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What EP's need to hear from a fellow Estranged Parent.

(244 Posts)
HolyHannah Mon 16-Mar-20 01:37:42

rosecarmel Mon 16-Mar-20 03:12:28

From the article: (and personal experience, I continue to catch myself in the act)

*Stop Defending Yourself
When we are in defense mode, we are unable to see the other person’s point of view. You may think that you never did anything wrong, but chances are, you did. After all, you are human. We all are.*

That's the first wish on the list-

My suggestion: Listen more, let it digest- Even if you feel like you want to puke it back up- Someone elses take is an acquired taste- Especially when it pertains to the way they see you-

I'm a fan of listening intently- But I'm not a fan of maintaining a designated listener position- Yet if I were to interview people as a profession, asking a question and mostly listening is exactly what I would do!


HolyHannah Mon 16-Mar-20 04:40:00

rosecarmel -- Yes. Learning to 'listen' was one of the dysfunctional behaviors I had to overcome. I was taught you are either talking and the 'authority' or you were talking and everything you said was 'wrong'. Of course I wanted to be treated like the 'important people' were and I would try to emulate them and demanded to be listened to as well. Communications, like relationships, have to go both ways.

Under Don't Justify Yourself and Call it an Apology :

If you truly can’t come up with anything you did that might have hurt your child, then this is what you should say if you hope to ever start a conversation that will lead to reconciliation.

“I know that I have hurt you. I am open to hearing about your experience so I can better understand how I caused you pain.”

It will be might hard to get most EP's to that line if an admitted child abuser (the 'mom' that slapped her AC multiple times) couldn't see that as worthy of an apology or the idea that that action or anything else she might have done may have hurt her child(ren).

The last thing I would have added to the list would be, Stop Acting Like You are Some Holder of More Knowledge Maturity etc Your AC does not want to feel like a 'perpetual lesser' to their parents for life.

Constantly hearing from EP's -- "EAC are 'emotionally immature' otherwise they would understand 'walking away' is not a way to 'fix' the relationship." This quote is a topic that could be a thread itself...

Yennifer Mon 16-Mar-20 10:16:34

I think this is great and good advice for any parent. I careful to always be accountable. I'm only human and I muck up sometimes, my pride is not more important than people I love. If shame causes a lie it gets easier to lie and cover yourself again, it can easily snowball and lead to estrangement x

rosecarmel Mon 16-Mar-20 14:13:32

I have to "see" myself as part of the problem in order to work towards a solution-

I can't hold myself accountable for what I don't see- And I don't mean refuse to see- I mean what has yet to be brought to my attention or I fail to notice-

rosecarmel Mon 16-Mar-20 14:14:16

I hope that made sense ..

Yennifer Mon 16-Mar-20 14:40:41

Most people have something they need to work on x

Lavazza1st Mon 16-Mar-20 14:55:32

Ok I totally get this.

BUT what if you gave permission for medical treatment and did the best at the time for your child, but they keep bringing it up in blame and resentment years later. Then every time you think you've explained and smoothed it over, they bring it up every time they aren't happy with you?
This is happening with one of my AC and truly we have done out utmost to help and support. We feel we could not have done more- yet said AC acts like a victim, never takes responsibility for themselves and continues to act abusively and blame. This AC is in huge amounts of debt and refuses to get professional advice. We have suggested it many times and apparently the debt is our fault because we should have paid it off!!!

This could end in estrangement because we cannot afford to pay AC's debts and should not have to be made to feel guilty for doing our best when AC has never listened to our guidance or accepted help.

If anyone has any ideas HOW this can be worked on or how to persuade AC to agree to talk to CAB or a debt counsellor I'd love to hear them.

Sidenote : This AC has mental health problems and needed to be sectioned for their own safety- they have also had to be hospitalised for an eating disorder as a child and have massive resentment towatrds us. We have tried to explain that the Dr's made the diagnosis and told us what the necessary treatment was. They have very bad judgement and act like there are no consequences in life. Obviously we don't want to lose this AC but we also can't afford to take on the debts and we can't change the clock or see how we could have avoided the medical treatment that was necessary at the time.

Maybe I am making excuses??? But I can't change anything and don't know how to work on this? (AC has been abusive and rude)

grannyactivist Mon 16-Mar-20 15:35:48

I agree that most, but not every estranged parent is part of the problem.

I am estranged from my daughter, but this is not a defensive mother speaking. I had no idea, for many years, why my daughter suddenly cut contact not only with me, but with my whole family including her siblings, her aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents etc. She immediately changed her phone number and moved house to an undisclosed location.

And I had absolutely no idea why, and no way of asking her.

Fast forward a decade, and a couple of years ago my sister told me the reason my daughter had estranged herself; my sister found out some time ago, but had kept it to herself. As I had been certain of, she confirmed the estrangement was absolutely nothing to do with me, but related to a single member of my extended family (not my sister). My daughter had done something that was very wrong and rather than face the problem she literally 'ran away'.

It's been well over a decade now and while I don't agree with the action my daughter took at least I understand it, and I do have a great deal of sympathy for her situation. I think her decision to cut all contact was the worst one she could have made, but it would have required extreme bravery on her part to face the family and expose her actions and their consequences.

I am sad that my beloved grandchildren have grown up without the extended family that love them, and I'm sad for myself - I love my grandchildren very much and I have been unable to continue the close relationship we had until the estrangement.

I eventually found one of my grandchildren on various social media and for some time was able to observe them discreetly, and I am pleased that the information I gleaned is reassuring. Some family members (who still don't know the backstory) have urged me to make contact, but I have declined as I think it is unfair to do that. My daughter seems to have been a good mother, but I have no idea what she told her children about distancing herself from the family and I have no wish to jeopardise their relationship with their mum. I can be found if my grandchildren wish to find me.

I'm writing this because I really did know that I hadn't done anything to precipitate the estrangement, and yet time and time again people assumed I must have been at fault and that I was in denial, and I even began to doubt myself. I suspect my situation is fairly unique, but just in case there is someone else who genuinely, unreservedly believes they did not contribute in any way to the estrangement I thought it was worth explaining that, exceptionally, it can be the case.

Smileless2012 Mon 16-Mar-20 16:42:39

You have to know what the issues are. If they're things relating to the past or things that are currently happening you need to be told.

As you posted rosecarmel "what has yet to be brought to my attention or I fail to notice". So there needs to be communication and when there's none, when an AC estranges, walks away with no explanation, without giving their parent(s) the opportunity to even try and 'fix' what is wrong and/or address what was wrong, that in itself is a factor of the estrangement.

You cannot possibly accept responsibility for something you don't know exists and you cannot possibly try and fix something if you don't know it's broken.

You cannot accept responsibility for something that didn't and doesn't exist or fix it.

Lavazzalst what more can you do than explain that the difficult decision you took was due to the 'expert' advice you were given at the time?

All we can do when our children are adults, old enough and we hope mature enough to make the right choices and decisions in life, is advise them and express our concern if we believe those choices and/or decisions are wrong.

How can we be held responsible for their mistakes and be expected to 'fix' them? Even if you have the means to pay off your AC's debts, that wont solve the problem, merely enable them to do the same again as without facing the consequences of his/her actions how will he/she ever learn?

A tragic situation grannyactivist that you lost your D and GC, and she her family because she was unable to face up to what she'd done and ran away.

I was thinking how this is something you may well never be able to draw a line under for her or you. If she ever told you herself what would be the correct response? If you told her in all honesty that it would have been OK, something you could have worked through together as a family, that could be so difficult for her to come to terms with, that she estranged you because she believed you wouldn't or couldn't have been there for her, when you would have been.

There are EP's "who genuinely, unreservedly (believe) they did
not contribute in any way to the estrangement" so it can and is for some the case, and not necessarily exceptionally.

rosecarmel Mon 16-Mar-20 16:43:41

Lavazza1st, I understand- I've faced a very, very similar situation- I had to overcome the BUT- I had to overcome thinking my BEST was good enough- I had to see me as equal to the doctor whose BEST wasn't good enough either- I had to put myself in the doctors shoes and the individual being treated that relied on me and as a result relied on the doctor- It's painful- Although much more so for the individual-

It takes less energy to assume responsibility than it does to deflect it-

The debt- I live in the United States- I've no idea how debt is navigated elsewhere- But there's a universal formula that can be applied to work out of debt and start living again- A word of warning, it isn't an overnight fix- But learning about it might be instantly gratifying - Senator Elizabeth Warren, a bankruptcy expert, teaches what's called the 50 30 20 budget which she deeply delves into her book All Your Worth- Don't mistake my saying deeply to mean complicated - She writes like she's speaking to a family member and close friend -

HolyHannah Mon 16-Mar-20 16:46:23

Lavazza1st Mon 16-Mar-20 17:18:26

Well one of my kids had eating disorder at the age of 11 and was hospitalised for a few weeks for observation. We were at our wits end so agreed to it. AC now blames us and accuses us of sending them away.

The same child went on to have mental health issues and became a danger to themselves and barricaded themselves in their bedroom, self harming and not eating/washing /engaging. We got medical advice and a section was suggested and we agreed. Even though we search ourselves we cannot think what else we could have done at the time as we were at our wits end.

The same AC has never engaged with MH team because they apparently don't know what they are talking about (!) and won't accept help or advice from anyone. Is currently in a huge debt mess and is being investigated for fraud. Currently (apparently) everything is our fault. Any advice would be welcome as it could end in Estrangement.

Currently not planning or able to hand over any more money and want AC to accept responsibility and debt counselling. Am not keeping on but have suggested it once.

HolyHannah Mon 16-Mar-20 17:54:20

Lavazza1st -- With what you have written I would suggest you take the advice of the article in regards to the second point.

Children of dysfunctional upbringings manifest widely in their symptoms. Early, serious mental health issues like depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, self-harming, lack of self care (hygiene etc), addiction issues/behaviors are all signs of a child who has suffered abuse/neglect.

Children of abuse rarely 'seek help' or accept it because "help" in a dysfunctional environment usually is just more adding to the guilt/shame/humiliation every day already is. When a child feels like, "What would 'help' is for you to stop screaming at me and not make me feel beyond worthless."

So to try to regain some 'control' in their environment, undeveloped brains use dysfunctional 'solutions' (like self-harm) to feel in control of their pain. Instead of anyone getting to the root cause(s) of the pain, the child gets blamed for their 'bad' behavior. So the child now gets the message, "All the 'problems' are my fault and no one is asking 'What is happening to you to make you act this way?' because they don't care." So abuse victims do avoid 'help' because they have never known it in a positive form.

grannyactivist Mon 16-Mar-20 18:07:22

Smileless2012 It's not even as simple as her believing I wouldn't or couldn't have been there for her - she knew that I would be (we have history with this) - it was because her very good relationships with my extended family would be compromised/damaged if what she had done became known. I would have supported her at the cost of damaged relationships within my extended family. We would have got through it in time and she knows that, but her 'secret' would have been exposed.

Smileless2012 Mon 16-Mar-20 20:09:48

It seems to have been an impossible situation grannyactivist I'm so sorry that it resulted in your estrangement. Her secret must to her have been huge, so big that there was no way of dealing with it, once it was exposedflowers.

Eating disorders are very complex Lavazzalst and can come about for a variety of reasons.

What you need IMO is to be able to get your AC to understand that what you did was what you were advised to do at the time, and not knowing what else to do, you followed the advice you were given. As you say, you were at your wits end; a frightening and powerless place to be.

From your AC's point of view they probably need you to understand how being hospitalised at such a young age and then their subsequent sectioning has made them feel about their own self worth and their relationship with you.

As I posted earlier, communication is the key. Your AC wants to be heard but must also be prepared to listen.

IMO it is both insensitive and inappropriate for anyone to suggest that the problems your AC has and continues to experience are due to a dysfunctional upbringing.

Madgran77 Mon 16-Mar-20 20:28:25

*What you need IMO is to be able to get your AC to understand that what you did was what you were advised to do at the time, and not knowing what else to do, you followed the advice you were given. As you say, you were at your wits end; a frightening and powerless place to be.

From your AC's point of view they probably need you to understand how being hospitalised at such a young age and then their subsequent sectioning has made them feel about their own self worth and their relationship with you.*

I think that is good advice Smileless

Madgran77 Mon 16-Mar-20 20:43:31

A dysfunctional upbringing can bring about a wide range of symptoms as you say Holy Hannah but the fact is that those same things can also be the symptoms of other things as well. So it is not an absolute given that if someone is behaving in a particular way it is because of a dysfunctional upbringing.

Both of these articles refer to possible causes of eating disorders in children

"The difficulty facing children now is the abundance of messages about food and appearance on every screen in front of them"

"Doctors aren't certain what cause eating disorders. They suspect a combination of biological, behavioral, and social factors. For instance, young people may be influenced by cultural images that favor bodies too underweight to be healthy."

Both articles also acknowledge causes that might link to a dysfunctional upbringing. Neither suggest that if a child has an eating disorder they MUST have had a dysfunctional upbringing.

Both articles provide a balanced viewpoint!

Lavazza1st Mon 16-Mar-20 21:59:23

I definitely havent abused my kid. But I left their Dad when they were little because he was abusive.

What seems to have happened is, I've not been "enough" , my husband their stepdad has not been enough- but we have really, really tried. I look back and cant see how we could have improved because we took professional advice and did the best we could. I feel like its all been for nothing, though. The damage in the early years has likely been too much for him, and now- how on earth do you help someone who doesnt want help? He only seems to want attention and to try and blame us. I cant see a way forwards, but dont want to give up either.

Smileless2012 Mon 16-Mar-20 22:21:32

Two very interesting links Madgran. As you say, they both provide a balanced point of view and balance is important.

Leaving your children's abusive father took courage Lavazzalst and doing so was the best thing for you and your children.

Without a doubt early childhood experiences have impacted on your son despite you and their step father doing the best that you could.

You cannot help someone who wont accept that help and recognise that help is what they need. All you can do is reassure him that you love him and are there for him, and hope that he seeks the professional help the he clearly needsflowers.

Lavazza1st Mon 16-Mar-20 22:42:09

Thanks Smileless flowers

Its a painful time of year, what with it nearly being Mothers Day and also its a year this month since AS1 estranged. I do really question myself if I should have maybe got them adopted as it just seems like too much pain after so much effort thats effectively unrequited love and a one sided relationship.

Smileless2012 Mon 16-Mar-20 23:14:16

The first anniversary of estrangement is particularly painful Lavazza1st, I don't think any of us when it first happens, ever thinks it will last that long.

Mothers Day is always a hard one to get through, as are their birthdays and Christmas. We get through them even though we don't know how and you'll get through them too.

Lavazza1st Tue 17-Mar-20 01:31:19

Thanks for saying so , Smileless. It helps to know Im not the only one, but I am truly sorry for your pain and anyone who goes through it.

I already got through his birthday ( I sent him a card on facebook and he ignored it) I had a birthday meal and cake here because I felt sure he would show up. I also had a card and cash ready if he did. But he didn't. So we ate the meal without him. Christmas wasn't as bad as it was hectic with looking after elderlies and I didn't get time to think much.

I doubt I'll see him again,s possible. But it's abusive and aggressive on his part at times, so I will need to see how it goes.

HolyHannah Tue 17-Mar-20 02:15:55

Lavazza1st -- You said, "I definitely havent abused my kid. But I left their Dad when they were little because he was abusive." So your child(ren) were exposed to an abusive/dysfunctional environment during early childhood. You need to to focus on point 2.

Maybe you yourself weren't abusive but, just the child being in that environment causes damage and you not acknowledging that damage is actually adding to the abuse, not "helping". It's call invalidation. Abuse victim's who are invalidated turn to other ways to cope. Self-injury etc. You report all of these things.

There is a rather clear pattern to be seen here and you may well be a victim in your own right, you need to heal yourself if you ever want a chance at reconciliation. You said, "I do really question myself if I should have maybe got them adopted as it just seems like too much pain after so much effort thats effectively unrequited love and a one sided relationship." That sounds like you expected your children to make you happy, another "don't" from the piece.

rosecarmel Tue 17-Mar-20 05:08:54

Desire is centered on the self, while love is generous-

And when generous with yourself, you are able to say, “I know that I have hurt you. I am open to hearing about your experience so I can better understand how I caused you pain.”

"I'm truly sorry for your pain-" is empathy- "I'm truly sorry to have caused you pain-" is accountability-