Looking around at our current culture, it does often feel like people are less present, more selfish, care less about kindness and thoughtfulness. I know I’ve felt real struggle finding community and avoiding loneliness in recent years. The issues I’ve been facing with my adult daughter, these last couple of years, as a result, have felt that much more devastating for me, because of a shift in the culture-at-large becoming more disconnected as we connect more online.
I’ve appreciated Dr Colman’s thoughts on how our kids were raised (by us & the culture, too) to have more of a voice. Their experiences really mattered to us, in ways, most of us simply didn’t enjoy, ourselves, in our own families of origin. As a result, our kids’ generation does see themselves—and us—more individualistically. Gone are the days of family groupings being the primary source of identity, in our young people.
This has both positive consequences and some potentially negative ones, too, like them feeling they do have the right to engage or not engage us, and even judge or not judge us—both for real mistakes and those that are perceived. The latter can happen when they haven’t yet learned that though feelings are important to our experiences, they are not actually the same as facts. Facts cannot be altered or changed and aren’t based on feelings or opinions. When those 2 things are confused, the next logical step is to malign someone’s character instead of doing what’s more honest, and sticking with focusing solely on the behaviors. If someone tells a lie, discuss telling the lie instead of calling them a liar, for instance. And, it then can be pretty tough to understand that navigating a relationship without that sort of compassion, means there’s likely zero chance of ever finding mutual understanding, respect, and in the end, a relationship, at all.
Even though going through this with our children can be one of the most painful experiences many of us have ever had, I still believe there’s something in these basic relational concepts we might be able to learn from, too. Maybe some of our children struggle to get clear on them because we forgot to discuss what healthy discourse was in their childhoods, even. Perhaps some of us were never shown emotional intelligence by our own parents so we didn’t even know how to show it to our kids. It’s possible they’re just as confused, conflicted and in the dark to know how to fix what feels broken between us, as we are. I think, if I put myself in my daughter’s shoes, it would bring some sense of safety for her to know, no matter the things she’s both said and done, that I give her this benefit of the doubt and also take ownership of my (very inadvertent, but no less real) mistakes in raising her, too. My guess is that if I feel I accepted, unseen, unheard, unloved that these sane feelings are likely at the heart of her grievances and rejection of me. I’d like to aim towards having an intention of being a better example—both than she is being in her actions and choices, as well as than I may have been for her when she was still a child. As heartbreaking as that thought leaves me, I feel strongly that I need to be willing to take responsibility for my own part with her.
And, that brings up: For me, the unique pain comes from that completely opposite set of emotions always having to sit together: Hurt/Love or perhaps Longing/Over It, at times! Any other relationship breakdown just does leave you feeling as ripped in two as when there’s fallout with your own previous yet maddening grown child!
One note: I might reconsider the Narcissistic label, only because Narcissistic Personality Disorder is actually—at least in part—caused by primary caregivers neglect and abuse during early childhood (many state before age 3; others, before age 5), which would implicate parents and genetics as the largest culprits in their behaviors today, solely. Though, studies have also shown the millennial generation as one of the more altruistic and giving one of recent decades, it’s true that it has also suggested there has been an increase in traits that are Narcissistic, on average in this sane group. That may not be all bad, though. We all have Narcissistic traits we use in life. Healthy Natcissism is a sign of good self-esteem, for instance. It’s when people have more than what’s generally considered healthy that their relationships with others may begin to show problems. It definitely could be what’s going on, at least a little. They also coukdvsimply have no clue how to repair things, too—I can’t know, I just don’t want you shutting the door altogether, as to completely lose a chance for relationship with them in the future.
But, it’s the toughest thing in the world to not want to give up in the face of the truly excruciating pain of your child rejecting you, isn’t it? I totally get that feeling so well after everything I’ve been through with my own child, I know. I’m tired and I’m really sad and I can’t even find others to talk with about it—people assume it’s all my fault, or that I must be immature to talk about my own child like that. It’s patently unfair, it feels. And, I’m astounded there are almost zero resources out there at all for parents whose adult children reject and/or abuse them, too, I’ve recently discovered! I can’t express how grateful I am for Dr Coleman’s work; message, and this forum where we can reach out and lean/learn from one another.
So, hang in there, Mom. Thank you for sharing your story. It helped me reach out for my first time here.
I completely agree. This seems to be an epidemic. My 37 yo son married a narcissist, and is turning into one himself. He had an easy childhood and never wanted for anything. I now see that he doesn't appreciate anything because he always had it so good. I doted on him when he was little, and I think I praised him too much. He got used to always being the privileged kid, the good looking one with the good grades, taller than everyone else, etc etc. It has come back to bite me. At the time I had no idea. I don't understand this estrangement thing at all, but the things he is accusing me of are just character traits. I'm not about to change my personality at this point. I haven't been able to see my grandkids since March. That really breaks my heart. I took care of them when they were babies (they are now 6 and 4), and tried to help my son out whenever I could. I am not a meddler and have minded my own business. They live a half hour away, and even before the estrangement, I didn't see them that much. I have always given them way more than they have ever given back, but never made an issue out of it. I don't understand any of it. If I'd done something egregious, I could understand it. But this is just a slap in the face. My family means everything to me. I don't deserve this, and I don't know what to do. I have tried to communicate, but no response. Sometimes I think my son blames me for the divorce 7 years ago. They are friendly toward my ex, even though the reason we broke up is because he's an alcoholic and had a severe mental breakdown, suicide attempt, etc...he has never apologized or made amends to anyone, but for some reason I am the bad guy. It's almost too much for me to handle. I've read a few books and tried to wrap my head around this, but it's just beyond my comprehension. My son and I were always close. Maybe that's the problem. In one email, I once asked him, "Why in the world am I the object of all your hostility? Why do you even care about me so much, since I'm not even around? Why is my boring little life so important to you?" He answered "Maybe that's the root of the problem." I still can't figure out what this means. Things will never be the same. I just want to see my grandkids.
Dear heart broken parents,
I personaly see a considerable correlation between narcissistic millennials and hurting parents. If you’re a younger baby boomer, who overly spoiled and catered to her grown child throughout his/her life, chances, they will turn to be narcissists, who, eventually dump you. Because as soon as they have gotten everything from you, they will tell you they don’t need you anymore, or simply discard you. That’s what my son, who I raised on my own did a day after his wedding (which I paid in full.) He simply announced that “ I don’t need anything from you anymore”.
In my case, I suffered rounds of narcissistic abuse from both my son and my daughter throughout their adult life, until they finally went on the final cut off. I have not spoken to my 36 years old son in 5 years, and never met his two children. I have not spoken to my daughter for 3 years, and baned from any communication with my granddaughters since then. It was a heart break that led to full ptsd and depression, but eventually led me to full recovery, real freedom and total happiness.
Final word, I’m organizing a small group (no more than 8 people ) healing retreat for parents, who were abused emotionally by their own grown children, or were cut off from your life. November 1-7 2018 by the beach in Mexico.
Please contact me for more info. if you’re interested at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace and Blessings. Dina
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