Sadly disappointed in Article Re Estrangement…

This topic contains 13 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by AUSSIEMOM AUSSIEMOM 6 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #71721

    When I saw there is a current article , apparently recently published in the Atlantic, and now also, recirculating in general news sites,
    that deals with an older parent who is still missing their estranged adult child,

    I only looked at it, in hopes it would show me that there is beginning to be a bit of a shift, toward a more balanced and accurate perception, and to some re-education, of the society, to the current issues of adults estranging from parents, that is rampant in current society and culture,

    regarding how many average or good or very good, parents are being rejected and abandoned, extremely and long-term. And the pain and the myriad of difficult results, that it inflicts on those parents, and on older, aging ones in particular.
    And that many of them, (could they even consider possibly 50% ? )
    might often have been excellent parents or parents who made forgivable mistakes. And that attempts made by the parent are unlikely to succeed, without the AC showing any interest or taking any of the steps.

    The first sentence of the article, seemed a bit promising, on how common this type of estrangement actually is, and has become,
    but it went on to put way too much responsibility, for both the estrangement in the first place, and on initiating and attempting to reconcile, on the aging parent, than is warranted or effective or sensible , in my opinion. Many assumptions were made by the therapist, that are often not the case. And an older parent reading that article, could easily feel that blame coming down, and revert back into total self-blame, and asking the impossible of oneself.
    And other readers could easily cast even more blame on us, than already is.

    I had to stop and not look any further at the article, because I was quickly too disturbed and saddened and shaken,
    by the apparent therapist, (posing as an expert) advising the 70 year old father, who misses his eldest daughter who is not communicating with him, for 25 years, so I cannot remember her age, but she is possibly near 50 herself?
    The therapist telling him he must heavily think, not about how he feels, but rather, he should focus on the EC’s “pain that caused the estrangement” (there’s no evidence she did or does feel much or any)
    and according to this therapist, he is the one who must apologize, etc, and it is he who should initiate therapy, etc….(I don’t think that is possible for everyone, or even advisable for all) nor does it seem even sensible to me, for him to bear that responsibility, 25 years later, when he is 70?

    I couldn’t read the details, it upset me so much, seemed to be misinforming everyone who reads it,
    so I can hope I am incorrect, in my impression of the article I couldn’t bear to fully read,

    but it seemed terribly wrong to me, to ask a 70 year old parent to automatically shoulder most or all of the responsibility, for both the problem and the ‘solution’ and to make him feel badly if he is not up to the steps she lays out for him.
    No awareness that they don’t seem to fit his situation. Or that he might be too ill, or likely cannot even remember all details of her childhood, or how to debate them or counter what could be said to him, by a therapist or by his EC, if she even replied to him, (which she had not done in the past)
    that might be completely incorrect about him and the relationship and his AC.

    The EC who is past 30 or 40 or more, is old enough, in my view, to take most or all of the initiative and actions, if she wants any relationship, or has any caring or acceptance for him, or kindness or desire to work on anything with him ….. or forgiveness if some is needed.

    Anyway, this post of mine, here, is 2-fold.

    One, I find the info being put out to the public in this article, misleading and wrong, and hurtful, and furthering the MIS-information that abounds, which is harmful to others,

    And 2, the effect I let such an article have on me is bad.
    It instantly saddened me, greatly, and feels like every time I begin to get myself more clear tht I am not to blame for the estrangement in the first place, or for the continuance into my older years of my EC’s estranging herself, and that I need not, and should not feel it is my duty to make any more steps at trying to chase an adult who does not want a relationship with me,
    and when I am trying to give up taking responsibility and blame for what she does and what she did, after I did my best at giving her a good childhood, and me having given respect and acceptance, afterwards, as well,

    that something like this, can throw me right back to the painful confusion, that I struggle so much, to get past, and to leave in my rear view mirror.

    I guess I take it personally.

    As well as I am also seriously upset, to have further misinformation put out there, by someone appearing to be an “expert” on this subject to others.

    It seems worse than a difference of opinion between me and the writer.
    Its as if someone is further expounding on the misinformation and prejudices of the past.
    Reinforcing the negative incorrect stereotypes and the view that the parent holds all the responsibilities, forever. For any adult child’s total rejection and abandonment of their parent.

    Society no longer blanketly accepts the continuing of many of previous decades of negative incorrect beliefs and negative stereotypes that were falsely spread about through history, about many groups of people,
    yet we parents, even into old age, are still assumed to be to blame, for whatever went wrong. Way back in the past, (in our parenting children years) and now, (while our children are 30-55 yrs old) and forever, as long as we live, it seems.

    It seems to me, now, that in addition to working at my own personal inner grieving and turmoil,
    over EC’s estrangement decisions,
    I also need to work at donning a new, thicker coat of armor,
    especially at the outset, to protect myself from too many difficult challenges at the same time.

    I have never been great at having a “thick skin”
    I believe in people not making false assumptions of others,
    and of treating others with kindness and respect,
    so I would like that from others,

    but this estrangement issue, has so many difficult layers to it, I am finding it to be a huge set of interwoven challenges.

    Yet, please do not ignore, that I am also VERY concerned
    about the overall wider impact of additional harm, on other innocent, isolated, aging and grieving parents, having an article like that one, be misleading to others and to themselves, about many of them!

  • #71727

    Oh heck. It’s more of the same. A therapist basically saying you, old lady, couldn’t read your daughter’s mind. She was obviously hurting and you were too self involved to care. Now that she’s 48, you can’t expect her to be an adult. No, that’s your responsibility to care all about her and her very important feelings.

    More dross. Her words were similar to a well known therapist’s who I recently said publicly was hurting people. Of course, he used clinical speak to call me bad parent.

    Who reads The Atlantic in general? Maybe the same demographic that listens to NPR’s 1A show where I publicly said this stuff.

    It’s not news. It’s not helpful. It panders to their audience.

    I think psychologists and therapists should remember their intention, and if they’re APA members, their agreement to do no harm.

    Hugs to you. The tide is changing but some people are out to win popularity contests and pad their pockets too.

    Sheri McGregor

  • #71730

    Thanks, Needothers, for your heartfelt explanation of the article in the Atlantic, which I’m assuming may be online and Sheri, honestly, I really don’t believe a whole lot that is written by a therapist unless I know something of the background of the therapist’s comments on other aspects of what he or she feels they are entitled to talk about to the media. Almost anything that the media is interested in publishing will have some controversial aspect to it and in this case, placing the responsibility on to the parent once again, aging parent as well, inferring the blame lay with the parent not understanding the child…child now being 48. It’s too bad the aspects of the reality of estrangement can’t come out in a more balanced way.

  • #71741

    Thanks so much, to both of you, for the first 2 reply posts I am seeing here so far,
    Sheri and Aussiemom.
    I needed to see some input about this, and your replies definitely help me.

    To be clear, I don’t know who reads the Atlantic, but I know that this is being highlighted and broadcast,
    in headlines that go with the article, which is right on widespread news media coverage, which is where I and millions of other people, will have to see it. Both the people who are living this nightmare of hurt, and those who are suspicious of us, already.

    I wouldn’t have looked at it, at all, if I had known how slanted it would be. I actually thought it would be helpful.

    I actually hoped and guessed from the title wording and the picture, that it might be some recognition of actual facts in our society.

    That there are large numbers of parents who are left to deal with all of the challenges of aging, without any bit of help or support or love, from the loved one or ones they worked so hard to help, for many years.

    No one to take us to the doctor, when we cannot drive ourselves, no one to advocate for us, or help us with modern insurance or legal matters, no one to call, when frightened or losing abilities.
    No one who WANTS to know how we are. No practical or emotional support, from younger family members, we loved.

    Of all the examples that a therapist and article might have chosen to target estranged parents,
    they chose to focus on an older person, and to tell him, that poor advice. It’s very offensive and angering, actually.

    Thank you for adding some needed perspective!
    As well as, I thank you for your caring and support, for me and what I felt a great need to pour out, here.

    I purposely do not go to any of those other negative places on the Internet, but this was a big feature on prominent general news. Very disappointing, and I felt hurt, and aghast .

  • #71743

    I re-read those first 2 replies, here, and I asked myself, but why is the wider general news, spreading the false, hurtful articles, way farther than the original publication would have?

    And I realized the answer to that question,was in your post, too.

    They too, the National News outlets, are pandering to their audience.
    Wow, I hadn’t realized that is who their audience is.
    Full of so many young and middle-aged adults, who without abusive parents, have left them for worthless. And put all the blame and the responsibilities on them.

    Yes, it is online, on many peoples’ home page.

    And yes, there must be some very good ones, but sadly there are many therapists, who are not good at their purpose for being one, and who ignore that basic rule, “First, do no harm “

  • #71734

    Thanks Needothers, I like it when people are on the lookout for things. It reminds me of something I saw today. I went t o the public library today. In the new books section I saw 3 books about how to estrange yourself from your parents. I just about lost my lunch. I sure wish Done With The Crying had been there too.

    Apparently people don’t know how much pain they are causing.

    This site sure has helped me. Best Wishes to all of you.

  • #71749

    Sasha7133 and everyone,

    Ask at your local library for them to carry Done With The Crying. Librarians have been very responsive to it so far.

    Sheri McGregor

  • #71751

    Oh my gosh, Sasha,
    thank you for sharing that, and for your reply too.

  • #71754

    Good suggestion, Sheri.
    I wonder if the library would accept a donated copy that I would buy for them. I will ask them.

    When I ordered it through the local bookstore, I suggested they order a 2nd copy at the same time, to put on their shelf. I don’t know whether they did or not, but I hope it caused them to at least consider it.


  • #71766

    They probably would take a donation. I don’t know for sure.

    It’s quite a phenomenal, this lopsided reporting! I do believe it’s self serving. And very prevalent. To be fair, the person did write in asking how to reconcile. Well, that’s it. Walk on eggshells. Prostrate yourself. Don’t be human, be a robot.

    It gives the opportunity to stand in our shoes, whole, and say no. They invite letters to the editor. No comments (I was going to leave one).

    Aussiemom, what you say about trusting what is said (or not), when I was a kid, my mother told me not to believe everything I read. She was right, but there’s a proliferation of fake stuff, dumb stuff, bad information these days.


    Sheri McGregor

  • #71768

    I remember wkgmoms comment, when she phoned various counsellors at one point, interviewing them re estrangement before engaging anyone. One told her that estrangement is exploding, but that “the therapeutic community haven’t caught up”. Therefore not equipped to help.

    We are in a kind of front line. Pioneers in a new social trend I guess. I have had to deal with various weird 21st century environmental illness, with which many are sick, but there is as yet no public official recognition for same reasons…too much money at stake (think : illness caused by companies investing in big agrochemical industries. ), collective “world views”.

    Many of those people feel just as misunderstood and blamed for being ill, as we do with estrangement.

    We are in a very child centric society are we not? even if the “child” is 50.

    If we wait for the acceptance, acknowledgement, approval and understanding of the world before we feel we can heal ourselves, believe in ourselves, trust ourselves…we’ll be waiting a long time!

  • #71774

    I live in South Africa, where we hear very little about estrangement. But as some of you may remember, I worked in the UK for six years as a live-in caregiver for mostly wealthy elderly people (to help support my youngest son through his mental rehabilitation process because, at the time, work in my field was scarce in SA for all kinds of complicated reasons). I came across many people with elderly parents who predicted serious inter-generational conflict over the amount younger folk are taxed to fund care homes and other facilities for the elderly.

    Also, as a live-in caregiver, I looked after several people whose adult children had either abandoned them or only occasionally ‘phoned or visited. There was rarely any sign of genuine affection for an elderly parent on the part of an adult child. Aging parents were seen to be a nuisance, a burden, selfishly holding onto their properties instead of moving to care homes etc etc. I came to the conclusion that money was the big issue. These dysfunctional relationships were kept alive by the adult child’s stake in his/her inheritance. It was very sad.

    In my case, there is no inheritance. I lost everything when I made the decision to fight for my youngest son’s sanity over more than 20 years. I could become a financial burden once I stop working, which is why my eldest son dumped me I suspect. My daughter estranged herself for different reasons – but they boil down to me not towing the line about what to think/say and how to behave.

    We have produced a generation of largely self-centred people with no compassion or ability to empathise. There are, of course, exceptions. But generally, the materialistic world we now inhabit is all about status and image. It tends to discourage self-sacrifice, self-control, respect for others, patience and so on. To survive this with courage and fortitude as aging, estranged parents we need to accept that this unfortunate societal trend is too big to fight. But what goes around comes around.

    Meanwhile, let’s ignore these disappointing adult children of ours. I’m reading a fascinating book about power games, which says that disdain is one of the most effective ways of dealing with an enemy. And our estranged adult children are, unfortunately, ‘the enemy’. Disdain disarms, disempowers, unsettles … Many adult children use this as a weapon. They ignore attempts at reconciliation. We need to turn the tables on them.

  • #71816

    Delilah, and SimplifyPlease, and Sheri,
    thank you
    for those additional replies.
    Each one of them has very meaningful input and insights and ideas, which I am very glad to read.

  • #71844

    From Sasha: ” I went t o the public library today. In the new books section I saw 3 books about how to estrange yourself from your parents” I am totally shocked. Supporting the breakdown of family life in today’s society. What is the world coming to.
    As to fake news…well…it’s a term coined more recently now and famously so,,,, but back when I was growing up too, I was told to be judicious in what I believed in what I read. Now I know why. I am shocked that a library would actually buy a book such as this…I’d be making sure that library had a copy of Sheri’s book, too. I bought Sheri’s book and donated it after I’d read it to our local library. We’re a small town of 29,000 people and our library is a good one but they do appreciate donations of books at times if they feel they are relevant.

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