When Your Adult Child Becomes Abusive

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If your adult child or children were anyone else on this planet, would you allow them the leeway that you are giving to your abusive child or children?

Tough question to answer, isn’t it?  Part of that is because we have that “bond” with our child or children as a parent that supersedes any other relationship that we can have or have had in our lives.  Love is blind as they say so, we often blindfold ourselves to the three dimensional view of our child or children.  We can see glimpses of their flaws and faults but, that’s as much as our guilt will allow us to see.  It’s nearly impossible for us to be as fully objective about our own child or children as we may be able to be with other people.

The word “guilt” was used for good reason. As parents, not only does the love we have for them become overwhelming and blinding but, we tend to tie our own self-worth into our child or children.  The moment we dive deeply into being critical of our own flesh and blood that we brought into this world or even adopted from someone else’s womb, we tie ourselves to that child or children in a way that we cannot tie ourselves to anyone else on this planet.  A put-down of our child even from our own minds and whether we gave birth to them or not, is oftentimes, felt as a put-down upon ourselves as both parents as well as who we are in general as people.  If our child or children are not doing well in life or is somehow “flawed”, we can unconsciously or even consciously, figure that it’s our faults.  We can leap to the conclusion that somehow, we have failed as parents and therefore we are also flawed as people in one way or another.

Not everyone will completely blame themselves for their child’s failures in Life.  Some parents will be able to see that our children have made choices in friends or groups that they’ve chosen to hang around and blame them instead of ourselves.  However, somewhere, deep down inside of us, there’s still a feeling of somehow being imperfect as a parent because our child or children have made those choices whether we’ve discouraged it or outright forbidden it or not. On some level or another, we feel “guilt” in one capacity or another and can tear ourselves to shreds as both parents as well as people.

This then leads us back to the question of whether or not we would allow any other human being to treat us the way that we allow our adult children to treat us.

First of all, were someone else to be treating us with any level ranging from disrespect to outright abuse, we’d likely toss those people from our lives to some extent or another, for some time frame or another or, more likely, until there was at least a sincere apology from that person.  If it was a long-termed thing, we’d likely walk away and not look back.   With family, it’s not quite that easy.  We can even find ourselves being victims as adults to poor treatment from our own parents and siblings out of a feeling of obligation and duty.  However, having said that, we can also come to a point where we begin to distance ourselves either somewhat or totally from them and their abusive or manipulative ways.  Friends or others in our lives are even more likely to be walked away from under these circumstances.  Our children are not quite as easy to distance ourselves from because of the above and for other reasons.

There is likely few people that we put more of ourselves into than we do with our child or children.  Even as adults, we are still invested in many ways in our children’s lives and well-being.  After all, isn’t that our job?  At least, that’s what we may reason with ourselves but, the answer to that is a resounding “no” once our children become adults and, we don’t need to continue to allow them to use, abuse or treat us poorly once they have become adults.  Our “jobs” are done.  We gave birth to them, loved them, raised them, gave them what we could reasonably give them and we supported them in more than a roof over their heads.  There are exceptions of course in the parenting world to this but, we’re talking about the average parent here, not those who were abusive to their own children or neglectful in any way.

There are a few things to take into consideration in how parents can deal with their adult-abusive or even estranged child (a topic that not many sites will deal with).

Your influence over your adult child was watered down many years ago.

We all like to think that we still have some sort of power or control over our children’s lives once they are adults.  For some, this is true but, for the most part, our influences over our child, all of our teachings, morals and values that we feel we’ve instilled into them, was long ago watered down by the influences of many other people in our children’s lives as they grow.  We are no longer their sole source of influence.  Peers, bosses, teachers and society in general, also including technology as well as entertainment venues, have taken over the largest portion of what affects them or doesn’t affect them once they are adults and have been doing so for many years before this point.  Oftentimes, those sources are the biggest reasons for their actions, decisions or choices at this stage of their lives versus us, as parents.  We therefore, cannot continue to place blame upon ourselves for everything that our children decide to do or not do.  Those choices were influenced by many other sources and we are the least likely sources at this point in our children’s choices or lack of them so, we can halt the self-deprecating right there for their poor choices or in taking the blame for the way they treat us now.

Having given your child too much attention or in short, spoiling them.

A lot of parents from the 1980’s onwards are likely guilty of having given their child everything they could possibly give them including monetary things as well as attention, devotion, praise and love.  Parents of children from the 80’s onwards were also victims to a new way of thinking about parenting. Society was at a point where the theory was to reward children for almost everything that they did, including potty training.  They got stars, praise and even rewards or trophies for simply participating no matter how well they did or whether they did anything or not.  They simply had to show up more than half of the time in order to get a reward of some type or another.  Even education was play based and grades were given out according to effort, not necessarily, achievement.

This was a time frame in which parents were also encouraged to praise our children to the hilt for even small endeavours in the home and, it was done by most.  Support, praise, rewards and more of the same.  No matter what children did or didn’t do in those times, they were rewarded for one thing or another.  Not only did that lead us to believe that our children could do no wrong but, it led them to feeling “entitled” to getting rewarded in one way or another no matter what they did or didn’t do.  It was that entitlement that turned a fairly good chunk of those children into little narcissists who believed that the sun rose and set on them no matter what they did or didn’t do.  That wasn’t just parental influence but, also that of society in general.  Even were children to be disciplined at home, they were rewarded for even poor attitudes and skills outside of the home. Parents couldn’t override an entire system and if they tried, the parents became “The Hated Ones” because the rest of society and its systems were telling these children that they were “entitled”.   We did them no favours as human beings because it made it tougher for these kids to grow up into a tough, dog-eat-dog world where they weren’t able to cope well because everything had been handed to them up until this point.  That wasn’t necessarily parent’s faults but rather societal experimentation that failed these children and turned them into narcissistic tending little monsters who eventually, would grow up into adults who felt entitled and angry when they didn’t get what they wanted anymore from Life or their parents.

The “experts” are still saying that parents should tell their children they are loved no matter how badly they’ve treated us or, even if they have walked away on us and are now estranged from us.

Not to put down the so-called “experts” but, how many parents have tried with their children, always telling them that they are loved, only to find themselves being either doormats or punching bags for their children?

Answer:  Lots!

Sadly, many parents of children from the ’80s onwards are now finding their either fully adult or nearly adult children, treating them like yesterday’s garbage and being tossed to the side while they’re still telling their child, “I love you” and continuing to do so no matter how badly they are treated by their children.

Far be it from me to tell parents to not tell their children that they are loved and wanted.  Every parent needs to let their children know that much but, when that child not only disrespects that parent but, treats them poorly, it’s time to give up on the loving words and time to get real with their adult children by letting them know that while they are still loved, their attitudes and abusive, using actions will not be tolerated.  Enough already with sending them messages of “I love you” and leaving it there while rolling with the punches.  These are no longer 10 year old children who can’t understand the meanings of their actions fully.  These are fully grown adults who must learn that for every action, there’s an equal or greater reaction.  That doesn’t mean withdrawing love for them however, it does mean that these adults don’t get to treat their parents poorly and still get the benefits that they would if they were treating their parents with respect and love too.  Poor actions get poor reactions.  Withdrawal of love for them is never a solution but, rewarding them by permitting poor treatment is not the answer.  They need a wake-up call for their sakes as well as the parent’s own well-being.

If you wouldn’t let others treat you this way and would walk away from them, why are you letting your child do this to you?  

As has been said throughout this piece in differing ways, rewarding poor behaviour is akin to a form of abuse from parents.  We are not doing them any good by rewarding our children for their poor treatment of us or by putting up with it and giving them more and more of ourselves.  Life doesn’t work that way so, why should we?

When a child is rewarded for poor behaviour, attitudes, actions, choices or decisions, it re-inforces that behaviour within them.  No, they won’t like being said “no” to nor, will they love the idea that they’re not getting their own way or what they want if we do start to stand up to them as adults and let them know that it’s not ok to treat us in a poor manner.  However, continuing to give them what they want, expect or feel entitled to getting, is only bolstering the idea that poor behaviour, temper tantrums, threats of withdrawal from our lives and whatever else they can throw at us to manipulate us into giving them what they want is simply training them to continue treating us as parents, wrongly, poorly and with disregard as well as disrespect.

Let me say something perfectly clear here.

Giving more of yourself and handing everything to someone who is treating us badly, let alone our children, is a recipe for becoming a “doormat” for others.  In short, we are laying ourselves down on the ground and letting people walk on and wipe their feet on us.  That’s not right.  We are people too and it doesn’t matter who they are to us.  

Sadly, sometimes, we have to let them go and hope that they will eventually come back otherwise, we risk our lives becoming infected with toxicity.  

There’s no bigger health threat than having someone we love, treat us like dirt beneath their feet and making us feel like we don’t matter in this life.  That goes for our adult children.  We all need to feel wanted, loved, respected and treated fairly and well.  We deserve that from others especially, the very children that we lovingly raised to the adult level and oftentimes, sacrificed more than a good night’s sleep for.  Many parents can tell stories of having given up great careers, being able to travel or do things that they, themselves wanted to do for themselves that would have made them happy, in order to give everything to their child or children, leaving themselves unhappy, unfulfilled and only to be treated in an abusive, uncaring manner or worse, have that child or children walk out of their lives, without contact, care or concern for their parent(s) and their well-being.

More to the point, those children have become what one can consider a “toxin” to the parent, making them feel as though they’ve wasted those years of their lives on someone who cannot or more to the point, return that love, care or respect to their parents.  Not only that but, it wears on the parent’s psychological well-being and soon after, their physical health.  It’s a vicious cycle especially, when the parent continues to feel as though they simply need to do more, try harder, give more or plead with that child to keep their love or the adult child in their lives.  It’s akin to a dog or cat, chasing their own tails.  It’s a fruitless exercise in not only futility but in a form of an illness of one sort or another.  It won’t change your child and sometimes, the only way to make one person’s lives healthier, is for the parent to either distance themselves, limit their time or exposure to that child’s ill behaviour and treatment or, to completely walk away if the child doesn’t do it for themselves.

Yes, that all sounds counter-intuitive to what we feel or have been taught to think of as “proper parenting” but, this all leads back to the original question….

If this were anyone else in your life, would you continue to let that person abuse or mistreat you?

If your answer is “yes” then you, yourself need to find some counselling because you’re not valuing yourself as a person and instead, are valuing others above yourself.

If you answered “no” to this question then, why are you allowing and encouraging your adult child to continue to do it to you?

From my little corner of life, while this is a longer piece than I usually write, it’s an under said topic that needs addressing more and more fully.  We’ve turned out a couple of generations of children now, both adult and children who need to learn that you aren’t rewarded for treating others poorly.  There are consequences to their behaviours and reactions to their actions of equal or greater proportion.

Be well and let me know what you are dealing with in the comments, please.

Best wishes from one parent to another or to adult children who might be reading this and recognizing what may be happening in their own relationships with their parents.

Comment!

 

 

 

Are The Gen Xers Partially To Blame For The Millennial Generation’s Issues

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Having finished listening to a whack of Ted Talk Youtube videos on “The Millennials” and why they are the way that they are, I’m exhausted.

In case you’re not familiar with the term “Millennials”, they are the generation of kids who were born from (some say) 1981 to 2000 or (in other cases) 1980 to the 1990’s.  It varies, depending upon where you get your information.  However, suffice to say, the “Gen Xer’s” or those born before 1960 and post WWII…are their parents and apparently, to blame for what bashing they have taken over their “ill actions” and “attitudes”.

Here comes the terms that Millennials hate the most, “entitled, lazy, narcissistic and self-centered”.   These are the labels that Millennials have been given in a widespread fashion or generality and Millennials hate them.

Only one question here, “who wouldn’t hate them?”

Well, as it turns out, a lot of the Millennials do portray tendencies towards narcissistic behaviours and attitudes.  They don’t like working jobs that they feel are “beneath them” as they “went to university and were FORCED to do so”.  They have respect but, for a lot of them, they respect themselves more than anyone else on this planet, including the Gen Xers/Baby Boomer parents who raised them, gave them love and care, housed and fed them and may still be doing so as well as sacrificed their own needs in order to send them off to college/universities all over the planet if they wanted to go.  We’re also the ones who bought them cars, cell phones and didn’t push them to get jobs flipping hamburgers or scrubbing down toilets to make any money that they could.  We did those types of jobs to help out our parents and they sucked.  Why make our precious children do that when we can grab another mortgage or work 2 jobs or go way beyond our retirement years to pay back the debt we got ourselves into for them so that they wouldn’t have to do those types of jobs?

Let’s not get too ahead by patting ourselves on the back just yet though.

Gen Xers/Baby Boomers ARE partially at fault for our children’s mental and emotional situations right now.  If we have narcissists on our hands who aren’t working and may be still living at home with us, it is our faults in a sense.  We raised them.  We taught them to be like this.  How can they help it?  It’s what we taught them to be.

Scratching your head yet?  Wondering where I am coming from?

First of all, we were the generation who decided that we weren’t going to be able to live “Leave It To Beaver” lives where June Cleaver stayed at home and cleaned house, cooked and served dinner in dresses, pearls and heels with a tiny, crisp white apron on.  We were the generation who had been part of a Women’s Liberation movement in one way or another and damn it….we were going to work too so that our generation could afford more than our parent’s generations could.  We were going to give our kids more than what we had and screw it…we were going to give our children a sense of self with esteem coming out their flipping little ears.

We read books on how to raise children.  Hell, we could have given birth to our own children if we’d wanted to through classes, books and instructional videos (albeit, VHS versions if we were lucky) on how to give birth.  We were determined to be THE best parents the world had ever seen from conception through until we ourselves, needed diapers in our old age.  Our children would never have to go without or hurt if we could help it.  The “Experts” all told us how to do this, right?

From Lamaze Class, back to work to raising a teenager who we scrimped and saved to send to college or university, we were parents and we did everything we could to make our kids happy and have a sense of self-esteem.  Gone were the days when people had to stay in marriages because the woman couldn’t afford to take their children and leave but, most of us stayed in our marriages because…we wanted a unified and balanced home life for our precious Millennial children….the next generation of well-adjusted, self-reliant, well educated, most privileged children we could possibly raise, even if it killed us doing so.

It was the Gen Xers/Baby Boomer generation who decided that giving children trophies, badges or some other reward for simply showing up or putting any effort into what they did was appropriate.  It was our generation who decided that “team participation was more important than winning” and gave them rewards for even being on a team of any kind.  Every kid made it into something, good, bad or indifferent.  Every child who tried, was recognized in a good way.  Every child’s self-esteem was boosted so that nothing was ever “wrong”.  At worst, it was a “good attempt but, try something else” type of stance.

Laws were changed so that youths were no longer punished as adults and that still stands in a lot of countries.  Schools adopted the “no touch or hands-off” approach and teachers were no longer even able to restrain an out of control child as that involved “touching”.  Principles called teachers into offices with parents there to crucify the teacher’s admonishment to little “Billy or Sue” because the teacher’s words “hurt their feelings and put them into a grave emotional state”.

“It’s unfair to our children,” we screamed at every turn of a corner and every chance we got to stand up for them while they played cruder versions of video games at home, on the couches (and we wonder why we have overweight issues with children now).

We sacrificed to buy them everything we could possibly afford to give them including cars, electronics, video games, and never pushed them.  Hell, we even pushed to have special help at school for them so that they wouldn’t feel left behind in any way.  If that wasn’t enough, our generation decided that every child should be pushed ahead a grade no matter what their grades so that they could be socially on par with the rest of their peer group and friends.

In short, it didn’t matter what the Millennials did or didn’t do, Mom and Dad as well as Society, were all behind them.  They couldn’t fail or do much “wrong”.

Is it any wonder that there’s an entire generation of kids, running around this world today who feel entitled to being handed everything?  Is it of any question that we have kids who feel that The Universe revolves or, should…around them and their wishes, needs and egos?  Furthermore, is it any real mystery why this generation had social issues where they’d back-stab one another if needed to get what they wanted?

These kids are now in their late teens/early 20’s through to their 30’s and we’re actually still bowing down to them because they demand it.  They’re unwilling to work jobs that are beneath their level of education and they blame us because we “forced them to go to university/college”.  They expect White Collar jobs because they trained for that, not blue collar work for the most part.  Those who are still able to get Blue Collar jobs are those who went into trades and they expect an extraordinary salary or they won’t work either.

Worse than anything, these kids have egos the size of a city block or bigger.  With heads stuck in cell phones and computers, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and every other conceivable social media, they complain about the world and their lives.  They have zero respect for the most part for anyone else and boy are they opinionated!  They know it all.  We can’t tell them a thing.  As a matter of fact, the only thing they want us to tell them is that it’s ok to still stay living with us, well into their 30’s or more and what time dinner will be on the table for them so that they can get out with other Millennials who are doing the same things.

I digress though.  They are spoiled.  That’s the bottom line here.  We taught them to respect themselves more than anything or anyone else on this planet, including us.  We gave them everything and every benefit of the doubt and now, they feel entitled to everything or they will find something or someone else to blame for their lack of ability to deal with Life.  The sad thing is, they are right.  We ARE to blame.  We created little narcissistic monsters for the most part and it’s not easy to get them out of this state of thinking and being.

They are now adults or, at least, most of them are at this point in time.  They are old enough to understand a lot more than what we believe they should comprehend.  They are still our children…even if they are adults.  We still have the ability to teach them that we and Society aren’t always going to serve them everything on a silver platter or give them a trophy for getting up in the morning.  They are going to have to pick themselves up, dust their asses off and get moving in Life.  No…it’s not easy.  No…it’s not what they have been used to but, damn it…the world has changed and so must they change to suit it, not the other way around.

As a Gen Xer/Baby Boomer parent with an estranged Millennial-Adult-Child who blames everything and everyone, including her father and I for all of the woes in her life no matter what choices she’s made or not made, I have seen the damage that’s been done and I have taken a stance in changing that by no longer tolerating abuse nor in handing everything to her.  Her temper tantrums no longer work on us.  Her blame no longer works on us.  We may not see her or hear from her but, it’s much like taking someone from a cushy sofa and throwing them outside the door, into the world and saying, “someone’s got to teach you that you can’t keep on living this way!”  The soft approach hasn’t worked.  She’s a much stronger narcissistic, entitled, monster than we thought and it’s partially our fault.

Fix what we created if we can..at least….that’s the way that I’m seeing things from my little corner of life.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Comment!  I’m listening.