Friday, August 17, 2012

When Adult Children Become Strangers

The anguish is palpable in the comments to my post about parents and adult children "Finding The Balance."

Even though I wrote the post a year and a half ago, it is still by far -- every day -- the most read post I've ever written. And the comments continue to come in:

I cry as I read the posts....My husband and I suffer a semi-estrangement from one of our daughters...Our daughter seems content to have little contact with us...It is one thing to be loved, even better to be liked. That is where I would like to be. This is an unending grief....

Both of my children live far away and are busy with their own lives. I am fighting depression because I feel like such an outsider.  l limit my calls to once a week and sometimes she doesn't return my call. I understand that she has her own life and I can't expect to be a major part of it. I just want to know how to cope with these feelings I am having of being such an outsider in my daughter's life...

I loved having my father and mother in my life...I was blessed beyond measure with the joy they brought into my life and all of the memories we made together. Now I'm 62. I put my life aside for my children who have lots of medical issues. They call wanting me to drop everything to aid them. I have and did. Now I am older and going downhill aging. My daughter said to me yesterday "I have my own family now."

I am very perplexed about my daughter's inability to call me every once in a while. But when she needs babysitting, she'll call immediately. I'm not asking for that much contact -- just an occasional phone call...I feel used and not loved...

I'm tired of the excuses I read for adult children. Hog wash. When are adult children going to wake up and visit their mothers? My kids live two miles away. They never visit, rarely call and I learn information about my grandchildren on Facebook. How inconsiderate and cruel is that? They are not mad at me, they say. They say they're just busy. I just can't believe my  children can be that uncaring. I raised them right and they are wonderful children in so many ways, but too busy to even give me a call. Wake up 30 year olds! Mothers aren't here forever!

The dream, of course, is close and warm relationships with your independent adult children, perhaps as you had with your parents (or wish you had had with your parents.) And there are some young adult children who are truly wonderful about maintaining close and warm ties with their parents.

But reality, for many, is quite different.

Why are loving parents -- who seem to ask so little -- so shut out of their adult children's lives?

Barriers to Closeness

Young Adult Developmental Issues:  Noted psychiatrist Lee Robbins Gardener once told me that parents of adolescent and young adult children not only experience the empty nest, but also the battered nest when the young adults may devalue, in a number of different ways, home and family of origin in order to ease their passage out of the nest and into the world. It can be a painful time.

One friend, who had enjoyed a wonderful relationship with her daughter growing up, found herself feeling embattled and rejected when her daughter went away to college. They fought horribly during her daughter's vacation periods at home and her daughter maintained radio silence when she was at school. It wasn't until the daughter was nearing 30 that she rediscovered the joy of close ties with her mother.

I've seen other friends and patients blind-sided and baffled by sudden hostility from adult children who, as they mark their new independence, start complaining about their parents' deficiencies in parenting. Again, this can be part of their working to convince themselves that they haven't left so much behind and is often quite temporary.

Still others may be stuck in the child role -- on the receiving end of parental giving -- and haven't developed the empathy and skills to be givers as well as takers. For some, this is a temporary passage. For others, very happy to take from their parents and not at all inclined to give of themselves, may make themselves invisible to their parents until they need something.

And there are many young adults who equate independence and freedom with being an adult and frequent contact with parents as reverting to childhood and so they stay away, not realizing that to be fully adult is to feel the freedom to be on one's own, to care about parents and family, to embrace both adult responsibilities and the joys they may associate with childhood.

Conflicting concepts of family with new spouses.  One of the major tasks of early marriage is to create a sense of family with each other and with extended families. All too often, young spouses come into a marriage with conflicting ideas about what that means.

One young couple I counseled years ago was in constant conflict about her family.  Her mother called every day to chat. This was part of the routine she and her daughter had followed for years before the marriage. But the young husband was outraged at what he considered his mother-in-law's intrusiveness and demands on his wife's time. His own family-of-origin style was quite different, with family members loving each other dearly, but communicating much less often. In time, the young wife began to cut her phone chats with her mother short or not pick up the phone at all because her daily conversations were her mother were causing such conflicts.

The young couple -- and, for one session, the wife's mother -- came to therapy to find ways to resolve this ongoing conflict and, working together, were able to do so.

In many other cases, young adults and their parents simply struggle, feeling hurt, torn and confused about the changing roles and rules that new marriage and new parenthood bring into the family dynamic.

Conflicting Expectations -- Theirs:  There are some adult children, always on the receiving end of parental largesse, who expect that nothing will change as the years go by.  Even when you retire and are on a fixed income, they ask for and expect financial help. They imagine that babysitting your grandkids is a privilege -- at their convenience -- and too often don't think about how lovely it would be to simply have family time together. They figure that as long as things are humming along in their lives,  why call you with any details? You're there if they need you. Otherwise, oh, well... has it really been THAT long since we talked?

And, for many just starting out in young adulthood with its endless horizons of possibilities, there is a tendency to deny the limits of time. They think that their parents will be there forever, that there will always be time to get together, to do this or do that together someday.  When you're 20 or 25 or 30, unless you've had the misfortune to lose a parent at a very young age, it's hard to imagine not having your parents around for years and years to come.  And so a young adult can be quite casual about keeping in touch during these busy, self-involved years.

Conflicting Expectations -- Yours: Maybe you have this dream of duplicating what you had with your parents in another generation. You and your parents were close and you considered them a joy and inspiration in your life. And it's painful when your children don't seem to feel the same way about you or to share the values that kept you close to your own parents.

It can hurt a lot when you think about how much you gave your kids, how many sacrifices you made over the years, the countless times you put them first and now they can't even bother to call you occasionally.

It just doesn't seem right.

And so your feelings of hurt and anger and disappointment come out in a number of ways -- comments that start with "Is it asking a lot....?" or "You should...." or "You owe me...." And then you feel dismissed as a guilt-mongering mom.

Or you may try to recapture the closeness you once shared by making comments and observations about your adult child's physical being or lifestyle or choices the way you used to when they were younger, only now these observations or unsolicited opinions sound like criticisms to him or her -- when that isn't what you meant at all. You just wanted to participate in, to be part of, his or her life.

Building New Closeness with Your Adult Children
  • Realize that each relationship is unique. Maybe you were or are best friends with your Mom and are grieved that your daughter doesn't seem to feel the same way about you. Keep in mind that people differ in their capacity to be close. No relationship is ever going to be quite like another. Even among your children, there will be differences linked to personality and to their differing perceptions of what it meant to grow up in your family. My mother used to shake her head when talking about the differences between my sister and me even when we were young.  I would come home from school, eager to share all details of my day with my mother, whether my day had been good or a disaster. More often than not, my sister would come in the door and go straight to her room to brood, blowing off our mother's greeting and questions about the day, emerging hours later to talk over what was going on. The differences persisted in young adulthood: I kept in daily touch with our mother and my sister had a somewhat more distant relationship with her. But she loved our parents just as much and, when they were ill, she was very much there for them, caring for them with great love and with special skills that eluded me. As we age, my sister is not in touch as much as I would like, but when she does call or visit, she brings such warmth and caring that all that time in between melts away. It's important to realize, too, that one relationship doesn't replace another.  For example, if you lost your parents much too soon in life, you may feel special urgency in wanting closeness with your own adult children, the chance to share times you never could with your parents. But some needs can't be met by our children. Some residual grief is better resolved with professional therapy or with spiritual counseling.
  • Clarify what you want -- not what you expect.  Being specific about what you would like in your relationship with an adult child -- not what you expect -- can be a game-changer. Letting your child know that you would like to feel included in his or her life for the joy of it -- not because you expect it as a parental right -- can help. Being clear about what you would like can also help to stave off adult child fears of being enveloped by your needs.  I remember Aunt Molly saying to me once that she had savings and some excellent insurance policies and was confident that she would never need us for financial support or daily care. But she told me that she greatly valued emotional support from us and felt that would be a great blessing as she aged. And that was something we all felt ready and able to give.
  • Respect boundaries.  Don't expect that it's okay to just drop in on your single or married young adult child. Your free time may not be their truly free time. They may want to spend time with you but also feel the need for private time with their own spouses and children. Respect the fact that their home is truly theirs -- even if it isn't decorated to your taste or up to your personal standards of cleanliness. I remember, with some residual shock, my introduction to the mother of a man I was dating many years ago. She descended on him from her home in Ohio for a week's stay. His apartment was spotless. He was beautifully organized. His floors and countertops and bathroom sparkled. And yet her first words on entering the place were "How can you live in this pigpen???" He stomped out to take a walk, leaving us alone together. Timidly, I asked her what she found so appalling about the apartment. She stared at me as if I were a visitor from another planet. "Well, the window screens, of course," she said. "They're filthy! I bet he hasn't cleaned them in at least two or three weeks!" I shuddered inwardly, glad that she was visiting his apartment and not mine, and I wanted to scream "SO WHAT??? Aren't you glad to see him?" But I maintained a polite silence, understanding, with new clarity, why he didn't like or encourage visits from his mother. And that was sad because they loved each other very much.
  • Set limits with your adult children. Just as important as respecting the boundaries of our adult children is making your own limits clear, particularly with adult children who expect ongoing help. Especially when our ties are tenuous, it can be tempting to give help when it doesn't truly benefit either party. Bailing adult children out of financial trouble repeatedly or offering financial help you really can't afford to give or feeling used with constant babysitting demands is no way to build a loving bond. Healthy adult relationships hinge on our ability to say "No" as well as "Yes" to each other. Love and closeness can't be bought, but can be earned by taking the risk of being authentic with each other.
  • Stay positive and work on being a person your children really want to spend time with.  Instead of using guilt as a weapon, tell your adult children how much you enjoy being with them or staying in touch or hearing about their lives. It is much easier to call or spend time with a person who is joyful and fully in the moment rather than someone who is ready to lecture one on their responsibilities or who is sullen about not spending more time together. 
  • Work on letting go of unmet expectations: Hanging on to expectations that aren't being met keeps the hurt going. We have no power over the choices our adult children make. However, we do have control over our reactions to the choices. If we can let go -- even a little -- of our expectations that our children will be more attentive, we can give ourselves the freedom to enjoy life without them or to enjoy them more when they do call or visit.
  • Don't expect your child to be your best friend.  There are some things that adult children really don't want to hear, some things best shared with a same-aged friend or with a medical professional. Maybe you feel you can say anything to an adult child, but that doesn't mean that you should. You may find more useful feedback by discussing sexual dysfunction, for example, with your doctor. You may find a more empathetic ear regarding age-related issues with a peer who can truly relate. 
  • Make plans to get together or to talk on the phone when both of you are free.  It's not as spontaneous, true, but you may feel more satisfied with your experience when you have scheduled an in-person or on-the-phone talk as free as possible from conflicts and time constraints.
  • Use time-saving ways to keep in touch. A text message is not nearly as satisfying, at least for those of us who are a certain age, as an in-person visit, but it's a way of keeping a warm connection between you and your adult children in between these experiences. Maybe your adult child doesn't feel time allows for daily phone conversations, but daily text messages may be a way to keep your connection and to feel more included in his or her life. And if you're becoming aware that your adult child becomes restive if you stay on the phone more than a few minutes, set a limit yourself and announce it: "I only have five minutes to talk -- if it's convenient for you -- but I'd just like to check in with you and see how things are going." If an adult child knows you set a time limit and mean it, he or she may be more receptive to talking on the phone more often.  And some older parents communicate and get warm feedback from their kids on Facebook.  I smile every time I see my friend Tim's Facebook page, with many expressions of love from his four adult children. There are many ways, indeed, to be connected with each other.
  • Build an inclusive life for yourself.  It's so sad to see an older person living with overwhelming sadness about children who don't call or visit. We have so many ways to be happy and so many reasons for gratitude in our lives if we fill our lives with purpose and passion, with dear friends and pets, with hobbies and new interests, and, not so incidentally, with the blessing of adult children and grandchildren when possible. When our happiness and well-being doesn't hinge entirely on family, we may find ourselves enjoying those times of closeness and connection even more.




306 comments:

  1. I find today everything working against the traditional family. Parents feel like they can't afford to stand up to their values or risk to lose their kids. My son was wonderful until he met this woman on the net. She saw he was innocent and good and grabbed him.She didn't care he had family
    who loved him and she taught him saying your parents will cave in once the kids are born. Well, good luck to that.
    They live too far away and I will never see those kids anyway.
    They need money for babysitting or what ever and I have no grand child who I would love to baby sit.So why should I pay? lol
    So I tell my son you laid your bed. He isn't here for when I need help. Today it's about selfishness...... Me myself and I.
    I think after all I did for my family I deserve a little something if the time ever comes when I need help. I don't involve myself in their affairs and there isn't a solution unless they break up and he comes home back to his own country. I lost my son to a woman who doesn't deserve him.I am sure he has regrets now but he sees there is no way back. Life. Nothing more to say.

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    1. This is so sad. The loss of your relationship with your son is your fault and you're trying to shift blame on him and the person he married. You have to be someone he WANTS in his life. Parents often make the mistake of thinking they are entitled to their child's affection and admiration. This is a falacy. Your son has a duty to himself to live life in a way that fulfills him. Your remark, "he's made his bed" and your attitude toward the woman he's fallen in love with are precisely why he has chosen NOT to ask you for support. Why would he? If you want a relationship with him, take responsibility for the things you do which push him away...Finally, if you are looking to him to take care of you (pay you back for all you've done) you're not a good mother. You don't do things for your kids to get something in return. You need to set up a retirement plan and purchase insurances which prevent you from being a burden on your children.

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    2. Did you even read this article before posting? I could totally see why your son wouldn't want to be bothered. I would explain it to you, but it is outlined above.

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    3. Excuse me! This mother is right as she is the one being pushed aside. I am so sick of the term mother-in-law because it sets up a predjucie even before a relationship happens. A loving wife would encourage her husband to stay in touch with his Mom as someday she may need that same encouragement with one of her married children. Children are created to honor their parents. Her son is in another country...that is enough grief...why are many of you so void of empathy. If both her son and his wife loved her do you think she would be feeling this way? Not loving or rejected love is very hurtful.

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    4. I agree with anonymous!!!!! She is going thru enough let alone having u tell her this is her fault...

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    5. My mother made the same mistake by rejecting my brother's wife. Mother's can be possessive over their sons and think no woman is good enough for them. As a result, my brother has now cut my mum off from his life. He is an adult now and he had to choose between his wife and his mother. So he chose his wife. This woman has made a mistake by not accepting her daughter-in-law. By doing that, you push your son away. She is only thinking about herself and what she wants for her son not what he wants for himself. So the above posts blaming her partly for what has happened is true.

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    6. Hello Anon from Feb. 23rd,

      Something struck me in your post. You stated that children are created to
      honor their parents.

      If you really believe that and act as if this were true, then you likely
      will not ever have a decent relationship with your adult child.

      I see so many parents of adult children these days who believe their
      children owe them.

      But, the way it works is, if you want a HEALTHY and loving relationship
      with your adult child, you need to first realize that, as a parent, you are
      there TO MEET YOUR CHILD'S NEEDS. Period. End of story.

      If anyone out there had a child so that they could be 'honored'
      that is incorrect and also emotionally abusive to the adult child.

      If anyone out there had children with the expectation the
      child would meet THIER emotional needs, that is completely
      incorrect and also emotionally abusive.

      When you have a child, you must put all of your needs aside, meet
      THEIR needs fully, and NEVER expect to get anything in return.
      If you are okay with that, the child will respect you and likely
      want to carry on a relationship with you as an adult.

      But, if your child is an adult and you expect them to call/visit
      to take away your loneliness- that is incorrect. All adults must
      meet THEIR OWN EMOTIONAL NEEDS and not look to another person
      (child, spouse, friend) to do it.

      If you look to others to meet your emotional needs, you will
      never be happy.







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    7. Leanna,Bless your heart.You sound like a very self centered immature dare I say adult.Your attitude is the problem with society today. A parent is responsible for their children as far as teaching them and guiding them down the right path as children into adulthood. Once into adulthood they become responsible and accoutable for themselves. I agree that as humanbeings we are each responsible for our own happiness but do not confuse that with the biblical teachings of God. It is one of the ten commandments. The fifth to be exact "Honor your father and mother" PERIOD!!!!!! Thank you very much.

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    8. It is people like YOU that is the problem with the world today (Anon from March 10). You are forcing your personal beliefs on religion onto another. It is people like you who are ignorant and intolerant of other people's beliefs that make this world what it is.

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    9. I no longer live in the country my parents do but as I am single they are telling me I should return as it is not scriptual for me to live away from them. So they expect me to give up my dreams in this wonderful place I have moved to to make them happy. They seem to delight in controlling me or trying to. So I fear contact with them although I do the right thing and remain in contact. So really the parents need to look at themselves sometimes - there may be a reason why the son/daughter would rather not be around them. they may even wish to be their own person living their own life!!

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    10. My favorite part of this thread are the two "other" anonymous comments that are clearly the original poster defending herself, when the first comment setting her straight nailed it head on.

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    11. I had to tell my 44 yr. old to leave my home, he had already been here for 1and half years, he lost his job of 22 yrs, he was depressed he lost his home his wife and family, he was always independant and suddenly he started drinking heavily, I was very supportive but I think I gave in too much, the reason I asked him to leave was because I asked him to give me money to save for him, so he could by a vehicle and save money to get a apartment and look for a new job, he said no!! he would not do it, he did not save a penny for the duration of his stay here, I just could not see him destroying his life, I feel I was fair? what do you think, his unemployment will run out soon, I am afraid that is the time he will ask to come back, he has not spoken to me or called me, I love him so much, it seems like he is punishing me for asking him to leave, I even told him I would go to AA with him,

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    12. It is of no solace to good parents but I have observed through friends and family that that awful emotionally neglectful parents are the ones who ironically get most attention from their kids well through adulthood because the kids are constantly craving affection and attention they never had. And yet the great parents give their kids the gift to grow wings and fly the nest, and be totally and utterly self-sufficient. It is a strange and uncomfortable truth

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    13. I also have a son that I was very close with until he married. Our relationship is not the same. This generation is one sided. My husband and I gave him our love, time and money for 23 years. And now he can't bother to call us and keep up with our well being. For thoes that don't have empthay for us, post when it happens to you. I am hurt beyond belief. We are focused on our family that does put value on our lives. We have changed our will. He just lost one million dollars. We have made other arragements with family we can trust. If he can't call or visit now he and SHE won't do what is best for us. They would take the $ and let us die alone and without making sure we have what we need even if we had the $. God forbid we need them to pay for anything for us. Good luck to everyone in this situation. I understand and it hurts!

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    14. Just a bit of advice - in some jurisdictions, laws do not allow you to disinherit a child of yours. You'd better double-check so that what remains isn't eaten up in a lawsuit initiated by your son.

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    15. I am on this mothers side. Children have a sense of entitlement and become almost narcissists. I feel same... a grand child in another country yet I am asked to give money for... why? I have never held this child.... am I bitter....yes....why? my kids are the reason

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  2. Ah, you did touch on the tough parts!

    With each stage of life there are adaptations. We can't assume or expect others, our children, our relatives, to be the same, and they can't assume us to be the same either. We can't dwell of what is our ideal either, because ideals, goals and dreams are stuff to work toward, not necessarily availability on a daily basis.

    I've learned to accept and to be appreciative of whatever I get from my children.

    I do know that growing up away from my mother, I relied on my own wits, and when I communicated with her, not as often as she wanted, I felt guilty for not keeping her informed. Yet, I thought, if I told her all I was going through she would worry and feel awful. I spared her those worries.

    I don't expect my children to take care of me or my husband. I know they care enough to stay involved, and to rush over in an emergency. The rest, is up to me.

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    1. Why is it so unreasonable to help take care of a parent? What a sick world we live in when the helpless have to take care of themselves or have strangers take care of them instead of loving family ? No one wants to sacrifice their precious time to help...heaven forbid we become a 'burden'...life is not valued ...only "MY" life is valued in this world.

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    2. It helps to know I am not alone in not understanding why my youngest son has slowly but surely pushed me and his Dad out of his life.He is married,no children has a great job and just doesn't seem to have time for us any more. Spontaneous phone calls used to be a joy and a way of being a small part of his life. The calls have dwindled away and we are now down to one face time at designated time each week. Nothing of real importance is discussed. My heart aches for the closeness we once shared.I don't want much,just to share a small part of his life.

      sad mom

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    3. OHH SAD MOM, WOW I AM SO GREATFUL TO HAVE FOUND YOU.!I AM A SINGLE MOM WITH 2SONS.MY 25 YR. OLD HAS NOT COME TO SEE ME OR CALL IN 11MONTHS. HE WONT ANSWERME IN ANY WAY, HIS WIFE WONT ANSWER I TEXT THEM I WRITE I SEND STUFF AND THEY WONT BRING MY GRANDSONTO ME.nOW LET ME TELL U I AM IN A WHEELCHAIR I AM DOUBLE AMP. AND I HAVE ONLY BEEN THISWAY FOR 8 YRS. I WAS 44 WHEN THIS HAPPENED I FEEL SO ALONE I JUST FEEL AS THOUGH THEY DONT LOVE ME. I NEVER EVER THOUGHT WELL HE HAS NOT EVEN CALLED ON MOTHERS ALL THE REST OF THE FAMILY LIVES UP NORTH. HE WONT TELL ANYONE WHATS WRONG I WILL DO ANYTHING MY OTHER SON CALLES ALL THE TIME FROM JERSEY AND I JUST HAD ANOTHER GRANDCHILD!!!I AM GOING ON THE 6TH I ALWAYS HURT MY HEART . I NEED ADVICE

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  3. This is such a great post. It's on my mind a lot, how I can be a parent but also a friend to my kids and their spouses. And how to make a home that they love to visit. I know me and hubby used love to visit my parents, but then their attitudes changed and it is so hard to visit with them now. They are so negative about life and show little interest in what we do. I really hope and pray I can be a mother my girls will come to even older in life.

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    1. I thought about this and thought how sad it is when older parents are going through real life issues and their children and partners don't support them....because it is too hard.
      Its too difficult to be around someone who is depressed,
      or its too difficult to be around a couple who dont have t
      "THE RIGHT SETTING""
      Life becomes more difficult as we age. Many people do become more difficult.
      Lets hope our children have more empathy.

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    2. You know what else is tough? Going through depression as a young person with no help or support from your family. Some of us have empathy, but didn't have very good parents. It's not a right to be taken care of, physically, financially, or emotionally, just because you gave birth to someone. Once again, someone missing the point: that relationships are a two-way street and that both people have to be open to that change. Nice try, though.

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  4. The thing is, we have nothing to say to each other and I think there is more to relationships than to have one expressly for extorting money from because you got married and have kids.
    I am all for moving forward but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. When you want to get married you don't ask if you can live with your wife in your parents house, and let them take on the responsibility of importing a person they know nothing about. (She may be some kind of a lunatic lol) You don't ask your parents to send her to school and pay for her education and your wedding. These are things we told him to do so he gets a good job and supports his own family. So he moved away to her country and I am all for him living with her mother and letting her Mother pay to educate him and take the chance that maybe he was a lunatic (he isn't)lol His wife will force him to work for her Mother and jump when she tells him to jump when he would never do this here.lol With kids it's just a one way deal today. They say you don't need it and I want it.
    We never asked our parents for money when we moved forward.
    We were respectful, brought home girls and boys we knew they would approve of and invited them to the wedding (we paid for ourselves)and we always paid our own way. Parents on both sides were happy.Now he expects me to send money to raise his daughter. lol It's not my problem I did not give my blessing to this wedding, (she is not a suitable girl for him being much older) I did not even know when they married so was not invited. I did my job.He moved forward as selfishly as he lived in our home doing absolutely nothing.
    Thank fully I have another child who I know understands things about what family is.I took care of my Mother until she died because this is what traditional families do. Once traditional family is destroyed, there is no need to have kids anymore.No need for get togethers.No need to suffer to raise them.The state can make them in test tubes, raise them feed them love them and people can be free to do what they want. Truly a new world and I am not so sure it's a good one to look forward to.

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    1. Something we should all consider. Who will you leave the management of your estate (I am not talking about rich people here) but everyday American's.

      Would we want to leave our health care, where we live, etc. to these negletful children? If something happened to my husband, I will, essentially be alone. So will I be alone here in smalltown America? Or will I take my airstream to Mexico, or sell everything and move to Porta Rico where Medicine is cheap and we are still considered Americans. My Parents are dead, I have no relatives left but my daughters. And there are never there for me anymore.

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    2. Honestly, if you were my mother, I don't think I'd want a relationship with you either. You seem critical, full of expectations and that your children should just be grateful b/c you put a roof over their head. If they are sucking you for money, you are allowing them to treat you the way you want to be treated. At the end of the day, children choose to not have a relationship with a parent if they were never respected as a child all the way through adulthood. If you are constantly treated like your feelings don't matter and the parents needs are the central focus of the house, you are destined to be lonely when the children move out. They were treated like their hopes and dreams were irrelevent; and further more, if you don't like their spouse and you communicate that through judgements, actions or criticisms, you are surely destined to never see your child as when they become an adult, their allegance is to their spouse, just as yours was to your spouse when you got married. Research has showed that over the last 30 years more kids are raised in narcissistic homes where the parents live in a world where only their needs matter...so when your kids move out and only their needs matter, just remember they learned by the best examples. If there is anything I have learned from my parents poor job at being parents as that I NEVER want my children to feel obligated to have a relationship with me. I want them to want a relationship with me and that starts with valuing them for their own thoughts, opinions, hopes and desires, despite how far apart they may be from mine. My parents chose to never do anything with us and only do what they wanted. They chose to tell me, "You are 18 and no one helped us at your age, why should we help you." Not to mention, "no daughter should have more than her mother..." Well, after the years of hurt for that and the sheer abandonment, I have no desire to help or be there as they age. I could never understand how a mother, and a father who stood right along beside her, could say such a thing to their child that was motivated and driven to succeed in the world, yet they had no interest in supporting emotionally or financially. All my parents do is bring chaos, conflict and grief into my life. So much so that my young children find them irritating, disrespectful and shameful. My concern lies within what message am I sending my children if I allow my parents to treat me and others that way...that it's okay for people to treat you disrespectfully; and that family inparticular is to crap all over them and then come back and expect everything to be normal. No way. I am ending that pattern and that cycle with my family and if that means I am estranged with my parents for the rest of their life, then so be it. I am responsible for young lives at this point that is my primary responsibility to them and to the world at large.

      Delete
    3. You are obviously a child that does not have children or children that are not adults or you would understand what is happening in A Lady&#39's life.

      What she is saying is he was given everything at home that a child could want, but as soon as he met this woman things changed drastically and not in a good way. I for one do not blame her for how she feels. It sounds like she was paying for his education and expenses up until he met this woman online and in which case this woman wanted to use him to move out of her country, so when his mom disagreed he moved to that woman's country but still expects help from mom. Do you get that yet? This mother is frustrated and i am sure she had calm talks before it got this far, learn to read between the lines.

      Delete
    4. First I would like to say their is no such thing as an adult child .you are either a child or an adult and you can not have it both ways . They are spoiled adults that all. I have a son too and as soon as he got involved with his wife he was suduced by the familiy money .she was nice until she married him . They live ten min away and my so is out of town on bis a lot but she never calls neither does he. He is my only son I lose another son their is no excuses for their behavior . I will not beg I will go on with my life and help others. He know we are hurting but is to busy . I do not belive for one min all this nonsense of how we should speak to them . This is a purely america concept and I am scottish . Eveyone is responsible for their action after 18 yrs

      Delete
    5. I myself have two grown children. One still lives with us while she attends college (which she is paying for) and works full time. She saves her money so that when she is ready (done with college), she will not have to struggle so much. The other is married and lives about an hour away. One of the things that they both appreciate about their father and I is the fact that we let them make their own mistakes without judgment from us. There is no, "I told you so" or any of that nonsense. They learn from their mistakes. They also did not have their every whim catered to while they were growing up. They learned that no meant no, and it was for a reason. They were taught how to take care of themselves by themselves. That was one of the best lessons we could have ever taught them.

      They only come to us to help them on rare occasions, and it is only for a small loan (under $100.00) and has always been paid back when they said they would. I have no complaint with that. I give advice when asked. If I am not asked, then I keep my comments to myself. We always respected our kids and their autonomy. They respect ours. Our son married a wonderful woman, because that is the only kind he would have tolerated. He was taught to respect himself. My children were never babied, and are strong, successful adults because of it. They love being around us, and my son and daughter-in-law (whom I love as my own) even invited Mom and Dad to go on vacation with them.

      As parents, you reap what you sow. I would never, ever, pull the "how much I sacrificed" card on my kids. Truth is, I didn't sacrifice anything. All the love, caring, laughter and tears were all willingly given. My kids do not owe us anything more than to be the great adults they have become.

      Sorry, A Lady's Life, but your job was to raise your son to become a responsible adult. Apparently, you failed. Again, you reap what you sow.

      Delete
    6. I felt I did alot I stay out of my kids lives but they are selfish self-centered and cruel the only time they need us is when they need money. This is a generation of me me me and to hell with everyone else. They are not even nice to other people.I don't expect money or anything just to be treated with some respect. My idiot son-in-law told me I was full of crap when I went to see his new son. Then your expectations where low relationships are a 2 way street not just when you need something.

      Delete
    7. Reap what you sow! Are you kidding? You are just a very blessed parent and given the grace to have loving children. If you think children are like crops that if a parent waters, fertilizes them, and gives them just the right amount of light they will blossom into beautiful plants. Ain't necessarily so! there are many factors besides environment like genes and exposure to today's relativism as well as drug addictions which influence children. If I were you I would be on my knees thanking God for the grace given to you...absolutely.

      Delete
    8. So because she is an older girl..you don't approve, but if she were 15 years younger than your old son you would be happy? (so he could look like a pedophile) Let me guess older girl is what only 2 or 4 years older? big F-ing deal. Grow up woman, women out live men by 7 years in general..of the same age. My boyfriend is 3 years younger than me...we still are the same age group. I hate women like you.

      Delete
    9. Anon,

      You said the following:

      "If you are constantly treated like your feelings don't matter and the parents needs are the central focus of the house, you are destined to be lonely when the children move out. They were treated like their hopes and dreams were irrelevent; and further more, if you don't like their spouse and you communicate that through judgements, actions or criticisms, you are surely destined to never see your child as when they become an adult, their allegance is to their spouse, just as yours was to your spouse when you got married. Research has showed that over the last 30 years more kids are raised in narcissistic homes where the parents live in a world where only their needs matter..."

      AMEN!!!!!

      Have found this baby boomer generation that has kids in their 20's and
      30's now are reaping the benefits of their own generational narcissism.
      many of these boomers had children and saw them as either 'accessories'
      they could tote around or saw them and children who were supposed to meet
      the needs of their adult parent.

      And then these parents wonder why their child no longer speaks to them.
      Well, from the child's perspective, they received the parent's narcissism
      as a type of emotional abuse that served to destroy their own sense of selves.
      When they become adults, they want to cut off contact with their own
      parents who treated them badly. Of course when these parents are
      abandoned by adult children they feel bad. The person who used to meet
      their needs has now cut off contact.

      Parents, AGAIN, we have children to meet THEIR needs and not vice versa.
      You must be completely unselfish. If you have children so that you can
      get something in return-- don't bother. You are too selfish to have a healthy
      relationship with any potential children.

      Delete
  5. I have found with my three, things were the opposite.

    I would get calls from all three often. Some days each
    calling more than once and, talking for over an hour each!!


    I was going nuts with all the calls. Even my DIL wants to
    hang on the phone. She calls and, talks for 90 minutes.

    I love my children. I REALLY DO. But, I don't care for long
    phone calls.

    Over time things have slowed down as I wasn't calling them.
    I think they noticed I didn't call so they quit calling so
    much. My daughter will still call most every day.

    The kids have talked to me about not calling them. I tried to explain that they all called so much that I would end up
    spending better than half my day on the phone.

    It isn't perfect because they know my daughter calls daily. So I told them you can call too and, I will talk. But, they
    feel hurt that I don't call, so they don't call as much. My
    daughter just laughs it off and, calls anyway.

    The truth is I feel badly that I have let them down. I know
    they think I have nothing to do but listen to them tell me
    about there day. Truly, once a week for 20 minutes would be
    lovely. I don't know how to make everyone happy and, keep
    myself sane.

    However, I do feel for those parents that don't hear from
    their children. I would rather have my problem I guess.
    But, the kids are putting the guilt trip on me. Relationships are tough.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh shut up at least your children call you my daughter lives with me and she talks to the cats more than she talks to me

      Delete
    2. Whoa! Comments are tough, also.

      Delete
    3. Honestly, would you talk to you? Look at how crappily you act toward complete strangers. Grow up.

      Delete
  6. I am glad my kids are independent - I raised them to be that way. We hear from most of them from time to time.

    The painful one is my younger son. He lives 20 miles away. I have heard from him twice in the last eight months. He spends most of his free time with the family of his girlfriend. He recently told his dad, "There are a lot of people I have to keep happy." Painful to hear.

    I've decided not to call any more. He'll come around eventually, or not. We are, though, making plans to change our durable power of attorney for health care. I don't think this man would have time to watch out for us.

    Oh, well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. If there not around they want be there when we need them to be. Nor can we trust them. Did the sam thing!

      Delete
  7. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing
    all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say superb blog!
    Look into my web-site - spiritual

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful post, Kathy---and one that is written for me/about me. Once I got married 11 yrs ago (divorced for about 20 yrs.) and found a tremendously happy life for ME, things changed between me and my 3 sons... I guess they were jealous --but maybe I got so involved with my wonderful new life that I 'forgot' them (so they probably thought) and didn't give them enough attention.

    I had raised them all to be independent --and that is a GOOD thing I think. However, when I look back now--I'm sure that mistakes were made on all sides including mine. There were other things which played into this problem--one being my ex-husband's wife taking the 'mother' role away from me and me allowing it to happen gradually without me even realizing it. I was so involved with my new hubby and our wonderful life that I 'allowed' this to just happen.

    This has been going on for 11 yrs. now --and as of now, I have a great relationship with my youngest son, an 'okay' relationship with my oldest son, and NO relationship with my middle son.. I used to get really upset about all of this --but have gotten over it. They know that I love them all--and I keep telling them that. IF they choose not to have a relationship, then it's their problem--not mine.

    My life is truly the best it has ever been. I gave up EVERYTHING for those 3 boys for many years. Now I am living a life for me... Maybe that is selfish---but it's just what it is...

    Someday, I hope that things will be different. Right now though, I am living my life to its fullest --with or without them.

    Thanks for listening.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only one of two posts here to make any sense. I wish I had your strength hun.

      Delete
  9. What an outstanding post, Kathy. You have described the problems so well and given good advice. There were a couple of things here I find especially helpful at the moment, so thank you.

    Often I marvel at how my mother and father went through the same stages that we are now traveling through, and how patient and supportive they were. That's what we try to do now for our grown up kids. It also helps me if I think back to how I felt and acted at their age, and realize they are just the same. The hardest thing I had to learn was to stop "teaching" them when I felt I should pass on my wisdom :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear Kathy, what a gift you and your wisdom are to your readers. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Smart woman, aren't you?

    I had only one son, and I have to admit that there are times that I can see that we may not be, as he ages and moves on with his fiancee and new home, as close as I wish we were. These are some great tips...

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Kathy, thank you so much for another timely entry that I needed to read. I'm crying, thinking of the relationship I don't have with my daughter. She's only 23,and living with me, but hasn't spoken to me for almost 3 weeks, to what seemed to me like a minor thing, but obviously is tied into her own frustration to where she is in her life. It saddens me to no end. I, like so many others, put my own life aside for my kids. Funny, I know without a doubt that my son loves me, and with my daughter, I wonder if she even cares or likes me. So painful.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you honey for sharing this post with us today. As you know from emails I have written you I too can relate to most of the comments your readers have left you about feeling neglected or unloved.
    I do know my children love me I just miss the closeness we once shared.
    You have given me some great advice here and I need to tack it up near my desk and read it often.
    As always I appreciate you and love it when I can come by and visit.
    Your on my mind often but I have been a bad blogger friend lately. Too much going on out here on the North Forty. While writing these very words I thought of my kids and how busy they are so I know it happens and we all wish for more time.
    Love
    Maggie

    ReplyDelete
  14. Then there are some of us who have invited our adult children to become strangers. Do I regret the decision of inviting them to move on? Nope, my peace of mind is more important to me than their need to express their ODD/anti-social behaviors. I see them at family gatherings. We have pleasant conversation and at the end of the day we go home to our respective abodes until the next family gathering.

    Do I miss my grandson? No, how can I miss someone I haven't had the time to develop a relationship with?

    It does sadden me that they are having to beat their heads on the brick wall that life can be but each of us has to march to our own drummer and live with the consequences of our decisions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a great blog on subject matter that hits home. It is so sad to see people suffering emotionally in this way. Being a parent has been the most difficult thing in my life after a divorce raising 3 children alone. It comforts me to know that they are independent but sometimes in my loneliness really find myself not knowing how to let go now that they are grown beginning their own lives. I relate to the closeness issue of not knowing a grandson and feeling close. Usually there are underlying family issues that create boundaries between both the parent and children. It's a tough thing and learning how to create happiness in your own life can make things more bearable.

      Delete
  15. The two points which I have come to accept for myself are the ones where you advise us to live our own lives: letting go of expectations and building a life of my own.

    My daughter and I were very close for many years, both in her childhood, young adulthood and her marriage. Then, suddenly, she dropped me. it is many years since I last saw her.
    At first, I was puzzled, she never wanted to talk about it. For years I was hurt, it ate me up. Now? Now, I am afraid, I don't care all that much any more. I do not ever want to be hurt like that again and eventually we surely all stop hitting our heads against a brick wall.

    I wish her well and, if she should ever want to open up, I will listen. In the meantime, my life is not hers to damage ever again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. boy you hit the nail on the head my daughter has said things so mean I'm tired of being hurt I can't wait until she moves then I can terminate the relationship for good Toxic people should never be in your life even if it is your kids. I think it's called verbal abuse

      Delete
    2. Your situation sounds exactly like my own. My son did the exact same thing. I have four grandchildren that I havent seen for almost three years. He and his wife used and abused my husband and I for many years. Never giving, always taking and not even the good sense to say Thank You. He was raised better but only God knows where this all comes from. I, like you had many sleepless nights and crying spells. I am finally getting on with it and living my own life. I too would gladly open my heart and home to him and the family. However, I will not allow him to use me ever again and I will not beg for his affection.

      Delete
    3. im going through the same thing with my daughter my daughter treat me treated me cold i try to help her she talk about me to other peopleshe lies on me i kept her child every weekend friday until monday morning she never say thankyou . now she dont let me see my grandson anymore for no reason.

      Delete
    4. How about at least trying some self-examination? You people are so self-centered it is unreal. I'm sure if you thought about it you would be able to figure out some not-so-great things you have done in the relationships too.

      Delete
    5. Of course we have all made many mistakes in our lives, but sometimes it is the child's fault. I no longer see my grandchildren (two years now) or my beautiful daughter. My daughter and mentally unstable SIL were being abusive to my grandchildren. The final straw was when my SIL told my daughter he was going to shoot her in the face, shoot the his two step children and bury them in the yard. I called the kids father and told him. Alas, my grandson had already tried to get his father to listen to what was going on, but sadly for so many children facing abuse no one really does anything.

      Now remember I said the last straw. There was so much that happened leading up to the event that it would be impossible to share it all. In that home I have taken a loaded 357 magnum out of the hands of a two year old and I have taken up to ten calls a day from my daughter complaining about her husband and children. In the end my daughter kept her husband and I was cut off.

      In the end it has to be ok. I knew it would probably end up with me losing the ones I love the most, but I felt I had to try and intervene. Now two years later I am just starting to be able to weather the pain of this loss.

      Delete
  16. Hi all I am so grateful for this site as I keeps me from slipping back into the extreme sadness when I think of my girls. I am comforted to know that its not just me going through the isolation surrounding my kids. I still dont understand but I guess the key is to ACCEPT what is. I have tried to change my situation with each girl but it is never sustained. It breaks my heart that they dont seem to care appear to step away when I have most needed support (which is not that often)...its time to accept my aloneness and just get on with life. I hope one day they get to experience and be reminded by their own children on what it feels like to be a parent in this situation. Blessings to you all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter used to have a relationship of give and take with us. Now it is all take. All I would like is a text now and then asking me how things are. I do text her asking how she is and rarely get more than 'fine' or 'good' but as soon as she is ill, it's one request after the other; "make me soup, get me cold meds.." When I'm ill she never asks if she could pick me up something or if I have enough to eat. I'd just like the same reciprocation. I won't hear from her until she needs something or it's Christmas. We see them for two hours, long enough for them to receive gifts. The imbalance is beyond belief. Then we won't hear from them again until a birthday so we can take them to dinner and pick up the check even on our own birthdays we end up paying for dinner. Our income and theirs is comparable. They have no children yet. We dearly love our son-in-law. We live so close but yet so far emotionally. We'd do anything for them and they know it. It is as if she only sees us for what we can give her and she wasn't like this as a child. A couple of texts a month to interact would be nice, a phone call never happens.

      Delete
  17. Yet another post that touches our families spot on. I have already learned that the best way to get a reply out of the kids (one who is about 90 minutes away, the other 900 miles) is Facebook messages or texting. (Since my cell skills are limited, it's FB for me.) Both boys are so different, we have to focus on different ways to connect with them. For whatever reason, it has been better and better. Maybe we are ALL growing up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She had me join FB for that reason and still even though I use it sparingly so as not to be invasive, most of the time she responds to others but not me.

      Delete
  18. Hello, nice to passing by and find i am not alone, kids have different thinking and mind these days, we're just not the lucky one... thank you for sharing, great read! Mei

    ReplyDelete
  19. Kathy, Thanks for the great article. I feel a lot better now after reading your blog and also reading the other posts. I can see there are many of us Mom's who have for one reason or another been abandoned by our adult children. Times have changed and I remember families that stuck together but now it is the "All About Me" generation. It just feels so weird to spend 20 something years of my life loving my son and doing everything I could for him to succeed and be independent and now he doesn't need me anymore unless I am doing something for him. He used to remember my Birthday and the holidays but not anymore. He recently said he was selfish and into himself. That was not a family value as I remember? I recently spent three months letting him live with me while he sobered up and got caught up on his taxes and bills. He is 29. He slept on the couch and I admit I enjoyed having him home for the first month. The problem was he never lifted a finger to help around my home and worked nights and went to AA meetings to stay sober. I was so proud when he got 3 months sober but it was time for him to go home because the expense of taking care of him on just my income was hard and he had stopped using his pay to get caught up on his bills and bought an IPOD and music for it and video games. He was also dating some girl in AA. So he went home and was drunk by the next day! I learned a big lesson about helping someone that is not doing it for themselves. He got mad when I said never again to using my home as a rehab and I stopped giving him money for booze. He cut me off and won't take my calls or call me back. It is hard because he is all I have other then my dog and work friends. Alanon has me focused on living my life and letting him live his. I feel used and sad it had to come to this but perhaps someday he will see things differently or maybe not but I will survive! I did the best I could and now it is time for me to take care of me. I love this quote, "Taking care of ourselves is not self centered, It is centering ourselves".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't give up on your son yet. It would seem to me that he is having some pretty severe personal issues of his own. How is he going to have a relationship with you if his own life is a mess?

      Delete
  20. I have 2 sons, who are married with young children. One son
    lives 15 minutes away and keeps in regular contact and who involves me in his children's lives. My other son, lives 1700 miles away and keeps in regular contact by sending pictures of his 1-year old son. Their biological father, who has not
    been in the picture in 22 years now wants to be involved with
    the grandchildren and drops in to visit their families whenever he wishes. No regard is given for the time that I
    have planned with their families. I am uncomfortable spending time around my ex-husband. The situation feels unfair to me after having made my sons a priority while they
    were growing up.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm one of the adult-children strangers; I hate that things are this way - but truth be told, both of my parents use me as a sounding board for their complaints about their health, their failing marriage, their financial issues and their relationship issues with my other siblings.

    I have plenty of my own life-stressors going on to have to listen to my parents continuous complaints. I have spoken with both of them individually about keeping conversations about our interests and activities and not turning them into therapy sessions - to no avail.

    As for visits, I live 70 miles away - not too far - not all that close either, considering with traffic, this becomes an hour to 1.5 hour drive one-way to visit; all in-person contact is ONLY at their home - never mine. I work full-time as a construction manager, traveling throughout the state - and then am expected to travel to them every free weekend and holiday I have.

    To make matters worse, my choice in life-partners is not the choice at least half of my family approves of (I am a 42 year old independant woman, with a career, own house, car, etc) so I have to either listen to endless lectures about what I should do OR I get icey silence and evil glares.


    I try to be as flexible as I can, balancing work/life/social and family obligations; however, I've come to feel disappointed by the lack of effort on my parents side to help bridge the gap towards the closeness I know they both want with me.

    It is so much easier to manage expectations with my man's family and those of two of siblings than of my parents. Truly stinks, but it is what it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sound like a fair, willing to make an effort kind of a person. I would like to discuss my feelings about my daughter with you. Perhaps you could give me some good advice.

      Dee

      Delete
  22. I am going through a similar situation. I have a 23 year old daughter that only really comes around or calls/texts when she needs something....it breaks my heart. I try not let it bother me and then my other daughters, mother or sister will say something about "being invited to something or being with her" and it hurts....some call it jealousy...I call it hurt.
    There are even birthdays in our household that she either forgot or just didn't care. I guess I just feel a need of knowing what I did to make this happen :(

    ReplyDelete
  23. My heart is heavy this morning, as each and every post here has touched on what, unfortunately, is becoming more common in the lives of loving parents. Each one could be writing my story. I keep trying to "do the right thing" by keeping in touch and reaching out; being their when they call; trying to be satisfied with what morsel of time and conversation my boys provide, but again, my heart grows heavy, as the origin of most of the contact is with me. I know in the scheme of things or in this time in the history of mankind things are growing increasingly tough. After all, many in the world are experiencing mush worse; just ask anyone from Newtown, CT.

    Even though it seems I'm on my 'pity pot', my heart is broken. I can only hope that in time things get better.

    This blog has helped me this morning and I thank God for helping me "stumble" upon it in my search for answers.

    I, definitely, will revisit this site as I can see everyone is speaking from their heart. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am one of those adult children and my mom is probably complaining about the same somewhere to someone. I think it is unfair to lay the blame on one side. I have limited the information I share with my parents greatly. When I visit them, they are busy in their own lives so much that mostly they have no time for me or my family. On top of that they control whom I can visit and how often or how long. If I share something with them, they tell it to their friends, relatives or start interfering. If I request privacy for what I share with them, they don't listen. If I don't visit or get busy, they complain endlessly but never bother to call and check what is wrong - sickness, other problems. If I detach myself, they start talking politely and nicely and the cycle repeats. If I talk to them about how I feel, they get so defensive and start shedding tears and blaming me. How can I have a relationship with them with all this drama where I am the only wrong one and they are always the right ones?

    For all you ladies having trouble with your adult kids, please sit down and talk to them. Ask them what is bothering them? Listen to them and don't give advice unless asked for. Just be with them, listen to them and respect their wishes. Understand and accept that your wishes and your children's wants and desires can be different and let them do what they feel is right. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. Give them that space. Don't judge or criticize them. I am sure many relationships can be healed if we really want to but it is a 2 way street. You can even go to therapy with your adult kids. You might hear from them what is bothering them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is great advise. But I think you need to look in the mirror.

      Delete
    2. It's really shitty when the only time the kids bother is when they need a sitter...been there many years. Feeling used and tired of it. Also retired and they think I don't do anything so I have time. My time is my time

      Delete
    3. my children turned against me for the dad side of the family . they taught them to lie on me talk about me be mean to me now they are adults one child gradully have a relationship with me but i dont trust her because of things they said about me in the pass the other daughter doesnt show me any respect we dont have a relationship she cause me a lot of pain i was having panic attacks i have to let go ive tried and tried . now imust move on ith my life one day when they change they dont have to treat me like a mother just treatg me like a human being with feelings maybe we can talk until then goodbye.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous of Dec. 28, 2012. Funny (and not the haha kind of funny) that when you read the side of an adult "offspring" (if you'd prefer that term) as to WHY grown kids might be staying away, you tell them to do exactly what all these whiny mothers commenting here need to do.

      Ignored and neglected parents seem to think that their adult kid just woke up one day and decided they didn't want to have their parents in their lives anymore. It's a process that happened through the years of upbringing. and if they don't want to talk you, maybe you need to stop pointing fingers and take a look at your responsibility in it and what your part might have been in those reasons for their now self protection. They are most likely doing what they believe they need to do to survive.

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    5. Well, I hope that you never have cause to be a "whiny" parent some day; but maybe only then you will get it.

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  25. While I'm not sure my children will be open for a discussion, your post has provided some insight to what my boys might be experiencing. I will give it a go and see how it goes. My biggest fear is that they will refuse and I will be left frustrated and hurt, but I will muster up the courage and approach them as best I can so that this wall between us can come down and become a bridge. I believe all things are possible through God, so, much prayer will have to come first. I let you know how it goes. Thanks for your post and the insight.

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  26. Okay, so far so good. One of my son's has agreed to an informal meeting. I'm a little nervous, but hopeful things will go well. We meet next week. More prayer needed, for sure. To approach in a raw manner might prove offensive, but how does one ask "What the heck is going on?" in a tone that is anything but intrusive, abrasive, obstructive and any other "sive" I can muster up? or "What have I done or not done to have our relationship go so amiss?" I am a very emotional person; one of those people that cry at the mere thought of feeling like a victim. Ugh! How can I have a discussion with my son that doesn't appear to be demanding or aggressive in nature? Sure, I want answers. The question is "Do I want to hear the answers? or better yet, "Can I hear the answers?" What I really want is to know how we can get beyond this stumbling block? Is is possible? Does he have the same desire or does he view me as one of the "toxic" people in his life and wants no relationship at all? Oh me or my, I do go on...like I said...more prayer needed here. Thanks for the listening ear. I'll let you know how it goes. If anyone has any pointers, I'm open.

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  27. Another way to approach your meeting with your son is not to begin with discussing what's wrong, but with telling him how good it is to see him and giving him a hug. Then perhaps invite him to tell you what's going on in his life. And only after you've both settled down a bit, you might say something like "I've missed seeing you so much. What can I do to help make things better between us?" Keeping the emphasis on the positive might make him less defensive.

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    1. Oh,thank you so much for the feedback and suggestions! I'll give them a go & let you know what develops. Any thoughts on the "drama" part? I really want to maintain my composure during our visit. I tend to become overly emotional when an element during a discussion touches my heart. He views this as drama and I suppose drama it is. Only thing is, I'm human, and this "feature" kicks in when I want to remain in listening mode. Ugh! Any ideas on how I can move beyond this type of response to what I may hear?

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    2. This is such great advice Kathy.

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  28. If you're an emotional person who cries easily, it's hard to rein that in. Try making it less central to the discussion -- quiet tearing up rather than sobbing. You might also try concentrating on his words, taking in what he says without taking it personally -- easy to say and so hard to do when this is your son talking! For example, if he says that he needs his space, hear that as a need he has as a new young adult, not as a rejection of you as a person and as his mother. Again, so easy to say and so hard to do, but it could help keep your tears, what he sees as "drama", becoming the focal point of your discussion.

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    1. Okay, I'll do my best to focus on his needs as an adult and that he is not necessarily rejecting me, personally. Like you said, I will concentrate on his words. This is so hard; it's been several years of ongoing "miscommunication". My son is 32 years old with children of his own. Truthfully, I thought once he had children of his own, he would come to an understanding of how imperfect we can be as parents and how important it is to maintain our relationship. I guess I was dreaming...

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    2. Well.. I can sure relate to this blog. To make
      a long story short, my son met "the perfect girl" My husband and I were thrilled beyond
      belief. She came from a large family, loving
      parents.. etc. etc . I decided that I would
      be the MIL tht I would love.. and followed her
      lead. I was happy as I thought we had a lot in
      common, however I totally undersestimated her
      immaturity. They got married, things seemed great. and then I noticed a shift.. which I thought odd.. but my husband noticed it too. No
      response to the emails, etc., no invits, but
      the message was clear.. DO NOT CALL, DO NOT
      DROP IN, UNLESS INVITED AND WE INITIATE !! Furthermore.. Christmas will ALWAYS BE AT MY
      PARENTS HOME ON THE 25TH !!! No comprimise. Anyway, it was downhill from there. I won't go
      into the details.. but a real personality change
      and she made it very clear that she was ALPHA AND BUT OUT !! I've never been so shocked... my
      other son.. said "mom.. she's just immature !!
      I have stepped back.. not that I ever stepped
      forward, for fear of getting whacked in the stomach. My son's life is now totaly usurped
      by his wife's family and friend. We are wintering in the south... and I hate to say it..
      but I think that are quite happy that we are out of their hair.. don't have to think about
      us other than the occasional email. They are now
      pregnant but the writing is on the wall that although we will be welcome in their lives... it
      will be when know one else is free to babysit and the invite came across as 'I'LL BE DOING YOU A FAVOUR" ALL we want is for our once close
      son to and daughter in law to call out of love
      not duty !!!! Don't they get it??????? We truly
      feel like it's an effort.. for them to fit us in. I raised both my sons on my own.. put them
      through university and all I want is some kind
      of relationship. Interesting in this blog that
      mother's of girls have the same issues ? I thought if I had a daughter, it would be different.

      Hurt... really hurt.. doing my best to accept
      emotionally.. isn't easy !!!

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    3. My daughter lives with us , she is 22 hrs old and works hard the only thing is she is so stressy all the time and wen her boyfriend is at our house she gets anoyed with him and hits him she has done this with previous bfs but I find jt embarssing to watch . I do dinner for us all and me and my husband try not to say anything but she gets uptight if we say anything . Can u help with some advise.

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  29. I raised 4 children and recently chose to sever contact. I think they may notice eventually but perhaps not...I certainly doubt that it will be more than a blip on their radar screen when they realize it.

    After a divorce 7 yrs ago, and re-marriage 4 yrs ago, I am happy - I love my career, marriage, hobbies, pets.
    I have various circles of friends and coworkers, all of whom like and respect me, call, and apparently enjoy spending time with me.

    The young adult/teen children from the marriage I left neither like or respect me.

    My (perhaps I should say "former") 4 children all live with their father (ages 18-25) and a few have boyfriends and girlfriends living there as well. I believe some of them have found jobs recently. Their father enjoys having them for company and is held in high regard by them.

    For several years they have only contacted me when they needed money, help with something, or a place to stay ( our second home was handy ).
    My husband and I responded generously. Yet it has done nothing to nurture any relationships between us and them. I paid for wrestling camps and cars, but
    never got even a phone call on Mothers Day or any other special day of the year.

    Their father is the rock star. I am the lowest of the low.
    Snide comments about my (current, 2nd) husband and lots of name calling behind my back among them have been pretty much the norm. The frank, consistent, and ongoing contempt and disdain from them is not worth the effort of pondering a future that might be different.
    Recently I was not able to be anything but increasingly angry around them so I decided to move on with my life, and free my husband from the greed and selfishness of my kids.

    I was initially very sad and deeply grieved to be contemplating such a serious action. Grief work seems to
    come in waves. When a wave hits me, I remind myself that the children I once loved have grown up. They are now young adults whom I hardly know.

    I honestly hope they all have wonderful lives. I am not sorry I made this decision. It is a loss but one that can be resolved. I am determined to come out on the other side
    at peace. They don't need me anymore. I did my best. They made a choice and I hope it works out for them.
    I am tired of feeling used and have little hope that anything will change.
    Thank you for this blog.

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    1. I am a dad and a step-dad (and a son) and I can't tell you how many times I have been angry about the way I have been ignored or marginalized or held emotional hostage.

      My father is about as self-centered as a 73 year old can be, and every interaction with him seems to be about me doing something for his wife (they've been married 30 years). My mother is in her early 70's, living alone, and not above using the guilt card to get attention (however she is getting better about creating a life for herself). While my dad is incredibly toxic to be around, my mom is actually nice to interact with, and I do try to be a good son and remember birthdays, mothers days, etc. (My father's as well) I live about 2,000 miles away from my parents.

      Then I have my own children and step children. My own sons still will communicate with me from time to time (primarily text messages) and a phone call now and again, but only on an occasion like Fathers Day or a birthday. They never call me unsolicited. My step children I see much more frequently, and I do care for them, but getting any kind of emotional payoff is difficult. They too remember birthdays, father's day, etc, but it is more like an obligation rather than a genuine expression of affection. Still, I get something, right? But I don't feel it is in proportion to what I give them. In many ways, I'm just the guy who married their mom. Their father will always be first in their hearts, as it should be. Even if I was a prince and he was a devil, he will always take first place in their hearts. I have to be ok with that. For my step kids, if you ever criticize their preferences (political affiliation, social causes, choice of swear words) in any way, you get cut off. If you voice your own opinions about any of the above, and they are not inline with their own, you get cut off. That is what I call emotional hostage. I have let it make me angry.

      But for me and for everyone who is mourning the loss of a relationship with a child is that we can't change anyone's behavior but our own. Even though the lack of respect, affection or contact is quite painful, I can't change them. I can only change how I deal with it. And Dr. McCoy's advice about creating your own life the best way you can is the best advice. We can't depend on our children (or our parents) to make us happy. We have to make our own choices that lead to happiness. Simple in concept but not always easy to do, I admit. But we are all worth more than the grief we are feeling. May we all have a good day knowing this.

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  30. Dr. McCoy, I met with my son last week and have taken a few days to process our discussion.

    I was able to keep my composure thoughout most of our discussion, but silent tears did surface at one point. While I'm not sure how our relationship will develop from here, I am hopeful that we are attempting to come together to voice our love and concerns regarding past experiences that influenced the wall that has come between us. I was able to express my thoughts and feelings in a way that was constructive thanks to your suggestions regarding approach. My son has some major life issues he is working on, at present that are quite difficult to address on this blog. I am happy to say that he has a therapist that he trusts and is working through his issues. Of course. I am part of what has affected his life. I offered to go to the therapist with him when he feels the time is right. He was open to that option. I'm sure the process will be slow, at best. At least it's a start. Thank you and the one's who have shared from there heart in assisting me in addressing what has become such a heartache. I'll let you know how it goes...

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  31. I'm so glad that you and your son were able to talk with each other and that you're feeling more hopeful. That's great that he has a therapist he trusts and good for you for offering to go with him to a session when he decides the time is right. Please keep us all posted!

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    1. Dr. McCoy! My son texted me last night that he and his family would like to come for a brief visit in February! Just for the day... but, I will take it! Of course, this brings me much joy; I just had to tell you! More prayer is needed to keep my balance, for sure. I don't want to have preset expectations, for it always sets me up for disappointment. I'm very excited, but know I must calm down and prepare emotionally for whatever presents itself. I let you know how it goes. Thank you so much!

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  32. I lost my partner of 13 years nearly two years ago. I had brought up two children, worked full time paying for private schools and also saved to buy them both a car. My partner and myself hardly went out

    My son got involved in drugs,stealing, being expelled from schools and at the age of 17 after trying to help him I told him to leave the house as he was dealing in drugs. He lived with his girlfriend and they returned when my partner died, cooking, decorating and helping me (which I paid them for) and it was really great to have his company although they didn't have any part=time jobs but just waited for me to provide everything, food, heating during the day while they watched television and without me knowing building up debts onb mobile phones, parking fines etc. His girlfriend on leaving university got a job and promptly dumped him. My son was devastated and though had appeared to be giving up the drugs started taking them again and became very aggressive, stealing from my mother and drinking. I tried talking to my son on many occasions late into the night but he couldn't get himself together despite my offers of help so I suggested he go and help in an orphanage abroad. I organised this but he then met a girl he'd known from school, moved her into my house without asking, went abroad travelling with her, they got married and she came back pregnant. She is a lovely girl and I am very happy for them but when they returned I told him I couldn't have them living with me any more and that it was healthier for him to get his own house and provide for his family. He has now got a job but is quite bitter that I threw him out of the house years ago and did not want them living with me when they returned, hardly phones and centres his world on his wife, the baby and his inlaw who live nearby (her mother gave up work and virtually lives at the house staying up with her during the night to help.

    My daughter was at University when my partner died, came home to be with me after his death but returned to Uni and stayed there after she finished to live with her boyfriend. I was happy for her but was left returning to a house full of grief each evening for many months and could not sleep (neither of the children wanted me to sell the house, also it would disrupt my mum). Eventually I started going out and met another widow with two small children and recently became engaged. My daughter decided to come home and announced she would now be living at home. She did not have a job and expected me not to see my fiancee at all, shouting at me that I should be at home each night. She also said she had sold her car and put the money from this and the money I saved for her 21st into an investment scheme (introduced to her by her boyfriend)and that they were both introducing business to the people who owned this scheme. I asked her about the scheme but she shouted at me and told me it as nothing to do with me and that I couldn;t ccontrol her life. I am so saddened by all of this and to add to the situation my mother tells me that both my children should let me live my life and let me be happy but behind my back I have discovered she has told them she is left on her own (she is a very independent, strong willed woman who is constantly away herself or running groups)and feels very vulnerable. As a result both children are now horrible to me saying that I should be looking after my mum better. I take her out each week for a meal and am at home for 4 nights each week (when I am at home she comes around nearly every night) but she has a partner who lives a few miles away so she also stays at his house a few nights a week. I am also trying to be a mother to two children at the weekends and support my fiancee but I feel desperately sad that I have lost my own children in all this, whereas we have been close for years having gone through so much together. I would really value to advice as I obviously have 'got it all wrong'.

    i have triend to give everyone in the family love

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  33. I have two children a daughter and a son both married and grandchildren from both of them. It seems that all I mean to them is money. They both have taken and taken and I gave and gave. When I stopped giving money they didn't want anything to do with me or their dad. I've decided to tell them I love them but if they don't want anything to do with us I'm not begging them. Where is the love and respect that we as parents deserve. I loved my parents for being my parents I never expected money from them and to use them. Their Dad and I need to get our life going and our retirement but I never expected to have two selfish children who think it's our job to support them forever and by the way they love and care about their inlaws who have never done anything for them. I just don't get it. It hurts but we are trying to move on and live our lives now. It's not always the parents fault. We worked hard to give our children a good loving home we never expected that our money was all our children wanted and expected of us and when we could no longer give to them they decided we weren't good enough. I just don't understand. I wish all of us who have been hurt by our children to heal and find peace until our children decide that we are good parents and we do love them and that is enough! By the way my children are 34 and 27 and they both expected their father and I to work hard and just give it all to them. We love our grandchildren so very much but it seems we aren't good enough to see them either. Shouldn't they love us just for us and not our money and to always support them. A heartbroken mother!

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    1. I agree with you I had two son's one was killed by a Drunk Driver and my other son is just like your kids. When I told him I am not paying your child support anymore or give you anymore money that you need to get a job he is 29 he got mad and said fine you just lost another son and I don't want anything to do you with forget my number and me too and his girl friend don't help she always telling him I am you family now and you don't need your parents. Both of them don't work live off the system and your right me and my husband as worked all are lives and we need to know start saving for our retirement. The good thing is I am friends with his ex which they don't like but I do get to have contact with my grand kids but wish they lived closer there about a 1,000.00 miles away. The hurt will not go away and I do think of him all the time I don't understand these kids today my husband tells me not to think about it and just go on with our lives but that is hard to do.

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    2. I understand how you feel. My daughter and Son-in-law and consequently, my young preteen grandchildren won't speak to me anymore. I have helped them through financial situations numerous times. I told them two years ago that my husband and my daughter's dad was going to be laid off and would subsequently retire. They assured me that they would pay rent on the house I own and rented to them. However, they had a set-back last year and had not paid rent for a year. He was to get a promotion, next month, then 3 months, and so on. My husband and I reminded them he was on a fixed income and my pay was not very high. Finally, I told them that they had to start paying rent and the utilities. I was told I was selfish and did not care they were poor. My daughter is not employed and home schools the children. I said that it was their responsibility to take care, financially of themselves and their children. That my husband and I would do the same. I am blocked from her FB page and no one talks to us. It's not as though we have ever had any money. My spouse is a retired minister. We are unable financially to help anymore. Sometimes, one has to let go so that our adult children can grow up. It is so hard, but this blog has shown me that I am not alone.

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  34. My son has asked me and his father to relocate for at least a year to help with his baby which will be born this summer. I want to take him up on the offer but do not want to live in his home with him and his lovely wife. My other son whom we lived in the same neighborhood said no let them put the child in day care We can't afford to have two households but want to live solo... My son offered to cover the expense and is willing to do a contract. He is a man of means, any suggestions?

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  35. It's impossible to say what might be best without knowing all of the situation from your perspective. What would it mean to you to relocate? Would you be giving up a home of many years? Would you be moving away from long-time friends and other family members? Could this spark a conflict with your other son who sounds opposed to the move? How far are you going to be moving? And what are his expectations -- and what is acceptable to both you and your spouse. If you own your current home, would it be possible to rent it out and then rent a place in your new location -- which your son would be willing to cover? If at all possible, you might have a family meeting about this to air feelings, suggestions and the like before making a final decision.

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  36. Thank you for your response. My husband has decided that we will not relocate but will spend a couple of months there. The first month at their home. The second in Corporate housIng. He said we will use their car for transportation the first month and that we will rent a car the second month. He said while we are there we'll help them understand that this is the best. By the way we live in Florida and they live in California. Both of our aging parents live in Georgia and we really need to be here for them in their final days.

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  37. i too have sons who only want to talk or have anything to do with me when they want something.it hurts but guess i will move on from them.

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    1. Spend your children's inheritance... Let them work hard for themselves.... If you do have $$ and pass away, leave it to the Animal Shelter... Those animals love you unconditionally; as opposed to the greedy adult children...

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  38. I'm so glad I found this Blog and realize I am not alone on the issue of "When adult children become like strangers". When my kids were growing up, I was very close to my older daughter. Now, and most likely because she's out on her own with her own family (including a mother-in-law living with them), she's like a stranger. My adult son lives at home still and we get along great yet still maintain our own spaces under one roof. I've tried multiple times over the past several years to create "quality time" but grew weary that I was putting 90% energy in to it yet getting little in return, especially last summer when I went through medical problems and she didn't make much effort to be there for me. So now we don't even talk . . . It makes me sad but also have been able to keep busy with other people and projects . . .

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  39. I'm so glad I found this Blog and realize I am not alone on the issue of "When adult children become like strangers". When my kids were growing up, I was very close to my older daughter. Now, and most likely because she's out on her own with her own family (including a mother-in-law living with them), she's like a stranger. My adult son lives at home still and we get along great yet still maintain our own spaces under one roof. I've tried multiple times over the past several years to create "quality time" but grew weary that I was putting 90% energy in to it yet getting little in return, especially last summer when I went through medical problems and she didn't make much effort to be there for me. So now we don't even talk . . . It makes me sad but also have been able to keep busy with other people and projects . . .

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  40. Why are adult children estranged and what does that feel like from the PARENTS angle? I found this site to counter the discovery earlier this wk that what has been "wrong with me" all my life is in fact quite likely rooted in my Family of Origin (FOO) and the experience of being born to a narcissitic mother (NM). A NM has little of any empathy for her children (so funny I am trying to empathize w/her now and figuring out what she might be feeling as she realizes I am withdrawing further from her). As she ages, and her demands/expectations/needs increase I am finding it more and more difficult to even maintain the limited contacted I have had the last 52 years. I respect my parents but I do not like them and I am not sure if I love them. I have tried to do my best to be a "good" daughter even though I am freshly learning I was likely unloved and ignored as a child (memories that are still repressed as my parents think they did a great job! So typical of a NM and NF), as I am also a parent and know the joy/pain of parenthood as well. Anyways, if you are searching for the root of WHY your kids are not hanging out w/you or calling you or whatever....you might want to do some research on Family of Origin stuff and/or Narcissistic Mothers. Peace.

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    1. You just posted the biggest crock of crap... repressed memories? give me a break...we as parents do everything we can for our kids. you sound like you might have been a bit spoiled and think that the world owes you. get over yourself. we aren't given a book to raise children. we do the best we can. REMEMBER, once parents are gone you can't go back. love them as they are as I am sure they've loved you. I hope your children don't do that to you.

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    2. Another thing, while children are growing up, parents don't have time to think or be "narcisstic' . We are too busy trying to make a better life for our children. There is NO TIME to think about us, and how good we are. Many mother don't think they are doing their best. They also think they are bad moms because of choices they've made while raising children. If the kids do well and turn out to be happy and productive then we know we did our job. nuff said

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    3. Certainly not going to get into an argument about what may or may not have happened in my child hood (as I have not quite figured it out yet for myself) but I can assure you I am highly succesful, married for 32 yrs, rasied to succesful children but I still do NOT like my parents.....never have, never will. Look up narcissism. And 100% I am not a victim, just a simply human trying to figure out why I don't enjoy spending any time w/my parents (not exactly normal relationship and I am curious as to why). Sorry, but you don't sound very empathic yourself....hope you were with your kids????

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    4. "You just posted the biggest crock of crap... repressed memories? give me a break...we as parents do everything we can for our kids. you sound like you might have been a bit spoiled and think that the world owes you."

      You do not know this person's history. Do not assume that you know what happened in this person's life. Some people have kids and are not mature or mentally stable enough to have them and care for them properly. There are many great parents out there, but not all of them are. Children of alcoholics usually put their addiction before their kids. These things happen, so don't make assumptions that this person must be "spoiled rotten."

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  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. There it is, you spoiled him rotten! I did the same to my son and he has completely cut me out of his life and my four grandchildrens lives. I am not allowed to see or speak to them. Never mind I gave up alot to give this son everything. It bothers me to hear so many stories that are so similar to my own.

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  42. Sharon I had the very same thing happen to my Husband and I. We were even sent a bill for a extra 5.000 to pay the florist after paying over 3.000 already we were seated by the waiters door and a pole was in front of our face I almost didn't go to the wedding because of conflict See my Husbands traveled and I had a young child to raise alone so I couldn't go to make flower arraignments with her mother. When the grand kids were born everyone from her family was there but we were called last minute and walked into a room with her family all holding our little granddaughter my granddaughter now grown asked do you love us .I call the girls phone and leave messages to please call me but no reply. I love them very much and never say anything Ive learned don't sture the pot it can get really hot. and she will win. He's my Son and that's that I don't like him but I do love him with all my heart . I do believe children learn what there taught about family when a man gets a wife she forgets his teaching and In my eyes that make his wife look bad. Because she herself as a woman she should have compassing and kindness for the mother of her husband.so I know my Grandaughters will follow her feelings for my husband and I myself. We have lost our home and he has cancer I have never asked them to do anything And believe me they don't no calls no cards no nothing . So don't fret about your son when they meet a narcissistic person they become one themselves. Just let it go your heart will break but your not going to win. Oh and one more thing we gave them 80000 for their wedding and they allowed us 28 guest. while they had a limit of 150.Do you know how uncomfortable that was for us? not to many family member were invited. Im sure your both loving parentas just remember there is not Books to follow on how to raise your children like a reciept. You done your best and now it up to them.

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  43. IN DESPERATION I BEGAN LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO FIND OUT THE WHY'S AND HOW TO BEHAVE AT THE UPCOMING WEDDING OF MY ONLY SON - WE LOST OUR DAUGHTER TO SIDS WHEN SHE WAS 5 WEEKS OLD - AT THAT POINT HE WAS THE TOTAL FOCUS OF MY LIFE - RIGHT UP TO THE NIGHT BEFORE HE MET HIS "FIANCE" WE WERE AT HIS SIDE - SUPPORTING HIM WHEN HE NEEDED IT BUT UNDERSTANDING HIS INDEPENDANT LIFE STYLE - WE WERE VRY CLOSE AND SO ENJOYED ENTERTAINING HIS FRIENDS A LOVING FAMILY GET TOGETHERS - THEN ONE NIGHT HE MET A THIRTY-SOMETHING BARTENDER, WITH 3 CHILDREN THAT SHE DID NOT HAVE CUSTODY OF, WHO IS X RATED, NON CHRISTIAN AND SELF INDULGENT - NOT MY OPINION - FACT - SHE WENT HOME WITH HIM THAT NIGHT AND NEVER LEFT - HE IMMEDIATELY RENTED A HOUSE AND PROVIDED THE MONEY AND STABILITY FOR HER TO GAIN BACK CUSTODY OF HER KIDS - SHE CONTINUED TO BARTEND AND HE KEPT THE KIDS AT NIGHT WHILE SHE WORKED- SUMMER CAME AND THE CHILDREN WERE UNRULY TO THE POINT THAT THEY LOST TWO SITTERS AND SO OUR SON TOOK TIME OFF WORK WHEN NECESSARY TO WATCH THEM - SHE HAS NOT TRIED TO FIND OTHER WORK - SHE ENJOYS BEING "OUT THERE" AND OF COURSE, DRINKS WITH HER CUSTOMERS. IN OVER THREE YEARS, HE HAS BEEN "HOME" ONLY THREE TIMES - EACH VISIT MAYBE 30 MINUTES - THEN HIS CAR BROKE DOWN AND WE HAD A CAR FOR SALE SO HE CAME AND GOT IT AND NEVER PAID A DIME BACK - WHICH HE HAD ALWAYS DONE PRIOR TO THIS - NOW THE WEDDING IS UPON US - HER BRIEDESMAIDS ARE TATOOD, FOUL MOUTH "BITCHES N HO'S" AS SHE DESCRIBES THEM - SO THREE MONTHS OUT I AM QUESTIONING MY HONESTY IN NOT WANTING ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS DUNKEN, X RATED SHOWER, REHEARSAL DINNER & WEDDING - WE HAVE LOST ALL TOUCH WITH OUR SON WHO HAS NEVER BEEN MARRIED AND HAS NO CHILDREN - AS MY ONLY CHILD MY HEART IS ACHING MORE EACH DAY AS THIS MESS DRAWS CLOSER - MY HUSBAND IS CHALLENGING ME TO GO TO MY SON AND "LAY IT ALL OUT AND CLEAR THE AIR" - HE LITERALLY WONT STOP BADGERING ME TO DO THIS BEFORE THE WEDDING - I FEEL LIKE THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN AND 3 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING IS NOT THE TIME TO OPEN THIS HORNETS NEST - HE IS MY ONLY CHILD AND I DO NOT WNAT TO HAVE THIS THING BETWEEN US ON JUNE 1ST OR EVEN WORSE, TO BE EXCLUDED ALTOGETHER - AFTER READING ALL THE BLOGS, I FEEL LIKE IT IS JUST OVER BETWEEN US BASED ON HIS LIFE'S DECISION - WE ALL KNOW HOW DIFFERENT THINGS ARE AFTER YOU PUT THE RING ON THE FINGER, AND MY SON IS GOING TO BE BROKE THE REST OF HIS LIFE TRYING TO PROVIDEFOR A FAMILY OF 5 WHILE SHE WORKS FOR BARTENDER WAGES AND TIPS AND LEAVES HER KIDS FOR MY SON TO RAISE -I CANT BEAR THAT I MUST FACE THAT HE'S GONE - BUT I FEEL SO DEEPLY IN MY SOUL THAT THIS IS THE CASE - I'M AFRAID HE HAS BECOME HER - I TRULY DID MY BEST

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  44. Oh my goodness, so many of your stories here touch a raw nerve in my own heart. I too raised my daughter on my own, she was born when I was 18 years old and I chose to raise her and do the best I could. I worked at many 'menial' jobs to support us as I studied to improve our future. As she was growing up I put her first in everything I did, but we were without money until I finished university and even then things were still financially tight. We still had lots of fun when she was growing up as I was still quite young, and we did everything together. She called me her 'best friend' right up until she left home at 18 and married seven years later. Things changed dramatically after that.
    She married a boy who was the indulged, spoilt, only child of a wealthy family, and she began to feel like she'd been cheated of the finer things in life, and the more she got involved with his upper-crust family and friends, the more she looked down on me, my life and my choices. Since having two children close together in the past couple of years, she has done little to encourage a relationship between the babies and me. She often cancels at the last minute if we've made arrangements to visit the babies. I also have two young children born in my 40's in my second marriage and while she loves them dearly, it's clear from comments that she's made, that she's jealous of my relationship with them. She gets upset if I can't remember the tiniest things she did at the age of five. (It was 27 years ago!) She told me recently that she's been on antidepressants for a year and seeing a therapist - and that she's very angry with me for being unsupportive, unkind, critical, for not giving her siblings when she was younger, for not babysitting overnight when she wants, for the heinous sin of cleaning her house, folding her laundry and doing her gardening when she's exhausted, and for generally being mean to her. These comments have knocked me out emotionally, it's like she is constantly wanting me to feel guilty, like I've done something wrong. However, if I give her money, buy her and her family gifts, I am suddenly again the 'bestest mum'. The euphoria of gifts wears off quickly though as does the memory of anything good I have done for her. She rarely calls me, and if I do call she acts fairly long-suffering when we talk. We've gone from being 'best friends' when she was growing up, to her clearly hating and resenting me now that she's 32 years old. I'm just the boring, hard-working, unfashionable, overweight, middle-aged, socially awkward mother who doesn't fit into her terribly 'cool' Gen-Y world. I'm really glad I've read these posts because they've made me realise - I just need to let her go and stop trying. I'm certainly not going to sit around feeling grateful for any crumbs of respect and time she wants to bestow upon me. Nope, I am not going to live my life that way. We deserve better ladies - we need to get on with our lives expect our adult kids to treat us with respect. And yes, we DO deserve better treatment as human beings who raised our children well and loved them more than life itself. We deserve to feel love and to have the dignity of being respected by our children. We don't need to grovel and feel like we need to tread on eggshells - if our grown offspring are too selfish and self-centered to pay respect and love to the women and men who raised them and gave up twenty years for them - then it's on their head. Let them live with it - and sadly, they will probably only realise what opportunities they let go when their own children treat them the same way. Meanwhile, I'm getting on with my life and being as happy as I can in the few decades I hopefully have left on this planet.

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    1. I am going thru the same thing with my daughter... and yes we need to be treated with respect and dignity... I am so sorry that we are all going thru this...Keep ur chin up.... I too am moving on with my life with our son, his gf and her little boy.. it will all work out in due time but hopefully its not to late for them to realize the harm they have put on us...

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  45. I feel somewhat estranged from my parents. I'm 35 single with no children. I've always felt that I walked oneggshells at home because my dad had a temper and would call names and take it out on us when he was in a bad mood-which was a lot. My mother would never say anything and just let things go. I'm not saying I was perfect, I wasn't and after I left home at 18 and grew up I thought that I would call them more and makes visits but over the years I've realised that it is only me thatwas making the effort, they would never visit me at my home, they don't call me, they din't even bother to tell me when my dad went in hospital. Only last year my dad asked me what I did for a living! They worship the ground my older sister walks o and she them but they're just not bothered about me. My sister has more in common wih their likes and dislikes and I'm too different, I'm me. I've come to realise that I am never going to gain their approval for anything that I am or I do so I no longer contact them.

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  46. Daughter, son-in-law and two children are selling their house to build a new one and want to move in with us. It could be a year of them living with us. When they come over they usually find something at fault and I just don't think I could put up with that all the time. Our house is really not that big. We told them no and now they will not talk to us at all. We have dropped to do things for them in the past but when we could have used help with some projects they never offered to help us. We have another child and they always finds ways of putting that sibling down. They always feel that we are doing more for their sibling but we do things for both of them. What I don't get is the not talking to us when we tell them NO, they have done this to us in the past but will come back when they need something. This time I really don't feel like getting back with them but my spouse feels that we should and do what ever they ask of us. I'm starting to feel used.

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    1. You absolutely did the right thing. We had the same situation and it was not a good idea. Son and daughter-in-law and 2 year old and newborn lived with us for 6 months. We even consented for her to have her day care children there. We spent as much time as possible at our cottage to enable them to have some privacy. At first they paid nothing but since we were gone a good percentage of the time we did ask for them to pay electric since it was summer and they had the air conditioning on most of the time. They did pay that but nothing more which was ok but what really annoyed me was the day they moved out she bought donuts and juice for all those that came to help them move and never offered us anything and then left and never said goodbye or thank you!! And have never been invited over for a "thank you" peanut butter sandwich!! Oh and the most important thing...that has been 17 years ago..lol. Again, you did the right thing!

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  47. I was wondering if anyone had any advice to give to me.... I have a 28yr old daughter who moved out of our house to be with a much older man @ the age of 18... We did not approve of the situation and i agree that we didn't like him much for 2 yrs but he was still allowed to come out for holidays and such... its such a long story that I can't even write all of it.. She has 3 children and a 4th one on the way..the biggest problem right now is she feels that we favor our youngest child who is 23 and is dating a 31yr old with a little boy who is 2.. We accepted her into the family with no problem... our daughter is very upset about that.. how come we accepted her and not her bf right away... She has called her and sworn @ me and yelled @ me and she thinks in her eyes its okay.. I have stopped texting and calling her and I'm just waiting for her to come to me when she's ready.. Is this the right thing to do.. I can't even talk to my grandkids when I used to call... any advice is welcome.. thank you.. there's alot more to the story but I'd be writing all night...

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    1. I do not know your whole story, but what I have read gives me the impression of favorism toward your youngest child. Your daughter was wrong to swear at you, but I understand where she is coming from. Favortism in relationships is a destructive force. Your disapproval vs approval attitude made things worse. The best advice is to just start accepting your daughters choices in life and remain humble.

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    2. its not that we favor our youngest its just that he is willing to help us out and never makes us feel like we are less than human.... we accepted him even though we didn't approve of their relationship he was still allowed out here for holidays and we treated him with respect... I wish someone on here would call me and help me thru this.... its heartwrenching... I love both my kids the same unconditionally.... thank you

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  48. Thank you so much for this post. The stories are heart-breaking, but yet comforting because I know now that I'm not alone. I too, am going through the pain and sorrow of losing my oldest son to his controlling wife. She has cut him off from his friends, and he has no contact with us unless they need something. If we don't comply, texts and phone calls are not answered. He has become a stranger since he met and then maried this woman. They use our first grandchild (6 months old) as a weapon. They live 20 minutes away and I have held her 5 times. I have resorted to just sending my granddaughter packages in the mail. It is hard, especially since this is my oldest son, and first grandchild. After reading this blog, I think the best thing to do is take a deep breath, stop analyzing what we did wrong raising him, pray, and move on with my life. I have 3 other beautiful kids at home and will most likely have other grandkids in the future.

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    1. Thank you for your post. I have hope in you last few lines. I too, will pray and move on. But, I am hurt and saddened for the loss of what could be...I had a very close relationship with my parents. Although we've always lived far from each other, I had the lifestyle to spend every summer with them and the grandchildren. My kids adore. My parents, but recently my parents decided to move to am island...not close, or financially reasonable to visit. This is heartbreaking for me. I wanted them to move closer...be part of our lives. But they decided on a different path. It is out of my control, and I am not happy for them which has caused a rift. I am just sad.

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  49. Thank you so much for this post, Dr. McCoy, and also the comments of the readers. IMHO, our parents (and children) should be treated the same way we would treat a friend. Most of us would not treat our friends with disrespect, or ask unreasonable things of them, yet many family members feel this is a perfectly fine way to act toward their parents (or children). Past a certain age, we owe our parents (or children) nothing. What we choose to give is up to us, not them. For them to expect anything, just because we're related, is an unrealistic expectation on their part. If you want to take you need to give, bottom line. Any and every relationship is give and take; it can't be one sided or it won't last. This is true of both friends and relatives.

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    1. Many prents are at the bottom of the list and IF their children have time. Friends, friends of friends, other people's parents, the dog down the street all come before the parents who raised and loved these kids. This is a whole new generation and the big lack of respect could be from the generation before. Kids got away with a lot. Everyone HAS to have that almighty dollar. So they work and the kids are let run wild. I loved being with my kids. I babysat so I could be there when my kids went to school and when they came home. My mother did the same thing. Spoiled brats got everything just to keep them happy and the parents guilt free

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  50. I find this blog very helpful and it has put some things into perspective for me. While I know there are times when I over react I do think I am trying. I don't interfer in his life and all I want is contact with him and to hear what is going on in his life. I think contact once a week is not too much to ask and because he is busier then me I do think he should call most of the time because I never know when I am inturrpting and if I am then I feel rejected cause he doesn't have time to talk or there are more important things he has to do. My other problem is I have a rare, incurrable disease that is progressive. We don't know how much time I have and he knows that. He has admitted he is jeleous of the time and attention this disease has taken over the last 3 years but he is choosing to stick his head in the sand and not deal with it and my biggest fear is he will regreat it when I am gone.

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  51. Thank you so very much for this article. I have been so depressed about my adult children, especially my daughter, and knowing I am not alone helps very much. My daughters mother-in-law moved in with my daughter and family and since then my daughter rarely calls and hasn't been over since Christmas Eve. (we live 1/2 mile away from each other). The mother-in-law inherited quite a bit of money and paid for the new addition and many, many improvements to the home. She also is financially helping the adult grandchildren. My husband and I are in our early 70's and are not in a position to financially help anyone. This is very hurtful. We thought we would always be close with our children but I guess we were wrong. Thank goodness we have each other...50 years and going for 75!!

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  52. Parents will give their child anything, but the freedom to be their own person.

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    1. BS. Here's some food for thought..

      Do you know that a simple phone call would make parents happy???

      They didn't leave you when you were young...Don't leave them when they are old.

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    2. Well, sometimes children don't call because when they do,
      their parents make it clear through guilting techniques that
      the child is still not allowed the freedom to be his own person.

      Also, it is neither the child's duty NOR the adult child's duty to
      'make his parents happy'.

      The parents need to make themselves happy and live a joyful
      and full life. When elderly parents do this, their joy radiates
      from them, and their adult children will call often because
      THEY WANT TO.

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    3. No one said it was a "duty". I have always been the one to call....to say hello, see how the grandkids are, etc etc. I get called to babysit and that's it. When I decided to stop calling...and only for a week, my daughter came over and said. " What's with the not calling or texting???" I said ..."You could call or text." Her response was, "I'm not playing that "f***ing game with you." Kind of makes a person feel like a piece of s**t. There are too many self centered selfish adult children. Their kids learn to be like that too. Been there done that.

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    4. Yes,you are absolutely right. That is how I feel about my mother who use to be my best friend and we really had great relationship up until the point I met my husband . I was 27 and was always there for her. She became different person since I fell in love . I have 3 small kids, we are immigrants to this country and trying our best to start a new life. All she does is criticizing us, complaining about me, making sarcastic comments about my spouse. I kept it low for many years and tried to ignore it. I always hide all th nonsense she talks from my spouse . I never can share this with my family back home or new friends here ,but it hurts a lot. She use to say all she want it me to be happy. But now that I am happy and together with someone I adore she just can't see it. Up until December I use to still talk to her 3-4 times a day , comforting her and trying to make her feel better. But she just won't stop all her negativity against him( my spouse) and I feel awful listening to her ,it is like I am doing something wrong to him too. So I tried to be honest and asked her to stop talking bad things about him. She became so furious " how dare you" and all of a sudden I just can ' take it anymore . I use to think ( to tried to convince myself) she don't really know what she is doing to me , but I realized now that she knows exactly what she does and even she stopped openly beak us apart , she still continues her agenda. I feel very bad and miss her, but I have to be a good mother and safe my marriage for the sake of my kids and the only way to keep her away from us. She will say " I just want to hear your voice" but once I call she will poison me with her hater against the man I love most and it takes such a long time for me to process it. I now think that my main priority are my kids and I did my best to be a good daughter but nothing is god enough unless I divorce and become a single mother and do what she says . Btw nothing is wrong to be a single mother and we ( me and my brother ) turned out fine and my kids will too...
      I am coming from a country where " normal" girls are married by 27. My mother have always supported me in waiting for " true love " and did not press to get married , but now I think it was convenient that way because I was right there by her side and we had such a " great time together " . Honestly I did not, I wanted to have own kids and family ... She is missing those days, and I miss my mother who use to share my joy , who use to love me the way I am. She can't accept me as a married woman,mother of 3 and loving wife. She can't see it, it hurts her ,and it hurts me too. But a guess time will sort it out for us. I am sure it is very different story on her side and I tried taking honestly about out problems and she does not let me say a word. She is right and I am wrong, the end. I hope parents do understand that kids do love them ,but as a husband or wife they also love their kids and spouses and it is ok, we could share all that love and no need to choose " him or me" . More you criticize their choices in life the farther you push your kids away. Accept them ,get to know them as adults,don't miss your Little girls and boys, we are not. Life put a lot of pressure on young families in this country with little support to raise kids ,to work full time a mother. And the last thing you want to do as a loving parent to add more pressure to it. I understand that parents need help as they age.. But parents don't have right to drive you crazy , tell you what to do just because they older . Have respect for the spouse not matter who they are and where they from and how they look like. It is not your spouse and not your life to choose anymore. English is my second language and I hope I did not make too many mistakes. It does make me feel better to know I am not the only odd one to have this kind of problem and I wish everyone to work things out ,I have no idea how it will for me.

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  53. I feel so sorry for everyone here who feels unloved. We have a 24 year old son who lives at home. He is finishing his final year at university. His first attempt was interrupted because of ill health. We are retired now and can't afford to supplement his student loan as we did before. He uses the house as a hotel and lives in his room appearing for meal times. I do his washing and we provide a taxi service. He is happy to spend Friday or Saturday nights in a club with his mates and then finishes the night on someones sofa. He eventually arrives home and we have to go back with him to retrieve his belongings from whichever mate's house he has left them in. I am worried sick when he goes missing like this but he says that it is my problem and not his. He has been mugged twice. Once, while on holiday, resulted in broken ribs and a huge gash in his head. He was found semi conscious by the side of the road I can't change his attitude to his safety but I am finding it harder to like him or care about him. I envy my childless friends.

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  54. My 31 yr old son and his 29 yr old sister recently got into a disagreement. Now he does not plan to invite her to his sons 8th birthday party. Now I am not sure if my husband and I should still attend? We have always been a close family. We are not sure where we should stand on this situation.

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  55. The person to consider first in this situation is your 8-year-old grandson. You and your husband should definitely attend and, if there is a way your son could be convinced to change his mind -- maybe on the premise that disputes between adults in the family should not negatively impact the children -- that would be great. It's important not to take sides, but to encourage both your son and daughter to work out this difference between themselves and not let the hard feelings fester and spread through the family.

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  56. I haven't read all the comments so maybe someone has addressed this but I must say it is not always the "kids" who are the problem. I have four siblings, we are all grown, married, and have kids. We have always been very close to one another and to our parents. We have cared about one another, respected each other's adult lives, and worked hard to stay close. Then my mom passed away about 10 years ago.

    My father is still living but barely gives any of us, except one sister, the time of day. She happens to be the only one who has grown children, has always been pretty needy, and has time to run down to visit him fairly often. She has in-laws in the same town so has double the reason to visit the area. My other siblings and I all live within an hour or two of our dad, have young children (a total of 6 kids, age 7 - 14), jobs, kids' activities, etc. Dad doesn't make any effort to attend any of their activities. The few he makes it to I feel as though I have to "guilt" him into. It's very hurtful to me and my kids, and makes me sad that all of us are missing out on what could be a beautiful relationship. We do visit Dad but he doesn't invite us often or really seem to want us around. I know if Mom were still alive things would be completely different. I don't know what to do about any of it but it is heartbreaking and frustrating and I know he won't be around forever.

    I am choosing to learn from this and vow to love my kids their entire lives and make sure they know it no matter what. I don't want to smother them as adults but I do hope to always be a part of their lives and the lives of my grandkids (God willing) as long as I'm on this earth. These types of things are rarely one-sided, please don't beat up on the "kids" so much. Parents (grandparents) play a part, too. Parents of grown children often have more time to be the "runners" than the parents with younger kids. If they aren't interested in a relationship it is difficult to overcome.

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  57. HELP PLEASE

    I have been married to my wife for a 10 years. My Mom and brother have decided to tell me they dont like my wife for minor details, such as she yawned at our house or last year at my birthday she did not eat a lot.

    I stayed silent and listened to what they had to say.

    They asked if I was angry. I said I was okay and thank you for being honest.

    I was raging inside, broke down when I left my mum and dads place after speaking with them.

    I never want to see them again, especially when they said they are not sorry for their opinion.

    I think it is because my parents want me to see them more often.

    I see them once or twice a fortnight, while working on holidays different storry.

    Have not told my wife, as do not want her to be upset and she is carrying our 1st child.

    AM I right in being mad and never wanting to see my family again? That is how I feel...

    My wife is my priority and my life.

    I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR FEEDBACK.

    THANK YOU.

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    1. Hello Anon,

      You need to give your parents one more chance-- and then if they
      blow it-- go no contact with them.

      Sit down with your mom and brother and say this:

      "The last time we met, you said some things about my wife that really
      made me angry. In fact, I became so angry that I almost did not want
      to speak to you again. Now, before you get upset, PLEASE hear me out.
      While I appreciate your honesty and while I want to continue to have
      an honest and open relationship, I need you to drop whatever small
      grudges you feel toward my wife and I need you to start focusing on her
      good qualities. When you dwell on her negative points, it hurts me as well.
      Mom and Bro, my greatest hope is that we can be one big, happy family.
      But, in order to do that, I need you to genuinely make an effort finding
      the good qualities in my wife and treating her as if you at least respect her.
      While she may never be the type of daughter in law you would have
      chosen, that is beside the point. She is the woman I love, the woman I married,
      and the woman who will be giving birth to our child. I am absolutely
      dedicated to her, to ouyr marriage, and to ouyr child. But, I also want you
      to be part of our newly forming family. I want to include you in our joy and
      our life. But, it is really hard to do when you are picking on my wife. This
      is something I cannot live with since it also affects my own happiness. So,
      today I am asking you to put your grudge aside and to find things to like
      in my wife. If that is not possible, I ask that you never say anything negative
      to me about her to me, to our child, or to other family members. I ask
      that when we have family events, you treat her in the good and respectful
      way that you yourself would like to be treated. I ask that you make peace with my
      choice in a spouse and open your heart to our family."

      Then, if your mother and brother attack you, make excuses,
      tell them that this is an absolute requirement. If they start yelling,
      tell them you do not want to be forced to make a choice between
      your wife and family of origin and then state clearly you
      choose your wife. Tell your mom and bro that the ball is in their
      court now. They either meet your requirements for the relationship
      or you will be forced to go no contact with them.

      If your parents are emotionally unhealthy people that make you feel bad, you do not want them in your life. State what you want and make them meet your needs.
      because if you pander to your parents and allow them to treat your
      wife badly, things will get worse-- and that is a promise. Better lay down
      a firm boundary before things get worse.

      Finally, GOOD FOR YOU. I wish all husbands were as honorable as you in
      standing up for their wives.

      Delete
  58. I can really feel your hurt and anger and loyalty to your wife. What your mother and brother may have been saying -- as you guessed -- rather gracelessly is that they would like more time alone with you. While your outrage is totally understandable, I would hesitate to cut off all ties with your family over these thoughtless remarks. What might work better would be to arrange time alone each with your mother and your brother and tell them how hurt you were by their comments about your wife. It's important that they know how their criticism affects you. Ask if the motive was really to ask for more time alone with just you and your mother or you and your brother. Such time, of course, can be hard to arrange when you have a busy life as you do. But -- at least initially -- give them the benefit of the doubt and let them know how you feel without making any ultimatums.

    If their response is to criticize your wife more or to discount your feelings, then it's time to ease away, see them less and let them know why.

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  59. I am a 61 year disabled widow, the mother of a daughter(28) and a so (30)both married. I have been alone for nearly 10 years. These years have been filled with extreme difficulties and change in all aspects of my life My husband's death was very sudden and unexpected and put me into a downward spiral for several year My son lives nearly 1000 miles away and I haven't seen him in almost 3 years,and my daughter lives 50 miles away,and we are estranged due to her throwing me under the bus to please her husband. I have forgiven her for what she did and only want one thing, to have her back in my life in some way. I cannot even begin to describe the pain of being thrown in the trash by ones own daughter and finding out she does not care about me nor perhaps did she ever. I thought we had a very close and good relationship and I have been wracking my brain for the past 5 years trying to figure things out. She went away to college and was gone for almost 5 years (over 2000 miles away) when I did not see her and had a very hard time getting any sort of communication from her unless she needed something. I always did everything I could to help her, I did not complain or say anything about not hearing from her or how hard my life was alone. I made the error in judgement of putting her needs ahead of mine to my own detriment because I thought we were"in it together" like we always were before. However this did not prove to be the case and when she saw a way out, she took it with and abusive manipulative controlling man who did not want her to have contact with her family, particularly me.My son is not in her life either as a result of how she treated me. He has married into a huge close family and everything comes first when it comes to them. I am not even considered. I know I cannot compete with that. I have nothing to offer other than my love for him as his mother. I wait for him to call, I try calling just to talk but most of the time I get no response. He promises he will call more but never does. I can say he is too busy etc since he lives so far away. I have not seen him in almost 3 years. I get along well with is wife. I love her dearly. They have no clue what things are like for me. I am disabled, live alone and have no one who actually cares about me in this community. I am coming to the realization that my expectations are not going to happen. This blog helped me reinforce this realization and to try and come to terms that they will not be in my life like I was with my parents and like every one of my siblings are with their children. I am surrounded with people whose families care about them and are in their lives. This is hard for me to take. It is also hard for me to take how much my son's mother and her family stick together and how she is treated in comparison to me. They don't even send me a birthday card, while I see pictures on Fb of the days and days of celebration for her mother and everyone else in the family as well. I know my son would like to come and visit and have me closer but I feel it would be even worse if I lived closer and I still did not see or hear from them. I feel their family has precedence over anything and everything that has to do with me. I know I have to make my own life which I am still working on and have to accept the fact all I can have is hope, not expectations. I have always been a good dedicated mother to my children and never thought I would be in this situation. I wanted them to be independent so I guess I got my wish there. Neither one of them has children so I don't know if they will ever understand the heartbreak of a mother who is separated from her children, no matter how old they are . IT HURTS!!!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Need a Word. Your story has so many similarities to what has just recently happened to my mother. I was searching for advice for my Mom and your letter really touched me. In her case, it is my sister who has just in the last week thrown my mother under the bus. It hurts my mother so deeply and in turn hurts me so deeply that there seems to be nothing I can do. She has many health problems, doesn't drive and something like this really exacerbates everything. I am sorry for your situation and hope it improves somehow. :)

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  60. I am in the same boat as so many of you. Our son married a woman who has never liked us. We basically see him maybe 1-2 times a year and even at that it is very strained. He's afraid to stand up to her because I suppose, if he did, his life would become hell, but then when I think about it, I lose respect for him that he will not on his own call or visit us. We never say anything to her or him - it would do no good. It's so very sad.

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    1. Hello Anon,
      Have a question for you that I would like you to seriously consider. You see, I am on the other side of this equation. I am the daughter-in-law whose mother in law is the one that causes the estrangement. Now, if someone were to talk to her, she would accuse me of taking her son away from her. She has never accepted the fact that 'her son', who was over 30 years old at the time, and a successful professional, made an 'adult' decision to marry the woman he looked for a very long time indeed. That woman happened to be me. One of the reasons my husband married me is because I have always been of the mind set that family comes first and I looked forward to being as close to my new in-laws as I am to my own parents. My parents also have this attitude-- that they were excited to be able to include our new in-laws into the family. And we all did!! But, what happened was that my MIL wanted to still make every decision in our lives and wanted to control everything from the clothes we wore to the house we bought-- she even wanted to dictate our thoughts, political views, and attitudes about everything. When any of us gently disagreed, she couldn't stand for that because she says she refuses to compromise with anyone. So, she would yell, confront, and insult each time anyone didn't do as she ordered. After that, she would take my husband aside and say negative things about everything about me. She
      criticized my master's degree because she thought it was a 'dumb' field of study-- she criticized my eye color and called them ugly-- she criticized my body type-- she said that maybe I will have 'retarded' grandchildren. When my husband asked her to stop saying things to him, she upped the ante and got other family members involved. One time when she visited, she broke into our locked file cabinets, went through our bank statements, went through my private journals, my college transcripts. She hoped to find dirt on me to bring to my husband, and when she DID NOT, she showed him my college transcripts, pointed out the one 'C-' I got in ONE class and told him he shouldn't have married someone so stupid. Well, this backfired because my husband got angry with her for getting into our personal business. When he became angry, she said I was'brainwashing' him because 'her son' normally would not have a problem with her behavior. She was stating in our house at that time and after she and he had that conversation, she came flying out of his office as I held our young son, and she literally attacked me. My husband put her in the car and got her a plane ticket home. Ever an apology from her? NO. When my husband asked her to apologize, her justification was that I deserved to be attacked because I was the reason her son stood up to her. Years have passed since then and the visits are few and far between. Each time, I prepare myself, I clean the slate and I meet each visit as if nothing happened. But, each visit, my mother in law's behavior ramps up more quickly than the visits before and a blow up ensues.

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    2. Part 2:

      As of now, we have no plans to visit them and will not have them visit us. Now, all of you mother in laws out there may think I am cruel if you too had been estranged from your sons. But, ask yourself this question. have you really treated your daughter in laws well? Have you really refrained from tearing her apart behind her back so that she hears everything through the grapevine? Have you really never insulted her or said unkind words? Have you been the perfect mother in law? If you truly have been, then I sincerely feel bad for you. I would have loved nothing more than to have a mother in law who would become as close as my mom and who would play a starring role in our lives. Finally, you might think I have something wrong with me to have a mother in law behave so rudely. Well, the answer is, I am human and I have my faults like anyone else. But, I also believe that I have many good qualities and, even more importantly, I am always working to become a better, kinder, forgiving, loving, more compassionate person. On top of that, I was a successful professional with my own wealth prior to meeting my husband. I do not drink alcohol, I have never smoked and have never used drugs. I have degrees from major universities. But, most of all, I do consider myself a loving wife and mother. When I hear other women talk about their daughter in laws with despair, I hear phrases like 'she's a raging alcoholic,' or 'she cheats on him and beats the kids', or 'she is working him to death and gambling all of the money'... and a million other things. I am absolutely sympathetic to your plight. Those are things you absolutely have a right to be hopping mad and worried about!! But, if your daughter in law has some good qualities and you have decided to hate her because you cannot control her decisions, then please,please, back off of her and get some insight. If you have a chance to save your relationship with your daughter in law, try to do it. AND PLEASE do an inventory of your own actions toward her. I know very few women who attempt to estrange their husbands from his parents. There is always a reason. PLEASE look at your own actions-- please be honest. Please look at the idea that there may be some part of you that does not want to let go of your son as 'your own little boy'. I know that must hurt. But please look at how you might mend bridges toward your daughter in law. We only have one life to live here and it is worth it. Finally, I wish I could mend bridges toward my mother in law, but each time I have asked her to stop insulting me to my face or to try to find common ground with me, she stamps her foot, says "NO" and then says that this is just the way she is and I need to accept it. She refuses to change, she refuses to even consider that there might be even a little fault on her part, and she refuses to even listen to me talk about ways we could mend bridges. Nope, she blows up, she yells, and then she stomps off and says I need to accept her as she is. I have talked to therapists, read books, and haven't found any way to deal with this. have pretty much given up.

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    3. PS-
      The times that my husband has stood up to his mom, she has made HIS
      and his father's life hell. So, please consider that.

      For my part-- I have never made my husband's life hell and have made many compromises.

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  61. I guess I have just come to learn to accept the treatment by my grown kids. I mean what else can I do?

    I live in another country now and I have free calling set up for them to call me but do they? Mostly when they want something.

    I have realized that if I want the relationship with them it is going to be one sided. I do all the calling. I remember the holidays and birthdays for them. I'm lucky to get a facebook message on my birthday or mother's day.

    If I want to see them, I have to either pay for me to go there or pay for them to come see me.

    They seem to get mad if "I" don't call them for awhile. lol Well gee whiz kiddos you know how to use a phone!

    My daughter will just ignore my facebook messages now. She'll say she didn't get them. I don't believe that as they come right up on the phone.

    My husband's parent are dead and his relatives hate me because I'm foreign. sigh...

    Whatever, life is too short to worry about any of this.

    So really even asking the kids to call me once in awhile and they don't, there really is no other option than what I do now is for me to make all the effort.

    If I get tired of it, I'll do something else. Wish I had a fancy solution, but I don't.

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    1. You don't have to accept the way your kids are...Just don't bother for a while and see what happens. That would be the day i would pay for my kids to come and see me.. I am starting to envy childless couples.

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    2. My parents are choosing to move away...far away. I am hurt and saddened. I don't want a phone relationship with my parents. I want them near. I want intimacy....dinner, lunches, shoppings, walks...not texts, calls and quick 1 week vacations. My solution...live nearby...life is too short, and people get so busy that phone calls become too much like small talk. I am sad.

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    3. Dear East or West,

      Thank you for putting into words my exact feelings. My only child, a daughter, moved 13 hours away 2 years ago when she got married. Once upon a time, we were super close too - we always laughed and and laughed together. She included me in everything, we got along beautifully. To this day (she's 27), I have never once called her a name, hit/spanked her...life was easy. After college she began pulling away (as she should, defining her own life and independence), and ulimately married a very nice young man. Recently I recieved an email from her, listing all my faults, all the mistakes I made, the things she doesn't like about me now. For example, I eat cupcakes. (My mom buys them for me every once in a while). Yes, you read that right, I eat cupcakes. I am also a bad mom for expressing my sorrow over her move so far away. Like you with your parents, I didn't want a text/email relationship....and I thought about the grandchildren I'd never know. I was so sad for so long and fell into a very deep depression, letting myself and my home go. I just couldn't move. I tried very hard to hide this from her. The few times we talked, I'd tell her how proud of her I was (and I was/am). I even went to visit her for a few days and had a nice time, so this email basically blind-sided me. There are two sides to every story and no doubt she has legitimat complaints, but as I was reading her email I found myself thinking that after 27 years, and raising you on my own, my greatest sins are eating cupcakes and saying I'll miss you? Geez...that's not so bad. So anyway, I'm sorry for everyone's pain here on this blog. I'm sorry that we're all hurting and from what I've read, the majority of us don't deserve it. But, I have accepted my "fate". I'm not going to argue or beg for love. I have decided to just let go. It's OK, because I still have wonderful memories of my daughter to hold onto, that no one can take from me, and I am very very grateful that I had her. The good far outweighs any bad, and if her feelings and opinion of me has changed as she's gotten older, that's OK...she's entitled to her feelings. I refuse to entertain negative thoughts about her/us. I am simply letting go so she can be free to be who she is. It's ironic that my own Mom is my very best friend and I can't do enough for her. And she appreciates it. She does a lot for me too. So, the moral of my own personal story is stay focused on the millions of blessings I do have, leave everyone to live their own life the way they see fit and just work on being a better me then I was yesterday. If my daughter and I ever reconcile, that would be wonderful, but I'm not putting my life on hold until then. I wish everyone the very best.

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    4. Thank you for sharing x

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  62. my daughet is 32 years old with 2 children with 2 difftent thers. my husband and i spent alot of money to lawyers fees against one of the father, raise our grandson until he was 4 and he went with her still we provide her money for downpayment for a car, my husband bought her a washer and dryer when she moved to her new apartment and i continue babysit and raise her children so she can go to school and work, she lived like a single woman she graduate from college and live like she has no responsiblities, she got herself in debt,lost a job. My husband and i helped her financially with food,clothing for her children car payment etc. until she found a job.She made alot wrong choices in her life the thing that get to me when she need money or something we are the best parent in the world,than when everyhings is ok with her we dont hear from her and the grandkids,,she will make remarks to my grandson who was happy to hang out with us , it is unhealthy to hang out with your grandparents" My grandson is 13 yrs now and he has change he doenst call i understand he is growing up and my daughter only call for babsysiting and i take the children to all their doctor appts. Now she met a man last august they got engage in novemember he broke up the engagement she was hurt she came to us we asure everything will be fine,well they got backe together and they gor engage in feb and decided to get marry this june. She ask us to pay for her weddding we told we cant afford her dad is retire and i work part time we are building our retiremnet saving for us . We will help our daughter if we can but we are not going to go broke it took us along time to build our financial after we helped her which we dont mind she is out daughter. Now she is pissed off her and her finance she said you are my mother and father suppose to give me away , I told her wecant and i told her you are in a diffent situtation you are living with him and his son and my grand children. I was single women when i got marry and i was still living at home. Now she is bitter she said her finace will pay for the small wedding and doesnt want anyone to be obligated to pay. I dont understand why she like this to us. Her older sister is opposite generous always call to check on us and never ask for anything.

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  63. This article seems to be mostly about how the children mess things up with their parents. I'm coming from a different standpoint, as the child. I live with my dad. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and my mom was (and still is) an alcoholic so my dad received custody of us. We were able to stay with her every other weekend, but when I turned 16 I stopped going over there and just visited every once in a while because she was always so drunk, and wouldn't come home past 1 in the morning. She was involved in an extremely abusive relationship with a man that lasted several years, and my brother and I had to witness and intervene on these fights. It didn't seem like she cared about seeing us. Despite this, we have an okay relationship now, And despite my brother an I repetitively telling her that her drinking hurts us, she will never try to overcome her addiction.
    I have been depressed a lot lately because I'm going to be moving out soon. I'm excited to be moving but sad because I feel like my relationship with my dad is going to continue to deteriorate, especially because I'm decided to move out-of-state. He has divorced again since being with my mom, though he re-married again about a year ago to a woman who I don't feel really likes me at all, though she's never given me a chance. I feel like they live their lives and I live mine, which is fine, but there's no sense of "family" involved. I seem to be the only one who actually wants it. He doesn't seem to care about what's going on in my life. I feel like I hardly know who he is an I hate it.
    I spend much more time with my boyfriend's family. I love it because they accept me fully for who I am. I feel loved, like a member of their family and I cannot begin to describe how good that feels. I just wish this was possible with my own family--but I feel like it's too late. The woman my dad married was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment and is slowly developing Alzheimer's disease. Eventually she is going to have to live in a home.
    I worry that after I move out my dad and his wife is living in a home that is going to get lonely. Throughout his life he has invested so much time and energy into his relationships and less time trying to cultivate a sense of "family." I want to be his daughter and his friend but he seems to have little to no interest in this. It's hard because I'm finding little reason to not travel and permanently live out of state. It makes me sad because I just want a meaningful relationship with my dad and the rest of my family but it feels like it isn't mutual.

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  64. She was married before. You surely don't need the burden of paying for another wedding. First weddign is fine but she should have been saving for the second time around. Kids will drain you dry if you let them.

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    1. she wasnt marry first to begin with ,what matter is all the financial help we gave her and her children, which we dont mind because we love them and we try to help the best we can,it took a toll on us,now we are trying to save and build back for our retiremtent. We are not a banlk..You are right kids will drain you if you let them

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    2. My daugter did not get marry at all, what matter is we helped her and the children which we dont mind because we love them and we did the best we can. But this finances took a toll on our savings for our retirement.Now we are savning back again.Both her and her fiance will be on their own paying for the wedding and it looks his family is not helping out either. We are not a bank..you are right kids will drain you if you let them.

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  65. I have not read all of the comments but I'm to the point I have to make some kind of decision about the quality of my relationship with my mother (and the amount of time I spend with her), who is 67. She has had emotional issues ever since I can remember and I actually switched roles with her (not realizing it at the time...just trying to be a "good" daughter) as a teenager.

    As a young adult, it was me who had to go to great lengths to even have a relationship with her. Now, even though she is healthier than me (I am a two-time cancer survivor and mother of six...all of whom are still living at home!) On top of all of my responsibilities, my husband and I took a great risk, threw all of our savings/retirement into the start of a new business so we are beyond our limit in responsibilities.

    Even when I have been sick and overwhelmed, I have always been kind, patient, loving and drop anything I am doing to give her undivided attention (I actually proactively call her on a daily basis and visit her at least a couple times a month more or less and invite her over for family things. What I do for/with her in a year is way more than she ever did with/for her own mother over her life!...but it is never good enough!
    Now that she has run off everyone from husbands, co-workers, etc (she really does not have any real friends...just people at church now that she puts up with).

    Ugh, I could go on and on but, every time I let down my wall with her (to have a friendship with her), I am always sorry. I really do not know what is appropriate with her anymore at all. Now that she is retired, I am her focus (mostly negative). My brother is three hours away and she does not like his wife, so there is just me!

    I think I am just going to have to decide what I feel comfortable with and let the rest go...seriously...just emotionally detach myself. I always was the kind of kid that pictured myself taking care of my parents when they got old, but now, I feel like my own death would be a relief. She seriously uses her age to manipulate and feel sorry for her. Funny thing is, when I do try to do things with her, she is rushed and ready to get away. I think she just a narcissist. Oh, and she gives me old stuff and needs to be thanked profusely or she gets all put out.

    She also has dropped enough of a fear that something might happen to her/that she is needy, but I think that, until she gets the the point that she is physically not able to care for herself, I just have to move on and not worry about it.

    Anyway, I totally agree with a lot of the posters on this blog; parents should not guilt their children to love/spend time with them....if they are half-way decent people, most kids would love having their parents in their lives and be there for them...unless they are total heels themselves or their parents are so emotionally needy.



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  66. In my case, I must admit, I would not spit on the witch that raised me. In 1972 I got married at 15 to get away from her and the belt. Because of her I was made fun of at school, with the inch long hair and long dresses. And may I add, her two darling sons were bowed to like little princes.
    My darling mother in law on the other hand, lived with us for 9 years and was very much catered to. I loved her with all my heart because she was the mother I never had.
    I think that perhaps parents should think down the road what they are doing, and it may come back and slap THEM in the face. Her two darling boys? Well they could care less what happens to her now that her money is gone. A poor lonely old bitch that has come full circle and getting what she asked for.

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  67. I'm surprised that one of the most obvious barriers to a relationship between adult children and parents has not been mentioned - childhood abuse. I haven't spoken with my parents for several years. The main reason was that both have refused to take responsibility for the abuse that occurred when I was child, and instead have (in different ways) described me as the problem (I am over-analytical, I can't just "let go", I am too broody, I'm just like my mentally ill grand-father, etc). I don't hate them...in fact, it pains me that I don't have a relationship with them. But I want a relationship that is genuine, not one based on me pretending to be OK with things that have happened.

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  68. What skills did you teach your children for their future? I am not too happy with my parents.

    I call this story... A MIX OF STUPIDITY

    Now that I am a 25 years old, I feel worthless. When I was born, my father was 49 and my mother was 18 years old. I took my father and mother's characteristics. Not to mention that both of them were never married. All I can remember of my father is how he told everyone how stupid and poor he was. Then he would laugh about it. Then my mother got married to another man right before I was born. He was abusive and never wanted me around. He would always buy me video games to keep me occupied and away. He never taught me any skills. Eventually, my mother and that man divorced when I was 10 years old. Not to mention that my mother developed bi-polar and schizophrenia as a result of the divorce. Now that I ask myself questions and look back at their lives, I realize that they hung around drug attics, alcoholics, and lazy people that never traveled or seen any parts of the world. Not even Las Vegas. Growing up, I made so many stupid mistakes because I did not have any guidance. They never taught me anything about the world. I did not know how to talk to people. I was a sex addict. I saw everything through their narrow minded view. All my friends in college tried to help me and I could never see a problem. Over time, I would only visit my parents once a year because I lived and went to college in another state. Every time I would come home, I notice that something would change about me. I did not like the way they lived. I always felt disgusted with their comments. Eventually, I became tired of their advice and comments. It happened every year I would come home. After I started reading books, I started realizing many things. I had to read so many books to improve myself. Currently, I am still improving myself and I find it hard to reason with them sometime. It just hurts because I thought I was ready for the world. I have never discussed any of this stuff with them, but I know about them because I thought about their past life and asked myself deep questions that I had never asked myself before. I have never discussed these problems with my parents, but I feel resentment. However, I love them for bringing me into the world and giving me money, love, clothes, and shelter. They did the best they could with the amount of education they had.

    Now that I know what I know, I will not put my children through the same thing. When I get ready to have a wife and kids, I will respect the wife and show her love. The children will have life skills and they will respect me. I will not repeat the same habits of history.

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    1. You are a great human being... God will Bless You!

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  69. My dad and I were once close, now we haven't spoken in months. It was in a conversation we had, I felt like I didn't know him anymore. I grew up without him, and maybe the person he remembered was the child he walked out on. Now I am the adult who walked out on him. Guess I'm no better than he was.

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  70. Everyone's comments are good. Everyone thinks differently. We all have our personal reasons; right, wrong, or indifferent.
    Isn't it really how we handle our emotional behaviors. I too, have a hurtful relationship with my children. I have 3 adult children. My daughter for unknown reasons will not accept me as her mother. I can take a large guess and say that she sides with both her father and her step father. In her mind she feels that I am the one who caused all the problems in my previous marriages. My older son lives over 1000 miles away. We stay in touch every few weeks; he mostly calls me to chit chat about what may be troubling him at the time. My younger son, calls once a week, most of the time he calls is when his significant other is not around. I accept each and every one. Do I hurt, and does my heart ache? You betcha it does. But I choose to let that go. They are each at very different places in their lives. My older son went through a financial struggle a few years back; and yes, I was dishing out money every time I turned around. He always had a job, but the he would be laid off, or received low pay to be around his children. I heard from him often during this point in his life. He is now away from home and on the road. I don't hear from him as often, I have no problems with this. I do have my own circle of friends, fiance' and am retired. My daughter is the only child that I struggle with internally, my sons do not understand her thinking; they don't agree with her about her wishes to disown me as a mother. I just tell the sons to not be angry with her; and that she is just in a different place in her life. Its been over 7 years now. My daughter has chosen to be estranged from me. I recently decided to just leave her a small portion of my inheritance, and let the sons split the remaining. After all, we had a good relationship up until 7 years ago. She has allowed her father and step father to whine and cry in her ear. It's has allowed herself to take a side; I have to accept that. I feel I half understand where my daughter is coming from b/c my mother was paranoid schizophrenic. My mother hated me from childhood on up to adulthood. I was estranged from her for over 32 years due to her mental sickness. I feel my estrangement with my mother estrangement was for different reasons than from the estrangement from my daughter. Three months before my mother died, she was in the nursing home with lung cancer and had had a stroke. I was the only family member who went to see her. God is good, one month before my mother passed on; she thanked me for taking care of her. I told her that was the nicest thing she could have ever said to me. Life is not easy when it comes to relationships. I really think that it's our expectations of what we want that gets us into trouble. We can only say what we would like and try to be reasonable when we make the requests.

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  71. My mother died 8 years ago. I had three children, a husband, and a dad left to take care of. She was my best friend. I saw her (and therefore, my dad) 5-6 days a week. Three months later my dad had a girlfriend and I was told which days were "mine". He was unavailable the other days because of his new friend. Fast forward to now and my own children are now busy teens and pre-teens. The girlfriend is still around but they have aged and she doesn't want to see him quite so many days. My dad is always invited to take part in our busy lives but chooses not to attend my children's games or other events. If we are too busy to host dinner at our home it is meant with a comment about how he could be dead soon and that we're too busy for him.

    What our lives are is not about anything but a busy, growing family. We have invited him on this journey but he only wants interaction on his terms on his schedule.

    The guilt and pain is deep for me and I am torn between this choice I shouldn't have to make - being with my children who will soon grow and move out and being with a dad who I know won't be here forever but who makes getting together something about his "schedule" which is virtually non existent. He is 89. He is healthy. And he makes his own choices. And he causes such tension in my gut that I will probably name my first ulcer after him.

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  72. I have awesome parents. Great childhood. As we have aged, our views have changed. They are black and white I am so grey. Its hard to carry on a conversation with them. So we talk about the weather. It's sad.

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  73. I lost the parent I was close to, my mom, last year. She committed suicide. What I am left with is a father and stepmother who have done nothing but compound the difficulty of coping with the unexpected loss of my mom.

    Since I was very young, the father/stepmother have followed a cycle of her having a bipolar episode and engaging in destructive behavior/father enables her/they try to put me in the middle of it/things simmer down when stepmom decides she's "all better"/everyone proceeds forward without resolution due to emotional exhaustion/a period of time passes/repeat.

    They tried to pull this again around Christmas, and I finally realized that nothing has changed, and when I did not respond or behave in the way they wanted me to, I caught hell. I cannot be close with people who are unwilling to accept any responsibility for the damage they cause, and see nothing wrong with their behavior. The stepmother even went so far as to have her siblings text/call and try to bully me into complying.

    My life is complicated enough, I don't need the continued emotional abuse, and thus I put distance between myself and remaining parents.

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    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother.
      I can relate to this in a couple ways.
      When not reacting or behaving as expected...20 questions, their confusion that I wouldn't want to participate in something they see as an obligation...which is something I don't subscribe to. We don't owe them and it's sad that they think we do.

      My sibs have been brainwashed into this line of thinking as well and as a result of our different ways of thinking have tried to work their way into parental roles to ME! and I'm the oldest.

      My little sis always goes to my mom when she has a "problem" with me and then my mom in turn calls me to speak to me in her place and proceeds with manipulating me to bend to the way my sis wants.

      To my detriment I usually do bend as I have cared about keeping the peace more than my own wants, needs and feelings. There's took precedence.

      Last time I made such an agreement however, my sister asked me to bend yet again and when I didn't, I found out from dear old mom that little sis was frustrated with me because of it. And mom dearest didn't even advocate for me.

      I'm interested in severing ties because I've approached my mom about such things in the past and get accused of taking her on an emotional roller coaster. Yeah, no emotions except happy, smiley even if it's fake is allowed.

      Delete
  74. I think the hardest thing has been feeling rejected by my parents for seeking to leave them and cleave to my husband. I want them in my life, but what they haven't been respectful of is that there are now two sides to my family, and I want to honor my in-laws too. On top of that, the in-laws are a blended family, family's there are two sides to that part of family as well. I want to do what helps my kids have a positive experience of both sides of the family. The only side that matters to my parents is theirs, and they have resented the boundaries I set and the balance I insist on maintaining. They seem to feel entitled to best friendship with me yet I am expected to make all the phone calls because they are so afraid of crowding me since I stopped answering their calls and texts when they came at mealtimes and sleeptimes.

    My mom has given me grief for how little she sees her grandkids, whilst we are military trying our best to get stationed closer to both sides if family. Instead of supporting us during my husband's military duty, I have felt judged and as if nothing we do is good enough. Sometimes we do just need rest, and unsupportive people don't promote that.

    In my experience, some parents can cling so tightly to their adult children that we have to go to the extreme of little contact just to get our lives back. My parents, ironically, brought us up thousands of miles from our grandparents, and though I have wonderful memories of well balanced visits with them, we had much less time with them in 8 years than my son has had with my parents in less than 2! When I raise this as a fact, not a judgement, I get a whiney/ abusive response.

    Please, parents of the babyboomer generation, consider your own selfishness and work on it before you accuse this generation of selfishness. Many of us are simply working to make ends meet, dealing with exhaustion, and trying to rear our kids right. We need your support, and the more supported we feel, the more we will want you in our lives.

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    1. I so agree with your last paragraph. I am a 41 year old mother of two, wife, sister, and teacher. I have a busy life and my parents live 3000 miles away. However, they visit for long vacations and dominate our time together. They don't like to share us with my husbands side of the family.

      Recently they decided to downsize and move to an island. Rather than choosing to downsize and move closer to me and my children, they choose a vacation spot and expect me to be happy for them and come visit often. They have no regard for our other obligations of other family, and think I am being angry and selfish. I am so hurt and saddened that they don't want to spend this next stage of their life with us...but I am expected to happy for them. I feel confused and resentment is starting to grow. Not a good way to enjoy my parents as they become older.

      Delete
    2. I am a 42 year old mother of two daughters. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother who respects my choices in life, loves my husband, and never criticises me. I call her a few times a week and visit her a few times a year (she is a five hour drive away). She appreciates that my life is difficult: that my husband and I work hard to pay our mortgage, that I have to alternate visits to her with visits to my inlaws, and that most of the time I am exhausted. She drives to visit us whenever she can. She never expects a thing in return .... and I adore her.

      I rarely see my father who lives in the same town as my mother. He is the complete opposite of Mum. He has visited me twice in 24 years yet complains constantly that I do not visit him enough. When he did visit he spent the entire time giving me advise (Most of it about cleaning: I was a working mum with two under five and left the dishes in the sink one morning). When I do visit him he makes racist remarks about my friends, and tries to provoke me with his very different political ideas. He didn't speak to me for two years over a miscommunication when I told him I wasn't going to his place for Christmas. I had already told my mother I was spending it with her. He consistently tries to compete with my mother (his ex) over the time he spends with his grand daughters, mirroring the six year custody battle I went through as a child. He is still furious with her for leaving him.

      I have learnt to avoid him. I rarely call, I rarely visit now and I stay for very short times when I do. I talk about the weather.

      My father refuses to see me as an adult: he doesn't accept my value system, he doesn't understand how many variables I am juggling in my life, and he doesn't appreciate how hard I work to look after my family. He doesn't trust that I am trying very very hard to be the best mother I can for my own children and that their needs must come before his. If that means protecting them from our destructive relationship, then that is what I will do.

      I am not being selfish in cutting him out. I am showing self preservation.

      Delete
  75. I wish I understood it better. My daughter has suddenly up and become estranged from me. Since becoming a parent herself.

    I am loathe to say anything more about it here conidering the hatred and animosity so many of you have.

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    1. You need to ignore the animosity posted as they cannot feel what you are feeling. My daughter jumps back and forth from being caring and kind to odd and ambivalent. I love her and her husband. She acts as if I have done something and part of it is her guilt. She needs to find a balance in her life. In the mean time, we suffer from withdrawal of her caring side. We miss them and wish we saw them more but it has to be something she decides and not something we force. Sudden estrangement is not so uncommon. Many times it is not you but them. The problem is our craving to be family yet. I understand your concerns.

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  76. This last comment, alluding to what she feels is hatred and animosity on this discussion, makes an interesting point.

    All of you have brought important insights to the discussion and I greatly appreciate all of them -- and your sharing your feelings, often painful, with me and all who come here. What I want to suggest is that i would like all of those sharing their feelings here to feel safe. While many of you disagree -- either in parenting approaches or in generational issues -- please try to do so with respect for each other. I can so feel the pain and frustration in all of your posts -- and none of you need further grief from each other! Let's keep this a safe place to share, to vent and, perhaps, to find some hope.

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  77. Thanks for all the comments

    Being a divorced dad I have tried to keep in touch at least once a day with my kids now
    in the early 20's.

    Love for me is : The joy of just knowing they exist.

    Getting a signal that they are alive and well is all I want. I do not want
    anything back from all that I have given to them financially or emotionally etc..
    No payback is necessary. No need for them to care about me.

    I would like a casual relationship but this is not realistic at this time , maybe later.

    So just knowing they are ok would make me happy and that would be fine.

    But, lately it seems that, as many of you have commented, I make the effort, I write
    the FB, I write the email and the cell messages and get no comments . And all I am writing
    is ...Hi XXX are you ok.....?

    That is all I need. But no reply.

    Some of you take this as a "keep away signal " and back off.
    Some of you insist and insist because you love them .
    Some of you look for your childs partners or second family as culprits of the situation.
    Some of you blame your ex for your childs behavior towards you.

    I could make all these arguments, but just basically come up with , it really does not matter
    because you can not do anything about it.
    I believe the best approach is just asking them what they would like our relationship to be like and respect their decision.
    I have tried to break the chains of my past because I realized I did not get anything solid from my parents so I did everything I could to make us close but failed. I hope my kids
    break this chain and have a good close relationship with their kids.

    So I will keep you posted when I talk to my children about what kind of relationship do they want with me.....

    Thanks to all...my name is Alberto

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  78. I am having a very difficult time. I raised my children pretty much on my own. My husband of my first two children died when my kids were little. I married later to a great guy that took on my children, and we had a beautiful girl. They are now 23, 21, and 16. My two oldest are living in different countries due to military. My youngest is living with her dad. All three of them left in the same year. I am still struggling with the no calls, or I call my youngest and she lives in a different state but says "Mom Im busy..cant talk right now." That is a never ending thing with her. My son in the military hasn't spoken to me in months. My oldest daughter has my grand baby. She was just home and we spent alot of time together but her daughters daddy family (which isnt her hubby now) gets more of her attention even on fb. She will talk to his mother all the time. I feel because financially I cant afford alot, but this woman can. She gets first dibs on my grand daughter, my daughters attention etc. This woman paid my daughters rent for a year. She isn't even my grand daughters Grandma, and get called granny. (she is with baby daddys dad..not married though). In the mean time I sit back bitting my tounge but enough is enough. I have expressed my feeling to my daughter but she doesn't get it. This is my first grand baby and I have to take a backseat. I miss my children so much it rips my heart out. I am so young still... My sister stated the other day you could revamp yourself in your 40s..I just feel so lost without my children. Who am I without them??

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  79. Thank you for the blog. It helped to read many feelings of others. I was able to read "the other side" to what I am presently experiencing. For me, my parents have decided to sell our family home and move to an island. This will change our family dynamics and I am saddened and depressed by their decision to move far away and not downsize and be near my family. My parents feel I am being selfish and are angry with me for not feeling happy for their newfound island love. However, All I feel is angry that they choose to move away from me and the grandchildren...and this will cause such distance and result in a loss of intimacy. We've already had two huge fights about this issue, and the resentment is building on both sides.....PLEASE help!

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  80. I'm not sure what to call the relationship My husband has with his parents, We have been married for 26 yrs now and I would say in "NON SPEAKING MODE" for at least 19 of those yrs. She say's not but the biggest problem is ME, We married VERY young and from the start, she let me know HER SON would alwyas do what she wanted over me, bring him Easter baskets to the house, cook supper for him and invite him over, call him and say it's either us or her you decide, this went on for years, I decided to open my own business catering, My first year we go to Thanksgiving and she has goes to ALL of my competion and purchased a dish that we were served for dinner, I had offer to bring something was told no, My husband quit his job to come and work with me, we never heard the end of that, 15th yrs of marriage I got Preg. after we had been told we couldn't and she told my Sister in law that she would be glad when she had a baby, then she would have a REAL grandchild right infront of us, I ended up in hospital in the 8th month at christmas, she called and told him he need to come and have christmas with HIS family, and asked him could he find someone to stay with me while he came and spent time with his family, he replied I' AM WITH MY FAMILY, My wife is fixing to give birth to OUR child, That hurt kind of bad, we still rocked on for a few yrs, little contact, she called one day and straight out told him " You are NOT my son anymore " we went a few more yrs, I begged him to please try and FIX it, he tried AGAIN, We adopted a child after not being able to have another, they visited 1 time, left our oldest in tears because he then (5yrs) thought they were ugly to his new baby brother, about 2 months after that, My husband was with my father on an estimate when all of a sudden a man runs up behind the truck and starts striking my husband thru the open window, only to find out it was his uncle, who his mother had run to to tell them what a low down no good son she had, At that point My husband called it QUITS and said if MY own mother would have that done to me, there is no telling what she would do to my kids, considering how she hates you to, we have now been 5 yrs with no contact and I have told him thru out our marriage he could have anytype of contact he wanted with them, I truly feel this is HIS decision and I really am not sure he is wrong. I will go on to say and to be honest about it, I am not the type of person that is easly pushed around so I did NOT give in on her MANY little FITS she has pitched over the years, I feel like it was and still is time for her to act like an ADULT, we have never asked them for anything and we have made our own way, The rest of his family has nothing to do with us,and they say it is becasue she is so ugly to them when she finds out they have anything to do with us, because they say we should just let it go and move on that he should HONOR his mother and father and not say anything, It is really sad that the ONLY grandchildren she ended up with was ours and she has no contact with them. Were we wrong for cutting the cord and moving on ?? We are so much happier, not fussing between us when he got mad at her, no explaining to the kids on the on again/off again love ???

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    1. I'm sure someone has some word to help ??

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  81. Dr. Joshua Coleman says that parental alienation is an epidemic in this country and that it is being ignored for the most part. I see people who were good parents, sacrificed and loved their kids being deserted and left lonely and confused. We don't expect our kids to live their lives for us... just stop by once & awhile or call, ask how we are, come over for a meal, have a relationship. Too much to ask? Yes, it appears that it is. I forsee 40 years from now some very sorry older children without an opportunity to make ammends. Or maybe they never will care. :'(

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  82. We parents chose to have our children. We did not have them in order to reap a later reward. We should be happy if our children have made the effort and have had the fortune to lead what they perceive are full and productive lives. I would like to see more of my children and hear more about their lives, but that is not always possible. I am continuing to make a life for myself and am gratified in knowing that my past efforts helped my children to become the people they wished to be. Whatever comes to me beyond that is icing on my cake of life.

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  83. My daughters are 20 and 24 years old. We were so close when they were growing up. I remarried and moved far away. I wanted the youngest to come with me but she protested and stayed with her father. She eventually ended up living with her sister(at college)in a city about four hours away by car.

    It's not like we are on bad terms, we don't argue. I have so much regret on things I wished I would've have taught them years ago. When I try to talk seriously to them, I get "Mommm I know". I resorted to writing letters so they would at least hear what I had to say. They make fun of me to each other. They never and I mean never have called to ask how I am doing. They came to visit maybe three or four times for 24 hours and usually they needed money or a shoulder to cry on. Then they disappear. My husband and I have decided to move to his home country because there is nothing for us here. I have no family other than my daughters. I started writing them an email tonight with "Well, I wanted to write to give you an update" and then I stopped and thought Why? I told them a few weeks ago about our plans to move. Why should I write and update them if they really don't care.

    I am so lost. I don't know how to feel or what to do.

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  84. As a 50+yo who has not spoken to any members of his family for more than 10+ years I can say that from my point of view I do not believe it is for so many different reasons.

    My parents never told me they we proud of me, something I tell my children daily, I have never heard my mother say she made a mistake she always blamed me (the oldest of 2 children - my sister was the princess), so if you make it obvious that you are not happy with someone then they are not going to be around to see the disappointment.

    When my parents re-married they both made it crystal clear that the 'new' families were far superior to the now dismantled family. My mother told me on a number of occasions she thought I was after her new partners $$$, some thing I was not & I think she would have to say that after no contact for 10+ years is confirmed.

    I am surprised to read it is an epidemic I thought I was the only one who after 40 years simply gave up with the inappropriate comments, remarks, etc. etc. etc.

    It is interesting to read

    "I forsee 40 years from now some very sorry older children without an opportunity to make ammends."

    Make amends !!!!!!!!

    I never ever want to be exposed to these inappropriate behaviors again.

    If my children never wanted to spend time with me in the future, I would be first looking at myself for a reason :)

    NG

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  85. Hi All, I'm so glad to have found this blog. Lot's of very good advice and not-so-good, which makes me realize that there are no definite rules for having a relationship with your adult child. My son and I were very close as my hubby and I divorced when he was only 2 1/2 yrs old. It was a tremendous struggle as I had married right out of HS and then had him w/in 11 mos. of being married. Now he's 46, married w/two teenagers. I cannot tell you how I sacrificed and adored him as any good mother would. I was young myself and came from an Alcoholic family and was abused. So with that, my parenting skills lacked I'm sure, but I was better than my own parents b/c I left the man who would make us miserable and we struck out on our own. I worked and cared for my son; I was there for him always. He married a woman who doesn't like any of his family including me. All these years later and having gone through so much hurt (as others above have) they still make fun of me right in front of me; they shoot looks to one another and shake their heads if I utter a word; they are totally rude and disrespectful although I have never dropped by their house, interfered with anything in their lives and I don't expect anything from my son w/regard to visits.... I only want him to love me as I have shown him how to love another person. The disrespect is driving us further apart and I have just recently told him I cannot sit at their table or any table with them until we talk about what is wrong. Now I don't know what to do b/c they are both so petty and I don't want to have to listen to anything petty... I'm there for them and the kids; I go to every event they invite me to; I am generous with gifts, etc., etc. I'm stumped... anyone have any further advice...
    Loving Mom who's disrespected!

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  86. I got sick of reading all these posts, but the truth is that some adult children in their thirties still act like they are adolescents. My son never calls me; on mother's day I got an email and I don't expect anything else until next year. He is rude, disrespectful, and arrogant. Sadly, he used to be the nicest young man and I used to be so proud of him. He got very screwed up and distorts everything I do and has terrible boundaries. If I make a life decision he thinks if he does not approve, that HE is the parent and I should do what he thinks I should do. He displays symptoms of narcissism and although he stated that I was a wonderful mother, he treats me like crap. Today is Mother's Day, the saddest day of the year. But I am going on with my life, it is just very hard when I want to talk about him the way I used to and my friends wonder where the heck he is, since he has not come to visit me in years. I lost my son. And no, I did nothing to cause this; he is just screwed up.

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  87. Dr. McCoy, please offer comments. I don't know how to resolve estrangement with my 42 year old son and feel guilt for his pain. He has cut me off (not the first time). This also means estrangement from my grandchildren 15, and 12. At 18 I married a handsome but troubled and abused boy same age as me. I come from a loving, peaceful family and while my parents embraced him they worried about his moods, outbursts, silent treatments. I didn't listen and set out to save him with my love and the love of my family.

    The abused became abuser and my two sons and I victims. I lost a part of my hand due to his rage, there were affairs one witnessed by my older son then told by his father if he tells me it will be his fault our family breaks up. My son was 13 and lived with this dirty secret until he his late 20's. I stayed 25 years. Abused women don't have the strength to break away. I was afraid to leave until the children were older fearing he would manipulate and hurt them even more if I left than if I stayed.

    My older son left at the age of 18. He met a girl, fell in love and I was thrilled that he escaped. Eventually I got away and with the love and support of my parents I got back on my feet. Later the children became permanently estranged from their father. It's been 20 years and although I’m attractive I could never trust a new relationship. I wanted to heal my children instead.

    I always helped financially and with the care of children. I'm not complaining, it’s a gift to have children and grandchildren and to contribute. I’m far from perfect but I've tried to encourage my sons to be confident, not criticize them. I love them and want them to be happy. But, my older son is troubled and I’m scared. He hates his father and me too. He gets enraged when something goes against him.

    He is a wonderful and caring man but is very sensitive and the abusive behavior that was imposed on him during his childhood, rears its head. He envisions himself as without fault and gets violently hurt by even the smallest things, then can't forgive and shuts down. He gets enraged, has very low tolerance for life's pressure/stress and shuts everyone out with silent treatments. It's everyone else's fault.

    He gets hurt and wants to destroy closeness with family and becomes estranged so not to feel pain. I feel in my heart that he needs counseling (we all do) but it's not possible. His marriage broke down, he has financial stress and he may be drinking too much. He's a loving devoted father but needs to control the children's every move.

    He's shut me out because I yelled at him. I asked him to do some work for me. It dragged on for months and I got frustrated. I'm in daily pain form a car accidents awaiting surgery and I lost perspective. I was wrong to obligate my son to do this work. With so much emotional and financial stress in his life he clearly could not handle it. I don't know why I didn't see that.

    He got extremely hurt and looked at me with incredible hate. He called me his father by name and said I will learn what its going to be like for talking to him this way. I’m stonewalled, he won't accept my calls or texts, won't oblige me with the children and is capable of turning away from me forever. I was wrong and I apologized several times through texts and email. He wants to bully and hurt me as viciously as he can. I'm in pain because I hurt him.

    How do I end this estrangement. I love my sons and consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to their lives and family but I need help. My son is being abusive with me the same way as his father was with him and I’m afraid of the consequences. I don't know how I lost control of myself and let this happen knowing he is fragile. I don't have professional training to heal him and I’m over my head. I'm getting old, tired and in pain from my son’s pain and hate.

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  88. Growing up with abuse can leave lasting scars and, as you saw with your ex-husband, the abused can become an abuser. I would be fearful, if your son has such a low tolerance for frustration, that he might be abusive to his wife and children. Do you have any sense that this is happening?

    Some adults abused as children go through a period of estrangement from parents as they struggle to heal. Sometimes the parent who was not abusive gets blamed for not protecting them better during childhood. So that may be going on.

    If, during a period when you are speaking again, you can encourage your son to get professional help so that the abusive behavior does not afflict yet another generation, that would be great. He needs to talk about and then let go of his anger and also take responsibility for his own life. If he continues to blame others for all that isn't going well in his life, he is giving control of his life to others.

    As much as you would like to help, a third party with training is best. If your son has issues with seeing a mental health professional and his wife also can't persuade him to try it, encourage him to talk with a minister or priest if he is religious. If not, give him a book about adults who were abused as children -- there are quite a few that might be helpful to him -- with a note that you love him and will always be there for him. An anger management class might also be of use. But therapy would help him with his anger and bitterness and abusive pattern of behavior in a safe setting and with a professional who is trained to deal with such issues.

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  89. P.S. I read your comments again and noted that his marriage has broken down and that he is drinking. And also your insight that he uses estrangement from family to avoid pain. Does his wife want to try to keep the marriage together or is she gone? She might be able to encourage him to participate in marriage therapy.

    WHY is therapy not possible? Is it because he is refusing to go? Is cost an issue? If it's the latter, the Family Service organization offers individual, marriage and family counseling at low cost, often on a sliding scale.

    If his drinking has become problematic, he might be encouraged to go to AA to deal with his drinking -- and his relationships with others may improve as he works through the 12 Steps.

    If he is adverse to all manner of help, it may be another aspect of his not wanting to take responsibility for himself and seeking to blame others instead. But obviously, he's not happy with life as it is now.

    Encouraging him to improve the quality of his life with therapy or marriage counseling or participation in AA might be a first step. It isn't a matter of saying he's crazy or an alcoholic, but of observing that his life isn't working for him -- and those close to him -- and now is the time to get help so that he can begin to feel better.

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  90. Thank you for your response. Yes you are 100% right. My son has told me in the past that he knows his father was a sleeze bag but I'm worse because I was an adult and his mother and I should have protected him from what he has seen and experienced. I am not denying this. I know where his pain is coming from. His marriage has broken down completely but fortunately both he and his ex-wife are cooperating with the upbringing of the children and actually have a decent relationship. She will not be of any help at all and does not want to be involved with our family problems. During the break up there was a lot of damage and rage on all sides including the wife's mother. The wife comes from alcohol abuse and many years ago this became a norm. My other son and I don't think the alcohol has gotten out of hand yet but it could be heading there. The wife drinks too but she is a police officer and she can harm him if he crosses her point of view. He is completely glued to the children, an excellent father but very controlling, trying to achieve family perfection that he did not have. I know my son needs help but he will not accept counselling, his wife tried this during their break up but he rejected it. He does not see himself doing anything wrong and he does not see he has a problem - it is everyone else. He is a grown man now and can choose to reject me. I am an educated and a caring woman - and, yes I do blame myself everyday of my life. I understand the damage he suffered and am trying to be careful. I just wish the last event between us did not happen. I don't know how I lost my perspective. Maybe I should get professional help and try and learn how to cope effectively. Other than his brother who is frustrated too he only has me. I will not abandon him and will not trash him and I understand his pain. I am thinking that this time I should seek counselling to learn how to deal with this. But, how could I break through his anger and get us back on track? I have apologized. I am heading for surgery withing few weeks and I fear that he will not warm up to even say a word to me.

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  91. Yes, I think that getting therapy yourself would be an excellent idea - whether or not your son turns out being supportive of you as you recover from surgery. A therapist can help you to deal with the sadness and guilt you're feeling and also help you to find ways to reach out to your adult children, especially this troubled son.

    Sometimes a therapist will suggest inviting an adult child to join you for one of your sessions and that may break through his resistance when the emphasis is on you, not him.

    My own mother did this with excellent results when she was in therapy during the last year of her life. (She died of a heart attack at 66.) After she had been seeing the therapist for about eight months, he suggested that she invite each of her three adult children to join her for a session and it worked very well. My brother and sister had major issues with her about not protecting them more from our abusive father and they were able to talk about this more productively in the one-time therapy sessions. I was able to gain more insight into why she had made and continued to make the choices she did -- which caused me to be much more patient and accepting of her than I had been before.

    So maybe it it work for you. The important thing, though, is that you find help in coping with what is at the moment and with making important changes in your own life that could be of benefit not only to you, but also to your sons and grandchildren.

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  92. Thank you for sharing -- I can see how you can understand to what I am talking about. I am sorry you lost your mother at such a young age, she was only 2 years older than I am now.

    I'm sorry to be personal but if you can, please share with me some details about your mother, how old your siblings were at the time and how she was able to help you and your brother and sister to get past the pain and anger. Did that make a positive change in yours and their lives?

    As I am dealing with my surgery, I will undertake counselling to get well.

    Thank you so much again, and by the way my name is Marie.

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  93. Hi, Marie: My mother came from a happy family of origin and had no frame of reference for my father's abusive, alcoholic, drug-abusing behavior. No one in her family was ever divorced and at that time, there was a real stigma attached to being divorced, so she didn't really see that as an option. She was frightened and child-like around our father though very loving with us. She was also confused and falsely reassured by the fact that our father's abusive behavior could be quite cyclical, with times in between when he was charming and loving and encouraged us to make the most of our talents. But he was truly mentally ill and his behavior could be frightening and irrational.

    At the time of her therapy -- and our single joint sessions with her -- I was 34 (married and working full-time as a writer), my brother was 31 (a Vietnam veteran in his last year of medical school) and my sister was 24 and married. None of us had children at that time. I think it was helpful for my brother (who was horribly physically and emotionally abused) and my sister (who was emotionally abused) to express their anger and sadness openly with her for the first time. My brother gave her the book "Sybil" and, after she had read it, he asked her what she thought of it. She said she couldn't understand why someone in Sybil's immediate family didn't help her. My brother said "Why didn't YOU?" And they talked about it for a long time. I think both of my siblings realized that they loved our mother, that she had her own issues and that they were now free to make their own independent lives.

    My mother, interestingly enough, was extremely protective of me and actually did stand up to Father when he tried to beat me on two occasions. This was because I was very ill as a child: I had polio and histoplasmosis, a very severe lung infection, and was in and out of hospitals. So I was not abused, though witnessing the abuse of my mother and siblings was a trauma. In my therapy session with her, it was helpful to me to see how really helpless she had become as a result of years of emotional abuse and that she still needed to feel that he was in control (even though he was ill and suffering from dementia by then). He died in July 1980 and she suffered a fatal heart attack four months to the day later.

    Understanding our mother during that last year of her life did help us to deal with issues of the past and current challenges in a more positive way. It wasn't an instant fix, however.
    Both my brother and sister went through periods of estrangement from the family.

    My sister was married (and divorced) twice and we were not invited to either of her weddings. She once went eight years without speaking to any of us, moved to another state and we had no idea where she was until, out of the blue, she called me and talked as if we had seen each other the day before. She still carries a lot of anger, bitterness and anxiety about our growing up years.

    My brother once went several years without having much contact with the family -- a time when he was getting therapy and dealing with his issues from the past. He did not marry until he was 58 and his first child was born when he was 60 and his second child when he was 63. He had been very nervous about having children, but is a very loving and patient parent. He also has reached a point where he wants to dwell more on what went right with our upbringing -- including ways that our father contributed to our lives in a positive way -- than continuing to feel stressed about the abuse.

    If our mother had lived -- instead of dying when I was 35, my brother 32 and my sister 25 -- I imagine there would have been some significant ups and downs as we all worked in various ways to make peace with the past. It's an ongoing process.

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  94. Thank you. I know you are doing this to help me, and it does. In a way, your mother's and your family's story feels like a mirror image mine and my sons'. Maybe it is the same for all abused families.

    As a matter of fact, I had a good talk today with my younger son about all this. He chuckled that we were talking about this today on my 64th birthday. He is almost 38 and married with 3 little children. Like you, he escaped some of his father wrath as the father was mainly busy abusing the older son. He started seriously on the younger son once his older brother left home. But, by then he was a teenager and maybe more resistant.
    Maybe I understand where your mother may have been emotionally. You see, like her, I came from a healthy and a humble family with lots of love and stability. Being so young I too was not equipped to deal with what I had undertaken.
    I'm not going to bore you with the beginnings, but I will share some of the impact on a mother that is being abused. I have now been on my own for 20 years, I’m comfortable and self sufficient, but I am just regaining my emotional health. I am just now starting to think that maybe I would like to find a partner. I never allowed myself to trust and get too close to anyone because I only felt safety in being alone and in control of my life.

    I was there for 25 years but for at least the last 15 years estranged from my spouse. My sons are 5 years apart. For those 15 years I was truly counting the days when my younger son turns 16 so it may be safe for us to break away. I am in Canada and at 16 the children can choose to leave one or both parents without family authority’s intervention. The thought of them ending up in foster care was unbearable.
    Part II to follow.

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  95. Part II
    Abusers controls through intimidation, put downs, fear and sucking all self esteem from their victims. Eventually it seemed that my soul started to die. I believed that he was capable of everything he threatened to do and I was afraid for my sons’ well being. He kept telling me to get lost so that he could take those kids and “make something out of them” without me in the way - I understood what that meant.

    He assured me that he did not care if he was destroyed, as long as I was destroyed – in the end he stayed true to his word. After a life time of work I left penniless without any worldly possessions and had to seek Bankruptcy protection from his creditors.

    I believed that my sons were safer the way we were than if we left -- at least this was some form of stability and I could watch over them.

    It’s interesting that at some point, all this became my dirty secret. I started covering up even from my parents. I felt I wanted to protect them from the truth so that they would not get hurt too. Secretly I was leaving the children more and more in the loving care of my parents so that I could remove them from me and their father’s rage – that was one of the ways I could think of protecting them better. But, eventually, the children started telling my parents about some things that were going on and my parents caught on that I was in trouble and started watching me. You see I was European born, we were a peaceful, humble and a Catholic family and my ex kept pointing out how hurt my parents would be if they knew what a failure I was as a wife and a mother (he was always charming with my parents so they thought all was well). I isolated myself from friends – they had happy families and I was ashamed of my failure. At some point I became powerless.

    But, somehow I got stronger when my older son left with a girl (later his wife), because I knew he was safe and was getting her support. He was staying away from his father and no longer getting abused.

    And, I started to feel closer to my goal of breaking away when the younger son was 16. By then, my parents were aware of what was going on and were giving me emotional support. But, although I despised that man and my life, I could not break away – in my soul I was convinced that my younger son would not be safe until he was 16 when he can legally reject me or/and his father. I would have been satisfied if at that time he decided to leave me too and live with my parents.

    You see, there is intimidation, confusion, fear, put downs, diminished confidence and self worth, and more -- until the abused parent’s soul dies and they are rendered powerless and hopeless.

    That is why I could not leave sooner and it could be that your mother may have felt similar despair.

    Thank you again. I know where I need to start to try and get my family healthier while I still can.

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  96. OMG...after reading alot of the replys it makes me sick that there are so many so called "adult" children who think so little of their parents (moms especially). Shame on you. There may be some that honestly don't deserve your attention/love but I'm sure there are alot who have done alot for you and would like a little appreciation like a simple phone call. There are many parents who have done what they could to bring you up teaching you a little compassion/respect. They don't deserve what some of you are saying. I'm so glad I loved my parents and respected them.

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  97. Sorry for all the heartaches mums but I'm gonna be in your face and tell you that you're looking for love and appreciation in all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons. The only place you can find true Joy and happiness is within you...and when you find it, it's absolutely amazing, and instead of craving for love and attention from your children or anyone else, you give yours instead...naturally, effortlessly, and you know what, no one can stay away from you for long. For those of you who feel their sons were 'stolen' by their wives or in-laws,you can perhaps learn a thing or two from these 'thieves'. Still, you're all great mothers, cheers!

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  98. I recognize some of my own experiences in some of the letters above, and share the pain of suffering from an adult child's baffling behavior. Dr. McCoy's responses are spot on. People responding to these letters might want to remember that writers can't possible include details of that intricate web of background history leading up to an adult child's decision to distance him or herself from their natal family. Thus, simplistic comments advising a happy face and finding 'true joy' within are well intentioned and have much truth. Put on a happy face recommendations insult the intelligence and diminish the depth of some very painful, soul wrenching issues. How many of the writers above paused to think that maybe the adult children in those families suffer from untreated behaviors such as oppositional and defiant disorders, adhd, depression and addictions? Anyone who can eliminate the pain of adult children distancing or abandoning them ( in particular when there's no specific reasons or history of such behavior) by being joyful is naive. Sometimes our adult children have their own dance, and this dance belongs to them alone. Whether depression, emotional disorder or simple selfishness, they don't want us involved and can be pretty brutal about saying so. If they don't want to address the problem, we have to move on and process that grief as best we can, letting them know we are always here for them. Many people today believe that there's an answer to everything, if we can only find the right one. Maybe our inner peace comes from accepting we cannot control the behavior and innermost feelings of others. Sometimes life hurts a great deal so we move through the pain, endure and grow stronger and wiser by passing through that fire. And remind our prodigal sons and daughters that there's always a lamp on in our window, should they want to be with us.

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  99. I'm often hurt that my 24 year old son and I don't have the closeness we once had. At times I feel that his friends have become his family and he no longer needs us. Then, I remember that I spent my early twenties similarly distant from my family. It hurts, but perhaps its the natural way of things?

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    1. It makes me feel better to know I am not alone with my feelings of sadness in losing the closeness with our 30 year old son who lives about 1000 miles away. He has been very successful in his career and has made it clear that he is now totally debt free. I am very proud of his accomplishments but wish he was more gracious and humble with his success. We had taken out a parent plus loan to help him with college and recently mentioned that we may need to ask him to help us pay it back after we retire which will not be for several years. He is currently single. He was upset that I asked him and is refusing to help us pay it back as he has told us that we need to "sacrifice" and not retire as we had planned. I guess I had hoped he would be gracious with helping us especially since he financially able and his income is much more that ours combined but I was very wrong. His reaction was very hurtful but I wonder if I was in the wrong to even ask him or expect him to want to help? I must move on and get over this but has been difficult for me. He is definitely distancing himself from all of his family in all aspects which hurts but I guess is expected as he becomes independent and successful which is a parents goal but is very bittersweet.

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  100. Everyone should have to try this once. \I have stopped talking to my rude, unreasonable takes me for granted /does not respect me adult daughter. I babysat her 3 kids for 3 school years free of charge and recently said I had enough. She called me selfish. That was it! I am now honestly enjoying life once again.I joined the gym etc.....and getting to know me again. Taking my kindness as weakness has given me new found strength. I don't even talk to the ex now. It's a wonderful world when you are back in it!!!

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  101. I do not think my daughter owes me anything because the things I did for her I wanted to do. The time we spent together was because I liked being with her.
    My problem is that I thought she enjoyed my company too.
    She is now employed, has grown children, more money than I, and many friends.
    She no longer has time for me and its killing me because I feel that she just used me and does not even like me. I miss her and have asked her if she could just please give me a little of her time. Now we talk less and spend only time together when there are others with us. I no longer ask anything of her and do not call her unless I have something to tell her. She calls a few times a week while driving home from work. I have decided to keep my mouth shut and get on with my life but I am so sad that it is hard.

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  102. I'm the 30 year old son that you have been talking about mum, most of the above posts, sound like what my mum would say and agree with. Do you know it's impossible to survive or just live my life? I think of you everyday mum, every morning every night. I live 7000 miles away from you(call it self-imposed exile). I've recently stopped calling. I know I will come home in a few months time and I know I will be there to look after you mum, this is a big change in my life to fulfil my responsibilities. I however need to make sure that my needs, my dreams are made a reality too. You treat strangers and extended family with the respect I long for, your pain and suffering is not my burden, I am not your mirror. Stop using me as the reason for all your problems, I'm only a man battling with demands of modern life. Until recently I worried about how my wife would integrate into our family, I've come to a realisation, my wife is my family, mum you will never accept her and I have to live that fact. I have to stay strong, keep sane or else I will not survive as long as you have. The love a child longs from their parent is something you cannot ignore. Show me unconditional love, Don't make me feel as I'm the one who is wrong, I'm the one who needs to serve without considering my own needs. You say: He has forgotten me, I sacrificed alot , I gave him everything.. Mum I did not ask to be born. You gave birth so I could be your possession, yours to control, yours to play with. It hurts beyond imagination not being able to live my life without feeling selfish about it. I am on a sabbatical from being your son. I need to focus on what will work long term for me as we'll you. I know life is too short, however there is too much pain for me to function, I have normal human responsibilities, bills and a mortgage to repay, clients who expect results and, employees who expect to get paid. I am only a man, I am only human.

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    1. hang in there, you obviously care very much about your Mum and are doing whatever you can, your priorities have changed, growing up does that, and as long as you don`t forget about your Mum and do what you can when you can, that is all she can ever ask of you, good luck

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    2. I don't have a relationship with my mother because she let my stepfather abuse me (in every way) from the time I was 7 until I moved out at 17. I had to move out to get away from the abuse. I got a job and an apartment, then ended up pregnant. My daughter is now 33 years old and is married with 3 children of her own. Her first child (a boy) is 16 yrs old now; she left him with his father when he was 2 yrs old. She got married 6 yrs ago and has 2 daugthers with her husband - 6 yrs old and 2 yrs old. I have helped my daughter financially over the years and have helped her and her husband financially over the years. On Mother's day this year, my grandson was over my daughter's house visiting. I went to her house to pick up my two granddaugthers that day and when I went to leave, my daughter told her son to get his stuff. He said he came over specifically to spend time with her for mother's day and he had to go home that night. Note, that neither my daughter or her husband are currently working. My daughter does taxes Jan-Apr and take 2 evening classes per semester. My son-in-law is on worker's compensation and has not worked since November 2012. So anyway, I'm getting ready to leave that Saturday with my 2 granddaughters. My daughter tells her son to get his stuff and go with me. He said, "but I came over to spend time with you for Mother's day; I have to go home tonight." So I said to my daughter, "why can't you work on your paper during the week while Hayley's in school and maybe you can go to the library or Josh can take Mackenzie away so you can work on your paper". She just gave me a look. So I said to her (pointing to her husband), "What else are you doing ; why can't Josh take Mackenzie, he's not doing any either." Well, sh-- hit the fan and Josh swore and yelled at me, "F--- you, get out of my f------ house, you tell my kids I don't work, F--- you....." All they heard was that I was saying they don't work when all I was trying to do was protect my grandson's feelings and I really couldn't see why she couldn't spend some time with him. She has never really showed much love to her son. I made sure she spent time with him when he was young; picking her up from one town and him up from another, spending the day with both, then dropping them off to their respective homes in the evening. I work 5 days a week and this is what I did every weekend while he was growing up. I still save Saturdays to spend with my grandchildren. Anyway, they took what I was saying totally out of context but I was the one who ended up apologizing to them since they would not let me see my granddaughters because I "hurt them deeply" with the awful things I said. Although I apologized and am allowed to see my grandchildren again, the relationship is not what it used to be. I have always given her advice in the past and she has always listened to the advice whether or not she took it was another thing. She's an adult and makes her own decisions. As far as my mother goes, I did have a relationship with her after my stepfather quit drinking, but the relationship went downhill when I started therapy to get over my abuse childhood. Then I asked her for an apology, but she claimed she was as much a victim as I was and would not apologize to me. I asked her to fix her relationship with my daughter, but my daughter wanted and still wants nothing do to with her. My mother met my grandson a couple of times, but has never met my 2 granddaughters. Please help, is it me? What am I doing wrong? I have only one mother and one daughter and neither one of them seems to like me much which is making me think it's me and I really just want to end it all right now.

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  103. MY son became a narcissist in his mid twenties!!!! All horrible things are possible....

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  104. I am 59 and live with my daughter and son-in-law, who are both Dr.s and 2 grandchildren, 2 and 4 years old. I don't have to, I retired and decided to watch my grandchildren after they were born as I just adore them and am single. I did ask for a very small payment recently as I really do so much that goes unnoticed that I started feeling resentful, they have a maid that makes much much more then I do and is here only 4 hours per week. I do things, laundry, cleaning, dishes, sewing, etc. as I like to be busy and am in good health. I do find it hard though as I still struggle to pay bills and can't afford the dentist and they are extravagant in their spending, I have always had to struggle, and I am in need. I see them buying a painting for as much as I have dept yet to me it is so much and to them a pittance. I sacrificed so much to make it their whole life, to give them things as much as I could. I worked three jobs for a while and helped with college. I paid for their wedding with an inheritance and now....... It's not that they owe me at all. I just wish that my daughter would be more generous. She will say just ask but when I asked for the small amount of money for watching the kids 10 hours daily she had a royal fit. Besides I could never ask for money for myself. I guess I wish they would offer they do see I have need.

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