From the childs point of view- Estrangement

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JJJJ
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From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by JJJJ » Sat May 23, 2015 12:07 am

I write this post not as a direct response to others or the articles on websites but because I have decided to estrange myself from my mother. I hope to give some insight as to why children might decide to estrange themselves from a parent, to get some of your views on this behaviour; but ultimately to shine some light on why (although each case is different and individual) the closest of relationships suddenly break down, I.e. why in my case I feel it important to "cut-off" contact.

My mother; a single parent, ruthlessly independent, strong/stubborn, intelligent, supportive, insightful, loving, focussed, hardworking. All positive attributes of any parent, she was and still is my role model. My mother has always been there for me, more than anyone else she has tried to bring me up the best way she could, with good morale's, a nice attitude, an exceptional education, she really is a good person at heart.
From being a very small child it was my mom and me, she stayed single so that I would not be introduced to numerous male "father-figures" as my Dad had left her when I was very young. Life was very hard for my mom, lonely I am sure and I was her pride and joy. I would say that this love and care has absolutely contributed to who I am today, but my on/off again estrangement has also enabled me to develop as a level headed and mature adult; without which I personally feel I would be emotional (more emotional than I already am) and would suffer (as I have when in contact with her) with violent mood swings, depression, anger, sadness.

From being about 14 years old (although my mom may not know this) I wanted to leave home; to escape her. Love, discipline, supportive nature are all needs a child has of their parent, but in my opinion, a good parent should not smother. This is how I have felt most of my teenage and adult life (now 29), so much of a caring force, want of the best for me was utterly suffocating, I could not breath.
With such a mother also comes high expectations. My mom wanted the very best for me, not just academically, I was and am average, but she simply wanted me to succeed and become financially stable. My mother had dreamt a life for me long before I had any idea of what I might want to do. I felt like I had little say or control over the decisions I made. I was not to be guided, but railroaded in to what was right.

It was not until I was 16/17 that my rebellious teenage self-came out, sure I had been moody and dramatic at times prior to this age;I will acknowledge that this was a rough age, but this is when we started to really, really fight. At this age, I feel I started to stand up for myself, make decisions (sometimes the wrong ones), and this really annoyed my mom. I believe that she felt out of control of me, no longer in charge, I no longer did exactly as she said and she hated this.

This may sound like typical teen behaviour, but I wasn't out every weekend partying, bring the cops to the house or anything like that, all I remember from being this age was the fighting, the being told no, the questioning, the lack of trust, now and again up until the age of 20 it got physical (she would grab me, or slap; this happened no more than twice- no I didn't hit her back, I have respect for her). But the more she pushed me, the less I felt in control and the more I pulled away.

I got a boyfriend, although I had a few before, never serious and not lasting more that 6-12 months, this guy was different. My mom new that, she would listen in on my calls, at 18 and 19 lock me out of the house if I broke my 9-9.30pm curfew, tell me that I should break up with him, he was no good, from a bad area (honest he wasn’t) and when she did allow him to visit she did nothing but make me and him feel uncomfortable and not welcome.
I got a job in a restaurant while I studied, even that made her angry because I would wake her up when I would come in (“ but she had told me to get the job to help pay rent and bills”). It seemed that no matter what I did it wasn’t right, it wasn’t what she expected from me, I was disappointing her.
I then decided to move out while I studied; I personally felt that this would be the only way to salvage our relationship and to help me stay sane; as I was depressed, very sad and extremely unhappy at home.
I would like to say that throughout my life, during my early teenage years being out of our family home I felt like I was free, released, no worries, no stress, even being at a friend’s house felt awesome and going home was something I wanted to leave to the last minute.
Leaving home (escaping/running away from this problem some might say) did not resolve anything it magnified and compounded the problem, it got way out of hand and eventually we stopped speaking. This is the first time we became estranged.
Since then, after all the hurtful things we have said to each other, others things that have happened since we have been back and forth with speaking/not speaking.

Most of the fall outs are due to my mom saying that I cannot be bothered with her, that I am not really interested, I do not make an effort. I cannot see my mom every weekend as I work 7 days per week, I live miles away from her.
When I did see her I couldn’t just call for a coffee and a catch up I need to spend 6-7 hours with her at a time, and speak to her on the phone during the week (2-4 times for 2+hours sometimes) it was too much, too demanding and then to be told that I was not making an effort; its sooooo much effort, mentally and physically draining.

Our last spat was in relation to the amount of time and effort, it was becoming too much. I will confess I had for 3 weeks blown my mom off, i.e. not calling when I was supposed to, or not arranging to come and see her, but I was working full time, 7 days per week, 70 mile round trip to work perday I was exhausted and she simply put too much pressure on.

This, in my case is the summative aspect of my estrangement. I don’t feel that my life correlates to the expectations my mom had for me, I feel like a disappointment and when I do see/hear from her I get nauseous- not because of nerves but anxiety, I am waiting for her next explosion/or demand.

The are two sides to every truth, this is only my extremely abbreviated account, there is so much more, to both sides I am sure and I know have been horrible at times, not treated her correctly, but these are my accounts of the lead up to my estrangement and why it is a coping mechanism.

There are lots of comments online about how parents have changed from being disciplinarians to supportive and flexible parents which instil narcissism in children. That the child’s self-importance overrides their respect for the parent. I hope I am not narcissistic, I don’t feel like I am obsessed with myself or that I have an inflated ego (quite the opposite), I just wanted to make a life for myself without a dictatorship.

I have tried on a few occasions to explain how I felt, to tell my mom some of the above and hoped for change; unfortunately it fell on deaf ears, nothing changed, if anything it got worse. To answer many parents questions the silence, the refusal to talk is simply down to avoidance. If we don’t talk to you it’s to avoid you because we are feeling pressured, backed up into a corner like a wild animal. For me, it was because I felt my relationship with my mom was again becoming dependant (her on me), that it was starting to interfere with my fragile world I had made without her and was so scared she could shatter it.

Perhaps, things will change. I regularly feel guilty that we do not speak. I worry about her, but in an instant all of the above comes rushing back. I worry, if I was to have children, how that would work. I would have to tell my mom, but I would worry about creating a relationship with her again; the idea of having to talk.

I don’t have a universal answer, but my estrangement is simply how I have coped with years of mental oppression (perhaps a strong term) but it is how I feel and have felt for many years.

Beth McHugh
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Re: From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by Beth McHugh » Sun May 24, 2015 1:48 pm

JJJJ wrote:I write this post not as a direct response to others or the articles on websites but because I have decided to estrange myself from my mother. I hope to give some insight as to why children might decide to estrange themselves from a parent, to get some of your views on this behaviour; but ultimately to shine some light on why (although each case is different and individual) the closest of relationships suddenly break down, I.e. why in my case I feel it important to "cut-off" contact.

My mother; a single parent, ruthlessly independent, strong/stubborn, intelligent, supportive, insightful, loving, focussed, hardworking. All positive attributes of any parent, she was and still is my role model. My mother has always been there for me, more than anyone else she has tried to bring me up the best way she could, with good morale's, a nice attitude, an exceptional education, she really is a good person at heart.
From being a very small child it was my mom and me, she stayed single so that I would not be introduced to numerous male "father-figures" as my Dad had left her when I was very young. Life was very hard for my mom, lonely I am sure and I was her pride and joy. I would say that this love and care has absolutely contributed to who I am today, but my on/off again estrangement has also enabled me to develop as a level headed and mature adult; without which I personally feel I would be emotional (more emotional than I already am) and would suffer (as I have when in contact with her) with violent mood swings, depression, anger, sadness.

From being about 14 years old (although my mom may not know this) I wanted to leave home; to escape her. Love, discipline, supportive nature are all needs a child has of their parent, but in my opinion, a good parent should not smother. This is how I have felt most of my teenage and adult life (now 29), so much of a caring force, want of the best for me was utterly suffocating, I could not breath.
With such a mother also comes high expectations. My mom wanted the very best for me, not just academically, I was and am average, but she simply wanted me to succeed and become financially stable. My mother had dreamt a life for me long before I had any idea of what I might want to do. I felt like I had little say or control over the decisions I made. I was not to be guided, but railroaded in to what was right.

It was not until I was 16/17 that my rebellious teenage self-came out, sure I had been moody and dramatic at times prior to this age;I will acknowledge that this was a rough age, but this is when we started to really, really fight. At this age, I feel I started to stand up for myself, make decisions (sometimes the wrong ones), and this really annoyed my mom. I believe that she felt out of control of me, no longer in charge, I no longer did exactly as she said and she hated this.

This may sound like typical teen behaviour, but I wasn't out every weekend partying, bring the cops to the house or anything like that, all I remember from being this age was the fighting, the being told no, the questioning, the lack of trust, now and again up until the age of 20 it got physical (she would grab me, or slap; this happened no more than twice- no I didn't hit her back, I have respect for her). But the more she pushed me, the less I felt in control and the more I pulled away.

I got a boyfriend, although I had a few before, never serious and not lasting more that 6-12 months, this guy was different. My mom new that, she would listen in on my calls, at 18 and 19 lock me out of the house if I broke my 9-9.30pm curfew, tell me that I should break up with him, he was no good, from a bad area (honest he wasn’t) and when she did allow him to visit she did nothing but make me and him feel uncomfortable and not welcome.
I got a job in a restaurant while I studied, even that made her angry because I would wake her up when I would come in (“ but she had told me to get the job to help pay rent and bills”). It seemed that no matter what I did it wasn’t right, it wasn’t what she expected from me, I was disappointing her.
I then decided to move out while I studied; I personally felt that this would be the only way to salvage our relationship and to help me stay sane; as I was depressed, very sad and extremely unhappy at home.
I would like to say that throughout my life, during my early teenage years being out of our family home I felt like I was free, released, no worries, no stress, even being at a friend’s house felt awesome and going home was something I wanted to leave to the last minute.
Leaving home (escaping/running away from this problem some might say) did not resolve anything it magnified and compounded the problem, it got way out of hand and eventually we stopped speaking. This is the first time we became estranged.
Since then, after all the hurtful things we have said to each other, others things that have happened since we have been back and forth with speaking/not speaking.

Most of the fall outs are due to my mom saying that I cannot be bothered with her, that I am not really interested, I do not make an effort. I cannot see my mom every weekend as I work 7 days per week, I live miles away from her.
When I did see her I couldn’t just call for a coffee and a catch up I need to spend 6-7 hours with her at a time, and speak to her on the phone during the week (2-4 times for 2+hours sometimes) it was too much, too demanding and then to be told that I was not making an effort; its sooooo much effort, mentally and physically draining.

Our last spat was in relation to the amount of time and effort, it was becoming too much. I will confess I had for 3 weeks blown my mom off, i.e. not calling when I was supposed to, or not arranging to come and see her, but I was working full time, 7 days per week, 70 mile round trip to work perday I was exhausted and she simply put too much pressure on.

This, in my case is the summative aspect of my estrangement. I don’t feel that my life correlates to the expectations my mom had for me, I feel like a disappointment and when I do see/hear from her I get nauseous- not because of nerves but anxiety, I am waiting for her next explosion/or demand.

The are two sides to every truth, this is only my extremely abbreviated account, there is so much more, to both sides I am sure and I know have been horrible at times, not treated her correctly, but these are my accounts of the lead up to my estrangement and why it is a coping mechanism.

There are lots of comments online about how parents have changed from being disciplinarians to supportive and flexible parents which instil narcissism in children. That the child’s self-importance overrides their respect for the parent. I hope I am not narcissistic, I don’t feel like I am obsessed with myself or that I have an inflated ego (quite the opposite), I just wanted to make a life for myself without a dictatorship.

I have tried on a few occasions to explain how I felt, to tell my mom some of the above and hoped for change; unfortunately it fell on deaf ears, nothing changed, if anything it got worse. To answer many parents questions the silence, the refusal to talk is simply down to avoidance. If we don’t talk to you it’s to avoid you because we are feeling pressured, backed up into a corner like a wild animal. For me, it was because I felt my relationship with my mom was again becoming dependant (her on me), that it was starting to interfere with my fragile world I had made without her and was so scared she could shatter it.

Perhaps, things will change. I regularly feel guilty that we do not speak. I worry about her, but in an instant all of the above comes rushing back. I worry, if I was to have children, how that would work. I would have to tell my mom, but I would worry about creating a relationship with her again; the idea of having to talk.

I don’t have a universal answer, but my estrangement is simply how I have coped with years of mental oppression (perhaps a strong term) but it is how I feel and have felt for many years.


Hi jjjj,
Thank you for sharing your story so comprehensively. There are so many parents who have strained or completely estranged relationships with their adult children and it's good to hear the other side of the story -- at least the story of you and your mother -- since each story is different. It sounds like you have an internal struggle with your mother. On the one hand, you can readily list her admirable qualities while also expressing the feeling of being "over-cared for" to the point of feeling smothered. I'm sure you can see that your mother attempted to make your life as smooth and happy as she could. However, for you there seems to be control issues going on, so much so that you felt that to have a life and maintain some independence, you have separated yourself from her to get some breathing space and sense of personal power.

There are many reasons why adult children cut their parents out of their lives, and indeed some parents are so genuinely destructive that it can be preferable to remove yourself from the relationship altogther. JJJJ, your situation is not in this category, but it certainly was so unbearable that you have made the decision to go no contact. But because your mother does have some redeeming qualities, this sets you up in a position where you feel guilty. Also you question what will happen when you have children -- will they have a maternal grandmother? Perhaps this particular scenario can be resolved so that you have your sense of freedom and personal power but you do have controlled contact with your mother. I know you have spoken to her on this subject and you said that things got worse. I imagine you were putting up your case and wanted her to change, or back off, and your mother may think that she has done her best and is puzzled and angry that you aren't happy for her efforts. This is one of the many scenarios I encounter in counseling with estranged family members.

However, your mother has done her best, but that should not include steering you so firmly and for so long that you feel she is still running the show. Your mother wants the best for you , but her best is not your best. It would really be beneficial for you to learn how to set firm boundaries with your mother -- this is the only way you can make the situation better for you. If you can feel happy with not seeing your mother again, then this is best for you. But if you feel any nagging guilt, regret, sadness etc, plus concern about possible problems when children arrive, then learning boundary setting would be a useful life tool -- not only with your mother, but with any person in your life who tries to control you. It may be possible to have a better relationship with your mother, but it has to come from you because your mother is not likely to change out of the blue.

Is your father still alive and do you have contact with him? If so, how is your relationship with him? If you would like to consider better ways to interact with your mother and at least give it a try, please contact me through enquiries@youronlinecounselor.com

But mainly, thank you for letting us hear your side of the story and the reasons that led you to take this path. Smothering and controlling is not good. Hopefully your childhood was a happy and stable one and that sets you up for a healthy adulthood, but when the reins aren't loosened, that "love" becomes a little too invasive and intrusive. I hope you can reach a happy medium with your mother.

Best wishes,

Beth
ImageBeth McHugh
B.Sc (Hons). B.Psych. Dip.Sc.
Principal, Your Online Counselor

JShriver
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Re: From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by JShriver » Fri May 29, 2015 1:16 am

It was so refreshing to see that. It is very similar to what happened with my mother and I. I was not smothered. But, it was just my mom, sister and me for a great many years. As I got older, my sister was the perfect one and I was just there, causing problems even when I was minding my business somehow. I go on all these blogs and forums and it is all about how the parents can't handle their children and don't know what they did and just talking about how horrible their children are. None of them seem to try to find what happened to make the child want out though. And that's what gets me. I have kids of my own now and, I know I am far from perfect, but I cannot imagine ever giving up on them.

With my mom, she would offer to help me out with something when I was desperate so I would accept. Then, she would tell me how much I owed her. When I went out on my own, she wouldn't come visit me until she was ready to vacation where I was. When she came, I was her chauffer, not her daughter. One visit, she said she would be at the house at 11:30 and didn't show up until 5:30 because she went to the bar when she got in first. I took a day off work to hang out with her and then she did not even show up. She stayed for half an hour and then went back to the hotel. She had two grand children that she had not seen in over a year at that time either. That didn't matter.

Anyways, it is harder to talk about now because she passed a couple of months ago. I will never find out what her side was, and I will never be able to try one more time to fix it. It weighs heavy on me. I actually wrote a book now to get my story all out there. I have been writing it for years but her passing made me realize it was time to get it all out there, get my side of the story out there for all to hear and know. Reading all these forums of parents not taking the time to find out what might have caused their children to not want to have any part of them anymore made me realize that my book needs to be out there for the world, not just the few people that needed to hear my story right now.

It as an e-book on Amazon right now. "the loss of A MOTHER's loss" by Jennifer Shriver. It truly takes you through everything that led to where we were and how hard it is dealing with a loss when nobody thought you were even part of the family anymore.

addseo1115
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Re: From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by addseo1115 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:45 pm

Both of your experiences are so good.
I have enjoyed with mom's stories.
Thanks for posting. :D

Beth McHugh
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Re: From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by Beth McHugh » Thu Jul 02, 2015 4:03 pm

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for sharing your story and it's great that you have put your feelings out in the form of a book -- the ultimate journal! I often ask my clients to journal their thoughts and feelings -- it's so important to get toxic feelings and thoughts out of your head.
Your mother sounds as if she was not always as thoughtful as she could be - I know that is an understatement for you. While I don't understand why she did the things she did, there will be a reason for it. This is something that you may want to explore if it doesn't go away.
As for your comment regarding parents who don't bother to ask why their child has decided to break the bond, I know there are plenty like that. However, they don't bother to write on forums because they either genuinely don't care all that much about their kids and so don't feel pain, or they may have health issues (sometimes mental health) such as depression of narcissistic personality disorder that they don't have the headspace to deal with anything else.
But then I deal with countless parents who genuinely are perplexed as to why their children don't want contact and they are in pain. I have dealt with parents who have asked their adult child many times what the problem is and how can they fix it, but the adult child responds with nothing. So these parents are in a difficult position because they want a relationship but can't get to sort out the problem because the other party can't/won't talk. Offers of counseling are rejected. It's a sad situation for both sides as both parties are missing out.
I also acknowledge that some parents are so toxic that the best move is for the adult child to go no contact. So there is a range of estrangement that happens between parents and their children. Ironically, adult children who are estranged by their own choice from their parent can often end up in the same situation with their own children 20+ years down the track.
Thank you for your contribution and I wish you peace with your own mother/ daughter relationship. Sometimes after death, issues can be resolved. I hope this is the case with you.

Best wishes,

Beth
ImageBeth McHugh
B.Sc (Hons). B.Psych. Dip.Sc.
Principal, Your Online Counselor

LorrieV
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Re: From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by LorrieV » Mon May 02, 2016 12:48 pm

JShriver and Jennifer

Thank you both for sharing your stories; I give you both a lot of credit for trying to see things clearly and understand them.

Lorrie

estrangedchild156
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Re: From the childs point of view- Estrangement

Post by estrangedchild156 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:43 am

I am honestly always suspicious at these stories of "I am an estranged parent who did nothing wrong and suddenly my child stopped talking to me, he/she is so ungrateful!" My parents say the same thing. They viciously abused me for years and won't admit it. I have scars and have had years worth of therapy for the things they did. They act like nothing ever happened and use the therapy and mental help I have needed to get over the abuse as "proof" that I am "crazy".

If your child isn't talking to you and their adult life is a shambles, and you persist in saying you did absolutely nothing wrong. it's time to be brutally honest with yourself and ask what you did to cause the situation. Parents have more responsibility than the child. Stop dodging it.

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