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Is it ever okay to cut all contact with parents?

(19 Posts)
OwlBabies Sun 28-Oct-12 18:19:50

It's hard to know where to start as, inevitably, there's a long long history here. But to try to summarise: I have a very difficult relationship with my parents. They were very strict and controlling when I was growing up, and both as a child and an adult, nothing I've done has ever been right or good enough.

I live more than 300 miles away from them, so we don't see each other often. I sometimes wish they lived much nearer, as I think seeing them every week or two for lunch or similar would work much better than the extended visits that have to happen, which are always a bit intense and nearly always end in an emotional row of some kind.

They are better grandparents to my DCs than they were parents. But they don't show a huge amount of interest. It's nearly six months since we last saw them - we nearly always go to them, they hardly ever come to us, and visits are always initiated by me. It's a long time since I've heard them say they'd like to see us or the DCs. They rarely phone or email.

My father has various ailments, and has always been rather obsessed with his health. He's very controlling of my mother, and likes her to be constantly available to look after him. (Regardless of whether or not he's ill. She's always done everything for him - even stirs his coffee!) She seems happy with this, but it makes them very 'inward' - they seem wrapped up in each other and don't have much space for anyone else, even me and my family.

These days we row less (because we don't have much contact), but I find them very cold when we do speak. It gets me down more than I feel it should - I wish I could just accept the situation and accept that they'll never change, and accept the bits of contact we do have. But I've begun to wonder if it would feel better to just not have them in my life at all - it would feel good, I think, to acknowledge that they've always been a toxic influence and have made me feel crap about myself. I have no idea how they would feel about this - probably very self-righteous that I had turned my back on them.

Is it ever a good idea to just cut contact completely? I find the current 'limited contact' situation difficult to handle, as I don't know what's expected of me. I wouldn't miss them, I'm sure of that - I miss the idea of having warm, loving, accepting parents, but they're not that. And I can't imagine they ever will be.

Has anyone cut themselves off from their parents? How did it feel, and do you regret it?

expatinscotland Sun 28-Oct-12 18:22:44

Of course it's okay. Some people have absolutely horrendous, awful families.

You don't have to tell them anything. Just stop contacting them and initiating visits, and in your head, consider it done.

OwlBabies Sun 28-Oct-12 18:26:04

Thanks expat. It hadn't occurred to me that I didn't have to announce to them I was doing it! It could just happen by default, I suppose. There have been times in the past when I've thought, right, I'm going to wait for them to get in touch - just to see how long it would be. But I've usually caved after a few weeks. Sometimes my mother will ring and sound v reproachful that I haven't called them!

CogitoEerilySpooky Sun 28-Oct-12 18:27:55

It can be a good idea in some circumstances. However, having known two people who have done just that - one following physical abuse and one as a reaction to their father's alcoholism - my observation is that the one who tends to suffer most is the one cutting off the contact & not the parent who never cared much anyway. In both of the cases I witnessed, there was a lot of regret & soul searching followed by reconciliation shortly before the parent died. You currently find the limited contact situation difficult to handle and you may find that the no contact option is equally difficult.... and that you feel no better about yourself.

CleopatrasAsp Sun 28-Oct-12 18:30:12

There's no law saying you have to like your parents or tolerate bad behaviour from people because you have a blood relationship with them.

Just stop calling/emailing etc and my guess is they won't make any effort so the relationship will just die naturally without there having to be any grand cutting of ties.

Good luck, you deserve to be happy.

OwlBabies Sun 28-Oct-12 18:30:33

That's what I'm afraid of Cogito. And also I will have firmly vacated the moral high ground - which my parents will be thrilled to occupy. But I hate the amount of space they take up in my head. I spend a lot of time going over and over past conversations, incidents, etc - I just want to 'get rid'. I've asked myself if I would regret it when they die - and I'm not at all sure I would. I think I actually hate my parents.

Salbertina Sun 28-Oct-12 18:31:54

Poor you, OB, it's not easy. Am doing this right now- am struggling, v up and down but also feel relieved, vindicated. Too soon to day whether I'd recommend it! Have you seen Stately Homes thread? Worth a look- lots of support and advice. Also counseling? Books- Toxic Parents and Children ofthe Self-absorbed. Good luck!

OwlBabies Sun 28-Oct-12 18:31:57

Thanks Cleopatra. I'm dealing with a lot of difficult stuff right now - I'd love to be happy, but just surviving will do as a short-term goal!

OwlBabies Sun 28-Oct-12 18:33:19

I've heard of the Stately Homes thread but need to go and have a proper look. Will look for those books you mention Salbertina - they sound spot on.

Convert Sun 28-Oct-12 18:35:26

In my experience it worked wonders. My parents split up when I was 14, it was a very difficullt time with my dad working away and coming back every weekend and my mom sleeping on a mattress on my floor, with them having screaming rows til 4 in the morning. I used to sit at the table doing my coursework at 2am with them screaming at each other.
My Dad was very selfish and would try to use me to get information about what my mom was doing. He didn't really give a shit about me. When I was 17 I rang him and explained exactly why he was a tosser and said that I would be having no further contact with him.
3 years later I decided it was time to try again and he is a different person. He rings me and asks about the kids etc. Which is a small miracle. I think me getting married and having two children without him knowing made him realise how important I am and how much I could bring to his life.
Sorry this reply is so long but I just wanted to explain my situation. I would definitely tell them your reasons for not wanting them in your life and give them a bloody long time to think about what you have said. In a few years they might have realised how much they miss you and what they have done to you.

MrsEdinburgh Sun 28-Oct-12 18:38:30


Bit like a death; anger, sadness, shock, guilt, relief & finally acceptance.

No just disappointed & a little bit sad for them. Not expecting or wanting any change but the door will be opened if they accept, understand & change.
But I accept that this is not going to happen & I am at peace with my decision. It is/was the best decision for myself & my family.

OwlBabies Sun 28-Oct-12 18:48:37

Stately Homes is clearly the place for me! Loads of stuff there that resonates - need to take the time to read it properly. Btw my parents didn't even take me to stately homes... But they did take me to church a lot!

Salbertina Sun 28-Oct-12 18:49:15

MrsE- the grief cycle? My counsellor mentioned that, still struggle to apply in my context, but early days- definitely fluctuate between anger/denial/depression... Look forward to acceptance!

Glad to hear the positive story of s reconciliation with df, thats great. Wonder if easier when much younger tho? My df now in his late 70s, probably too late to expect change sad
Op, its not easy but theres a bunch of us who pop up on these threads, I've found it SO supportive and such a relief to not feel paranoid, lacking in duty and most of all to be validated!

suburbophobe Sun 28-Oct-12 18:54:42

Well said about it not going to change....

One thing about parents and other family members (or worn-out friendships too) is that they will not change their script.

Better just to bow out gracefully and wish them well on their way.

The alternative is to be forever caught up in the same old, same old.

<easier said than done, I know!>

Salbertina Sun 28-Oct-12 19:24:15

Bow out gracefully and wish them well? Thats a thought! Admire your equanimity though must be hard...

I - in my best adult mode - gently but firmly pointed out my pov, my right to have said pov and how I would no longer tolerate being family scapegoat.

Said I would resume contact if they were prepared to treat me as an adult, never speak about me to my dc behind my back and stop unfounded insinuations about my mental health (again in front of my kids)

Maybe i should have bowed out, problem is am hoping contact will resume.. Deathly silence so far though sad

forgetmenots Sun 28-Oct-12 20:04:35

Yes it is okay. What might be difficult is maintaining that boundary. But my DH has done this for over a year after some of the most vile behavior from his parents, and it's been genuinely amazing for him. (Search for my old thread on the topic before he went no contact - I can't link, I'm on my phone).
I wish you luck in this, it is so very hard but there is so much support - on MN and in RL. The books you have been recommended are great.

kige Sun 28-Oct-12 20:09:55

Try cutting yourself off emotionally. Ie do the duty visits as infrequently as possible and do not expect any love or warmth from them. And do expect criticsim but don't take it personally or be hurt by it.

Think that's easier than fully cutting them off and having a shitstorm. Possible this would involve other family members.

AdoraBell Sun 28-Oct-12 20:31:53

I cut contact. My parents passed away and I still have no regrets. Only you can decide if cutting contact is right for you, but yes- if you need to cut contact then it is okay to do so.

gobbymare Sun 28-Oct-12 21:15:06

I cut contact 7 yrs ago and do not for one second regret it.

I had a special needs brother (passed now) who was like a cash cow to my parents in terms of benefits, my poor brother had a stroke, then had a brain tumour and then he got ran over (because they would rather he played out than be under there feet) which finished him to the point he couldnt talk or move from his bed, couldnt eat had to be fed by tube to his stomach eventually he died of MRSA, and died on his own because my mother said she didnt feel well enough to stay at hospital (says she has agrophobia but can go to the pub n stuff) even tho the docs said he didnt have long, my dad being the usual run around after my mother took her home and didnt go bk that night to be with his son, my brother had a phobia of hospitals and needles because he was in and out of them all his life and that night he died, alone ... because i didnt talk to my parents before this ( because my sister thought it was ok to sleep with my then bf after we had had an arguement).. my sister being the favorite , i was told that i didnt want him anyways so why shouldn`t she have him grrr bitch)
So because i wasn`t talking to them they seem to think it was ok to not tell me my brother was dying.
They also decorated his bedroom into a "chill out room" for my mother before he had even died and used his 50k compensation to do it!!
Anyways theres lots more i could say but it would be like a book.

Some people just shouldn`t have kids because they are so selfish and greedy, for some time i wanted to be the "wanted child" and did everything for them, sorted money out for them went shopping for them cleaned for them, alsorts but when push came to shove I was told i never did nothing for them.

Anyways i refuse to get upset over them and when people say you only get one mother and father all i can say in my case is thank fuck for that !!

If your parents cannot be bothered to make the effort then sod em i say.

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