country than my sister. However my son is going to spend Christmas with his grand mother and most likely will see my sister. I am so sad because he is spending his youth years hating me and my husband. We supported him financially all those 3.5 years when he did not have a job but apparently this does not mean anything for him. Yes, I am scapegoating even further from my sister. In the past I was scapegoated by my father and now is her. I do finally realized that when I find out about narcissism and red everything about that on google. I do not know what to do further. I am very strong now.

      Will keep reading articles of abusive relationship and keep trying to figure out how to solve my problems.

      Thank you for your support. It means so much to me.

    • profile image


      4 weeks ago

      Hi Mila,

      Like Elly, it's hard to understand what's going on in your family, all I can tell you is what I wish my family would do for me:

      listen to what they've done to hurt me, acknowledge it, and do the work to be better.

      if your son isn't talking to you, there's a reason. Ask, and be prepared to difficult listening, and to make changes.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      4 weeks ago

      To Mila Lewis:

      It sounds like there is a lot going on in your family. Without much more detailed information I would only be making guesses.

      It could be you are being further scapegoated...

      It could also be something else.

      All I can suggest is to look inward and see if there was a time your son tried to communicate with you either verbally or in a message, e-mail etc. and tried to express any feelings/issues he was having with you. If there is nothing like that (and you have to be really HONEST with yourself) then it could be text-book Narc alienation in which case? Unless He 'sees the light' there is nothing You can say or do that is likely to change the situation.

    • profile image

      Mila Lewis 

      4 weeks ago

      Hi everybody,

      I am estranged from my son for 5 years. He does not want to talk or see me. It is sad. I grew up in narcissist family and I was a scapegoat. My father recently pass away. And 10 years ago my sister who was the golden child stole from my family( me and my husband) and I disconnected with her. About that time my relationship with my son deteriorated. My parents were in my sister side and they do not wanted to talk about that she stole from me but wanted me to reconcile with her. My father was narcissist and twisted things the way he wanted. I did not realized that he was narcissist until 3 weeks ago. But my whole life I knew he was not correct when it comes to me for certain things but he did so much for people outside of the family and some people liked him. When I was small I was physically and emotionally abused and I still remember that very vividly. There is so much going on. Like my son talk to my sister and they have good relationship. I do not know what to do to have him talking to me. He is very quiet and introvert and does not have many friends. I apologized to him many times but nothings helps. If you have any idea what to do please write to me. I love him very dearly.

      thank you!

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      Right on, Andy.

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      It's eye-opening to watch these estranged parents rage about having to take any blame. I spent years trying to make my parents happy, trying to change, trying to make the relationship work. And yet I am certain they 100% blame me for the estrangement. I have never been interested in who was to 'blame'. I just eventually realized that I couldn't fix it.

      If walking away from my family, my 'support structure', brings me peace and relief... that support structure was broken in the first place. Your family should not exist to cause you pain and drag you down, especially if they are all healthy and capable adults.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      5 weeks ago

      To Sisyphus:

      You said, "I'm struggling with cutting the last ties. On the one hand, I want to make a difintive statement, that this is what they did, so this is why they will not be in my life. On the other hand, I don't believe that they have any ability to hear me or to take responsibility. It doesn't matter what I say, it's just for my own closure. In which case, it feels spiteful to make this statement that will hurt them but change nothing.

      I want to stop thinking about it and move on, but I feel like I need them to understand, I need to be heard. But to what end?"

      I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on that. I went from very low contact to No Contact very abruptly after I married. I used the excuse of being 'busy' for a while and finally simply blocked or changed their access points to me. Messages did get through with the usual 'why' being asked and my husband and I decided that a simple reply was all that was required.

      He had tried the talk and explain approach when He went No Contact with his family. It didn't work. There is no explaining. The reason is, if your parents and other 'family' have never been validating of you, any explanation is going to be viewed from their warped perspective of You. So you could give 1 or 100 'reasons' and to them it will be 'meaningless gibberish' or viewed as 'abuse'.

      I simply sent an e-mail that said, "I could give you 100 or 1000 reasons I want no further contact with you. The fact that you can't think of even ONE is on my list."

      I have learned that estranged parents/abusers will NOT 'hear' Us. It is their mentality and thought process. Period. They are 'right and justified and We are 'wrong' -- ALWAYS.

      I hope this helps.

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      Hey Kim and ElizabethCa and everybody,

      Holidays are really hard. People always ask if you're going home, and then want to know why not, and keep pushing... and you don't want to talk about it, so you tell a little lie, and that hurts too. There's so little awareness about estrangement, so people can be accidentally really insensitive.

      I'm doing OK, I got through a big "estrangement moment" this month- there was a wedding in my family, and I didn't go, to protect myself from my father and to protect the rest of my family from the conflict. It was hard that no one made it a priority to include me. It was sad, but in the end wasn't so hard.

      I'm hopefully getting some closure. Getting a few important things sent from "home" and then their power over me will be almost completely gone.

      I'm struggling with cutting the last ties. On the one hand, I want to make a difintive statement, that this is what they did, so this is why they will not be in my life. On the other hand, I don't believe that they have any ability to hear me or to take responsibility. It doesn't matter what I say, it's just for my own closure. In which case, it feels spiteful to make this statement that will hurt them but change nothing.

      I want to stop thinking about it and move on, but I feel like I need them to understand, I need to be heard. But to what end?

      Do you have experience/advice?


    • profile image


      7 weeks ago

      May be down but I'm still reading and watching. The holidays are always hard because everyone tends to talk about family this and that.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      7 weeks ago

      Hi Sisyphus, it's still up and available. Comments are fewer and far between because the "disruption" we had a few months ago.

      That said, how've you been? I hope all is well for you these days. :)

    • profile image


      7 weeks ago

      Hi Kim- Is this comment thread down? I'd be sad to lose this place.

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Life without Annette,

      I didn't count any bones. I disagreed with every single point you made but one.

      I read a story, and I see a selfish and irresponsible mother, now grandmother, who acts entitled to a relationship with her kids/grandkids. You read the same story, and you see excuses for mother"s behavior, and you have lots of blame/corrections for the now adult daughter.

      I don't see what you see, call it bones or whatever you wish.

      In all your numbered responses, you emphasize how the Daughter could have acted more responsibly, more maturely, and more wisely. You fail to see how the Mother could have been more responsible, more wise, and more mature.

      Would you agree that wisdom is a function of life experiences/lessons that comes with age?

      Why do you expect the daughter to be more mature than the mother?

      You are placing responsibility on someone who has 20 years less of life experience, not to mention abandonment issues. Yeah, she called her mom during a marital argument, and people with healthy boundaries don't do that. A mother, as the wiser one, could have pointed that out, instead of saying "oh, come over and stay the night at my house". A daughter who did not receive proper parental guidance during her formative years, will look to her mother for guidance later in life, given the mother is available. It is not uncommon. It takes time to understand that you have to "raise yourself" if your parents were absent, physically or emotionally. You expect someone to magically wake up one day and be fully mature because they are now biologically 18. Don't forget that most people mature by 18 because they have 18 years of more or less decent parenting. People who don't receive parenting, don't mature by the same biological age.

      Funny how you see accepting a gift with strings attached as an attempt to control. But you don't see that offering a gift with strings attached is controlling. Yes, I agree, don't accept the gift if you don't like the terms. But how old were each of them at the time that "transaction" happened? And which one of them, you think, had a clearer understanding of what exactly was going on? A 20 year old that didn't have a mother (and guidance) growing up, or a 40 year old who walked out on her child and is now back and wants the wedding "mother's way"?

      I agree, grandparents don't owe babysitting services. But PARENTS do owe parenting services. This particular mother shirked her parenting responsibility. I encourage you to go back to your own post from 6 weeks ago, addressed to Leigh. See how your example about a beating alcoholic husband who suddenly "transforms", applies in this case as well? Do you not see that a mother walking out on her own daughter causes deep wound and a lot of pain for the daughter? Daughter is not going to "get over it" in one day. And there's effort required from the mother. If the mother doesn't wish to make up for abandonment, well she is not entitled to visitations with her grandkids, or with her daughter. Maybe it's traumatic for the daughter to see her shirker of a mother every time. Maybe the daughter has some other reasons for estrangement. In any case, it is not an "overreaction".

      You make the argument that a flawed mother is entitled to now be a flawed grandmother, and the daughter should know better than to expect a transformation. I say, kick her to the curb -- if transformation is not on the horizon. Why keep people in your life who cause you nothing but pain, and act entitled to a relationship with you? THAT'S indentured servitude.

      Yes, I agree, "Good parenting means preparing children for self-sufficiency and independence". And this particular mother failed, because she Walked Out on her child. Child has pain and issues to deal with as a result. This mother doesn't get to be absent or nearly absent for 18 years, and at 18 suddenly show up, and say "here I am, where's my grown up daughter, let's have an adult equal relationship now". Neglected and abused children are delayed in their emotional and social development. And if mom wants an equal adult relationship, mom needs to grow up herself, and own her mess.

      What you are suggesting with your indentured servitude comment, is equivalent of a cheating spouse who got caught, said "Sorry", and now expects everything to be back to normal overnight, because the word Sorry has been uttered. No. If you do deep damage, it takes more than words to fix the damage. And no, mother doesn't have to do endless favors and forever, but she does have to try really hard, by going above and beyond what average grandparents would do. I think it's reasonable. It doesn't have to be babysitting. It could be other things that grandparents "don't have to do", but she wants to do.

      I think if she felt genuine remorse for abandoning her daughter in childhood, she would WANT to do those things, to right a wrong. And if she doesn't want to... nobody can make her. But, nobody owes her a relationship, so she can't cry crocodile tears if her daughter chooses estrangement now.

      Legally, NO adult owes another adult a relationship. A PARENT owes a child for 18 years, legally. Stop shaming children of deadbeats into "salvaging" relationships that didn't form in the first place.

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      2 months ago

      NarcFree, you had many bones to pick. I respond below:

      1. “@Hillcity took money from mom for wedding? No. Mom used money to exert control, and throw a wedding for the mother, instead of it being for the newlyweds. That's what controlling people do with gifts - there are strings attached.”

      You’re playing semantics. If someone is offering money with strings attached, and you don’t like the strings, don’t take the money. You can’t control other people. You can and should turn down offers that come with unacceptable terms.

      2. “A mom inviting her daughter to ‘come stay with mom’ after said daughter had a fight with a spouse... Bad call.”

      Calling mom when having a fight with one’s husband is rarely a good idea. It makes the mother privy to matters that should remain between husband and wife, and it becomes a trap where the mother may be blamed for meddling just as likely as blamed for not being sympathetic enough.

      3. “Calling a deaf person deaf is not disparagement...”

      Describing someone with a series of three consecutive adjectives, “...my step dad (who is an almost deaf, racist, drunk)...”, would indicate that “almost deaf” is part of the criticism which is immediately followed by “racist” and “drunk.” If my interpretation of “almost deaf” as a criticism is mistaken, then great, it’s a non-issue.

      4. [hillcity’s mom] “could show that she had matured and is able to handle twins for 3 days.”

      Grandparents do not owe babysitting service for their grandchildren. It’s lovely if they want to, but many older people get very stressed trying to keep up with little ones. Besides, what miracle would have transformed hillcity’s mom from a very flawed mother into a responsible and competent caregiver as a grandmother?

      5. “...in this particular case, mom has some catching up to do, and making up. Seeing how she shirked her responsibilities when the child was still a child.”

      Good parenting means preparing children for self-sufficiency and independence. Parents are not responsible for fixing their adult children’s problems. It’s nice if parents can help, but what would hillcity do if her mom was dead? We all need to stand on our own eventually.

      Hillcity will or won’t opt for estrangement, regardless of what any outsiders say. But hillcity chose to comment here, so it’s a safe bet that she is seeking affirmation, support, or insight. Estrangement is a painful journey; I previously compared it to severing a gangrenous limb...it’s a last resort. Hillcity describes a relationship with a mother who has some real issues, but there are steps hillcity can take that would minimize her mother’s controlling behavior, while still salvaging the relationship. If estrangement is the inevitable destination, then looking for money, babysitting services, or even just mom’s sympathetic ear...all come to a grinding halt anyway. You seem to think that the mom owes various forms of support to make up for the past, to pay off the debt of bad parenting for the rest of her life. That’s not parenthood, that’s not even love...it’s indentured servitude.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Life without Annette,

      @Hillcity took money from mom for wedding? No. Mom used money to exert control, and throw a wedding for the mother, instead of it being for the newlyweds. That's what controlling people do with gifts - there are strings attached.

      A mom inviting her daughter to "come stay with mom" after said daughter had a fight with a spouse... Bad call. Bad suggestion. Inviting and exacerbating problems into daughter's marriage.

      Calling a deaf person deaf is not disparagement, it is a relevant fact in this case, because he may or may not have heard correctly what was said by a child.

      A grandma who just wants to visit her grandkids and then go home, considering she wasn't even a primary caregiver for her own child, well... she did not bond with her own daughter, and is just as disinterested now in bonding with her grandkids. A mother who did not want to be her child's primary caregiver, could show that she had matured and is able to handle twins for 3 days. And could show remorse for not being a good mother, by becoming an excellent grandma. This was her chance to redeem herself.

      You think @hillcity seems to want a lot from her mom? Well welcome to parenting. Children need a lot, I hope it's not breaking news. While I understand that, by adulthood, most people don't "want" that much from their moms, in this particular case, mom has some catching up to do, and making up. Seeing how she shirked her responsibilities when the child was still a child.

      The only point I agree on, is leaving kids for an unsupervised visit with a drunk racist in the house.

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      3 months ago


      You took money from your mom for your wedding. She took you in to live with her when you were in financial distress. You shared your marital problems with her, and blame her when she didn’t give you the advice you wanted to hear. And you fault her for not being able to manage an extended visit with your 4-year-olds. Your mom wasn’t even the primary caregiver to YOU, but you thought she could handle twin preschoolers?

      I can’t judge your personal pain, but the examples you’ve given of your mother’s behavior make estrangement seem like an overreaction.

      You have a lot of control you can assert before estrangement. Don’t take money (or other significant material support) from your mom ever again. Don’t share your marital problems with her; you already know you need to work those problems out with your husband, so leave her out of it. Don’t put her in a position of having to be a caregiver to your children; she may be one of those grandmas who likes to visit her grandkids, and then go home.

      Also, when you needlessly disparage your stepdad for being nearly deaf, you look petty and unreasonably critical, but what really calls your own judgment into question is when you are willing to leave your kids for a prolonged, unsupervised visit with your mom and her alcoholic, racist husband.

      You seem to want a lot from your mom, and invite her help, then get critical when she doesn’t respond the way you want. Am I missing something?

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      This is how you know who the abuser is, and who the abused are. The abuser does not wish to "relive the past" and demands that the other party "stop living in the past".

      The victims have wounds that need healing, and the abusers won't provide any kind of validation or acknowledgement, because they are not prepared to say Sorry, OR change. They just prefer that all be forgotten.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I started reading this article to confirm that I’m not going crazy. The five reason listed above seem to fit almost everything that’s happened in the last three to six years for me to realize that I cannot continue to have this relationship with my mother.

      A little history: my parents had me at 18, married for 8 years. I don’t remember any of it. Mom had an affair with now step dad, got pregnant by now step dad and she moved away to live with my grandparents, then step dad (4 hours from me). I cannot remember any of this.

      We did the usual divorced parents dance . Swapping us every other weekend. Living with my mom only in the summer and she got every holiday. I lived with my grandmother otherwise.

      This all seemed normal. I thought it was wonderful that my mom would make a ball game of mine once a week during basketball season. She made it to special events and was always available by phone.

      In high school she started to display some controlling tendencies. Demanding that I break up with boyfriends she didn’t like and threatening to drive up there with me to her house if I didn’t comply. I can totally understand this behavior if they weren’t quality guys.

      The first instance of her throwing a fit when I went against her wishes was in my choice of college and changes from my original choice to a new school further from her and starting a program that she didn’t approve of.

      We remained close through my college years and I met my husband when I was 21. She loved him initially. She is very saddened by culture and through the course of planning a wedding, we began to butt heads on things I thought were stupid traditions vs. the things that my husband and I valued for our wedding. I called off the wedding two months before the date due to fears of repeating my parents mistakes, but ultimately came back around to marrying. It was a little short notice, but I was willing to be flexible on some things to make the wedding happen. But because of the southern tradition, she was unwilling to compromise and told us when and where to have the ceremony or she would not be paying for it. In hindsight I know I should’ve chosen to pay for what we could and have a very simple ceremony because that would’ve been more reflective of me and my husband anyway, but I caved. Silly things like wearing chacos during the ceremony because we are outdoorsy and love them, but she said it was “tacky”.

      Our first few years of marriage we spent every major holiday with my mom, leaving my in laws and my dad with left overs. When my husband and I would get in fights she would offer to have me come stay with her instead of listening and encouraging us as newlyweds to work it out.

      Then I got pregnant. And of course I told her first. Over that nine months a lot of stuff happened. My husband was let go from his job at church decided to become a firefighter. So he went to fire Academy for six weeks while I finished my physical therapy degree. None of this was planned though, and the financial strain ultimately made us file bankruptcy. I did my last clinical rotation while living at her house, and my husband was willing to look for a job in that area (my moms) when I was offered a job at the clinic. My heart was set on living where we currently live however and my mom became very angry the thought of us being closer to my husband’s family than her, mostly because of our kids getting to see my husbands family more. But ultimately we would be living an hour from where I grew up and she was the one that chose to move away from that area first place. As a soon to be mom I realized how much I would want her here and how she would be inaccessible because of choices she made when I was eight. There were definitely comments about how she would be the first person to get to see the boys and get to be in the delivery room. And it just didn’t feel right I still made everyone else wait until she got there to see the boys.

      She invited herself to our house for their first Christmas.

      When I told her that next year we will be staying home by ourselves for Christmas her response was, “ Christmas is my holiday.”

      But the nail in the coffin this relationship happened 1.5 years ago. I let the boys go stay the weekend at her lake house, they were supposed to stay for three nights, but I got a call after 1 night saying “ The boys are going to be ready to come home we had some discipline issues.” My kids were 4 at the time

      And one had told my step dad (who is an almost deaf, racist, drunk) that they didn’t have to listen to him and that I had told them that.

      I do two things when I send my kids with family member or friend. I ask them who is in charge... and can they be disciplined by them.

      Respect was demanded by my stepdad and mom all the time growing up and I obliged even though it was undeserved at times. I Was in church four times a week and devoting myself to basketball at all other times. Never got in trouble. My only curfew was to “be home at a reasonable hour“. I was by every definition a good kid. There is no way I would ever teach my child to be disrespectful to another person in that way.

      And 4 year olds lie. You Don’t have to teach them to, they just do.

      But my mom believed him or believe my stepdad when that happened.

      It broke me. She didn’t try to call to see what was said, or even to tell me when it happened, instead she just called the next day and sent them away.

      Our relationship has been turmoil every since. She even told me that we’ve always treated her like the third rate grandparent.

      It tried counseling with her, she didn’t want to “relive the past” and told me that I need to stop living in the past. She went to counseling with me once and said her rehearsed script she has said for years. She claimed she never left me. And when she didn’t like what I had to talk about she shut down and stopped talking to me for months at a time until she would randomly message me about a antique show we should go to.

      This whole thing has made me question my sanity. Ive tried to explain to her and reconcile to her in every way I know how, besides just giving her the shallow relationship that she wants without ever addressing issues from the past. I have two brothers and neither of them seem to have this issue with her, so it makes me feel like I’m the one that did something wrong.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      This is taken from a PDF (Respect Phoneline) detailing some, but not all, of what an abusive male partner is expected to do to prove that he's changing. Compare this to what society often expects an abusive parent.

      - He acknowledges and accepts responsibility for what he's done, fully acknowledges that he used abuse to control you and that it was wrong.

      - He doesn't blame you, other people, his stress, his job, or any other outside circumstances for his behaviour.

      - He no longer denies his behaviour, makes light of it, or makes excuses for it.

      - He admits lies, he admits what he's done and is no longer making up stories to make himself look better.

      - He understands that recovery from abusiveness takes a long time and he'll have to work at it for a long, long time.

      - He understand the effects of his behaviour.

      - He understands what his behaviour has cost you.

      - He is sorry for what he's done, and is working hard to overcome the damage he's done and is actively making up for it by giving you back what is rightfully yours - money, rights, freedoms, choices, etc.

      - He understands that it will take his victims a long time to recover from what he's done to them.

      - He respects you. He is proving to you that he understands that you're a human being with rights and is no longer trying to take them away from you - no more double standards.

      - He understands that you're an equal human being, and he's not superior to you.

      - He respects your opinions, even the ones he disagrees with.

      - He accepts your right to be angry with him for what he's done.

      - He respects your right to independence and your right to freedom.

      - He changes his behaviour. He does not pressure you, intimidate or threaten you. You can speak and act freely without him retaliating. If he tries to control you, you can point it out to him and he'll stop.

      - He's stopped drinking.

      - He takes responsibility for what he does and how it affects you and the children He no longer treats you like a servant.


      - He continues to be violent in any way. Threats that he will take the children away or get custody of them himself, or threats to kill himself.

      - He badmouths you to the children / others.

      - He says "I can't change unless you do". This means that he's trying to get you to agree to give up your rights and freedoms in exchange for him not abusing you.

      - He tries to get sympathy from you, family members, and friends.

      - He is still lying to you, the children, your family or other people about what he's done. He won't acknowledge that it was wrong.

      - He doesn't seem sorry that he did it, he only seems sorry that he has suffered some consequences for it.

      - He refuses to let the subject of his abuse come up or gets angry when it does.

      - He still tries to deny it, minimize it, excuse it, or justify it.

      - He plays victim. He says "How could you do this to me.?". He still whines and blames you for all the problems.

      - He tries to buy you back with romantic gifts, dinners, flowers.


      - He does get help and then tries to convince you that he's cured and you need to take him back now. He might suddenly claim to have found God.

      - He cries and begs, particularly in a public situation so that you are embarrassed and appear to be "cold hearted''.

      - He does things to try to sabotage your efforts to make it on your own.

      - He harasses or stalks you. If you ask him for space or time, he refuses to allow you to have any and continues to make contact in any way he can. Harassment by phone calls, threats, legal frustrations, showing up at work, hanging around family.

      - He still demands constant attention, won't allow you to take care of your own needs.

      - He still picks at you and criticizes you.

      - He still refuses to acknowledge that you have rights.

      - He doesn't recognize the damage he's done. He gets angry with you over the consequences you've suffered over his abuse.

      - He's mad or seems confused as to why you fear him, don't trust him, are hurt, and angry.

      - He tries to get out of the consequences by trying to convince you that something's wrong with you.

      - He's mad that you left, instead of recognizing your right to have done so. He still acts like you owe him.

      - He's impatient or critical with you for not forgiving him immediately, for not being satisfied with the changes he may have already made, especially if he hasn't made the changes you requested, or hasn't changed but claims he has. He's only concerned with how hard the situation is for him, and no one else.

      - He feels sorry for himself. He doesn't show appropriate concern for how you and the children feel about what he's done.

      - Abusive men often say I'm sorry then get mad if you don't immediately forget what they did, he thinks his sorry resolves the matter and it should be dropped and you should just move forward.

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      I think people who talk about guilt, are referring to themselves. They feel guilt, because their abusive parents' "sermons" are still deeply ingrained in adult child's world view. Parental brainwashing worked so well, that even after recognizing abuse, adult children still feel "not allowed" to stand up for themselves, still feel they have no right to "disobey" a parent, still feel they owe total submission.

      When, and if, these grown children accept an "alternative" viewpoint, that there is no such thing as sperm- or vagina-based slavery in a civilized society, they'll be rid of guilt.

      Grown ups from normal families maintain life long relationships with their parents because of a bond that was developed throughout childhood. And because they've built a relationship of mutual respect. Abusive parents don't bother to provide a positive bonding experience, instead they dominate and violate. Then, when it's time to reap what they sow (i.e estrangement) , all hell breaks loose, because parents are unprepared for such a U-turn in a child's attitude, and they will point fingers at, and blame, anybody but themselves. And they will make up future fake scenarios, like "your children will do this to you". It's like, why are you threatening me with something you have no control over? Even if my children end up doing that to me, it sure as hell won't be because You said so. When these parents lose control over your life, they'll try to fake control. Will never ever give up lol.

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      Your "mommy" sounds like a deeply disturbed individual with serious control issues. It's terrible and disgusting - what she did, but not surprising, because well, what kind of person marries and stays with a white supremacist? Only a chick with her own set of issues. Some of us get really "lucky" with the parent lottery, don't we. Shun them. You will not get any shun shaming from me! LoL.

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      I really relate to your point about abusers seeing boundaries as an attack.

      When I was still living at home, asking for privacy would lead to intense, sometimes violent, outbursts from my mother. I was never allowed a lock on my door, and asking her to knock was an affront.

      In a particularly bad instance, I wanted to be alone and close my door. She came and tried to force her way in- I was pushing against the door, begging to be left alone, and she was violently forcing her way in.

      Anytime I've set a boundary with her, she has used physical or psychological force to violate that boundary.

      Her behavior wasn't the direct cause of my family estrangement, that was my white supremacist NarcD rage outburst and threats.

      My father similarly was never able to respect my boundary that I didn't want to hear about his racist conspiracy theories. He'd keep forcing that cr@p on me, I'd disagree, and he'd lose his mind.

      The funny thing is, it was only when I finally had financial independence thad the option to walk away. I don't think it ever occured to them that there would be consequences for their actions.

      Also- writing about these instances of boundaries being violated- they are so reminiscent of sexual assault, which was a big part of my life as a younger woman. It seems to me that my mother trained me from childhood to know the response to expect if I say "No" is "How dare you! I have power over you and I'm going to do whatever I want with you, and I'll bring my wrath on you for setting a boundary"

      Some of the boundaries she refused to respect were things like touching my butt and breasts, even once forcing me to pose for nude photos.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 months ago

      To NarcFree:

      You said, “It is arrogant and presumptuous of you to tell me what I will feel when my parents die. Do you think that you know my emotions better than I know my emotions?“ is exactly what I was alluding to at the end of my last comment… There’s no excruciating pain going on in my life. How does a complete stranger know that there IS and whether or not my Husband and I WILL feel guilt when they (our ‘parents’) die?

      Husband and I HAD to laugh at your statement of, “Stop demanding respect because you had sex and got pregnant.“ As a scapegoat, I realize I didn’t even get that ‘right’.

      To Elizabeth:

      I think your point on boundaries was spot on. “Abusers see boundaries as an attack - the perspective I've seen from my mother is literally flipped. My having boundaries is an attack on her, and her goal is to make me stop that nonsense.”

      I think it goes further then that. Everything is an ‘attack’ on them. The distortion reaches every level of their thinking. I pulled this quote off of one of my fave sites, “Now we are violent ( because the day of the estrangement as my es was in my face, I reached up and slapped him before going in the house) and my oldest son will not allow my husband to see his grandson or attend grandparents day at his school. The baby shower for my next grandbaby is the weekend. Waiting for the call telling me not to attend and not sure if I even want to go. Now that is the issue. Mind you my ES at the time he did all this was 27. But that is all anyone focuses on…..You hit ES. Always what we “did” to him. Not one person in my family stood up for us…NOT ONE PERSON!!!!” These ‘loving parents’ were CLEARLY the ‘victim’ because no one took their ‘side’, even when, THEY were clearly in the WRONG. It’s INSANITY.

      One of the replies included, “As far as the slap goes, I think he deserved it. He was lying to your face! I remember my own mother slapping me in the face when I deserved it. I am so thankful I grew up in a time when parents were able to discipline their children and when you were considered a bad parent if you didn’t. My, how things have changed!” Again, these are parents claiming THEY are not abusive. HE DESERVED IT. What could THEY do to deserve to be hit? NOTHING. If WE ever hit them? That would be grounds for homicide. They can hit US with impunity – but not accepting it or fighting back is an ‘attack’ on THEM. It’s INSANITY.

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      My mother was verbally abusive, and over the years it continued to get worse. That said, she was still more than capable of controlling herself in front of other people when it was of benefit to her. If I picked up the phone she'd abuse me, if I didn't she'd leave abusive messages, and in the end, things had deteriorated to such an extent that when I spoke to my mother I was repeatedly told to "Shut up!" or "Just f**k off!". At the same time, if I wouldn't speak to my mother, refusing to put up with the abuse, I was told by my family that I was hurting and controlling my mother and "restricting what she was permitted to say".

      Boundaries don't work with abusers. They don't respect their victims so there's no way in hell they're going to respect their boundaries. As far as they're concerned, you're there to obey, meet their needs, take the abuse and keep your mouth shut. If you don't obey, drop everything and come running, or allow them to continue abusing you, you'll soon be accused of abusing, controlling or SHUNNING them. My mother is so far gone that she has a complete inability to see beyond her own wants and needs. When you won't obey or allow her to hurt you (including physically), this causes her to feel a frustration, loss of control, anger and rage that she perceives as being controlled and abused. Her wants and needs must ALWAYS come first, no matter the situation. A compromise or being told no is something she'll NEVER accept. When you're dealing with this kind of parent, no-contact is often the safest option.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Here's a thought I have come to:

      Boundaries do not and cannot work unless the option of terminating the relationship is on the table. The way boundaries are enforced is by saying, I will no be in your company if you mistreat me. But if the other person knows that you won't leave no matter what, they don't ultimately have any reason to change. Why should they, when no matter what you'll come back next time? Maybe next time they can wear you down.

      Normal people respect boundaries because they don't want to hurt you. Abusers see boundaries as an attack - the perspective I've seen from my mother is literally flipped. My having boundaries is an attack on her, and her goal is to make me stop that nonsense. I can walk away 10, 20, 30 times, but all it will do is make her be more underhanded in trying to get around my boundaries.

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      You sound like every abuser's dream enabler. You work hard to convince victims of abuse that accepting the abuse is the best option they've got. It's not.

      You call walking away a new form of family dysfunction. OK, I can see how one could look at it that way, but this form of dysfunction is the lesser of all evils available to me as a survivor. If you choose to stay and tolerate the abuse, that's up to you. It is not up to you to dictate what all other children of abusive parents should do in self defense. Some choose to go no contact, because that's what helps them heal.

      It is arrogant and presumptuous of you to tell me what I will feel when my parents die. Do you think that you know my emotions better than I know my emotions? You have not walked a mile in my shoes. I have nothing to feel guilty about. I actually had and still have legal basis to put my mother in prison. She should be grateful that all I did is walk away. If I were as spiteful as she is, I would be using the court system right now to make her live out the rest of her days in the big house.

      It is also arrogant and presumptuous of you to think that you know the future. How do you know what other people's children will do? Do you have any evidence, empirical data to back up your claim? You're using unsubstantiated "future threats", to again convince abuse survivors to go back to abuse and take some more of it. It is parental responsibility to protect a child. And if the harm comes from a grandparent, that responsibility is still there all the same. I would never allow a child within earshot of either of my parents.

      You want me to revive whatever relationship is possible? The only relationship possible with an entitled narcissistic parent is that of slavery. No thanks.

      You think shunning is cruel? It is self defense. This has been stated so many times by multiple survivors, but you insist on your own interpretation. You think no contact is lack of maturity? Show me an abusive parent who decides to mature and accept that their child does not equal their property. And I will show you a relationship worth salvaging because the parties have matured.

      And for the last time, respect is earned. Perhaps the maturity you preach could help you see that. Stop demanding respect because you had sex and got pregnant.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 months ago

      To Joy:

      To call you ‘terribly misinformed’ is kind, clearly you know something about abusive situations BUT – from my perspective it seems like you are in some weird, misguided denial.

      “Your children will follow your example, despite all efforts to the contrary.” Where is it written that IF you go No Contact with your parent(s) that the same thing WILL happen with You and your children? This is part true-ISH IF, even after going No Contact, you continue the cycle of abuse in your family. As I said, IF the cycle continues!

      My husband and I became parents later in life… and due to my age and other issues our children were born via surrogates. I was TERRIFIED that because I didn’t physically carry our children and have my husband share that experience with me, that we both might have ‘issues’ with bonding with our firstborn.

      My Husband and I were baffled at the ease with which WE bonded with Our Son and even more to each other by having him. So as parent’s, looking at Our true miracles (thank you science) We ‘understand’ Our ‘parents’ less then ever.

      BOTH of our ‘moms’ made parenthood seem like some ultimate ‘torture’ to THEM (all the while telling Us that we are ‘loved’ and were PLANNED pregnancies) – as a side-note – both my Husband and I agree that being told, “You should have been aborted,” would have made the cruelty of Our ‘childhoods’ far more ‘understandable’. We got told we WERE ‘wanted’ and then got treated any way BUT.

      “Do not be the gatekeeper of your children's relationship with their grandmother unless she is a danger to their life and limb. Show her honor and respect while setting your boundaries.” Really? It is ‘nice’ that you are okay with the notion that so long as the ‘grand-parent’ isn’t a PHYSICAL threat to the minor child that everything should be ‘OK’ right? Wrong. FULL STOP. WRONG. And pardon me for a moment, I am going to make this about ME… What about the effects to My (or my Husband’s) mental health being subjected to my/our Abuser(s)/’mom’s’ relentless negativity and hostility? You just took Us right back to, the only important feelings are those of the ‘poor estranged parent’, all other parties and their NEEDS are a secondary consideration.

      Here’s how My world is… We have a boy and twin girls and THEY are the center of our world. My husband and I put each others’ needs FIRST and the strength that gives Us allows us to make our children the center of our world. Happy parents produce happy children. We have our own life and priorities and trying to make our ‘mom’s’ HAPPY isn’t on the list at this point. I spent over 30+ YEARS trying to do that with no success, but Us having children is going to magically transform her/them into some new kind, compassionate, non-judgmental, positive thinking person? Besides, We (my Husband and I) have been adopted into a very loving and strong family. We gained brother’s, sister’s various in-laws, nieces and nephews, cousins and parental figures that have taken Us under their wings and made us feel like a part of a real family. Why would we deprive our kids of time with their real family (the one We have built) to subject them to people who really only want to use them as props to show the world what ‘wonderful’ parents and grand-parents they are?

      “There is nothing more cruel than shunning. May it never happen to you that your children shun you. In addition to the excrutiating pain there will be guilt without resolution once your parents die.” No Contact is not shunning – THAT has been well explained at this point. There’s no excruciating pain going on in my life (other then sleep deprivation), in fact, minus the chaos of 3 infants, I’m happier then I’ve ever been. As for the ‘guilt’ when my/our ‘parents’ die – What do We have to feel guilty about? That question I would like an answer to.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      3 months ago

      @Leah, I’m not seeing any previous comments from you. Please feel free to post again. :)

    • profile image

      Leah R 

      3 months ago

      Hi, I posted a comment yesterday, which I saw on the message board. Was notified that there are 2 new messages. I got back on to read and see that my message is no longer here. Or at least I don't see it. . DidI write something inappropriate? Thank you.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Joy.....You are so terribly misinformed and I intended to reply to your comment. I see Kim did a perfect job at this. Read, absorb, understand and believe what Kim has so eloquently explained to you. She is100% correct.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      3 months ago


      Thank you for contribution. While I understand what your intent is, I must disagree.

      Let me first say I am too a daughter and mother of dysfunction; that is, my parents were emotionally immature, my mother’s behaviors are symptomatic of Borderline Personality Disorder, and I was a carbon copy of my mother to my own children.

      Fortunately, something changed me. My personality flipped like a light switch. Suddenly I was able to see the truth of the family dysfunction. What I had seen could not be unseen.

      I saw that the dysfunction of my maternal family had been going on at least four generations. Each generation had gotten better at hiding the dysfunction but it still existed. How did this happen? Because each generation before me believed as you; that to remove themselves from the toxicity was unforgivable and would have adverse effects on their life.

      What I saw was people doing the same thing over and over and still miserable. So after making more than 40 years of effort to have a relationship with my parents, most especially my mother, I decided I had to try something different: I walked away.

      Is it the right choice? So far, I’d give you a resounding yes! Ten years from now? I honestly can’t say. Maybe my children will cut contact with me. I pray not but I certainly realize it’s possible; especially with the oldest two who really suffered at the hands of a emotionally and mentally broken mother. However, being aware of the consequences is part of what keeps my old self in check.

      You see, I understand my children owe me nothing. They don’t owe me their time. They don’t owe me their forgiveness. They don’t owe me anything at all. As their mother, however, I owe them love and respect.

      For example, you honed I’m on Grandma giving sweets. Understand these five things herein are SYMPTOMS, not the problem. The problem is Grandma doesn’t respect the parents wishes for the child not to have sugar. That is disrespect. Grandma raised her own as she saw fit, now she must pass the torch. If she won’t, she has disrespected her adult child. She can’t demand respect when she herself can not give it.

      Most of us here have forgiven our parents. We understand how they became who they are. Nonetheless, we must forgive from afar because they are dangerous to us; be it physically or mentally. Until they can accept the truth about themselves and do the work to correct it, it is what is best. It’s not shunning them, it’s protecting ourselves. And protecting our children from people we know to be toxic. You wouldn’t allow your child to visit the home of a classmate you believed to be toxic, why should it be any different because that place is Grandma’s?

      Let me restate this because I want it to be clear: We are not shunning our parents, we are protecting ourselves from being abused with fists, open hands, manipulation, cruel words, constant criticism, favoritism, theft of identity, and a host of things and actions that are too great to mention here. We are shielding ourselves and the children we brought into this dysfunction from the very toxicity that hurt us over and over.

      No, estrangement doesn’t happen because Grandma gave the grandkids sweets, it comes because for years Grandma has had no respect for her child and said child was only able to find his voice to say no when s/he became a parent themselves.

      So no, it isn’t the adult child’s place to overlook such utter disrespect because of “what if’s.” Why does the adult child suddenly have to be the more mature one because Grandma and Grandpa have one foot in the grave? How does being old prohibit one from self-reflection?

      And that comes back to my point: my children owe me nothing. Nothing. At. All. I owe them.

      Because I understood I owe them, I now work to earn their love and respect. I know first hand how it ends when you think you’re owed it because you gave life.

      As I said, so far it’s been amazing and beautiful. I can’t guarantee it’ll always be like this but I’m not willing to live on “what if’s.” I know what would be if I did it your way. At least this way I have genuine hope and faith.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Sadly, by cutting off your parents you are taking a different route to family dysfunction. Your children will follow your example, despite all efforts to the contrary. Seek to mature, to accept your parents and the past, to reframe it, to choose to do good, especially vis a vis them. Option A, a happy childhood for you does not exist. Option B, to make the best out of the hurtful childhood and to rescue and revive what relationship is possible will require maturity, mercy and forgiveness. It is the best investment because our own children learn most from our own example. As the daughter and mother of dysfunction I am speaking. Set boundaries but do not cut off. Keep communication lines open. There is nothing more cruel than shunning. May it never happen to you that your children shun you. In addition to the excrutiating pain there will be guilt without resolution once your parents die. Do it not for your own sake, but for the wisdom of the example you set before your children. So what if Grandma gives sweets. Really? In comparison to having a relationship with their grandmother? Do not be the gatekeeper of your children's relationship with their grandmother unless she is a danger to their life and limb. Show her honor and respect while setting your boundaries.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Hi Elly,

      Yes, I remember Mr. Bill and his 'reasonable' terms and conditions. You have to be very careful about what these parents mean by reasonable. Their 'reasonable' requests can include some seriously messed up and controlling BS.

      "It really sounds to me like Dawn (mom) took it upon herself to write the letter and the fall-out was predictable."

      I agree, which is why it doesn't make sense. I think this sometimes happens when the parent views the child as an extension of themselves and not an individual in their own right, but this point of view is based on my own personal experience. The parent makes a decision based on what they feel is best for them and then decides that's best for the child/adult child, even when it's not. These decisions and actions are based on feeling not fact, how the parent feels about the situation, not reality and what the child/adult child wants/needs or what's in their best interests.

      "No Contact = Abuse."

      Self-entitlement and an inability to see beyond themselves and their own wants - "I own you, you will obey me, I get to abuse you when I want, and only what I want matters. If you hurt my feelings by not giving me what I want or letting me do what I want, then you are abusing me."

      "Then, to deal with errant adult children, there needs to be a law prohibiting certain types of behaviour towards parents WITHOUT JUST CAUSE."

      Adult children viewed as property or young disobedient children that must be brought into line. Some recent and insightful posts by Leigh and ElizabethCa tie in with this.

      "One ‘parent’ did have a moment of some clarity, “Would we begin having children sign contracts at birth that they are indebted to respect and care forever for the ones responsible for their existence? Not sure where this is going … thoughts I am having …” It was certainly a thought I was having! And I’m sure the answer is, “Yes!” for many of them."

      It wouldn't surprise me as they often view their children as things to meet their needs rather than real people. You're expected to be a child, parent, friend etc as the mood takes them. Technicalities or legalities don't matter.

      "Wow right? How does a Victim ‘prove’ years or even DECADES of systematic abuse? THEY have all the ‘happy’ family photos -- forced on US to prove how ‘happy’ our ‘family’ IS."

      This kind of thing scares the crap out of me, and reminds me of Issendai's blog post, "Happy face, happy heart", showing 'happy' photos of children before they were murdered by their families. It makes me wonder how many of those perfect families on social media are hiding something darker.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 months ago

      Some Estranged Parents feel so strongly that No Contact IS ‘abuse’ that some of them believe that Estranged Children (Victims) should have to go to a ‘court’ to PROVE that their No Contact is ‘justifiable’… With comments that followed like (I have ‘xxxx’ out user names):

      “’xxxxxx’, you’re too funny. I can just see the court scene in my mind, all the injustice collecting EC, meddling in-laws, evil sisters etc.’ xxxxxx’, if someone is a no show don’t they lose the case? l think that most would show up to grandstand, what a golden opportunity for narcissists – and then would lie under oath, true to form. There may even be a couple of brawls and people arrested and cited for contempt of court. Good luck to the judge.” Yes… This is EXACTLY what Us abuse victims’ want *sarcasm*. By going No Contact we WANT more drama and conflict and we definitely WANT to go to a ‘court’ and PROVE how ‘right’ we are. *shaking head*

      “Then, to deal with errant adult children, there needs to be a law prohibiting certain types of behaviour towards parents WITHOUT JUST CAUSE. The burden of proof would need to be on the adult child to prove that his/her decision to abandon a parent was justifiable.” Wow right? How does a Victim ‘prove’ years or even DECADES of systematic abuse? THEY have all the ‘happy’ family photos -- forced on US to prove how ‘happy’ our ‘family’ IS. My ‘mom’ kept ‘baby books’ and school achievement folders and stuffed them with our ‘report cards’ and such. And then We (my sister and I) had the ‘fun’ of filling this all out with our ‘loving mom’...

      Every year We got asked a series of questions… “What do you want to be when you ‘grow up’?” was the one I dreaded the most. From first grade on We got an annual ‘interrogation’ to fill Our prized school books… It didn’t matter what answer I gave it was always ‘wrong’. If I said one thing one year and it was mocked, I’d try something different the next year only to be mocked again because I didn’t ‘stick’ with my previous years’ answer (like a 6 year old knows their life plans and NEVER change their minds *eye roll*) OR there was another reason that my new choice was also ‘wrong’. I now know the only ‘correct’ answer was, “I want to grow up to be YOU ‘mom’.” When neither my sister or I provided ‘that answer’? She was devastated. And reversely my Husband says His message was, “You should NEVER love anyone more then Me. EVER. For ANY ‘reason’. I’m your MOM.”

      Their defense would be, “An ‘unloving parent’ would NEVER spend so much time focusing on their child/ren and their achievements to make a book or album about ‘them’ and look at all these ‘loving’ family photos we have!” To this day I hate having my picture taken. Picture taking for me as a child was, in my mind, just documenting my misery and putting a bow on it. It reeked of, “See how happy we are?” (with our forced smiles and pretty clothes).

      One ‘parent’ did have a moment of some clarity, “Would we begin having children sign contracts at birth that they are indebted to respect and care forever for the ones responsible for their existence? Not sure where this is going … thoughts I am having …” It was certainly a thought I was having! And I’m sure the answer is, “Yes!” for many of them. That said, since they want a ‘court’ to prove that estrangement is ‘justified’ and have it be a law, they should also remember that under REAL laws, minor children cannot LEGALLY sign contracts!

      “I feel very strongly that a rap over the knuckles of some sort is needed in cases where parents are abandoned for selfish reasons, or because of a disagreement over issues the adult child lacks the courage to unpack and deal with. Where there’s no abuse during childhood involved, estrangement is a cop out in my humble view.” Here we go again! Even IF there is no abuse in childhood -- an adult child is not obligated to have a relationship with ANYONE. Adults with free will, in an equal society, are free to make any lawful choices they want. However, there’s the ‘issue’ – in an EQUAL society. Adult children to THEM are not equals, We are forever their ‘lessers’ so the rules We must follow don’t apply to THEM.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 months ago

      To Starlight:

      In your response to Dawn you said, “You can't obtain a restraining order based on a "gentle" letter.” This reminds me of Mr. Bill and his alleged ‘loving letter’ and the reasonable ‘terms and conditions’ his son and his wife would have to follow if they met to try to reconcile. Notice Mr. Bill never responded to multiple requests for that “loving” letter or those “reasonable” ‘terms and conditions’.

      Assuming Dawn’s situation WAS caused by that ONE letter, it must have been a DOOZY to get any reasonable judge to issue a legal order based on it alone.

      My big question also was why would the daughter ask her ‘mom’ to write to HER Husband? If my Husband needed to move for work and I didn’t want Him to go or follow Him later or whatever, I would talk to Him about IT. Why would I need/want a ‘third party’ to communicate this to MY Husband? It really sounds to me like Dawn (mom) took it upon herself to write the letter and the fall-out was predictable.

      You also said, “Cutting off contact or obtaining a restraining order to protect yourself from another person's behaviour isn't abuse. You are not the victim.” Is 100% correct. I am constantly baffled at Estranged Parents claiming that No Contact = Abuse. If you are not in someone’s physical presence they can’t hit you. If emotional abuse is cited, how can you be abused if there is NO communication? So if No Contact IS abuse the only way it could be abusive is because in their minds someone denying them anything they believe they deserve IS ‘abuse’.

    • profile image


      3 months ago


      You sent a letter to your son-in-law over concerns about him being an absent father, then you contradict yourself by saying that he moved away for work, but your daughter and grandchild followed. This means he isn't an absent father. Your father was an absent father, and just because your son-in-law moved away for work doesn't automatically mean he's absent. Your son-in-law is not your father, and he moved away from you, not his wife and child. They may not have moved at exactly the same time, but they moved to be with him all the same.

      "Seven years ago I wrote to my son-in-law at my daughter's request."

      Why did your daughter request that you send the letter when she was planning to move away with her husband? That doesn't make sense. Is there something that you've missed out?

      "I made arrangements to visit them both once she'd moved to be with him in an attempt to apologize again and reconnect. She took out a restraining order against me and I was forced to leave without even a phone call."

      Restraining orders are not handed out for no reason at all. There's going to be abuse, harassment or stalking involved. Your daughter and son-in-law did not cut off all contact over a simple letter. Your behaviour would have been so problematic that they managed to obtain an order.

      "Parents aren't always the abusive ones. Sometimes it is the children."

      Cutting off contact or obtaining a restraining order to protect yourself from another person's behaviour isn't abuse. You are not the victim.

      "Instead she accused me of things I never said or did..."

      Was your daughter contacting you to give you a chance to make things right? Did she want you to admit to what you'd done? Once again, you want us to believe that everything that happened was as a result of the letter you sent to your son-in-law, but it would have been something more than that. You can't obtain a restraining order based on a "gentle" letter.

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      3 months ago

      “I have nobody just my 2 children I literally mean I have nobody...”

      Delores, whatever you are suffering personally, your bigger problem is that you are blessed with two children yet you are so self-focused you walk around bellyaching that you “literally” have nobody. What an awful thing to say. I pity your kids.

      Call your doctor immediately, ask for a reference for a therapist in your area, make an appointment immediately, and learn how to heal your hurts without devaluing your children as nothing and no one. The only thing worse than having horrible parents is being a horrible parent. Stop. It’s not all about you.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      How do you guys cope with losing relationships with your extended family? For me, it feels like losing my connection to my past- myself. Like a tree with no roots, how can it stand?

      None of them have been there for me- I'm so disappointed in them, and I don't think I can forgive them.

      It's making me really depressed. It makes me wonder what I could've done to be so awful that my entire family would abandon me to enable a jerk like my NPDad.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Hi Sisyphus,

      "I kinda wish my family would hound and manipulate me, at least then I'd know they cared."

      I understand what you mean, but even though it can seem like caring, it isn't. My family just knew that when my mother was abusing me, life was easier for them. If I wasn't around, she'd look for another victim.

      You say that your family is ignoring the estrangement. This means that they are REFUSING to deal with the abusive situation, and you still need to be careful. Your narcissistic father contacted you, which means he wants you for something and that something could be anything. At some point in the future, your family might start manipulating you to give him what he wants.

      "But when I told her that I wouldn't come because my father's abusive behavior made me feel unsafe to be around him, she never even asked what had happened, or considered uninviting him."

      Your cousin does NOT want to know what happened or care. She's choosing to take the easy path and enable. If she uninvites your father, things will probably kick off.

      "Still doesn't seem to care why, or care that she'll be HOSTING A WHITE SUPREMACIST at her wedding."

      That's an impressive level of denial. Brings a whole new meaning to "elephant in the room".

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      Delores Dickson 

      3 months ago

      Hello good morning to everyone on this forum I suffer from abandonment from my parents as a child I can relate to each and every one of you, However I am seeking the help of anyone who can refer Me to any group counsellings or 1 on 1 someone to help me through this journey I have nobody just my 2 children I literally mean I have nobody...

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      3 months ago

      Hi Starlight,

      Your absolutely right with the spider analogy.

      My father did terrible things, and is now "offering" to talk without "blame and vilification" to "resolve OUR conflicts"

      It's like someone punches you in the face, and then when you're upset says "let's talk about it without blaming anyone... who punched who... you're upset, I'm upset that you're upset, we're all upset...so really who's to blame? It's OUR problem to figure out."

      The rest of my family is essentially ignoring the estrangement. Which is a relief in a way, but also makes me feel like they don't even care if they never see me again.

      My cousin's wedding is coming up, and I won't be there because my Ndad will be, and I won't distract from her wedding with this BS. But when I told her that I wouldn't come because my father's abusive behavior made me feel unsafe to be around him, she never even asked what had happened, or considered uninviting him. 6 months later she sends me another message to confirm that I won't be coming so she can finish her RSVP list. Still doesn't seem to care why, or care that she'll be hosting a white supremacist at her wedding.

      I kinda wish my family would hound and manipulate me, at least then I'd know they cared.

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      3 months ago

      Hi Sisyphus,

      That email sounds like a trap. "'Will you walk into my parlour?' said the Spider to the Fly."

      Cutting off contact with a family member is a huge decision to make, and the fallout can be devastating. I cut off contact with my family one-by-one (I don't regret it), and my mother was the first. I then tried to have a relationship with other family members, but they had to accept that I no longer wanted to have contact with my mother. They wouldn't.

      Be prepared for the fact that your father, family or friends may well use every tactic under the sun to get you to resume contact. Here's a few I experienced:

      1. Family members telling me that there was a family gathering (my mother would be present), and they'd assume that I was attending unless I spoke to my mother and told her otherwise. They wouldn't accept an answer from me, I always had to speak to her. When I didn't attend or speak to my mother, they'd get angry at me for upsetting her, because she'd assumed I was attending. This tactic creates a situation where you have to have contact or look like the bad guy.

      2. Pretending that family members were ill or in hospital, and that I had to contact my mother ASAP. The messages were always vague with very little detail. Huge red flag!

      3. My mother not taking her blood pressure medication to make herself ill to try and get me to resume contact. Family lying and pretending my mother was ill or accusing me of making my mother ill. She was upset, depressed, drinking more (alcoholic), not herself, not eating etc.

      4. My father repeatedly lying to me, pretending that my mother was sorry, had changed or that she wasn't quite as bad.

      5. Abusive tantrums from my mother and sometimes other family members. Constant abusive and manipulative phone calls.

      6. Some family members constantly demanding an explanation as to why I cut off contact with my mother, but no explanation was good enough. Explaining yourself is pointless. You just end up going round in circles.

      7. Family members or friends asking me to visit, saying my mother wouldn't be there (she'd be there). If I was talking on the phone to them, they would suddenly hand the phone over to my mother.

      8. Family offering me money, or saying they had something to give me or something that belonged to me, but I had to visit them to get it (messages vague).

      I'll stop now, or I'll be going on forever. It's a tough decision to make, but sometimes no contact is the the only way to protect yourself and those you care about. If boundaries/boundaries plus consequences don't work, there's nothing else you can do.

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      3 months ago

      My NPD racist father sent me an email on my recent birthday. It's been 8 months since we spoke- which was the proverbial "blow out" with him screaming abuse at me and threatening to kick be out of the house in the middle of the night when I'd come home from abroad for Xmas.

      While the email didn't contain anything resembling an apology, it did have this nugget, which would be almost funny if it weren't so pathetic.

      "Let me suggest that you and I resume neutral conversation, leaving aside blame and vilification. Even though it may feel strained, it would help establish an unthreatening atmosphere in which we can explore and resolve our conflicts."

      I don't think there's anything he can do that would make me forgive him- he's simply a terrible person. He's selfish, mean and arrogant and I don't want him in my life.

      And if that means losing my whole extended family, so be it- they haven't supported me at all through this. They just enable his NPD, bullying and racism.

      It's hurts- so much- but I'm starting to feel ready to just let it all go.


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      3 months ago

      @ElizabethCa: I love this insight. It is so true, and it took me a while to learn it. Thank you for sharing it...

      —-The parents often tell themselves it's

      about the past - something that is fixed

      and can't be changed. That neatly avoids

      the problem of having to change their

      present behavior. The point of contrition

      isn't to change the past, it's to show you

      understand what you did wrong and won't

      do it again. But the estranged parent often

      interprets it as simply wanting to castigate

      them over what can't be changed.”—-

      Even a parent who apologizes can still be abusive and unhealthy to be around...it is about whether they can/want to change their destructive ways for the sake of their children.

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      3 months ago

      Hi Elizabeth,

      "We've been talking about the parent attempting to extend their control into the lives of adult children indefinitely. Issendai's blog talks about it well: the estranged parent views the adult child as perpetually a child that should obey their betters."

      Definitely, and my own mother still uses the same tactics to try and control me as she did when I was a child. I haven't been in contact with my family for more than 10 years, but earlier this year, an incident occurred that triggered my mother's abusive behaviour which led to her abusing and threatening me for several months. She started leaving abusive messages, and one thing that she kept saying was that she was going to turn up at my house, hammer down the door, and have me dragged out of the house to make me do what she wanted me to do. This is something she used to do to me as a child. She'd hammer on my bedroom door, and if she managed to gain entry, would drag me out of my room, and continue dragging me around the house. This time it was the same threat, just a different door. I can sometimes hear the confusion in my mother's voice when she makes these threats, not understanding why they don't work anymore and why I don't respond. She truly believes that if she keeps abusing and threatening me she'll get me to do what she wants, because that's what worked when I was a child. To her I'm still a child (or object/slave/property) that must obey, the irony being I was parentified and expected to sacrifice my own childhood in order to keep my mother happy and manage her behaviour.

      What concerns me is that not all, but some of these psychotherapists etc, seem to have no more insight than my mother.

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      3 months ago

      Starlight444, there's a fundamental disconnect I've noticed between how the parent views things in such a discussion, and how the children do. You'll notice every adult child talking here, we haven't just been talking about our childhood. We've been talking about the parent attempting to extend their control into the lives of adult children indefinitely. Issendai's blog talks about it well: the estranged parent views the adult child as perpetually a child that should obey their betters. Boundaries are a way for the child to attempt to upset the proper order and exert authority over their parents.

      The parents often tell themselves it's about the past - something that is fixed and can't be changed. That neatly avoids the problem of having to change their present behavior. The point of contrition isn't to change the past, it's to show you understand what you did wrong and won't do it again. But the estranged parent often interprets it as simply wanting to castigate them over what can't be changed.

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      4 months ago

      Taken from "Why Your Estranged Child Doesn’t Want to Reconcile", by psychotherapist, Tina Gilbertson.

      "Any behavior of yours (estranged parent) they’ve (adult child) ever complained about is potentially something they view not as a circumstance-based behavior, but as a personality trait. Meaning they don’t think it can change. Which is why they may not be eager to reconcile."

      More "professional", assumption-based, minimizing and infantilizing drivel where the perception of the adult child is simply wrong. Thankfully, most commenting on the article disagree with Tina Gilbertson's point of view, but one commenter who appears to support the article believes that victims of child/adult child abuse who talk about their experiences are "whiny" and should "Grow a pair and move on". Another person of the same ilk writes, "Drama queen much? Grow up and move on, honey", in response to a comment about abuse. If these are the type of people that this article appeals to, then what does that say about the article and the person who wrote it?

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      4 months ago

      Seven years ago I wrote to my son-in-law at my daughter's request. We were close as she was growing up and that continued after she reached adulthood. It was a letter regarding his decision to move for work without discussing it with her across the country away from his wife and small child. I was gentle. I put it in terms of my own experience with an absent father and was honest about that absence's effect on me and asked him to reconsider. He called me screaming on the phone and said he never wanted to know I existed again. I was shocked and devastated. My daughter took his side ('He's not handling this very well') even after I'd apologized, saying 'I have to support my husband.' I made arrangements to visit them both once she'd moved to be with him in an attempt to apologize again and reconnect. She took out a restraining order against me and I was forced to leave without even a phone call. Much later they had another child. I didn't even know she was pregnant. That child is now about to turn three. I've never seen this child and I have not had contact with my older grandchild, who is now eight, since that child was three. I've tried to talk with my daughter’s husband. He refuses to hear anything, acknowledge my existence or receive any communication including cards, letters, presents. I was a good parent or at least the best I could be. I wanted my daughter to have a good life and be happy. I loved her then and sadly love her now. I wanted to be a part of her life and enjoy grand-parenting. But that’s become impossible. Recently, my daughter contacted me after years of silence. It was clear from her communication that she's fully taken on her husband's persona and she was abusive with me. I told her once again that I realized I'd hurt her husband though that was never my intention. I apologized again and again and reiterated that I was NOT against their marriage or trying to hurt their marriage that all I wanted was to be a grandparent and as loving an in-law as allowed. Instead she accused me of things I never said or did and repeated that she had to 'support her husband'. I never said she shouldn't. I didn't think and never, ever said it was an 'either/or' situation. However, it was clear that she couldn't hear me. I decided after years of effort and pain and endless silence punctuated with accusations and lies that I had to end it with her. This hurts because I mourn the loss of my daughter and her children but I have developed a heart condition from the stress and I have to let her go. I told her so and said that I was trying to do that letting go with love. I feel somewhat better now but I am still so sad. Parents aren't always the abusive ones. Sometimes it is the children.

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      4 months ago

      My mom is difficult. I drove 350 miles (One Way) to see her and my dad. I had not seen them since Christmas. I had put on weight and my mom threw a huge fit. She dragged an older picture out of me when I was 18 years younger and thinner. She then kept referring to me as "fat". She accused me of having low energy because I gained weight. I reminded her that "over the weekend our home a/c broke and I only had 15 hours of sleep in the past 3-4 days". I was then told by her "I was just making up excuses". The next day I hit my head at my sisters house. The next day I was very tired but didI put up with my moms snide remarks but with a headache. When I finally returned home my headache was worse & worse. Then after a week I went to the ER. Found out I had a concussion! The concussion actually hurt less than the verbal attacks I got from my mother. I am 51 years old and now have had enough. I told my sister that "I am no longer driving to see her". I am not cutting off communications with her or my dad. However if they want to talk they must call me for now on but "If they call I want an apology". My entire life I have never heard her say "I am sorry" or "I was wrong". So I highly doubt I will get that phone call! See she is mad because I got fat. She forgets I am sober and have been sober for 21 years. I have also gave up smoking 9 years ago. Life is hard but doing it sober and having a very difficult relationship with a parent makes it a bitch!

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      4 months ago

      @Elly The Autistic: Sadly, your words ring very true.

      Two years ago her decision was

      “texting-only”. So...I stalked her Facebook & Instagram, manipulatively looking for ways to fit a question/comment about her private life into each text...to try to force her to have a conversation she was Not ready for.

      In doing that, I think I brought her memories right back to feeling like an unsafe child, when she was powerless against a controlling, overbearing, abusive mother.

      She then protected herself further and extended the boundary to “text on holidays only”. And I finally woke up to see I was still an abuser...just in a different form.

      I’ve seen her once in person since then, and it was to sincerely take responsibility for all that I’ve done to her, and to beg her forgiveness. You guys know the rest.

      Even if her choice is to not ever forgive, and even if she is unable to ever reconcile, I’m being a good mom Now. I didn’t make the right choices when she was growing up, but I can continue to show my sincere remorse and unconditional love by respecting Her choices now.

      If there is anything else I can do; you guys I am so open to ideas or suggestions, always. Thanks, as always for your advice and perspective. Reading your thoughts really helps.

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      4 months ago

      @Jo Miller: I just wanted to chime in and say first of all, I think you mean well. It’s just that the actual saying “well nobody’s perfect” comes across as a bit disingenuous.

      My thoughts are this: Right now my daughter cannot trust & forgive me for being mentally and emotionally abusive. And she should not be expected to, just “because she or I are not perfect”. She was a child. Period.

      A child cannot “cut a parent some slack” because “they need some slack” too. They should be automatically granted slack/forgiveness...simply by virtue of the fact that they are children and we are parents.

      Maybe the forgiveness you’re speaking about could be reserved for between siblings & other relatives where there is more of a level relationship?

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      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      To Leigh:

      Your line of, “One thing that keeps coming to me that I have to accept is that she might take many many years, or perhaps Never; get to that place where she can trust me again. Especially when we cannot build on anything through communication.” is profound. It also gave me great pause for thought. I think you hit the heart of the matter, how DO you build a relationship after No Contact when, “we cannot build on anything through communication”?

      In reflecting on your question it occurred to me that this may be where so many ‘arguments’ start where Estranged Parents and NC Children meet in places like this. I recently had an encounter with some of my extended family and was explaining the why(s) of my No Contact. They had also been subjected to my mom’s insanity over the years, but because they didn’t have the day to day contact I had living with her, they were shocked. As I explained to them, even IF she “saw the light” I don’t know where we would go moving forward.

      My ‘mom’ believes we had a good and loving relationship while I was growing up/trying to survive. However, the ‘love’ was a house built on sand. It had no foundation and when I had enough/the house collapsed and I went NC all that was left is an empty beach. She used to say things like, “You’re my best-friend in the world!” or, “You’re SOOO much like Me!” (For the Record – I am NOT and never WAS). My ‘mom’ never knew ME and now that I’m a grown adult with my own values, principles’ and morals (ones that clearly didn’t/don’t align with hers) where do we begin to ‘rebuild’?

      The question then becomes, “Do We WANT to ‘rebuild’?” Many NC Children will probably say what my Husband and I have said to each other, “THEY had ‘their time’ in our lives (when we were growing up) to love, cherish and build a healthy relationship that would weather ‘future storms’.” Those weren’t the choices our ‘parents’ made. I once likened Our abuse to a car engine. If you failed to put ‘fuel and oil’ (love and nurturing) into the ‘engine’ (the child) and you run the ‘engine’ dry… Coming along later with ‘fuel and oil’ might not get the ‘engine’/relationship running again. Best intentions aside, the ‘engine’ might just be too BROKEN.

      Also, as has been said many times here before, “Estranged Children (offspring in general) don’t ‘owe’ their parents ANYTHING,” including, not resuming a relationship with an abuser even IF they’ve changed/learned the error of their ways. The abuser(s) had all the power in the PAST. Now all the ‘power’ is with US survivors. We have the ability to choose NOW how we relate with those who abused US – IF at all.

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      4 months ago

      @Jo Miller.

      Research shows that one of the reasons for family members cutting off contact with other family members is abuse (Stand Alone charity website). It's not the only reason, but one of the commonest.

      Forgiveness doesn't stop bad, abusive or dangerous behaviour. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the person being forgiven shouldn't have to stop the bad or abusive thing that they are doing, and take full responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, many estranged parents won't even admit to what they've done, even after being repeatedly told what they've done. They're most certainly not going to change, and the forgiveness doesn't mean anything. It's just an exercise in futility that keeps you trapped in the abusive situation, so you can be abused, hurt, killed, or take your own life because suicide will be your only way out.

      I should add that forgiveness isn't the same as reconciliation, but you're talking about forgiveness and staying in contact with a parent.

      I tried incredibly hard to try and have a relationship with my abusive parents. I comprised, tried to be more patient, forgiving and understanding, put boundaries in place, tried boundaries plus consequences, explained to them time and time again at least some of what they'd done (too dangerous to discuss everything because of how they might react), spent more than 10 years on and off telling my mother what she'd done. My mother's response - "But I don't know what I've done", "Why won't my daughter tell me what I've done?", 'Why did she cut off contact with me for no reason?", "Why is she being so horrible and treating me this way?". Guess what my parents did to improve the situation and make the relationship work? Nothing!

      My father would repeatedly lie to me and make false promises in order to get me to resume contact with my abusive alcoholic mother. He wanted me to resume contact because when she was abusing the crap out of me, life wasn't so bad for him or anyone else in the family. I still remember his promises and lies. "I promise you, things will be different this time", "I promise you, she's sorry (my mother)", "I promise you, she'll behave", "I promise you, she's stopped drinking". I'd forgive my mother and resume contact. Had she changed? No. She'd abuse the crap out of me all over again and would be drinking more than ever. By the time I cut off contact with my family the situation had become dangerous - again! I was even concerned that my father would shoot me if instructed to do so by my mother (highly manipulative primary abuser who pretty much controlled and orchestrated everything). Repeatedly forgiving my family and resuming contact was an incredibly dangerous thing to do. I'm lucky I didn't lose my life. Some victims of child/adult child abuse aren't so fortunate. Why do we do it? One reason is that there's a societal pressure placed on victims of child/adult child abuse to be more forgiving and stay in contact with the abusive parent. "But she's your mum", "Family is family", "You stick by family no matter what". Far better for the victim to be abused or worse, than ever have the audacity to cut off contact with the abusive parent. Only a selfish, spoilt little snowflake and narcissistic brat would consider doing that!

      It's VERY common for both abusers and enablers (abusers by proxy) to repeatedly use this idea of forgiveness to manipulate victims of child/adult child abuse, in order to keep them trapped in an abusive situation. This is why estranged adult children who've cut off contact with abusive parents don't always respond too well to people telling them to forgive. This idea of forgiveness will also be used to portray the victim and not the abuser as the problem. The abuser isn't the problem for being abusive and refusing to take responsibility for what they've done, the victim is the problem for refusing to forgive and resume contact with the abusive parent so they can be abused. "Selfish, abusive, narcissistic, unforgiving, bitter, hard, hard-hearted". These are just a few of the names you'll be called for refusing to let your parents abuse you.

      Forgiveness has its place, but suggesting that we all just forgive is far too simplistic and can sometimes be dangerous (particularly when we confuse forgiveness with reconciliation). Forgiveness has never been and will never be some kind of panacea. It just doesn't work that way.

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      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      To Jo Miller:

      Yes. Families need to be forgiving. Sometimes the scapegoat child needs to 'forgive' them-self for not wanting to take any more abuse. Not taking any more abuse from my 'family' has allowed me to make MY Family with my Husband and children easier.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Jo Miller, I think you mean well, but...the trouble for many of us is that "forgiveness" just ends up being a code for "letting yourself be a victim." It's very common to tell us that we need to forgive our parents, when what we're not done is exposing our bellies for them to hurt us again.

      If you read our stories, you'll notice a common thread that the parent effectively holds themselves up as perfect and beyond reproach. They may say that they're "not perfect" as a way to convince us to stay, sure, but they won't admit to faults in any way that might lead to reconciliation. Rather, the child is blamed for being hurt or upset by the parent's behavior, and told if they weren't such an entitled brat they'd just accept it.

      What this means for us as children is that there is no working towards a better relationship. If we are hurt by their behavior, well, that just means there's something wrong with us. Our parents would spit the message of forgiveness back in our faces for having the unmitigated gall to suggest they might need any forgiveness in the first place.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      4 months ago from Tennessee

      I sometimes told my daughters when they were growing up that there were no perfect parents and no perfect children, so families need to be forgiving. I still believe that. And if we work at that it makes all of our other relationships in life so much easier.

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      4 months ago

      Elly The Autistic: Thank you so much for your frank, but honest words.

      One thing that keeps coming to me that I have to accept is that she might take many many years, or perhaps Never; get to that place where she can trust me again. Especially when we cannot build on anything through communication.

      I am trusting what you all have been saying, as well as her dad and above all, her own request, to give her the time & space. That’s all I have left to give, now, that won’t continue to hurt her.

      I realize it has nothing to do with me, or my needs.

      It helps to communicate and to read your experiences on this site because it constantly reminds me of her perspective. It hurts, a lot, but in a way it makes me feel better to know I’m doing all that I can right now to show how sorry I am, and how much I love her.

      Thanks again for your comments. And for your thoughts & prayers. They’re really appreciated.

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      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      To Leigh:

      I would like to second what Life without Annette said. As another estranged child and married to a man who is also in No Contact with his ‘family’ it is very rare that We hear from a parent who has “seen the light”.

      Two years IS ‘a drop in the bucket’. I’m 42 now and it took me until my late thirties to realize how my ‘family’ was treating me. My husband was much smarter and got ‘it’ in his early thirties… He was No Contact when we met. So from my perspective I endured/was subjected to ‘hell’ for 35 YEARS.

      I routinely follow ‘Estranged Parents’ sites and often I read things like, “They estranged from ME! Even IF ‘they’ wanted to reconnect I don’t know if I can ever trust ‘them’ again!” Or, “The ‘trust’ has been ‘broken’ I just don’t know if I could ever ‘forgive’ my child!” However, there’s no reflection on their part that THEY broke the trust FIRST or that it’s not THEM that needs to ‘forgive’ US. It is US abused children that have to ‘build the trust’ because there never was any! We ‘trust’, that as children, we are being born to loving and capable parents but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

      It sounds to me like you are on the right path. The stand out for me in what you wrote was that you GET that it is up to your daughter to decide where she needs to be in relation to you. Sadly, the answer might be that she will never want a relationship with you. I cannot imagine how my husband and I would react to our parents admitting and speaking as you have, since neither of us can imagine that level of REALITY from them.

      I too pray (and I don’t do THAT often) that things work out for you in your situation.

      Peace be with You.

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      4 months ago

      @Life without Annette Thank you for taking the time to respond, for your words of experience and the example you gave. It made a lot of sense. Two years really is a drop in a bucket when you look at it from her perspective. I can continue with the changes I have made in my own life, knowing her needs are being met. I can continue to just send a text on holidays but nothing more than that so she doesn’t feel pushed. It’s still going to be hard because I miss her but I get it. I’ll gladly take your prayers too :)

      I’m sorry that you’re in a similar situation with your mom. I wish I knew what to say.

      Again, thanks so much for your reply, it helped :)

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      4 months ago

      Leigh, I am moved by your post. I’m pushing 20 years of estrangement from my mother. During these years, especially early on, I fantasized about what words or actions I could say or do that would make her acknowledge her behavior, to apologize, to just care about the hurt and harm she caused, and to want to love and comfort me. Ultimately, I realized that there is nothing I can say or do, that her pride would never yield, that her heart would never warm, that I wanted her to respond with a love that never existed.

      Your remorse seems genuine, you seem willing to be transparently humble and vulnerable, and you seem wise enough to recognize your daughter’s father and his girlfriend as allies now. Once trust is broken, and once someone is wounded enough that the pain of terminating a primal relationship is less painful than the relationship itself, it takes time and consistency to rebuild that trust. Two years may be a drop in the bucket of time. How many years were spent wounding her?

      Hypothetical: you marry a man who is the love of your life. He starts drinking in response to the stresses of life. Then, drunkenness becomes a trigger for violence. Over many years, you endure a broken arm, a shattered eye socket, a dislocated jaw, and more welts and bruises than you can remember...to say nothing of numerous humiliations, betrayals, and the trauma of years of living in fear and trepidation. You finally leave him, which becomes his wake-up call to quit drinking, to get help, and to get right with God. He realizes losing you was the second-biggest regret of his life, second only to the fact that he failed you so miserably in the first place. He is a changed man, and wants nothing more than your forgiveness, and a chance to spend the rest of his life loving you with all the tenderness and care he knows you should have received all along. He knows he’s truly changed, he knows where he went wrong, and has a strong support network to make sure he’ll never backslide. In the meantime, you’ve built a new life, with a new career, new friends, and a peace of mind you haven’t known for more than a decade. Even though you still love that man, how long would you need before you warmed to the idea of forgiveness, trust, and reunification?

      Be steadfast in your new life. Know it may take your daughter a lot longer to trust in the changes you’ve made in yourself. If she feels pushed, it may only affirm to her that you haven’t really changed. Let your ex-husband and his girlfriend be the ones to testify to the depth of change in your outlook and behavior. If you have not been a prayerful person, there’s no better time to start than now. I’ll pray for you, your daughter, and for healing in each of you and your relationship with each other, in Jesus name. Amen.

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      4 months ago

      Thank you for your article. I’ve read several comments as well so I hope that I can receive some help.

      I have done very wrong by my daughter. My goal is to know what to do after taking responsibility for your actions and asking for forgiveness.

      My situation is that I have an adult son who I have a great relationship with, and an adult daughter who has no contact with me. She lives with her dad and his gf, and is attending university. There hasn’t been favouritism that I’ve been able to identify, but her brother being younger, meant that she bore the brunt of my anger whenever something went wrong - and most of the time it was out of proportion to whatever had happened.

      I expected her to help me “parent” her brother from the age of around 6 yrs old. I also had major anger/rage issues (“losing it” by yelling at the top of my lungs almost daily), and I constantly expected her to be more grown up, perfectly behaved, and ALWAYS held her to impossible standards. When she got older I shared information about my marriage to her step-dad (especially when we were having issues/arguing). I shared negative information about my ex-husband (their dad) because I hated him for “having the audacity” to leave me. Then when she was older and my husband (her step-dad) and her started having disputes/arguing about things like paying room & board, or the hours she kept (she was 20); I completely took his side and told her she had to move out (even though he was in the wrong).

      Today; I thank God that she has always had a rational, loving & supportive father in her life (the man I used to “hate”). If not for him (and his girlfriend), she would not be the well-spoken, independent and confident young woman she is today. I have thanked him for being there to help mend the damage I did to her heart and psyche.

      I have made changes in my life, and I have taken responsibility for what I’ve done in totality (not just the small list here), with specific examples and events where I know how much I hurt her. To even think about it all now, thinking of her beautiful little perfect soul growing up with a monster like me towering over her makes me sick and still brings hot tears flowing (even now). But I know that’s nothing compared to what she went through...and I can’t just go back and fix it.

      I have begged for forgiveness and offered to do whatever it takes to start mending both her heart, and our relationship, but it’s been almost 2 years now and I feel like I’m just doing more harm than good (bugging her). I’ve asked in person, and she said she’d think about it, but that she thought we needed some space but could text on holidays. Since then I’ve texted on holidays and reminded her that I love her, and that I am so very sorry for every time I let her down or hurt her. But there is just silence.

      I know from speaking with her dad that she is happy and doing great and has become close with his girlfriend (who is a very loving & kind human), so I’m not worried about her well-being. I just want to have a relationship with her. A new one, a fresh one. I miss her so much.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      4 months ago

      Ashley, please visit outofthefog.net to learn how best to go about ceasing contact with one family member when there is fallout from others.

    • profile image

      Ashley Rodriguez 

      4 months ago

      Question: I am an adult now and my father is a substance abuser (alcohol) and has been since I was a young child. He blames others for his addiction, is entitled, manipulative, and forgets his emotional abuse once he is sober. I now have a son and want to cuts all ties with my father but the family we share often gets in the middle of my decision and degrades me because of it. How do I deal with the rest of family? I don’t want to cut ties with them, just my father.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      I just watched an interesting situation unfold on one of my favorite estranged parent’s sites. This poor man wrote a comment (his first and only) telling his story and how he very much played a part in their estrangement. Sure enough, someone replied to him, “Please do NOT blame yourself or take responsibility for your son’s behavior. SHAME ON THEM! And shame on anyone who does not knock some sense into them. They do not want to recall all of those good times and memories that you contributed to their life because they cannot meet it with compassion and respect. What kind of a son would do that? Not one I want.”

      He then replied in part, “However, if I could offer some very humble advice to folks here, it would be that more of us need to recognize and accept the part WE played in our estrangements. Perhaps we want to see our own role as non-existent or minor and affix all the blame to others, particularly our adult children or former spouses. That’s easy to do and may make it easier in the moment, but it actually causes confusion and makes it harder to understand things.”

      Then the ‘Queen Bee’ of the site offered, “I sense a judgmental tone in your post. It’s possible that I’m wrong. It’s also true that there are those who sign onto the forum to cause problems. Most of them are pretty quickly blatantly abusive (which is why no one in the forum ever sees those posts… I delete the mean trolls and their vitriol). I could be sensitive because I do see these. If that’s not at work here, I hope you’ll accept my apology.

      After that the poor man requested to be removed from their site. So it’s not just an, ‘Echo Chamber for Narcissistic Abusers’ it’s also a, “If you don’t think your child is 100% ‘wrong’ – get lost’ site.

      It is unfortunate it was all removed but thanks to good timing I got to see it and grab a few quotes. These are the same people that claim to be so ‘open’ and are ‘seeking answers’ and carry so much ‘hope’ that their estrangements will end. What a joke.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      Hello All:

      On an estranged adult child site, someone had that feeling of, “Did WE have the same ‘mother’?” the reply back was, “WE ALL have the same ‘mother’.” Clearly this is sadly too true because my Husband and I feel the same.

      I’ve been struggling the last few weeks and as per my usual, when I’m struggling, it makes me ‘fight’. By ‘fight’ I mean, trying to find answers. I don’t have the luxury of being able to just let my emotions take me wherever, while actually I DO but I know that would make me into the same monster my ‘Mom’ was/is.

      The breakthrough has been I never learned proper emotional regulation in general. Anger being the biggest one. Never being ‘allowed’ to be angry about ANYTHING has led to a life-time of NEVER getting angry about anything. Even things I should legitimately be angry about.

      The recent conversation on self-soothing and where we learned our emotional coping skills from reminded me of this. There are no ‘bad’ emotions. There are only ‘bad reactions’ to emotions. These are skills we could not learn because there was no one around to TEACH these skills.

      For example, I remember vividly one ‘family’ game night where the game required two teams of two. The question was asked, “Who wants to play with whom?” Of course my Sister and I spent plenty of time with ‘mom’ so of course we both said we wanted to play with ‘dad’. My ‘mom’ lost IT. “No one wants to play with me! Why doesn’t anyone want to play with ME?!?!” and stormed off like a kid younger then I was at the time. Now a ‘normal adult’ in my mind would have laughed and said, “Why don’t we play two rounds of the game and we’ll switch partners each game...” Instead Sis and I got accused by enabler ‘dad’ of, “Ruining family game night,” and then as an added ‘bonus’ of course then Golden Child Sister then said, “No… It’s Elly’s fault. SHE should have volunteered to play with ‘mom’.” And now it’s 100% MY ‘fault’.

      Talk about the confusing that Starlight spoke of. In my ‘child’s mind’ I thought, “WOW. I hold all this ‘power’ in this ‘family’ (the ‘power’ to cause all this discourse) and yet I have no power to STOP IT.” Yes. CONFUSING. Crazy making… and all the other ‘things’ this power dynamic does.

      Of course ANY display of ‘anger’ on my part was ‘proof’ that I was ‘immature’/disrespectful and by display of ‘anger’ I mean I could be ‘angry’ by having ‘enough’ and quietly leaving a room. I would then be mocked for, ‘stomping away angry like a little kid’… Why would THEY think I’m stomping off in ‘anger’ if there was nothing ‘going on’ that should make me angry? Again it’s the basic ADMISSION that the behavior is OCCURING and yet not SEEING ‘it’, just like the estranged mother I quoted in my last comment.

      In that one comment alone it was OBVIOUS that SHE was the ‘issue’ and very much the aggressor. Of course the girl-friend in that case had good reason to take issue with her boy-friends ‘moms’ behavior but heaven forbid the poor girl get ‘angry’. We have no idea what this poor young woman actually said because we only have ‘moms side’ and we all know their ability to judge what is ‘abusive’ or ‘angry’ is VERY flawed. One estranged parent was told by her sister (the estranged child’s Aunt) that she had said, “I am glad that we can both live our own separate lives and be happy. The fact remains that some relationships are just not healthy for either party and unfortunately that will never change.” THAT was viewed as ‘cruel and hurtful’ toward the estranged parent as well as ‘vicious’. That statement was ‘vicious’? How so? Other then saying NOTHING what DON’T these ‘parents’ consider ‘abuse’ toward them? Yet THEY are free to call their estranged children every name under the sun and why should We take offense? After all, THEY are just telling the ‘truth’ about us.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      4 months ago

      @ElizabethCa .... I would swear we had the same mother. lol

      You are spot on with your assessment why adults like us can’t cope with these behaviors. Maybe if our own parents were self-soothing we would have learned to do so as well. But they didn’t and we couldn’t so somehow that translates to us being at fault.


      I’m done with that. I was over 40 years old before I actually learned how to self-soothe and I was only able to do that by separating myself from the ones who were hindering my ability to do so.

      But yeah, no one, degree or not, needs to be telling adult children to self-soothe when it comes to dealing with parents who failed to teach us such because they are incapable of doing so themselves.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Thinking of the whole "self-soothing" thing.

      Guess where people are supposed to learn skills like that? They don't just magically pop into existence when you reach a certain age. You learn them from the adults in your life. That relies on having healthy relationships with adults who both model and encourage those skills.

      I don't know about others, but I was actively discouraged from developing any sort of appropriate emotional control. If I was trying to cope and calm myself down, that was interpreted as a deliberate attack on the parent. The message was that I was choosing these feelings because I was bad and wanted to hurt my family, and I shouldn't need coping skills because all I had to do was decide to stop being bad.

      Meanwhile, my mother's method of emotional control was to lash out and blame me and others for causing it. When she was angry, she would take it out in a tirade of how much of a bad, awful, ungrateful child I was. I was expected to beg and cringe until I could convince her that I was "sincerely sorry" - which I recognize now meant "when she'd calmed down."

      That's not a recipe for the child to grow up into an adult that knows how to "self-soothe", especially not when dealing with the parent. And the continued presence of the parent is liable to push the child to continue old habits of simply suppressing their bad emotions. It's funny how certain parents refuse to teach mature adult skills to their children and then complain that their children aren't mature.

      I did eventually learn, but it's still extremely hard with my mother, both because of old wounds and because she reacts with rage at any display of normal emotions or any boundary or retreat from the situation. And I think I had to be separated from her before I could learn, because otherwise her influence was too much.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      To Elly,

      "They are allowed to protect themselves and not be ‘disrespected’ but if someone stands up to their abuse? THEY are in the ‘wrong’. Talk about not taking responsibility..."

      Yes, and the endless circular arguments that go round and round, always coming back to the point where the abusive EP is right and the AC is wrong. Talking to them gets you nowhere.

      "This woman gleefully admits that SHE started by ‘pushing the girl-friends buttons’ on PURPOSE to make the girl-friend attack HER and make her into the ‘victim’! But the girl-friend was the ‘aggressor’. RIGHT."

      They bait you. Then they say that they don't know what they've done, but then tell you what they've done, then say they don't know what they've done. Yes, they minimize what they've done and shift responsibility back to the victim, but they're still admitting to what they've done. If they really didn't know what they'd done and that they were in the wrong, they wouldn't be able to tell you what they'd done to begin with.

      It's no wonder the victims get confused!

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      To Starlight:

      Oh Yes, the abusers that seem to think it’s all about THEM. Their feelings and behavior are above reproach and anyone not playing the game is the problem. They are allowed to protect themselves and not be ‘disrespected’ but if someone stands up to their abuse? THEY are in the ‘wrong’. Talk about not taking responsibility...

      For example, this lovely woman complaining about her estranged son’s girl-friend said, “Whenever she was upset, mad or anxious it was because someone had done something to her. Never was it that she started the problem, never was she the pusher or the aggressor. So the day that she attacked me and I let her go on social media and just pushed the buttons I knew would get her going she went on full psycho display,” some more ‘reasonable logic’ on the part of an estranged parent. She goaded the girl into an argument but in HER MIND the girl-friend was the instigator! No one picked up on that.

      This woman gleefully admits that SHE started by ‘pushing the girl-friends buttons’ on PURPOSE to make the girl-friend attack HER and make her into the ‘victim’! But the girl-friend was the ‘aggressor’. RIGHT. Also there is essentially an admission on her part that she has done this before. Obviously she knew which ‘buttons to push’ and then she continued by saying, “Everyone got to see the girl I had been dealing with behind the scenes when she was picking fights or just being nasty to be nasty. She exposed the real “T” to his family and friends.” Ummm… So this ‘parent’ took the fight ‘public’ to show how ‘unreasonable’ the girl-friend is and her son and the girl-friends family took her side. I wonder why… I certainly hope that someone other then the estranged son could see through the obvious manipulation; the manipulation by the estranged MOM.

      And then these same parents wonder why they end up being No Contact with their adult off-spring. In this same comment she also said, “When I exposed who GF really was and everyone got to see it, she lost her mind. She tried to twist the conversation and make it about me and how horrible I am and it didn’t work. Unfortunately for her, I don’t live a pretend existence. In fact the one thing people always say about me is how real I am no matter where I am. I am always the same person.” To me this reads, “I’m a witch ALL the time.”

      She goes on to say, “So, how do you recover from that if you are a liar? How do you turn the tables around to make the facade you have pushed on everyone real again? Especially when you have duped his family and and now they know how you really are? You don’t. You can’t. All you can do is push estrangement. All you can do is tell everyone more lies like, “they are toxic”. “He was raised in a loveless home”. “He is so much happier now that he doesn’t have to listen to the guilt trips his mother took him on his whole life”. Again, lies, facades and scapegoating.” Well, it’s interesting that she admits that the only way to avoid her toxicity is to stay estranged. It’s clear who the liar is and if ‘outsiders’ buy her lies then YES -- All the abused child can DO is go No Contact. She poisoned her family (and anyone else who will listen) against her son and girl-friend and then blames the ES for being No Contact. How rich. But they are the mature/rational ones.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Hi Elly,

      “They are hurting YOU therefore THEY are in the ‘wrong’.”

      If I disagreed with my mother, refused to obey or allow her to abuse me, she would accuse me of hurting her. All the bad things she did were never the problem, I was the problem for trying to protect myself. Self protection (something you do to yourself) is not the same as hurting or abusing someone else (something you do to another person). The EP might feel hurt and wronged that the AC has chosen to protect themselves by ending the relationship, but feelings are not a fact. Facts are facts. The AC isn't ACTIVELY hurting the EP. It's the EP who wants to continue hurting the AC and is in the wrong.

      To show how nonsensical and potentially dangerous this 'doctor's' statement really is, you just have to look at how stalkers who stalk celebrities see their victims. Stalkers can feel that their victims love them, even if they've never met in person. The stalker can then start to feel increasingly angry, hurt and betrayed when the victim doesn't want a relationship with them. According to the 'doctor's' logic, the victim is in the wrong, because their actions have made the stalker feel hurt.

      “have their pain acknowledged”.

      Fine, the pain of EPs can be acknowledged, but it's their responsibility to deal with their feelings in a healthy and appropriate way (the 'doctor' clearly doesn't agree with this). The AC isn't responsible for this, and shouldn't have to resume contact with the EP to make them feel better. If this were the case, then none of us would be able to end any kind of relationship, e.g. marriage, friendship, business partnership, because of the hurt that the other person might feel.

      "By validating the estranged parents ‘feelings’ while not acknowledging their ACTIONS there is ZERO chance the situation will get better."

      Yes, the EPs are adults, so why shouldn't they be expected to acknowledge and take full responsibility for their actions?

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      4 months ago

      To Starlight:

      You so nailed it. I found a site where both estranged parents and adult children were trying to discuss estrangement. One ‘doctor’ weighed in when it was suggested that the estranged parent look at their behavior. This ‘doctor’ said that when estranged parents seek treatment they should, “have their pain acknowledged”. I could not believe it. So an estranged parent goes to that ‘doctor’ and says, “I’m so hurting from being estranged from my adult child/ren how can I make our relationship better?” and the ‘doctor’ says, “They are hurting YOU therefore THEY are in the ‘wrong’.” This will improve the situation how? By validating the estranged parents ‘feelings’ while not acknowledging their ACTIONS there is ZERO chance the situation will get better.

      The level of denial is shocking in these cases. These types of places are always quick to jump on the mentality of ‘it takes two to tango’ and ‘relationships are a two-way street’ and then immediately go on to say things like, “I won’t let my child bully me!” and by ‘bullying’ I mean setting healthy boundaries. So immediately they go from it’s a ‘relationship issue’ to “It’s MY way or the highway,” which completely invalidates the other person in the ‘relationship’ (the estranged child) which turns the relationship into a one way street. The ‘one way street’ mentality is a big part of the reason I went No Contact and THEY cannot see themselves doing IT.

      Some people are incapable of internal reflection. There is one estranged parent site that has been running for years and I read every single comment. One infamous poster was adamant that there was, “No ‘logical’ reason(s) for going No Contact.” Any time an estranged child would ‘explain’ this ‘person’ would cut apart (gaslight) and deflect, dismiss and even MOCK estranged adult children. The same ‘person’ would also ‘shout down’ other estranged parents that did admit to making terrible choices raising their kids. They would be told, “You did nothing wrong! You were a great parent. Don’t try to figure out what You did! It’s all THEM!” These same people got offended to discover that they were being observed by, “the other side” and that ‘We’ called their site an, “Echo chamber for Narcissistic Abusers”.

      Sadly the ‘proof’ was right there in their very own comments ALL the behaviors ‘We’ were describing and ‘they’ mockingly dismissed the thought by saying, “WE are NOT ‘like’ THAT. WE were ‘good parents’… You estranged kids are ungrateful little snots.” But SURE… THEY don’t ‘act’ like THAT. Shockingly? Very few of those ‘parents’ were making any head-way with their off-spring… Surprise! *shaking head*

      They say things like, “now they are having a baby and I don’t think his bitch of a wife will let us see our grandchild… I think we have to let them go and concentrate on the one son I have left, as the eldest is ruining our lives and stomping all over our feelings at every opportunity …they are spoilt and ungrateful and I do not recognise the son that I brought up and loved…I think only God can fix this so I have to leave it with him…” Sounds like the Golden Child versus the Scapegoat Child to me and the goat walked away.

      And, “My son has rejected me, he had a lovely big wedding last year which i wasn’t invited to. A couple of days before this i sent him a message telling him about my heartache at what he was doing. I said it hurts so much i wished he had never been born. A year on he is having his first child, my grandchild, and i will not be allowed to meet it, ever. I feel suicidal, he is slowly killing me.” Yes… Telling your son two days before his wedding that you wish he never existed… I can’t see why he’d be upset by THAT.

      Of course the justification is that their horrible children drove them to say such things. That is nonsense. This is how they truly feel about their adult off-spring and always HAVE and trust me the ‘adult children’ know it. So how can counseling help? With most of those types and some doctors supporting their ‘victim status’ I agree that it could be dangerous to the real victim.

      P.S. Yes. Ms. Wright’s comments on self-soothing nauseated me. What a bucket full of crap and just as bad as the ‘doctor’ I mentioned above. The fact that these ‘medical professionals’ have those beliefs is frightening.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Just read psychologist, Jennifer Wright's comments (7 weeks ago).

      "Matured adults can self-soothe when their parents don't agree or break a boundary, they don't have to disengage, which is actually a form of not being individuated at all."

      This comment doesn't make sense. When a person repeatedly breaks and violates your boundaries, you often have to cut off contact with them in order to live your life as an individual in your own right. If you don't, they will simply keep using you to meet their needs and treat you as an extension of themselves. If you're a victim of abuse and have experienced the latter, you'll know not only how creepy it can be, but how it destroys your sense of self. You're only allowed to like what the abusive parent likes, wear your hair in the way they do, or do things in exactly the same way as them. Attempts to be an individual are met with crying, abusive temper tantrums and rage, the parent's tantrums sometimes continuing for several months or longer until they get their own way.

      Elly responds to Jennifer's comment by saying, "As for ‘self-soothing’ I’ve been doing THAT all my life while trying to also keep my ‘Mom’ ‘happy’. Who ended up ‘happy’ living that way? NOBODY. I’m not nor ever WAS ‘responsible’ for her happiness and the expectation that I WAS is part of the reason I am No Contact with my ‘family’ now."

      I was parentified as a child, most certainly from the age of 6 or 7 years, expected to manage my mother's behaviour, held responsible for her happiness (soothing my mother), and punished for the things she did (apparently, I was such a bad child I made her do these things). I soothed my mother, but there was no-one to soothe me and self-soothing was all I could do, yet according to Jennifer, when adult children cut off contact with a parent it's because of their inability to self-soothe. ???

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Kim states "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 entirely different."

      One thing I've noticed is that estranged parents on EP forums have a tendency to minimize what happened and repeatedly shift responsibility from EP to adult child (ALL EPs completely innocent? Highly unlikely!). They frequently blame estrangement on a lack of communication, a misunderstanding, the AC being overly sensitive and taking things the wrong way, or the AC being childish and immature and refusing to deal with things and talk things through.

      Example from an EP forum: "Still praying for the Holy Spirit to show them how ungrateful and childish they are being."

      In reality, even though there may have been a misunderstanding, this is unlikely to lead to permanent estrangement, and the AC isn't cutting off contact because they're childish and refusing to deal with things, but because it's the parent and family who won't deal with the situation. In these families there's a "don't talk" rule or code of silence, and if you do try and discuss the problem you will be ignored, threatened, punished, shouted down, gaslighted (including the parent pretending that they can't remember the conversation or acting as if nothing happened) e.t.c. In my own family, I would be shouted at for merely suggesting that there was a problem, and accused of upsetting my mother (sadistic abuser and alcoholic), imagining things, hallucinating, being repeatedly told that there was nothing wrong and that I was in need of psychiatric help. If you then cut off contact with a parent in order to protect yourself and because your family continually refuses to address the situation, you're accused of being childish, refusing to talk, and not dealing with things. Your parent and family create a situation where you can't talk about what's happened, but then get angry with you, the person that didn't create the situation, for not being able to talk about it. In order not to be seen as childish you have to remain a child even though you're an adult, always obeying the parent as if you were a toddler, and allowing them to control, hurt and abuse you.

      In these situations, people often suggest FAMILY counselling, but even this can end in disaster. It has the potential to be used by EPs to regain and maintain control (sometimes unreasonable conditions attached), manipulate (includes an EP manipulating the counsellor), convince the AC that they are the problem, browbeat, and isolate, e.g. try to get the AC to attend counselling at a retreat. In my case, even if my family had agreed to counselling, it would have been far too dangerous.

    • profile image

      X krus 

      5 months ago

      Thanks Kim for the brutally honest post.

      I will post my words here, I am not estranged from my family per se. I just choose to no longer attend functions for my own sake, and speaking to them only minimally.

      If my parents would have listened and respected my schedule and commitments instead of pushing their BS commitments, I would probably have respected and honor their wishes more.

      1, Work schedule

      My job requires me to work odd hours. There are some functions like weddings and parties I will not be there for. I am not going to call off simply because you told the family I would be there. I am an adult I answer for myself, not anyone else. Also if I have not seen that family in several years, and there was bullying (which a lot of it happened more than said parents will admit) I am not obligated to attend. Your should's are not priority.

      Oh, and do not call my work place to see if I can get off, I am an adult I get to make that choice. If I choose to work that is my right. I am not obligated to attend a family function you consider important. I have better relations with my coworkers than I do family. If I have stated that ask your own self, why does my child prefer work over family, and give said child serious thought and listen.

      2. Favors

      If your adult child states they are going through a crises, the only thing to respond is, "What can I do to help?" Don't preach. just listen. My account was overdrawn by several 1000 dollars because my own stupid financial choices. Let me take care of my own stupid choices. That is the only way I will learn, due to the fact my parents failed to teach me the basic principals of finances is to learn on my own at this point.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      To the person that posted last question...if you would have endured ONGOING TRAUMA, especially as a YOUNG child, btw it is called Complex PTSD...believe it or not, it is actually boils down to the parent's fault. Read anything about emotional neglect-NPD abuse/ongoing trauma-Complex PTSD...and you will see that EVERY therapist, psychologist, doctor or anyone with EXTENSIVE experience on this matter, will ALL say it starts with the family (mainly the parents) and the upbringing. It is called ABUSE. And the psychological damages are LIFE LONG. I am 34, and healing quite well considering...I was turning into my mom! NPD big time! I noticed it...sadly,she is 54 and HAS NO CLUE!! And depending if there was ABUSE (emotional neglect, sexual or physical)- something ongoing ... then 100% it IS the parent's FAULT. We are children...I was the nice, funny, good to everyone, thoughful, shy quiet one. THE EMPATH...and it is what it is. But I do not go and blame them. I finally woke up and wanted to change cuz I started seeing my mom in me and I broke down ! I did NOT want to be like her. I did the NO CONTACT rule on my family juust within the past two weeks. You must be a parent? From the "energy and vibe" of your absurd questions, it does seem like you may have gotten a littttle defensive. I believe that is the MAIN REASON why my family pointed fingers at me that i needed the most therapy (lol)..but I beg to differ. WHO the heck wants to get told by a Licensed therapist/psychologist that they are to blame. What parent wants to know that they actually could have PREVENTED a lot of crappy stuff to happen to their child if they were just validated, and spoken to like human beings? How hard is that?? Not so hard to me...however, not everyone can be naturally kind and supportive. My sis turned into one - she is 32 and is not aware of it, i just realized my stepmom is also NPD...and my poor dad was/is an enabler (he just gave up on me already)...but thats okay, because I have NOT given up on myself! I can finally take the "toxicity" relations OUT of my life and feel content with it. I am done trying to keep going in and out of their lives...letting them know I changed. But lets see my mom didnt believe the sexual abuse by EX stepfather was i was ONLY 14 - she went back with him and PUNISHED me with the "silent treatement" for OVER a year!!! She was HORRIBLE. and that is NOT a mother or a mom. Unfortunately, i took her back- being a teenager I NEEDED and WANTED My mother. she hurt me soooo badly (that affected more so as an adult) - i just wanted her back in my life. And she is a transmittent narcissist..I am NON existent in my sisters life and she ONLY stays less than 4 hours from me! that is nothing...I know the REAL them...they will not show the REAL them in front of strangers. stepmom is the same, as well as sister! other aunts too, as well (moms side). But I call them out on their BS...I always have, meaning I knew how they truly were. They are about outward appearances...since I did not make it in their book (LMAO), I am NOT welcomed in their life. Btw 20 years later, my "mother" did the same thing by abandoning me...11 yr ex friend did a number on my face (domestic violence) and a gun to my head...my mom DID NOT visit..Her bf was abusing me over the phone saying he does not believe anything i say (I barely know the guy-he knows nothing about me)! But remember ND's DO not tell the whole story- only the part where i LOOK or SOUND bad! No body is perfect! well all have done things that were horrible or that we felt bad doing! BUt WHY punish for those things or judge me?! I never judged my family and they have done some dirrrttyyy messed up things that would prob or should put them in prison, in a mental institution or at LEASE therapy! But they are "too good" for therapy?? Hey, EVERYONE can benefit from therapy. I see NOTHING wrong with it...i just cannot see a Trauma inforced Therapist yet (NO MONEY)...I realllly need one.

      But I am reading stuff online-writing things about it now-and doing some "soul searching" AGAIN and self healing stuff...it is helping for now. THere is no cure! But as long as I KNOW that i am TRYING to become a better version of MYSELF. Then that is all that frickin matters ;) Nowww I know what It meant when my dad kept telling me to be "Selfish!" I am okay with that..It is coming at a time in my life...probably at the most "PERFECT" timing...anyways sorry got off subject!! SO my mom. had her BF (whom i also believe now has ND), get on the phone with me telling me some mean stuff, that she allowed while I was on the ER Table! She did not believe anything that happened. I REALLY believe she also has complex ptsd as well as well as NPD, she RUNS away from stuff like that- btw NO ONE in my family believed how bad it was UNTIL they saw photos! HORRIBLE right?! I asked my dad on the phone Dad I will love you the same, but did you not believe me when I told you it was bad?? His response: I didn't think it was that bad,,until I saw the photos! I said WOW,,,he basically said YES-just in a "nicer" way...to not sound like a horrible person. But in my mind, what he responsed was HURT more than if he would have just said YES. I don't need excuses....sigh...my moms BF said that "i basically asked 4 it" ithink it is MY time to say bye to the fam. I suffered greatly by telling my DR at 14 (i could have said something at 8 n a half yrs old )..instead I thought of my family FIRST and my brother more than my OWN happiness and me being safe in my home. So to the SURVIVORS-great job y'all! Boy, do i have a life...I will write a book one day, so PLEASE watch for that---mmm 5-10 years max ;) I am healing very interestingly well with NO therapist. I have had crazy epiphanies lately and everything just makes sense! I can finally NOT blame myself and i dont really have the words...just that I feel at peace with myself when it comes to that part. No one is pointing fingers at anyone else. I wont do that to them anymore. however when i started noticing i was turning into my mom, that is WHEN I KNEW i had to make a change. I have more self awareness about A LOT of things..and that is a pretty damn big step! Way to go Lindsey. You are amazing Lindsey -never let anyone tell you anything less than what you are worth ! WHICH IS A LOT! Thank you for reading my LONG message...That felt good writing that out. I think it is time for me to write my FIRST blog on The Mighty website....you all should check it out, if you have not heard of it!!So YES ppl that show signs of NPD, can work to change themselves to be a calmer, self loving, can b more aware of emotions, more patient with themselves and others and To finally LOVE myself again! I believe I Can actually FULLY LOVE myself and accept ALL my flaws and everything in my life quicker than I originally thought i could It was overwhelming to think it may take the rest of my life. However, I believe I will be a new story of a cool PTG individual :) ALso, the ones that can recognize how they are and can change are the strongest ones...and the bravest. Because after all, admitting you have a problem, is the FIRST step to recovery. Having complex ptsd, there is NO cure, but I am aware of most of my triggers now. Omg also I just started this "healing journey" two weeks after the domestic violence incident. May 24th- i started showing ptsd...did research and up came on the screen complex ptsd. That explains why other treatments or medicine did not work! i kept telling my dad there is something else wrong with me (i got agoraphobia at the age of 19) been on benzos since 14. i HATE it but it is what it is. my dad made that choice and i looked up to him and mayyybe the meds will work...but they only made me worse---like i kept telling him prob 8 months to a year after being on xanax...u live and learn, right?? And I know what I finally want to do with my career! I want to be a TRAUMA therapy Specialist!! I have not seen one yet....kids are one of my fortes...i can HELP so many people! I am learning late...but like I say, "Always better late, than never." Thanks everyone!! .xoxo

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 

      5 months ago from California

      Kim, thanks so much for the link!

      It’s not the first time I read this article. I like to reread it again and again because I think it’s so great! Thank you for writing it. I think you’re bringing hope and courage to a lot of people.


    • profile image


      5 months ago


      I kind of wish I could say that I thought there was hope, but...in my experience my mother doubles down on insisting she didn't do anything wrong. In fact, you should apologize for making up such nasty, mean things just to hurt her, and anyway you were such a difficult kid, how can you blame her?

      I've seen a little poem entitled a narcissist's prayer that I think applies:

      That didn't happen.

      And if it did, it wasn't that bad.

      And if it was, that's not a big deal.

      And if it is, that's not my fault.

      And if it was, I didn't mean it.

      And if I did...

      You deserved it.

      I've always said that's the biggest reason for issues now. It's not anything that she did when I was a child. It's the ongoing insistence that any boundary or any attempt to discuss her behavior is really some sort of malicious attack on her. (That's of course how the apology game was worded - she was so hurt and afraid that she just couldn't accept an apology without more proof.)

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      @ElizabethCa That sounds terrible. What I found particularly hurtful in it was you were not given a cleans slate. Clean slates are how we try again. You were not asking for a lot. You just wanted to feel like whatever happened would not be held against you. And really painful is the idea you had said it once before, so why in the world are you saying it again?

      That is really sad.

      We all need second chances. In fact, our first chances should be good enough so we don't have to come back begging for understanding. Exactly like you said.

      I cannot help this. When I read stories like yours, I still hold out hope for the parents. Maybe someday they will begin therapy. My own child had a lot of anger toward me before I went into therapy. The second I found out I headed to the therapist.

      I didn't get that with my own mother. If I suggested she was unreasonably hurting me, she would have called out her flying monkeys to swarm. She was incapable of admitting a mistake. She would have made me pay.

      You did a good job of explaining your side. A parent weaponizing a conversation is a terrible thing to experience.

      It says you don't matter. Your voice is a bother. You are wrong. You have no rights. At least not in that situation. It's a very hurtful experience.

      But here is the good news. Any feeling you have is legitimate. It's your feeling. It's your truth.

      You are right to advocate for yourself. You have to advocate for yourself. It is a healthy thing to do.

      I wish your mother would have recognized that as self advocation and had the wisdom to know it was not about her. It was about you and your growth and your sense of serenity.

      Unfortunately, some of us parents started out life with pretty bad coping skills and until there is a helper who can impart better coping skills, we tend to repeat the mistakes over and over again.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      Hey Guys, I have good news!

      I wrote a very straight forward letter to my mom telling her that

      1) Dad's behavior is unacceptable

      2) He needs therapy

      3) I will not have contact with him unless he makes substantial change

      4) she has to choose to be my mom or his enabler

      AND.... She didn't deflect or minimize or forget... she said - yes, he's a narcisicist, yes, he needs help, and so do I and I'm looking for it now.

      Holy mole.

      I think it also helps that I reached out to my mom's sisters and mother before I sent the letter so that she'd have support.

      So, for now, TENTATIVELY optimistic

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      One thing I noticed personally with my own family - my mother tends to put up a front of reasonable, normal behavior that's not actually happening. It took a long time to be able to name what was actually going on.

      On the surface, you had a loving parent who was just trying to raise an unruly, rebellious kid to be on the right path, but who was open and wanted their child to come to them for anything. Underneath, you had a mass of impossible and contradictory expectations, and assumptions that anything the child did was some sort of trick to get away with things. It was not possible to be anything but rebellious because the standards were set where you couldn't win.

      For an easy example, one thing I'd remember is mom making me apologize. Normal parents make their kids apologize when they've done something wrong. But with my own mother it went way farther. We got in a cycle where I would apologize, but it would only anger my mother further. The apology was deemed "insincere" because I'd apologized for the same behavior before. A new, sincere apology was demanded, one that would convince her that I wouldn't do it again. We'd enter rounds of me begging and pleading for her to accept an apology and her repeatedly refusing because she knew I was just saying it to get her to go away (who wouldn't?). But what was presented to everyone else was a parent forcing a bratty kid to accept responsibility for her own actions.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      5 months ago

      To mastik8:

      You nailed it. Some people cling to the notion that when people say, “I was a ‘good’ parent!” that that holds some credibility. As a victim of one of these ‘good’ parents, I will say it again… The only person/people in a position to evaluate your parenting is your child(ren).

      Think of raising a family like directing a movie. Of course when the director/parent is done he/she is going to stand proudly and say, “This is the best movie EVER!” and ‘demand’ every Oscar the film is eligible for. The ‘intentions’ of the director/parent are irrelevant if the movie stinks and no one wants to watch it – or didn’t enjoy living it.

      What these Oscar worthy ‘parents’ don’t get is that they are really earning Razzies. If you try to explain why their ‘movie’ isn’t winning Oscars/why their children MIGHT have estranged, it becomes about defending the movie! NOT looking at any potential flaws in the ‘movie’/the way they treat their adult children.

      I guess because society has been trained that ‘parents’ are always ‘right’ and get to have the final ‘say’ is why THEY get to determine whether they were ‘good’ parents or not. That and deep down they KNOW that if it was their ‘adult children’ judging their ‘parenting’ there would be no Oscar coming their way. That would not fit their narrative of being wonderful parents…

      Sadly, as Paula rather gently reminded me of Estranged Parents sites, “Oh Jesus, you can bet your 1st & last dime, they were/are ALL Child abusers. Period, The End.”

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      Interesting how in most aspects of society the victim gets to define abuse - except in the parent child relationship.

    • profile image


      5 months ago


      Thank you for sharing your story. You worked hard and decided to create a happy and healthy life for yourself, despite being surrounded by people who repeatedly CHOSE to behave and treat you in such a monstrous way. That's no mean feat.

      "I dont have to live that way any longer. I'm living proof that you don't have to have contact. You have a right to protect yourself."

      Yes, I agree, children/adult children do have a right to protect themselves from abuse. It disgusts me that so many people still view children/adult children as the property of their parents, theirs to be used and abused, to serve and obey, or be disposed of or discarded as a parent sees fit. If not property, then someone who's forever tethered to the abusive parent - "You can't cut off contact, they're family", "But she's your mother", "They gave you life", "You stick by family no matter what." Often, there isn't even a family to begin with, just the illusion of one, and it's the actions of a person that tell you whether or not they're a true parent or family. Words can be meaningless or used to manipulate. "Mother" and "Father" mean nothing if they didn't behave as such.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Elly.....Briefly, my sincere thoughts on those individuals making comments to the discussion on an EP forum: As you explained the general, "consensus" of opinions~~ Oh Jesus, you can bet your 1st & last dime, they were/are ALL Child abusers. Period, The End.

    • profile image


      5 months ago


      The level of disordered thinking on some estranged parent forums is horrifying. Abusive, dangerous and criminal behaviour frequently being supported and encouraged instead of condemned. Some years ago, there was a discussion on an EP forum over whether or not it's okay for adult children to cut off contact with abusive parents. The general consensus was no or only if the child was subjected to severe abuse. One member then described what she felt was severe abuse and justification for cutting off contact, a child being severely beaten every day and the parents setting fire to their hair. Interpretation: a child being severely beaten every single day for 18 years and the parents setting fire to them. Most children would not survive this level of abuse, so severe abuse equates killing your child, meaning the child never gets to leave the abusive situation or cut off contact with the abusive parent, at least not while they're still breathing. The other members of the forum agreed that this level of abuse was the only justification for cutting off contact, and any child who cuts off contact for a lesser reason is clearly the problem and not the abusive parent. These parents were revealing that they found most forms and levels of abuse as acceptable, so what the hell did they do to their own children while insisting that they didn't know what they'd done?

      The comment about the reaction of the grandmother to the death of her grandchild is spot on, and my own mother would think in this way. She often viewed people as an extension of her. This meant that they must do the same things as her or think about things in the same way, after all, they were her.

      "Look how POWERFUL I AM!!!" Controlling, manipulative tyrants who will be obeyed and feared, enjoying the fact that they've terrorized and traumatized their own child to such an extent that even the sound of the parent's voice can leave the adult child a crumpled heap on the floor. Or knowing that a particular insult or simple phrase will activate the adult child's old programming, the adult child obeying even when it will put them at risk.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      5 months ago

      To Starlight:

      I remember reading THAT somewhere and I came to the same conclusions as you and I was genuinely befuddled. I wanted to ask, “Are you ‘listening’ to yourself? Maybe you should re-read what you just wrote. Other then the ‘allegedly’ abusive parent, who is getting a ‘benefit’ out of that scenario?” In fact I think it’s almost more insidious then that…

      It reeks of, “I KNOW I can cause You so much distress that You dare NOT come before my ‘awesomeness’ without ‘help’. Look how POWERFUL I AM!!!” And If a person WAS to ‘agree’ to that ‘arrangement’ you can bet that the first interest the grandchild showed to the estranged ‘grand-parent’ would be met with, basically, “Go back to playing -- the ‘adults’ are ‘talking’.” The dismissive attitude MUST be started early after all… “I’m HERE. THAT is ‘good enough’. THAT shows YOU I ‘love’ You.” SURE it does… *rolling eyes*

      The ‘best one’ I think I’ve ever read was the one where a woman claimed that after finally being granted permission from her son to see her grand-child, who was 4 ½ months old, died 2 days before she was scheduled to meet the child – I’m assuming SIDS but... She ‘believed’ that the mother ‘smothered’ the baby to keep HER from meeting HER grand-child.

      Clearly this woman thought/thinks/believes that to be ‘right’ or to ‘extract revenge’ or WHATEVER that someone ‘thinking like her’ would go, “Kill the child. That will show EVERYONE who’s in ‘control’.” And AGAIN – That accusation got made and not a single responder went, “Ummm… IF your Son and DiL heard that YOU are accusing Her of killing THEIR child? That’s going to mend/help the relationship how?” *cue the crickets*

      IF a clearly Narcissistic Parent like THIS can ‘think’ those ‘thoughts’? Why would I (or anyone ELSE in their ‘right’ mind) EVER even THINK of putting Our child(ren) in their arms for ONE SECOND!?!? BY ‘their logic’ (or at least the ‘logic’ being employed by that ‘person’) is that – Her DiL ‘killed’ the grand-child to ‘hurt’ HER. SO in reverse, IF she had/has contact with the new/next ‘beloved’ Grandbaby, wouldn’t she ‘consider’ hurting the CHILD to ‘hurt’ the parents who have ‘wronged’ HER right back? I SHUDDER at the new ‘low’ I have seen. And sadly I have to believe now… THEY can probably think ‘lower’ still.

      And again… NOT a single further commenter went, “YOU JUST ACCUSED YOUR DiL of ‘MURDER’…” I bet that IF that happened to my Husband and I? He would end His ‘No Contact’ with His ‘family’ just long enough to ‘explain’ to THEM that accusing His Wife of murder? NOT the best ‘idea’…


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