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Dr. Coleman was on the Today Show July 6th, talking about parental estrangement. Click here to view the segment.
For me it is my dad’s side of the family. My parents divorced before I was born. I was mostly raised by my mother but I did spend summers with my dad’s side of the family and lived with my dad and his second wife for a year when I was a teenager. He was abusive and the rest of the family didn’t seem to care. As an adult they don’t call or write and they avoid me and I know they don’t want anything to do with me and don’t care about me but I don’t know why. They won’t say what the problem is and they won’t just tell me to quit calling or writing. They leave me wondering what happened. Looking back, hindsight is 20/20, and I can see where they have been like this even when I was a kid. How can people have kids and feel nothing for them and just use them and abuse them and ignore them and act like their kids aren’t even human? If I ask if there is a problem they act like they don’t know what I’m talking about. It is frustrating. It is as though they aren’t real people and so they don’t know how to act like real people or how to communicate and relate to real people. I feel like I have been living my entire life in the Twilight Zone. There is no closure. Even with the deaths in my family there has been no closure. I feel like a loose end just dangling off the edge of a cliff and I just don’t matter to anybody.
U r worth more than how u r being treated. Dont waste another moment casting your pearls before swine. Good luck x
My daughter is 29. After fifteen years of various forms of abandonment I am sick of this.
Especially after somewhat reconciling with her last summer only to be told to say away indefinitely this Thanksgiving. It was a small slight, and when I tried and tried to apologize she said it only stacked up more time that she would not talk to me. I am particularly distressed because this last time I begged her not to do this. It was affecting my health and job. But she continued to say I was violating her boundaries. Stacking up more time.
I have been going through various degrees of this for fourteen years. Being treated like I am of no consequence. She came to town many times over a decade and only saw me a few of those times. We lived a block away from each other at one point and she treated me like she could barely take time for me. She treats me like I am more of a stranger than her mother.
The past ten years I have been in personal counseling. I have come to terms with my own issues related to my mother. It was a lot of hard work, but I did it. I have accepted personal responsibility for anything I may have done to hurt my daughter and told her. Told her she can share anything without fear of reprisal. I will accept my role and work on issues.
And this still goes on.
Dr. Coleman. I am sick of it. I have grieved for fourteen years. Off and on as she draws near and then cuts me off. That is a long, long time.
I am at the point where my feelings for this child are changing. I find it hard to love her in my heart. I still tell myself she will snap out of it, but more often I try to put her out of my mind.
Here is the truth. For the first time I do not like my child. I do not have any more patience for this. And I am trying to forget her. Bury this and go on.
Do parents get to this point? You can only take so much.
YES, Anonymous, parents DO reach a breaking point…..I am one of them.
I was a victim of parental alienation syndrome. My kids have had memories implanted in their minds of a childhood full of tortured moments that never actually happened to them…..memories implanted by their hateful father who cared nothing for them.
I am 7 years into the nightmare. My middle child, 18, is trying to reach me again. I’ve had enough. I was suicidal and have suffered a debilitating bout of major depression that does not respond to medication or counseling. At this point, it’s my life we are talking about.
My daughter has not once asked me how I am, or what I’ve been doing since she saw me last 3 years ago. All she cares about is herself and “knowing that she has a mother” because now, she no longer cares for her step-mother. ???
I’m done. She is being overly persistent this time, and I have threatened to take out a restraining order against her if she doesn’t stop coming to my home. I can’t take it anymore and am refusing to get sucked back into this sick game that is being perpetuated by my ex-husband/her father.
It has been 5 years since my daughter and I became estranged. I’m heartbroken and confused because once or twice a year she does get in touch with me but nothing comes of it. I did all the usual thing at first, called her, wrote notes, asked forgiveness, everything.
Her Father passed away a few months ago. She didn’t visit him until one day before he died. At the funeral, I went to her and put my arms around her. Later in the parking lot she walked over to me and my sister and wepted. Said she would see me at Christmas, sent two emails and then it all stopped. She and her husbank didn’t go to the burial site, it was a beautiful military funeral. A few years befor he passed, he said “enough is enough” and stopped trying. I am having a terrible time letting it go. Now the holidays are here again. I’m still having a terrible time…
I agree with Shannon. Going estranged from our parents is not something adult children of abuse take lightly. I disagree that “this generation” is selfish, lazy, has no respect for authority, etc. (Seriously, which generation has never been accused of those things by the previous ones?). Most abusive parents take zero responsibility for their behavior and prefer to blame the times, their adult childrens’ friends, drugs, cults, “evil therapists,” and other “influences” rather than acknowledging their own part in their childrens’ unwillingness to deal with them anymore.
I saw the today show when it aired. I want to understand why adult children who cut contact with their parents were not given a voice?
I went no contact years ago because my mother is a narcissistic personality. She is manipulate, overbearing and controlling. I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried. I went to therapy over and over trying to fix myself. My mother was never interested. Several therapists told me I should go no contact to avoid more damage to myself.
I am sure there are other adult children who have darn good reasons for not having a relationship with their parents.
I don’t assume all parents did this to their children but I also don’t believe its adult brat syndrome either.
I agree that this issue is not so simple, and blame is not the answer. If someone has a huge sense of entitlementt/grandiosity, inability to see his/her own faults & an unshakeable proclusion to revise the facts, blame others, and has zero empathy, then just trying to appease them will only make things worse. In my situation, it is my daughter who has the narcissistic personality traits. While she was growing up, she demanded attention, money, priority in the family and was often harsh and unfair, but overall, was a great student, funny, and had lots of good traits, too. I was quick to apologize for conflicts, to drop everything to help her, and keep things stable, and to be the buffer with her her dad, who had a mercurial personality. A lot of the control issues with both of them were quite subtle, and I was busy trying to work full time and take care of my kids and did not have the background to recognize the issues. I stuck with it for 28 years, trying to see the good in him, and there were some periods of calm. Eventually his intense stress escalated the situation, and his abuse gave me no option but to go. In short, through a bizarre series of perfect-storm type events, he managed to give me joint conservatorship of my younger daughter to me but guardianship to my older daughter, who denies me access apart from a few minutes in the older one’s presence, and who has used techniques attributed to “coercive control” and “PAS” to ensure that the younger one, with whom I was always close, now hates me, and sinc. I don’t care about the politics of the verbiage regarding the labels; associated behaviors happen frequently.
Inmcidentally, I came to this site because I read an article in aarp magazine today, written by Dr. Coleman. Since I am currently living abroad, it was the first I had heard of him. This article states that he blames the “me-first” mentality for weakening parent-child relationships. Although I am sure that happens, and I appreciate the good he is doing when he is correct, I take strong exception to its overgeneralization of the issues underlying such estrangement. It is unconscionable to oversimplify or under-analyze this issue. In many cases, it is fear of conflict and a desire to stick with things, the opposite of a me-first attitude, that creates the very conditions that later ensure a further sense of entitlement and estrangement.
My grown children won’t call or visit and my daughter keeps my grandchildren from me. I had my son @18 and my daughter @ 22.I was on welfare and worked for cash babysitting to make ends meet. They had 2 different deadbeat fathers. I finally went to nursing school to better myself and their lives. I thought everything was finally OK because I bettered myself and finally married a stable christian man and i too became a christian in the interim. My parents, my mom and stepdad who abused me on the other hand are alcoholics and my kids totally think the world of them and not me. I thought I turned from this dysfuntional family pattern to better my kids only to find out they would rather be with their drinking, partying, gambling grandparents them me and my husband which breaks my heart as I thought I finally was on the right track only to see they think that my parents dysfunction is better then being with me. I am devastated and depressed. I wrote my son a heart wrenching letter and told him how much I loved him and was sorry for all the bad upbringing I did because I was just too young and didn’t know what i was doing but now I know better and do better. My husband and I also have an 11 yr. old daughter whom they don’t seem to care about either. I want my family back and don’t know what to do. My daughter who was close at first, suddenly turned on me right after the birth of my 2nd grandchild. and I don’t know why. I am on antdepressants, am extremely depressed and she saw me take a glass of wine one time during the day and that’s when she said I could only see my grandchildren under strict supervision in her home while she and her husband watched over me and my husband. They live 3 hrs. away and are supposed to be christians too which hurts me more then my son because I feel she should know better. any insight to this dilema and tragedy in my life would be greatly appreciated
I just saw the Today segment on msn.com; it was like a lightening bolt for me. I wonder if Dr. Coleman has any words of wisdom when the estrangement involves an adoptive parent?
Here’s my situation: I have been happily married to my husband for 23 years. He was a widower with 2 young daughters, whom I adopted when we married. Sadly, his late wife was an alcoholic and also used illicit drugs, and in fact she died in a single-car rollover while intoxicated. He never told his daughters the truth about their mother’s problems until they were adults, and even then he minimized them – so they grew up with an idealized picture of her. But I did my best to be a good parent, and always regarded them as my children.
A couple of years ago my youngest daughter, then in her mid-twenties and married, started to shun me. As I write this, she is expecting twins in 3 weeks, and has by now almost completely cut me out of her life. She does not call or email, she doesn’t speak to me when I am present unless she is responding to a direct question, she barely tolerates my presence in the same room, and she is hinting that I will not be considered “Grandma.” I am hurt and bewildered. I plan to do some reading, and perhaps find some counseling, to at least deal with my own feelings, but I confess that I feel pessimistic. It’s a comfort to know that other parents also struggle with alienated children, but it’s still pretty diffidult to comprehend this. Thanks to Dr. Coleman for bringing attention to this important issue.
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Dr. Joshua Coleman is an internationally known expert in parenting, families, and relationships. He is Co-Chair of the Council on Contemporary Families and is a psychologist with a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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