Thursday, January 19, 2012

When Adult Children Shun Their Parents

Over on Shrink Rap News, a post will be going up about my random thoughts about adult children who essentially divorce their parents.  In the families I'm talking about (and I know many), these aren't extreme situations--the children did not suffer from abuse, neglect, or deprivation at the hands of their parents.  When they were children, the parents tried to be attentive, caring, and to provide for them as best as they could (which was sometimes rather well).    The parents likely made mistakes, because parents are not perfect,  but the issues are current ones...and often ones the parents themselves can't articulate.  In these cases, the adult children have severed ties even though the relationship was close, and they themselves might say they had good childhoods.  Why the estrangement?  I suppose it's different in each case, and often there are issues with parental divorce, the relationship with the child's spouse, a sense that the parent is too critical, too judgmental, or perhaps too intrusive and controlling.  The adult children may feel they are being used or manipulated.  I talk about some of my theories, and they may well all be wrong.  None of it science, just what I've gathered from listening.  If you'd like to read my thoughts, I invite you to surf over to CPN's Shrink Rap News.  And, of course, I'd like to hear your story.  You can check over there sometime around noon.

If you're interested, I'll also direct you to a website run by someone dear to me:  MOTHERRR! -- about rebuilding mother-daughter relationships.  While my post talks about estrangement from the vantage point of the parents, this site looks as mother-daughter difficulties from the perspective of the adult child. 
  

111 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dinah,

I am very curious about your practice since it seems to be made up of people who don't need to see a shrink (you know many families in which adult children shun their parents but it is not about abuse or neglect--assuming you were referring to your practice and not your circle of friends).

I won't go into my own story because it is very painful and not something I like to talk about outside of therapy and even there,not so much. I divorced my family of origin and it did have to do with abuse and neglect.

Anonymous said...

I grew up the child of a narcissistic mother, and all that entails. It left a huge negative impact on me and has been the reason that I have spent a fair amount of time in therapy. Though I know she will never change, or acknowledge her behavior, I now have a relationship with her on my terms, and have spent a lot of time thinking about and implementing boundaries with her.

I could write a book about my experiences, but will leave it at that.

I can see why people divorce their families, even "healthy" adult families.

jesse said...

I, too, have seen a number of such patients, but do not have exact figures. One factor that has has changed over the last 30 years is that there are many more parents with adult children who are in new relationships, and that might disturb the children.

1st Anon, there are many people who can profit from seeing a psychiatrist but who do not come from abuse or neglect, and it is equally true that there are far more people who have suffered abuse than is generally recognized.

Anonymous said...

I am first anon. Thank you, Jesse. I was being facetious. I am not a total fool. Here is what disturbs me: there are two very different populations of adult children who "shun" their parents. The first reminds me of people who thought nothing of getting a divorce because they had grown apart or were not "fulfilled" in their marriage. A lot of those people look back twenty years later and they are still not fulfilled , some regret the divorce as it didn'T solve their problems and actually, the spouse was not so bad after all. Another subset if peoPle left abusive spouses, which took great courage. They had to start a new life with few resources. I don't think it would be accurate tO say the shunned their ex mate so much as reclaimed a life. As an adult child , I had to make a new life for myself. I did not shun my parents. Biologically, I had parents. For all other purposes, I never did. My parents were not very critical of me. They just left me to the wolves. I am okay with them facing down their Own wolves. If that sounds harsh, well so be it. And once again for Jesse, you are not speaking to an uneducated audience.

Moody Mommy said...

I "separated" from my parents once...it only lasted about two years. We currently have a tenuous relationship, although I would probably be in a healthier, happier place if I were to divorce them. However, I know that when we were previously separated, my mother would tell people she had no idea why. She would tell of all the good things in my childhood (and there truly were plenty of those). But she would leave out all the details about the long-standing abuse. My childhood was about appearances...everything had to appear perfect to people outside of the home but it was a far cry from perfect. Even people within our extended family had no idea of the physical, verbal and sexual abuse that went on in our home. My mother still lives in that fantasy where she pretends to others that our family was great.

I guess my point is that just because your patients tell you that their family life was normal and great, doesn't make it true! My mom is very convincing. No one suspects the levels of depravity and abuse that occurred in our home.

Marie Gronley MD said...

Yes I too see an increasing number of those who have set boundaries with their parents and siblings, and some who have divorced their parents. I see this on a personal level with friends and acquaintances. The common denominator seems to be unmet needs as well as parental behavior that was "unintentional abuse". Quite often this seems to happen with adult children of alcoholic parents, once this cycle begins, it snowballs out of control and all that is left is for the child to abandon the unhealthy relationship or establish boundaries (which is often a "good thing". Adult children can still honor their parents at a distance if need be). Of course every situation is different, yet this post is timely since we just had this discussion about an instance happened to a close friend.

Dinah said...

Moody Mommy, I do know there are two sides to every story. And I also know that some of these adult children tell their parents why they are estranging themselves and the parents don't hear, or don't want to change their lives to please their children, or just don't get it. Some seem to genuinely not know why the sudden change.

Please note that the article is about adults who get along well with their parents then have an abrupt shift. It's not about people who have been abused and have always had a difficult relationship. And some parents are very demanding or difficult to be with or send the message that nothing is ever enough: the adult child really does have to set some limits or be eaten alive. But limits are not total (or near-total) estrangement. Many of these stories do seem to occur in families where there has been a divorce, though sometimes in the distant past, and not 100%.

I actually have not seen that people who were abused as children are more likely to estrange themselves from their parents for past sins. The anger may linger, but as adults, they sometimes find some way to have some type of reasonable relationship. In a case where a child has been physically and sexually abused by their parents, divorce is perfectly understandable.

The parents don't always say the family life was normal and great years ago, but they do long for relationship they once had with their adult children, some of whom have gone from being very devoted to being seemingly callous.

Mostly I'm commenting that I see this a lot, and that I wonder what the other person would say.

jesse said...

Thinking of the question Dinah posed, is there an increase of adult children who divorce their parents over what existed in the past? And we can only examine the recent past, the last several decades, unless their is some way to get further data. In addition to the change in marital divorce (it can be very disturbing to adult children that their parents divorce, have affairs, etc.) another factor could be how common it is now that children and parents live far apart. They see each other infrequently yet might have great expectations of what is owed from one to the other.

A third factor could be changes in society. There could be less acceptance by children that they will stay loyal to, and provide for, their parents.

So I am thinking along the line of large societal forces. Children are less dependent on their parents than they were in the past, traditional duties less binding.

A Girl said...

Dinah,

I'm not in your target audience here, but I'd still like to address one of the points you made:

"The parent – usually, but not always, the mother – feels she’s made sacrifices for her child and has done an adequate (if not superb) job of parenting [..]"

"Sacrifice" is a very heavy word, that carries with it a lot of implications. Imagine that your husband had to choose between his carrier or yours? How would you feel if he made that 'sacrifice' for you - even if, years down the road, he'd never mentioned it? You'd owe him big.

If you ask me (and you didn't, I know), then today we live in a me-centered culture. There is great emphasis on feeling good, and this involves purging ourselves of anything that make us feel bad, including relationships.

Now, sacrifices are like too expensive gifts - you can never quite repay them, no matter what you do. Regardless of how pure the intentions of the giver were, the receiver will always be put on the spot, and forever be reminded of his or her dilemma. In every interaction between parent and child, the child is reminded just how much the parent had to give up. In a culture where feeling bad is BAD, what is the obvious solution?

Maybe your clients need to stop defining themselves as superparents who made great sacrifices for the kids, and find a different yardstick? Oh, and realize that when it comes to kids, there are no sacrifices - only choices.

Beginning with when you choose to get pregnant.

Your choices, every step of the way.

Sunny CA said...

My parents were physically and verbally abusive and Dad was an alcoholic, but I did not "divorce" them, though I did move to the opposite side of the country and I limited the length of my visits. I did however, "divorce" my sister, after both my parents died, who was physically and mentally abusive to me. I did that because it was suggested to me by my psychiatrist, and I do not think he was wrong in his suggestion. My earlier limiting of length of visits to my parents was also the suggestion of an MFCC counselor. I wonder how many of the self-sacrificing, devoted parents you talk to have kids in therapy whose therapists are telling them to limit contact or eliminate contact?

Anonymous said...

Good point, Sunny. While my shrink only ever heard my side of the story, I was counseled to consider a divorce to save my sanity. I had tried setting limits. My family does not understand limits. All I have to add is that no one would ask a victim of the Penn State affair, which has been discussed here, to consider an ongoing relationship with "good boundaries" with their abuser or with any of the people who knew and did nothing. it is not really fair to ask that of children whose parents have behaved in the same manner. I am not talking about parents who are overly critical or don't get along with your spouse. Yes, some people do maintain relationships with very abusive parents. We seem to think that we owe it to our parents because they gave us life. I was so loyal that I had a tough time talking to anyone because that is the nature of many abusive families.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any personal experience on this topic but I wonder:

When these now-adult children were small, what kind of relationship did they see their parents having with their parents (the kids' grandparents)?

Are these adult children simply treating their parents the way grandma and grandpa were treated back in the day?

Sad.

Anonymous said...

My brother "divorced" our parents after marrying a former friend of my sister. He said it was because my dad wasn't like the dad of his best friend in high school (Daddy didn't go to his wrestling matches in high school).

We all joined the Marines after high school and Brad couldn't seem to get his life in order following discharge. He was engaged to a woman to whom he called off the marriage. He then married a woman who was involved in an affair with him (even though we told him a woman who is willing to violate her vows once will do it again), had a child, then she divorced him (yes, history repeated itself). He then married this "friend" and the relationships between him and Mom and Dad were changed. When Daddy died, he didn't even stay for the funeral.

Mom was upset; now she is resigned. She changed her will so her estate is split only between me and my sister.

I have no idea what caused Brad to sever all ties with his family. We were all raised together. There was 18 months between me and him and 11 months between him and my sister (yup, Irish twins). It's been 8 years. I have no idea where he is. I guess I don't care anymore.

Anonymous said...

Dinah, mother to mother. If you found out that your other half raped your kid, would you force that kid to maintain a relationship? Would you stand up for the kid or for the other half. If the latter, would you understand why your kid might grow up to shun you? If you cannot relate to that on a human level, don't even answer.

Carolyn Cummings said...

I think a lot of the key here is to look at the current relationship without only focusing on the past- relationships of all kinds must continue to be fostered and fed, and what happened that worked 20 years ago might not be enough to sustain today. This is true in marital separations, and it may be true in parent/child relationships, too. Both parties have to be committed to keeping a relationship once biological necessity is no longer the foundation of that relationship. People grow apart if they aren't committed to staying together.

Moody Mommy said...

"Some seem to genuinely not know why the sudden change."

"The parents don't always say the family life was normal and great years ago, but they do long for relationship they once had with their adult children, some of whom have gone from being very devoted to being seemingly callous."

And I know for a fact that there was a time when my mother would tell people that we had always been so close and she just didn't know what had happened to change that. Our relationship had never been a good one but she was either in complete denial or just putting on a false front because she felt the need to keep up appearances.

Marie said...

This is a tough subject.

My mother has a personality disorder, and as an adult, I've learned to set limits and boundaries with her. We have extremely limited contact, mostly because I don't want my children to grow up with the kind of crap I had to grow up with.

I've always had a close(ish) relationship with my dad. When he and my mom divorced, I celebrated. And then he got remarried. Great! No judgement here, even though they started dating while he was still married to my mom. We're all just trying to survive, right?

We tried to get to know his wife.

And, I swear, he found another one. She is, pardon the term, a psycho-bitch.

For three years, we've tried to set limits with her. (For instance, you're not allowed to scream profanities at us around the children. Please find a private moment if you want to call us names.)

Nice.

A year ago, I told my dad we could no longer be with his wife at all. The limits weren't working and it was awful.

I told him I would love to see him ANYTIME...I'd even meet him half-way for lunch...whatever works for him. But, apparently he's not allowed to see me on his own.

Now it gets more interesting.

I got an email from someone in his church who is concerned that I have "cut off contact" with my dad. I have done no such thing. I have set firm boundaries that he interprets as cutting off contact.

I would love to spend time with my dad, but I will not be bullied by his wife.

I'm sad that my kids are growing up without him, but what can I do?

So, yeah. There are 2 sides to every story.

Psychology Scientist said...

I have been brought up by two most caring parents and I am a very lucky child. But adolescence and several of my own psychological issues, issues related to adjustment and frustration led to innumerable fights at home, some three years back. It was extremely frequent, hurting and painful. Each day I felt like I was at the mercy of their moods. On some days it was just fine and no harsh words would be exchanged, however on some days it was very difficult for me to stay inside the house, for it used to be kind of an emotional torture. There were times when I would simply declare a divorce, a way of adding weight to my role. I would threaten them that I would rather leave them than listen to all the things they say about me. I would also argue that had it been someone else in my place they would have left them long before. Initially I believed that the regular fights were due to a formation of gap in our belief systems or lifestyles. Though I was very adjusting and moral, it was difficult to convince them that I had my own reasons for being the kind of person that I was. Since my parents they belonged to orthodox families, they were against me for my attitude which was more independent and straight-forward and idealistic. Sometimes I could feel that things were going out of hand and that I could no longer tolerate them, not another day. Eventually though, I could understand their position, talk to them more openly about issues and I tried to resolve several gaps in our relationships. Now we are together happily and I am constantly progressing in my career as a psychologist. I hope my story adds a new dimension to this issue of relationships between adult children and their parents.

Jane said...

Something really shocked me several months ago. And I don't know how shrinks or other people would view me, but an MFT actually called me "controlling" on my first visit with him :) I went in there because I said I wanted to look for someone who I thought would be a good family counselor for my father and I. Dad said he would go to counseling, so I went and did the scouting for us. So I checked out one guy. When I went in there, and I said that I wanted help telling my father that we needed to set limits with his wife (we have conflicts), the therapist said that was very controlling, I can't change people, and that I should just sever ties with them :/ And not only that, he told me that he severed ties with his mother, but to quell his guilt he sends her a birthday card...huh??? I didn't go back to that therapist. In fact, I stopped hunting and gave up after that. Kinda traumatized. Lot of weirdos out there. But it worked out anyhow because my father respects that I no longer want contact with his wife, so I just see him now and again (w/out his wife). And I'm comfortable with that.

I'm not really sure why so many people are comfortable cutting out their parents. That was hard for me to cut out my stepmother, and I'm not even close with her. But I had to remind myself that she really doesn't have a relationship with me, it's not something she wanted, and my relationship with my father is more important. To maintain that relationship, I had to cut her out. And it wasn't just that I found her annoying or critical, etc. She would complain about me to my father and get him riled up over nothing. She would actively try to create conflict between my father and myself. She still does, and I don't even see her anymore. I don't see my father much either. Though when we do see each other we don't even discuss her. We just enjoy each others company. A sister of mine said his wife is angry that he still has contact with me and complains about it. I find that interesting, and I wonder what the psychology is behind that.

I don't recommend cutting out family members...but I will say this. By cutting out my father's wife, and only putting myself in situations where she was not present, I noticed I was much happier with the rest of my fam. I enjoyed their company more. So even though my time with them decreased (because I wouldn't be in the same room with his wife), the quality of the interactions increased.

And I think it taught me another lesson too. If I ever have a stepchild, I will not complain about that child to my spouse. And I will work hard to develop a relationship with that child. My own mother, when she was alive, was stepmom to my half sister, and they were very close. My mom always tried to make my half sister look good, and they would do stuff together. I realize that is where my dad's wife screwed up. My own mother seemed to intuitively know how to develop a close relationship with a stepchild. My father's wife, however, was completely bent on having no relationship at all and behaved like the stepchildren were a threat to her marriage...and I have no clue why she is like that.

Jane said...

@Marie: Wow. That sounds like my Dad and his wife. He's married to a crazy woman and limits have to be in place. But he took a different route. He will still see me, because he doesn't want to have to choose between his wife and his daughter. I hope your dad will come around some day. Interesting that he married a crazy woman twice. My mom was very sweet, loving, and popular with people. But then he married a psycho woman and I have no clue why...

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that people either assume that one was abused or that they are just shallow discarders of their relationship with their parents. I have not chosen to shun my father, who recently was found to be addicted to cocaine and had lied to our family for 30 years. This also involved sending the family into financial ruin. I thought I had a "totally normal family" (though not one without issues) only to watch it be driven to the brink. I get why an adult child would divorce a parent who did such things. While I have chosen to maintain contact on my own grounds, my brother has only seen my father once since early November. I get his choice. I feel like that too sometimes, but then other times, I feel the pangs of the fact that he is my father.

Dinah said...

There are not many relationships that can stand the test of absolutely unconditional love. Last anon, if you cut off your relationship with your father, he wouldn't go to a psychiatrist and say "I don't know why they won't talk to me.," he would say "My family couldn't tolerate the my cocaine addiction and all the pain that caused them." It's a fairly common problem for addicts.

Step-parents are a different story. These are complicated relationships.

Anon with the question of sexual abuse and taking sides: really, this story isn't about long standing anger from abuse. Personally, "I'm not speaking to you because you did nothing while I was being abused" seems like a reasonable response to me. Even if the parent claims they didn't know what was transpiring, we can all understand why someone who was sexually abused by a family member might want distance and carry anger.

I hate it when step-parents put a spouse in the middle and force them to choose between their children and themselves.

Any way you look at these stories, from both sides, they are painful ones.

Moody Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I "divorced" my father. I was physically and emotionally abused as a child, but that's not the reason I did it. After years of trying to have a relationship, it became clear that he was too much of a narcissist to ever give anything in the relationship -- and by that I mean to ever ask how I was or what was happening in my life or to even care when I nearly died from pulmonary embolisms -- and so I stopped trying and stopped speaking to him.

Anonymous said...

My husband excommunicated my family shortly after our marriage about 14 years ago. I have lived separated from them all this time and it has made me angry and sad. Now I have decided that the only way to even things is to excommunicate his parents. I feel hollow and even more empty and tired but I must mete out my punishment. I would have excommunicated his siblings if he had any. An eye for an eye.

Karis Knight MD said...

You seem to ignore developmental changes in both the parents who are aging (whether 50 or 70) and changing and perhaps growing or not growing; and the "children" who may keep score one way as actual "children" but have since become adults. You seem to register this at the first of the blog and then at the end take the stance that these adult "children" are rather spoiled and full of expectations and haven't gone through any developmental changes. I am assuming this is an assumption on your part as you say the children don't come with their parents to sessions so it doesn't sound like some thing you "know". There are indeed two sides to every story and perhaps you might think in your practice about the characteristics of the generation of older adults you are seeing as you do seem to be thinking of what has been written about the younger adults and the characteristics of their generation (whether Generation Y or X or Mosaic or Millenials or..). You may have desired to inspire a reaction with your blog post but just causing a reaction is sometimes a hurtful and dangerous thing to do. Especially in a world that I would think most psychiatrists at least have recognized as very frightened. Division isn't helpful right now. Communication; acceptance; forgiveness; hearing what the other generation has to say; loving in spite of the past; asking for what you want in the future and how you might get it; encouraging people to continue to love and to find a way their family member will allow them to show love even in a very small way - these are things that will fit almost any circumstance. It is in some ways unusual for people over age of 55 or 60 to see a shrink. So I can't help but be curious about what your sample population might have in common that would make such a thing more likely to have happened to them? And what do you do to help them with this situation?

Dinah said...

So I don't mean to divide, but the task of psychotherapy involves having some alliance with the patient in front of you. Shrink Rap seems to have readers may be saying "I'm mad at my parents and with reason." I have those patients, but none of them, like most of our readers here, have just written their parents out of their lives. On the other hand, I have seen a bunch of people who's children have written them out. I don't quite count adolescents in this group (they generally don't go completely AWOL), because developmentally it's not that unusually to have problems with your parents while you are separating.

In these cases, I feel some sympathy for the parents because theirs is the story I hear and their pain is intense and palpable. I don't have the adult child's side, but I am well aware that people don't estrange themselves for no reason. I try to explore this with the parents, but as they are the patient, I am sympathetic to their pain. It would be no more therapeutic to say to an estranged parent, "You must have done awful things to deserve this," then it would be to say to an abused child, "you must have been a difficult, misbehaving little critter to inspire such wrath." In my office, I tend to feel sympathy for the person who is there. I also feel frustration for them that they don't have an answer, and so in the case of anon above with the narcissistic, uncaring father, I would want for the father (if he were my patient) to be able to say, "My kid emailed me that he won't speak to me because I never ask how he is or what he's doing and I didn't visit him in the hospital when he was sick." Something concrete I can help my patient work with to change.

The scoreboard I mentioned in the CPN post...it's just a pattern I've noticed, in many parents and many children, even those who are not estranged.

Okay, let me take a quick mental tally. I can think of 3 people in my personal life having great difficulties with their adult children whom they were previously close to. None are totally estranged. All of the parents are over 60. At work...Two come to mind, both over 70 at the time the estrangement began...I know there are more...a while back there was one, child didn't talk to her for 10 years but suddenly started to again, she was around 60 (the parent).

It's unusual for people over age 55 to see a shrink? Not in my practice. Age range 18-92. Oh, the 92 year old, I think one of her kids went silent on her, she hasn't been in for a while.

Karis wrote: "Communication; acceptance; forgiveness; hearing what the other generation has to say; loving in spite of the past; asking for what you want in the future and how you might get it; encouraging people to continue to love and to find a way their family member will allow them to show love even in a very small way - these are things that will fit almost any circumstance." Absolutely!!! I encourage my patients to try, I invite them to bring their children.

I am surprised that we've not heard from any parents here.

Anonymous said...

I can't count how many times I've divorced my parents. I know I've hurt my Mother the most... because I'm a 32 yr old female who is Bipolor and has gotton into fights with family members in my mothers house. None of her other kids seem to want to come around because of me. That's the sad part..

Sunny CA said...

If the parent has been abandoned and the parent would like communication with the child, I wonder if it might be worth exploring ways in which the parent could attempt to restore peace to the relationship. My parents never called me. They left it to me to be the communicator. If I left longer gaps in the relationship at times, they did not fill those gaps. Perhaps a card, a call, an email a text, some photos might help get talking restarted. When my sister and I were not talking for several years, she could have helped smooth over our difficulties with an apology, a call, a note...anything. Instead she waited until I did the calling then said she had been heart-broken Well, not too heart-broken or she would have reached out instead of waiting for me to do it.

Anonymous said...

No comment other than to say that my wv is nolabler. I like that.

Carrie said...

Sunny,

I agree with you that your situation sounds like one in which your parents "dropped the ball" so to speak in terms of communication over a long period of time. There are some cases where I truly believe that parents, even if they don't understand it, respect the need to give space to their estranged adult child. In those cases, they may not call because they worry it will just anger their loved one more. That's not the case in what you described, but just wanted to point out that sometimes the parent doesn't call for fear of making the estrangement worse and to give their loved one time and space.

Anonymous said...

Dinah,

I think that the children grow up move out and then (unfairly) compare the relationship and interactions they have with their parents to the relationships they have with their partners, siblings, roommates and friends and find them lacking.

My parents although very flawed were on the whole decent parents, but they are completely like many of my peers parents (I'm 24) unable to deal sucessfully with any kind of problems.

When I have problems in my life my friends and sister is there for me, helping me find medical care, comforting me after a death or breakup, helping me to move or going with me to find an apartment. My parents however get so upset and intent on offering and having me follow unworkable advice that dealing with them takes as much time and energy as dealing with my problem.

I love my parents and am glad to be in a relationship with them. But, the few people I know that are divorced from their parents do so because they can't deal with both their parents and their own problems.

As children your parents are the most important people in your life, but as adults many other people (your spouse, children, responsibilities) need to come first.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/health/20mind.html?ref=health

Good article,that was.

beingestrangedhurtsless said...

I am estranged from both of my (divorced) parents and it is unendingly painful (but less painful than keeping contact with them, which is why it is the only choice at this time). I am disturbed by how flip this decision is made to look, like it's some kind of fashion to shun your parents. If I had a magic wand, I would love nothing more than to have some kind of baseline, basic, functioning relationship with them. Through therapy I tried all through my 20's to fix things, and even re-opened a relationship with my Dad, only to be estranged again because of him verbally abusing and terrifying my 3 year old son. I regret giving it another go with my father, and I aplogise to my kids for letting Grandpa stay with us, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that they don't miss my father, it breaks my heart not to be able to be near my parents, but at least I can function on some kind of level emotionally as opposed to being constantly traumatized by them. If you were to ask my parents why we are estranged, neither of them would show any kind of self awareness about their behavior and they would put it all on me (I've seen that in writing and heard them say those things) I'm certain they would say we were 'so close' and they don't understand why we're estranged. I wish as a society that there was more understanding for adults that have the courage to leave abuse and protect themselves and their children. I love my own children dearly... if I make it hard to live for my children and take no steps to be responsible for my behavior or make positive changes, I would rather they cut me off so they can survive and function rather than keep suffering abuse because that's just what you're supposed to do. Maybe if society stopped stigmatizing the adult child's decision to move toward health and wholeness instead of drowning in dysfunction (and yes, sometimes there is no other choice but to cut them off like a dead limb), then these 'blameless' parents would be more motivated to take a look at themselves and stop being so damaging to their adult children, and then maybe we all really could have some kind of happily ever after.

Anonymous said...

When my sister adopted a child, my parents forgot about me. They always visit her. They haven't visited me in 3 years. They always call and Skype her. I get calls on my birthday. I resent it. It affects the relationship negatively and I have trouble hiding my contempt. It's a vicious, self-fulfilling cycle.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 grown kids with my first husband. He cheated on me from about 2 weeks into our marriage, was a pathological liar and abusive. I finally divorced him after my daughter was born. My oldest was 7 and insisted he live with his dad. I finallyll agreed and I raised my daughter . My son moved home at 18 and stayed for about 4 years. His girlfriend convinced him to move from CA to OR. At that point he stopped all communication with me for a few years until they were getting a divorce, he had a bad accident, and "needed" me. Well, several years have passed and he is, again, engaged. I have not met her but my daughter tried to form a friendship with her but called it off as she was too strange. Guess what, he has again cut off all contact with me. I didn't even know about her until my daughter told me. I tried calling him on his BD, Thanksgiving, and even Xmas and he wouldn't answer his phone or return my call. He had no problem cashing the checks though. I finally got a nasty email from him after I sent him one wanting to know what was up. His response was that he is an adult and doesn't need a parent to tell him what to do. I had mentioned that I had loved a card he sent for mom's day but would have still loved to hear his voice. After his rant he had the nerve to update me on his life. I had stopped using Facebook over a year ago but decided to give it another chance today. I was stupid. I discovered that he doesn't even have me listed as family. My husb. Is there as his stepdad. His stepmom is there as his mom. I then looked at my daughter's to discover that I am not listed as family there either. In fact, she has some family tree ap and has her stepmom listed as giving birth to her! I will be the first to to say I am not a great mom. I went through hell and back. I have PTSD as a result of my marriage. But I don't deserve that. My daughter and I are great friends and spend a lot of time together so why the betrayal?

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is one magic answer to why a child would turn on, or shun, their parent. Almost every friend I have ‘has’ one sibling that is an outcast. I don’t get it. I realize that family relationships are so hard, delicate -- especially in these “times” of financial pressures, addictions and divorce statistics. “Shunning” a parent was either obsolete in prior generations or people didn’t talk about it openly.

My experience is quite the opposite, a personal enigma. My parents were of the "Mad Men" generation – alcohol for lunch and dinner; cigarettes; black ties & cocktail dresses, Cadillacs, infidelity. They were self-centered, hedonistic, egotistical, competitive – their parents came from the great Depression; many grew up in poor homes. Most of the men fought in the World Wars. Money was everything. Image was everything. The Rat Pack; pinky rings and big hair. My sister and I were five and seven in the 1960’s and we were considered "accessories" by our parents. Seriously, my father used to tell my mother to treat us like furniture. They were not demonstrative. They didn’t care about our day or what we learned at school. We didn’t talk back. We were hit, i.e., spanked, one swap, if we did something wrong. But, outside of the home, we looked precious – a perfect family.

Interestingly, our parents’ parenting skills affected us rather differently. I was the good daughter, tried so hard to please them. My father was much closer to me than my mother. I was a straight *A* student, never did drugs, graduated high school and college early [Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude] married a good guy -- and had two daughters (although I was divorced after 17 years). I thought being "perfect" would result in positive reinforcement, i.e., more love, warmth, attention. Didn't happen. My sister went completely the other way: she was a free spirit, fought with my father, ran with a tough crowd, hated me, did poorly in school and caused much havoc in our lives. Although my mother adored her, she was afraid to defend her when my father yelled at her. My sister was involved with drugs, didn’t go to college, got into trouble, then crashed & burned by 25 years old, followed by a year of living with my parents, during which she had a horrible relationship with by father. She was married and divorced twice; she never had children [but had a few abortions]. However, she was the apple of my parents’ eyes. She gave nothing, and she got everything – maybe not always positive, but negative attention is still attention.

Our Mom passed away this past April. After my Dad passed twelve years ago, my sister and I had our own relationships with her. She adored my sister, who visited her often. Apparently, my Mom changed her Will to say that my sister would inherit 60% of her worth/assets, and I would inherit 40%. I found out by accident [before my Mom passed away] -- noticing a document in her home while taking care of her before she died.

So, here is my question. Why didn’t I shun them all? At the very least, I would have protected myself and ended years of hurt and rejection. Is it Freudian? A matter of nature versus nurture? Is it based on the balance of love/hate or give/take or chemistry/no chemistry with a child?

But, back on topic – children shunning their parents. At this time in our lives, if our children decide to shun us for whatever reason – and you know you have done the best you can, perfect or not perfect, and loved your child – let go. Say “no”. You deserve better. If you are lucky, maybe your child will wake up sooner than later and make amends. I hope so!

Anonymous said...

I am considering a "divorce" from my parents. They think that all the problems in our relationship are my fault and are very critical and controlling. Recently I almost died due to a prescription drug interaction. They left while I was still in a coma. This was only three days into my coma, and I woke up the day after they left. They hardly ever came to visit me in the hospital, and I was there for two months. They did try to take care of me after I was released, but after hearing them tell me what a burden I was (and I thanked them profusely every day and tried to be the least burden possible) I left.
Anyway, I think that I am done with them, but I have a three year old son that I have to think of. What is the best thing for him? Are my parents going to have a harmful effect on him? Or would it be more harmful for him to not know them at all? Will he resent me twenty years from now? I'm thinking maybe short supervised visits is the way to go. Anyone have any thoughts? There is a lot of history to our relationship that I won't bore you with, but I'll just say that we've never gotten along.

Anonymous said...

I agree with an earlier comment about really considering the relationship as it stands now. Adult children often feel obligated to maintain a relationship with their family or parents despite it currently damaging their day to day lives. I believe each case should be judged individually. Fundamentally it should be about what is right for that individual, what will give them a better personal environment in which to live.Sometimes it's too hard to set boundaries with parents, they see you as their 'baby' and they are unwilling to change their perception of you or the way they treat you. It's sad to think most adult children will be tormented with guilt for divorcing their parents, but very few parents will admit what they have done to cause that to happen.

Green said...

i find myself too exhausted to work on any relationships. I'm just letting go and not trying. I just completely gave up. I find myself wishing everyone would just leave me alone. My adult children, my siblings, my husband, my mother, friends, co-workers, everyone.It's like I'm just quitting, like I don't believe human relations can be good or fulfilling. What's wrong with me? greenpilgrim50 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Regarding the original post...You describe children divorcing their parents without real cause. I think you may not have the full story. I can imagine my parents thinking that I've divorced them without any real cause. I do see my parents a couple of times each year. I will never have my children around them unsupervised. My father wakes up at 4am for his first drink and has a DUI in his past. He's off his meds Bipolar. The last time i saw him, i was pregnant. After listening to him rant incoherently about politics for many hours, i asked him to change the subject and he tried to slap me (6 months pg at the time). At my wedding 2 years ago, he was so drunk. He got up and announced to all our friends that he's a child molester. I'm not even kidding! To my knowledge he's not a child molester and I don' t know why he was compelled to say this in front of our friends will small children....it was so bizarre. He's refused to discuss the situation since. My mother was extremely abusive to me as a child, both emotionally and physically. She put me in the hospital at age 5 for grease burns up and down my arms. She has the strangest most offensive personality. I have been through a lot with my parents and deserve to be divorced from them. I plan on closely guarding their behavior around my children. My contact with them is very minimal, but they have a lot of money. With everything that I've been through, i feel that i deserve my inheritence, which it why I continue to put up with their behavior!

Dinah said...

Last anon:
You are not who I'm talking about. A parent who has physically injured you to the point of requiring medical care, a parent who has attempted to strike you while you are pregnant.... these are the extremes.

Anonymous said...

My husband handed your article to me from the clinicalpsychiatry magazine. Okay, you are getting a lot of dissent here. it just goes to prove the point or maybe they really are children of major aberrations.

Either case, I am from India, and parents create a much different expectation there. That's the culture there. You as a child owe to your parents. You grow up in debt. The culture forces it on you. The result is that you don't have these divorces. Child must balance in his or her psyche what he got with what he owes. The owing part is drummed into their head so the baseline is different. I don't see that in American culture. Parents do far more and get so little. This is the most child-centric culture ever. But also with most abandoned parents.

I do totally agree with your article. It is a fantastic revelation to me, this way of thinking of why such estrangements happen.

Anonymous said...

In my personal experience, I want to divorce my parent because she has been depressed, angry and bitter all of my life. She was what she considers the black sheep of her family and because of her disposition, she is a black sheep in life! Everything goes wrong for her. Everyone is out to get her. She loses job after job. She diagnosis everyone elses problems in life even suggesting that they need counseling; yet fails to self evaluate/diagnose herself. She's miserable and brings misery into my home. She's constantly protecting me from people who have no way of harming me. She's now protecting my children in the same manner. She makes me feel as if she has my back in life when I am not even fighting in life. She plays herself up as a well adjusted person, but what becomes obvious to me is that she has a hard time functioning in life. I am exhausted with her. She is mentally and emotionally draining. I've asked her years ago to get help, she says she's gotten some but thats it for her. Wow, I just need atleast a seperation!!

Anonymous said...

In my personal experience, I want to divorce my parent because she has been depressed, angry and bitter all of my life. She was what she considers the black sheep of her family and because of her disposition, she is a black sheep in life! Everything goes wrong for her. Everyone is out to get her. She loses job after job. She diagnosis everyone elses problems in life even suggesting that they need counseling; yet fails to self evaluate/diagnose herself. She's miserable and brings misery into my home. She's constantly protecting me from people who have no way of harming me. She's now protecting my children in the same manner. She makes me feel as if she has my back in life when I am not even fighting in life. She plays herself up as a well adjusted person, but what becomes obvious to me is that she has a hard time functioning in life. I am exhausted with her. She is mentally and emotionally draining. I've asked her years ago to get help, she says she's gotten some but thats it for her. Wow, I just need atleast a seperation!!

Anonymous said...

That's EXACTLY the same as my mother & sister. They dont bother to communicate unless i am the one doing the work. I know my mum is extremely hurt, but am flummoxed as to why she just wont pick up the phone and initiate a conversation. To me this is just self-defeatist on her part, but i end up looking like the bastard! I tell her i get lonely for my family too and why doesnt she ring more often, and she just replies as if i told her the moon was made of marshmallow, then tells me what i said was 'mean & nasty'. WTF? I'm asking for a CLOSER relationship, isnt that what all parents want?!? But relationships must be two-sided otherwise they wither and die.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from India- You nailed it on the head "parents do far more and get so little" is in direct correlation with your other statement "this is the most child-centric culture ever."

I am not talking abusive relationships here, just the entitlement generation. No patience or desire to compromise. Selfish generation of kids. Many parents who give too much without expecting anything in return are overcompensating for their own insecurities, divorce, etc. Remember the parents generation lost husbands/fathers to wars, and became the first generation of working women.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10/17 with Black Sheep Mom - Exactly like my Mother in Law. My poor husband can do nothing right. I have played the mediator for 27 years and I am finally done with her. Now that we are not giving her our undivided attention, she has disowned my husband and warned the other half siblings that we are dangerous and if they don't sever ties with us they will also be disinherited. She is off her rocker! Love Mom

Ninja said...

I am a parent with a daughter who married a guy (narcissist) that grew up in an abusive home. He will not allow my daughter to have a relationship with anyone but him (except my submissive sister who is acting sheepish-playing his game- so that my daughter can have a lifeline). He has been mean to her too but she is willing to take it to remain in contact with her niece. My daughter had told me how mean he was to his mother before they were married. They have no family or friends as each person has been pushed away in very bizarre verbally abusive ways. My daughter told my purposefully submissive sister that she wants her family in her life with or without him but each time she gets the nerve up to talk to him, he turns into the most loving sweet guy, douses her with gifts, and sweeps her off her feet. Each time she gets a little further under his spell. Every time I try to contact her I purposefully remain positive, I tell her she is beautiful and that I love and miss her. We cry happy/sad tears together - we are girls (we live far apart)! Her spouse then verbally attacks me with threatening swear words because I made her cry. Recently my daughter was affected by Hurricane Sandy and I called to check on her. She told me that she didn't want me to contact her again but she loved me and missed me. My heart is broken and I am confused. We were so close before this and she had a wonderful relationship with her sister (no longer). My guess is that she is "protecting" me from being verbally abused by her spouse as he takes out his anger on women (his mother and me) but he just hates my husband/daughters father and vice versa. the narcissist wont verbally attack him but my hubby is a large alpha male and the narcissist is a scrawny little guy. He used to check her phone every Wednesday and Sunday but now he obsessively monitors her texts through her gmail account where she must download all of her texts, and has full access to her facebook pages and even replies as if it is actually my daughter and he also blocks me from viewing any new pictures or events. As for phone calls, he monitors every call over the Verizon bill and will call any number he doesn't recognize on the list if she has talked maybe more than 3 or 4 minutes. As long as she plays by his rules, her bubble is perfect.

I don't think young adults realize how important our children are to us. The purpose of our lives for the most part was to raise our children. To cheer them on, to wipe their tears, and to prepare them for a successful life on their own. Our children bring us so much joy! I would never think a day would come when I would have one daughter violently ripped out of my heart and be forbidden to talk to her. I know I wasn't a perfect parent but every decision I made was out of love and concern for my children and I did the best that I knew how to do. Even though my mother left when I was 4 I don't hold any grudges. I know she did the best she could do with the tools she was given.

When I was a young lady and married at 19, I walked away from my old life too. I was being raised by a single dad, who I knew loved me very much but had three girls he was trying to raise on his own. He left us alone a lot and worked a bunch to keep food on the table. I never realized the pain I probably caused him when I walked out the door and got married back then. The BIG difference is he is STILL a part of my life and I continue to let him know I love and care about him. There are days he gets on my nerves, as all parents do, he wants to give me his advice or whatever. I still respect him and listen to what he has to say (maybe rolling my eyes in private). I bet there were long stretches of time where I just didn't stay in touch. Now I know how important that was and I know I made a mistake.But parents care about their kids!! You don't just stop caring just because your kid becomes an adult.

Sorry to ramble on so, but I hope this helps someone. . .

Hurting Mom said...

ninja~ thanx so for your post.... and all others too:)
I have spent part of today reading through this blog and hurting more than ever. Don't know what to do. After having 3 sons I adopted 3 daughters (from Asia). Different years of adopting and 2 were tiny babies, none were related. Fast forward to now, none of the girls even contact me. I've been told not to come to the wedding of the only single one. There is no precedent for this chaos that I an figure out. There is a step-mother involved married to the father of my 6 children. We were divorced 22 years ago and both of us remarried and are still with that 1 spouse. I have SO much I want to share, so much I want to ask...to understand. I'll end with this for now, this to ninja. The eldest daughter was married 5 years and it sounds so similar to your story. No contact with me was allowed, just with him and his friends. Last week, after abuse and threatening her again she left and called 911. There was a 6-hour standoff w/a SWAT team. Then he was found w/ a self inflicted gunshot to his head. Daughter is devastated, but still no contact. I have texted and sent support via email and via my sons. WHY WHY WHY?? I was always afraid of this happening and it has. Ninja,let's hope your daughter can be smart enough also in time.

Ninja said...

Hurting Mom ~ I am so sorry about your daughter and what is happening with your other children. I have had fears all along that my daughter’s husband would take my daughter’s life because he has shown such controlling behavior. I have two friends from high school, in unrelated incidents, where the spouse took the life of their daughter, and the other one was an ex husband who killed himself and their children during his custody weekend. A persons mind goes crazy realizing how crazy things can get, and when we lose contact with our kids, our minds can sometimes go crazy with bad thoughts because we just don’t know and we don’t feel like we can protect them. As parents we worry about our kids on a normal day, much less when there is strife. We become parents and our lives revolve around our kids, cuddling them on sick days, thinking every piece of art work they create is amazing and can't be thrown away, or every sport they do they do wonderfully, we praise and encourage them and we beam with pride. I NEVER thought either one of my daughters would leave and not look back. Both set up well financially and both with full-ride college scholarships - young ladies with the world at their feet. My other daughter is my rock. She worries too much about her father and me to the point I have to encourage her to think more about herself and her beau. What a blessing to have her though. I think our kids reach that time when their bodies and hormones say they are adults and they are ready to stand on their own. We as parents want to "help" and we think we are 'helping' with our advice or suggestions; however, our kids think of it as us trying to control them which often pushes them away. I always try to pause before spurting 'advice' anymore and ask "do you want my opinion? Sometime it is yes and sometimes it is no, and I just have to respect that. Did you know that eagles destroy their nests once their babies are ready to fly? It makes them uncomfortable and learn life skills as they are forced out of the nest. I think we can learn a lot from nature. For instance, if there are young ladies out there that can’t understand why their father seems controlling or worried or not liking their boyfriend or their relationship or not happy with the fact you might be living with some guy, please you tube a video using search words “Old Hippo vs Young Hippo” Just watch that clip in a pure animal sense. See the instinct of the alpha hippo to protect his ladies, and his offspring against the new guy in town and what happens to him- that is your father. We are all animals in a primal sense. Your father can not turn off his instinct to protect you. It is only through marriage that a father can ritualistically turn the responsibility to protect you over to your spouse. It is God’s plan and clears a father’s path to step away from the role of the protector. It is so hard for a Christian father, probably any father, to see his little girl living with a guy without a commitment. There is no exit strategy for the father. You are his precious jewel and there is nothing else he wants to protect more than you. It is his life and his destiny. He may lash out at you or make you mad but just know it is only his frustration at not being able to be your protector. He really doesn’t know what else to do. (Continued)

Ninja said...

For the mother, the protection mechanism is different, for me anyway. I don’t really care if my daughter is living with another guy before marriage as long as that guy is taking care of my daughter’s heart and she is in a good place emotionally. But, strong parents, even though they might disagree with the level or degree of ‘protection’ above, they often have to come to a compromise and respect and support each other in order for their own marriage to survive. That was the very first argument we had with my rogue daughter and her husband (boyfriend at the time). They lived in another state and wanted to come visit us and we were excited about that but asked them to sleep in separate rooms. They came and tried to do it but decided to sneak into the same room in the middle of the night and then fell asleep. My husband woke up to them being in the same bed and flipped his wig. We worked things out that day, but we discovered it was one thing after another, unfortunately she has chosen a guy that does not understand the concept of a family as he had a rough upbringing. All he knows to do is attack people and he thinks everyone is out to attack him. Relationships are tough. . . even positive relationships take continuous work. Hurting Mom, I have so much more to say too, but am running out of time today. I think this forum is a great place to talk about this as we are still on the original subject. Being left by my mom at 4 I have developed some pretty cool coping skills. What works for me does not work for my husband. For me, again I look to nature, I see every creature trying to raise their offspring. So many babies are lost and I wonder why I feel I should be different. Our goal as parents is to give our children the skills they need to lead a successful life. Once they reach adulthood what do we truly desire? I thought I desired so much more until this experience with my daughter and then I realized I really don’t care about so many of those other “things/judgments” – does she have the right job, is she sleeping with him before marriage, how is her financial plan, is this guy the wrong color, the wrong religion, is she drinking? Are they spending more holidays at his house and not mine? etc etc. Now the only thing I absolutely care about is if my daughter is happy. It is not my business about any other thing. So, now I have a wonderful relationship with one daughter, not married, in a bi-racial relationship, in their own apartment, etc. She is HAPPY! We absolutely love the guy because he treats her with kindness, he loves her and she is emotionally in a great spot. They don’t sleep together in our house but they can do whatever else they want (as could our other daughter) and that is cool. Then I have one daughter that I can’t even text and tell her I love her without getting cussed out by her spouse. What can I do, what do I have control of, and how much pride am I willing to swallow to be able to hear my other daughter’s voice? That is the question I have to ask myself. Although I am punished every time I call, I need to keep calling; however, I need to figure out how to change my words so they are not taken in the wrong context – such as “I worry about you” can be interpreted as “I don’t trust her or that I don’t feel she is capable of taking care of herself.” We need to change our words to very simple baby steps. No jabs, no hard feelings just swallow them and bite your tongue. Talk the weather if you have to, but continue to reach out and just say I love you or I miss you, or mention a good memory about something that made you think of them. Just good things – and then don’t expect anything in return. It is sowing seeds and sometimes it takes time to reap that harvest. From one hurting mom to another – hang in there, it can only go up from here! Thank you for this blog. . .

The Other Side of the Story said...

One suggestion for therapists. My daughter has been seeking counseling and so does my mother-in-law. For some reason in both of these instances, they only tell their therapists one side of the story which then results in poor advice. It would be awesome if my daughter's therapist would call me (with my daughter's permission) and I would gladly provide any information to so the therapist can make in informed recommendations. The therapist can make much more of a positive impact if they realize the myth and reality of the people coming to them. My mother-in-law is so off base her therapist of course tells her how awful we are and recommends bizzare things. If the therapist knew the entire story (I don't want to hear the other side it is not my business) just know both sides before providing recommendations. My mother-in-law is suicidal and she drags her therapists ideas of my husband/her own son being the cause of her problems that she calls him just before she tries to shoot herself and tells him it is all his fault. Screwball!! She does this infront of his younger siblings and creates all sort of head games. But the therapist continues to tell her that everything is someone else's fault, I am sure that is the way she is presenting it. I can see a lot of family therapy having much different results with input from both sides.

hurting mom said...

Hello ninja and ..."other side...". Thanx for both of your posts, full of wisdom and things to think about. I'd just written a loooong reply and it went "POOF" when i typed in the two words to prove I'm not a robot! Ughhh... now I don't have as much time, so just a quik reply. Also wanted to share a site I just that may be helpful to all. You need to be approved, which is good. It's http://estrangedstories.com/.
Other side~ You're so right about the therapists needing to know both sides of the story BEFORE giving crazy advice to a sick person. Too bad that the younger siblings have to see that chaos. They need protection from that.
All in all, this is very hard for me. Hard to live straight up in the presence of such blatant rejection/ scorn/ hatred from my 3 daughters. I thought I'd been a great mother, and tried my best every day... Thinking I was setting a good foundation for a great happy forever family. NOT!!!

Best to all~
hurting mom

Anonymous said...

I think it is time I divorce my mother. She met someone when I was a teenager and had three children with him. Fast forward 11 years of emotional abuse he kicked her out. She was left feeling worthless. She used to be strong.I was always the backbone. Her strong dominant daughter who never liked her husband. Since they separated 8 years ago she continues to make excuses for his odd, bad behaviour. He left her with nothing and still it took a miracle for her to take him to court. I would invite her to a play or vacation and she is not able to live in the moment. It is like she craves male companionship all the time to enjoy herself. When it is the two of us she acts so uninterested and wants to go home not taking into account that there are two people involved. I have to realize she is comfortable where she is and I have to live my own life. I am married and she does not like my husband because he doesn't make a lot of money. I can't live in her sick twisted world. She always cries and plays the victim. Everybody is always doing something to her. She fails to take responsibility of her actions. I am sick of it and its taking a toll therefore I have to divorce her.

Hurting Mom said...

Hello there "Anonymous"... Just want to comment on what you'd said here...
"I have to realize she is comfortable where she is and I have to live my own life. I am married and she does not like my husband because he doesn't make a lot of money..." I love that you said you have to "live your own life"! Sounds so much like the chaos that I've been living thro for years.As a mother of EIGHT children ranging from 41 to 21, it seems like there comes a time when all of our devotion/ care/ love, etc., really means NOT! a THING!! Guess it's like a wake up call to take care of OUR OWN SELF for a moment or two !! Fancy that! Caring for ME!! for YOU!! How about trying to JUST DO IT!! Hugs and happy THANKSgiving!! me

Anonymous said...

I recently have stopped talking to both my parents, as well as my siblings. I got married this year and they really let me down. They fought me tooth and nail about being involved and in the end were not involved at all. I have always tried to be a good son and brother no matter what the situation. Because I wanted to and not because I expected anything in return. My mom basically told me she tought I could find a better woman than the one I chose to marry and her sentiment was felt all throughout the wedding process and at the wedding. My wife at this point never wants to talk to anyone in my family again, and she has known my family for over 15 years. I tried talking to them and expressing my feelings about how they were hurting me and us but either they didnt understand or dont care. i dont want to have to be this way with them, it doesnt feel good, but it seems like the only option i have left. Im torn as to what to do going forward, i want to protect myself and my wife from being hurt again but i dont want to have to disconnect myself from my family forever.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I recently stopped talking to my parents as well as my siblings. I was married this year and they let me down to the point where they pretty much were not involved in the wedding at all. I have always tried to be there for my family regardless of the situation, bc i wanted to and not for anything in return. The one time i asked them to be there for me they made me feel as though i was inconviencing them and that they couldnt be bothered. i guess i just expected more of them. my mother basically told me she felt i could find a better woman to marry. neither my sister or mother attended the bridal party and at the wedding neither one of them said hello or congratulations to her or to us together. these are my actual observations not what someone told me. my wife at this point doesnt want to talk to my family ever again, which i cant blame her considering she hasn't ever done anything wrong to them. she's known my family since we are teenagers, we're both 30 years old now. i dont want to have to be this way, its not the type of person i am but i feel i have to protect myself and my family from being hurt again. i dont know what to do bc i dont want to hurt my parents but after repeated attempts to explain my feelings to them nothing changed. i want us all to be close and i've tried my best but it really seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

seejay said...

I am trying to separate somewhat from my daughters (age 25+) I think. Nothing untoward in their upbringing. I have not taken a new 'partner' after the divorce as I see a step parent as an invader who will try change things or usurp their mother which I would consider to be immoral. I do not feel that I must have a significant other. On the other hand their mothers views on such matters are the opposite, she has replaced me with a surrogate father who incidentally was the other party/cause of divorce, and is happy to carry on as though nothing has changed. Their mother is a forceful/domineering personality who has successfully got them to go along with this status quo. So I do not think about them all the time, I have no alternative but to cut myself free (er), I refuse to take just the left over scraps of time that come my way. A break/distancing may be less pain in the long run. I know not for sure but I must try it.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah..scapegoated daughter of a violent alcoholic narcissist father who used to throw me on the ground climb on top of me and beat me with his fists..constant ridicule and humiliation. All the family's problems were blamed on me, even though i was the quiet gifted one. Meanwhile he was taking in foster kids so everyone could admire what a great guy he was. bhind closed doors he hicked my dog down the stairs in a fit of rage and broke her back.

My mother wanted to keep her "nice things" and refused to give me to my grandmother who could see how horrible it was for me..she needed me to take the abuse so i wouldn't have to.

I do not want to see either parent again in this life time and am in the process of writing letters telling them so.
THIS is why i do not want to talk to them ever again.

mitzy said...

I very much believed in intact families. My lovely and hardworking Dad sadly became an alcoholic late in my life (17-18). He was a very loving and active father, he just couldn't handle being a self made self employed man when his lifelong business went under due to corporate competetion for his customers. He and my mom eventually parted company, but stayed married and have a pretty decent relationship. It was painful to us kids, but we love them both, still.
I married what appeared to be a very nice man, and in some ways he was, but very very self centered, even at 32. He became obsessed with making money and frequently ignored me and our children. Upon his retirement he became obviously a person with a drinking problem, like my Dad to cover this he went on attack of me. Very two faced to our children, very unconcerned for having a relationship with them or me, always seperate the family to him on one side, me and kids on other, UNTIL he realized how much cover up damage he could do putting the kids in the middle. Now all hell broke loose, he is very two faced and likes to look good in front of people but very abusive to me privately. I was the stay at home, and frankly he was rarely here in our lives, no vacations, time as a couple, became ALL about him. To my kids he is a hero, though they will admit THEY wouldn't want to be married to him. Years of his projections of guilt onto me, has brainwashed them into seeing ME as the problem. Me, who was in the trenches trying to give the girls a good, loving fun life in spite of his neglect of all of us. Yes, he paid the bills but that was about it. No real interest in any of us and very controlling of me. Liked to triangulate, always said yes if I said no to them, and more interested in being popular than being a REAL parent.
Somehow in all of this my adult children thinking they KNEW it all began to have major conflicts with me (teen years) that clearly my husband encouraged. They became very spoiled by him, (throwing money around to win favor) and critical of me. I finally decided to divorice him when the oldest were grown and married, and the youngest 17, after a very abusive physical demeanor developed in my husband and I could no longer tolerate his controlling way, and abusive two faced mouth and actions.
Naturally, the older kids now blame ME, as they have dealt with years of programming to to that. I had some difficulties with the oldest and at almost 25, trying to get them out of the crossfire and triangulation told them they needed to get moving on having their own places. (he, needing their support, did not support them moving on and out)
Long story short, this narcissistic man, has completely split our family. Two oldest, that he mostly ignored with small and then some, and the two youngest with me. I expect that will change. Basically if he can't control me with money, he will control me with my children.
The oldest two abuse and ignore or expect to order me around, and I suspect he will do his "magic" on our youngest too, when he deems this is good punishment for me standing up to him.
I am sad, lonely and very hurt my kids treat me this way, but I try and understand as this is what he taught, bribed and needed them to do, so he didn't look the bad guy. He is great at playing the victim. My filing for divorice gave that to him on a platter, and my kids fall for it hook line and sinker.
He wants us estranged to cover his guilt. Sad and so unfair for me, who is seen as the problem. The hurt is awful to loose my lifetime closeness to my kids to a man who could have cared less if we all just disappeared when they were needing a father in their lives. This is his revenge for my disallowing his drinking, control, and neglect.
Every side usually has one story, and the truth is easily covered by "manipulators".

mitzy said...

I very much believed in intact families. My lovely and hardworking Dad sadly became an alcoholic late in my life (17-18). He was a very loving and active father, he just couldn't handle being a self made self employed man when his lifelong business went under due to corporate competetion for his customers. He and my mom eventually parted company, but stayed married and have a pretty decent relationship. It was painful to us kids, but we love them both, still.
I married what appeared to be a very nice man, and in some ways he was, but very very self centered, even at 32. He became obsessed with making money and frequently ignored me and our children. Upon his retirement he became obviously a person with a drinking problem, like my Dad to cover this he went on attack of me. Very two faced to our children, very unconcerned for having a relationship with them or me, always seperate the family to him on one side, me and kids on other, UNTIL he realized how much cover up damage he could do putting the kids in the middle. Now all hell broke loose, he is very two faced and likes to look good in front of people but very abusive to me privately. I was the stay at home, and frankly he was rarely here in our lives, no vacations, time as a couple, became ALL about him. To my kids he is a hero, though they will admit THEY wouldn't want to be married to him. Years of his projections of guilt onto me, has brainwashed them into seeing ME as the problem. Me, who was in the trenches trying to give the girls a good, loving fun life in spite of his neglect of all of us. Yes, he paid the bills but that was about it. No real interest in any of us and very controlling of me. Liked to triangulate, always said yes if I said no to them, and more interested in being popular than being a REAL parent.
Somehow in all of this my adult children thinking they KNEW it all began to have major conflicts with me (teen years) that clearly my husband encouraged. They became very spoiled by him, (throwing money around to win favor) and critical of me. I finally decided to divorice him when the oldest were grown and married, and the youngest 17, after a very abusive physical demeanor developed in my husband and I could no longer tolerate his controlling way, and abusive two faced mouth and actions.
Naturally, the older kids now blame ME, as they have dealt with years of programming to to that. I had some difficulties with the oldest and at almost 25, trying to get them out of the crossfire and triangulation told them they needed to get moving on having their own places. (he, needing their support, did not support them moving on and out)
Long story short, this narcissistic man, has completely split our family. Two oldest, that he mostly ignored with small and then some, and the two youngest with me. I expect that will change. Basically if he can't control me with money, he will control me with my children.
The oldest two abuse and ignore or expect to order me around, and I suspect he will do his "magic" on our youngest too, when he deems this is good punishment for me standing up to him.
I am sad, lonely and very hurt my kids treat me this way, but I try and understand as this is what he taught, bribed and needed them to do, so he didn't look the bad guy. He is great at playing the victim. My filing for divorice gave that to him on a platter, and my kids fall for it hook line and sinker.
He wants us estranged to cover his guilt. Sad and so unfair for me, who is seen as the problem. The hurt is awful to loose my lifetime closeness to my kids to a man who could have cared less if we all just disappeared when they were needing a father in their lives. This is his revenge for my disallowing his drinking, control, and neglect.
Every side usually has one story, and the truth is easily covered by "manipulators".

mitzy said...

I very much believed in intact families. My lovely and hardworking Dad sadly became an alcoholic late in my life (17-18). He was a very loving and active father, he just couldn't handle being a self made self employed man when his lifelong business went under due to corporate competetion for his customers. He and my mom eventually parted company, but stayed married and have a pretty decent relationship. It was painful to us kids, but we love them both, still.
I married what appeared to be a very nice man, and in some ways he was, but very very self centered, even at 32. He became obsessed with making money and frequently ignored me and our children. Upon his retirement he became obviously a person with a drinking problem, like my Dad to cover this he went on attack of me. Very two faced to our children, very unconcerned for having a relationship with them or me, always seperate the family to him on one side, me and kids on other, UNTIL he realized how much cover up damage he could do putting the kids in the middle. Now all hell broke loose, he is very two faced and likes to look good in front of people but very abusive to me privately. I was the stay at home, and frankly he was rarely here in our lives, no vacations, time as a couple, became ALL about him. To my kids he is a hero, though they will admit THEY wouldn't want to be married to him. Years of his projections of guilt onto me, has brainwashed them into seeing ME as the problem. Me, who was in the trenches trying to give the girls a good, loving fun life in spite of his neglect of all of us. Yes, he paid the bills but that was about it. No real interest in any of us and very controlling of me. Liked to triangulate, always said yes if I said no to them, and more interested in being popular than being a REAL parent.
Somehow in all of this my adult children thinking they KNEW it all began to have major conflicts with me (teen years) that clearly my husband encouraged. They became very spoiled by him, (throwing money around to win favor) and critical of me. I finally decided to divorice him when the oldest were grown and married, and the youngest 17, after a very abusive physical demeanor developed in my husband and I could no longer tolerate his controlling way, and abusive two faced mouth and actions.
Naturally, the older kids now blame ME, as they have dealt with years of programming to to that. I had some difficulties with the oldest and at almost 25, trying to get them out of the crossfire and triangulation told them they needed to get moving on having their own places. (he, needing their support, did not support them moving on and out)
Long story short, this narcissistic man, has completely split our family. Two oldest, that he mostly ignored with small and then some, and the two youngest with me. I expect that will change. Basically if he can't control me with money, he will control me with my children.
The oldest two abuse and ignore or expect to order me around, and I suspect he will do his "magic" on our youngest too, when he deems this is good punishment for me standing up to him.
I am sad, lonely and very hurt my kids treat me this way, but I try and understand as this is what he taught, bribed and needed them to do, so he didn't look the bad guy. He is great at playing the victim. My filing for divorice gave that to him on a platter, and my kids fall for it hook line and sinker.
He wants us estranged to cover his guilt. Sad and so unfair for me, who is seen as the problem. The hurt is awful to loose my lifetime closeness to my kids to a man who could have cared less if we all just disappeared when they were needing a father in their lives. This is his revenge for my disallowing his drinking, control, and neglect.
Every side usually has one story, and the truth is easily covered by "manipulators".

Anonymous said...

Interesting article -- I have a son who is 22, away at college in a different state. We request that he call once a week to let us know how he's doing and he's pretty hit or miss about it. The usual reason is that he's busy. I understand he's busy but I think we all do what's important and apparently communication with his parents isn't all that important to him. For me, it's especially hurtful as both of my parents were abusive and neglectful. As such, I made a concerted effort for my children to have a normal, healthy childhood. I have two sons both at college - the oldest doesn't have time for us, the youngest calls every night. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

You don't know if a person who decides to cut their parents off was abused or neglected as a child. You might think you know but you don't. They have no obligation to tell you either, it's none of your business.

I cut off my parents. Most of my family and all of my parent's friends think I'm just a spoiled brat and that I was never abused. The reality is there was horrific abuse in my home. I don't feel the need to tell people so that they can feel better about MY life. I'm doing what I need to do in order to heal and enjoy my life. I don't owe anyone an explanation. I don't feel the need to walk around identifying myself as an abused child so that other people can decide whether or not it's acceptable for me to do what I need to do.

If you weren't attached to their ass for their entire childhood, you don't know a damn thing. No one cuts off their parents for funsies. There is always a reason.

Anonymous said...

I "shunned" my parents about 6 years ago. Although, I'm not sure who did it first; since I never saw much of my parents 4 years before my dastardly deed. And, as usual, they tell their friends and other family members they have no idea why I would do this.

All I can tell you is that it was a culmination of a number of things - from childhood to adulthood. I am (physically) ill and can't take the stress of dealing with all the drama.

I've been married for almost 38 years now and my parents wanted us to elope, because they refused to attend our wedding. They didn't want the outside world to see our dirty laundry. They also didn't want anyone to know that we paid for the wedding ourselves.

We called and asked them to come, we sent invitations - but no.

My siblings, nieces and nephews don't have much to do with me and my family. And, honest to god, I have no idea what we did to have created such a rift so many years ago. Perhaps the only explanation is that they're taking sides.

My niece sent us a wedding invitation and inside the card it read: "I miss you"? We gracefully declined, but still sent a gift. Maybe that's all that was required.

My daughter and her fiance had a child 5 years ago. None of my family visited or attended the shower - or even acknowledge his existence - until just recently.

They met our daughters ex for coffee and asked that he bring our grandson. When our grandson asked why he'd never met them before - they said it was because his mother "hated" them?

I was sexually abused by a family member over a period of 7 years and when I was old enough to fight back, my parents said it wasn't "that bad"?

So yes, I do harbour some ill feelings towards them for that.

Some time ago, my husband decided that he'd had enough. He's tired of them lording money over our daughters head to try and get her back into the fold. So now, he makes a point of avoiding any family functions where they might attend.

Now, if I see a member of my extended family and they ask about my parents, I'm not sure what to say. Do I lie? Do I tell the truth? Do I become vague and dance around the subject?

Sometimes it's just easier to hide, when I happen to run into someone who doesn't really know what's going on. At least that way, I don't have to say anything.

Sick, I know, but I don't want to add gas to flames by potentially letting the cat out of the bag and breaking the code of silence.

Now, most of my aunt's are aware of the fact that my parents and I don't have a relationship. Some try to make up for this lack of family and others avoid me at all costs - as though they'd be considered traitors if they didn't.

So yeah - here's another side to the "divorce" "shunning" picture.

Anonymous said...

Divorcing parents is cruel, selfish and unhuman. You may have been emotionally abused or felt you were, but two wrongs don't make a right.

Young adults today feel they can choose their family rather than feeling and participating within their family group. They want to feel empowered and control their peers by showing their parents that love is conditional.

We don't have to agree with others in our family. We need to be accepting and forgiving. That's what seperates Humans from animals.

Abandoning a parent is serious and should only be done when that parent is a pedophile.

Abandoning your parent is cruel. Adult children should look in the mirror at themselves. They are abusive and cruel. Respect is earned because you raised a family not because you can breathe.



Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been married 40 years and have two adult sons. I feel that I have been close to our sons. One is married and the other is divorced. A month ago our sons decided to have an adult weekend and ask us to watch the grand kids. The one son lives a couple of hours away and we don't get to see him & his son very often. Then last weekend they spent another weekend together without inviting us. I feel left out of their family get togethers! I told them that and now they are not speaking to me. The one told me he didn't have the time or energy to deal with anything because he had enough on his plate. I feel hurt by this. Not mad but hurt. Not sure what to do or say? Any opinions?

Sarah said...

It's interesting that most of the posts come from adult children trying to justify "divorcing" their parents. No one has raised the issue of genetic factors in the development of personality disorders in children. For years I was in denial that my younger daughter was showing strong signs of narcissism--she had had serious surgery at 13, and was a bit spoiled. The older daughter was diagnosed at a very early age with "oppositional/defiant" disorder, and her birth was by emergency C-section. Both girls were loved unconditionally, and supported at every stage of their lives.

Our older daughter married an alcoholic with no fixed address and no education (she, like several generations of her ancestors, had a bachelor's degree). We gave her the best wedding that we could, and made no critical comments about her spouse--we had recommended that she wait to marry him. He's a screamer at home, and at last count, lost his 31st job as a chef.

The younger daughter was very close to us until she met someone--a guy we love and admire. She has had an anxiety disorder, and soon after she began taking anxiolytics, her personality changed. She, along with her sister, had become increasingly impatient with me, and to a lesser extent to their Dad.

The elder daughter just had her 50th B'day, and the younger one is two years younger. This past summer, after the younger daughter yelled at me for using a word she didn't like, and I countered that I was tired of being used as a punching bag.

Subsequently both girls "divorced" us. We never raised our voice to the younger daughter--she wouldn't tolerate it no matter what the provocation was. I did tell the younger daughter how I felt after the older daughter's husband screamed at me in public, for example, but was always courteous to him.

I have sent both girls emails telling them that I will always love them unconditionally--and that's all. I didn't ask for an explanation of their current behavior.

I'm afraid that there is no cure for self-centeredness, but I love them so much, and it sometimes keeps me awake at night--in tears.

Alison Cummins said...

A Slate article from the point of view of the children (like most of the commenters).
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2013/02/abusive_parents_what_do_grown_children_owe_the_mothers_and_fathers_who_made.single.html

Alison Cummins said...

... and a blogging project (people can submit either comments or blog posts) to discuss the same issue.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/03/forward-thinking-what-do-we-owe-our-parents.html

Tara M said...

Very well put I had cut off my parents when I was eighteen for a couple years. My dad was abusive my mom verbally abusive. When I came back I was treated with more respect then it was like their wings were clipped and grew back. My dad was a work aholic and controlling.I grew up in a small town.



Tara M said...

I dont blame you. I was scapegoat too.My dad passed away couple years ago .I am 39 now There was a time I hated my dad so much I know how it feels I knew they only cared about how they looked in front of people. It took so many years to see the good in them At that time there was no good I know how you feel

Anonymous said...

I too am sadden by the lack of closeness I now have with my only son (aged 36).

He had a happy childhood and during his teenage and young adult years enjoyed an increasingly mature relationship with my husband and I. There were still house rules whilst he lived at home, but he was encouraged to express his views and we had many nights of lively debate and shared the same taste in comedy, tv programmes, etc. Friends were always made welcome and many still go out of their way to introduce themselves to me if I pass them by - even although they are now in their mid 30s.

When my son initially left home at 23, we didn't see him so often, but when we did, there was still that same easy communication. In the next three years, he progressed in his career and met his future wife and I felt it was understandable that we didn't figure so highly in his life.

On my 58 birthday, he didn't phone and that day my husband said a very strange thing "You know if something happens to me, I don't think he's going to be there for you". I was annoyed at my husband for thinking that way and as it happened my son did turn up with my present at 7.00 pm - albeit a short visit on his way to meet friends in town - but I felt vindicated.

Sadly my husband's prophecy came true as he died unexpectedly three weeks later. My son helped with the funeral etc., but thereafter, it was always me who had to make contact.

As I felt our relationship was becoming rather strained, I did ask him to come round for a chat. We had a heart to heart about how we were both dealing with our loss and in the course of the conversation I said that I felt things were not so easy between us and that whilst I appreciated he had his own life to lead, I did need his input from time to time with things I couldn't really talk about with others (mainly concerning my husband's business). He said he would help, but when I pressed him as to why we didn't seem to be communicating so easily, he floored me with the following observation: "There's nothing wrong - I had a great childhood and we all had great times here together, but I don't know how to describe it -it's like you and dad were my flatmates and I have moved on now."

At the time I put it down to the last vestiges of callow youth, coupled with grieving for his dad.

In the intervening years he has married and become a dad himself. However, although we are not estranged as such and he is still in contact, it's not the sort of relationship I envisaged.

I don't make demands, don't constantly phone, but when I do, I soon realise that I'm boring my son (I think the yawning and the clicking of the keyboard are the giveaways). Visits are every two months at best and I don't feel as if I'm having the sort of relationship with my grandson that I had hoped for.

I don't moan, I don't criticize, and I keep up with the times, but my son now seems to view me as a bit of an irrelevance, to be tolerated at best.

I could understand the lack of rapport if there had been personality conflicts when he was young, but the thing that I find most hurtful is that he was treated with respect from an early age and that respect is not being reciprocated to me now that he is a mature adult.

I don't know where things went wrong, but what I do know is "they are not long, the days of wine and roses"


















































Anonymous said...

I know this is a late reply, but I just wanted to share with the two above posts on "the sister" thing!!! The Exact contrived situation is happening , has been for the last ten yrs. My husband was emotionally verbally abused by his parents who live in a big house in village west mids.When he was a teenager the mother threw him out as he was going to raves with his friends n he took speed a few times. This didnt happen again. Anyway he was 15 then and experimenting as his parents didnt bother with him gave him no money for hobbies compared to his brother who had thousands of pounds spent on him for bmx biking competitions away every weekend. Anyway he attempted to take his own life at 20 because his family had turned their back on him. He was livimg away from home. He is now a normal family man of two kids working full time. His mom or dad NEVER CALL TEX INVITE HIM TO PARTIES BBQS ETC. we have to visit and pop round and they are so manipulating eg they will leave it four months before they visit their grandkids yet they see their other ones everyday. We only keep in touch with them for the children but thet dont deserve being treated second best. The sister has made sure that all the family dont contact call us as she argues with her brother yet its his fault apparently even though she stirs lies whispers to her mom n manipulates the situation even though the sis is 40!!! Why how can a sister control her mother father like that? WHY WOULD YHE SISTER MANIPULATE TREAT HER OLDEST BROTHER LIKE THAT just because they dont really get on surely she knows its fundamentally wrong. My husband is broken through this but keeps strong for his own family, us. How can a mother let the daughter dictate stir. A mothers love should be unconditional not destructive.

Anonymous said...

I like how parents assume just because they're parents, they are god like. I've cut off most of my family and hopefully soon my mother. Why? My family hate me. Always have done and never had a kind word to say about me. I never did drug or alcohol, never committed crime or got pregnant in my teens. My biggest downfall was...I had opinions and a very strong personality. I still do and my mother especially along with the rest of my family, did'nt like it. My mother wanted a child who'd nod and agree with everything, a robot basically, programmed the way she wanted. She was a single parent and could'nt handle more stress in her life...apparently. She'd tell anyone who'd listen how bad I was, a problem child blah blah. She even told me I was not a pleasure to be around. The rest of my family thought and said them same. I was molested as a child..twice by a family member. My mother called me a liar! Where was my day most of my life? Drunk! He was never interested in me just the alcohol in his life.

Now at nearly 30, I'm graduating as a psychologist. Yup! A shrink. Do I want my family at my graduation? No! They're hypocrites. Suddenly I'm a wonderful, successful person and they're proud of me. Puke! I actually feel nauseous by their 'pride'. I don't want people in my life like them especially my mother. I tell her as often as I can how little I think of her and despise her. One day she burst into tears saying ''criminals are forgiven for their crimes but I'll never be forgiven for mine. I've tried to be a good mother'' she tried and failed and will never be forgiven by me. So please parents, before you take the victim, high and mighty approach, remember you're not any different from anyone else just because you have kids. If you're children feel you failed as a parent, they're probably right but you're torturing yourselves by not accepting your faults and expecting forgiveness automatically. Forgiveness needs to be earned.

Anonymous said...

I am the daughter of, what I strongly believe to be, a malignant narcissistic mother. I was her scapegoat for everything - from her miscarriage when I was 3 years old to her constant lying, causing rifts in the family and blaming me for it. It was also a very physically, abusive upbringing. Simply, I was trapped in a severely dysfunctional family with no way out as a child.

I tried so hard to please - got good grades,exceled in outside activities. But, any accomplishment was jeered at and ridiculed. I kept trying until I was 46. I was in their home, Nmother got upset over something ( what else is new) and my father, being a trained abuser, punched my arm and dislocated my shoulder - in front of my 16 year old daughter. That was the end.

I now have to address my daughter. I was married (unknowingly) to a Narcissit. It's a pattern that us children of narcissistic parents follow. Sad but true - it's the only thing we know. The man abandoned my daughter and I emotionally and financially. Finally, I got up the gumption to divorce him and take my little girl with me. It was just her and I from the time she was a baby. I adored her, and raised her with lots of love, understanding, and, yes, displine. But, I never raised a hand to her. I knew the humliation of that all too well. I was going to raise her in a secure environment. I put her through college and that's when I saw a huge change in her.

She was focused on money, sex, and material things beyond the norm. She began stealing from her roommates, boyfriends, and me. she lied about it constantly. As a matter of fact, there was not one thing that came out of her mouth that I could believe anymore.

She was constantly demanding things from me like half my house and half of all the money I had put aside for a very modest retirement. When I told her she was out of line, the physical abuse began. I couldn't believe this was happening from my only child, who I loved with all my heart, in my own home! She actually struck me! The foul language, when referring to me after that, was rampant. She went off to grad school, on her own, came back for Christmas, and stole from me again.

She met this man, 15 years older than her, and told him I was an abusive mother and a malignant narcissist. In other words, she took what she knew happened to me and transferred it to herself - word for word. This man has money (or his parents do) and he became her "protector". I heard they were married. I wasn't invited to my only childs wedding. Why? Not because I was a monster of a mother, but because I wasn't; and inviting me or being in their lives would prove that I wasn't.

At this point, I cried for months, had a breakdown, and am on medication for PTSD.

The realization that my mother was an abusive narcissist and now my daughter does this to me is beyond any words I can say here.

No, I'm not a narcissist. I went to a therapist to find out what happened all my life and why I am constantly the target for people. It turns out that the scapegoat of the dysfunctional family has been traumatized and always trying to please others before themselves. Other people pick up on that - quickly- including my daughter, who has been diagnosed a narcissist, at the least, by proxy.

So, here I am without an extended family and I am without my only child. God is supposed to give you only what you can handle. In my case, I'm still standing. But, I can't take anymore.

Too many people have told me to "apologize" and try to mend things. What am I to apologize for? For being stolen from, lied to and about, and being beatened? In other words: Am I to be a good little scapegaot and go back for more and then I'll be happy?

suzie said...

In response to anon whose son said , ""There's nothing wrong - I had a great childhood and we all had great times here together, but I don't know how to describe it -it's like you and dad were my flatmates and I have moved on now."

We seem to be having the same problem with my daughter, and it just astonishes me. I didn't expect to be friends with my daughter, and I did expect I would become somewhat of a bit player in her life which was fine, but total lack of interest in people you supposedly love is hard to understand.

Anonymous said...


We made the down payment and invested in a house for my son and his family. We thought that was a much better investment that any mutual fund or stock. Two years later I lost my job and we could no longer pay our portion of the mortgage. We carried our share by taking money out of the equity of our home for an additional year but finally had to call it quits. After we told him of our decision, my husband and I were shunned by our son and in the process have not seen our grandchildren in almost three years. It has been the most painful, hurtful, agonizing experience we have ever gone through.
We have not asked for any of the money back and have only asked for an explanation for the estrangement.
Last Christmas were got a call, out of the blue, saying that he and his wife wanted to make amends. Recently we were visiting near his home and asked to see them; we were told no. I thought we were very close, our family was everything to us and now we feel like money was the only reason they needed us?
I grew up in a dysfunctional family, just about everyone has, and yet I never shunned my parents because I knew they did the best they could.
Why is this lesson being forgotten? Does anyone know about forgiveness?
I do think that inexperienced, therapists with unresolved issues of their own, can have a great impact on family dynamics.
My husband and I have gone from healthy, active, people to having bouts of illness. We are trying very hard to shake these events and not let them effect our health. We still love our son and his wife unconditionally, but we realize we have to let go so we do not die of broken hearts. BTW forgiveness is done for no reason, that is what it is what being human is about.

soshdog said...

If you don't understand how someone could cut off their parents then you are LUCKY more than you will ever know. I am 39 years old and finally cutting off my father. It is incredibly painful. It is something that never even entered my mind as a possibility before. I have tried EVERYTHING and nothing works. It is very difficult to explain to others, but my father has talked down to me and verbally and emotionally abused me my entire life. When you are continually emotionally abused as a child, you cannot grow and mature into a whole and healthy person. The result is that you continue to live your life broken, miserable, and not living up to anywhere near your potential in your professional or personal life. The impact on one's life is DEVASTATING. I am making an incredibly courageous move, something I never would even consider before, because I know in my heart it is my only chance at moving on with my life. This person (and the family dynamic that goes with it) has literally ruined the first 39 years of my life. When do I get a chance at being happy? It takes incredible strength to do this because you know people won't understand. So you have to choose your own happiness over what others think, because you know most people will have a low opinion of you and be sure that they would have handled things much better if they were in your shoes and that they would never abandon their parents. Of course you come to realize they believe that because they have the AMAZING benefit of not being in a situation like this. It is truly awful. I pray to God that I may find relief and healing and that others in this situation find it as well. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Dinah,
Up until 6 months ago I feel we
were a very close family. Our only child, our daughter, was deprived of nothing, and lived a very luxurious lifestyle. She is now 26 years old, and "came out"
when she was 19 and in college.
At Christmas, 2012 we had sent her
tickets to come home, and she never arrived. She said she had missed her flight, and could not "get on another one." We were very sympathetic, and told her we would get together soon. Since that date,we have gotten no response
from any phone calls, emails, or text msgs. Our cards are returned to us "NKA." Thanks to Facebook, we know she is alive, and living and working in another city. At this point, we do not know what our next step, if any should be.
Annonymous

Unknown said...

So many comments! Who knew this was such a prevalent problem. We have 3 grown children: boy, girl, boy. Our youngest began a struggle with anxiety/panic/depression when he was 18. Anti-depressants produced an attempt at suicide which made him more fearful of the medication than the malady. He struggled all through college and after, the only medication when he was desperate was alcohol which was not a good choice and resulted in two DUI's and loss of employment. That was 12 years ago. He has lived at home for a few years the most recent being 2010-2012. As his Mom, we became very close through all this. He is not one to to express his inner thoughts much and I did not press him but I tried to just stand by him as he muddled his way through, urging him to look at his choices and decide for himself.

A year ago he enrolled in a post-grad program for which we are paying heavily. I know he feels obligated although none of that comes from us! We told him we regard it as any other investment. If it has good returns, we are so happy to invest. And the good return in this instance is....he has found a LIFE finally. An intership, doing well in school, a girl friend who has a child. We are on opposite coasts and somehow it seems like he has stepped into the life that he was always meant to have.....it just took him awhile to find it!

BUT.....in the year since he left home and found this new life, he has become distant. No one expects him to be constantly calling, emailing, etc but he virtually NEVER contacts us. In the first months of this new life, before the girl friend, he posted something online that caused the police in his town to intervene before he could harm himself. We got him set up with support: medical, psychiatric etc but it was HIS choice how to engage in those things. So of course, we have some concerns even now if we do not hear from him....that he is ok. We have explained that to him. He is not stupid. YET....we feel abandoned. He virtually has no communication with us; he ignores emails, texts, phone calls. When he does contact us ....he is dismissive.

The two older siblings are somewhat aware of this.....and somewhat resentful of his conduct toward us, especially since he has received so much more support, emotional and financial, than either of them ever had or needed.

As his Mom, I have to say.....I never saw this coming. I feel....betrayed. I have let him know that it is important to us that at the minimum, if we text....at least reply something! Like..."working".....or "later"....or "busy". Anything to let us know he is alive! But more than that....was there no depth of feeling for us all those years? Were we just a convenience because he had no other choices?

I am looking for consolation, answers, anything. But I have the vague sense....that I will get nothing. It is....what it is.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this is all too familiar to me. We had two sons with whom we were generous and loving.
They are in their mid-thirtiesmarried w/ kids.

One always had to learn everything the "hard way" and says that he wishes he had listened to us when he was young. However, He still is hard-headed and wants no advice or suggestions. We avoid him and his family because we have grown weary of watching himshoot himself in the foot.
The other was bright, pleasant, hardworking,& kind. He developed an eating disorder at about 30 years. His wife and I do not agree on treatment. She believes he can handle it by himself. After he was hospitalized, I was told I could not talk about food, appearances, the kids, or his job. I shun his family because I cannot talk to them, cannot offer them anything and it just is too painful to watch him dying.

At least reading this makes me feel less alone.

Anonymous said...

My siblings and I all struggle with our relationship with our father. One of my brothers basically refused to associate with him for awhile but eventually got past it. Most of this started when our mother died when we were mostly all in our 20s (four years ago). We generally keep in contact with him, but there is a lot anger there.

There have been a few problems:
1) My mother seems to have had a strong influence on how my father dealt with us. She would never have put up with a lot of the things he does and says now.

2) He is in a very dysfunctional relationship with a lazy, uneducated woman who cannot support her own children. This relationship takes precedence over his relationship with his children.

3). He is retired but can't take a minute out of his time to visit us or do a small favor for us (ex. pick my brother up from the airport on Christmas Eve). He also does not respect our desire to keep in touch with our mother's family.

4) It is impossible to discuss these issues with him because he is very sensitive and interprets everything as a personal attack. This is a man who told me advice is just another word for criticism.

It's almost like he has reacted poorly to having more independence since my mother is not around. We know my father is a good man. We know our mother's death was hard on him. But her death brought my siblings I closer together, where as it took us further away from our father. It's not a situation that is getting better with time; if anything, it is getting worse.

Anonymous said...

Reading all the comments have really hurt me. I would give anything if my son had something to do with me, but no amount of talking has ever changed a thing. He is very narcissistic and everything has to be his way.

My two children were raised in a very loving home. I made a point not to expose my children to alcohol, since I was rasied in a home with an alcoholic. I choose to give my kids the best childhood possible. They were raised on a farm and were active in. 4-H. There was no abuse, and I was determined to always have a great relationship with my kids. My husband and I have a great relationship with our daughter, but our relationship with our son is totally different.

It all started when he married. Four months into the marriage, I was told at a restaurant in front of my daughter in law and husband that I needed to call before visiting. I only visited twice during the four months. The comment hurt, but I respected their wishes.

After a few years, they had their first child..We missed so much of her first year, five months to be exact. I tried talking to my son. I was basically told that they wouldn't visit unless we invited them over and indicated that we could prepare meals like her family. Another child was born, and the control started with the hospital. He informed us, like before, when the time was right for us to come. We did as instructed both times. Now a third child, she will soon be a year and we've seen her seven times.

We tried calling to visit numerous times, only to be declined and told they would come to our house. To get along, I played his game. Finally, we decided not to ask anymore. I would pick up the two oldest, but messages were always sent as to what we could and couldn't do. I had to stop that over a year ago because messages were sent telling me to mind my own business. When I asked about this in a private conversation with my son, he said I had asked his daughter if he and his wife were fighting. I would never have asked anything like this, and we have always kept our noses out of our kid's business. I was devastated, and decided it wasn't good for me to go through this. later, he decided he wanted to talk to us...basically told his daughter he was wrong, never confronted her about the lie she told, and never apologised to me for his actions. Come to find out, EVERY time we dropped the kids off he would ask the kids about conversations and everything. His daughter (8) told him that I inquired when the truth was she told us. I told her it was normal and dropped it.

Now, the kids are told not to ask to spend the night, and are instructed on what they can and can't say. For instance, we saw them on an occasion just a few weeks ago. They had just returned from a trip the day before, not a word was mentioned. His reasoning for this...we were told a few years ago after going on a trip with them that we were going to do it as a family every year. The last two years they left us out and went with friends.

We see them only on our BD's, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes..Father's and Mother's Day. We have been left out of the kid's BD's ever since I stood up to my son. I called to see if We could bring my Grandson's BD gift over, once again declined and told we could give it to him on my BD.

To all the people on here that have issues with their parent's for various reasons, I truly hurt for you. I would do anything to repair my relationship, but nothing works. I even asked what we have done, and he can't give me a reason. He has also done things to her family, and that's important that you know that too. I pleaded to visit my grandchildren. his reason for not letting us...His wife doesn't keep the house clean and he's embarassed! Who cares??? It's all about control. I pray one day we will be blessed with more grandchildren, so we can give the love that we have to offer.

Anonymous said...

The case with my daughter is one of misdirected anger, if I am the one to blame then she has an excuse for the mistakes she has made as an adult. It's very painful and it cuts like a knife.

Anonymous said...

My son joined the military two years ago. I wondered if it was a good choice but we were supportive as he was an adult and had already graduated college and was on his own. His biological father had some mental health issues himself, which I won't go into, but my son wanted to stay with me as a child and there was a protracted custody action that was very tough for both of us for a few years until my son chose to stop seeing his father and dropped out of his life at the end of eighth grade. There were a lot of lawyers, psychologists, etc. He had a great relationship with my current husband. He graduated from college and worked for a couple of years in the city that he attended college in but with the economy he did not have a great job and felt stuck. He seemed depressed about his situation then. He got a good position that he wanted in the military and was happy at the time he was leaving. Boot camp seemed to go well as well as the six month school he attended, although he seemed to find it stressful. He was home for Christmas and things seemed fine and throughout the spring of 2012 he was in touch and seemed okay when we did hear from him. During the summer he sent an irritable e-mail telling us to leave him alone because he was so depressed; we had planned to take a vacation to visit him. He told us he wouldn't be around and was going elsewhere to celebrate his birthday. We offered to meet him there for a dinner out and he said no. Since then he was completely out of touch. In November I got a call that he was in a military hospital and was suicidal. I drove 500 miles and he refused to see me each day I went to the hospital. Since then he has refused to have contact, blocked me on websites, his phone, etc. He was discharged from the military in June and now is writing things on line that sound like he wants to die, talks about how depressed he is, and may be drinking a lot. I hired a PI to try to find him and contacted some of his friends by e-mail to try to locate him. I am sick with worry. Today he e-mailed me and told me to stop contacting his friends, that he wants nothing more to do with me, and a few other hurtful comments. I am at a loss as to what to do. I could go to the city he is in and have some possible addresses to look for him and am not even sure how long he will be there as it is all vague information. I do not know if this will make things worse, if he will talk to me or go into a rage. I am very afraid for him. I believe he needs treatment but at his age there is little I can do. He was a wonderful loving and bright child. We have done a lot for him, loved him, and he is an only child. He does not contact his grandmother whom he was very close to, or any extended family. I fear he is on a downward spiral.

Mary Jane said...

I am sitting in your living room surprised that I am not the only person who has gone through this horrible situation called, "shun" from their children.
I have seen psychiatrist and they have seen me. I never hold back I put as much as I can on the table. I have done this (I thought) with my girls. Ages 45 and 40.
I read that someone, Anonymous, states, I grew up with a narcissistic mother. I wonder if that is my youngest daughter, who says she can see why people divorce their family. I grew up with a mother that appeared to be narcissistic too and I suppose I am narcissistic if you were to judge me with a myopic eye.You see when people point and say that my mother is narcissistic including myself whose mother died in 1983 I delude myself. Many mothers may appear to be horribly vain but a true narcissists puts themselves first always. Not sometimes. I realize my mother was no narcissist neither am I. What I have learned is that most victims who cut off their parents are professional injustice collectors. While good parents are blamed, misquoted, misunderstood, and mischaracterized by adult children, who seem oblivious to their own faults while keeping a list of their own grievances they wear them like a badge of honor.
I do not know where it began to unravel suffice it to say, divorce, remarriage, and obsessive compulsive disorder on my part may be the culprit. While I kept my problems hidden it appeared that I was strong, demanding, overbearing, and tough. I was never any of this I faked it till I could make it. I suffered silently only my doctors knew. I tried to explain when I was cut off but ice water runs in their veins. I get it. I am sorry that now my one set of grandchildren never will know me. The other set has been fed poison about me. There is no way to fix this.
To anonymous that said she can understand why families divorce I say I will never understand that. I had a difficult mother I never abandoned her, or my difficult mother-in-law. I am from a generation that felt responsible and obligatory toward my elders. Respect comes with maturity. what I see are middle age children who respect no one not even themselves. Unless you fine tune your relationship with your mother/father you will never experience happy fulfillment in your other relationships.

Anonymous said...

Wow..Thank you all for sharing with each other the pain you feel. I will try to share as well. I have searched for this very place.
I am the parent (parents) of a 29 y/o son. When I was 18 I met his father on a blind date and 3 months later we were pregnant. We had a fast wedding with 8 people present and I quickly had to grow up. Abortion wasn't an option. I had one at 16 y/o and wasn't about to have another one. Was I in love? Maybe. Maybe not. I know that I was leaving home and creating another though.
My son "Tommy" was born a very colicly baby and many times I cried when he did. As he grew up his father and I did the best we could do with his trantrums. He had very little good days. Crying, punching, throwing himself on the groud etc. I took him to the doctors on several occasions and he was prescribed Ritalin which by the time he was 8 he faked taking. When he was 22 months we had a girl who was his lunar opposite. She was so calm and loving. He hated his sister. Before you say she got all the attention please know that is absolutely false. My children were both loved equally. One was just more trying than the other.
Fast forward 10 years.. His father (yes I stayed married to their father) and I struggled daily with his video game addiction. We even moved up North to try to divert him away and he would stay stuffed up in the basement til all hours. The arguements were horrible. It was a very bad time for the whole family. He really never wanted to be apart of it from a very early age. Yes, he is ADD, non-empathetic towards anyone as well as an atheitist. We never pushed religion on him or any of our kids but (we have 1 son and two daughters now) but always made it known that God is important to us.
He grew up and actually became quite the impressive man. I was so proud. He married a girl who was my daughter childhood friend and had his own child. I was so damn happy. Finally full circle. Things were going so well for all my kids. When the bottom fell out of the real estate market we were losing our very overpriced home. My husbands work was slowly getting slower and we needed out of that mortgage desperatly. My husbands elderly mother was going to need to be taken care of soon and we needed to go somewhere more affordable. We were now empty nesters and we were litterally broke. My son had always prided himself on having great credit. I now see where he was ashamed of us and the problem we had with bills. He offered to purchase our home for us though a short sale so we could stay in it. Back then the laws were different. The mortgage company knew because the last names were the same. In 2008 this is. We stayed there and enjoyed watching his daughter growing up there. We sold the house in 2012. We had his mother by then who is 86 and we wanted somthing a bit smaller yet comfortable. After the sale of the house my son disappeared. He moved far away to another state without so much as a screw you. He recently came to see us saying that he was sorry and the money is gone ($70,000). Bottom line... My husband and I have a lawyer. He is dodging the servers and will probley have a judgement on him for the rest of his days. We don't see him anymore but we do get to see our grand daughter when my daughter brings her by. I will go to my grave with tears in my eyes missing my theif of a son. I love him very much but the betrayal is too much to handle sometimes. Thank you for listening to the short version and please everyone remember this... either way you look at it, it sucks.

Anonymous said...

In the Indian cases we never discuss teenage children abusing their mothers. It must be happening but is a taboo to discuss

Anonymous said...

In my case, I don't mean to completely shun or abandon my parents, but after finally realizing that the patterns of emotional abuse I've suffered through in my romantic relationships for years were learned in childhood, I'm going through a brief period of anger and grieving. Parents shouldn't have children in order to save a marriage. They shouldn't have children in order to "fix" themselves, because they just want to feel loved by someone, or because it's expected of them to have kids. Parents are supposed to love themselves enough to be strong for their children so their children can feel safe and nurtured in their most vulnerable years. Parents are supposed to model healthy behavior and to be affirming and loving to their children while setting healthy boundaries. It's not easy having to re-parent myself, all the while my parents would rather stay in denial than have an authentic relationship with me, because they don't want to feel blamed for anything. It's not about blaming them- it's just about finally getting some validation. And it would be nice NOT to have to always be the calm, emotionally mature one. Sometimes you just want to fall apart and be weak, but you've never been allowed to, because that only invited emotional abuse from your fearful parents. What I would give to be able to be the child for once, and to have a parent who is affirming and emotionally calm and stable. I know my situation is common, and my parents did the best they could do with what they were taught about how to parent. I do love them, but I don't excuse their shortcomings, and I would like them to take responsibility for them, just as I take responsibility for the mistakes that I've made in my own life. I don't look at it as an "entitlement generation" issue. I look at is as a huge shift in humanity. Women are finally able to strike out on their own, and hopefully more and more people will learn to be whole and independent and healthy as individuals before they have children so that they can be emotionally and physically available to their children- in order to give them the best chance at life possible. If a parent doesn't want their child to end up in an abusive or unloving relationship, they should start paying more attention to how they treat their children and each other.

Terri O said...

As the mother of an estranged adult son, I screwed up. I over stepped my bounds, voiced my opinion when I should have just kept my mouth shut! I have no one to blame but myself.
I'll have regrets til the day I die.
I handled everything so badly and I have no idea how to make things right again.
I've always been so proud of my son and now there's no contact,
The thing I don't get, elders were to be respected, honored and tolerated in my day. Now it seems that's no longer true. Even towards the elders that were really good to you. They make one mistake, WHAM they're history. No forgiveness, no working through problems. Slam the door thank you Ma'am, never want to hear from you again. Don't step on my porch, my phone number is changed and you'll never get the new number.
The entire family is estranged, even the 90 yr old grandma who never said or did anything.
It's all so sad.

Anonymous said...

Both me and my sister have shunned our parents to some level. Growing up my dad had a very bad temper. My mom would keep things from him to protect everyone from his temper. Everyone walked on eggshells. He was not interested in knowing us and who we were—he was the financial provider.

I've never been able to shake a couple childhood memories. My sister was a bed wetter and instead of understanding that this was out of her control on some level, my dad would get angry with her. She started lying if she wet the bed because she was scared. One time my dad went ballistic when she lied about it. My mom had given up on protecting us from his temper because it made her life even more difficult. He didn't beat us black and blue, but he was abusive. We feared him.

My sister is now a parent and has a lot of deep-seeded issues with their parenting. She has brought these things up with my mom. My mom calls me wanting me to stick up for her and make her feel better. Instead she should do like a previous poster mentioned and face her faults and how she and my dad let us down. But my mom is in denial about it. My parents have never been the sort you can rely on for emotional support. Still today, my dad will only offer financial support and my mom's emotional support is surface and shallow.

A decade ago I served in the Peace Corps and met someone. I was in Africa and he was black. When I returned to the U.S. we decided to make a go of things here and we started the process of the petition for fiancé visa. My parents made it clear that they did not support the relationship. Meanwhile, his own parents and family had been a huge part of my life. He was my life and his family was my family and embraced me into their home.

I moved back to DC, where I'd been living and had my career before leaving for the Peace Corps, to start getting my life back in order. My mom would send these emails demanding to know what was going on in my life and would tell me that if I had children with my fiancé that the children would be mixed and never accepted into society (huh? what decade are you living in). My concerns at that point were will he like it in this country; will he be able to find meaningful employment that will help make the transition easier; will I be able to provide the emotional support he needs to make this transition.

He died in a train accident five months after I returned to the states. When he died my mom came to DC for a night to check in on me. I was devastated and unable to eat or sleep. She suggested we eat at the diner down the street near Chevy Chase Circle. I was so emotionally ill that I just sat there not able to get anything into my stomach. My dad called my mom on her cell. According to my mom he was making her feel guilty because she was in DC and not there with him. For some reason this has always stuck with me--it was so bizarre to me. I'd lost my best friend and I felt there was no real understanding from my parents about how devastating this was for me. I have PTSD today.

I mentioned how they had let me down at this period of my life a couple years later and my mom admitted that "it was not [her] finest moment". But there’s never been an actual apology for the hurt it's caused.

When I get together with my parents now, my dad runs the entire conversation. My husband and I sit there while my dad complains about work or his siblings, or the error Bank of America made on his account. He gives a blow by blow of his conversation with the Bank of America rep, explaining how he belittled her and put her in her place. My mom sits there injecting here and there where she can.

I can't expose myself to my parents more than 1-2 times a year. The thing I don't understand is that I feel guilt about this. I feel guilt that I don't like the people that my parents are and I feel guilt that I don't want to be around them.

Anonymous said...

What about unconditional love, people??? How can you treat your parents like strangers? I read a lot of comments and desperately tried to find any word of love, and sorry I did not! By abandoning and estranging of our parents we spread a pattern of behavior to our children. That cliché sticks to them and defines the future for you and them. I made these mistakes myself in the past and now my own child treats us in the same manner. My mom made mistakes too while raising me and my sister, but who doesn't? She did very bad things to me, but I know she loves me, and I forgave her for that. I even forgave my father, who was an abusive alcoholic and who took his own life when I was 18 y.o. He was a sick man and I realized later loved me in his way. Strengthening a family tie is hard work thru life, and a very bumpy road, but I think that worth trying.

rmom said...

Heartbreaking to read both sides of this situation (parents and children). Our adult son is estranged from the whole family. In our case, four other adult children remain close (we are so fortunate to have them). Just the one son chose to leave us ... and he now lives across country. I don't have an address currently.

It's been a long and emotional road, and for now, we're moving forward in acceptance. However, just yesterday the whole family was together. His brothers were reminiscing about childhood, the things did around our place, the secrets they kept, forts they built, etc. -- specific good memories included their estranged brother. We are all still confused and hurt, but we also must live our lives and move on in happiness.

We all hope that he is happy and well. Perhaps one day we will be united.

Anonymous said...

Excuse my english as it is now my primary langange.

Our adult son is also estranged from the whole family since October. We don't have an address. We thought he was acting exactly like his aunt (my sister-in-law that can leave a two year period before contacting anybody from her family) and therefore we accepted his behavior. But we had a call from a psychiatrist two weeks before Christmas, inquiring about our son's sleep depravation and anxiety. Now, we are very concerned. We researched what could be wrong and we recognised numerous symptoms from a mental desorder named Kretschmer's paranoia where the the person affected start missinterpret situations. For example, my son is convinced that his brother wants to provoque him, disminish him,etc. All this after his brother brushed against him while sitting at the table in a restaurant last father's day. My sister in law is also always interpreting things as offending her in the craziest way. We always though this was bizarre behavior. There are more symptoms, like he doesn't want us to speak about him to anybody, not telling what he is studying, where he works, thinking that people will use that against him somehow. He his very very very bright, goodlooking, play music, practice sports. He can't stand to be contradicted at work or anywhere. The list is very long. He told us that in time, we will see him again.

Sharon Murdock said...

I Have 2 children. My stories is about my daughter's dishonesty.The Day after my son took his life, as a family we were out making the funeral arrangements. My Daughter said she was tired and wanted to go home , I told her I would finish ordering the Food and Flowers for the Funeral Dinner. She, her half brother and Father , of whom I have been divorced from for many years decided to go to my son's home and sell his appliances. Apparantley, this was all pre arranged. We had a big blow up, since there was No will, we had to probate my son's estate because he was a business owner. Well, I called my ex every name I could think of and all he said was my son gave me these things. I asked if he had something in writing, and he did not. My daughter was not there for me during the Funeral, she sat in the back, not up front with me. We have not spoken for over a year. Her dad has been homeless by choice for years and I worked my fanny off. My daughter is married and very well to do, she doesn't help her father at all. She decided that her Dad should have my son's posessions as well as her half brother also. They took gifts that I bought my son, one was a beautiful watch that cost $500. I got that back, but money was missing also. The Topper was..She didn't even send her only REAL brother flowers for his funeI don't see a reconciliation, I have removed her from my will, she gets nothing!. I don't know where the loving , thoughtful Daughter that I once had went, Who she is now, I truly do not like and especially do not trust! A twice grieved Mom

Anonymous said...

I have always had low self worth as far back as I can remember, I was never good anough and ALWAYS somehow the cause of all of my family´s problems. That´s quite a huge burden to carry over 40 years and I´ve always sacrificed my happiness to be "accepted" by my family - unfortunately however much I did I was still never a good daughter.... After alot of hypnotherapy and conventional therapy I realized what was best for me was to remove the toxicity in my life and that happened to be my family. It´s been a year since I last spoke to my family and I have never been happier- I´ve forgiven the past and only look towards the future. I´ve learned to validate myself and to realize I am worthy and I am a good person, and this is turn has made me a much better friend and mother! The thing is I never really knew the term "narcississtic parents" until I started my healing process. Unless you go thru it yourself, it´s so hard to explain and the image the outside world sees is so incredibly different from the inside. People don´t get that this type of abuse affects everything in your life - relationships, work, self esteem. It´s hard to not fight back when you hear that your parents are talking crap and lies about you to uphold their image, but I´ve found peace and I won´t let myself get dragged into petty fueds that will do nothing for my progress. Narcissistic abuse can go on for a lifetime without you being able to define it as abuse - just a thought when you´re analyzing parental divorce. It took me 40 years to understand

Anonymous said...

I raised 3 children as a single parent. Their father was involved but he was abusive and taught my children to disrespect me. We managed to get through. The early adult years had some difficult times with one child going to Iraq twice and another one who got into drugs and domestic violence. Everything seemed to turn around for a period of time when their father committed suicide. We grew closer for about 2 or 3 years. Even though we were closer I have always had to put up with constant criticism and reminders from my children about my failures as a parent. They try to qualify it by owning that I did the best I could. I have apologized, went to therapy, even went with one of them, but it just seems no matter what I am never good enough. My daughter especially is abusive. She is accuses me of not being thankful enough and she has completely ruined holidays and birthdays including mother's day. First she complained about the money being spent and wanted a limit. We put a limit and then she turned around and spent more on her brother pointing out that she spends money on people do not expect it. Mother's day was a gift sent to me from her through her brother who I spent the day with. He is the only one out of the 3 that does not pull this crap. My other son quit speaking over a year ago for no reason whatsoever. he was always the high achiever in the family. he reconnected recently and apologized but said he is not ready to see me. he sent me a mother's day gift through my daughter. he is also getting ready to go live in the united emirates and has never married. I think the poverty my kids grew up in really has a lot to do with things. Their dad taught them to disrespect me so that weighs in as well. It also really pulled a number on them when their father committed suicide. In some ways it was better for my daughter because she had attempted several times and learned from the experience that the people left behind really do suffer. One of my sons had not spoken to his father since he was 15 and acted like he was glad his dad was gone but I really do not think he has resolved his emotional issues with him. I know I made mistakes but sometimes my heart hurts so much I just do not even want to keep going on. On one hand I do not believe I deserve this but I want a relationship with my children so much I keep trying to be whatever it is they want. mothers day came and went along with my daughter's birthday. I did not get her a card or gift this year because she was in her snit about mother's day. Sometimes I wish I never had children because this hurts so much and I think that with kids in their 30's its unlikely to change. Not sure if any advise is available but just wondering if I should just walk away or keep trying? Should I continue to honor and recognize the birthdays and holidays or should I just ignore them the way my kids do?

bryan thomsen said...

I once heard a story from a friend of mine who was estranged from his parents for 15 years after he finished school and went into the military. He said that he lived in a dysfunctional home where both of his parents were abusing drugs and alcohol to such an extent that he and his younger siblings were subjected to physical and emotional abuse. As a result, he and his siblings were removed from their parents and placed in foster homes as the state declared his parents to be unfit. My friend said that he rarely saw his parents for the 10 years or so he was a ward of the state. To him, his parents were more interested in drugs and alcohol than being proper loving caring parents to him and his siblings. After turning 18, he went into the military and did not have any contact with his parents for the time he was there. After getting out, he said he was bitter and resentful towards his parents because of their failures as parents, and it took him several years to acquire some measure of reconciliation with them. The parents eventually divorced and were able to conquer their demons to some degree, but my friend's relationship with them is on shaky ground due to issues that have yet to be fully resolved.

Anonymous said...

My son and his lovely wife and two children used to spend lots of time with us. We gave support in both tangible and non-tangible ways for about the first 12 years of their marriage. Then I had a heart problem and the next year so did my husband. The giving had to decrease and the weekend Sunday's with big meals along with that. Then my husband had to have 6 various surgeries. Our son showed up and even came to help when called. A call at an inconvenient time provided some provision of items that would help the next time the issue came. Our son had stayed late into the night when his dad had the heart surgery, he showed up once for another surgery for a couple of hours and then didn't come to the hospital again. He called when his dad was at the rehab center and laughed at his dad when asked if he was coming by for a short time. He didn't even know I was ill too. He didn't come to help, he didn't call to even see if it was needed. We've managed to get through the last 3 years with little to no help in good weather or bad. Then son called mom at work to say happy birthday and hung up on her when after mom said she was surprised he even cared. He tried to say he had been around to take care of things. This was a tenuous relationship at that time and that call prompted both son and mom to apologize and forgive but shattered the relationship. As mom, I am just done; I have nothing to say (from fear of saying something wrong and just plan hurt) and my heart is broken. It's just sad and I don't know what I've done or now what to do. Even though dad said he would talk to the son, that's not happened and dad has been able to forgive son to the point nothing appears wrong. I was always so close to this boy and was and am so very proud of him. I will always love him; I'm just so exhausted from trying.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been together for almost 25 years and I have 3 stepchildren, 2 boys and a girl. I thought we had a great relationship with all of them, but ever since my stepdaughter got married, she has wanted nothing to do with us. The last time she called my husband was to tell us she was 3 months pregnant (after being married for only 4 months). She claims I stalked her on FB and pretended to be her father on his FB page (both of which are untrue) and she has blocked both of us from her phone and FB page. She has just had her second child and refuses to talk to us or let any of my husband's family forward us any pictures of the children. Her husband claims it's because her father never acknowledged that she asked him to take better care of himself. When I told him that my husband's health should not be a reason his daughter shouldn't talk to him. There's got to be some other reason for this treatment, but she won't talk to us so it can get resolved and I've tried to get her husband to sublty get her to call, but I don't think that will ever happen. I don't really care if she ever talks to me again, but I hate what her treatment is doing to my husband.

MomGirl said...

Never had anything good come out of my childhood, except for the fact that I am still alive. Not that I was beaten or anything, but being the only girl (and in the middle) I never got to do anything but homework and chores. When there were school music performances my parents never came and I was lucky if I was able to go perform in them. What parent wouldn't want to see their child perform? It was always that they were tired or had something else to do (like stay in their bedroom, smoke and drink Diet Coke {which I had to make for them before I left the house}) Even in the adult years I have had a strange relationship with my parents. At first I only wanted to have a relationship with them because of my children, but now I don't even care. They haven't been there so many times, and if/when they were, it was to benefit themselves. I don't have any pleasant, warm memories from childhood, such as reading books before bed, going special places, hugs (besides the awkward ones I'd have to give or else I'd get talked to). I haven't talked to my parents since Father's Day of this year. They keep calling but I just ignore their phone calls. I didn't tell them why I have stopped talking to them. My brother lied when they asked and said maybe my phone doesn't work, because he doesn't want to get into the situation. I live halfway across the country and I know they would never come see me, although in the past decade I've come to see them about 13 times and they've only come to see me twice (one of the times they didn't even stay for 24 hours!) I still have them on my facebook for some reason but I don't acknowledge them on there at all. I think I need to go to a therapist so I can quit caring and just go on with my life. Do I feel guilty? Maybe a little, but it feels so empowering to not have to talk to them or answer the phone or emails. (which were non existent until they realized I wasn't talking to them)

Anonymous said...

My situation is quite different. I was married for 30 years, had a daughter and a son, and our life was very nice, a lot of loving contact with extended family and friends for many years. My husband and I divorced 11 years ago, but I have a very loving connection with both my adult children.

Until recently.... My son married a woman we all thought the world of...they have a little girl, now three, and they share custody of a ten-year-old girl and a 17 year-old-boy with my daughter-in-law's former husband,a situation that has worked well. But the last few years have been increasingly difficult. My son's wife shows clear signs of having bi-polar disorder and some personality disorders, too. The manias are so high, and the lows are so low. She is not in good shape but her family chooses not to get involved. She isn't taking care of the children and my son works, as does she, but he does all the shopping and cooking, cleaning, yard work, helping with homework, helping with the kids' hygiene, bathing, doing laundry. She just sits and texts on her phone.

A month ago, she told him she did not love him and asked him to move home with me. We were to have my granddaughter three days a week. This worked for maybe a week. But apparently he has so much concern for the children's well-being that he is now staying over with her more often than not.

But as the weeks have worn on, he is never here, will often not talk to or return calls or texts from anyone in our family and his friends, and is now keeping his phone shut off. He came over to stay when I was out of town last weekend, and left my house in a major mess, and has taken some things of mine and is not returning them. He refuses to talk to his 95-year-old grandmother, who was so loving and giving to him, as were all of us in his family. No verbal or physical or emotional abuse from anyone of us. No substance abuse, no violence, no instability. We all did so much for him over is life, helped him emotionally and financially as much as we could.

My question is.....why is he 'shunning' his family now? Is his wife controlling him in some way, ordering him to 'choose' between her and us? Does he feel trapped, is he caving in to her demands because he thinks he has no other choice? All of us have been so good to her and her family.... we've been loving and kind and supportive of her, despite her terrible highs and lows. We have never argued with her, been confrontational in any way, never been rude or unkind ever, by word or deed. We've all been there for her and helped in any way we could without any negativity whatsoever.

I am clueless, and abjectly heartbroken. It reminds me of a Stockhom type of syndrome, I wonder? Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? How can we get our son, brother, grandson back, and still be loving and supportive of his situation, too? Is he lost to us forever?

Anonymous said...

I found this blog while looking for help with my pain. I'm happily married for 40 years, have had a good life, and raised 2 boys with love and to the best of my ability. #1 son is now the light of my life and he knows he was raised well and happy. We have a wonderful relationship with him. #2 son is a nightmare to us. He married at 19 after knowing the girl for 5 days before he left for Army basic training. 3 months later he came home for a short leave and told us he was marrying in a week. The pain has not stopped for us for 9 years now. His wife hates us and has convinced him that we were bad parents, that we are now bad people. We see them on gift-giving holidays and are thrown a few crumbs at other times to keep us hooked. We don't get to see our grandsons. We've tried so hard to have a good relationship but nothing we do is acceptable or appreciated. I was recently told, after 5 months of no contact, that he is tired of this and wants it to stop, saying we hate his wife, we don't love one of his boys, and these problems with our relationship are basically our fault. I know things weren't good for the first four years but I've been working hard to improve how I treat them. I'm so shocked now and in so much pain that I don't know what to do. I know it may sound like I'm one of those clueless mothers who doesn't get it, but I had good relationships with both my boys. My husband is a good and dear man who loves his boys. Neither of us understand this and we don't know what to do. I'm thinking that kindly letting go, living our happy life without this pain, is the way to go. We aren't cared for, we aren't wanted in his life, and I don't see the situation changing, but here we are... in for another round of us having to be "better" people in order to be in their lives because he's now asking us to try. I've asked myself many times over the past few years how much more nature has to do with the way a person turns out than nurture. And how much of this can I take before it breaks me?

Anonymous said...

Recently our child sought the help of a Psychiatrist after trying to get regulated on medicine for a year or so unsuccessfully. I guess the first step these days is to automatically dig in and search of child abuse or molestation issues but I think that can be dangerous if they are not on a solid mental ground at that point as it is. To me it is almost planting thoughts in there head unless they brought it up first.

Our situation it just appeared after 20 years and only after starting counseling sessions with the MD. All three of our children have lived pretty sheltered lives and were protected probably more than they should have. Now questions have come up about potential abuse and whether it could have been several different people.

About two months ago she had a break from reality, I think a combinations of anxiety, depression and difficulty with her prescription meds balancing and started having some hallucinations and psychotic breaks or "f;ash backs." Now she is convinced that she was abused and molested and has a deep lack of trust in any adult males including her Father and Grand Fathers.

Her MD advised her to move away from home, that home is not a safe environment and has not even brought up family involvement in sessions which I would feel is vital in sorting things out.

This has been devastating to our family, but we are trying to put her needs and well being first and hope that she can find some clarity and know that her family is and has always been a safe zone and always will be.

We know that she is in college and in the next two years will likely move away, or at least be on her own, but right now we feel she has been ripped away from us by the very medical professionals we have placed our trust in helping her. I am not a medical provider, but something seems odd for this to only come to the surface after starting counseling and now it is almost a search to figure out who did the harm and taking her away from the ones that love her the most. I almost feel like the MD is chasing unicorns in hopes of being able to pin this on something in her past when we just feel certain there can't be. She has had a complete change of personality and thought in the two months she has been seeing the MD and we are concerned, confused and very worried

Anonymous said...

I posted about my son on August 9th, 2013. We did go and look for him where he had been staying in the next state temporarily with friends, but he had just left for another state further away when we arrived. His friends were mostly rude and refused to help, despite our pleas about our worries concerning his serious depression. One young man was at least somewhat human and told us what state he had gone to for a job interview.

My son killed himself on May 3, 2014. He was working in the job he had applied for and was accepted to graduate school. His co-workers and superiors raved about his work, his sense of humor, and how he motivated others. None saw this coming even those with him at work the night before.

He had married a woman shortly after his discharge from the mental health unit while in the military. They never lived together and they married so he could move off base and get a housing allowance which he agreed to share with her. She went to his apartment on the night he died after he got out of work at midnight. At 4:00 am he was gone. She lied to police and never contacted us about his death. Thankfully one of his military friends I had met when he was in the hospital made efforts to locate us and we learned of his death several days after. His wife refuses to share any of his cremains or personal belongings or even speak with us about what happened.
I know that my son's estrangement was part of his severe depression. He would not have done this if we had remained in his life. He could not have. He fell into a very negative relationship with a person that appears to have many many problems. She obviously encouraged his alienation and I believe was involved in his death as she was right there with him when it happened. Estrangement from loved ones is one of the top warning signs of suicide. I planned to travel to where he was to look for him but ended up making the trip to try to piece together what happened. I tell this story because if your kids are behaving this way for no real reason take it seriously. It could be depression and a sign of a suicide plan.

Anonymous said...

3A lot of sadness here. Many posts from children, but few from parents its seems. There are a lot of labels being thrown around.
I was an only child raised by a divorced woman. I thought "normal" was my normal. My mother would literally shun me for weeks starting at about age 5. This lasted until her death three years ago at 79. She wouldn't see me on her death bed and did not see me for two years prior to her death. She gathered all her animosity throughout my life and made a list and blamed me for everything that went wrong in her life. She pretty much divorced me, a new twist. I had no contact with my father until 24, at which point, he died shortly thereafter. Because of my childhood, I did everything for my two sons. I even went back to school to be a teacher so they would be proud of me. I never missed a sporting event, both played basketball, football and track; nor did I ever miss a concert.
We went to Disiney World every year and when they struggled in school, even through college,I bailed them out. My goal was to be the most perfect parent I could, to make them happy. Was I perfect? No?
Things started falling apart with the older son in 7th grade. My mother had his ear in private and publicly she openly voice that we favored the younger son (which was not true.) I still kept my mother in my life even though she was subject to fits of rage and alienation. After college, my older son, moved to California, then NYC, and is going back to California. He has stopped doing gifts this year and actually says they are on the way. When they don't arrive, he says stuff like "I was too busy" (he wants to get into show business) or "is our relationship built on material gifts?" He is slick. My younger son graduated from college last December, made a statement he is not going out anymore after New Year's Eve, and has been sitting around the house for almost a year. He does not talk much and can take no suggestions, let alone criticism. He wants to move away but doesn't know where. He wants to have a passion, but doesn't. and therefore doesn't have a job. He stays in his room, plays the piano and reads a lot. He watches movies too.
I am totally heartbroken morning, noon and night. The older son is not happy with my husband and I and you can see it in his eyes. He argues when home (which is less and less.) HJe fights physically with younger sibling. His younger brother says the older one wants to be the victim so therefore deliberately picks fights.
Both call me controlling because I want them to talk to me, call more often, and honor birthdays and holidays. There are only four people to our family. The older one is ticked off at me asking, and has not come for birthdays, except mine, since February.
My husband has always, like my mother, undermined my every move. My husband and sons take no orders, whether it be homework, manners, chores, etc. When I brought those things up, my husband would say "See, the argument you are causing." I am on the verge of a breakdown or something worse. EVERYTHING I lived and worked for is all disintegrating and if I had it to do over, I would probably do the same. I don't know where I went wrong except for having a backstabbing mother, and apparently, a husband that followed suit.

Anonymous said...

Our daughter had always been loving and kind, always gave us cards for birthdays, anniversary etc. When her daughter was born with a rare disease we were there for her and her family almost every day for 2 years. We gave time, money, sweat and tears. Now that time has passed and we dont go as often it seems her attitude has changed. She seems very resentful and mad and always at the verge of lashing out at one of us or both of us. Last year my husband and I were sick and we asked or her spouse to come over and help and she responded with. I cant do that....I have small kids to take care of! So we now worry about getting older and what can/will happen as we age. We try to talk to her but she clams up. Sometimes she is talkative and upbeat and other times just wants to unload and whoa is me and my life and we are supposed to just listen and I think she wants us to agree with her. But if we complain about aging aches and pains its "gee your getting old all you do is complain". We gave her and her siblings a good solid upbringing. DIdnt have the best of everything but the best we could. College education etc. Seems as though having a child with a disability really changed her and her attitude and we feel we get the brunt of it.

Angel Help said...

My adult children shun me I have 3 boys and a girl they disrespect me they pick there step father over me I am sad and hurt I can I fix this I am there real mom have always been there for them never spank them never mean to them I am not no respect from my adult kids help please I have a full story I can explain more detail but my kids have choose to take step fathers side he was very abusive to me how to get my kids back they think if they act this way I will go back I am never going back I am remarried my husband is wonderful but they won't except it they shun me they only call when they want something from me how do I handle this

Anonymous said...

Long story short. My mom has the maturity of a 12 year old girl. My dad has the characteristics of someone with aspergers. I moved away. Phone conversations are PAINFUL! My parents never developed a friendship with me, and it has shown the most when I moved away. I think they used us kids as an emotional blanket to never deal with their own crappy marriage and undelt with baggage. O and they are super controlling. No one likes to be any one who's selfish and controlling.