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Estrangement

Anything I've missed to prevent estrangement

(148 Posts)
Fenchurch Mon 10-Jul-23 13:28:31

I've been heading towards estrangement from my parents for years and desperately trying to prevent it. I just want to check if there's any magic thing I could say/do that would help them feel safe enough to accept they need help to change

Both parents have trauma in their childhood (although they'd deny it) and are very emotionally immature. Their inability to manage their own emotional world in a healthy way led them to be abusive and neglectful of their children. I forgive them that - they literally didn't have the skills to step outside their own heads and own anxiety/low self esteem. But they had so many opportunities to accept help and they have the ability/privilege to face their weaknesses and learn and grow. And they have consistently run away and ignored it. They have consistently put their fear of judgement/Discomfort above the needs of their children.

Leaving home obviously helped a lot but when I call/visit all I get is emotional abuse and emotional neglect. My friends and family cannot understand why I put up with it. And now that I have self esteem I can't either.

I have tried to speak with them about their childhoods and got shut down. I've suggested therapy for them (it saved my life) but they refused. I set up family therapy for us but they refused. I offered for them to sit in on one of my sessions but no. I've offered books, discussions, shared how I feel and asked how they feel.... All I get back is that I'm being hurtful, dramatic and demanding. My sister tried writing a very detailed letter but that didn't work either.

I've spent my whole life grieving the family I wanted - do I have to now grieve the family I can't even speak to anymore? Or is there something I've missed?

How did your children help you see the parts of your parenting you need to change? What made you feel safe enough to apologise and make changes? They can't seem to tolerate any discomfort at all.

All suggestions gratefully received

Smileless2012 Mon 17-Jul-23 16:20:37

As it was for us all, obviously.

VioletSky Mon 17-Jul-23 17:27:26

"too"

MercuryQueen Mon 17-Jul-23 18:28:14

I think, in a surprising number of cases, there’s a central character who’s a poisoned well that everyone else unknowns drinks from.

I had zero clue that my mother was lying to all of my siblings and sib in-laws until shortly before I went NC. She set herself up as the central point in all our relationships, not knowing any better, we didn’t object to her being the gatekeeper. Email addresses were refused to be passed along, she’d tell me she didn’t remember and would look it up, but tell my sibling she didn’t understand why I never contacted them, same with phone numbers, etc.

Even when I was local, she’d deliberately not invite me to things, like baby showers and going away parties, yet tell my siblings I’d refused to attend. Looking back, it’s so clear what she did, and why. If we’d ever sat down and talked, all her lies would’ve been discovered. Now, none of the four of us have a relationship with each other, and last I heard, at least 3 of us were NC with our parents.

Smileless2012 Mon 17-Jul-23 19:09:41

I think, in a surprising number of cases there's a central character that who's a poisoned well that everyone else unknowns drinks from I think you're right MercuryQueen.

It's a common factor we see time and time again in the stories of EAC and EP's.

VioletSky Mon 17-Jul-23 19:27:15

That's really sad Mercury queen

It's the same between me and mine, even though 2 are in contact with mother and stepfather, they have no relationship

Abusive people really have no empathy at all. It shows in everything they do

welbeck Mon 17-Jul-23 19:30:29

it's a power play.
divide and rule.

MercuryQueen Tue 18-Jul-23 07:09:11

Thanks @VS.

I really think, when it comes to abusive parents, they really don’t think about their kids growing up until they do. Then there’s a panic that sets in, as the very real spectre of losing control looms large.

And that’s when deliberately destroying someone’s reputation becomes a major factor. It can begin subtly years before, especially when physical abuse is present. “She’s such a problem child! The attitude… I can’t believe she’s doing this…” insert lie here, especially setting the victim up as a liar themselves, so IF they ever get brave enough to talk about the abuse, they won’t be believed

But when potential independence is near? Well, if you can’t control the person, control the narrative.

Foxygloves Tue 18-Jul-23 08:37:27

Maybe this is appropriate?

Smileless2012 Tue 18-Jul-23 09:02:18

Very appropriate Foxygloves.

DiamondLily Tue 18-Jul-23 10:06:24

From being surrounded with various people estranging each other, in my life, over the past few years, I've learned:

It's not age specific - young adults, middle aged adults, and older adults can all be unpleasant, or even vile.

I've been left astonished, at times, at how badly family members can treat each other - sometimes over trivia, although not always, of course..

Very sad really. 🙁

Allsorts Wed 19-Jul-23 16:55:44

Foxygloves, what wise words. I think I practically ruined my life. It’s a hard fact realising your child can turn out like that, we make excuses and think we must have done something wrong. I do think it’s very common now for some to just not be bothered with the effort of seeing parents or any family, really think they are just concerned by their lives today and pleasing themselves.

VioletSky Wed 19-Jul-23 17:27:48

I don't think it's a case of society becoming more detached

Neither my adult children or any of my friends adult children are like that

If anything, with all the online messaging etc, people are in contact more than ever these days

Smileless2012 Wed 19-Jul-23 18:11:16

That does seem to be a factor in some cases of estrangement Allsorts. Making excuses for our children is a difficult habit to break isn't it, and it can be difficult and painful to see your own child for who they really are, and what they are capable of.

VioletSky Thu 20-Jul-23 12:01:24

I think that's a bit fairer

DiamondLily Thu 20-Jul-23 14:00:29

Smileless2012

That does seem to be a factor in some cases of estrangement Allsorts. Making excuses for our children is a difficult habit to break isn't it, and it can be difficult and painful to see your own child for who they really are, and what they are capable of.

That's the trouble - I know how much it upset DH to realise what selfish children he had reared.

There wasn't any sort of problem - they simply couldn't be bothered because they saw older people as a "burden".

They did make an effort when they wanted money though....curious, that.🙄

Well, all I hope is that what's gone around for them comes around for them - and that, one day, they might go through their kids ignoring them. And, that would be because that is the example they have been set.🙁

VioletSky Thu 20-Jul-23 16:20:09

Oh dear

Hope you are ok if still reading this Fenchurch and on your way to healing and health

Smileless2012 Thu 20-Jul-23 17:09:33

DL flowers. You saw the way they treated your DH, how much distress it caused and how even though he was so ill, it never changed.

It didn't affect you in the same way because they're not your children but broke your heart nonetheless because they were hurting the man you love.

There were and still are times when Mr. S.'s grief, because we both still feel it, is harder for me to cope with than my own.

DiamondLily Thu 20-Jul-23 17:45:45

Smileless2012

DL flowers. You saw the way they treated your DH, how much distress it caused and how even though he was so ill, it never changed.

It didn't affect you in the same way because they're not your children but broke your heart nonetheless because they were hurting the man you love.

There were and still are times when Mr. S.'s grief, because we both still feel it, is harder for me to cope with than my own.

Yes, I sometimes think that others hurting the one you love is really difficult.

You're not directly affected, but you have to pick up the pieces of the fallout.

Thankfully, I've not heard from them since the funeral..but I will never forgive them.

They put a lovely man through hell, because they were too bloody lazy/thoughtless to deal with older/less healthy relatives.

How sad.🙁

Smileless2012 Thu 20-Jul-23 18:18:23

I'm so sorry DL it must have been a terrible thing for you to witness. It's very sad and maybe one day they'll regret how badly they treated their father but of course it will be too late.

DiamondLily Thu 20-Jul-23 18:40:57

Smileless2012

I'm so sorry DL it must have been a terrible thing for you to witness. It's very sad and maybe one day they'll regret how badly they treated their father but of course it will be too late.

Well, thankfully, I no longer have to deal with them. We all have to live with how we act and what we do.

I don't want to know them anymore.🙁

Allsorts Sun 23-Jul-23 14:45:34

Fenchurch, if you were neglected and abused by your parents, perhaps just go minimal contact or sever contact. There is no justification for cruelty to children or anyone. We all know right from wrong. I know how lucky I was with my parents, none of us is perfect and I know I must have made mistakes as a parent, but show me anyone that hasn’t. Abuse and neglect that’s off the scale.

Loveandpositivity1 Sun 17-Sep-23 14:39:19

Hello! I have just joined this forum and came across your post.I can relate very much so. I agree with others in that we cannot change anyone else. We can work on changing ourselves however. When we do this it can force a change in the other because they will be met with a new response etc.
Your situation sounds very similar to mine. I am now NC with my parents and I struggle with guilt. I choose to work through those uncomfortable emotions rather than sit through the emotional/verbal abuse that I am met with when I visit them. Its not easier but its the path I have chosen. The main positive in this stance I have taken and the driving factor for me to have chosen this path of NC is because I am a better person when they are not in my world and therefore a MUCH BETTER mother. I will continue on this path. Good luck.