49 thoughts on “Why Millions Of People Need To Say “No More” To Their Parents

  • March 11, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    I did this and the way my life has expanded in positive ways was the universe’s high five to that decision.
    I got to a point where I saw that I was failing my own kids by continuing a relationship with my parents.

    • March 11, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Sounds like that was a wise move Eileen! For many, as for you, setting boundaries can involve discontinuing the relationship completely. Some folks can just start interacting differently and setting limits. But it all begins with a resolve to protect and care for yourself. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

    • March 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Oh I can so relate to this! I was putting my parents [and the rest of my family of origin] before my husband and my marriage. A few years ago I started educating myself on the “button pushers” in my life, how to manage shame and their expectations of how I “should” be living my life. Very subtly I started to do things for me. I started to venture out on my own, loosening those ties, healing those old wounds. When I see them now I just chat to them about things I’ve been doing, the new friends I’ve been making. I won’t be drawn into the drama of the belittling comments, the change of subjects to what my mother would rather be talking about. I now have control and it is very empowering. I’m not that little kid anymore that she could control. Those days are well behind me.

      • March 11, 2018 at 5:55 pm

        That can be the solution for many! It’s not always necessary to cut ties completely. You can put them in a new space in your life where their harmful behaviors stop affecting you. You described the process very well. Thank you for sharing your story Sue!

  • March 11, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Going no contact was the best thing I did for myself. I realized the delusion of my hope and saw my parents weren’t willing to change, even if I was. I left and didn’t look back. You don’t have to share in what I believe, but I made God my parent to replace the ones that failed me. I decided if he was who he said he was, I was going to hold him accountable to it. He delivered in a way my parents never did. I’ve come to grow into myself, surrounded myself with healthy people who care about me for me, and am getting better and better each day. Running On Empty helped me understand my emotional neglect and the brokeness that resulted; and leaving my family and discovering healthy faith allowed me to mend that brokenness. Once I could diagnose the illness, I could treat it with the proper medicine.

    Thank you, Dr. Webb, for your book and what you do to help people overcome their emotional neglect. It’s been a year and a half since I began my road to emotional health, and you wouldn’t be able to recognize me now, that’s how free I’ve become.

    • March 11, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Dear Sally, you figured out a way to establish yourself and free yourself of what was holding you back. Very impressive! It is so hard to do, but well worth it. Keep up all the great work and progress!

  • March 11, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    My mother was abused enough to become a malignant narcissist. She abused me enough to become bipolar and codependent (diagnosed.) But my responsibility for her wellbeing (she 90 yrs old, Im 63), inspite of our NC for the last 6 years, still causes me great physical damage (contracted pudorectalis muscle, bedridden), and long depression periods and anxiety. I cannot blame her, and when I think how her parents failed her, I excuse her and want to soothe her and make her well. Even though she is in another continent, she still hurts me by rejecting the monetary help I send her. Van der Kolk talks about the initiation of trauma being perhaps at conception. Both my parents were mentally challenged. I survived thanks for a few wonderful people who crossed my life, including my husband of 37 years. But I am constantly battling memories and guilt. I can’t find a therapist who can help me overcome the betrayal/trauma bonding, with CPTSD diagnosis. Do you have an input? Thank you so much.

    • March 11, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Dear Mars, all I can say is that your guilt and feelings of responsibility seem to be misplaced on someone who does not want them or benefit from them. Your responsibility is to yourself and the good people in your life who do love you and want you. I hope you will work towards putting yourself first, and try to break out of the legacy you were born into.

      • March 11, 2018 at 4:57 pm

        Yes, I agree that they don’t want me and no longer can benefit from me. In reality, abusers also come in clusters. There are 5 identified narcissists in 4 generations, all good people with previous neglected or abused adults in their lives. I lost my mother and I lost the whole family. I wish I could attend your retreat, but I am very far away in Texas. Thank you so much for your keen and sincere answer. Your book is excellent!

      • March 11, 2018 at 5:13 pm

        You are very welcome. Sending you all my best wishes!

      • March 11, 2018 at 5:39 pm

        Dr Webb, you are certainly right, however: I could say that my NPD mother is not “playing with a full set of cards.” NPD IS A genetic/environmental disorder (epigenetic). Their thinking is extremely distorted, becoming paranoid, depressed, impulsive, vengeful…all based on poor observation skills and lack of self-control. Their disorder is seen on an MRI. Do you remove yourself from the life of a neglectful/abusive elderly parent when you know that they are affected by a mental disorder, leaving them on their own, because you want to live a life more fulfilling? What’s worse? putting up with an irrational, hurtful relationship or living on one’s way, with remorse for abandoning the ill?

      • March 11, 2018 at 5:53 pm

        I hope you will keep reading all of the comments people are sharing here Mars. I think the answer is not what you are thinking it should be.

      • March 13, 2018 at 11:10 am

        I’m in a very similar situation, and what’s helped me the most in my decision is this: “You can’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.”

  • March 11, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Wow! When I went to court at age 12, I was finally old enough to be heard back in 1957. I had separated in 1953 from two of my sisters and mother and stuck with the “bad” one. Finally, I got to stand in front of the judge and request that I be separated from my mother and my sister. I was the “good” one, the smart one, and needed to be saved before I got dragged into my sister’s reputation. One year later, I had put miles in between us. It wasn’t easy, of course; but I took responsibility for myself, my present life as best I could, and prepared myself to take care of myself for the rest of my life. It’s a very long story with ups and downs; but no one is going to take over my life. I am happy, positive, empathetic, friendly, helpful, generous. Until you try to mess with me. You can create the life of your own choosing. It does take hard work, focus, determination, and grit. The results are worth it. Thanks for your articles. I enjoy them very much, share them with others, and discuss them also. It’s great to see others’ evolve.

    • March 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      Way to go Josey! And you now live with the deep knowledge and ownership of all that you’ve accomplished. Well done.

  • March 11, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks again Dr Webb. Your writings and kind remarks have helped me greatly over some time to come to terms with my parents. Your second book has been an enormous help in shaping a new relationship with my mother in particular that both respects her and yet protects me. It’s a bit like how Sue F above describes her solution.

    My heart goes out to all those who are trying to pull away and still wanting contact that doesn’t reopen all the old wounds every time.

    With regard to my father I’ve cut off all contact. He’s 90 in a nursing home so I just don’t visit. Mum asked me why I don’t. My reply was that while I respect him for what he gave me (intelligence and a great love of learning) I don’t have a shred of affection for him. Those words were carefully chosen because actuality I’m still in deep terror and fear of him for all his abusive ways that are still there.

    In recent years I’ve come to an acceptance of the reality of my parents – mother’s a manipulator and father’s an abuser. But as you say Dr Webb, love for parents is hard wired. If we had a boss or acquaintance who treated us the same way we would not tolerate it.

    It takes some doing to get to the point of creating a relationship that navigates the tricky path between honouring parents while protecting ourselves from them.

    • March 11, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      I really like how you describe the relationship that sets you free: a relationship that navigates the tricky path between honouring parents while protecting ourselves from them. Yes, it is possible. Many trained therapists can be helpful in navigating this road, and some can do it simply by beginning to see their parents more clearly, and working to battle back the guilt. Thank you for your comment Karen!

      • March 11, 2018 at 8:48 pm

        Thanks Dr Webb you hit the nail on the head when you describe it as “battling back the guilt “. Especially with manipulative parents who use guilt trips to get their own way. Seeing one’s parents more clearly without expecting or hoping they will change is the way to freedom, as you say. I could hug you for your amazing support! But can’t, so please just accept my thanks.

  • March 11, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    One of the most important things that you offer Dr. Webb to your readers is the validation that was so sorely lacking in an individual’s CEN. It helps greatly to know that at last someone understands what it is that you went through as a child. Frequently the seriousness of CEN is totally discounted and in trying to explain it you are often made to feel wrong and wind up being gaslighted. I have evolved and trust my own perceptions. I am sticking to my own reality. Thanks for the work you do.

    • March 11, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      Very true. Those who treat emotion like “nothing” will often have a hard time understanding why CEN matters, or if it’s even real. It takes the ability to believe in yourself to hold on to your own reality. I’m glad you are doing so!

  • March 12, 2018 at 10:59 am

    A number of years ago, my husband and I hit a low point. Through the loss of sole income in the recession, and struggling to make two businesses go as we could not find jobs, my health started to go. We were facing losing the house and possible bankruptcy. I was in constant high pain. Life was incredibly hard and about to get worse.

    We had managed to keep this job loss info from my parents for several years. When they did find out, they acted as if they cared and even offered financial help to help us avoid bankruptcy and get into a debt consolidation program. I ought perhaps to have been suspicious as financial help was something which they had never done.

    I thought they had changed and finally wanted to be parents, that they finally loved me. They even fooled a few professionals, as we did seek advice before proceeding. Eventually, they decided to move near us, and as part of repaying the money they loaned us, which was less than the cost of a new vehicle, we helped move and stored their stuff in our house. With caution, we let them move in with us temporarily while they looked for a house.

    Problem was…nothing suited. The list of requirements was so narrow that nothing could. Months turned into years. I got sicker and sicker and was being told by my health professionals that I was going to die if things did not change.

    They took over my house and life when I was too weak to see or stop the progression, but I still never planned to cut them out of my life. I had convinced myself I was grateful and that their help was actually help. What it really was happened to be a takeover, but I failed to see it.

    The years they were here were hell, full of their NPD antics, taunts, jibes, and tantrums. We finally had to install a video security feed for our own protection after one incident.

    Finally, I asked them to abide by the original agreement and move out. Their behavior then got so heinous in the week following the conversation that we kicked them out. They went to stay with a friend. Even then, I had not thought it was goodbye forever, but they escalated further. When we held to a boundary we had clearly set, a condition for the moving day, they blew it. We held our ground and said then they would need to reschedule. They responded by calling the Sheriff on us. They moved without giving us their contact information, and went right on to their other sources of narcissistic supply. It had all been part of the cycle.

    The gift in this time with them here and the aftermath, has been that I finally saw them both as they really are. We witnessed their pleasure in our pain and suffering (thank you for that most illuminating article of Three Traits of Sociopathic Parents!!), and I have finally accepted that this is them, that it will not change.

    And this was just the most recent issue. I finally had to ask myself how many times someone has to tell you they wished you had died before I was going to accept reality.

    Yes, they have many others fooled, but that is okay. That is theirs, not mine.

    While I still struggle with my emotions because I will never get to be the loving daughter to them in old age that I had intended to be, I accept that this was their choice. In truth, I am worth far more to them as the horrid, ungrateful, wayward daughter who never contacts them than I am as the loving caring person who would have taken care of them. They can get gobs of sympathy with me as the bad guy and them as the poor elderly victims than they ever could if the relationship were normal.

    We are now No Contact forever, and our lives have been changing for the better in amazing ways. All of that energy that was cycling around with them and their vampire ways is now available for living. I want nothing from them, I expect nothing, and I am okay with that. Happier, even.

    No, I do not have parents, but I finally have a shot at Normal.

    Apologies for length. I write this in the hope it may help someone else know that he or she can be okay, too.

    • March 12, 2018 at 11:53 am

      Dear Anya, I’m so sorry you went through all this. It sounds traumatic and painful. I’m glad that instead of being defeated by the experience, you instead realized that you are your number one priority. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • March 13, 2018 at 6:31 am

    My parents did indeed try their best, but their best was inadequate to the point that I’m still impressed that I survived childhood. I acquired no less than 3 addictions before the age of 10 as a way to cope with the pain their neglect left me with, and it has taken several years of recovery work to get to the point where I’m now dealing directly with the trauma of having been neglected.

    One of the first things I did (after an extremely unpleasant experience over Thanksgiving) was set a boundary of no physical contact and no questions as to what was going on. This has given me the space to look clearly at what their actions have been and feel whatever my actual feelings are about what they did to me.

    That space has been helpful, and although I do hope to be able to tell them about what’s going on someday, I’m not going to do something like that before I’m ready. I love my parents, but my sanity is worth more than their being ignorant of the fact that something is wrong. It’s not my job to protect then from the consequences of their own actions, and I’m done pretending that it is.

    • March 13, 2018 at 10:08 am

      I’m glad you are taking the time you need to understand and strengthen yourself Tim. Eventually, you may be able to talk with your parents about some of this, but not before you’re ready, as you said. And you don’t have to talk with them either. It’s all up to you, based on what is best for you. All my best wishes to you!

  • March 14, 2018 at 7:50 am

    After being told all my youth by my paternal grandmother that I was bright, full of potential, and college-bound, my parents failed to even get me through high school. Divorced, my mother “let” me try living with my father in junior high and then refused to take me back when that didn’t work out, instead farming me out to various relatives before I gave up on family at the beginning of my senior year in hs.

    I did graduate both high school and college (B.A. Liberal Arts) on my own, but it took me until I was 30 and 45, respectively, to do so. I credit my grandmother’s influence for sustaining my self-esteem, even though I was estranged from all family by age 30.

    I understood very early that I’d been neglected. My challenge was to not let anger ruin my life. It wasn’t until I finished college that I learned what I feel is a rational response to all this. Without excusing them, I came to understand that they were only children at the time.

    They haven’t proved to be much better as parents of an adult, but I keep my distance and feel pretty content with my life at the beginning of my senior years (64 now). I’ve been married for a couple decades and we are very well-suited.

    Dad is dead and Mom’s in her 80’s; I call her at least once a week and recognize birthdays and holidays with cards and gifts. I resist her efforts to pull me into relationships with the rest of the family, most of whom I don’t know anyway.

    I’m not sure why I wrote this, but thanks.

    • March 14, 2018 at 8:37 am

      Thank you for sharing your story Bardz. It sounds like you have done well despite a difficult and neglectful childhood. Well done!

  • March 14, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    I divorced my son’s father when he was two years old. However, through contact with his father, he was verbally abused. Now my son is verbally abusing his daughters. I brought that fact to light and now I am the bad person. I was a single mother who had little support in raising my son and I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I am not guilty for my son’s current behavior.

    • March 15, 2018 at 8:55 am

      Dear Notguilty, please don’t think of this as an issue of guilt! I’m sure you did the best you could in a difficult situation. It’s all about connecting with your son in a way that will help him recognize the abuse, and that requires him to know that you’re on his side. I know it’s really hard! I encourage you to talk with a professional for advice on how to approach your son about this again. Sending you my best wishes.

  • March 15, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    I am 65 years old and am still scared of my father. My father is 93. He controlled my life with words, not threats, just words. How can this be you may ask? I also ask myself this same question. My first boyfriend was driving into the yard to pick me up and then I told my parents that I had a date. At my first job, my father came into my work place and called me names because I had, in his eyes, been whoring around the night before. This was at a school, the other staff and students heard him. When I got engaged and told my parents, my father was going to beat me. He went running of to his mother to get her to back him. She told him I was old enough and it wasn’t his decision. At this age I should have gotten past all of these things. How do I talk to him about how he hurt me and is still doing it? His last insult was when my daughter, who has a child that is half aboriginal, called and said she was coming to visit. He got into his vehicle and left the house. She saw him driving away. My mother and sister were in the house, didn’t say anything but later my sister told us what had happened. He didn’t want to see his ‘indian’ great grandchild. I don’t see my parents very often even though we all live in the same community of about 150 people. I can’t because my father makes me feel worthless. Having separated myself as much as I can has made my life better.

    • March 15, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Dear Still Scared, your entire story made me so sad for you. But then I got to your last sentence, which says it all. That sentence tells you everything about what you can do to continue to take care of yourself. Focus on you and what makes you feel best in your life.

  • March 16, 2018 at 4:30 am

    Still scared: my heart goes out to you. Your father is an awful abuser. The way he has treated you is horrendous. It’s a reflection on him not you. I can understand your fear. I too was afraid of my father’s words and what he would say to me. I left home at an early age to escape him. When he came to my home and verbally abused me it was for the last time. I threw him out. I never saw or talked to him again. He died . I never shed a tear. Never went to the funeral. He killed whatever love I might have felt for him. I have no regrets. Give yourself peace. It was never about you. To be treated with such indifference to your feelings is soul shattering. You deserve better. I wish you the best. Namaste.

    • March 16, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      “He killed whatever love I might have felt for me”…and this is what happens. I know my father-in-law used my husband as a pawn between him and his wife and it was horrendous. He tried to come between me and my husband as well. In the end we went no contact. He is dead now but I know my husband still hurts from his father’s behaviour. Only the people who have actually been through this sort of behaviour really know what it’s like. So many people said to my husband when we went no contact “Oh but he’s your father”. We just don’t have to have people in our lives who treat us badly, family or not.

  • March 21, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I have been reading your posts for a few years now and it was in your articles that I identified with the symptoms of CEN. I went through 12 years of therapy, on and off, with 2 very capable therapists. They helped me tremendously.

    Just before the holidays in 2016, I decided to not travel to my family for any celebrations. It was one of the hardest, but probably best decisions I have made in my life. I grew up the youngest of 4 children. My family was, and still is, very religious. I knew from a very young age that I couldn’t rely on my mom for emotional support. I tried with my dad because we had an ok relationship, however, my mom was jealous of that and she took my dad away from me. My mom and sister understood each other but couldn’t relate to me and my brothers had my dad. So, I was left alone to figure things out and rely on myself. I knew something else was wrong with me early in life, but didn’t know what it was until my mid 20s, shortly before I attempted to take my own life. I was diagnosed with clinical depression.

    I am a very determined person and have gotten myself through so much. I realize that things are always working out for me. I was so much better off after my therapist told me that I can do this now without her. I still didn’t know that I could control my emotions, though. Then I discovered meditation a little over a year ago and found out that I could actually be in control of my emotions. It’s been quite a journey and it’s still not over, of course… I still don’t trust people much. I am pursuing my dreams and doing well with that.

    However, I feel like I am on the brink of some emotional breakthroughs and I wanted to attend your retreat, but I don’t think I will be able to. I’ve never read your book, but maybe that would help me. Since I am a determined person, I think I will figure this out. Thank you so much for the work that you do!

    • March 21, 2018 at 6:16 pm

      Read the books…they are amazing! These books are for MY healing. For a long time I thought this was selfish and that perhaps I should understand them more and if I were the “bigger” person I should do this or that. BUT at the end of the day I have to look after me. Nobody else can do the healing except for me. My mother still has to have a subtle “dig” at me for doing well at something and she is nearly 90 years old. The patterns never change. I just let the comments go over my head because I’m not going to let her upset me anymore.

  • March 23, 2018 at 4:36 am

    I emphatically agree with all points in this excellent article. Nevertheless, there is one aspect that many may be involved in at a particular chapter of their lives: Caring for an elderly parent ( especially one who has remained headstrong and sometimes emotionally eviscerating to their care-giver, or go-to adult child).
    Navigating these seas gets dicey, to say the least, and the more assertion shown to the dearly loved parent, the coins in the self esteem jar begin to add up.

    • March 23, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Can I make a suggestion? Perhaps get some help in caring for the elderly parent so that you are not the only one looking after them. I told my parents years ago that I would not be able to look after them in their old age. They now live in a retirement village with all their needs being looked after. I know that this is not possible for all parents for whatever reasons. Is there something in your community/social services that can assist you so you can have respite? There is nothing worse than doing your best and it’s still not good enough. Just know that you’ve done what you can and try and get on with your own life. Good luck!

  • March 30, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    Around the first moment you realize your parents are amateurs at parenting, (likely because they were CEN children themselves ) you can choose to put your big girl panties on and do the work yourself. Hey, I have spent my whole adult life trying to have a happy childhood! 30% perspiration 70% inspiration for me . Thank GOD for philosophy and self help books . BTW its easier to do your work when you are not distracted raising others. Many of us were raised by our older siblings who may have been overwhelmed with the task and had plenty of neglected childhood emotions themselves. Intervention anyone??????

    • March 31, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      I believe that the siblings are given a “role” to play. Perhaps as the eldest I was given the role of “caretaker”; the sensible one, the reliable one, the one who you could depend on. Now this is a big ask for any child. My mother had five of us under 8 years of age! I think we carry these roles with us into adulthood and then we discover that we are helping everybody else and not having our own needs met. This can be challenging but also rewarding if you do the work and start looking after yourself and giving yourself what you didn’t get growing up. I have found when I do this it makes me feel so good! When I say NO, when I set boundaries, when I treat myself to something, when I focus on my needs and not everybody else’s. It’s very rewarding.

    • March 31, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Brenda I really like your phrase “big girl panties”. Thanks!

  • April 8, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I’ve listened and read every word….all true…I’m doing the work of THE MISSING PEACE book…solving the puzzle of self…I’ve read your cen book…you are my hero…love and light to everyone here…

  • April 28, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Dear Jonice and everyone reading this,

    I have broken with my parents. It is part of a process of learning to listen to myself, to give myself space to be myself and to love myself for the human being that I am, both the easy parts and the difficult parts.

    For me, the difficulties in breaking with my parents were many of the things you mention: a sense of loyalty to my parents, an awareness of the physical support they gave me, the ease with which one can doubt oneself, and how difficult it is to remember clearly what happened so long ago, during childhood.

    I have come to realize my parents gaslight my emotions and my feelings resulting from these emotions. They gaslight me because they have no idea of how to handle strong emotions, feelings and memories from their child, so they instinctively go with denying them, distorting them, ignoring them or filtering them.

    I am seeing ever better this is a defensive mechanism of them, to protect their self-image and worldview, to avoid having to deal with something they do not want to explore. My father and mother both have their own reasons for this.

    And I can understand that! It is very hard to learn new things and to change, if you have never changed before and if you learned as a child this was the way to go.

    In my recent conversations with my father, I started paying more attention to the words he uses, the things he says. I could do this, because I had become stronger and more able to do this.

    What I heard was insightful. And sobering for my views of my father.

    An example: I have repeatedly told him, and tried to explain him, that hugging and words such as “I love you” are important to me. I also tried to show it him, through giving hugd and saying it myself.

    He always avoided that, I thought because he was closed off and that’s it. He was just finding it hard to change. But there would be good will, good intentions.

    But recently, when I pressed him on the matter and asked him how he felt about hugging and “I love you”, he said “That is just hugging and words. That is just not important.” He was very clear about that. It just was not important.

    In other words, all the previous times I had tried to explain to him how central this was to me had done zilch. He just had never listened to it. He stuck with is own approach.

    A second example: I often told him about some of my dreams in life, like becoming a doctor. Pretty big stuff, we are talking here about the things I dreamed about when I was younger. Things my father had never acknowledged or listened to when I was younger.

    I asked him what he thought of my dreams and he responded: “That is just so vague, impractical a word, “dreams”.”

    From what he told me, I realized he disliked the entire concept of having a dream, of having a passion.

    He would not, could not, wanted not to acknowledge any of that as being important to me.

    And I learned more and more. He dislikes psychologists and their ideas, because they are so impractical, so … weird. I think he would use a word like that. He dislikes the concept of talking about feelings.

    And when he dislikes something, that’s it. End of the story.

    I will not say much about my mother. She is very insecure in some important ways and cannot handle either confrontation or difficult feelings. She would rather have no contact than go there.

    These realizations helped me to choose to protect myself from this instinctive gaslighting.

    And it helps me to recognize myself, who I am. I have dreams. I have emotions and feelings. I need a hug. And I welcome the words “I love you” in my life. This is me.


    P.S. Jonice, if you are looking for another hook for a story, maybe gaslighting is one? It is a term that maybe can illuminate in a new and helpful way the experiences of many people who deal with CEN.

    Thanks for your work!!!

  • April 29, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Dr. Webb,
    I am a psychotherapist and I must say that I’m concerned at the “permission” giving you send to a large number of adult children who cut their parents off secondary to their OWN behavioral health problems. NO where do you discuss the adult child seeking professional support BEFORE concluding, via oft distorted memories, that a parent(s’) interactions with are necessarily problematic. We have a generation of unusually entitled, self-absorbed and narcissistic young adults who are immature; and many who simply don’t want any “interference” with their hedonism, marginal lifestyles, poor health choices, et al. Scores of parents are left damaged forever (including health) by formerly close ties cut off by their adult children who are finished using them as “stepping stones” for $, housing, etc, once they have hitched up with a partner who puts up with or facilitates their illusions about early childhood. As a family therapist, I ask you to please consider if your stance on this issue isn’t giving the ones who are committing the “emotional abuse” a pass!

    • April 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Families are complex and no one rule applies to everyone, of course. I appreciate your point of view but I do not see things as you do. Thank you for sharing your valuable opinion.

  • April 29, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    There are circumstances where cutting off is absolutely the right thing to do and I’ve had to do that will two people I loved very dearly because they abused me, one sexually ,emotionally and physically and the other emotionally/verbally. Having said that I do find the trend of cutting off parents due to perceived emotional neglect without any attempt to seek family counseling, communication, learning healthy tools to set boundaries, very disturbing. Ghosting, cutting off, estranging people is a form of abuse (unless it’s done due to sexual,physical, domestic abuse situations) especially when the estranged can’t even state clearly what a person did to warrant it. I agree with jlad , estrangers should not get an automatic pass because they don’t feel they had their needs met by their parents. Those emotional needs in childhood may have indeed been met but life circumstances, mental health issues, subjective revisiting of the past may have warped or altered their perceptions.
    Just my humble take on it

    • April 30, 2018 at 7:38 am

      There is no trend of people cutting off parents, Pearlj. In the article, I’m only telling people to set limits with their parents. Not to cut them off. the huge majority of people give their parents way too much leeway, to their own detriment, and I am trying to encourage people to teach their parents how to treat them. Thanks for your comment.

      • September 3, 2018 at 12:21 am

        I’m also a therapist and I don’t see the “trend” of selfishly cutting off parents either. What have at times appeared on the surface to be the self-centered, entitled, or hedonistic behaviors of spoiled, self-indulgent people (of all ages, not just young people) turn out to be very different creatures once you’re allowed a more intimate look. I’ve yet to work with anyone who blithely cut ties with a parent. The ones who have cut ties made the decision after repeated attempts to set healthy boundaries and to communicate honestly about what they were doing and why. Not one has made the choice without some serious soul-searching.

      • September 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm

        It definitely takes a lot of soul searching. I set boundaries later in life only to have them trampled on. There seemed to be no respect for anybody else’s feelings apart from their own. I have low contact now with my elderly parents and this works for me. Yes, I sometimes have feelings of guilt for relinquishing my “role” as what I call the “good daughter” or the over responsible, people pleasing person who must fix all the problems of the family but I’ve certainly grown in the past 5 to 10 years. Unfortunately my mother’s ways of handling upset, including her use of the silent treatment, have been passed down to my siblings. They just can’t see the damage this behaviour has caused.

      • September 8, 2018 at 2:31 am

        Sue, your experience is very much like those of some of my clients. Even when they feel they must distance themselves in order to take care of their own needs, and even when they’ve made genuine attempts to set boundaries (which are not honored), they often struggle with guilt for no longer filling the “good kid” roles. It sounds as though your decision to have low contact was right for you–so good to hear.
        I also wanted to add (re: 2 previous comments) that I don’t think we’re talking about people who have had emotional needs met but somehow “misconstrued” the past via subjective revisiting (memories are always subjective and susceptible to distortion), or about “kids nowadays” who’ve had emotional needs met just fine but are so lacking in empathy they think nothing of using and dumping scores of heartbroken parents. People whose emotional needs were nurtured in healthy ways growing up would be highly unlikely to look back upon their childhoods and conjure up images of emotional neglect to the degree that they would feel it was a core truth of their life experience. It just doesn’t work that way. Likewise the young users and dumpers. Getting childhood emotional needs met is where empathy takes root in children. People who got enough aren’t prone to being selfish narcissistic pricks to anyone, much less their emotionally responsive parents.


Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *