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Shut down threats of estrangement

(199 Posts)
Mebster Fri 28-Jun-19 17:54:16

My daughter and her husband used to threaten estrangement if we offended them in some way. We've written them several notes, in a loving but firm tone, making it clear that we would never consider threatening a family member with this and it's not appropriate. It seems to have finally worked. My sister hasn't heard from her daughter in eight years and her son is constantly threatening. Why has this become so common?

Bibbity Wed 10-Jul-19 16:42:49

And yet here are most of the ESC married, with jobs and children presumably with friends. So they are perfectly able to continue relationships.

Smileless2012 Wed 10-Jul-19 16:48:02

No of course they don't have too Bibbity but there are plenty here on GN who do justify their decision to go no contact, just as there are plenty who finding themselves estranged, give their reasons as to why to the treatment they're receiving isn't justified.

Bibbity Wed 10-Jul-19 16:51:21

But it is their opinion that it’s unjustified. They don’t get to dictate how another feels or the experiences that they had. They can of course feel their feels but they can’t expect the other person to go back or have to explain themselves constantly.

Smileless2012 Wed 10-Jul-19 16:58:14

Well that's debatable Bibbity because of course it all depends on the nature of those relationships doesn't it.

For example and EAC who finds themselves in an abusive relationship, physical and/or emotional may continue to stay married, as having been manipulated into estranging themselves from their entire family, not just their parents, believes that their partner is the only one there for them.

The same applies to friendships, friendships that go back to childhood are severed once the introduction of a third and influential party enters the mix.

As for relationships with children, this can very much depend on the age of the children. Perhaps the EAC may find their relationship with their own AC pressured because they question the absence of GP's as they were growing up. Young children of course are more likely to be accepting.

There are relationships at work of course, but not in the same context of personal relationships. They are far more superficial so being able to maintain them doesn't require the same level of commitment.

Smileless2012 Wed 10-Jul-19 17:09:26

Of course it is their opinion that the estrangement is unjustified, just as it is the opinion of the EAC that their behaviour is justified.

The EAC also doesn't "get to dictate how another feels or the experiences that they had" but some are just as guilty as the EP's and GP's. The same goes for the other party being expected to constantly having to explain themselves.

It's not always the case that the EAC simply walks away, in some cases their parents are on the receiving end of abusive texts and emails. It's a mistake to think that all EAC walk away in dignified silence.

Starlady Tue 30-Jul-19 20:32:38

But this thread is called "Shut down THREATS of estrangement" (caps mine for emphasis), not just "Shut down estrangement." Does putting a stop to the threats (if possible) necessarily mean the estrangement won't happen? While threats are awful, are they the most important part of this situation? Or is the most significant aspect the issue (or issues) that have led up to this point?

Smileless2012 Tue 30-Jul-19 20:52:18

No I don't think that shutting down the threats will necessarily stop the estrangement from happening Starlady but what it can do, is show those making the threats that the one on the receiving end is not open to manipulation and emotional blackmail.

As those of us who live with estrangement know, if it's going to happen there's nothing you can do to stop it and living with estrangement is too painful to put into words. Living with the threat of it must come a close second.

Starlady Wed 31-Jul-19 00:34:32

Points taken, Smileless.

Madgran77 Wed 31-Jul-19 08:02:28

Living with the threat of it, verbalised or not, certainly does come a close second!

Shropshirelass Wed 31-Jul-19 08:09:36

My sister has caused a rift in our family following our fathers passing. All because of her guilt and jealousy. It is very hurtful but she is the one who will lose out in the end. I don't think I will ever see her again after our Mom has passed and our paths cross at her funeral.

Purpletinofpaint Wed 31-Jul-19 21:12:00

because they question the absence of GP's as they were growing up - not necessarily. Although my dc were young, I explained exactly why I had cut off their grandparents & told them many times growing up that they were free to make contact themselves if they wanted to. Nothing was going to bite me in the arse in the future. My dc are appalled at their grandparents & made their own decisions to remain out of contact.

Smileless2012 Fri 02-Aug-19 13:10:17

Madgranflowersand for me, the non verbalised threat is why I wouldn't want to resume contact with our ES. Having gone non contact once I'd always feel that the threat for it to happen again would be hanging over us.

You've handled the situation in the best way IMO Purple. Our DS told us that last Christmas while he was visiting his brother, our eldest GS was asking questions and rather than dealing honestly with his queries, they were ignored and the subject changed.

Starlady Sun 04-Aug-19 16:19:05

My deepest condolences on the death of your dad, Shropshirelass. Sorry, also, about your sister's! It sounds as if you don't like her very much at this point, though, so as sad as it may be, you're probably be better off if the two of you keep a distance from each other as time goes on, especially, in the event that your Mom (sadly) passes.

Purple, I agree w/ Smileless that you handled that very well. Not everyone does. Your kids are lucky to have such a wise mum (though, of course, I'm sorry the CO was even necessary).

Namsnanny Sun 04-Aug-19 18:11:57

purplepaint, smileless, starlady…….. I've thought about this way of handling the gc in this situation, and I would like to play the devils advocate if I may?

Whilst I can see there is a logic or straightforwardness in telling the children your version of the truth.

It is still only one side.

Could it also be (mis?) construed as brain washing the children when they were young enough not to question their parents perspective?

Its very hard for a child to form another point of view from the one they are given.

How do they gain a balanced perspective to make a informed decision?

I don't say this was what you did Purplepaint, not at all.

Its just the nature of the beast.

Estrangement means the influence of differing opinions is narrowed.

That's exactly what the parents who do this want.

Its said over and over, 'I do not want this person in my life because of their behaviour'

Part of their behaviour is the opinions and beliefs they hold.
If the gchildren are being actively stopped from seeing that not everyone feels and behaves the same as their parents.
Or to put it another way, when they see what happens to people who don't agree with their parents, what message does that send?

Don't rock the boat.

purplepaint...nothing I am saying is trying to criticise you or your situation, I do hope you see that. You made the best of your circumstances and I respect that.

Smileless….maybe your ES and dil are boxing clever when they don't talk infront of S2?
Perhaps they don't want him or you knowing exactly what they do say to gs's, because it's biased (lies) against you?

To be more charitable perhaps ES is ashamed (underneath everything) of his behaviour and caught between his wife (who obviously feels one way) and brother (who feels another) and tried to close the conversation with his children down, because he couldn't answer them properly?

You are the best judge of their possible motives!

Sorry to hijack the thread.

The op asked why is this (threats of estrangement) so common?
Because more people feel their priorities take precedence over their children.
They think what's good for them is good for their children.

Children have become an extension of the parents personalities, rather than a member of a (family) community. Each of whom has differing needs, at different times to other members of that community, imv anyway!

Notwithstanding (although I suppose I must emphasise it) dangerous or cruel people should (naturally) be dealt with differently.

My rambling is over, Thank you for listening/reading those who have!
I'm ducking for cover now (grin)

Starlady Sun 04-Aug-19 19:45:14

No need to duck, IMO, Namsnanny. You made some important points. And maybe those are the reasons why some parents hedge about discussing a CO w/ the children. I also think you're right that Smileless' ES might have been dodging the question b/c he didn't want to discuss it in front of DS, afraid that DS would argue w/ him or catch him in lies.

IMO, it's a parent's prerogative to present their personal experiences to their children the way that they so choose, including their experience of their relationship w/ their own parents/PILs (the children's GPs). But lies and distortions are off-base, I believe, and... sigh... unfair to both the GPs and the GC. Yet, no doubt, some parents do change the story when they present it to their kids. Hopefully, not most.

Smileless2012 Mon 05-Aug-19 14:40:35

Good post Namsnannysmile.

Questions are inevitable at some point. Our eldest GS is now old enough to understand that his uncle, our DS, has the same parents as his father and is naturally curious as to why he sees us and his father doesn't.

As to the answers his parents may give, there was a time when that bothered me but not now. They'll lie if they choose too and there's nothing we can do about that.

We did nothing to deserve their treatment of us and if I ever get the opportunity to talk to our GC when they're older I'll tell them so. They'll believe what they'll believe.

ReadyMeals Wed 28-Aug-19 11:34:38

I think it's because topics like narcicism and toxic relationships are very trendy right now, and our AC are reading all these on social media and it's putting ideas into their heads. A bit like that time where people were "remembering" sex abuse that didn't happen - well obviously it helped some people who really had it happen to them, but it also affected a lot of people with false memories.

Smileless2012 Wed 28-Aug-19 11:38:01

A good point ReadyMeals we shouldn't underestimate the power of social media and/or the influence of others to implant false memories.

ReadyMeals Wed 28-Aug-19 11:46:40

In some cases the AC might really have had some problems in their upbringing (not talking about sex abuse now), which did upset them at the time but which they've come to terms with, or seems so long ago it's stopped mattering, or that they've put down to "I was a pretty difficult kid to raise" or "my mum had lots of problems at the time" and everyone's moved on. Then they start browsing through this material online and it's putting a different slant on everything. As they read, their old feelings of resentment are rekindled. Gradually the parent becomes "a narcissist" and "toxic" and it all snowballs from there. How many of us never said something to a child, yelled, or punished, then it was over, you hugged, maybe you said sorry if it was too harsh in retrospect, the rest of the day was nice and fun. Then years later a bit of the spanking is remembered... and the spark of anger is rekindled...

Smileless2012 Wed 28-Aug-19 11:57:49

My mother's card this year from DS in Aus. had a stick drawing of a cross looking mum taking her disgruntled child by the hand. On the front of the card it said 'It's OK mum, I get it now'.

Your post is spot on ReadyMeals all parents at one time or another have done or said something that they later regret, as have our children.

Starlady Wed 28-Aug-19 22:44:57

Hmmm... You have a point, ReadyMeals. I know that as I read some of these things, even here, I look back, and wonder about some issues I had w/ my own dear mum. And yes, sometimes, Ive wondered, was she a narc/toxic/you-name-it? But then I remember all the good qualities in her and realize that while she had her selfish moments (in my view), etc., she hardly fits these awful categories. Perhaps not every AC takes the time to look at things in a greater context like that. It's a thought...

rosecarmel Thu 29-Aug-19 00:50:34

My mother fit into awful categories - At times- How she wound up in those categories to begin with takes greater understanding- Understanding that I certainly didn't possess when I was younger-

March Thu 29-Aug-19 09:00:29

Readymeals, there is also Estranged parents that call their Adult children/their spouses Narcciaisst so your theory works both ways.