Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Debate Rages On

Dear Readers, for anyone who has been following the debate on Dr. Coleman's website, I wanted to transcribe the discussion so far, in case Dr. Coleman decides he wants to delete our commentary, as is his right to do since it is his forum. But I would say that so far, this has proven to be an enlightening exercise. I feel that I've gained valuable insight into how certain people choose to see the world around them, as well as how they choose to treat those with differing opinions. It is interesting to see how so many of the people who post on Dr. Coleman's forum are strikingly similar to NMIL and EFIL in their beliefs and in how they justify their actions. I thought it would be a shame for our community if our words were deleted from Dr. Coleman's site, so I have taken the time to copy and paste them here. I also thought it would be easier to provide my commentary on my own blog, since I have an abundance of it that would largely be wasted over there. The discussion is as follows (I will be updating if the conversation goes further):

7-15-2011 
Fran Said:

Want to comment on this [thread]. Of course all estranged parents feel that we did or may have done something to bring about an estrangement. If you did not physically abuse your child, then that surely would not be the cause. But if you said the wrong thing unwittingly, or even didn't know that you said or did the wrong thing then maybe you are not wholly at fault. Both parents and children have disagreements throughout their relationship. I feel that we handle these disagreements the best we can.

My estranged daughter has done things for years that I never commented on or when I tried to find out she just said "you know", but I never did. So I just walked on eggs for years. A family death brought out the worst in her, but never did I admonish her for how she behaved. Instead of comforting her sister when her husband died tragically, she made it about herself and her lack of attention from me and others. It has taken me over 3 1/2 yrs. to come to terms with this estrangement. I had to really let her go. She has not spoken or written one word to me since the email she wrote encompassing 6-7 pages of my faults, past , present and future. It nearly ripped my heart out. I never answered it, but sent her cards telling her I love her. Think that maybe it is time to give this up as this brings stress to me just trying to find the right words in a card. She is in counseling and was told to 'put me out of her life'. Well, she did and I must accept that.

So this is what I had to do too. Put her out of my life. I pray for her health and happiness. I know that I will never hear or see her again. She is aided by a counselor who didn't, or couldn't find out the other side of what she did to her siblings and other family besides me. Maybe I didn't give her all the attention she needed in adolescence, as I finished college and worked off shifts after my divorce. My other children do not feel as she does and they find her treatment of me distasteful. They just love me for who I am and know I am not perfect. My daughter said I 'was not her fantasy mother'. No one can fit that role so I couldn't try. Putting all my energies into the family I have that love me.

I don't know how Dr. C feels about family group therapy, but I offered through my son in law to meet with my daughter and the counselor when I was in the area a couple of years ago. Of course, she declined. I am reading his book now so maybe I will find the answer in it. Sichel's book about family rifts was helpful, but trying to get reassurance about my role from lots of sources.

I think you may be too hard on yourself. Parents can't be blamed for the total estrangement. Don't we raise our children to be self sufficient and able to run their own lives!


8-11-2011
LSV Said:

A couple of things here:
Just because a parent did not physically abuse a child doesn't mean this parent doesn't merit or deserve estrangement. As I'm sure you're aware, verbal and emotional abuse is grounds for confrontation and the severing of communication.

If a parent says or does something "unwittingly" as you said, that doesn't absolve you from responsibility of saying/doing it, nor does it absolve you from its repercussions. Oh, I didn't mean to run over your dog! doesn't bring the dog back to life.

Why didn't you respond to the letter your daughter obviously worked on and put a great deal of energy into? Doesn't that show that you don't care about what she's said, what her concerns are? You say you love her a great deal, but you won't respond? Doesn't make sense to me. Another huge problem – you're trying to find the right words in a card. No no no no no. If you have any respect and love for your daughter, I believe you would try to write something that ISN'T manufactured, that ISN'T fake. Take some time and put your heart out on paper. My mother didn't do that for me, she used manufactured, plagerized material to attempt to apologize. That's not a real apology.

Parents damn well better raise their children to be self-sufficient. I am horrified that you hold this belief and I'm lead to believe that your children rely on you far too much. From what I understand, you've raised them this way since they are not self-sufficient human beings. Parents are not perfect, but we do (yes I am a parent too) have to take responsibility for our shortcomings, our flaws, our mistakes, and anything that may put our children in danger. It's clear that some of your damage was intentional in that you were raising your children to be completely reliant on you. I am appalled.


8-11-2011
Carolyn Said:

I couldn't agree with you more, Viv. I,too, feel that there is lack of respect today. It just seems part of our culture. We raised our children to follow the Ten Commandments but now they scoff at them. If I were to disrepect my parents or grandparents we certainly would have been held accountable. Disrespect and verbal abuse has been at the root of my estrangement from one of my daughters and granddaughter. When I would bring it up before the estrangement, my daughter said I make too much out of respect. Well, good luck. Someday it will backfire. I feel I am responsible for not making them be accountable because of the fear of being alone. Well, guess what, I am alone anyway. I also agree with you that our children today do not want to have anything to do with us unless we can be of some help to them. I am also getting up there in years, 65 and never thought my children would abandon me now. Especially this daughter who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 5 and I was attentive to her every need. Throughout the years we have been very close and I have always been there to help her out helping her raise her daughter since she is a single mother. When she had to have her hip replaced at age 30 I was there to help out with everything for six weeks. It is so unfortunate that they do not remember the times we were there for them. I never thought I could make it after my husband died 6 years ago but I am proud of myself what I have been able to accomplish. I agree it is there loss that they can turn on us and kick us out of their lives when they just feel like it. Someone told me that they always take it out on the mother because they know the mother will always love them no matter what they do and be there for them. Well, the ball is in their court. I love them both dearly and will be here for them but I no longer will allow the disrespect.

8-11-2011
LSV Said:

Respect needs to be earned, not automatically given.
And children do not owe their parents anything. I give everything and more to my children and expect nothing in return. Why? Because they are my children and that is enough for me.


8-11-2011
Disappointed Mom Said:

WOW, LSV seems very judgemental. I wouldn't want to be looking for any empathy, understanding, or compassion from you. "judge not, lest ye be judged"

8-11-2011
LSV Said:

I am judged everyday by my children as I should be. Their eyes are on me everyday. I am not bothered by this. I never judged my parents as I should have. This is why I stayed in a relationship with them for so long that I very nearly lost my mind because of it. Only after I began to analyze their behaviors did I become aware of how emotionally damaged I had become – as a direct result of their parenting.

8-11-2011
I Said:

Disappointed Mom, you said, "WOW, LSV seems very judgemental. I wouldn't want to be looking for any empathy, understanding, or compassion from you. "judge not, lest ye be judged".

You are, in fact, passing judgement when you make the statement that "So-and-so seems judgemental."

Like they say, it takes one to know one.

It does not behoove you to throw out religious statements as a way to make yourself seem the "bigger person."

You aren't the bigger person.

I feel really bad for your children.


8-11-2011
A Parent Child Amp Said:

LSV and Jonsi,

The tone of your posts sound very hostile and like you are not the least bit interested in constructive, adult approaches to dealing with conflict or relationships. Although you may have been counseled to think that "divorcing" your parents is shiek, fulfilling, and therapeutic, I truly doubt that it will bring long term satisfaction for anyone. Everyone would stand to learn and gain much more by focusing on communicating and building relationships rather than destroying them. Much of your verbiage sounds like direct quotes and jargon from outdated Freudian based philosophy that holds parents as the sole source of one's life problems. Parents are important, but not the only influence on our lives. You are, of course, entitled to your beliefs and feelings just as are your parents. You may believe that children owe their parents nothing, however, many on this site, and especially those over 60, were raised to believe that honoring parents didn't have qualifiers like "only if it makes one feel good", and that family took precedence over self-gratification. No one likes parents all of the time, but as an 8 year-old I know recently said, family comes with loving each other even when they aren't always lovable. No, you do not have to drool over, love or care about or for your parents, you don't even have to like, agree with or think they have an ounce of redeeming worth, and you are welcome and free to criticize them constructively. However, inspite of their failures and flaws, it is likely that they did some good things even though you cannot see them, and you do owe them common courtesy. Instead of looking at everything through some negative lens, an occasional benefit of a doubt that they are, at least, trying to do what you ask even if it isn't in the exact manner or with the perfect words you might like might help them or encourage them to learn more about what it is that you want. Some attempt to offer the empathy and respect you demand for yourself, and trying to see things from your parents' perspective rather than only looking from yours would be a true mark of independence and adulthood. Perception is NOT always reality, and just because you interpret or see a situation one way, does not guarantee that it is true or right. There is nothing more frustrating and stifling to good communication or relationship building than having someone presume that he/she is qualified to read minds, interpret another's intention, or psychoanalyze others. No relationship is one-sided, and with both sides of the equation being adults, everyone has responsibilities for listening and discussion rather than judging, labeling, making assumptions, namecalling, throwing tantrums, and sulking in silence and self-righteousness. I am truly tired of this whole thing and reading indignant posts from both parents and children with neither ever considering the concepts of tolerance, forgiveness, letting go of anger, and moving forward in love. Life is just too short for all of this pettiness, malarkey, self-pity and blaming.


8-12-2011
Fran Said:

To LSV,

Wow, you really gave me a tonguelashing! Responsibility for estrangement is never one sided and it takes two to have a conversation and a willingness to discuss what is causing a breakup in a parent / child relationship. When one is not willing to talk, and specifically asks you NOT to respond because she won't read it or listen, then you have to let it go. Time is always on your side, time heals wounds, even emotional ones. You do not have to agree with me, but neither do you have to chastise me. This is a forum for healing; for ideas on how you may deal with estrangement from a child. You have to open your mind up. We have all made mistakes in raising children. You may have to look at yourselves closer to find where you failed, but you also need to forgive yourself first. How can you forgive those who have hurt you if you can't even forgive yourself.


8-12-2011
Disappointed Mom Said:

to jonsi, the word "seems" indicates an opinion, which I have a right to have. Further, I really wouldn't want to be looking to LSV for any kind of understanding, as reading between the lines intonates bitterness, and negativity "in my opinion" which I have a right to have.
As for judging?? that is from the bible. Have you got a complaint with the bible?. The negativity and toxicity "seems" to drip from your posting, again, just my opinion.


8-12-2011
LSV Said:

To A Parent Child Amp,

I am not hostile, and I have in fact attempted to approach reach out to my estranged parents, providing them with exactly what I needed from them for us to move forward with a better relationship. They couldn't be bothered to listen. I did not destroy whatever relationship I had left with them, I merely saved myself from unhealthy ones. I was not counseled by a therapist into "divorcing" my parents. I took it upon myself to learn more about their behaviors and what I would and would not tolerate.

Ok, see I do agree with you that parents aren't our only influence in life, HOWEVER, they are the MAIN influence because, in most respects, they are the ones that raise us. Yeah yeah, nature vs. nurture, throw that argument around, but still, many of our decisions are based on what we learned, gained from our parents. Make no mistake, I've taken responsibility for the mistakes, misguided choices, and problems I've made. Here's another thing – at one time I held the belief that no matter what, my parents deserve my respect. But how I can still respect someone that doesn't respect me? That doesn't listen to my needs? So no, I'm not going to allow family members, or anyone else, step all over me, and still give them respect. They. Don't. Deserve. It. Respect is given too freely when it comes to families, perpetuated by the "honor thy father and thy mother" sentiment. But where is "honor thy self"? Why should that be any less important? Perhaps the phrase would do well with an update, "honor thy father and thy mother, as they have so honored you". Something like that, because that way, it's a fair trade: show me respect, and I'll do the same. Also, let's be clear – I'm not self-gratifying myself, I'm choosing a healthier way of living. It's SELF-PRESERVATION more appropriately.

Again, to be crystal clear: my estragement wasn't about a LACK of love. I love my parents but I don't like their behaviors and to an extent, who they are. I didn't wake up one day and was like, " you know, I really don't love my parents anymore, I think I'll disrespect them and hang them out to dry". More I read, the more I hear that's what parents are saying. Estrangement was extremely difficult for me, and still is, and you'd do well to open your mind to that idea: that maybe your child is having a difficult time with their decision. It's possible indeed. My parents did do some good things, I am not denying that, so I do see them. However, their good, does not overshadow all the damage they have caused and their continued lack of respect for me, therefore, your "common courtesy" does not apply.

I've given my parents well-thought out and elaborate letters detailing what I needed from them. I can't give them the benefit of the doubt when I have provided instructions. I would appreciate you not insinuating that I am merely being a child throwing a tantrum.

If people are not qualified to analyze other people's "intentions" and lets also say actions, how then would the human race get ANYWHERE. Good communication relies on the very idea of analysis and interpretation. Your statements here also contradict basically your entire response to Jonsi and I: you are in fact interpreting and analyzing our statement, something you said people are not qualified to do. So which is it?

[And] here we can agree: relationships are definately not one sided. I'm with you there. And I agree that responsibilities lie with both parties in regards to listening, interpreting, and analyzing. However, as I've said, making judgements — actually, how about we use the term assessments instead? — making assessments about other people based on their actions is also a requirement for a relationship. It's not safe to fly in blind. Anger is not a bad thing. Forgiveness should be taken lightly. Also, love is not a panacea; love is work, often hard work, so "moving forward in love" is not as easy as you might think.

PS – I appreciate you taking the time to post your thoughts on the matter a length.


8-12-2011
Upsi Said:

[Deleted her original comment and replaced it with:] I apologize for intruding, all the best.

8-12-2011
Cindi Said:

LSV, Jonsi and Upsi:

I have to comment here that I think you guys are out-of-line here on this forum. Before you ignore me, let me state that I am a DoNM and so I understand what its like to deal with a narcisstic mother and I am a parent myself that worked to have a healthy relationship with my kids. The parents here may or may not deserve the estrangement they are going through. Some EC may have valid reasons as many of us do that have gone No Contact with our parents. Other parents may have children with Personality Disorders and are victims of that issue just as we are victims of NPD with our parents.

All three of you have blogs that allow you to vent regarding your personal situations. And if I recall, Upsi, you were not at all pleased when trolls invaded your space trying to convince you that you were wrong to feel what you were feeling and a that you were a bad daughter. The parents here that deserve the enstrangement are never going to see the errors of their ways. However, the parents that are truly victims deserve a place they can come and not be harrassed.

My two cents.


8-13-2011
A Parent Child Amp Said:

Everyone has a right to their own "separate reality." Everone also has the responsibility to look outside of themself to explore the "realities" of others and consider that their own is not always the truth. Most of the time reality is somewhere between the "separate realities" of all the parties. And, having to "be right" or "having to win" is the surest way for everyone to lose.

Everyone also deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect. I'm not sure when the rules changed to suggest that children are entitled to respect by virtue of their existence, but parents must earn it.

Everyone seems to be so busy thinking about him/her"self", "self-empowerment", "self-actualization", or whatever the current jargon is that they forget about the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) which would suggest that:
1. Treating others badly will not get them to treat you better.
2. If you want to be respected, you must first respect.

I have never been preachy because I have sinned plenty. However, I do not believe that rewriting either the Golden Rule or the 4th Commandment is an option for any of us.


8-13-2011
Disappointed Mom Said:

Well put.

8-13-2011
Winterskiprincess Said:

2. If you want to be respected, you must first respect.

I agree with everything except number 2. No one has to respect anyone. Jeffrey Dahmer, Hitler, et are extremes that do not deserve our respect.

You can be respected by people that you do not respect nor look for respect from. I do, in general, respect people by and large for their differences and uniqueness. However, I will not respect people who go out of their way to hurt others, and make themselves feel larger by doing this (whether they are related to me or not).

I also don't go looking for people to respect me. I have relationships based on people who can communicate in kind and loving ways NOT based on how much they admire me for XYZ or not.


8-13-2011
I Said:

I agree with winterskiprincess, and would add:

There is a huge difference between being disrespectful and not respecting someone.

You can choose not to have respect for someone because of their behaviors and the way they treat others, and still remain respectful.

Sometimes, the very best way to accomplish this is by removing yourself from the relationship entirely.

There seems to be a common ideology here in this forum that estrangement necessitates disrespect or poor treatment.

This is not so. As human beings, we all reserve the right to end any relationship we see fit because oftentimes, that is the healthiest choice we can make.


8-13-2011
Winterskiprincess Said:

Jonsi said, "There is a huge difference between being disrespectful and not respecting someone."

I have been disrespectful to people that I do not respect. Not saying this is right, but I am far from perfect:) I have had the need, on occasion, to reward unkindness towards me with unkindness directed towards them. In fact, it has been a great way to "ward off" unwelcome contact.

People whom I do not respect—-may respect material things over LIVING things. They also base their respect on superficial and material things. I may be being judgmental here or harsh, but I CAN NOT respect that.

On the other hand, I have had friends who I DISAGREE with, but are kind and thoughtful in other parts of their lives. They may be IMO ignorant or racist, but it may be more their upbringing than their character. In any case, they do not come after me or belittle me in my disagreeing with them. And so, I do not judge them.

It concerns me when parents or children prioritize their respect based on superficial or materialistic expectations. Even more so when in their private lives, they never lived up to these expectations themselves.


8-13-2011
A Parent Child Amp Said:

Jonsi and Winterskiprincess,
Think it is time that, like upsi, you consider Cindi's advice and take your dialogue back to your own blog or forum. Your comments do not seem to be focused on constructive criticism, but rather more like wordsmithing to justify your behavior or position. Labeling, judging, and stereotyping people you had no personal interactions with is neither therapeutic or healthy for anyone.


8-14-2011
I Said:

Winterskiprincess,

I think you have brought up an excellent point about what it means to not have respect vs. what it means to actually be disrespectful. I think, in terms of estrangements, many people would rather think that the person doing the estranging is being "disrespectful" rather than turning their eyes inward in order to assess their own behaviors.

I have seen this behavior, first hand, in someone I love – I know a parent currently who I am concerned will end up in an unhealthy relationship with his children because he is unwilling to look inward at his own behaviors, and would rather think that anyone who has something to say is merely just being overly critical or disrespectful to him. I wonder if, in the future, he won't wind up in a place like this, upset about where his relationship with his children has wound up, even though there were people along the way who offered him the suggestion that perhaps there were some things he could change about his parenting.

Most estrangements seem to occur when one or both parties feel disrespected by the other and their are no mutual feelings of respect. But having respect is a choice and a right – no one has to respect anyone if they feel that person is not deserving of it. Age does not automatically mean someone deserves respect. A person's gender does not mean they deserve respect. And a person's position in our lives is not automatic call for respects either – just because you're a parent, the pope, a relative, or a school teacher (or any other millions of roles an individual can play) does not mean you AUTOMATICALLY deserve respect.

5 comments:

  1. The fact that these parents are on this forum shows that they are looking for answers OUTSIDE themselves. IMO, trying to enagage in a meaningful dialogue with such perfect people is a complete waste of time!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dr. Coleman has stepped in with his two cents. It all sounds very "nice."

    Then I read the title of the topic: Many parents will never admit that they are responsible for the estrangement.

    I was confused because the comments all seemed relevant. There was no swearing or name calling. Adamant? Yes. On both sides.

    I was stunned by: "Do you have a complaint with the Bible?" Excuse me? It really bothers me when people use The Bible as a whip or a barb.

    Then I realized that the overall tone of the "regulars" is: They will NEVER admit that they are responsible for the estrangement.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mulderfan - I had to read your comment a couple times before I understood what you meant (for some reason it wasn't clicking). Now I get it though - in other words, they don't think the answer to why they are estranged could POSSIBLY rest on their shoulders. They see no fault, no blame in themselves. So true.

    Judy - I know, that phrase got me too. I figured it wasn't worth a retort. I can share my thoughts with you though...I have no problem whatsoever with the Bible. My problem lies with people who use it as you mentioned - as a whip, or as a means to show that they are superior. The woman also said it like [Guffaw] "Judgement? That's from the Bible, you fool!" I sort of laughed out loud. I was thinking, "Yes, I'm aware of that." and "Just because it is from the Bible, doesn't mean you get to beat people over the head with it." And really, what a hypocrite.

    ReplyDelete
  4. the thing about this has something to do with sides. it's not necessarily about PARENTS vs CHILDREN. it's about ABUSED vs ABUSER. im not saying that it's impossible for there to be parents with for some reason painful abusive children out there, but the funny thing is, in such a case, the PARENT would be initiating estrangement or low contact. the thing is, it's that the person WANTING TO INITIATE ESTRANGEMENT is almost always if not ALWAYS right. nobody wants to walk away from a good thing. and even if you are walking away because you have issues, the right person would be ACCEPTING of that. nobody can MAKE you stay. if the person wants to initiate estrangement, they ALWAYS have some DAMN GOOD REASON to want to do so. at least one that deserves being heard out. everything is unclear but it becomes simple when i think, if the person wants to walk away.
    let them fucking walk away. it should always be from the viewpoint of the one who wants to initiate.

    AND.
    if someone was truly remorseful and wanting to fix things, they would be talking a hella lot more intimately about hella lot more personal intimate true issues and feelings probably in some other fucking setting other than this forum. it would be a lot more personal and their own fucking business.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lisa - Ha! I love the way you write. I'm just going to go ahead and say it: every single letter of every single word of everything you just said is so true. (Just my opinion). Plus, it made me laugh. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete