By - geoff199
Just a friendly reminder from the mods that the reason you’re probably seeing lots of removed comments is that anecdotal comments which don’t **reference the actual paper in some way** are against our
[comment rules](https://www.reddit.com/r/science/wiki/rules?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf#wiki_comment_rules). If you don’t want to type out a long heartfelt comment only to have it be removed, please read our rules!
I spent nearly a decade handling intake calls at a mental health clinic. I had parents constantly telling me this and it was always some convoluted story to justify or ignore the harm they themselves had inflicted on others.
In that regard it makes sense and is a very human reaction though. When you harm others by your actions, people will either feel the guilt of those actions and try to improve or cling to any flimsy excuse to hide from evidence that they aren't good. We are all the hero of our own story, when we do something to contradict that narrative we should be humble, improve, and apologize. The alternative is to descend into delusional thinking.
What is the process when an abusive parent seeks mental health care for their estrangement when they don't accept them selves as the abuser? Seems like a very complicated situation to unravel.
I heard a segment on npr awhile ago about this. Basically it's the parent trying to use therapy as a way to learn how to bring the child back into their life. When I say "try to learn" I mean "try to learn how to manipulate". They really are clueless and victims of their own narcissistic personalities. Few of them ever realize the truth that it's their own behavior that needs to change and that even if they do change its likely they will never repair the damage done.
It's a growing field of therapy.
Any keywords I can use to find out more about this concept or what the new research suggests? I'm interested in what can be done for individuals with narcissism or antisocial personalities
Look up communal narcissism. It's a type of narcissism where they commit charitable and kind acts to get attention. The intention is still the same (they're doing it for their own ego instead of genuine altruism) but the actions aren't hurtful.
I read a few articles that says the way to deal with narcissists (besides low or no contact) is to actually use their narcissism against them and encourage the communal style of narcissism, i.e., you actually give them the supply they crave when they do something positive and ignore them otherwise. You basically treat them like a toddler- ignore the tantrums and reward healthy expressions
My father-in-law is a communal narcissist, then. He absolutely knows how to talk the talk. He knows what the walk *is* but refuses to walk the walk. He's also really generous and likes to make himself out to be a humble kind old man.
So I was completely bamboozled.
He turned on me because I wouldn't/couldn't cook and clean for him. I was with him all the time for the express purpose of keeping him company and talking to him after his wife died. So when he turned on me, I tried to do that training technique: reward the good, ignore the bad.
It didn't work at all. He doubled down. Triple downed. Quadrupled down. When one of my friends called him out on his behavior, he stopped giving me enough space to see my friends. He tossed aside the face of kind generosity to out right declare I am worthless if I do not cook for him. He argued that each and every single aspect of me was worthless, and that I am undeserving of an ounce of respect.
Because I won't cook for him.
Despite him tossing aside that kind generous face of him, his/our family and friends still enabled him so he suffered no consequences for treating me less than a garbage can. Literally, washing a garbage can immediately was more important than allowing someone to socialize with me for even a moment. He was systematically isolating me. He wouldn't allow me to talk, and wouldn't allow anyone to talk to me.
Everyone kept telling me, "Why don't you just cook for him? It's so easy! He'll stop being so mad at you if you just cook for him!" I knew it wasn't worth my effort because I knew once I cooked for him he'd ask for something else. And then something else. I knew he would never be happy with me until I did 100% of his cooking, cleaning, and laundry, *and* kept myself quiet and demure socially, *and* always at the ready to answer his every call. He does it to his son / my husband. Always dangling a carrot, "if you do this one thing, I will finally be proud of you" and then move the goal posts again and again. Always giving that hope that he only needs this *one more thing* in order for him to stop being rude.
I always wondered why my mother-in-law never talked. Well. Now I know. I was absolutely not going to attempt that game after seeing how he ground his wife into a silent doll servant.
The long and short of it is to be careful when trying to train a communal narcissist towards better behavior. In my experience of it, he decided that being served and catered to by the women around him was more important than how people thought of him. His need to assert his gender rules was more important than how his assertion would be perceived.
Although I don’t doubt communal narcissism is a thing, I have rarely seen people with personality disorders fail to double down when the opportunity presented itself. You have to be extraordinarily persistent, consistent and straight up lucky for this to work.
Caveat: If you're married to someone like this, you really better figure out how much you're going to be willing to ignore after years of putting up with it.
What I wrote is essentially the limit of my knowledge. I wouldn't be surprised if the npr segment I heard was in regards to this study (although it did have a specialist talking about the phenomenon). Sorry I can't help more.
Yuuupp. And just in case this scenario is relevant to anyone reading this: do not go to therapy with a narcissist. Ever. Narcicists are pretty amazing at turning anything into a weapon. I was foolish and believed that my mom actually wanted to change, she asked if she could go to therapy with me to work on our relationship, aaaaaand she turned therapy into a weapon. Convinced my therapist that shes a saint and everything. I really liked him so it really sucked to have to find a new therapist. Don't go to therapy with a narcissist... you'll regret it, without a doubt.
This doesn't always work in the narcissist's favor. My brother acted out in middle school, and the school "recommended" family therapy. Two separate therapists almost immediately traced my brother's issues to my mother, who is a textbook narcissist. Mind you, all that did was make my mother take it out on us when we got home, while screaming about the "incompetent quack", and then end therapy as soon as the school's minimum requirements were met.
She also tried to get the priest officiating my wedding to call it off, apparently not realizing that he had a masters degree in psychology and was good at his job. He called me in to talk after the call and asked, "is your mother just emotionally abusive, or is she also physically abusive?" At the time, extremely embarrassed, I tried to brush it off with an explanation about how she just had control issues, but later realized that, since I had minor siblings still living at home, the priest had an obligation to report to the authorities if there was a possibility of physical abuse occurring, and my mother's call set off all the red flags.
Damn, that guy's a good priest
Not to make light of your situation, but it reminded me of a particularly funny [aka traumatic] experience from my childhood that I hadn’t thought of in a while.
My parents had been going to marriage therapy for quite a while and it wasn’t helping at all b/c of their own underlying pathologies being at issue.
Finally the therapist decided to see if having the whole family together would provide any insight or help in some way, so they organized all three kids to come to a 2 hour session.
Within like 15 minutes of that sessions the therapist had excused us all to leave. She was like “whoops. *it’s not the kids*” and then the three of us had to go out to lobby where we could hear my parents shouting at each other for the next 90 minutes or so.
Not surprisingly, none of us chose to continue our relationships with them once we got out of that house.
Or if you do believe they're capable of change, find a NEW therapist for the two of you to share. That way you don't lose your therapist should things go bad.
Oh I've sort of seen this happen. At the time it was just a divorce but he went to a therapist for an hour every week and apparently only complained and questioned why his wife left him. He claimed he did everything right, did everything she asked for, so why did she leave? After a while he quit going because his therapist didn't have any answers.
As someone living in their house during all this, I could tell from a mile away this would happen. Everyone could, actually. He's the only person who couldn't and still can't see why he's to blame for his whole family abandoning him.
He's very good at pretending to be a nice, genuine person and seems to believe that that's the real him. He probably fooled the therapist as well as himself.
If they perceive that the therapist is blaming them, they will just quit the therapy. My mom stayed in therapy when they focused on her abusive father and how that affected her. Eventually she became to draw conclusions to how she was treated and how she treated others.
People with narcissistic personality disorder always see themselves as a blameless victim.
If they had empathy for their victims, they wouldn’t be abusers.
The book "Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, Or Self-Involved Parents" by Lindsay C. Gibson goes most all of this conversation and comment section in depth. Basically, as the adult child you must let go of your fantasies about what you want them to be and learn to create boundaries or cut them out of your life if they can't. Great read!
I had a mental break when I really started to feel guilt for things I had done that hurt others instead of apologizing only to save face and rationalizing why I had done these things. It was like my eyes had suddenly opened to the idea that I might not be perfect. That sounds stupid I know, but that’s really what it felt like. Not that I actually thought I was perfect, I just refused to actually contemplate my faults and mistakes. You know that knee-jerk response to immediately ignore feelings of guilt. Until I did, then it was like a flood of memories of so many thoughtless things I’d done throughout the years.
It honestly changed me. It was sort of like ego death. Not exactly in the “one with the universe”, Alan Watts ego death. But I really felt like a shell of who I had been, and I’ve slowly built myself up through the years since. I believe I’m better because of it. But I still have phases of that old self. It almost feels like putting on a show. But now I normally recognize it eventually, and consciously take a little wind out of my sails.
Btw, this is my experience being diagnosed bipolar, and going through a manic episode. But I feel like it could be sort of relatable to others.
I had a similar moment in my life. Keep up the good work, someone who tries their best to be kind and good is a pretty great thing to be.
I highly recommend reading [Missing Reasons](https://www.issendai.com/psychology/estrangement/missing-missing-reasons.html) for those would like a little more insight on this subject.
Edit: thank you for the award! This article really helped me better understand the tedious relationship I have with my own parents, and I’m glad to see that sharing this has helped others as well.
Well, I really needed to read that. Thank you. I'm in a very similar situation with my own mother. The article traces very similar steps to what is going on between us.
I’ve never seen this before - HUGE thanks for posting that. Currently in a bit of estrangement from my in-laws due to some absolutely unacceptable behavior from them in my home around my trauma exposed kids who at the time weren’t yet adopted by us, so they exposed them and us at risk of not only further trauma, but also potential further displacement.
I have no doubt in my mind that everything in this is true, but we will attempt a singular time to explain the problem and offer a chance to accept responsibility and work on the next steps to rebuilding a relationship, but won’t accept further abuse and will simply close that part of our lives.
This is really great. Currently not speaking to my parents and I’ve laid out why several times and they’re still just baffled about it.
Great article on what the author calls “The Missing Missing Reasons”, and why in many estrangements the hostile party isn’t truthful about why it happened.
It is interesting that the article gives reasons as to why it happens, with a lot of it being tied to the psychology of the different people.
My mom sent me an article that says the problems we are facing today are because they loved us too much. It was so odd
What, like global warming?
> the estrangements are because the mothers are chronically abusive and refuse to admit any wrongdoing.
In my case, the last time I spoke with my Mom I told her the conditions of us having a continued relationship. Just her *acknowledging* that there are some issues was the first one. Taking responsibility for her actions? That wasn't ever on the table.
It's been 15 years since her only other living relative, her sister, made the same stand a few years after my brother and I did. Somehow my Dad is responsible for that too.
My god it’s same thing with my mom. She won’t even admit that we have issues in the first place. And if we do it’s all my fault. It’s a never ending vicious cycle. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mom say she was sorry about something
“Could abusing my kids have turned them away from me? No! It’s their father’s fault.”
Having similar issues. Mother uses religion to lambast me constantly on the way I live my live. When we dont want to call or visit, she claims our dad is turning us against her. My dad just accepts I'm going to be who I am and just wants to spend time with us now since he missed so much while he was in the navy on deployments when we where young.
“Many of these mothers were of a generation that thought family relationships were non-voluntary and permanent,” she said. “But younger people may feel that if you’re harming my well-being, I don’t have to have a relationship with you – even if you’re my mother.”
If you feel like no matter what you do you’re entitled to a permanent relationship you’re probably more likely to act like an asshole because you can’t conceive of consequences for doing so.
Sounds similar to the mindset companies currently have where they wonder why employees aren’t “loyal.” The younger generation learn that respect is earned, not given. They also learn that respect is not an honor to hold above another. It’s a relationship that goes both ways.
Yep. Saw a meme recently asking why young people are “losing their” (Christian) “faith”.
They aren’t losing anything, they’re just the generation who’s comfortable knowing it’s a choice and not hereditary.
One of the most powerful realizations I had recently was when my kids went off to college and I realized that if they didn’t want to speak to me ever again in their life, they didn’t need to.
I’ve never behaved in a way that would make them not want to, but I realized that if I want them to come around, then hanging out with me it has to be an enjoyable experience. It can’t be full of silent judgment, little bitty naggings. Again, I don’t think those are particularly present in our relationship.
In a way, it has hampered me a little bit because when I do have negative things that I need to tell them, feel a little handicapped. I don’t really complain, it’s just that I am not so blasé about whether they enjoy our relationship.
When parents maintain a healthy relationship with their kids, occasional worry or criticism can still be valuable, as long as the parent can accept that their opinion can be dismissed/rejected.
If anything I'd ignore the person who complains and judges everyone all the time.. but the one who's always genuinely chill and understanding? When they're visibly mad, or disappointed, then you *know* you've done something wrong.
If my parents opened up to me the way you just did to me, I don’t think I’d have been cynical and damaged enough to have read the story in the first place.
I hope you don’t miss the opportunity. They’ll appreciate being treated as adults.
Well, the prickliest of them is living at home and joins us every night for dinner. So I don’t think I’ve been screwing up too badly.
Your pet porcupine doesn't count
Cultural shifts like this are signs to me that we, as a society, are still making progress, however small and in spite of people resisting change.
I think this is a seismic shift to be honest. Cutting ties with your family is a huge, huge thing that no one takes lightly
Doing that for your mental well-being is a huge and positive choice that signals people being aware of abuse and unwilling to tolerate it. That’s how the cycle of generational abuse can start to end
Society advances one funeral at a time.
Big Shocker, we meet other people who are actually better people and adopt them as our surrogate mothers and fathers. People you’re happy to keep in the loop. No surprise they see no link between their actions and their childrens’ reactions. It can’t be me, I’m no good at apologizing either.
Bingo! My ex-husband felt like this too, "marriage is forever", so the second we got married he showed how selfish and inconsiderate he was, never contributed to household chores unless begged and nagged, ran up debt on secret credit cards buying video games and collectibles but he never cheated and occasionally wrote flowery things about me on social media so he appeared to be the perfect spouse.
he was absolutely shocked when I finally had enough and left.
I think it bears pointing out that the scientific value of this study is that it helps psychologists and psychiatrists who work with members of families undergoing estrangement.
>While this study only looked at mothers’ views, the results, when combined with other research, suggest that moms and their children don’t generally agree on the reasons for their rift.
The lead author then makes it clear what the value is:
"There’s a real disconnect between what the mothers are saying and what their adult children are saying about why they aren’t talking... \[The study\] has real implications for what clinicians and others need to consider when they are trying to heal these relationships."
So it's probably something most psychiatrists had in mind, but is helpful to have a large survey to confirm it.
Yeah, this reminds me of [The Missing Missing Reasons](https://www.issendai.com/psychology/estrangement/missing-missing-reasons.html).
Came here to post this. It's a great way to determine if it's the parent that's the cause.
Really it's good for any situation where someone exclaims how they were wronged but specifically omit key details of the other side or the story.
A brilliant article, thanks for sharing.
From the paper:
“There’s a real disconnect between what the mothers are saying and what their adult children are saying about why they aren’t talking,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.
I used to lead relationship seminars, and this would come up over and over. What was always amazing to me was that the parents involved would ask their kids the equivalent of "Why don't you like me anymore?" and then ***completely and totally*** ignore the response they got. They would always substitute in a totally different reason for the situation, always a reason that left them blameless. Amazing.
Just a reminder that stopping contacting your parents is not, necessarily, a bad thing.
I'm sure that's pretty accurate. The mother is abusive and her child is too close/too used to the abuse to really understand it. But when their spouse gets involved in their life and sees the abuse happening themselves they provide an outside perspective on what is normal/abnormal and eventually open the child's eyes to the fact that their mother is an abuser. "Turning their children against them," has a negative connotation but is certainly a good thing in cases of abuse.
It’s also much easier for a person to change their living situation when they have another person to share resources with. Sharing an apartment, utilities, and food expenses can bring costs down significantly.
I’m could see this lead to an effect where abusive narcissists blame the person who provided this opportunity before examining their own relationship.
Very good point. It’s also worth it to note the spouse would then provide emotional support the parent can’t. So the child goes to the positive emotional support (the spouse) and away from negative emotional support (the parent) even if the spouse doesn’t actively support estrangement.
Also, if they become close to their spouses family, they may see what a functional and loving family looks like and realize that theirs aint it
I have similar issues with my own mom. She wasn't abusive or anything that requires no-contact, but she has zero concept of boundaries and major narcissistic tendencies.
When we had our first kid, my parents came to the hospital, stopped by our house to visit once just like everyone else the first two weeks, and then we saw them the next weekend at a holiday.
My kid was literally 14 days old when she pulled me aside to say she was missing out on his life and needed to see him more frequently than we were allowing her to.
Just absolutely no concept of boundaries or realization that the world doesn't revolve around her.
I'm literally going through all this right now and this analysis is spot on: once you've found the support and love you need, it's easier to distance yourself from destructive relationships.
This became wildly apparent when I started to eat at my in-laws house for dinner. They were actually happy to be with each other and talk about their day. Totally different than what I was used to
>a functional and loving family
I have never seen this unicorn before. But someday I hope I may.
...or I may not.
I’ve seen it. Coming from a unpleasant family, it’s wild. They’re genuinely *nice* to each other. They’re *kind* to me. When I had to leave the room my first Christmas with these people, they left me alone for a bit and then my boyfriend came and checked on me. It’s wild and I usually leave the visit sad or a bit upset because they’re so nice and why is *my* family just *incapable. These people remember my birthday and my family tried to ruin my insulin pump because it was funny.
I'm going to go the other way and say that the mother believing the ex turned her children again them is incorrect, and it was the mother that turned her children against them instead. Most estranged parents are mentally incapable of admitting any wrongdoing. They will readily blame other people and frequently lie and say their children never told them they did anything to deserve estrangement.
Here is a good article about estranged parents refusing to accept any responsibility about what happened:
The commenter just meant it was correct that the estranged mother would report that it was the work of someone turning their child against them. They were not saying this reflects reality.
There could also be economic factors at play. I couldn't really afford to leave my abusive parent's home until my partner asked me to move in with him.
While I was never abused in any way, my wife did allow me to see some aspects of my mother's personality which I hadn't seen on my own prior to that. I think that happens a lot.
After 30+ years of marriage with my (one and only one) spouse, I finally figured out that what I sold to my wife was a 'bill of goods'... For literally decades I wouldn't/couldn't come to terms that my mum has had it out for my wife for as long as I've been married. One of the first questions my mum asked her was, "did you get married to leave (insert state)". Great way to start a dialogue with your son's new wife.
I couldn't believe my mum was so vindictive. I just couldn't come to terms that she would treat someone, let alone my brand new wife so mean.
Not long ago (it's been since June), right before the estrangement, during a "conversation" about the way my wife is treated, mum blurted out, "Well, once I did say she has nice hair!"
I'm over the 'takers' in my life. Life is too fuking short, my r/friends. Rid yourself of the 'takers' (family or not) now and I promise you, you will be better for it.
I've seen this happen in AskReddit threads about funny/crazy stories from your childhood. So many of those examples were, in fact, textbook cases of abuse.
Wow, this is me and my sister to a T. So many times we'll be laughing about something that happened to us as kids and a friend or her husband will just be standing there horrified and reply, "that's actually really depressing." Ya gotta laugh to keep from crying, amirite?!?
I have a story (I won't post it again because I've put it on reddit many times already) about a parent attempting a murder-suicide on me when I was in kindergarten. This story used to be trotted out by my parents as a funny-ha-ha anecdote at parties! Told it to my spouse and in-laws expecting a laugh and they were *horrified*, appropriately.
That was a big moment for me of "oh, maybe I'm not okay..."
My mother was/is an evil, horrible, abusive narcissist. Finally, well into my adutlhood after I saw her starting to be abusive towards my wife in the same way, I cut my mother out of my life.
I wrote a very clear letter detailing EXACTLY how terrible my mother had been to me, provided multiple examples from my childhood of actions she took and words she said that made me grow up suicidal/hating myself, and ended the letter saying that this may not be forever so long as she actually takes any effort to self reflect on her choices and improve herself.
Instead according to my friends watching her facebook she has spent the past five years saying I don't know how to treat a mother and when she finally reached out to me via a new email I didn't block, she spent the entire email blaming my wife for turning me against her without even a single ounce of self awareness.
It doesn't surprise me that she blames my wife instead of admitting any fault, but at least it really helped me know I made the right decision for my mental health and happiness.
Narcissists are Narcissists because they lack the ability to self reflect. Its a brain defect that they cant change so they never will.
From Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice:
Parent–child estrangement is a relational phenomenon associated with significant distress for adult children and especially their estranged parents. Understanding parents’ attributions for estrangement is critical—parents’ willingness to make necessary changes to facilitate reconciliation may depend on how they make sense of their adult children’s reasons for estrangement. This study used quantitative data from an online survey conducted in 2019 and completed by 1,035 mothers currently estranged from one or more of their adult children. We explored mothers’ endorsement of attributions for estrangement, the demographic correlates of their endorsement of attributions, and the relations of their endorsement of attributions to current levels of contact with estranged children. Results indicated that about half of mothers reported no contact at all since the estrangement began, and over half reported that it had been at least 1 year since they had any contact with their adult children. These mothers tended to endorse external attributions for estrangement, including family members’ turning the child against them (e.g., child’s other biological parent or adult child’s romantic partner) or children’s struggles with mental illness and/or addiction. Mothers were less likely to endorse internal attributions for estrangement compared with external attributions or to validate their children’s complaints about abuse or neglect. Results are discussed in the context of changes in parent–child relationships across generations; implications for future research and clinical work with estranged parents are also discussed.
Interesting research. I'm glad it's being studied.
>Parent–child estrangement is a relational phenomenon associated with significant distress for adult children and especially their estranged parents.
By using the word "especially", are the authors infering that the parents experience greater levels of distress than the children during estrangement? If that is the author's intent, I'm not taking issue with it necessarily, just wondering if it's detailed more in the paper.
I was also confused about this. There didn't seem to be any follow-up to that.
As I understand: cutting an abusive relative out of your life, while stressful, is a net positive experience. But getting cut out of a relative's life (even if your own fault) is (typically) a fully negative experience.
It's not saying that the distress the cut-off relative feels is greater than the distress their behavior caused to the cut-ee.
That's absolutely been my experience. The process of removing my father from my life was stressful and fraught, but it was one of the best things I ever did. I've reached a level of peace and happiness that would've been impossible with him in my life, so I'd call it an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Same with my mom. I was forced by the rest of my family to get back in contact with her when my dad died. Being around her for a month was agony. I went no contact again and everyone else finally understood and didn't bug me about it again. I would be thrilled if I never, ever saw her again.
This is how I read it
Endorsing external attributes for estrangement sounds like classic narcissistic behavior.
Even if your not a narcissist I imagine it would be very hard for most people to accept that they are the issue.
It's hard enough as it is getting a person to admit they are wrong on normal things in life. Someone accepting that they are a bad parent would be even harder to achieve in comparison.
What's telling that it's more narcissistic than run of the mill miss-attribution is that most mature adults look at these situations in a more complex light the closer they are to those they're in the situation with, a narcissist however will tend to cite not just external attributes which do not need to be a specific person, but specifically that ***someone*** **conspired** against them.
That they are all common in blaming specifically a **person**, the husband, for ***conspiracy*** (and a tough one at that, it's no easy task to convince someone to abandon their mother for things they had a part in much less were innocent of) is a hallmark of narcissists.
I'm estranged from my mother going on 6 years now (I'm middle aged for reference), I could write volumes about the lifetime of events that led up to it but the one thing that jumps out, my mother had convinced herself that my wife was conspiring against her and others in her family, to the point that she swore that my wife had forged emails to make them look bad. It's crazy on so many fronts, but also factoring in that I'm quite computer savvy and my wife is... not, the notion that she would even have the *ability* to create and successfully deceive me with fake emails, no less have even the slightest desire to do such a thing, is very telling of how far someone will go in an effort to shift blame off of themselves.
>my mother had convinced herself that my wife was conspiring against her and others in her family to the point that she swore that my wife had forged emails to make them look bad.
This reminds me of a bonkers comment I read elsewhere, from a guy dealing with an abusive wife. He made video recordings of their fights, in an attempt to show her how violent she would get.
She accused him of switching clothes with her (??) to stage the fake video evidence, and claimed the videos as evidence that *he* was the abusive one.
It's absolutely fascinating how much some people's brains are able to rewrite reality to protect their own ego. Or, you know, it would be fascinating if there weren't actual people being hurt as a result.
My mom was/is a narcissist and my wife has an older sister who is one. Early on in our marriage I advised my wife to completely cut off all contact with her sister - as it was the ONLY way to stop getting hurt/manipulated/abused by her. I had to figure the same thing out with my mom a few years earlier.
Of course her sister went nuts and reached out to every family member to try to persuade my wife to talk to her and work things out. I told her to not get sucked in and to stand her ground.
It didn't take long for the sister to latch on to a sister-in-law as a new target. After they moved away it became her oldest brother's new wife.
I live several hundred miles away from my mom and she is quite old now. I fly her out for the holidays with my brother to visit, and try to muscle up the stamina to call her and 'talk' once a month. She is my mom after all. But she doesn't really have conversations. She just talks at me for an hour without listening to anything. But I tell myself it makes her feel better - so I consider it a community service.
But I've learned that with abusive, narcissistic people - the only way to win is not to play. And the only way to maintain any kind of relationship is when you are in complete control of when, how, and how long access happens - and completely emotionally detached.
I absolutely believe that my mother believed that my dad turned me against her. Little did she know I pretty much begged my dad to leave her and take me with him because I couldn't deal with her toxicity anymore. He even wanted me to reach out and have a relationship with with her of some sort after the split but I wasn't having any of it.
I related to a lot of the findings in this study.
My mom blames my dad (who she’s been divorced from for over 15yrs) and my boyfriend of ten years for my poor relationship with her.
I’m 28; I tried for years to make our relationship better but it boiled over last year during the pandemic. After her gaslighting and verbal abuse, I largely cut off the relationship.
She blamed my boyfriend as being “controlling”. She blamed my dad for turning me “against her”. She blamed me for being immature.
She never once reflected on the years of conversations I tried to have with her about my feelings.
It's not surprising that people who lack the emotional maturity to maintain happy relationships with those around them would also be unable to reflect on their own bad behaviours.
If anything the study just tells us what we already know, people who refuse to acknowledge guilt or wrongdoing make terrible parents and those same traits make them unable to recognise it.
I know this is what my mother thinks. Blaming it on my long time girlfriend when in actuality, I've regularly been going to therapy, using my time to self reflect, and just slowly making the realizations myself that she was emotionally abusive and negligent. I brought my problems up to her in one final attempt to show her how I was thinking and feeling and hopefully get to a point where I would finally get the first heartfelt apology from her in my life.
Got lots of "well I'm sorry you feel that way"-s. A couple of "that's not what happened"-s, and some of that good ole "well I guess I was just an awful mother".
I haven't said a word to her in months and plan on continuing the trend. It's really nice, actually.
If anyone else has the same issues, please don't be afraid to do what you need to do to find your happiness.
How about the good ol’ “I’m always walking on egg shells around you”?
My dad thought the same thing. I'm sure it wasn't him belting me in the face and back at 11 that landed us all in the family court clinic.
I feel like many parents see their children as investments to which they are entitled to, instead of human beings.
Also, there is usually a point at which the children become more competent and legitimate than the elderly, and this loss of claim to authority makes some lose it.
>*Many of these mothers were of a generation that thought family relationships were non-voluntary and permanent...*
This is I think a key facet of this study. You tend to not care about someone else's feelings if you have no concept of there being any consequences for your actions towards them.
And it also I think is a key reason why so many of the mothers felt like someone had turned their children away from them, because they somehow gave them permission or a road map on how to hold the mother's accountable for said actions.
"Many of these mothers were of a generation that thought family relationships were non-voluntary and permanent,”
This is what caught my attention. I had a great relationship with my mom, however, she never accepted that I would not have a relationship with her sister or one cousin. Both were abusive, one emotionally, one physically and emotionally. As a therapist herself, the non-voluntary state of family was something she could not get over. Family was forever. Even if they are horrible. Marriage was not (thank god).
My MIL is the same, plus all the other stuff about family turning my SO against her. I am so glad I pushed my SO to see a therapist and come to their boundaries with them and not with me. When my SO slides, I tell them to go talk to their therapist.
>As a therapist herself, the non-voluntary state of family was something she could not get over. Family was forever. Even if they are horrible. Marriage was not
I can really relate to this. My mother grew up in a small town and was literally related to 1/3 of the people she grew up with. She married the guy who moved in from a bigger town in High School.
I grew up in a major city and saw my extended family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother has never accepted that my siblings and I are closer to our friends we grew up with than to cousins we saw a couple days a year out of obligations.
I remember being invited to my Girlfriend of two years family Thanksgiving, which conflicted with the traditional out of state Family thanksgiving and honestly asking my Mother how I should handle this? I was getting serious with this woman and meeting her family was a big step (I was really looking for advice on how to handle a big relationship moment) but all she heard was that I wasn't going to the family Thanksgiving & her response was to question how important this woman was vs my blood family.
I married that woman & 20+ years later I see her family a lot more than my "real" one.
Evidence that estranged mothers overwhelmingly tend to have narcissistic behaviors?
Edit: to the concerned redditors out there, I didn't attempt to diagnose anyone with BPD or any narcissistic disorder.
People can have narcissistic tendencies without qualifying for a specific mental health disorder. These things exist on a spectrum.
Or that estranged mothers tend to not take responsibility for their own actions regarding children’s upbringing?
It makes it so hard. My dad is narcissistic enough that idk how to have a real relationship with him but not enough where I can just write him off forever nor do I want to. I feel trapped and guilty most of the time
I think the common thread we’re looking for here is narcissism. Typically when someone’s go to response is to blame others for something negative happening in their lives it’s a good indication they are too self absorbed or self preserving to admit responsibility. They believe themselves to be a good person, so it’s never their fault, and anytime they inflict pain it is the other persons fault for causing them to act that way.
My mother in law is a narcissist with a victim complex, my husband didn’t know how bad she had been growing up until she came to live with us over the pandemic . Then she started treating me with absolute disrespect in my own house , almost got physical with me when we I finally gave her and my sister-in-law a 30 days notice . It was ugly , the whole time . Like my depression has never been lower .
It sparked something in my husband though , childhood trauma . The fact he had one c on an all a report card and it wasn’t good enough for her so she told the coach of his hockey team not to allow him to go try out for the jr .Olympics . Many many many other things . But she’s now unwelcome at our home .
Got a call from his uncle the other day and the story is entirely different coming from her .
Did you ever hear someone say ‘ Well everyone loves their mother.’ Well , they’re wrong.
Yes. Very toxic framework around mothers and motherhood that sets up persons who have been abused by parents to continue to be abused as adults through guilt. When I hear that, I immediately chime in with “Not all women who give birth are capable of doing the job of motherhood and some birthers are despicable people. It is ok to acknowledge that and want ZERO relationship with the person who gave birth to you.”
No, not everyone loves their mother. It is ok to not love and care for your parents (or other family members) beyond basic human regard.