My daughter is an only child who has now become an adult, still acting like a child in spite of having grown up with other children around her at all times so as not to develop “Only Child Syndrome”. Our home was constantly filled with other children, mainly her friends and some that I temporarily did home daycare with as a way of being able to be home for our daughter but, still bring in an income of some type. It was also the home in which other children would come when their own families were in crisis and they needed a pseudo-mom to be here for them to help them through things. In short, my daughter saw a lot of what went on in other families and learned well from other children about being part of a “family”, both the good and the bad. She learned compassion, helping, sharing as well as the idea that she had it pretty damned good.
As the years went on and she grew old enough to be elsewhere, experiencing other situations in Life, as well as with other circumstances, not so padded anymore, I became less and less important in her life. That was understood and welcomed as every child must spread their wings and fly at some point or another. It was “growth” as all children must do. That meant that my influence as a parent was becoming more watered down in her life. Her friends, the outside world, experiences, teachers, bosses and others, now had more influence than I did over her as happens in all cases where children aren’t locked in their bedrooms.
Boyfriends had become the focus of her life during her late teen years. Her choices were not exactly stellar examples by any means. They all had issues and instead of recognizing the fact that they were changing her and her relationship with me, she tried to get me to change to suit them and their issues. That led to the start of problems between us because while I could sympathize with these boy’s issues, I wasn’t about to change myself or the house rules to suit these boys as she expected me to do. Still, I bent some. I didn’t completely give in but, I bent some in trying to understand and be fair to her, first and foremost but, also to these issue-riddled boys that she was seeing and bringing home while gently and subtly, trying to guide her to see that they were un-changeable in every way as they all needed professional counselling for one reason or another.
By her mid-twenties, after a nasty break-up with one, she had found what I call “Rebound Boy”. Rebound boy was barely working, had no skills, refused to go to school and had been kicked out of his home by his own wealthy parents. It was only when Rebound couldn’t find work for himself and was drowning, unable to stand on his own 2 feet, that Daddy decided to create a job for him within the business and paid off his debts that often got rung up on a monthly basis. A good part of which, entailed hundreds of dollars per month on illegal weed usage, something my daughter abhorred. Not only that but, he was slovenly, obnoxious, abrasive, un-driven, un-ambitious, un-driven and downright rude to most, if not all people around him. He managed to not only alienate himself from all friends and his own family but, he was working diligently in trying to separate her from her friends and family. He succeeded through tricking her into moving in with him, saying that he couldn’t afford to live alone anymore and “needed her” or, he’d have to move further away and they’d never see one another. I later found out that it was a total lie but, suffice it to say that she fell for it and left home to live with him, his weed and other psychedelic drugs, lose all of her friends and became a clone of him with his attitude.
Fast forward to today. It’s been nearly 7 years since that move-out she made with him and things have only gotten worse. Systematically, he convinced her that he was the only one she could trust and, that we, along with his own parents (still providing a job for him) were “Evil Incarnate”.
At this point, she was already withdrawing from our lives, bit by bit. She was also becoming horridly nasty with us, expecting us to “accept her new life”. We accepted that she had moved out with him but, we struggled to maintain a relationship of some type with her even though we were trying to understand and accept this man’s issues and even help him. We bought and paid for dinners, clothing, bought her a car and tried to keep her close to us. We did the same for him. Nothing worked. He simply got more and more abbrassive, arrogant, lazy, mouthy and disrespectful. She joined him. In other words, the more we tolerated, the worse both of them became with us.
Eventually, our daughter wanted nothing to do with us because we finally had to stand up for ourselves with his rudeness. That was his opening (and what he wanted) to ousting us from her life. He worked hard at it and she became physically violent with me whereupon, I had to tell her to leave our home. She did leave and didn’t come back. Nasty emails, horrid and incorrect accusations got hurled at me as a mother while I was already on the ground in grief over the sudden passing of one of my two brothers. She kicked and I rolled in pain. She kept kicking until I had to shut the abuse down at which time, she had nothing to do with either my husband nor myself.
We did try another approach when I was back onto my feet after my brother’s death. I tried, once again, to simply “tolerate” Rebound Boy being around, putting up with his insults, rudeness and not saying much of anything in return in order to keep our daughter close. As they say, keep your friends close but your enemies even closer. He had power and he knew it. It didn’t work. After 4 plus years of doing this, other family members had had enough of him being around and chose to tell us that he was no longer welcome, questioning our sanity for allowing this in our lives, their lives and our home. Upon trying to smoke weed at our home, insulting my remaining brother to the point where my brother wanted to hit him and nearly did, I realized that there was no way to deal with this anymore on this basis. It was time to stop both of their abuse on everyone.
Back to the horrid messages, texts and criticisms of us especially, me and as parents. She tore us to shreds in what anyone with half a brain could see was brain washing from him, possibly even dictated by him or the gist of it, given by him. It was all, pure and simply Bully Tactics and it had to stop as neither my husband nor, myself could take any more of it from her/him. The blame was horrendous for everything that ever had occurred in her life and things twisted so out of proportion to reality that it made me wonder who she was. She certainly wasn’t the daughter I had known prior to this freak’s interference and her actions, words, hurtful actions had all become simply a form of “bullying” that could no longer be tolerated.
I haven’t seen nor, heard from her in months now. Quite frankly, as much as this is intolerably painful for me to do, I cannot allow her back into my life unless/until she’s recognized the hurt she’s inflicted upon us. There’s no more room for tolerating either of their abuse or bullying. It appears as though it’s going to take her leaving him for her to wake up and realize that what she’s doing is not at all acceptable for anyone, let alone people who have loved and cared for her, her entire life. There’s nothing left to give her. There’s no more caving in and giving her what she wants because it’s impossible to give her anything further. We’re tapped right out in every conceivable way from emotionally to financially. The tolerance and hand-outs are over and she doesn’t like that fact. He does though. He loves it this way but, she cannot see that fact anymore than she can see that she’s become no more than a bully.
The answer to my question of whether our children can bully us or not is a resounding “yes” and as we age, it can become easier for them to do it to us.
If we don’t want this to occur, the bottom line is that we have to re-arrange the dynamics of the relationship we have with our children by placing ourselves back into parental status and them, back into the child role. No matter how old they get, we are their parents whether they like it or not and we deserve respect from them. Even if parents had been abusive or neglectful but, have apologized and tried to make it up to the child in whatever ways are possible, there’s only so many “sorrys” that parents can say or show. If it’s not accepted, it’s time to cut the strings to their bullying us. No matter what the past was, if parents are trying to make a fresh go of it with their adult-child/children and they are refusing and abusing us, it’s time to cut the strings of their abuse, even if it sadly means that we have no contact with them. Bullying cannot be tolerated on any level for long. We wouldn’t allow it with other people, why would we allow it with our own children?
From my little corner of life and pain, I am seeing this situation more clearly now. With the help of professional counsellors, I am learning to love and like myself, recognize that nothing I did as a parent, warranted this type of treatment and that I need to put myself back into the driver’s seat rather than being a victim to my adult-child’s poor decisions, choices and/or lack of them. This is purely my daughter’s baggage and choice to hang onto and unless she realizes what has happened to her and seeks out help or leaves the issue-riddled, co-dependent relationship with the jerk she’s chosen to be with, the abuse and bullying won’t stop and she’s not welcome back to dish out more. We have to love ourselves enough to let go and stop it so that we’re no longer the victims of our adult-child’s abuse and bullying. Zero tolerance for bullying from anyone.