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The practicalities for being estranged from parents?

(16 Posts)
BumptiousandBustly Mon 18-Jul-11 16:27:59

I am newly estranged from my mother and to be honest its a huge relief and I feel like a big weight has been lifted. I am just wondering how do other people handle the practicalities of it all?

i.e. I offered to facilitate her keeping in contact with my children but she has refused. What do you tell your children about absent grandparents?

Birthdays: Hers and my DSs. What do you do? I think I am planning on ignoring, hers as it seems that a text that just says "happy birthday" will highlight the fact that we are not speaking - or is it better to send just that?

DSs birthdays - I have no idea if she will send presents or not though suspect not based on previous behavior (though she might just because we are estranged IYSWIM) - So not sure how to handle any gifts if they do turn up.

Facebook. Have stopped posting on it totally - as either have to "defriend" my entire extended family, or think about how anything I post will be viewed by her - too much stress.

I should add that I don't really think this situation will improve long term (though I am sure I will try again at some point, just don't expect it to work).

Really just wondering what practicalities you have come across and how you have handled them? (Mine has only been going on about a month, so new to all of this)

p.s. please don't post saying I should be grateful just to have a mother etc, I have got here through a very long and very painful process, now just trying to work out how to handle the practicalities.

rosabelrain Mon 18-Jul-11 18:50:54

hi there
just to say sorry it is like this for you. i know how painful and drawn out it can be. we are estranged from my partners family. it's been nearly a year from his mum and almost 5yrs from his dad and brother. it is still very painful.

we dont send or recieve bday/ xmas cards, used to but got nothing in return so stopped. it feels better this way as it used to dredge up all the emotions.
it's dd's bday on friday and i dont expect there will be anything from them.
when my dd's (5&6yrs old) ask why they dont hear from granny or why cant they go see her we just say that 'granny is not very well and she feels very sad and she cant see us at the moment'. it is a bit of a white lie but i dont think we should burden them with our problems. when they are older i expect we'll talk to them more openly about what happened.

TheArmadillo Mon 18-Jul-11 19:40:34

- "what do you tell your children about absent grandparents". This is one I really can't answer. Ds is 6yo and hasn't seen my parents for over 18months. At the moment I just avoid the subject, so when he says we haven't seen them in a long while or asks when we will see them again I usually say mmm and change the subject. At some point I am going to have to tell him something and I don't know what yet. I really don't want him to have to deal with this shit.

-birthdays. I do nothing wrt to theirs. They leave presents/cards in our porch (which I hate - sometimes they do it when we're in the house and it freaks me out). Presents I do give to ds but hide them in his 'pile' so he doesn't ask who from but tbh i am thinking of taking them all to charity shop. Cards and any letters they write to him he does not get.

-facebook - I deleted my account. Dh made sure his privacy settings were at the highest possible. He has also blocked them so they can't see anything he posts on someone elses wall (essentially on their login its like he doesn't exist on there - they can't even search him).

In our case there is no chance our children will have a relationship with them (unless as adults they decide to). After the things they have done dh will not allow them near our children, ever. We have a baby as well who has never met them.

BumptiousandBustly Tue 19-Jul-11 06:36:28

rosabeltrain - I agree completely about not burdening them with our problems. But it does make it tricky about what to tell them. Luckily we are very close to my PIL, so at least them have one set of Grandparents.

Thearmadillo - My eldest DS is 3 and still remembers my mother - although he hasn't seen her since Jan. However since she never used to talk to him on the phone or skype with him or anything, I think his memory is fading. DS2 she has never been interested in at all, so its just as well he won't remember has as I am not having one of my children ignored like that!

birthdays - I think I am probably over thinking it and will just ignore it all. what has bothered me in the past is sending presents to DS1 but not DS2 - but I will absolutely make sure things can be shared between them or the presents will disappear (that is if she sends anything, will I don't think she will). I am just thinking about it as its her birthday in a couple of weeks and I think I am projecting emotions on to her (i.e. waiting all day for contact from me.) I also feel that what I do for her birthday will set my expectations for what she might do for our birthdays, so in fact I think I will ignore, ignore, ignore, as I have learned to try and not have expectations at all.

Facebook, have just stopped using it, seems simplest.

BumptiousandBustly Tue 19-Jul-11 10:02:33

Also, what do you tell people who ask about your family? It just seems to get complicated, even pre-school were asking what family we have nearby in terms of emergency pick-ups etc.

And anything you say, seems to encourage more curiosity.

TheArmadillo Tue 19-Jul-11 11:17:49

This is another one I have problems with. I had a bad incident where someone wouldn't take the hint and kept asking questions - I was heavily pregnant and in the middle of a breakdown. I didn't know what to say and it really upset me. I found out later she has a habit of interegating people.

I think if it came up again I would be more blunt and just refuse to talk about it. Though its difficult because a) you don't want to be rude and b) you don't want to seem weird (at least in my case).

I do tell quite a lot of people but its not something I want to share with acquaintences.

MizzyTizzy Tue 19-Jul-11 11:21:53

Hi BumptiousandBustly

I think how you proceed really depends on whether your goal is low contact or no contact.

Low contact is to send and receive birthday cards etc and do duty visits as necessary.

I did this for years but am now no contact.

For no contact - it really is what it says no contact.

I sent a no contact text and did not reply to any further communication from my parents.

I have changed my land line and mobile telephone numbers. I only have one impartial relative who has these numbers for emergencies only - but tbh I can't now imagine any emergency that would make me want contact again. (Caller ID wasn't sufficient to stop silent calls and even seeing their number would send me into major anxiety mode...so new numbers solved that one).

I don't do facebook and neither do my DC's or DH - so no problems there.

I haven't sent any Fathers Day/Mothers Day or Birthday cards this year and can't see me sending any in the foreseeable future.

My parents sent Birthday cards to my DC's (they are pre/teens)...they had guilt trip messages in them - I opened the cards with my DC's permission before they saw them...told them the cards had messages in them designed to use my DC's to guilt trip me into visiting. I asked them if they wanted to see/have the cards anyway, they said "No, put them in the burning pile with the bills." Rather than do this my DH has hidden the cards where I can't find them and we have saved them as 'evidence' should we need them in the future to explain my no contact decision to the DC's.

If any gifts had turned up then I think we as a family would have taken a trip to the local children's ward and dropped the presents off there.

How did I explain things to my DC's in the first instance? I was basic and honest, bearing in mind they had already seen my parents kicking off in my house and they are all 10 y/o+ so not saying anything isn't really an option.

Along these lines....

Mummy has a difficult relationship with Grandma and Granddad. Grandma and Granddad like things done their way and their way only...there are no discussions allowed...if I try to discuss my opinion they will tell me I am being silly and to be quiet. This makes Mummy feel as if her opinions and thoughts don't count - which makes Mummy feel very unsure about herself, so to allow Mummy to be confident and happy then it is better for Mummy not to be involved with Grandma and Granddad.

I then asked they DC's how they felt about things and did they feel the need to visit Grandma and Granddad by themselves - they all said that as they didn't have much to do with Grandma and Granddad anyway, that if they did visit they wouldn't feel that they had anything to say to them.

I have always kept a good distance between my parents and my DC's - parents have never baby sat or had my DC's for tea etc so there wasn't much of a relationship/connection to disrupt.

Since then they have asked questions about my childhood such as did Grandma teach you so and so? To which my reply has always been a flat and unemotional truth...no she didn't, she was too busy doing other things...it was your Great Grandma that taught me this.

I think they have heard me talking to my DH about stuff also and they asked whether I got smacked when I was a child again I was honest but brief. "Yes, if Grandma and Granddad thought I had been naughty I was smacked." (It was far more than smacking - but to tell them all the facts I think is too much for now).

As for school...I just telephoned and had my parents removed from the contact list. I said there had been a change in circumstances and to remove the names please.

As for what I tell other people...generally nothing...tbh here is only place I 'talk' about them...otherwise a "We don't get on..." seems to suffice.

I don't know if any of this helps or is perhaps a bit too far for you, but this is how I dealt with no contact.

CelticStarlight Tue 19-Jul-11 11:39:59

Generally, I've found that no contact should be no contact - at all. If you encourage them by any sort of contact at all this is usually seen as a green light for further attempts at communication as it keeps the hope alive that there will be a reconciliation at some point in the future.

BumptiousandBustly Tue 19-Jul-11 18:20:56

Thearmadillo - it is difficult isn't it, especially when people quiz you about it. As you say aswell, its on ODD thing, NOT to talk about, so people wonder, and then it all gets complicated.

Mizzytizzy - Thankyou for your very long and interesting post, it gave me a lot to think about. At the moment I am certainly going for no contact. I did offer her continued contact with my sons, but that has been refused. I certainly don't want any uncertainty or stress about whether I expect to hear from them or not, so in a way, by it being my mothers birthday first, I get to set the tone by not contacting her at all on that day.

WRT my children, DS1 is only three, but will soon start asking about my parents I think. For the moment I can fob him off with - too far away, busy etc. But longer term I will need to say something about it being difficult - I just don't want him to worry that other relationships could end that way. Difficult.

Celticstarlight - I think you are right. No contact has to mean no contact.

MizzyTizzy Tue 19-Jul-11 18:52:26

Sorry. about the length of my post OP...I was going to apologise at the time but got called away. I don't preview so my lengthy ramblings were a bit of a shock to me too! blush

My DC's are surrounded by my DH's family and my DH and I still have friends from childhood we are in contact with. The DC's also still receive Birthday cards and Xmas cards from Great Aunts and Uncles on my side of the family (Great Aunts etc don't speak to my parents either)...it is just my very immediate family we are complete NC with.

I am hoping this will be enough to make them realise that not all family relationships are so difficult...but I hope I am also teaching them that being family does not give someone the absolute right to treat you in a horrible way.

Tbh with your DS being so young I should imagine the lack of contact will just become one of those things.

I often wish I had gone NC sooner to save my DC's having to deal with any of it...but circumstances wouldn't allow it unfortunately.

Good Luck with it all. x

BumptiousandBustly Wed 20-Jul-11 16:24:49

Mizzytizzy - I am very grateful that you took the time to respond at such length to my post. Please don't apologize for it.

With regard to my parents and my DS - DS1 will certainly at some point ask why we see DHs parents and not mine - so will have to have some kind of response ready.

We don't really have much contact with my extended family either - apart from one of my brothers - so I am just very, very grateful that they have my PIL and SIL and do everything I can to foster those relationships.

WeDONTneedanotherhero Wed 20-Jul-11 16:43:31

Hi Bump, I have been estranged from my familly for 18 months. I can honestly say it's the best thingthe I've done. The best piece of advice I can give you is ignore the people who tell you "but they're family" "you should make your peace" ect. that maybe what happens in heathy normal families but in toxic ones it is best to cut all ties.

I won't lie, it is hard at times. Birthdays; they ignore mine and the chilldren's birthdays (I did tell them they my children could not be brought, which may have something to do with it). Rumour has it that my nan is putting money away at b'day and christmas so she can give it to DC when they are older to bribe them to see her. I just ignore theirs.

Facebook; I deleted all my famiy off of Fb and my settings are the highest they can be. I am un-searchable.

WRT other people I am honest and say we don't get along. I do get mixed reactions, I think part of it is because I am only 24 and there's a "respect you elders" type attitude.

I found posting on here really helped. Take a look on the stately homes thread, they've always been very welcoming.

Chummybud1 Wed 20-Jul-11 16:50:12

I send birthday and Xmas presses from the kids. The kids receive birthday and Xmas by post.

I do not have Facebook to much hasstle.

I have a mobile that only they have number too, so I am not on edge every time phone rings or buzzes. If they do text me I reply short and sweet but only if necessary.

Mumfun Wed 20-Jul-11 16:59:23

Very interesting to think this through thanks. I have a bit of a different arrangement.

I would have no contact with my father and mother if I didnt have children. I do not send birthday. fathers, mothers day cards.

We live far away from them so the kids dont expect to see them much.

We visit the country at Xmas and my parents see them as part of general family get togethers. I just dont speak to them hardly at all. I send a Xmas card from the children

I also visit in the summer and have more to do with them then.

I see other family much more and have close relationships with them. Most relatives understand why I dont see parents and are totally supportive (Some of them have been at the receiving end of them too)

I have recently cut contact with another relative because they tried to make out I was equally bad in my behaviour because they wanted everything smooth and easy.

The kids so far are fine about it. They do see other Gps although have litttle relationship with the GF as he has little interest in kids and is totally self centred.

They do see a good array of cousins and great aunts although most live far away so are used to that.

I have taken the view that the kids do deserve a relationship with these GPs but totally control all arrangements and if the horrible behaviour they are capable of surfaced I would take them out of there. SO far they have been fine although other relatives have reported not so and GPs were recently removed from a social event due to dreadful thinsg being said. They know if they did it to my children they would be likely not to see them again.

I may have taken the wrong decision and totally respect others.

Mumfun Wed 20-Jul-11 17:00:35

OH and I never phone them or speak to them. They are also totally blocked on FB although may possibly get some stuff through posts from relatives but am not too bothered about that

BumptiousandBustly Sun 24-Jul-11 07:50:21

Thankyou very much ladies for sharing your experiences and thoughts. Ironically, having very much decided to go down the "no contact means no contact" route. The situation in Norway happened and I have family there who would automatically let my mother know they were ok, expecting her to tell the rest of us.

I thought about it a lot and in the end I sent her a text asking for info and she texted back letting me know everyone was ok. (thank god).

What really annoyed me though is that I could have found out through another brother (who I am in touch with). But all the thoughts about what they would be saying about me, came back. sad

However the important thing is that everyone is ok, and I will carry on with my no contact journey. (it did also make me realize that its been so much less stressful being in contact with her - life just seems easier)

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