Have you received toxic messages from your estranged adult child? Is there a way to deal with this situation? Is there a right way to do it?
The answer to that last question is, YES!
If your adult child has estranged from you or gone “no contact” and you’re suddenly receiving those annoying and upsetting messages from them, there are a couple of things that you can do about this situation.
Know that it takes some type of emotion for someone to type something out even if it sounds angry and bitter or “toxic” to you. That means that there are emotions that are bottled up and coming out at you from your estranged adult. Keep in mind that if someone doesn’t care, they don’t even think about you. The mere fact that your adult child is bothering to write anything at all is a sign of being emotionally involved or “caring” to some extent or another.
If your estranged adult is using some substance and you suspect that it may be the case in their messages to you, you have every right to cut off that type of contact. They likely won’t remember that they’ve even contacted you or, at the least, be regretful that they have done so. You needn’t put up with a substance abuser’s ramblings or rants. Simply either ignore it or, if you’ve already been in contact with them, respond back with something as simple as,
“I love you but, I’m about to (fill in the blanks here). I have to go now,” and leave it there, shutting off your messages or do something else. The worst thing that you can do is to argue or debate with someone who isn’t of their own mind. It only incites their anger. Of course, leaving it on a note of “I love you but…” and giving yourself a reason to not respond is telling them that they matter but, you have a life and their ramblings or rants are not wanted or will be paid attention to at that moment.
On the other hand, if you’re in contact with them or this is one or two times that this sort of thing has happened to you by them, listen but, don’t respond in any sort of “defence” of yourself. They want an argument to say the least. Your response can be something as simple as saying,
“I’m listening” and let them ramble on, not taking it personally. It’s their rant and, they don’t want to hear what they will perceive as your “excuses”.
When they are done ranting and rambling, even if you wash the dog while they’re typing away or do the dishes or watch something on tv, you are well within your rights to say something like,
“I’ve heard what you’ve had to say. Are you finished what you have to say? Please allow me the opportunity to clarify what you’ve said. I love you and always will. Did you know that…(fill in the blanks again *IF* you feel that you can add something constructive to this rant.)”.
If your estranged adult only adds more and more insults, you have two choices. You can cut it off with the first suggestion of saying something like, “Thank you for your message. I’ll think about it. Please excuse me. I have to go now.”
Your second option is to attempt to get facts straight if there’s any misinformation which I’m sure that there is. If that fails (remember, NO defensive words as they don’t want to hear it from you and they WANT an argument with you. They are provoking it with their words and accusations. Don’t fall victim to their ploys or past times if that’s what they want. They are out to argue, debate, put you down or entrap you with your own words. You needn’t go there with them.)
The one thing to remember is that oftentimes, insults are the way in which your adult child will vent their anger and possible misconceptions about you. You have every right to “de-program” that incorrect information or at the least, attempt to do so but, do it without defensive words or arguing. It only proves their point within themselves or someone else. Be NICE. One attracts more bees with honey than with vinegar.
Do NOT get defensive! I can’t say that enough. It’s like arguing with a drunk and gets you nowhere fast. However, if you can entertain the idea of letting them vent or blow off steam without arguing back tit for tat type thing, you’re going to come off as Glynda “The Good Witch” versus the monster that they’ve either been told or have been convinced as well has having convinced themselves that you are. It’s akin to throwing gasoline on a fire. It will only stoke the flames out of control.
If this is NOT the first time that your estranged adult child has sent you “toxic” messages that only hurt you and end up going nowhere good, there’s a chance that you’ve reacted to these types of things before and they know that they are getting to you. They want to get to you. They are aiming for the juggular in this case. Again, don’t fall victim to their ploys. Don’t give them what they want. As soon as they sniff out a weakness of any kind in you, they will use it. They’re using what you’ve previously given them to use on you. It’s much like hitting below the belt. Don’t react by arguing back. As tempting as it may be to respond with anger, don’t do it! Go pound a pillow, bed or couch afterwards instead.
Finally, if they are really getting to you and you have travelled down this road with them before, reaching no good outcome with them or agreement (even if it’s to agree to disagree about something but, it leads to some sort of good) then, you have the complete right to cut it off right there by a nice and respectful but curt sort of response such as,
“I’m about to (fill in the blanks). If you’d like to speak with me later or tomorrow, please call me and we’ll talk.”
Right there, you’ve left the ball in their court. If they’re serious about wanting to speak to you, they will call you though it’s highly unlikely that they will. It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard or a cell phone and message you silly with nasty messages. It’s far more difficult for them to pick up a phone and say the things that they are saying to you in a negative fashion. A keyboard, virtual or real, gives them courage to say the things that they are saying to you. If you know that this is a common thing for them to do or that they do this frequently, you are under no obligation to listen to them or nonsense as well as an angry rant that may be coached by someone else in their lives. Simply cut it all off in a nice way, leaving them with an option. Do NOT react! They sniff those things out along with your weaknesses. Don’t throw fuel onto that fire. Hand them a bucket of water by cutting off the ranting and raving in a nice way no matter what they are saying to you.
If you have something to apologize for, do it. If you don’t, you are well within your grounds to say something like has been suggested above. Pick one that suits you and your circumstances but, under NO circumstances should you argue with them. It does them no good nor, you.
The one last thing to remember is that if you have been abusive, get some counselling for yourself as I am not a professional. They will guide you from there on how to deal with both yourself as well as your adult estranged child.
If you know that you have nothing to be sorry for or apologize for to them and, that their rants are just that…rants…you are under zero obligations towards listening to it all. Remember that they walked away from you, not the other way around. If you did walk away, again, some counselling/therapy will do you some good to help you figure out how to deal with those feelings, that action, why they occured and how to cope with an angry and estranged adult child or children. Own up to your part in this responsibly. Don’t just run away from it. Face it head on. This though, is not the majority of parents who have been estranged from. It’s more a case of your adult child who has estranged having been coached by an “influencer” or having convinced themselves falsely in order to continue on with a lifestyle or someone else that they know that you wouldn’t approve of them doing or being with. You are not obliged to like everything that they do nor, to chase after them.
From my little corner of life to yours, if you’re being victimized by your estranged adult child and know that it’s simply a victimization, you are not obliged to continue letting them do that to you. Think about the advice or opinions given above and deal with it in your own fashion and words.
Remember that anything that comes out of the blue for instance, after a long time of no contact from them, is more than likely a reaching out to you even if it appears to be negative. Unless you know that it is just a rant, listen, be loving and leave it on a note that they call you. You do NOT have to put up with abusive conversations if you know that’s what it is.
Be well, Love and Light
Have a great day/evening!