When Children Leave Their Parents

NPR radio show that sheds the light on a silent epidemic.

Description: Dr. Joshua Coleman, our guest this hour say’s there are a number of factors that contribute to family estrangements including divorce, selfishness and even technology. He’ll join host John Munson to explore the issue and talk about a growing trend that’s just heartbreaking.  When children tell parents they don’t want them in their lives anymore.


Things You Can Do If You’re Estranged From Your Adult Child

If your adult child has cut you out of his or her life—whether for a long or short time—it is a gut-wrenching experience, provoking deep feelings of shame, guilt, bewilderment, and hurt, all of which can easily turn to anger. On top of that, it can also arouse people’s worst suspicions (surely, the Smiths must be terrible parents for their daughter to cut them off like that!) and leave you feeling judged, even by friends and family.

Sometimes, of course, there are circumstances in which cutting off from a parent is the only viable option for an adult child (age 18 and older), for instance, in the case of past or present physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a parent.

Many times, however, estranged parents are left in the dark trying to figure out what went wrong. And while it’s common to pin the reason for the estrangement on everything from money issues, to personality conflicts, to divorce or difficult family dynamics, when you are in the dark, the easiest target to hit is yourself—to believe that you “failed” as a parent.

But here’s the reality: you didn’t cause the relationship to be severed; it was not your choice. Although you may have contributed to the tensions between you, you are not responsible for your child’s choice to cut you off.

Shutting a person out is a response to anxiety and fusion. Your actions or lack of action didn’t cause this. Cutting off is a way people manage anxiety when they don’t know a better way. The love and caring is there; the ability to solve differences is not.
Many adult children struggle with their parents, or with money issues, etc., but not all of them cut ties with their parents. Why do some cut off while others go through similar struggles and stay connected?

The Flight Response: Why Some Kids Distance Themselves

We humans manage stress in pretty predictable ways. We have a “fight or flight” response just like other species. And some people are more prone to distancing (flight) when emotional intensity gets high.

Let’s take Joe, for example. Joe was living at home after college, and his parents felt he was aimless. He would sleep in late, not help around the house, wouldn’t get a steady job, and was rude and disrespectful. Joe’s parents were understandably concerned and anxious about his lack of direction. They would nag, yell, and question him daily as to his game plan. He would be vague or get nasty, which caused his parents to get on his back even more. Eventually, Joe moved out. He didn’t tell his parents where he moved and didn’t contact them for over a year.

Related: Is your child rude and disrespectful? Refuse to be abused.

To understand Joe’s response, we have to recognize that when some people feel anxious, tired of conflict or pressure, or too much of the sticky family “togetherness” called fusion, their response is to distance themselves, be it emotionally, physically or both. When a person distances from others, they feel a sense of relief because the distance seemingly brings the conflict to an end. Of course, nothing is actually resolved; instead, more stress is generated.

On the outside, it looks as though Joe and his parents are disconnected. But on the inside, they are actually thinking about each other all the time and remain overly focused on one another. They are, in fact, still extremely involved with one another: they are emotionally bound up together, even though all communication has ceased. Neither is free from the original problem; nor are they free from each other.

Extreme Distancing: Cutting Off

Distancing, at its extreme, turns to cutting off. It can occur after long periods of conflict or as a sudden reaction to a difficult encounter. Whatever the issue, the person doing the cutting off has difficulty addressing and resolving the problem directly and maturely. Instead, like Joe, they stop communicating. Continuing the relationship seems unmanageable to them.

When a parent and child are enmeshed (too emotionally bound up with each other), they are more susceptible to cutting off when anxiety is high. Joe and his parents, for instance, were overly involved and entangled with each other. He was not taking responsibility for himself, nor were his parents taking responsibility for themselves. His parents did not stand up and let him know what they would and wouldn’t accept. Instead they nagged, begged and hoped he would change. He dug his heels in deeper, did less when pushed, and refused to address his part of the problem. They were living in reaction to one another, rather than each taking responsibility for their part of the family “dance.” The only way that Joe could see to get out of this tight tangle was to distance and cut-off from his parents; he didn’t have the skills necessary to untie the knots, to grow up and face himself.

Parents feel powerless when no contact is possible; when they can’t negotiate or even talk with their child. Should you contact your child or not? How long should you try? What should you say?

If you’re in this difficult position, here are five things you can do.

Don’t go at this alone. Get support. Being cut off by your child, with no ability to understand, communicate and resolve things, is difficult enough. That’s why being connected to others who love and understand you is particularly important. In addition to reaching out to friends and family, consider joining a support group. If you are not able to function at your best, get some professional help.
Don’t cut off in response. You are not the one cutting ties; your child is. Don’t cut off your child in response. Continue to reach out to him, letting him know that you love him and that you want to mend whatever has broken. Send birthday and holiday messages as well as occasional brief notes or emails. Simply say that you are thinking about him and hope to have the opportunity to reconnect. Send your warmth, love, and compassion—as you get on with your life.

Step back, look and don’t feed the anger. It’s understandable to feel angry. And in their attempt to be supportive, friends and family may fuel your feelings of betrayal, inadvertently increasing your anger. Anger is natural, but not helpful. Step back and try to understand what led to this estrangement. What patterns were operating in your family dance? If you can look at your family from a more factual vantage point, it may feel less personal. No one is to blame. Now if the door opens, you will be in a much better position to reconcile.

If the door opens, listen to your child without defending yourself. Listen with an open heart. Listen to her perceptions of what wrongs took place. Even if you disagree with her, look for the grains of truth. Be willing to look at yourself. It’s hard to hear these criticisms, especially if your intentions were misunderstood. So prepare yourself to handle this. Your adult child may need to hold on to blame as a way to manage her own anxiety. Just letting her know that you hear her will go a long way. Keep in mind that she, too, had to be in tremendous pain to reach the point of shutting you out. Try to empathize with her pain rather than get caught up in the hurt and anger.

Focus on yourself, not your child. If you do begin communicating again, you will be in a position to learn from the mistakes of the past and work toward an improved relationship. Put your efforts into changing yourself, not your child. Let go of your resentments regarding the estrangement. Understand his need to flee…and forgive him. Get to know the adult child you have, not the child you think he should have been. Allow him to get to know you.

If your child still has made no contact, grieve the loss and know there is still hope. Try to manage your anxiety, and do the right thing by staying in touch with him in a non-intrusive way: occasionally and lovingly. Things may change. Rather than blame yourself or your child for this pain, use your energy to learn about yourself, your own family history and patterns in your other relationships. Look for other patterns of cutting off in your family tree.

Remember that shutting a person out is a response to anxiety and fusion. Your actions or lack of action didn’t cause this. Cutting off is a way people manage anxiety when they don’t know a better way. The love and caring is there; the ability to solve differences is not. You did not cause your child to turn away. That was her decision. It may have been a poor one, but it was the best she could do at the time. Try to get your focus off of her at least 50 percent of the day, which will make a difference.

Your pain is real. Be mindful and compassionate of it, but don’t allow it to define or overwhelm you. Put the focus on what you have control over:  your own life.

SOURCE: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-your-adult-child-5-things-you-can-do/

5 Things About the “Unteachable Ones”

Who are the “Unteachable Ones” and how will you recognize them?

The Unteachable OnesThey are the people in your life that tend to speak the three most dangerous words in the English language: “I KNOW THAT!”  Sometimes, it sounds like this: “I already knew that!” “So what? I already know that!”  “I do that already, and I have for years!” They live in a house of cards. Yes, or yes? Always projecting that they have that knowledge, which they really don’t. The proof arrives instantaneously when they are asked and can’t answer the question, even though — per them — it’s been a life-long learning. Doesn’t matter what the subject is. They know it all. You get the picture.

A person who has a huge commitment level to the Sociopathic Style is difficult to teach. It is also very hard to share success stories with them, as they are simply going to say something like, “Great!” They will never ask you, “Tell me more about what you learned.” “Wow, it sounds like you learned a lot.” “What an achievement! Congratulations!”

Nope!  You will never hear anything like that from an Unteachable One.

Here are 5 traits that may help you recognize Unteachable Ones:

1. Someone who feels weak and not in their power tends — or tries — to steal energy from someone who is in their power. When given the opportunity to learn something new, they immediately feel inferior and shut down, walk away, or talk about you behind your back to take you down a notch.

2. They know everything, and much better than you! “Okay, go ahead. Explain yourself and tell me what you know,” they might say while they roll their eyes, sigh, yawn or act completely disinterested in what you are saying. They may ask the question and then interrupt you with something completely irrelevant.

3. Are they really interested in what you know, or what you just learned or experienced? Probably not. People who have  a high commitment level to the Sociopathic Style believe you don’t exist. Your excitement leaves them cold, because  they, themselves, can’t feel or access their own inner core other than feeling jealous. So, how in the heck can they relate to you?   Only through deep, inner resentment that has been festering for years, decades or an entire lifetime.

4. They tend to be jealous people, so if you know more than they, they will try to knock you off your pedestal. Whether to your face with their rudeness, or back-biting.

5.  They may secretly admire you or what you stand for. Hence, they will mimic you and pass on the things you teach them, claiming them as their own. They tend to steal the credit away from you because they don’t want your head to swell, or some such nonsense. They may belittle and shame you by yawning, acting disinterested or make faces while you try to communicate with them. But, alas! They go out and share with others the things they heard you say.  Catchphrases, knowledge, spiritual quotes.  It doesn’t matter what it is. They may try to steal your entire personality, for that matter.  (See the movie, “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”) Scary stuff.

People ask me, “How can we stop these hideous, little monsters?”

You don’t. And, you shouldn’t want to.

The best thing to do is don’t confront them and walk — or run — if you can, far and wide and be with the people who know how to love, uplift and inspire you. Because we all know by now, they do not know how to empower others. From an energetic perspective, once you really get to know them, it feels like they are dead inside. There is no authenticity in their personality.  They have often been called: “Empty, hollow shells.”

Lastly, believe me when I say this — they can not steal anything from you when you have enough Light in you. Light is abundant and unlimited. They may try to dim your Light, but without your permission, they can’t do SQUAT.

Shine on!

With love,

My Ex’s Current Girlfriend Contacted Me.

This is a question that comes up frequently in my work.

So, you’ve moved on and blessed your ex’s new relationship. You and the new girlfriend may have never met in person or otherwise. Months go by, and I am guessing the six-month mark is approaching and the new girlfriend is waking up to the fact that there is something very wrong with her relationship. She may not know about sociopaths or people committed to the Sociopathic Style of relating. She’s confused. She needs answers or closure, so she does a little research and finds you online and contacts you.

What is the correct way to respond?

First, you need to set your intention to help and — not further hurt — the person who is making contact. Moreover, you don’t want to hurt yourself with the exchange of information.  Do not jump in and share all the negativity and/or get into a “Schadenfreude” mode.

I believe it’s okay to share and, in some ways it’s our duty, to bring some light to someone’s suffering and to help them get confirmation or closure.

Under the aforementioned circumstances, I would do the following:

  • I would meditate for guidance and set my good intentions.
  • I would respond with empathy because I understand what she is going through.
  • I would validate her experiences.
  • I would not let what she shares affect me in any way.
  • I would steer the conversation in a positive way should she start to tell me things that I do not care to know about; i.e. more of his lies about me.
  • I would keep the conversation centered around her and very little on me since I have moved on from that experience.
  • I would keep what I share “academic” and based on facts.
  • I would not rehash all the negativity.
  • If she has a lot of questions, I would help her find the answers for herself, opposed to me offering answers from my own experiences.
  • I would focus on the upside on why the person came into our lives and what we can learn from the relationship.
  • I would share my “recovery journey” only in bullet points, and the positive things that have happened in my life since he and I parted ways.
  • I would watch the clock and give the conversation no more than 30 minutes.
  • I would wish her well and remain as we are; meaning not become friends over him or her situation.
  • I would keep our correspondence and/or conversation confidential.

I think it’s a bad idea to contact a new partner of an ex, but if the new partner contacts you, I think it’s fine to offer well-intended, helpful guidance.  In the sociopathic way of relating, there is a lot of confusion, gaslighting, manipulation, verbal  and emotional abuse, betrayal and pathological lying present that makes the “victim” feel crazy. It helps to know that there is someone who cares and understands — who can help one out of the fog without judgment and more drama. Remember to stay in love-based communication and don’t engage in the power triangle.

Don’t let people pull you into their storm; instead, pull them into your PEACE.


Should I Warn His New Partner?

I am often asked if someone should contact the new partner of an ex to warn them of the abuse.  My answer is, without a shadow of a doubt: “No!”

First and foremost, ask yourself what’s motivating you? If you are trying to warn her or him, aren’t you engaging in the Power Triangle? Pathological rescuers rescue people without being asked. Stay out of the Power Triangle. It spells trouble. Secondly, your ex-has probably painted a very bad picture of you to the new partner. Don’t you think that contacting that person will validate everything he said about you? It will make you look jealous, vengeful and insecure.

When we had our first falling out, my ex-gave me a list of emails of women he had been in a relationship with prior to me and said: “Contact them for a testimonial. I’m a good man, Marion. They will tell you.” So I sent off an email and never got a reply from them. When I told him that I emailed them and didn’t get the testimonials he said I would, he became EXTREMELY angry and accused me of being: “High School and immature.” I replied: “You told me to contact them!” “I didn’t think you would!” he snapped back.

You need to focus on yourself, especially if you’ve been in a toxic relationship. When bitter thoughts arise or you think to yourself, “How can he be happy now after he made me so miserable?” Tell yourself that you wish them both well every single time a thought comes up. This will help you so much because you are letting go of negativity. In truth, your ex is no longer your business and kind thoughts will help you move on in a beautiful way.  You don’t have to allow contact, by all means. Simply wish them well and smile.

Even though friends have told me my ex is in a new relationship, he still contacts me every 6-8 weeks with poems, “I love you” — and to top it all off, in his last correspondence, he has giving me permission to move on with my business. He is now “shining his light on my work” which he consistently put down in the past. I just chuckle and throw the notes, emails and texts away without a reply, because to me he is like a cobra. He will bite me over and over again if I let him.  Even though his behavior is still bizarre as ever, I do send well-wishes telepathically, because in wishing him well I wish me well. “I wish you well. I wish you well. I wish you well…” has become my mantra. Thoughts of him have dissolved in a very natural, organic way without much effort.

When we recapitulate the relationship and see that we were a psychological or spiritual mismatch, which I often stated in my past relationship, then why would we want to continue thinking on that person? If it was a severely abusive relationship as in my case, shouldn’t we be happy that the person has a new target/interest? I, for one, am ecstatic that I am free. Before he had a new love interest, he constantly harassed me and kept me off balance. It was a grueling time for me because I still had feelings for him and I sacrificed my own happiness for someone who is a pathological liar.  I found that when my mind started to recapitulate the good, bad and the ugly side of the relationship, I would say to myself: “It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter! “I wrangled in my thoughts with another simple mantra that works for me. Try it if you’re struggling with thoughts about the past or crazy assumptions.  It is a simple technique that is very freeing.

Lastly, if your ex-has become a better person for having known you, you have done your job.  But all that matters is that you are a better person — and you have expanded your consciousness — and you are drawing healthier boundaries. The best thing you can do is to take time for yourself and unload some baggage before you get into another relationship. Find a tribe with similar interests.  Get involved in your community and find joy on your own before you make yourself available for someone new. Rebound relationships, more often than not, fail miserably because people bring baggage from a past relationship into it; and sometimes they are still in love with, or focused on, their ex.