A lot of adult children will balk at what is said here because it’s not what you feel or think or have been trained to think or feel. That’s ok. You may have been literally trained into believing that you have the upper hand by either your parents or someone else. For the most part, you are correct. You do have power, some power but, not all.
First of all, if you were abused or neglected by your parents and they’ve made no attempts to rectify this with even an apology, this piece is not written with you in mind. However, it should be said that while there are all kinds of ways to be abused and neglected, it’s important for you to look deeply at the reality behind what you have deemed as “neglect” and “abuse” from your likely, aging parent before you toss them aside forever through estrangement. Please read the below descriptions of neglect and abuse before you feel justified in your treatment of your parents. If, after you’ve read the following and you truly were treated in such a manner by your parent(s) you need not read any further than the following descriptions. If however, you can’t find your circumstances in these descriptions, you might want to read on.
Neglectful parents are the ones who have pushed their child’s well-being to the side, often endangering their health (physical, mental and emotional). They failed to provide safety or the necessities of life, often leaving that child in dangerous situations or to fend for themselves at ages where they should have been providing that child with safety, food, shelter and care.
Neglectful parents often don’t care what their child has done or is doing. This may include the child having to go to friend’s homes to be fed or having a child services officer coming to the house to ask why the child is not in school. Negligent parents don’t offer up much more than a roof over a child’s head and not much more. Often, these parents don’t give their child the time of day or any attention other than negative attention. Half or better of the time, they don’t even know where their children are or what’s going on in that child’s life nor, do they want to know even were the child to beg for the parent’s positive attention and interest.
The worst form of neglectful parents, deny their child or children safety. Some of them may also place their child in the position of unsafe practises, lifestyles or refuse to provide them with the necessities of life. In short, they endanger their child’s well-being in extremely dangerous ways. Money that should be used on a child’s care may be used for the parent’s own needs such as vacations, drugs, alcohol, gambling or whatever other addiction that parent may have. Worse, they may involve the child in trafficking that substance or being around while exchanges of them are happening.
Driving drunk/impaired with the child in the car, leaving a child in a closed car while going into a bar or to make a drug deal or any other reason, keeping the child up until the wee hours of the morning while they party, drink or do drugs with other adults. In short, they deny their child or children the basic right to a safe and healthy life are all examples of Neglectful Parenting.
This is a partial list but, the gist is there.
Abusive parents are the ones who order their children to do what is considered non-child things and either verbally, physically or mentally punish the child in negative ways for not conforming to the parents’ demands or commands. This can include hitting, punching, beating, name calling, negative and hurtful comments that cut to the child’s core as a person, leaving the child feeling as though they are somehow “bad” and “wrong” as a human being in general. Whatever the method used by the parent, it is the harmful act that denotes it as “abuse”.
Beatings, punching, mental torture etc. is abusive. No one is saying that once or twice in your lifetime of being hit or spanked is abusive. This is far greater in-depth and duration than a spanking or two or, a parent who has been under great stress, lashes out once or twice and then apologizes with explanation to you. OUCH, yes, that hurt in one way or another but, remember that parents are human beings too. What is to be looked at as abuse is the constant physical, mental and emotional beatings that a child has to endure, not isolated incidents that were explained and apologized for having happened.
Whether that abuse has come from a substance abuse on the parent’s part or whether it be from a mental disorder that the parent suffers from and isn’t getting help for nor attempting to remedy, makes no difference. The harm has been done and the scars are there. However, it’s important to realize and recognize that abuse is not being said “no” to by your parent(s) nor, is it a parent who admonishes their child for poor behaviour and attitudes, actions or lack of them. It’s the regular or consistent physical and mental beatings or even sexual abuse that makes it abuse. Be very careful and honest with yourself right now in how you look back at those incidents and recognize what true abuse is not about.
If you’re still unsure that you fit into either of these categories, I suggest that you might want to continue reading on, even if only to remove some doubt or to put things into perspective. It may even be for curiosity’s sake that you continue reading this.
If however, you’ve spotted your parents’ treatment of you in the above and have estranged yourself from your parents already, you really need not read any further. If you haven’t already sought out help for this, it’s wise to do so now. Please consider getting a form of professional counselling as soon as you can swing doing so. There are sources that are free for this. Please seek out some form that you can handle and deal with financially.
Why Neglect And Abuse Are Really The ONLY Reasons To Estrange Yourself From Your Parents
- Parents are only human beings who have had children. No human is “perfect”. We all have flaws, faults, warts and troubles. You are no exception. Expecting parents to be perfect is not a correct view to have of anyone but especially, your parent/parents.
- Being only human, parents are going through tough times too as well as health issues (especially as they age) and the way that they deal with those issues may not always be what you think they should be. They may not and likely have not, told you everything that they are trying to cope with. Assuming that parents should always shove their own issues into a box to be your parent is unfair thinking on your part. Like everyone else on this planet, parents are people too.
- You, yourself, are not and were not, always perfect either. You came with challenges for your parents whether you see it or you don’t. As much as we’d all love to believe that every parent should know how to deal with every situation and do it well, is unrealistic to think or expect from them.
- If you can excuse behaviours, actions and choices that you don’t necessarily agree with or, you can put up with poor treatment from others, including friends and others in your life, why would you not tolerate and accept that from your parents?
- If you are in even a remotely abusive and neglectful relationship with your spouse, partner, girlfriend or boyfriend and even friends but, have not walked away from them, why would you do it to your parents?
- Growth and learning come from tolerance of certain things from others. Some of the biggest lessons people will learn in their lives, comes from situations where one learns to accept the less than stellar as well as the stellar portions of others. Everyone has them and shows them from time to time. Accept that your parents are no different from anyone else in your life or those who will become part of your life. It’s all part of being human and learning as well as growing as a person.
- You weren’t born entitled to much more than love, care, the necessities of Life and even then, once you’ve reached a certain age, you become not only capable but, responsible for some of those things on your own. Relying upon your parents and expecting them to always just be there, no matter how you’ve treated them poorly, is a statement more about you and your expectations being un-realistic about your role as a child and your parents as parents.
- If you can go out with friends, drive a car, work, get married, have a spouse or a partner or a boyfriend/girlfriend, a boss, teachers, professors. children of your own or whatever, your parents’ influence have been watered down greatly by those others in your life at this point as well as the world in general. Your parents are not the sole source of your troubles, issues or feelings. Look at the other influences in your life first because your parents are playing a small role in your life at this point. The rest is made up of Society and others. Recognize their influences and how they affect you as well. Also be conscious of how much time you’re actually spending with your parents by comparison to how much time you spend with others in a day. That, in and of itself, tells you a story.
- It’s easy to find reasons to blame someone else for what isn’t going right in your life rather than look at your own choices or lack of them. When you’re tempted to side-step blame for how your life is going now and find it easier to blame your parents for all of your ailments or falls, take a closer look at what you could have changed, should change and how much influence your parents truly had in you making those choices or not making them. Again, blaming your parents for everything is not only letting yourself off of the hook in an unhealthy way but, it’s excusing your own poor choices or lack of choices. It’s not a learning experience or personal growth factor. Think again before you blame your parents because your boss yelled at you or your spouse is a couch potato and you hated it. Did your parents really have a role in those things? If you didn’t stand up to the boss and chose your lazy assed boyfriend’s rear end imprint on the couch with the wrappers mounded up around him while he watches tv, did you, your boss, your boyfriend or your parents make those choices? Before you try to blame your parents for your lack of a backbone in standing up to these people, think again about who made those choices. Was it you or your parents?
- Is staying away from your parents and having nothing to do with them at all, changing your boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse’s behaviours that you don’t like? Is it changing your boss or your job that you hate? Is it buying you a new car to replace the one that breaks down every other week and has you swearing? Is your estrangement from your parents getting you that new house that you want but, don’t want to work another job to afford it? Is staying away from your parents changing the fact that you hate your own children’s poor behaviours that are driving you up a wall?
- Remember too that if you have children of your own, unless you were abused or neglected by that estranged parent, you are teaching your own children how to treat you. Don’t be surprised if your own children have little regard for you one day too. After all, they’ve watched Mommy/Daddy not speak or see their own parents. They’ve been taught how to deal with people that they don’t see as giving them what they want. Toss them aside and don’t bother with them. Is that what you wish to teach your child/children to do to you as well? It not only can happen but, does.
- The word “narcissist” and also the word, “abuser” have been tossed around like it’s every day stuff by estranged adult children when describing the parent(s) that they’ve estranged themselves from. True Narcissism and abuse require a far bigger and deeper definition, given out by a professional that some of the estranged children have been calling their parent(s). Those terms are not to be used lightly or to justify making such a harsh, hurtful choice. Be extremely careful in how you used those terms and don’t make them part of your reasoning for being estranged from your parents unless you are completely sure (through a professional) that this is the case. If not, you’re like a dog who keeps barking up a tree because he/she once saw a plastic bag and thought it was a squirrel. Even though the bag is no longer there and it never was a squirrel, calling your parent(s) narcissists or abusers or labelling them as abusive because they want to see you more or because they said “no” to what you wanted, is akin to the dog and the plastic bag and NO excuse for estranging yourself from them no matter how much you want to justify those actions. Seek out a professional to teach you how to lay down some realistic boundaries with those parents but, don’t just walk away from them. Also, don’t believe that because they aren’t following what you want them to follow, they are stupid, bad, evil, narcissistic, abusive or any other label you can put on them. Teaching you to talk, walk and just about everything else you did as a child, took a lot of work, time, thought and energy on your parent’s parts and you didn’t get those things down pat the first few dozen times you tried either. Keep that in mind and don’t try to change people. Acceptance is key here as they did with you while you were younger. Have patience and understanding.
There are so many other examples that can be given here but, the gist is that once you are an adult, your parent(s) are no longer your sole source of influence. There have been many that are part of who you are and who you will become. Those are your choices and your choices alone. You are an adult and if you can’t turn a toad that you’re choosing to be with into a prince or princess or a piece of coal into a diamond as you may want to do, that’s not your parents’ faults. Other than abuse and neglect, they had no role in those choices or decisions that you’ve made or are making. Other people have taken on those roles, including but, most especially, yourself. Look to those sources first and foremost and figure out where you could have and should be doing things differently.
Children grow up differently because they have different families, traditions, cultures, religions etc.. However, at a certain point, other people have had far more influence over your “now” than your parents did and everyone become equal in that aspect of things. Even if you can look back and say to yourself, “my parents could have given me what Johnny or Jane had if they had have worked more,” you’re also going to be able to say, “my parents weren’t as wealthy as Johnny or Jane’s parents but, they were there and I had a meal on the table, made by my parent(s) and I ate with them. They gave me what they could afford to give me at that time.” Think about Johnny or Jane’s situation. While they may have received more material things or vacations, were their parents around them or were they too busy working to give Johnny and Jane ponies and trips to Europe? Something had to give one way or another in all of your lives in order for you to have what you were given.
Other Reasons For Hating A Parent That Are No Reason To Estrange Yourself Or Hate
“My parents got a divorce because my mother/father chose another person and I got left behind,” you may be saying. “I hate my mother/father for that!”
If you are an adult while reading this, then you have full reasoning capacity. While not all divorces are pleasantly resolved and not all parents are part of their children’s formative years because of divorce, there are other factors that may not have been able to have been explained to you.
- Perhaps, the parent you were left with, chose to not permit your other parent to be involved in your life for reasons that only they knew or shared with you.
- While you may or may not have seen them fighting, it’s possible that they did so quietly or they simply avoided one another at all costs. They weren’t meant for one another. People do make mistakes in who they choose as spouses and maybe, whenever they did interact, they fought so it was easier on everyone to stay away?
- Guilt has a nagging feeling that can be like sticking a knife in someone’s stomach or back while turning the blade. It’s quite possible that the estranged parent had guilt every time they were around you about their choices to leave. It was easier on them to go on with their lives if they stayed away from reminders and thereby, guilt. It doesn’t make them right but, it does make them human with human feelings. The human condition is to avoid pain at all costs. Don’t think for one moment that there was NO pain there for the estranged parent. There was…unless that parent had/has a mental illness or disorder of some kind, in which case, they did you a favour by staying away from you.
- The parent you lived with, did a number on your mind, making you believe that your other parent was the cause of all of the discord and the resulting mess that was left behind. They will likely not be telling you that they had a part in all that happened or their own faults in the whole saga because they either believe that they were victimized or that they had no warts, flaws, faults or blame in the decision or choice the other one made. Unless your estranged parent is now deceased or can’t be found, you have the capacity as an adult to check out the reasonings and hear the other side of things now. Hear them out, rather than blame them. Base your decision on one thing. There’s 2 sides of a story and somewhere in the middle is the truth.
- Seek out BOTH sides of the story now that you are an adult. If one parent or the other is trying to tell you something, listen to them but, also ask questions of the other parent as well. Remember that parents are people and people are able to cover up things or look innocent when they weren’t.
- If one parent can provide you with “proof” of the other’s wrong-doings, believe that there’s cause. Don’t lock out that parent for telling you that the other parent was bad if there’s proof of some kind that you can track down.
“My parents don’t agree with my lifestyle, drug usage, drinking or choice in partners so, I can’t see them anymore,” you may be saying.
- You may make a choice of partners, lifestyle, do drugs, drink or whatever. Your parents may not like those choices and are likely telling you that they don’t approve of it. In the case of drugs or drinking, they have cause to be worried about you and speak up about it. In the case of not liking your choice in spouses or partners, ask yourself, being honest with yourself, if they may have a point or two? Just because you are ok with someone who is abrasive or ignorant, rude or lazy, doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to be ok with that person. Asking friends may help but, asking other family members to be honest in their assessment and telling them that you won’t be angry with them if they don’t like that person either, may tell you a story. You may not like it but, it may be more towards the truth than what you’re willing to put up with. Remember, “Love is Blind”.
- Do your parents have a point in being worried about your alcohol or drug usage? If you don’t think so, ask yourself who you are surrounding yourself with. Do they do drugs, drink or whatever it is that your parents are disagreeing with and worrying about you over? If you answer that the bulk of people you hang out with, are all doing the same things, you may be surrounding yourself with others with a similar issue so that you don’t feel the impact it may be having on your life. If you are without friends, family etc., you may be reasonably sure that it’s because either you’re isolating yourself to continue your pattern and no one likes it either. Ask yourself if your drinking or drug usage is your fault or your parents then, ask yourself what you could do to straighten your life and social contacts around. If you’ve read this far, it’s because your parents are NOT alcoholics or drug users so, they are not to be blamed. You need to get yourself into some form of professional help and ask your parents for their help. Don’t push them away. That’s an addiction talking, not them.
“They’re always in my face, telling me how to live my life and I can’t take it anymore,” you say.
- Really? Are they ALWAYS in your face? If you still live with them, yes, they are going to be there. You are in their house. If you’re living in their house still, as an adult, don’t expect your parents’ home to be like a frat house where you come and go and do as you please. You’re still under their roof and their lives are intertwined with theirs. They have that right. If you don’t like it, buck up, get a job and move into your own place.
- If you’re living away from home or on your own and they’re constantly dropping by, un-invited, you have a right to ask them to call and ask before they come over or set up a timed schedule where you’ll see them. Ask them for some privacy but, also remember that once you’ve moved out and are asking them for respect of your space and privacy, your front door key and your own drop-ins to their home, should also be respected in the same fashion. Once you move out and are paying for everything on your own, you have a right to your own privacy but, they do as well. Have a chat with them but, there’s no need to estrange yourself from them to have your own space or distance from them.
“My partner/spouse hates their own parents and we just want to be on our own with no parents involved,” you utter. “Parents are stupid people who meddle in our lives!”
- If your spouse/partner doesn’t like your parents because she/he doesn’t like their own and judge all parents by the same book of hatred, that’s their problem. Do you really feel the same as she/he does or, are you simply going along to keep peace with this person? Ask yourself that question first.
- If you’re simply going along with that person’s feelings and thoughts, you’re making a mistake. There’s likely a lot of other things that this person is doing which won’t net you anything good in the long run.
- If you truly feel this way, think again about this. Ask yourself if you’ve always truly felt this way, being honest with yourself or, whether this just started when you moved in with the person you’re living with. If it’s just started since you’ve moved in with this person, you have a problem with the person you’re with, not your parents so much if at all.
- Is the person you’re with, totally unattached to their family in totality or do they have contact and you’re the only one who has forsaken everyone else in your life? If they do have contact, why are you not having contact with your own family and especially, your parents? Ask yourself if there’s a motive behind this person’s agenda in you estranging yourself from everyone he/she doesn’t like.
- Ask yourself why your partner doesn’t like your parents. There are answers there and if you’re not sure, ask your parents how they feel about her/him then, ask your partner why she/he doesn’t like them. You may be surprised to find that your partner/spouse simply wants control over you and who you see. Or perhaps, their reasoning isn’t in line with how you truly feel about your parents. Either way, your spouse/partner shouldn’t be able to dictate who you see, how often, when or how you interact with others. If they are doing that, you have a problem with your partner/spouse that is not your parents’ faults. You have a much larger problem to deal with and a choice to make. A partnership should entail enriching each other’s relationships with others, not tearing your entire world apart at the seams or, worse…controlling you and your mind.
There is plenty more to talk about on this topic but, no matter what you decide to do, if you’ve read this far, you’ve got some doubt about why you’ve estranged yourself or distanced yourself from your parents. You owe it to yourself to do some deep thinking about all of this whether it’s again or it’s the 240th time that you’ve done this type of pondering. There’s something not sitting right with you and there’s good reason. If you’re double thinking everything…good! You only get one set of parents or one parent in some cases. Once they are off this planet, there’s no going back and re-doing things. Think hard and long because the rest of your life is a long time to be filled with regrets that cannot be undone. Don’t waste time, precious time that could be spent, making memories with your parents and family. If you still can’t figure it out for yourself, seek out professional counselling. As suggested above, there’s free counselling out there whether it be a close friend, other family member that you are speaking to, a clergy person, a social worker, a help line or reach out to me to talk about it. One way or another, seek out what the truth is within yourself and make the right choices. As previously said, the only 2 reasons for estranging yourself from your parents is abuse and neglect. Other than those 2 reasons, you’re the one who is and will lose out if you are estranged for any other reason(s) and don’t attempt to work it out while your parent(s) are still here or capable and willing to talk things through.
From my little corner of life to yours,
Best wishes! Love and Light
Have a great day/evening.