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Thoughts and opinions:

(398 Posts)
LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 17:32:21

What are your thoughts on estrangement?

What measures should be attempted before estrangement?

What in your opinion, justifies estrangement?

HettyMaud Wed 04-Sep-19 19:31:37

Nothing except perhaps a criminal act on someones part. Try everything first.

LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 19:40:10

New laws in the UK make emotional abuse a criminal act, it is still incredibly difficult to prove though.

I do think that all possibilities should be explored before estrangement. Although if the person who has become worn down by the relationship has asked for counselling or mediation etc and the answer is no, they are then within their rights to estrange

Starlady Wed 04-Sep-19 22:29:39

Estrangement, IMO, is a very painful thing. Then again, if a relationship is painful, in itself, I imagine estrangement can be very freeing for one or more parties to the conflict.

I agree with PPs (previous posters) that it shouldn't be done lightly. Efforts should be made to talk things through. Since mismatched expectations are often involved, I think those need to be explored, some people don't realize that the other person had a different vision of a situation than they did. Boundaries may need to be set, in some cases, and others may need to find a way to accept them. If one person tends to make offensive comments, etc. the other may have to call them out on it and let them know how they feel about it. Apologies may need to be made and forgiveness given, if possible.

Hopefully, the people in conflict can come to a point of understanding. If not, in some cases, contact may need to be cut back to decrease chances of friction. Only when efforts to fix the relationship have been tried - and failed - do I think estrangement is in order.

I get HettyMaud's feeling that a CO should occur only in the event of a "criminal act," such as abuse. However, would say that should be the only reason for an IMMEDIATE CO. At the same time, I can see a CO happening if non-criminal, non-abusive offenses are committed over and over, despite requests for them to stop. Also, as has been mentioned elsewhere, I think there is such a thing as "death by a thousand paper cuts." A steady stream of nasty acts and comments, no matter how "minor, can, no doubt, drive some people to estrangement.

Starlady Wed 04-Sep-19 22:35:51

It's interesting that you bring up "emotional abuse," LostChild. No doubt, that can be very damaging, and I'm glad it's now illegal. However, not only is it difficult to prove, but in some cases, I can see where it would be hard to define who was abusing whom. For example, if a parent is estranged by their AC, the parent may feel they are being emotionally abused by that AC. But the AC may believe that their parent has consistently abused them emotionally over the years, and may have cut them off for that reason. If they each accuse the other, it might be very hard to discern who is telling the truth.

LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 22:36:50

It can near enough drive you right around the bend Starlady. Thankyou for your thoughtful answer

LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 22:39:17

I have no doubt abusive parents can raise abusive children and it can be a huge nightmare. It scares me every day and I probably hold myself to ridiculously high standards through fear I could be abusive and not know.

Starlady Wed 04-Sep-19 22:51:14

You're welcome, LC.

As for being afraid you might be abusive, I don't recall, are you in counseling? If so, I think this would be something to sort of check on with your counselor, now and then. I'm sure you aren't abusive, after all you've been through especially. But talking it over with a counselor might bring you some peace of mind.

Granniesunite Wed 04-Sep-19 23:08:13

I agree with hetty. Nothing except a criminal act justifies estrangement. Sadly anger and manipulation by outside forces can be all to common in these case.

LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 23:09:02

I have. I think honestly I need a bit more than counselling to fix my inner critic. Sometimes I wonder if it is a good thing though. I think there are positives to having anxiety. I have a tenancy to shut down when I get overwhelmed which is a big issue. Working on it!

LostChild Wed 04-Sep-19 23:12:01

Tendency not tenancy

Hetty58 Wed 04-Sep-19 23:36:31

I see estrangement as the very last resort. Therefore I think that it occurs far too often. There's always the option of agreeing to meet in a public place (where behaviour tends to be modified) along with a group of other family and friends. Anyone who feels uncomfortable is then free to leave whenever they like.

People could always try mediation to resolve their difficulties. It's a great shame, too, if children never meet their wider family, even briefly.

agnurse Thu 05-Sep-19 01:57:04

My FIL is someone I will not ever allow around my future children. Please let me know if you would consider this grounds for a CO (some triggers):

-constantly put his father above his family, even though his father had emotionally and physically abused him and had sexually abused AIL

-wrote my husband, his son, off because Hubby is on the autistic spectrum

-used what little money his family had to finance his gym time and gym equipment, then got mad because his wife spent more on groceries than he wanted

-took off for another country after his wife threw him out, leaving his children behind and having minimal contact with them (by choice)

-body-shamed me and our impressionable young daughter

-tried to destroy my husband's and my marriage

-talked smack about me to my husband

-ignored his GD for months at a time, then guilt-tripped her when she didn't respond to an email with what HE considered sufficient promptness

-couldn't find time to visit with his own son and his family for more than a few hours when we visited the UK (apparently he had to do some shopping for an upcoming cruise)

-treated his son, an adult, as if he were a small child

-financially abused us and left us in a financial hole that we are still getting out of, years later

Given all of that, do you think he is a safe person to have around children? Everything is all about him. All the time. He can't even be bothered to ask about how we are doing on the rare occasion Hubby contacts him.

Hubby is on VLC with him and I am NC. Any future children we have will not meet him. (Or his siblings. One has suspect autism, which of course isn't his fault, but he is not very social. Another is an active drug addict. A third is an alcoholic who fell out with Hubby years ago because Hubby, an adult, was contacting her ex-husband and she considered thwt an act of disloyalty. Are those people you necessarily want children to meet? Obviously the one's issues aren't his fault, but he doesn't live anywhere close to the rest of the family and the travel involved to see him would be considerable.) MIL and SFIL are lovely people. Our children will meet them.

BradfordLass72 Thu 05-Sep-19 03:17:09

My 2 cents worth is that each case is different.
Some of the accounts I've read here are heartbreaking but it is also clear that sometimes the person who pulls away from the relationship has good cause; it has seemed the only course of protective action.

No one person can judge another's situation of course and each is individual with different histories which have led to the ultimate action.

So is there ever a good answer to the above questions without knowing (intimately) the family concerned?

Sara65 Thu 05-Sep-19 06:55:22

I don’t think any person can tell another person how to behave, it’s impossible to know all the circumstances, and at best we only hear one side of a story.

I agree with Bradfordlass, some people have had dreadful things in their lives, and there’s very good reason for estrangement in my opinion, my personal experience is certainly not so dramatic, just a constant dislike of my mother, and nothing to balance it with, no fond memories, no childhood moments of kindness or affection.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t try, I did, for many years, then I had that ‘last straw’
moment, and that was that. I have no wish to ever go back, and I don’t think she’s bothered either.

There are many different reasons for estrangement, but in my opinion, if it’s too hard, walk away

Pantglas1 Thu 05-Sep-19 06:59:45

As ever, circumstances alter cases. Everyone who goes NC has a reason, valid to them, and the estranged person has to respect that.

Not every relationship can be mended and recognising that is the biggest challenge - sadly, walking away may be the only solution in some cases where one person is so badly damaged.

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Sep-19 09:55:25

That's so true Pantglas for an abused estranging AC and for an abused estranged parent. The challenge is huge but once you accept that the relationship is beyond repair it is the only answer, otherwise the rest of your life can be spent yearning for a relationship you can never have.

Life is for living.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 12:46:32

To those who have said criminal acts, I am curious as to whether you mean proven criminal acts or just anything against the law whether it is proven or not

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Sep-19 13:27:38

If it isn't proven then it becomes an accusation of a criminal act.

Anyone can make an accusation but that would have to be proved in a court of law before the accused can be regarded as a convicted criminal.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 13:47:19

That's why I want clarification. A criminal act is still a criminal even if it is not proven.

silverlining48 Thu 05-Sep-19 13:54:04

Lost child. I would say a criminal act is something that is illegal, whether or not it ever gets to a court and proven.
A murderer who gets away with it, has still committed a criminal act.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 14:21:29

Agreed Silver, I was just curious at to whether those who say a criminal act justifies estrangement think it must be proven before they will except it

GagaJo Thu 05-Sep-19 14:28:15

I think it depends.

I'm estranged from both of my parents for very different reasons.

My father's wife (stepmother) was abusive to my brother when he was little. I had nothing to do with dad for a while because of that. I tried a bit later to reestablish contact but... couldn't keep it up. Father and step mother are so disfunctional I just didn't want them in my life.

My mother is a totally different matter. Our estrangement is recent and relates to my grandson. I worship my GS and will not have anyone around me (or him) who does not see him as a gift and a blessing. The break was initiated by acts caused by my sister in law but supported by my mother.
However, I am very very sad about the break with my mum. It isn't as if we had a great relationship BUT she's my mum.

Smileless2012 Thu 05-Sep-19 15:36:46

I suppose it depends if it's something that you witnessed, that you know to be true, or if it's something that someone else has told you about, if you consider them to be a reliable source.

People that we love and think we know, can do something that we'd never have thought them capable of. If we witness that behaviour ourselves there can be no doubt, but if we're told by a third party, even though it may be true, we may find it hard to believe.

What we've been told by a third party may not be true at all in which case we can only use our personal experience and knowledge of the person being accused to form a judgement. It's a mine field isn't it.

GagaJoflowersit must have been awful for you to have witnessed the abuse of your brother at the hands of your step mother and to also be estranged from your mum that you are "very very sad" about. I'm so sorry.

Enjoy the GS you worship and the joy he must bring to your life.

LostChild Thu 05-Sep-19 15:45:43

Smileless I think the water is being muddied.

The question was: What in your opinion justifies estrangement.

A couple of answers were "a criminal act"

In the UK emotional abuse is now a criminal act but, it is incredibly difficult to prove. So I was asking if that estrangement was still justified in to the posters who answered that, if it hadn't been proven/prosecuted etc