Do my Parents Have a Right to see My Children if They Don’t Love Me?


12399970_10201138795870244_1750274099_oThis time of year can be really difficult for survivors of dysfunctional family dynamics, and survivors of any kind of childhood trauma, abuse and or neglect. The same applies to the situation for adult children who have been or are currently dealing with narcissistic mother or narcissistic parent issues or abusive and emotionally unavailable parents in general.

I get lots of email from people asking me how I dealt with the whole ‘going no contact’ issue. When this time of year rolls around, those questions are triplicated. There is just something about Christmas that triggers us to wonder if we are in fact the actual problem when it comes to strained relationship with members of our families and something about this time of year makes us revisit our self-doubt whether we have already made the decision to go no contact or if we are simply trying to sort out if we even have a right to feel discounted or if we imagined the whole dysfunctional family thing.

In particular at this time of year, I get asked to address parental rights when it comes to our children and their relationship with our parents, their grandparents.

Because I have been putting everything through the ‘truth grid of understanding’ for so long now, there are things that are much more obvious or logical to me now, then they were 10 years ago and today I look at it this way;

My parents treated me with disregard. My mother and father have very different relationship styles, my mother is verbally abusive and dismissive and much more overtly abusive and my father is more covertly and passively abusive and therefore also dismissive and both of them feel entitled to treat me however they want to but the point is that my children witnessed the way they dismissed me.

Because I accepted the way that they treated me, my children received a specific message about me through the way I was regarded. My children saw people treat me like I was not important. They saw people treat me like my feelings were invalid; they got the message that it was okay to treat people that way and they got the message that it was okay to treat their mother that way. Perhaps even worse than that, they saw me try to please these people in spite of the way they treated me! They saw me ‘accept’ that treatment. Since I have come out of the fog in this situation, why would I want those people around my children?

People tell me that their parents would never hurt their children. I wonder why adult children believe that their parents would be so wonderful to everyone else and that they (as the child of those parents) were the exception to the rule when it comes to the truth about who their parents really are when it comes to the way they treat people? But then I remember that I know exactly why we believe that.

When we are kids we are convinced that WE are the problem. We are brainwashed to believe that we are deficient, that we are somehow defective and that if we were not defective ~ if we were ‘different’ our lives and their feelings towards us would have been different. We are convinced that if only we could have been the children they wanted then we would have been loved. We believe that our parents would have loved us if we had been good enough. We believe that if we had been the children they dreamed of, smarter, more beautiful, more loving, more compliant, less of a burden, then we would have been treasured, loved, accepted, celebrated and secure.

Since we don’t see our own children in the ways our parents regarded us, we can’t imagine that our parents would ever treat our children the ways that they have treated us. Because we see our children as the wonderful treasures they are, we can’t imagine that our parents would ever judge our children in the same ways they judged us so we don’t see any danger in our children having a relationship with our parents if we decide that we are no longer going to have relationship with our parents. (This also applies in the case of our drawing boundaries with our parents and they refuse to respect those boundaries and therefore it is actually the parents who have walked away.)

And here is the thing ~ sometimes our parents don’t judge our children in those ways but how are we to ever know what they are going to do? Perhaps they are grooming our children in a different way and for a different purpose. I have heard horrendous stories; grandparents who have filed for custody, and won by convincing the courts that the parent is unfit. I have heard of grandparents who have turned children against parents, grandparents who have used grandchildren to help them overpower parents oh the nasty list goes on. Sometimes it won’t serve the purpose of the grandparent to treat the grandchild in the same ways that they treated their own children. The dangerous thing about this is that people who do things with a motive that has anything to do with control are unpredictable!

People tell me that their parents “love” their grandchildren. But what is loving about treating that child’s mother or father with disregard and disrespect? Where is the example of love in that treatment?

People tell me that one or both of their parents are narcissists, but they forget that a narcissist is a narcissist ~ no matter WHO they are dealing with. Narcissists are only interested in themselves, so in that regard, what is their interest in relationship with your children? Think about it carefully. Some parents want to be ‘right’ so badly that they will try to discredit you when it comes to your children for the sole purpose proving that they are right about you; so right in fact that your own children have turned against you. (The same applies to spouses who turn the children against one parent.)

It is important to think about the truth when we are making decisions about our own children. I realized that I am the parent. I realized that I had a choice even though I had been convinced and brainwashed that I didn’t have a choice. I had power, even though I had been convinced that I was powerless. I had to reject that lie and take my life and my choices back.

There is no obligation just because the word family is involved. People who don’t care about me, are not good role models for my children. People who treat me as though I am nothing and call me crazy are going to communicate their judgments about me to my children, even if those judgments are non-verbal. And as most of us have experienced first hand, sometimes those people are really convincing.

Think about it this way; whose fault is it when we decide that it is best for our children not to see our parents? Why did we have to consider that decision in the first place? Parents may accuse that we are seeking revenge when we decide that when it comes to our children we are a package deal. Just because our families are saying that we are seeking revenge, does that make it the truth??

Here are some questions you can put through the truth grid this holiday season;

Ask yourself if you were seeking revenge, what you would be seeking revenge for, and then ask yourself it is really revenge you are after, or peace?

What is your motive for standing up to abusive family? My motive came from the desire for relationship based on love and mutual respect.

Ask yourself if you were loved and valued, would you even be considering going or staying no contact?

Ask yourself if your parents don’t treat you in the action of love, are they loving to your children and if you believe they are loving your children, think about how a parent who rejects their own child communicates love to the child of that rejected parent.

Ask yourself why it would be ‘best’ for your children to have a relationship with your parents if that relationship is independent of you. 

It has always been through my examination of the truth that I have found the true answers that set me free to be me and to reclaim my life and my emotional health.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to those who celebrate! Peace and love to all those who don’t celebrate.

I hope you will consider sharing this post in support of people who may be struggling with difficult family dynamics this holiday season. As always, please feel free to share your comments no matter what they are about. This is a very supportive and safe space.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Have you seen The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

91 response to "Do my Parents Have a Right to see My Children if They Don’t Love Me?"

  1. By: Jeni Lee Posted: 16th May

    I also believe that children and animals are easier to love for people who’s love is broke. My dad, so far, has been an ok grandfather. I remember getting along with my father when I was a little girl. So what is the difference? I think my children did not witness the abuse that I was drug into between my father and mother. There is an enormous amount of shame my father would have to deal with to be able to love me. He was able to start over with his grandchildren. The problem? He still is narcissistic. Now I am seeing my father start to reject my son who is 14. It is because my son is individualizing. My son has his own oppinions and thoughts. All of these things are very threatening to a narc. My daughter who is 9 is the closest to him. She is compliant and sweet. He is really sweet to her and attentive. My issue is that I know this is temporary. Also, both of my children have noticed that grandpa is nice to them, but that he is “mean” to me. Currently, I am being given the silent treatment. My father is telling everyone that I am ignoring him. Even though I have called and left 2 messages on his cell and home phone. The reason? During Easter, he was doing his rounds of bullying other family members, who cower around him, because he is psycho and they dont want to fight. I very respectfully disagreed with him. Yes everyone! I decided to have an oppinion. He blew up and screamed at me. He made himself look like an idiot. I immediately thought, “I am going to be blamed and punished for this.” I called to invite him to a very important event of my sons. My Dad intentionally missed it to punish me. Also lieing and telling everyone that he hasnt heard from me. So, yes there was an opportunity for him to be a good grandparent, but he again makes decisions not only to hurt me – but also hurt my son. My son who is autistic is now being used as a weapon against me. When my dad wants to hurt me he knows exactly where to punch. Sound familiar to everyone? He will attack how I raised my son, the “wrong” treatment decisions I have made. How dissapointed my mom would be if she was alive. So, narcs cant be good grandparents. They are toxic and it will eventually lead to it effecting my health, mental and physical, my parenting and how I treat my husband. They are wolves in disquise. They will attack how ever they can get to you. They will use your children if you give them the opportunity. All because they cant deal with their shame and demons. I have decided to go no contact. I have decided not to encourage a relationship with my children. He will use this to poison my family.

    • By: Elizabeth Ryan Posted: 4th November

      Thank you for sharing your experience, you have no idea how much it has heyme to know I’m not going mad. My dad is exactly the same! Iv a 1half year old girl, and have had yet another major fallout all because I questioned why mysel and family was yet again left out of another “family” holiday. My brother & sisters family get to go on Friday/Saturday and we get told come Sunday. This is when my brother &sister go home, so we miss out again on making memories and needed bonds as he has brainwashed them into treating me like I’m less than human. Everyone is frightened of him, he is a master manipulator it’s another level! my mum who is just as bad but more like his puppy dog. And because I dare to ask why are we left out or separated they have more or less disowned me. This came after he went mental after I was questioning them as to why and how it’s not ok. And now he is saying he wants to see my daughter but I would have to drop her off at their house as I’m not allowed there. I put my foot down again and said no your welcome to see her at our home and that was 2 days ago and since had no reply.

      He sounds just the same as your dad, total narsasist and has a pattern of dropping you around the age of 13 when you don’t fulfill his need for total control or admiration.

      I’m just in bits at the moment I know staying away is totally the right thing to do. I am scared if I do have full contact or go back into it he will make my daughter see me like he has made the others see me. I am the middle child, very independent and have a mind of my own unlike my sister who is newry 50stilllives with them and her kids an also is financially dependent on him too. My brother works for him so he is also dependent on him. I never wotfor my dad, always done my own thing, I think this is what he can’t stsnd as I’m not under his control.

      I feel broken at the moment we have no one but myself, partner and daughter my partner didn’t have any family either and I only got a couple of friends. Just feel so alone in the world and sad for my daughter. I’d love some positive feedback from anyone who has a similar situation. Thanks

      • By: Light Posted: 4th November

        Hello Elizabeth,

        I just wrote a long reply but then it got cancelled out. Please know I am thinking of you. Your father’s demand that you drop your daughter off because you’re not allowed there is both ridiculous and very hurtful. Please know that these family dynamics are not your fault. I can relate because I am the scapegoat as well and there have been family gatherings to which I was not included. It really hurts I know. While I’m not a parent, from everything I’ve read I would be very wary of leaving your daughter with any family member who scapegoats you as many WILL try to turn your daughter against you and often they are successful. I know you are lonely, I am too and it’s a difficult path. I try to get myself out to meet other people and develop new connections though my default when I’m feeling low is to stay home. I hope your partner is a support for you. Counseling with a TRUSTED therapist can help, as long as you feel validated and trust the person — some can do more damage. Strength and love to you, Carol

        • By: Light Posted: 4th November

          P.S. If your father had his way, the very act of leaving your daughter at his home because you’re not allowed there is a form of scapegoating. Your daughter would surely pick up on this in time. Can’t believe the entitlement in that demand!!

          • By: Elizabeth Ryan Posted: 4th November

            Thank you light! I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me, it’s nice to know I’m not wrong for not wanting her to go without me. We come as a package I don’t understand why he would expect this demand. He sent the following text which was like a completely different person to the one screaming in my partners face the other day. Then going in to say I need help and trying to do his usual manipulation by saying I’m crazy and twisting everything I say. I had to ask him to leave in the end as my baby was in bed and he was going nuts. The next day stupid reasonable me said they could see her at my house when they liked. He just ignored what I said and sent me this..
            LIZ, we will be delighted to have Hayley to spend time with as she grows older and as we do also. Clearly it would be more realistic for us to pick her up and drop her off or if you prefer for you to drop he off.
            Thanks Dad X

            My reply..That’s hurtful, what did I ever do to you to make you hate me so much. Im sorry but I don’t see how that can work and I don’t feel comfortable at all with that option. By doing that your keeping up the divide that has been created, I don’t want her being part of it, to see it or grow up with it like I have. It’s my main priority to have her grow up secure and happy, not see her mums left out. It’s just confusing for her and not nice at all. So by coming to mine she doesn’t have to See that and get a false sence of security thinking she is part of a family only to watch you all go away together and leave her parents out. I’m doing my best to say your welcome to come see her at my house given the circumstances. Even if we’re not here for a hour if you and mum are welcome to sit with her or baby sit here if that makes it less awkward. Maybe in time we can progress to other options but it’s very raw at the moment x

            That was 5 days ago and Iv heard nothing since. So sick of these games, why can’t they just be normal and love me. I did nothing but ask why we’re not included and all hell breaks loose. Can’t count how many times this has happened to me in my life, it’s so hard to be the best mum when all I want to do is cry and go to bed.

            Just struggling to be ok, and find a balance x

      • By: Light Posted: 5th November

        Your words sound powerful and honest — good for you for standing up to your parents and putting your daughter’s (and your!) well-being first. I am so sorry you are going through this. What especially resonates with me is how dysfunctional families can be so extreme, e.g. extreme with shouting, silence, cut-offs, etc. Suggesting that they visit your daughter without you is extreme.

        I too have been called “delusional” and told to “get help”. It’s hurtful and sometimes there are no answers for why our family members don’t show love. I know it’s incredibly painful. I hope you can find your way through this and bring love and light and support into your life in other ways.

        • By: Elizabeth Ryan Posted: 5th November

          Thank you again light! So lovely of you to take a sincere interest regarding my situation, shame they didn’t act like you I wouldn’t be going through it if they did. They just can’t see what there doing wrong my parents think it’s totally acceptable to ask us just to go away on a Sunday when the rest of the family have gone home. My mum knows my partner has work on the Monday but disregards that to. Anyway enough about me ? how are you? Has it been a long time since you distanced yourself, how are you coping ?

          • By: Light Posted: 5th November

            I’m doing well. Family is hard and always has been. I’m determined to have these last decades of my life be joy-filled and to not let the dysfunctional dynamics get the better of me. While my mother finally validated my experience of my dad’s covert sexual misconduct (after decades of the pain of her not believing me), she will not acknowledge that her disbelief and negative views of me rubbed off on other family members who also refuse to be supportive of me. I’ve had to go very low contact with most siblings and my mother which saddens me greatly. It’s challenging to make friends and make changes, but I am.

            I was thinking about your situation. I know how hard it was for me to cope…there were many times after family gatherings (or if I wasn’t invited) that I went to bed for days feeling like a truck hit me. Lots of tears. It must be so hard for you to be parenting with all of this going on. I found for me that since I’ve gone very low contact I don’t have days in bed anymore. It’s been most difficult to accept that my mother doesn’t want to bond with me in a normal mother-daughter way.

  2. By: Tundra Woman Posted: 9th May

    In view of the reality the Highest of all “High Holey Days” in the US, “Mother’s Day” is imminent, this Post is again so relevant. Thank you, Ms. Darlene, you nailed it again as usual. This Post very clearly captures the emotional anguish as well as the need for clear, rational thought to be utilized in your decision to expose your beautiful children to adults who have consistently maltreated you. I am intentionally not using the words “abuse” and “neglect” in the hope it will not be quite so overwhelming to accept what your life experiences have consistently demonstrated vs. the words your “parents” consistently used to re-frame their own shitty behavior as well as your own typical childhood behavior in return (False Equivalencies.) In their Projections they seek to indemnify themselves against the reality of their despicable behavior and your experiences at the mercy of their reprehensible/piss poor choices and behavior. Those who use words to obfuscate rather than illuminate do so in service to a nefarious Agenda. But you DO know who they are and what their behavior has revealed consistently over decades or you wouldn’t be reading at this site. So let’s put aside for a moment the emotional, our immersion by those same maltreaters in their narrative of *alleged* societal expectations of “faammiillyy” and their relentlessly inculcated faux, self-serving definition of the supremacy of “faammiilly” and “loyalty” etc.: They of course bastardize language. Instead, use reason to guide your thinking when considering exposing your children to the same people who have mistreated you throughout your life.

    We are born hardwired to bond with our primary caretakers, our parents: That’s just science-and the Flat Earthers? Please feel free to walk to the edge and jump. If it were essential for the survival and the ability of a baby/child to thrive by virtue of forming a bond/relationship with grandparents, they would have been born pre-wired/ predisposed to do exactly that: However, they’re NOT. De facto, you are not “taking away” an experience that would facilitate the survival and growth of your children by not exposing them to the malovelance that has permeated your own life, OK? This is alllll about what is in *the best interests of your child* not your parents, not “society,” not what anyone else “wants” or “demands,” *not what temporarily assuages your own feelings of guilt, obligation etc.* It is about your child, ONLY your child and their NEEDS. “Needs” are not “wants.”

    Our primary responsibility as parents is the Protection of Our Children, period, the end, full stop. Note there are NO DNA Exceptions or Exemptions from this, the most fundamental imperative of parenting. Wild animals will fight to the death if necessary to protect their offspring: It doesn’t get any more Primal/Instinctive than that. Unfortunately, our progenitors failed to even meet the standards set by animals. As adults who have been raised in these closed and utterly distorted family systems, we’re gonna have to rationally consider this conundrum against the backdrop of all of our accumulated experience and knowledge even if-and especially if-it “feels wrong somehow” to not give your parents exactly what they demand; your child, a new, shiny thing, a “Prop” for their Glamma selfies etc. A relatively normal, open, healthy family system conducive to positive growth will of course “feel wrong” initially to you-and that’s what requires your attention: Health = “comfort;” unhealthy = “discomfort.” And that’s what “feels wrong” is all about: Our unfamiliarity with that which encourages growth, independent thinking, personal autonomy, independence etc. rather than that which forecloses our independence, individuation and refuses to support and love that child, to provide an environment for them to flourish in this world. Love is not a transaction, a mandate, a contrived “must,” an endless coercive guilt manipulation nor a veiled or real threat: “Do this….or else.”

    When you look at your beautiful, perfect little miracle,
    your baby, remember you also were that perfect, that beautiful-and that vulnerable. If the very people who were tasked with your care and protection failed to consistently love, cherish, guide and protect YOU, why would you ever believe for a second your beautiful child will not endure the same? They WILL. Initially you may think-and it may appear-these same people have suddenly developed the capacity to provide that love to your beloved child. The “show” simply demonstrates their ability to adapt superficially and appear to embody all they are NOT. Character is quite inflexible by adulthood. You already have experienced what will be repeated in some form or variation via your child. Just as you have experienced, people who maltreat others choose the time, place and methods to inflict their maltreatment. And people who maltreat-behind closed doors of course-the most vulnerable at their disposal, their OWN Littles are Equal Opportunity Destroyers. Bruises fade. Broken bones mend. Burns scar over. It is the emotional/psychological mistreatment that leaves the longest demands.

    This is not only a practical and legal issue but a moral and ethical imperative for parents as well: Seldom is the Right Thing the Easy Thing. Anyone who demands you consciously deny your reality, your lived experiences, violate your most deeply held morals, values, ethics, your very conscience-the bedrock of your personhood-is a Tyrant. Anyone who has demonstrated a pattern of maltreatment, demands access to your child(ren) despite your innermost reservations, who demands time alone with your child (FFS, what are they gonna do with your child without your presence they can’t do in your presence?!), who even so much as utter or hint at anything even vaguely akin to “Grandparents Rights” is an Instant (metaphorical) Kill Shot: That child requires only their PARENTS. Grandparents are permitted access to those children at the sufferance of the child’s parents only, not on demand nor on some ridiculous illusion of themselves as a “Super Parent” who forever reigns supreme over other adults they just happened to spawn as well as their own children. Grandparents raised their own and your children are not a “Do Over,” a Sacrificial Offering to placate your addled thinking or a fulfillment of their or your imagined fantasy self-finally-loved or family. Reality is like gravity-and gravity always wins.

    Ultimately I believe this is really about us and our desire *still* to procure the love and approval of our parents (yeah, ouch I know.) We want our Lion Queen/Lion King moment so our parents (maybe) will see our perfect, beautiful little baby and look at our Littles with eyes and hearts that are as full of love as our own. How could they not?

    Not gonna happen. I’m sorry. They don’t think as you do in any way beyond how they can use that new shiny thing to advantage themselves and hurt you-again-by Tooling your child. Of course it’s dehumanizing. Just as you were and will continue to feel “less than,” “never enough,” “never good enough,” your confidence in yourself and now, your burgeoning sense of confidence and competence as a parent will be severely challenged and undercut directly and indirectly. I am not impressed in the least with protestations of “But I’ll be right there! I’ll never leave them alone!” “They’ll rarely see them!” Or any of the other transparent placations or rationalizations we make in service to our own muddled thinking. It is not somehow “better”/less injurious to feed your child a teaspoon of poison rather than a tablespoon: This does not change reality it’s still poison in any amount or any form. You do not control others or what comes out of their typically surreptitiously vicious mouths.

    I firmly assert this as an old woman, a mother, a grandmother and great grandmother from a background you have also experienced: The finest Legacy we ever bequeath to our children, their children and those children yet unborn we will never live to see is that of a *total repudiation of our own history.* No half-hearted attempt to “change,” to obfuscate the Reality to which we have been subjected secondary to the vageries inherent in the circumstances of our birth, no excusing the inexcusable of parental maltreatment, no “mitigating circumstances” to rationalize or minimize the culpability of those adults who ALSO had Agency and Choices will suffice to change your past or Reality. What you can and IMO are ethically and morally obligated to do as a parent beyond that of fundamental provision of protection to your children is endeavor starting today and every day hereafter through your words and behavior to love and support your children as the unique and beautiful gift they truly are so they will never know the pain, fear and betrayal you have experienced.

    Warmest wishes to all the genuine moms and on their special day, the dads who are day in, day out, in fact moms and dads not simply in name. You all are more than survivors. This Legacy may not have started with you, but you hold the power to make it end with you. You are all potentially the stuff of heros: Be your child(ren)’s hero, the one you never had.

  3. By: Light Posted: 9th September

    Hi Darlene,

    Will you be coming back to Emerging From Broken? I miss your posts.

    Thanks, Light

  4. By: Karen Posted: 4th September

    Another thank you Darlene for your blog. I have recently disengaged from my entire family. I was getting very close, and then my father passed away, and I felt I had to be there for the service and to produce a “untied family front” for other mourners to see. I don’t like to speak ill of those who have passed on, he was also a very tortured man, and generally not supportive and was emotionally unavailable until the last few times I saw him before he died and there was some positive conversation, a matter of just a few days. I have had a tortured relationship with my sister, younger, who is married to a habitual cheater. For years after a major depression she would constantly come to my home and accuse me of having affairs with her husband. That should have been my first clue it was time to cut. My mother’s brother sexually abused me for years, and when she knew that, she could only say that she could not say or do anything for me, because after all it was her brother. Second big clue. These were only the very overt acts of a very toxic family. I was never a valued member of the family as my younger sister and brother. I have never felt loved in any way and could not wait to move out which I did at 18 got married, divorced twice, several depressions, generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD syndrome, and many other mental health issues. I have two adult daughters, one not living in the area so not so much of an issue and my other daughter and she both recall not being very welcome in the grandparents home, and definitely not preferred over the children of my brother and sister. I am now 63 and even though I have spent years in therapy from sexual abuse from several males in the family, and no validation by my parents especially my Mother. So after separating myself from the herd, cutting off social media and email addresses, I am out, but I am far from free. I will be back in therapy again very soon. I am a very shame based person, and though I try I have a hard time to not feel guilty in any way. The final straw occurred this month, even though my father was cremated and the service was in April, my mother has decided that the only time that I could not be available for the internment, was the date she chose so that my bother and sister could be there. I have been sick for many years, and for the first time in 15 years my girlfriend and her husband were able to come to visit, something we planned months ago. I have more than done my “family” duty with his passing and service, and I refused to attend. Now, if I ever had any doubts that I was the black sheep in the family, I sure know it now. And the saga continues. The happy part of my story is my unwavering support from my husband and daughters, and close friends who I now call my family of choice. Thanks again Iwill be reading the ebook to help hold me over until I see someone.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th September

      Hi Karen,
      I replied to your private email about the trouble you were having getting the “Free Guide to Getting Unstuck” download and I attached the download to it.
      The e-book is a different download.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Rubies Posted: 8th May

    Thank you Darlene for this welcoming site and sharing how you overcame the dysfunction that so many of us have been trapped in. Almost every article relates to my life so well that I don’t feel the need to share the particulars of my situation. Though I do want to say how I almost decided to keep putting up with the rotten treatment because of my children’s relationships with their grandmother. I just couldn’t imagine separating them for any reason. She’d always seemed like a good enough Grandma. Realizing that they were being affected quite negatively by her treatment of me took a little while to kick in. Thankfully through learning on your amazing site and others, I began to see how I was really teaching them to put up with abuse for the sake of “family”. They were also seeing me appearing to be disrespectful to her, after she would stomp on my buttons, right in front of them. I’m usually calm loving peaceful understanding, but she would find ways to stab me right in my heart, and then when I would rightfully defend myself, she’d complain I’m too emotional. She’d then say we should stop arguing, like a mother dealing calmly with a difficult child. Somehow magically transforming herself into the voice of reason, peace and familial love, while I ended up looking like the one who has issues. I realized my children could learn to manipulate and play mind games just by watching her. Since separating from her, I’ve looked back on how she treated one of them in particular. She would give him money often. Not a lot, change she had or a few dollars. I remember telling her that she doesn’t need to give him money. That I don’t want him visiting Grandma, expecting cash. (She treated her oldest Grandchild like that, and he ended up being a greedy manipulator who takes serious advantage of her?) She continued to do it despite what I said more than a few times. She’d do the same thing with buying them all packages of cheap colored candy. I’d tell her not to buy them any, but the next time we’d see her she’d give them more. I got more firm about it, and she still continued to do it. This when my children knew I’d asked her not to. It seemed to be more about Grandma can do whatever she wants, no matter what Mommy says, than about treating the kids. I can now see how she’d subtlety make it about Mommy being no fun, and depriving them. What Mommy says doesn’t matter. Of course I’d let them have the candy after they saw it, but then tell her yet again not to buy anymore. Crazy how candy became something to have a power struggle over. As far as telling the kids that they’re never going to see Grandma again, I haven’t even told myself that. I just said that Grandma needs to be honest and fair about some things, and she’s not ready to do that right now. (I’d be willing to work things out with her, but that would mean going against her golden ones and I just don’t see that happening.) We occasionally say prayers for her, but I have found over time, that it’s really “out of sight, out of mind” for my kids. I wish it would work like that for me. She and the situation occupies my mind far too often. Thankfully she lives on the other side of town, so our chances of running into her, while not impossible, are slim. I must say that separating from my mother has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, as I wanted to be a devoted daughter. It’s certainly makes it more difficult with kids, but I don’t feel I had much of a choice, as my children were starting to hear the lies about their father and I. In the end I realized my kids were the biggest reason to cut away from her, not to keep putting up with it all.

  6. By: Christa tomasulo maldonado Posted: 9th February

    My name is Christa and I too am going through something very similar
    I had a falling out with my parents in June 2016 – be they were mad that I didn’t have a special dinner for my daughters graduation (which they were expecting)
    I continued to let them see my 11 yr old daughter but my very controlling mother wanted to take my daughter away for 2 nights and I said no. For a couple of reasons
    In march I was in a bad head in collision and am still in PT and bed surgery
    I’m now having panic attacks and suffer from ptsd! I feel like I’m loosing control

    My family had decided to make nice with my ex and his new wife.
    This was a man who cheated on me and left me penniless as a single mother
    Needless to say they despised my ex until now!
    Suddenly they are all very close and my ex
    Shares his visitation and holidays with my estranged family! I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.
    My poor daughter is confused and wonders why this is all happening?
    What do I do? Please help!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th February

      Hi Christa,
      Welcome to EFB ~ Please keep reading this blog and my book ~ your situation is complicated but I think you might come to some conclusions and answers for yourself by reading some of the insights here. (there are over 450 articles here all with discussions)
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Rachek Posted: 29th November

    This post has validated exactly what I am feeling my mother is very abusive and has been my whole 35 years still mentally and verbaly abusive and I have called it quits the last few years and life has been much better however my just as manipulative and mentally abusive ex husband has informed me that he is taking the kids before Christmas to see her. I am researching how to stop him and can’t seem to fine a legal right on this issue. We share custody and I know it’s a game with him he doesn’t really care just wants to look like the good guy and she has a nasty mouth so who knows what she would say to my kids or about me to other family. I told him no but he’s going to do what he wants. Does anyone know if I can change our joint custody agreement to disclude visitations with my mother? Just because she is their grandma does not mean she is family or fit to be around them. For my birthday where she disowned me and sent me all my last belongings she also sent a card with 3 dollars cash that said “buy yourself something nice” ?! One of the nicer things she has said to me in my life. Thanks for this post I am going to read it over and over till I can justify why I don’t want her in my kids lives or MINE! Happy holidays to you all and family isn’t blood it is who loves and respects you.

  8. By: Kris Posted: 30th April

    Hi Liz,

    I commend you for being able to see what is important here regarding your child. I don’t know that there is any way that your child won’t be hurt if you cut off your parents from her but what I do know is, from what you are telling me, it will be the best thing for her in the long run and that’s all that counts.

    To me if it’s not ok for you to see your parents why would it be ok for your daughter? Your parents aren’t going to treat her any differently then they treated you unless they sought out help to see things in a healthier way in the interim.

    I think by being there for her emotionally and telling her the truth in little doses so you don’t overwhelm her would be helpful. Allowing her to ask questions and express how she feels is key. In other words just do the opposite of what your parent’s did for you and you should be ok!!! I pray everything works out for you and your family.


  9. By: Liz Posted: 29th April

    So glad I found this page. I have spent a great deal of time and money healing from my PTSD due to my mothers abuse and my fathers neglect. But the biggest struggle has been deciding what to do about my 2 daughters. My parents dote on them and my children love seeing them, but after they spend time with them my oldest is miserable and throws tantrums for the next week. I always have a bad feeling that my oldest daughter is picking up on the dysfunction in their house and then acting it out in our house since she doesn’t have the words to communicate what she sees when shes with them. I’ve cut myself off from my parents but have continued to allow them to see my children. Based on your post and all the comments, I think I finally have the confidence to listen to my gut and protect my children from whatever is going on in their grandparents household. I’m realizing my duty as a parent is to protect my children, not worry about hurting my parent’s feelings. I already spend my whole childhood accommodating them and allowing them to walk all over me. I need to take back the power I have in this relationship.
    So now the question is: How do I explain to my 5 year old that she won’t be seeing those grandparents anymore? I don’t want her to blame herself or be scared of them either. I just cant figure out a way to break that tie without hurting my daughter as well. Advice is welcomed.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th May

      Hi Liz
      You can choose what is best for YOUR children. There are gentle age appropriate ways to explain to children when the ask why they can’t see grandparents. The truth doesn’t have to be mean or harsh, it can be as simple as saying that their grandparents are very mean to you and that you need to protect your children. (period) It was weird to me that my kids were actually relieved when we drew our boundaries! I thought that some of the grandparents were doting on them but found out that it was not actually the truth!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: carly kemp Posted: 15th March

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been going through a really hard time with my parents and felt so guilty they weren’t seeing their grandchildren but your article really helped me see things more clearly. Amazing clarity. Thank you thank you! X

  11. By: CK Posted: 10th February

    Hi Darlene, I have been reading your blog for some time now and have been extremely blessed by it.

    My husband and I are coming to our first anniversary “no contact” with his NM. Yay! The two of them have had a terrible mother/son relationship all 44 years of his life. Over the last 17 years of our marriage we tried a few times to stop all communication with her. Though we lived on opposite sides of the Earth, she still somehow had a controlling hold on both of us. We’d stop taking her calls and then finally one day answer the phone again feeling guilty. This went on for years.

    Now back in the same country, we found ourselves along with our two children needing a place to stay and lived with her for six months of hell. Only during that time did I realize how destructive and damaging she really is. The good thing is, I have come to understand so much about myself through this. Freedom is a wonderful thing.

    My NM-I-L emotionally abused the four of us the entire time. Day in and out. My real concern was for my children. Both the damage she was causing them directly, as well as indirectly, as they learned how she treated my husband and I. I say learned because that is what was happening. We were teaching them it’s ok to be abused. Though I would comfort them and reassure them their grandmother is a mental case, we were still accepting the abuse. It had to stop.

    How both of my kids (ages 12 & 13 at the time) expressed how glad they were to be out of her home. A parent who is not loving toward their own children is incapable of loving grandchildren. It’s as simply as that. My NMIL is incapable of loving anyone. My husband and I would NEVER trust her with our kids knowing what evil she is capable of.

    She is trying to communicate to us through our church now. Leaves gifts and notes with our pastor. We have just put a stop to that as well. We do not want any part of her. I am afraid she is now manipulating our church into believing her “poor, old, loving, lonely, victim mother story” I would just love to move to the other side of the world again. Seems she will not stop until she poisons every social circle we are a part of. I am meeting my pastor to try and make her understand the level of deceit and control this woman thrives on. Though I know I do not owe anyone an explanation, it is my hope to continue our friendships at church. I am however ready to walk away if I am hit with the “honor thy father and mother” scripture and the like. I know better than that. I know God hates evil and abuse is evil and unfortunately sometimes evil comes packaged as a parent.

  12. By: Into The Light Posted: 6th January

    Thanks so much for another beautifully written, incredibly validating piece of writing Darlene.

    I went low-contact with my parents in my early 40s. But we live close & they’d been decent grandparents to my kids so for a year I tried to maintain contact between them & my kids (despite the fact the kids were not really asking for them), I didn’t want my kids to grow up & say I took their gps from them b/c of my own issues with them. After a year of trying this my folks just pushed the boundaries way too far & began using my kids as pawns in what they saw as a game in order to get back at me for “rejecting” them (like many here, I didn’t actually choose NC with them, they simply could not abide by my healthy boundaries asking them to respect and not abuse me). It was my youngest child who told me his gps were being “sneaky” and that was the end of that. I saw the light…these people who cannot love anyone who doesn’t behave exactly according to their needs, who can’t respect boundaries, who are incapable of taking responsibility…etc etc. there are toxic people to me AND my kids.

    In tthe year since then I’ve checked in with the kids about this & they just do not miss their gps. I think the kids saw the things I couldn’t see probably better than I could. My kids, thankfully, love & respect me so much and see their dad love & respect me and me him. They know what healthy relationships look like.

  13. By: Kris Posted: 2nd January


    You said it all regarding KateE. No need to say anymore.

    Happy New Year to everyone as well!!!


  14. By: Sara Posted: 1st January

    Oh my gosh. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for writing this! It’s very timely.

    I think because we assume we wouldn’t put a wedge in other people’s relationships, we tend to put blinders on with our abusers. It’s foolish to think they won’t stop at putting a wedge in between any relationship we have, especially the one that is treasured by us the most.

    Thank you for validating my experience.

  15. By: KateE Posted: 30th December


    The only thing I can say is I spoke from my heart, you do not have to like what I’ve said and is was not said directly to you. And I find it admiral for you to come to Darlene’s defense. I have over the years said things that I felt I needed to say but mostly I have found that when I don’t agree with Darlene and that is my right to do so, suddenly I’m abusive, well I am not but I do have a right to my say whether anyone likes it or not.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 2nd January

      Here is what you wrote “from your heart” that Kris is kindly addressing. This is what you said to me that you feel is not abusive, and this is what you feel you needed to say;

      KateE wrote: Thank you for invalidating my post from yesterday. All the things you preach you yourself do. My message was a personal point for me and how far I’ve come reading all you write here for years, my bad. I have learned that I matter and through this site have learned that it’s about me not them, yet when I wrote a nice message about how far I have come it’s deleted, why, because I am no longer pouring my heart out on here. You don’t want people to heal and get better it’s just a place to vent giving people in the early stages I place to feel protected and validated I get it because it helped me, but I through many avenues have found my voice and made choices to take my power back. So since it is YOUR website and YOU pay for it. I will no longer post here, why, because I don’t need do to this anymore, for I am free. You do talk a double standard and although you may disagree you are also very good at flipping it to make posters who find there way

  16. By: Kris Posted: 29th December


    Regarding post 51… I just have to say that I can’t imagine you ever being offensive!!! I enjoy reading your posts all the time. It kind of made me chuckle to my self when I read it because you have always been so kind and considerate here. Just felt the need to share this with you.

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