“Why Is Estrangement Always the Parent’s Fault?”

I recently received the following feedback about the estrangement article on my website (which is not specifically about parents and children, but rather any estrangement).

It’s so similar to the theme of other comments on that article, and to those posted here in When Adult Children Won’t Talk to Their Parents and Estrangement Takes Two, that I thought I should address it.

A reader wrote:

“I have the same question as I have with all other articles I read:  why is it that the parents have to acknowledge and profess blame for everything?  Why do they have to accept as true whatever the child says or believes, and has to learn the error of their ways?  Yet, the child does not have to undergo any introspection into the reality of their beliefs?

“Maybe that’s why they are the way they are – narcissistic spoiled brats who think they are always right and refuse to accept that maybe their view of their parent is not reality.  Why isn’t the parent’s view of the situation reality? Isn’t it possible that there is some truth to both parties’ views, and that to have a true healthy relationship they both need to acknowledge that and say ‘I’m sorry’ and forgive?  Maybe the child needs to accept that whatever faults a parent might have, there is such a thing as FORGIVENESS?”

Causes and Cures

Whose view of reality is the correct one (and I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a correct view, let alone “reality,” when any two people get together) is irrelevant when you’ve been rejected.

If someone – anyone – cuts you out of their lives, you lose the luxury of demanding fairness. Your only choice, if it matters to you who’s right, is to walk away if you feel abused.

But of course, most parents would rather lose a limb than a child (I use the term “child” only to distinguish between the adult who’s the parent and the adult they raised).

The use of phrases like “narcissistic spoiled brats” above may sound angry, but I think it reveals the pain and hurt of having been rejected.

The lack of curiosity expressed about the adult-child’s point view,

The failure to express even simple regret that the adult-child has experienced pain within the relationship,

The insistence that the child forgive without necessarily receiving a proper apology

These invalidating behaviors from a parent could only be the response of someone in terrible pain themselves — someone with nothing left to give.

Rather than the rational reactions they’re touted to be, they’re bricks in a wall of defense against the anguish of rejection by adult children.

Defensiveness creates a terrible stalemate in which no forgiveness is possible, on either side.

Healing both self and relationship begins with self-compassion.

Rejected parents can start to heal (and potentially to shift the relationship) by “owning” their pain — not the pain they’re purported to have caused the child, but rather the parents’ own pain about the estrangement.

Please read the above sentence again to make sure you understand it, because it might not be what you expected.

Owning your pain means allowing yourself to fully feel and acknowledge exactly what’s true for you — rejection, abandonment, despair, etc.

Concentrating on what your adult child is doing wrong distracts from this process.

If you’re an estranged parent and you sit with your pain, you’ll almost certainly uncover self-critical thoughts/feelings that were there long before your child rejected you.

Maybe even before they were born.

That’s where the gold is. Don’t judge your feelings, or yourself for having them. You’ve got to “feel it to heal it.”

For much more on how to overcome estrangement by adult children, read Reconnecting With Your Estranged Adult Child: Practical Tips and Tools to Heal Your Relationship.

Best wishes to all who are experiencing this awful situation.

32 thoughts on ““Why Is Estrangement Always the Parent’s Fault?””

  1. I read your articles and my heart remains broken. My 27 year old son will have no contact with me for the past year since his graduation from university and then two years prior to that. No arguments, no fights, just silence. No way to contact him. I have apologized for whatever I have done but no response. Just silence. I have started counselling to try to deal with my pain of rejection and to learn how to keep my heart open but move on with my life. It is so hard. I think about him every day. Every night. I love him very much and I want to apologize for whatever I have done to so deeply hurt him. But how? No contact. I try to stay hopeful, but I just don’t know what to do.

    • Pam, I am so very sorry for your pain. You may or may not have anything to apologize for; sometimes young people create distance from parents in order to make their passage into adulthood easier (see my posts on Differentiation).

      If you have apologized well (see How to Apologize for tips) for anything you feel the need to apologize for, he may just need more time. The hard part is when you’ve done all you can, and the only thing left to do is grieve and take stock of where you are.

      No article will mend a broken heart. Only time, understanding and compassion can do that.

      I wish you peace. Thanks so much for sharing your comment.

    • My heart aches with hers. My son does the same..just silence. I pray about it constantly. I think prayer helps. I believe this is what unconditional love is. I am not perfect so if I hurt him it was not intentional. I believe in forgiveness so I forgive myself for what ever he feels we have done and I will love and accept him and his family if they ever choose to come back. I believe in heaven so if not before I die, he will have to deal with it in eternity.. I will not give up hope.
      My only suggestion is go to God. He can move mountains. Maybe he will move our mountains of pain soon. Good luck and God bless.

  2. This is for Pam, I have been thru the exact situation with my 40 something son. What he needs from you now is a big dose of healthy neglect. Let him be. Don’t try and contact him, in time he will come to you. In order for him to develop himself on his own he needs to not need you. It’s alright, it’s normal. You have to not need him too. You will always love him but you have to stop needing him, it’s too much for him emotionally. You keep busy and mend your broken heart, it will mend. You will be stronger, healthier, and happier. Know this it will get better ! Take care of your self.

  3. I agree with this article 100%. I think the parents in this situation tend to be in a pattern of invalidating exactly as you describe. Of course, they won’t see it this way. Hence, the stand-off. Your advice is perfect and I hope people will take it. It takes soul-searching. It takes listening. It takes thinking about things said and done that damaged the relationship. That takes courage, admitting that one knows exactly what they must apologize for, instead of playing the victim.

  4. Estrangement is linked with depression & unable to handle stressful situation. It has nothing to do with bad parenting or a bad child. Parents suffer most as they are bewildered why would the child reject there love. The child’s behavior is just reflecting how they feel inside. They try to hurt the parent because this is the tool they have to express them self & hit back.

    Alienation & Estrangement are both used to help fill the gravy bowl. No one is thinking about the well being of the child or the parent are they?

    Pain No More

  5. What i wish to ask is that if your child is phsysically verbally abusive to you (& you are not like that and truly have not been like that to them) then in that situation and if you try to organise couselling to discuss this as to why they are so angry yet they refuse – then where does that leave the parent – what more can a parent do in this situation???

  6. I would like to say a huge huge huge thank you to Tina for her articles as by following her advice my estrangement with my daughter is currently healed (may it stay that way – it will – now that i realise why – i.e. I was not hearing my child because of my own internal defense reactions because of my own damages as a child which are not remembered easily this happening to us). I realise now also i feel why estrangements are epidemic level which is more to do with what we as parents did that was right. they do not have the Stockholm type effect we do even though it is not recognised as such. many estranged parents may feel they are not victims of emotional abuse hence they are — we are — reactive but we don’t know why we don’t even realise we are blocking to the point we are not hearing our children to the level we here we are emphasising with them. the child mistakes it that we don’t care don’t love them and is too hurt in that feeling to see the parent. Tina you have the solutions in your articles thank you

  7. dear Pam,
    I am so sorry for your pain, I feel this every day with my 30 year old son.
    After almost a year of silence, I have had to come to terms with this. It is not easy and we all deal with this in different ways.
    I have wept, asked questions looking back over our lives together and wondered what I have done to deserve this, what did I do wrong?. The answer I have found is nothing. I have done nothing to deserve this. I did – we all did – what we thought was best at the time.
    we are all mums who gave nothing but the best to our children.
    My coping strategies include imagining him living a long way away so I won`t see him, but he will be happy and successful in my dream of him.
    I am writing a memory book , you never know , one day he might read it or the grandchildren will read it. (It might go in the bin but I won`t be here to see that.) It s full of what we did, funny things he said, achievements he has had. Photos of us as a family on holidays and day trips out.
    Memories of birthday parties, which friends came, what we did – photos of this.
    It is painful but also a joy to think back. The book will go into a memory box which I am filling with his first lock of hair, a painting he did, rosettes he won whilst riding aged 4, a book he loved me to read to him. His favourite Mickey Mouse mug, I didn`t know I still had that!
    All the silly things which mums tend to keep in drawers! Have a look around, you will find bits which you can add to the box and write about in the book.
    Resign yourself to the silence and surround yourself with those who love and care about you.
    Never give up on your son, always remain hopeful, after all, he is still there somewhere and you never know, he is might be thinking of you. There is always a little tug with mums and boys, you are mum and that will never change.
    Keep in touch on the forum, it does help.
    My very best wishes xx

  8. After years of not being good enough, and a 90 minute phone call where my mum ripped apart everything from my appearance to my ability to be a mother, I have removed myself. Rest assured, parents, if your child is able to remove themselves so completely from your life, then you have hurt them deeply enough to sever the most basic tie in life.

    I don’t mean this as a blame game, not to strangers anyway, but I know right this minute my mum will be sobbing to some enabling sympathiser with a few choruses of ‘poor me’. My mother barely spoke to her father before he died, she was estranged from her brother for 50 years, my father barely spoke to his 2 siblings, they’ve poisoned my brother against me.

    There’s a reason, if you don’t know it means you’re still projecting your issues onto them.

    I’m sad and very lonely – I have no parents. But I will not live my life being blasted any longer

  9. I feel sorry for parents who honestly feel that they have done everything possible for their adult children. I can only imagine their pain. I can somewhat identify how they must feel, to be alienated, to be abandoned, and have no idea why. For these parent’s I am truly sorry and hope that someday they find peace.
    However, I am an adult child who has been abandoned. I am a parent to two children, I learned through my own parents how NOT TO parent my children. I came from a dysfunctional family. There was sexual, mental, emotional, and physical abuse within my family. My mother’s experience in life was to make it a point not to know. If she didn’t know, she couldn’t help and therefore be involved. She was off the hook. Her pain took precedence over any pain that me or my sisters might have had. She demanded that she was the Matriarch! (these were her words) My own stepfather, after he left my mother, professed that he never loved her and had said that he only felt sorry for me. Then one by one, he then got rid of his girls, married the woman he had been seeing for the last 17 years.
    He has had nothing to do with me for 25 years. I really tried so hard to be the best kid. I got really good grades in high school, I was accepted and went into college with scholarships, (I never asked him for a penny) I never drank or did drugs, I didn’t have sex until I was almost 23 (I’ve only had one partner, and I’m still married to him). I was a good stepdaughter. But it was never enough. I was never his ‘real daughter’, and he always reminded me of it. I guess I have always known this, and I worked so hard to make him love me, to make him see me. Finally, we had the ‘talk’. I’d had a child, she was around 4. He had never come to see me or my family. (He always went out of his way to see my other siblings, my half sisters) I had told him that I wanted him in my life. I had also said that I was going to take 50% of the blame for why our relationship had soured. (He adopted me and married my mother when I was 14 months old, I had special needs, I was born with a birth defect) He denied any abuse had ever occurred and said that I had cognitive dysfunction, and that I was making it up. He said until I decide to accept full responsibility for the problems in our relationship, there was not going to be one.
    This day, I decided that I had to let go. I don’t know if I have really mattered to him. I really think he used me to make himself look good. I hate how the rest of my family ‘KNOW’ what happened, yet blame me for giving up. I hate that I have been expected to carry the weight of this while he or no one else has had to.
    Sometimes in life, I have learned, the hard way, that sometimes, when after trying so hard to have a relationship, if boils down to one thing. BOTH PEOPLE HAVE TO WANT IT. It cannot all be one person’s responsibility. It CANNOT always be the child who has to be quiet, and do all the work. He was the adult when he came into my life. I didn’t ask for it. To this day, I have depression and PTSD because of all the abuse that occurred. I still have scars from some of his beatings. So, folks, not all adult children are SPOILED NARCISSIST BRATS. In fact, several therapists and Doctors, who know my parents, have diagnosed them by proxy, that they are Narcissistic and abusive. I have been told by several Dr’s that I suffer symptoms of what some P.O.W.’s have gone through. And all I did was grow up in my mom and dad’s home. What did I do to deserve this? So, not all estrangement stories are about adult children that are mean to their kids, there are other sides to every story. And, healthy relationships take work from both sides. Both parties have to want it. Both parties have to make some concessions. It can’t all be one sided.

    • Diagnosis by proxy is unethical and borders on malpractice.
      Check out any therapist who diagnoses someone they have not personally done therapy with.

  10. I am so sorry, “So, not all estrangement stories are about adult children that are mean to their kids,” I meant, mean to their parents.

    • Raven, I think each case of estrangement is different. Of course, there are abusive parents, but there are also abusive adult “children” … call it sick, call it narcissistic .. whatever … it is not always the parent’s fault. To be sure, all parents make mistakes, but there is a huge difference between making mistakes and intentional harm of any kind.

  11. maria, you wrote exactly what the situation I find myself in. I don’t know what to do but “love him from a distance.” Drugs and alcohol have a huge impact on a person’s personality, plus the character they were born with. At least that is what I have been told, even though I still cling to the idea that I “must have done something” therefore meaning “I had some control over it and if I did, I can go back and correct it now.” Perfect abused mentality thinking. Always blaming myself, holding myself responsible, living in the past and trying to control the future. Doesn’t work.

    What really hurts me is to read about mothers who have more than one child, and good relationships with all the rest of them, but not with one. These mothers suffer as much as we do! In spite of the evidence that they did “do things right” and do have “loving relationships” with the others… it reminds me of how “all children wish I were their mother” except my own. I get along with just about everyone in my life and we have positive interactions and if there is a problem it gets worked out immediately. But not with my adult son. He refuses to speak, refuses to explain, refuses to listen to reason or look at the actual facts. I don’t know why and for more than 40 years I have been blaming myself and suffering wondering “what did I do how can I fix this what more can I do” when I have tried all that for his entire life and always failed.

    I have just recently come to realize that it is MY GRIEF that I must deal with, and MY OWN FEELINGS of abandonment and rejection that I have to deal with. Not only with my child but with my family of origin. I have a new “adopted family” where we all get along very well, and any problems or misunderstandings are immediately dealt with, discussed, straightened out, forgiven, whatever you want to call it, and those behaviors are most importantly NOT REPEATED. Not by on my end or on theirs. I think people altering their behaviors and NOT DOING WHAT HURTS ANOTHER makes all the difference in the world.

    This doesn’t happen with my own son. It’s not his temperament and it’s not his character and it’s definitely not his way. He won’t change what he does for anyone: not his wife, not his mother, not his employer… no one at all. And he is proud of it, no matter what the outcome may be.

    So why do I keep beating myself up thinking “what did I do wrong?”

    I wrote on another website (that we both contribute to) about how it’s time for me to “bury these bones.” I have been lost in the desert for far too long, carrying the bleached white bones of our lost and dead relationship and it’s time to bury these bones. Nothing I have done will bring them back to life, and the grief has been killing me.

    It’s time to bury the dead

    and move on… dear God please show me The Way.

    * * * * *

    Maria, what you wrote below is EXACTLY what I have gone through. Personality disorders, drugs and alcohol all contribute to this, and for whatever wrongs I may have committed I am eternally sorry, but some people do NOT want reconciliation. They want to hang on to their anger, hurts and blame. I don’t know why but “that’s the way it is.” My son has the exact same characteristics as my own violent angry father (his grandfather) even though he hardly ever spent any time with him and I never ever treated him the same way. My son even uses the same ugly demeaning phrases used by my own father… it’s as if they are reading from the same play book. It’s horrifying and what can it be other than genetics? I swore things would be different for me and my child, but they aren’t. They are exactly the same.

    Help me to love him from a distance and pray for his heart to heal. Pray for my heart to heal. Pray for me to let go and let him go into the arms of a loving God that will look out for him and we will welcome him back with open arms when and if he decides to return. Let peace come into my heart and flow out into the world and envelope him and all of us in the peace and harmony that does exist somewhere in this world, or in the heavens above. Dear God grant us peace as we have sorrow for the evils and disharmony in the world and let our prayers be answered in this world or the next.

    Let me practice the Three P’s: Prayer, Pardon and Patience. With all three, peace will be achieved.

    Dear God please show us The Way.

    “There is no hurt on earth that Heaven cannot heal.”

    In this world and the next.

    maria binnie says:
    June 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm
    “What i wish to ask is that if your child is physically verbally abusive to you (& you are not like that and truly have not been like that to them) then in that situation and if you try to organise counselling to discuss this as to why they are so angry yet they refuse – then where does that leave the parent – what more can a parent do in this situation???

    • Even though i was dealing at times some years back now with a angry teenager that was a threat to my safety i still say it was a family system intergenerational causes. I was an adult victim of childhood abuse the more damaging of stuff i didnt even remember until just around 2 years ago. I was disadvantaged beyond my awareness. My own perception that i was the problem, my over compensation in how i brought up my child and over focus but subconsciously with that a pressure on my child a type of enmeshment effect …there are many dynamics and of important effect my own mothers lies scapegoating of me as the problem to my own daughter unbeknown to me until caught her out 100% in total incorrect misrepresentation to my adult child telling her it was my fault being me age 5 my fault my dad broke my arm when i was 5 for refusing to put down my spoon on command.

    • yes Catherine it was a quick turn around. i had tried to set up many meetings finally it looked like to go ahead but she backed out again but at last min after another desperate plea from me she did come i was shocked it came together quickly from there i guess i didnt realise how my own defensiveness which i have due to childhood abuse affects my defensiveness was interfering with me hearing my adult childs pain. on the otherside of blame. thats blame deserved and even blame undeserved you see you can still feel their pain their pain is true and real but because adults with abusive childhood have low perceived self value we are not able to handle any critisim due or undue the other side if blame is love. once i heard her pain and she knew really knew i was hearing it the anger went. now its not perfect but still a complete turnaround. significantly a huge shift

    • If child is physically or verbally abusing you, you must stop them from doing that. No one should allow abuse from anyone else.

  12. maria b, how did your relationship with your daughter heal in THREE DAYS? This is incredible. I’m going to read through all the articles as you suggest, and please feel free to post more things that helped you and your daughter in your way towards relationship healing. God bless!

    • MY DAUGHTER WAS REFUSING TO MEET BUT I KEPT PERSISTING ASKING HER TO MEET. WE MET AT THE COUNCILLORS AND BEFOREHAND I LISTENED AGAIN TO THE COLEMAN AUDIO. I KNEW I HAD TO GET THROUGH HEARING EVERYTHING SHE NEEDED TO SAY AND THAT SOME BITS I WOULD NOT LIKE & NOT REACT. IT WAS HARD VERY HARD BUT I DID IT & IT MADE SUCH A DIFFERENCE I MEAN I WENT HOME VERY UPSET BUT BY 2 DAYS LATER SHE WAS SENDING ME SUCH NICE EMAILS AND WE HAVE HAD INCREASING GOOD CONTACT SINCE. THERE WAS A WHOLE INTERGENERATIONAL FAMILY STUFF THAT WITH THE HELP OF THE THERAPIST I THINK HELPED ME AND MY ADULT CHILD SEE THAT WE WERE IN POSITION TO LET IT STOP WITH US. THAT THERE IS GOOD AND BAD IN EACH PERSON BUT that we could overcome the bad stuff with understanding and forgiveness. Both of us were able to acknowledge our mistakes but i took ovrrall responsibility as i let her down 1st. In contrast my own mother cannot ever admit any wrong doing. She IS a people of the lie ie the book by S.PECK HIS DESCRIPTION OF EVIL Is not a human mistake but inability to acknowledge ones mistakes and the lies and scapegoating of victims that one does to hide own mistakes.that is my mother. I broke the mould of generations but i didnt do it in perfection i still hurt my child but that i so hope will stop with her own family down onward from her they deserve not this pain and that is what will make our pain worth it.

      • Thank you maria for sharing how you were able to reconcile with your daughter, with the help of Dr. Coleman and a counselor. What wonderful news… perhaps there is hope for us all! Nothing would make me happier than to be able to do the same with my own son.

        Love, Catherine Todd

    • CATHERINE I suggest it is your own blueprint of being a victim to a level more than you are even aware of suffering as we think what we know is the norm we think control survival is love it is your family blueprint your own damage framework that your relationship with your son grew from. My relationship was not healed in 3 days but the course has turned fully now to start healing. We think we not abuse our child and on the most main to far end abuse continuim we didnt but a victim mentality fosters abuse to flourish in those we relate with. Much needs to change and you can now only change yourself as your sons programming age is long gone. not that you are bad at all it is core seated beliefs self beliefs fears that you may not be able to access without work but you can reprogram and it will affect all relationships you have and then your son would need to recognise abusive behaviours in himself which you have very limited but some influence on by your change in blueprint but it will take much time. Something clicked for me with this i understand it now but it is hard to explain but you are looking… ..thats what i did with compulsion! For 2 years 24/7…and your handling the comments …. negative ones as well? Not easy so recognise that its about recognising why you are feeling a particular way in reaction and fixing at that each tine the incorrect program that gave rise to that reaction etc….

    • Catherine: you said
      “Perfect abused mentality thinking. Always blaming myself, holding myself responsible, living in the past and trying to control the future. Doesn’t work”

      This is exactly what I do. It comes from having been abused. If we were abused, we are more likely to accept abuse again and blame ourselves again. We may even have a hard time recognizing that we are being abused.

      Not saying your son is abusing you. But saying that self-blaming is what abused people do.

      And, like you said, “tryng to control the future” … yes. If I say “it is all my fault”, then I believe (not consciously) that I can fix it. It gives me control over what I don’t really t have control over. I cannot control another person, only myself. I cannot change another person, only myself. People rarely change.

      I can do all that I can do to heal the rift, I can even choose to reconcile (if they allow it) and I can do it their way. If I can live with that, that is fine. But, if I cannot live that way (I call it like walking on eggshells), then I must stop. We all get to make the choice. What we cannot do is change the other person.

      And if you have a child who does not want reconciliation, the best thing you can do after all is tried is to let them go with love. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and forgive them. Let them go with love and for me … I say “let go and let God”. I want her safe, happy and to live a good life. Am I hurt? Of course. Do I feel angry at times? Of course. I am only human. But, what other choice do I have, really.

      • There is a concept out there about “Innocent Guilt” which might explain why parents who have done no abuse feel so much shame and guilt. It is a part of the grieving process … you know .. when people think they could have prevented a death, but they really could not. This one applies to estrangement and hope it will help someone.

        I would also like to add that I believe that parents who abuse do not ruminate about their role in things, do not feel guilty. To them, the abuser, it is justified or the other person’s fault. JMHO.


  13. The article is generalizing about all Estranged parents. Many parents have done everything imaginable to heal the rift. They have spoken to the child’s pain, they have apologized for what they have done/not done, they have begged, pleaded and done it all. There are many parents who were told nothing at all. The child left, gave them the silent treatment (a form of severe emotional abuse), and no reasons. These parents, like the ones on this board, racked their brains for the “reason”, the “why”.

    You are right about one thing, the ones who leave have all the power. But the question is this: Can you live in a power-over relationship where your own child makes all the rules and you must do as you are told or you will be history? If you can, and you can be happy doing that, I applaud you. I cannot. The cost to my self-respect and to the deep love I have for my daughter would be shot if I were able to walk on eggshells. Walking on eggshells is what abused people do.

    It is a two-way street and if it is not, it is time to walk down another street and let go with love.

  14. How did you get your daughter to agree to counselling? My son won’t even answer my emails, so counseling is out of the question. We went to counseling many times when he was in highschool and living at home, and he refused to speak back then and would just get up and leave the room. And 20 years later, nothing has changed. I don’t think it ever will at this point. How did you convince your daughter to attend this meeting?

  15. Thanks, HealingNow. I have to accept that all I can do is “love him from a distance” and put our relationship in the Hands of God. Reconciliation can never take place if only one person wants it. Why someone wants or needs to hang on to anger and blame and take no responsibility to even look at the actual facts is beyond me, but plenty of people need a scapegoat and in our culture, it’s always the Mother. We get blamed for just about EVERYTHING. I’m sick to death of it, physically, mentally, emotionally and any other way a person can be “sick.” But I’m tired of being sick and hurt and feeling alone when I have allowed this estrangement to overshadow every single thing in my life and make me afraid of trusting anyone else.

    Surely I deserve to live, and to have a happy life, based on the things I actually DID do, and not on whatever someone else thinks I did do (which I didn’t) or thinks I should have done (when I couldn’t). At some point we all have to take responsibility for ourselves and make our own way and I have to learn to do this for myself now, and accept the fact that I must have been a terrible mother to one, but there’s plenty that think I’m a really nice person and a good person too, and the one who hates me so much isn’t seen in that same light. That’s for sure. I ask God for peace in my heart and allow me to practice “Patience, Pardon and Prayer” and Dear God please show me The Way.

    Gracias, amen.

  16. HeaingNow, I am rereading your comments and they are oh-so-true. Over and over again. You wrote:

    “HealingNow says:
    October 3, 2014 at 5:23 am
    Catherine: you said
    “Perfect abused mentality thinking. Always blaming myself, holding myself responsible, living in the past and trying to control the future. Doesn’t work”

    This is exactly what I do. It comes from having been abused. If we were abused, we are more likely to accept abuse again and blame ourselves again. We may even have a hard time recognizing that we are being abused.”

    Exactly! I allowed my son to treat me so badly for YEARS, never even realizing that I would NEVER have allowed another person to talk to me that way, nor would I have continued to write checks and try to “prove how much I loved him” when all I got back was more abuse no matter what I did.

    It was ridiculous and since I was raised as a severely abused child, I am a perfect co-dependent who will “never stop trying” no matter how badly I am treated. I did manage to escape physically abusive relationships with men (even though my sisters didn’t, and married men who beat or controlled them just like my father did), but it was more than 30 years for me to realize the extent to which my son was abusing me. One day I “heard” what he was saying and something “broke.” I realized just what he was doing, and I heard how horrible it was, and I stopped defending or trying to explain myself and quietly said “No more. If this is how he was going to talk to me, then I could no longer continue in a relationship with him. I would be very sad to not have contact with him, but it had to be respectful and courteous if there was any way we were ever going to be able to get along. We both had to listen to the other one and try to calmly discuss misunderstandings. If not, I could no longer accept phone calls from him” and more along those lines.

    And that was that. He apologized afterwards with those two words by email, and then NOTHING CHANGED. And shortly afterwards (after I sent thousands of dollars to him to help with his divorce and job loss) he cut me off completely. He knew how to play his cards right! And I was a fool.

    A fool “in love” with my only child. A mother’s bond cannot be broken, so they say, and it’s still true for me. It’s a blessing and a curse. But in the meantime, I have to learn to TAKE CARE OF MYSELF and I will NEVER AGAIN allow ANYONE to abuse me, not physically, mentally, emotionally or financially. NEVER AGAIN. I have to guard against this all the time, as I have an over-generous nature and am a perfect “fixer” for everyone else’s problems, but with all the codependent books knows to man I have a fighting chance to make the changes necessary IN ME.

    For this is where it all begins and ends, isn’t it? Inside of each one of us.

    Dear God please show me The Way. Let me live in peace and harmony with my self and the outside world, and show me how to love without engendering hatred, scamming or abuse. That’s the key that I’m still missing. Dear God please show me The Way.

  17. HealingNow wrote: “There is a concept out there about “Innocent Guilt” which might explain why parents who have done no abuse feel so much shame and guilt.”

    I think it’s because our current culture thinks this way and always blames the mother for however the child acts, thinks, behaves or feels. It’s ALWAYS THE MOTHER’S FAULT. Our society puts the shame and blame on us, just like they did just a few years ago when a husband beat his wife. “What did you do to get him mad? What did you do to deserve it?”

    It’s just more of the same: Victim blaming to the extreme. Now it’s with our children. I for one am sick to death of it. It’s time for everyone to take responsibility for themselves and their behavior. There’s a whole lot of people with personality disorders and other problems, including addictions to drugs and alcohol which make behaviors even worse, and it’s NOT ALL THE MOTHER’S FAULT.

    I refuse to be ashamed anymore into believing I have any control at all in how my adult grown son acts. I didn’t raise him to “be the way he is” and he never experienced any of the abuse that he himself dishes out. He didn’t learn this from me or his adopted father. Genetics play a large role in personality development and risk of addictions, and I have found out much to my dismay that “nurture doesn’t always overcome nature” regardless of what prevailing child development “specialist” might have said 40 years ago when I was raising a child. Genetics do count and anyone who has to “walk on eggshells” around another person isn’t the fault of it.

    People have to grow up. And until they do and stop blaming everyone around them or the rest of the world, no reconciliation will ever occur. It takes two and I’m ready and waiting if that day ever comes. But I have to find a way to stop blaming myself, despite what so much of our prevailing culture says. I have done nothing wrong and am tired of being blamed, and of blaming myself.

    I have to “bury these bones” I have been carrying, and I have to learn how to grieve. To let go and grieve. This estrangement isn’t my doing, and even though I wish it weren’t so, I won’t be beat up verbally or any other way any more just to have a relationship with anyone. Child, family member or not. I won’t be anyone’s punching bag any longer. They will have to find somebody else.

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