This 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;
Have you seen The Emerging from Broken book “The 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