conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
So, Sociological Images decided, for Father's Day, to post a piece about how estrangement hurts fathers. First there were a few comments from people pointing out that wow, that piece is very one-sided and that, in fact, mentally healthy people do not generally cut themselves off from their parents for no reason whatsoever. And in that vein, I linked to Issendai's study of estranged parent forums - and if this is a subject that interests you, you'd do well to read it.

Well, they must've been linked somewhere, because they're now inundated with very sad parents who have no idea why their kids estranged them, and want all the commenters who are estranged from their parents to know that they're terrible people. I'm going on the record now - Rose Pernice's daughter is estranged because her mother is a highly unpleasant person. I only needed a few comments to glean that piece of information, not that she'd listen if I tried to explain it to her.

Things like this are useful to read. I look at these exchanges and go "Wow. No matter how annoyed I am at my family, at least I can say they aren't this bad."

Date: 2017-06-19 10:35 am (UTC)
kutsuwamushi: (*raises eyebrows*)
From: [personal profile] kutsuwamushi
Reminds me of all of the questions on Ask MetaFilter where people are asking how to deal with their terrible parents, and half of the advice is "stop dealing with your terrible parents."

I have no doubt that either parents or children can be horrible, but the idea that children owe loyalty to someone who's mistreated them and made them miserable is one I have a lot of difficulty with. And I have a great mom, so I'm not saying this as an estranged child defending herself, or whatever.

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Date: 2017-06-19 11:37 am (UTC)
swiftheartrabbit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
My birth mother is a basketcase and only lists my half brothers as her family. My birth father wanted to keep me but Mom was not having it. That is why I never talk to her. I resent her highly. Anyways I make my friends my family. I have a mom named Toni and she treats me like I was her own. :-)

Date: 2017-06-19 11:44 am (UTC)
sabotabby: (furiosa)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Oh, I should not click that. I'm pretty sure that BioDad doesn't know why I would stop talking to him, or blames my mother, and thinks he did nothing wrong.

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Date: 2017-06-19 01:09 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
A snarky part of me wonders why a parent would be so eager to maintain/recreate contact with a terrible person—and why they think saying "you're a terrible person" would be an effective way of doing that.

I am, tangentially, reminded of having recently heard of someone who was mutually estranged from a parent: the original estrangement was the child's choice, but the parent refused to reconcile. I don't know either person's reasons, but I wonder whether the parent had claimed that their child was terrible for cutting off contact, or for trying to restore contact a couple of years later, or for not reaching out in exactly the right way.

[Context: as these things go, my father wasn't terrible, just bad for me and in ways that he couldn't or wouldn't understand and I saw no way to fix.]

Date: 2017-06-19 01:15 pm (UTC)
anandrine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anandrine
oh, lord, how little i care about parents sad because their children cut them off. and yeah, very sad parents who have no idea why their kids estranged them, and want all the commenters who are estranged from their parents to know that they're terrible people. - parents who have been estranged are often master martyr-liars, and that's probably part of the reason they got cut off! my mom was emotionally and sexually abusive, and when i cut her off i didn't go into detail with her, but i did tell her "you are emotionally manipulative and toxic and i don't want to deal with it anymore" and her sob story to people is "i have no clue why my daughter won't talk to me anymore, and she's saying all these lies about me, but i still love her and pray for her."

Date: 2017-06-19 01:21 pm (UTC)
anandrine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anandrine
i'm reading that forum study now and this sounds very accurate and familiar!

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] deird1 - Date: 2017-06-19 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2017-06-19 02:07 pm (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
Thank-you for performing this valuable public service.

Date: 2017-06-19 03:03 pm (UTC)
novel_machinist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] novel_machinist
I gotta love all these people who don't think that the motion of cutting a parent out of your life isn't hurtful for us. Like "yay of course I love this gaping hole in my life that you used to fill, dad. It's great hurting people for no reason" actually happens.

Date: 2017-06-25 02:33 am (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
This. That the grief isn't in some ways equivalent to them having died (the not coping with their birthdays, the meltdowns about things that remind you of them, to name just a couple)

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Date: 2017-06-19 07:17 pm (UTC)
delphi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] delphi
The local police department could probably tell you why my mother's biological children, stepson, former partners, and former lodgers no longer speak to her. Nonetheless, my mother will insist it's either a complete mystery (she is of course being punished for not being able to guess what she did wrong) or a huge overreaction to some tiny misunderstanding.

Likewise, my father is legitimately sad that he doesn't have much of a relationship with his kids. He sees some connection to the fact that he didn't do any parenting before the divorce and became sexually inappropriate after it, but he doesn't like to talk about this. The sadness doesn't seem to have much to do with his kids as individuals, but he's reached an age where his peers are benefiting from positive relationships with their adult children - being taken out to Sunday dinner, becoming grandfathers, getting help around the home and increasingly pricey gifts - and he no longer gets to feel like a success just for having procreated and financially supported his offspring to adulthood.

Both my parents like to suggest that these relationships don't exist because their children are cold-hearted users at best and manipulative sociopaths at worst. But it seems to me that real users and manipulators would want to keep in touch and leverage that unconditional parental love for further gain and the promise of an inheritance. In actuality, shutting down communication was the most acutely painful thing I've ever done, and I still feel the ache of it - but it's far better than the constant fear and stress and misery of staying in hurtful relationships.

Date: 2017-06-19 09:02 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I'm reading the section about boundaries and enmeshment, and hooboy.

I actually managed to get my parents to go to family counseling when I was in my 20s. It was a miserable failure for them; when the counselor failed to rubber-stamp their every position, they decided that they couldn't deal with it and quit. It did provide some useful advice and reinforcement for me. But the thing I really remember is that, in talking with that counselor on my own after the fact, she explained to me what "enmeshment" was and that my parents had a bad case of it. That made so many things so much clearer! They literally could not see me as being a person independent of them (just as they had no apparent sense of themselves as individuals); they were a couple-unit, and I was supposed to be part of that as well. Knowing that made it easier for me to deal with it.

I didn't even learn the term "boundaries" until after they were both dead. I just set them, unilaterally and without discussion, so that they had no chance to argue with me about them.

- I stopped telling them anything significant about my life because it was easier to deal with one repeated "but you never TELL us anything about your life!" argument than the Death of a Thousand Cuts that resulted when I let anything slip. (Even the mention that I was going out of town for the weekend would provoke a flurry of interrogation and criticism.)

- After my mother's death, I stopped visiting my father without someone else in tow -- my then-husband or a friend -- because the presence of a witness constrained him to "company manners".

- When we asked my father to take care of our cats during the week that we were gone for Worldcon and came home to several major disruptions and a 10-page handwritten letter about how awful my housekeeping was, I took his house key away and we never asked him to do that again. I didn't discuss that either, just told him we needed our key back.

Looking back, I wonder whether my lack of discussion about these things prevented me from getting into the kinds of arguments detailed in the article. I didn't give them any kind of leverage with which to push back.

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Date: 2017-06-19 10:51 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: (furiosa)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
ETA: I read all the comments on that link and you are a FUCKING SAINT. Holy shit.

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From: [personal profile] sabotabby - Date: 2017-06-20 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2017-06-19 11:48 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Now on to the section about themes found in estranged-parent forums. I think there's a point the author is missing about the conviction that their estranged children want to hurt them, and it's a thing I encountered with my own parents: They believe that whatever their children do is All About Them, All The Time.

Example: My parents hated most of the guys I dated in college (I didn't date in high school) and would bad-mouth them to me endlessly. Then when I broke up with the guy, as happens for all sorts of reasons when you're that age and still figuring out what kind of person you want to be with, they would go on and on about "Oh, thank God you finally LISTENED to us and came to your senses!" Since the reasons why they hated these guys were almost completely fantasy, it was never the case that what they were saying had any influence on my breaking up with someone. But the idea that I might have done it for reasons of my own which had nothing to do with them wasn't even on the table.

Similarly, if I did something they approved of, it was because they wanted me to. If I did something they disapproved of, it was because I knew they didn't want me to and was just doing it to spite them. I was the center of their universe, and their belief that they were also the center of mine was unshakeable.

Thank ghod that neither of them were of the personality type for which that kind of belief leads to stalking.

Date: 2017-06-20 02:00 am (UTC)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
From: [personal profile] archangelbeth
HEH! Yeah, I figure that one side or the other, in such cases, is No Good, and the other side is well-rid of them.

And considering my sire, I'm on the side of the kids by default.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] archangelbeth - Date: 2017-06-21 12:10 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2017-06-20 02:30 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
From the Notes section:

Parents who try to reconcile with their estranged adult children often describe themselves as "walking on eggshells." Their children make all the rules, blow up at random. They don't accept invitations enough, offer invitations enough, call enough, text enough, visit enough. The parents feel they're "begging for scraps." Eventually—after a few years, a few months, a few visits, a single visit—the parents back out of the relationship and tell the children they're willing to reconcile only on their own terms.

Hey, that sounds familiar! As in, with only a tweak or two, it could be a discussion of any situation in which members of a privileged group are being pushed in the direction of equality. That's every guy who's ever said, "I can't even TALK to women any more because they might accuse me of harassment!" It's every white person who's ever said, "I just don't understand why black people are so ANGRY all the time." It's every asshole who's ever said, "It was just a JOKE! Where's your sense of HUMOR?" when someone calls him on a slur.

Basically, whenever you hear the phrase "walking on eggshells," it's probably a Big Red Warning Flag unless there's something in the context which strongly argues otherwise. Because that's what abusers always say when called on it.

Date: 2017-06-20 03:44 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Hey, that sounds familiar! As in, with only a tweak or two, it could be a discussion of any situation in which members of a privileged group are being pushed in the direction of equality. That's every guy who's ever said, "I can't even TALK to women any more because they might accuse me of harassment!" It's every white person who's ever said, "I just don't understand why black people are so ANGRY all the time." It's every asshole who's ever said, "It was just a JOKE! Where's your sense of HUMOR?" when someone calls him on a slur.

This is a good observation. "OMG, I have to THINK about the EMOTIONAL EFFECT of my WORDS on a class of people I feel TOTALLY ENTITLED not to ever have to be considerate of!"

Date: 2017-06-20 03:58 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Five bucks says the author is one of those estranged fathers who can't imagine why his adult children have a restraining order out on him want nothing to do with him.

His post isn't naive. It's actually the narcissistic parent's argument. It hits all the classic notes: they did it for no reason, poor me, they're choosing independence over proper respect for subordination to the family, it's the son/daughter-in-law's fault.

So the question is whether he actually means it, or is playing the long game.

The entire purpose of that post was to recruit paying patients and customers. Full stop. It exists to raise a flag that will signal to estranged parents that he is entirely sympathetic to them and understands their plight, and drive them to his website, where he stands ready to accept their fees for his webinars, payments for his books, and applications to become his patients.

Yet, intriguingly, some of his materials seem to suggest he might get what is really going on. It is not impossible that he's doing what he does to establish rapport with estranged parents, and then gently, covertly help them be less awful.

(FWIW, I know a therapist sort of doing this with PUAs.)

Or maybe he just is a total sucker because of a narcissicistic injury of his own.

Anyways, thank you for bringing it to my attention. This is somebody I should keep an eye on.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] siderea - Date: 2017-06-20 04:48 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2017-06-20 04:04 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Hey, does Issendai's blog have a feed? One of the few things I really dislike about DW is that there's no way either to search feeds or to order them alphabetically instead of by popularity.

Date: 2017-06-20 03:58 pm (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
I quite enjoyed this article from Jezebel last week: You Don't Have Daddy Issues But Your Piece of Shit Father Might. It starts by analyzing the sexism of attributing any psycho-sexual issues a woman has to "daddy issues" and then it looks at how some fathers have failed to be adequate parents, and that they are the ones with issues, with kids "just happened to be raised in his crossfire."

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conuly

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