Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Those of you who cut ties with your parents, how did you do it?(39 Posts)
I'm fucking furious. My mum is horrible. I grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive house, was taunted about my looks and told I was fat and ugly from the age of 6. Not surprisingly, I developed anorexia. Not because I wanted to be thin, but because I wanted to disappear. I would pull my hair out and self-harm. I still struggle at times, and now is one of those times, I am an acceptable weight though, its mainly in my head.
However, I never, EVER talk about my ED or other issues in front of ds (7). It's a golden rule, and I tell him every day how much I love him. he has so much confidence, its awesome.
The other day my mum popped in. Ds came in from school and asked for a snack. My mum laughed and said "you dont need more food, not with that belly" I snapped at her and told her not to be so stupid, he's perfect the way he is. anyway, today he asked if he could start exercising so he didn't have such a big belly. Treat me like shit, and make me feel terrible, fine (well, its not, but hey ho) but I will not accept it for my son. This poisonous woman has already damaged me, I will not let her do the same to DS. I only see her for ds's sake, because he loves her, and I want a relationship with my brothers.
I dont want to see her again. should I just phase her out?
Not the same situation or the same reasons but when I decided several years ago that I no longer wanted to see my dad I let him know in quite frank terms and explained why and he has kept his distance (but that's never been a problem for him).
You have to do what you deem best for you and your son, so if you feel the time has come to distance yourself then I think you should listen to your instincts - it's a decision only you can make.
Your mother started on your DS yesterday and her poisonous words have already had an effect on him. She will likely do to your DS what she did to yourself, you have to protect him from her. Children now adults of such toxic people usually carry with them a legacy of FOG - fear, obligation, guilt. Your son gets nothing really by having her as a prescence in his life; you would not tolerate this from a friend and family is really no different. He may well love her but her actions are certainly not those of either a good or loving grandparent are they?.
You do not mention your Dad in all this; is he still in your life?.
The following excerpt may be of help to you as well:-
A percentage of the general population is dysfunctional and/or abusive. That percentage, like everyone else, has children. Then those children grow and have children of their own. The not-so-loving grandparents expect to have a relationship with their grandchildren. The only problem is, theyre not good grandparents.
Many adult children of toxic parents feel torn between their parents (and societys) expectation that grandparents will have access to their grandkids, and their own unfortunate firsthand knowledge that their parents are emotionally/physically/sexually abusive, or just plain too difficult to have any kind of healthy relationship with.
The childrens parents may allow the grandparents to begin a relationship with their children, hoping that things will be different this time, that their parents have really changed, and that their children will be emotionally and physically safer than they themselves were.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, because most abusive people have mental disorders of one kind or another, and many of these disorders are lifelong and not highly treatable. (Others are lifelong and treatable; however, many people never seek the necessary help.)
The well-intentioned parent ends up feeling mortified for having done more harm than good by hoping things would somehow be different instead of having a child who simply never knew their grandparents and who was never mistreated, they have an abused child who is now also being torn apart by the grief involved in having to sever a lifelong relationship with the unhealthy people they are very attached to.
If your parents were not good parents and you are considering whether or not to allow a relationship with your children, consider the following factors, as well as others, before deciding:
Have they fully addressed their issues in SKILLED long-term therapy? (A few weeks or months is nowhere near adequate if your parents regularly mistreated you).
Have they been treated for all the root causes of their dysfunction or abuse?
Have they sincerely apologized and made amends for the hurtful things they did? Not just said, Im sorry, but really talked it all through with you over many hours time?
Are they very different people to you from the ones you remember?
Do you currently have a healthy, functional and stable relationship with them?
Do they respect your choices and boundaries as a parent? Do they follow your requests about how you want your children to be treated and to behave?
Would you recommend your parents to your best friend as babysitters without any hesitation or worry, and feel comfortable giving your word that theyd never harm your friends child, without any doubt?
Have you worked through all of your feelings about the mistreatment you experienced through your parents?
These are just a few of the important questions to answer. The best plan is to work through the matter with a therapist of your own, who has no bias toward trying to keep families together despite the presence of mistreatment.
If you are in doubt about making a choice, its best not to rely on family and friends to advise you. Seek professional help.
And remember, its always much easier to change your mind after deciding not to allow contact than is to change your mind after allowing it.
If your parents were not good parents, err on the side of caution, and if at all in doubt, say no. Your child is counting on you.
I would also post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread as well.
Different situation but after 3 years of no contact with them (big episode and I cut and ran) I decided to get back in touch with parents as we were ttc and I couldn't imagine a baby not having anything to do with my mum (bystander not abuser).
When I became pregnant it was clear the toxic behaviour was never going to change so at the end of one phone call I decided never again.
Dd is now 18 months and I think of mum and miss her everyday but am determined that Dd will not be exposed to that man and therefore I stay away - I cold cut and have had no contact whatsoever since the day of my 20 week scan.
It's shit and no one should have to do it but there are more important things - I have changed phone numbers, email addresses and my parents do not know where I live so I think that my method may not be as easy for you.
Good luck with whatever you choose!
Thank you, sorry for the brevity, am out and about with dh and ds.
Flutterby, I think if we had a row I would just cut contact. End of. But I feel like I'm being cruel. Daft, I know.
Atilla, thank you. They are dreadful parents, I'm pretty set on stopping contact now. I see my dad as little as poss. He was the physical abuser.
Lurky, those are the reasons I contacted them. I really wish I hadn't.
Thank you all, and I'm sorry tha we couldn't have better parents.
Trampy, Attila makes excellent points
Both your parents have done you wrong. You are under no obligation to pass along those messages to your very precious son.
Eternalrose, that's it. It hurts. They are supposed to love and care for me. They didn't. And it makes me think that I'm a bad person. Esp since they adore my dbs. So wtf was wrong with me?
Af, you're right. They have crossed a line. They crossed it long ago, but this is about ds now.
I haven't seen my parents for 7 years now. My life is much easier but it is a sad situation.
My father is a narcissistic alcoholic and my mother is an enabler.
I'm happier without them but I really miss my mum.
They disowned me but then expected to see my kids when they wanted.
There was no chance.
It's never easy but sometimes these decisions have to be made
It sounds like the op knows what she needs to do.
Good luck and go with your instinct.
The final straw for me was when my dcs received xmas cards from her (woman that raised me, not my mother) in which she told them they were 'bastards' in the eyes of god because dh and I weren't married in a church (belonging to her religion).
I wrote a short letter and said that the card thing was unacceptable and that I taking a break in our relationship - whether she liked it or not.
I firmly believe that I have to protect my dcs from toxic behaviour like this - I wouldn't accept it from a friend, why should I take it from a family member?
It's been 10 years since we last had contact (and involves a restraining order) and my family is much happier for it.
You don't have to put up with this - do what's best for you and your loved ones.
My circumstances are slightly different in that I chose to stop contact with a parent when I was a child, followed by my siblings as they got older. However, I have never regretted it, not for a second, and I know that my self esteem would be non existent had I maintained contact.
I think it's incredibly sad when you realise that a parent can never be what you want them to be, or need them to be, and you realise that you truly are happier without that person in your life. I do feel sad when I see my DH and friends with their fathers, all of whom are absolutely brilliant, but then I remember that it wouldn't be like that, even if I'd maintained contact. I wish you strength in whatever decision you make.
I actually went 7 years without civil contact, I don't count shouting abuse at me in the street as contact, and it was great. Then, when dh and I got engaged, I wanted my mum. And when ds was born I thought I would make the effort. After all, I probably caused most of the problems and felt that ds needed to know his family. Plus, I love my db's. And last time I cut contact, I lost them too.
I've given them chances. I've had enough now. My sil is pg, so they will be focusing on them now anyway, its a good time for me to draw a line and accept that my family consists of me, dh, ds, pil's, sil+bil and their dc's. That's ok. I love them all, and they love me.
Atilla - where is that info from? I'd love to send it (and more if there is any) to my friend who is struggling with this.
Same feelings here. I could brush it off when it was just me, but now ive realised shes gonna start trying to do it to my dd (3), she is no longer tolerated in my life.
She absolutely cannot cope with me being very different to her and takes it as a personal insult when I don't take her "suggestions"
Just recently she accused me of signing her up for pole dancing classes at some random time in the past. She suggests this is a reasonable thing for her to think as I was "probably having a breakdown" for reasons she made up.
Perhaps she feels if I had one too, we would finally be able to bond over shared MH stories.
Communications broke down at this point as this was brought up in the context of "I'm very worried about dd cos you are sleep training wrong" , all laid on with panicky handwringing breathless overtones and filled with confabulated events she misheard, misunderstood, misremembered and plain old made up.
I was brought up with the crazy fantasy scenarios but my dd hasn't had the inoculations and she's started trying to bypass me to get to her.
I don't do religion, and she knows this. So she's been sending my dd bible stories while pointedly telling me I'm not allowed to pass them on as they were very expensive. I've obeyed the letter of the law and chucked them down the back of the bookshelves.
Because of my concerns about her trying to get past me to poison my dd's mind against me and/or life on this plane of reality, I am not experiencing the usual 'oh she's my mum/dd's gm, I'd better call' guilt trip that I get a week or so after an argument.
I'm doing it by stealth at the moment. I haven't said "never again" to her but that's cos I can't bear the idea of even speaking to her long enough to say that.
i cut off contact with both my parents as i couldn't stand for my ds to experience them. all of it the good and the bad - as the good is what pulls you in and makes you feel guilty
my mother actually died a month after the last abusive phonecall i received - so my last words were don't ever contact me again etc
but i don't regret cutting contact - i phased her out over a long period, i was protecting my family and me. the relief i felt was enormous and our family was happier. my mother was never going to be anything other than a damaging presence in our lives.
my father is just selfish, drug dependent and immature.
it was hard to cut him out as ds asked for him so often and was angry for years that he couldn't see his dear grandfather. i just had to repeat to ds he should trust me that i had no choice and i would explain when he was older.
once after a couple of years i popped into see my dad as i was close by, the first thing he said on opening door was to sneer that i was spotty! i still went in for a cup of tea, listened to 'me,me,me,me...' and never returned.
the one clear fact i remind myself of is that my father could have sent birthday cards or letters if he felt any remorse or missed me and ds and he never did.
15 yrs on i still think about them with sadness, it's a shame they turned out that way but i look back at how i stopped their negative influence in my life and it was a massive turning point. i don't think i could have achieved all i have with them in my life. the stress of toxic parents is all consuming.
also i'm proud that i have quite strong boundaries and avoid similarly toxic or dependent personalities and am able to phase out people who are not right for me too. it's an important skill especially when you come from a background of emotional and physical abuse.
It came from lightshouse.org.
That's the thing, they way they go on about hoew much they love ds. They clearly think they were great parents (if I mention anything about my childhood or especially my ed they turn v cold and arsey) and I was a problem child. But ds is "the light of their life" etc.
Good grief, no one will flame you for anything in that post sweetheart.
She is a destructive evil woman.
I have so many eating issues I battle with in my daily life because my mother constantly called me fat, overweight. I went the other way, secret eating, comfort eating and I struggle with it everyday.
Cut her out before your son takes on too many of these destructive patterns.
Make it clear that it is her destructive behavior that has caused you to do this.
In terms of coping, just to add....I miss having a mum everyday, every single day.
But I've come to realise that I miss the idea of a warm, generous, caring great listener. The stereotypical mum ideal, not the actual mum I have in RL!
She is nothing but a destructive, negative selfish force hidden under a very bad perm.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a service where you could adopt a mum as an adult? Surely there must be someone out there who would let me take them for lunch and a bottle of wine, dish out sage well balanced advice if needed, and just listen to me talk about how heart burstingly proud I am of my beautiful angel of a DS?
I'd love to adopt a mum!
My Grandmother used to fill the gap and I miss her.
I've been gradually phasing out contact with my mother. She makes me very unhappy, isn't interested in the DCs and is toxic on many levels.
I send her birthday cards etc. and am polite at family events but have decided that I'm too damn old to play her games anymore. I only wish that I had done it thirty years ago, it would have saved a lot of heartache.
I still sometimes wish that I had that positive mother figure to look to, though, and I do worry a little that I am flying blind with regard to my own parenting.
Yes to all that! I'm crippled with self-doubt and fear. I worry constantly that I have screwed ds up, that I handled things wrong, that I have passed my own neurosis onto him. When he mentioned his stomach my heart broke.
I moved out aged 14 and in with a family I knew, and the mum there was wonderful. We have lost contact, but she is the type of mum I wanted. If my mum was always awful, I wouldn't hesitate to break contact. I would have done it long ago. But every now and then I see glimpses of decency. I hoped things would change, that my sd wouldn't be aggressive, bullying and domineering. That mum wouldn't be dismissive, vicious and openly disappointed.
An adopt-a-mum scheme would be ace.
I'm cross for all of us. Do you still feel guilty, as if it was somehow your own fault?
I don't feel guilt anymore. She showed herself up big time at a family party, all my cousins have sussed her and my Aunty was very disappointed in her.
She can't even do the "woe is me...." routine in front of them now.
They know she is an unfeeling witch. With a bad perm. Very bad.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.