How to Deal With Your Emotionally Neglectful Parents

Now that I see what my parents didn’t give me, how do I continue to interact with them?

Should I tell my parents how they failed me?

If I talk to my parents about CEN, won’t it make them feel bad?

How do I handle the pain that I feel now, as an adult, each time my parents treat me as if I don’t matter?

If you were raised by parents who were not tuned in enough to your emotional needs, you have probably experienced the results of this parental failure over and over throughout the years and into your adulthood. Once you realize how deeply you have been affected by Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), it can become quite difficult to interact with the parents who neglected you.

One of the most frequent questions that I am asked by people who grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect is, “Should I talk to my parents about CEN?”

It’s actually quite difficult to answer the questions above. Every single living human being had a childhood, and no two stories are the same. Indeed, the number of possible answers to the questions is as infinite as the variety of different ways that CEN can happen. But generally, it can be extremely healing when adult child and parents are able to come to a mutual understanding of how an emotional failure happened and why, and how it affected everyone involved. This, however, can be a complicated business; difficult, and even risky.

It’s important to keep in mind that it is not at all necessary to include your parents in your recovery from CEN. As an adult, you can identify what you didn’t get, and you can give it to yourself. I have seen many people go through this process with great success without ever including their parents.

That said, you may certainly feel a wish or need to reach some understanding about CEN with your parents. If so, it is very understandable that you might feel this way. If you are wondering about whether to talk to them, one extremely important factor to consider is the type of CEN parents that you have. Here are the three main categories:

  1. Self-centered, Abusive or Multiple-Failure Parents: These parents expect the child to fulfill their needs, rather than the other way around. They may not have treated you with the physical and emotional care and protection that a child needs from a parent.
  2. Struggling: These parents may mean well, but they are simply unaware of their child’s needs because they are struggling in their own lives. This might be financially, emotionally, or with caretaking of a sick family member or child, for example.
  3. WMBNT – Well-Meaning-But-Neglected-Themselves: These parents love their child and give him everything they can. But they are not able to give him enough emotional responsiveness and validation because they didn’t receive it in their own childhoods. 

Parents who are in the last two categories, Struggling or WMBNT stand a better chance of being able to get past their initial hurt, guilt or defensiveness to have a fruitful talk with their adult children about CEN. If your parents were in the Self-centered category, were abusive, or failed you in many other ways as well, see the section below called Self-Centered, Abusive, or Multiple-Failure Parents.

First let’s look at some general suggestions to consider. Then we’ll talk about how to apply them to the different types of parents.

  1. Ask your parents about their own childhoods – If you are unsure about why your parents were blind to your emotional needs, ask them some questions about their own parents and their own childhoods. You may be able to see whether and how your parents were failed by their parents. If you can see your own parents more clearly, you may be able to understand why they failed you. Whether you decide to talk to them about CEN or not, your understanding of how they got their emotional blind spots may help you feel less hurt when you are affected by them.
  2. Try to find compassion for your parents – Often, when you can see how your own parents were emotionally neglected, you can feel some compassion for what they didn’t get. This can help you to feel less angry and frustrated with them for failing you.
  3. Anticipate and prepare – Think about whether to tell your parents about your discovery of CEN. Might one parent be more able to understand it than the other? Will your parents collapse into a pool of guilt for having failed you? Will they be completely unable to grasp it? Will they get angry?
  4. If possible, take a chance – If you feel there is a potential for positive results and healing, I suggest that you take a chance and talk about it.
  5. Talk with compassion and anticipate how your parents might feel – Many parents may feel accused, defensive, hurt or guilty when you try to talk to them about CEN. It is very important to anticipate this and prevent it. Here are some guidelines: 
    • Choose your moment wisely, with few distractions, when you parents are in a calm mood. Decide whether to talk with one parent first, or both together.
    • If at all possible, have this conversation in person. It can be difficult to see what your parents are feeling or to respond to them in a helpful way via phone or electronic communication.
    • Tell them that this is a new discovery about yourself that you wish to share with them.
    • Talk about CEN with compassion for them and how they were raised.
    • Talk about how invisible and insidious it is, and how easy it is for loving, well-meaning parents to pass it down to their children.
    • Tell them what you are doing to heal yourself.
    • Be clear that this is not a matter of blame, and not an accusation; you are talking with them about it only because you want to move forward and be closer to them.
    • Offer to give them a copy of Running on Empty so that they can read about it for themselves. 

Self-Centered, Abusive, or Multiple-Failure Parents 

If you have parents who fall into one of these categories, then you are faced with a situation that is even more complex than those above. Unless your parents have changed and grown since your childhood, I am sorry to say that most likely they will not be able to grasp the CEN concept or to respond to you in any positive way.

For you, I offer one guiding principle that may be difficult for you to accept. But I stand by it, after having treated scores of CEN people with parents like this. Here it is:

Make the decision about whether to talk to your parents about CEN based solely upon your own needs. If you think it may strengthen you or make you feel better to talk with them, then do it. If not, then do not. You are not obligated to take your parent’s needs and preferences into account. On this, it’s all about you. 

In other words, if you had an abusive or multiple-failure parent, you have carte blanche permission to do whatever you feel will benefit you in your life. You, your children and your spouse come first. You do not need to protect your parents from the knowledge that they failed you.

Parents who were abusive to you as a child, either verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually, are also, by definition, emotionally neglectful. If they had been emotionally attuned to you enough, they would not have been able to treat you this way. Also, if your parents were / are abusive in any way, then it may be of more value to talk with them about the abuse than about the neglect, since abuse is far more visible and tangible than CEN. Because CEN can be so imperceptible, and hides beneath abuse, it will be very difficult and unlikely for abusive parents to ever grasp the concept.

Unless your parents have been to therapy, have confronted their own issues and abusive ways and actively changed, (for example, an alcoholic or addicted parent who gets sober and goes to AA such that his/her personality becomes truly different) they will probably be no more able to hear you now than they could when you were a child.

So ask yourself, “If I talk to my parents about CEN, what are the possible outcomes?” Will they tell you that you are too sensitive, and that you are blowing things out of proportion? Will they blow up in anger? Will they likely say something abusive? Will they twist around what you are saying, and use it against you somehow?

If any of these are likely, I suggest that you put your energy toward healing yourself, and leave your parents out of it. It is extremely important, if you do decide to talk with them, that you do it with the understanding that you may need to protect yourself emotionally. Also it is vital that you be strong enough to not be emotionally damaged by their words or reactions. This is a tall order for anyone, but is especially so when you were raised by self-centered or abusive parents.

IN SUMMARY:  It is certainly not necessary to talk to your parents about CEN. You can heal from it without ever doing so. Learning more about your parents’ childhoods and having compassion for them may help make their emotionally neglectful ways less painful to you now. However, sharing the concept of CEN with them can be helpful in some families, and may be a way for you to improve your relationship with them. Be sure to take into account the type of CEN parents that you have when making the decision to talk with them. Your path to healing is unique to you. There are no right or wrong answers. If you decide to talk with your parents about CEN, follow the tips and guidelines above, and proceed with care.

To learn much more about whether you should talk with your parents about CEN, how to do it, and how to cope if you can’t, see the book, Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents & Your Children.

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how it’s different from emotional abuse, how it happens, and how to heal from it, see my book Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.

Above all else, remember that your feelings are important and your needs are important. Yes, you matter.

Jonice

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Anonymous - September 10, 2018 Reply

Siblings who witnessed the verbal and emotional abuse of another sibling or siblings are at risk – as adults – in continuing that same abuse to the abused adult siblings because they learned how to be abusive by watching a parent or parents. I know. I was the scapegoat in my family; I went to therapy; and through therapy, I stood up to a bullying sibling by telling him to stop, using specific examples. Know what he did? He reacted in a contemptuous way, he said he wants no contact and he’s done with me. In your next book, Dr. Webb, would you please address the potential “second generation” of family abuse and what a parent or adult family member can do to help children and adults avoid “witness abuse”?

    Jonice - September 10, 2018 Reply

    Dear Anon, my writings are all about emotional neglect, but you can find some great books about emotional abuse as well. I do plan to write an article about CEN and siblings. Sending you all my best wishes.

Jill - September 2, 2018 Reply

I’m 55 and the abuse is still going on – it surfaces once every other year or so and sends me down a very deep hole. I keep coming to a place of “enough!!”. Why am I still in this?

I encourage my fellow CEN people to either confront or go no-contact. You don’t want to be 55 and still trying you decide what to do!

Love to you all.

    Jonice - September 2, 2018 Reply

    It’s a complicated decision to go no-contact, as it can raise problems of its own. In some families that are not abusive it can be possible to set up protective boundaries. thank you for your comment Jill!

      Labeled girl - September 2, 2018 Reply

      I have wrestled with this for many years, since I found Dr Webb’s validating research. Thank you, Dr Webb, for giving us permission…. NOT to serve them yet again. I have gone no contact. It has its own pain. My family is confused. My parents are angry, and attack me all the time. All that said, being on my own & pursuing a healthy life without them is by far the most freeing option. Every time I let them back in…. it takes weeks / months to recover. Being a communicator (that I am), I am surprised to say that I recommend no contact. I usually can talk with anyone! That was part of what was always so mystifying about my family of origin. I tried to talk with them…. and they would give me a label. They would say you’re selfish. You’re disrespectful. You’re embarrassing us. No, I just wanted to talk things through. I had questions. They wanted to shut me up, and boy they did. I went onto feel that I had no value at all.
      Therapy for myself & no contact with these confusing people has led me to a life of freedom and parenting that looks nothing like theirs.
      Thank you Dr Webb, for your continual kindness to & validation of us. I look forward to Sunday mornings!
      Best,
      Labeled girl

        Jonice - September 5, 2018 Reply

        Dear Labeled girl, that must have been such a hard decision for you. It sounds like a decision you took very seriously, but in the end you decided that you must put yourself first. Congratulations for making a decision that’s opened doors for you to become healthier and happier. Keep up the good work.

    Filip - September 9, 2018 Reply

    I had to go no-contact, since it was so painful to live with them or unable to set boundaries. I am 30 and haven’t been intimate in my life at ALL. so I did cut all communication with parents for a month. I did it couple of times. it was extremely painful, especially since my mom is toxic, in addition to CEN. ultimately, I couldn’t stand not talking to them – I felt (and still do at moment) so alone, empty, aimless, without any life direction, unable to be productive etc..

    @Jonice, I read both of your books. so I arranged conversation with my mom according to guidelines described in a book, because I didn’t want to give up. I need them to understand, approve and validate me. I can totally relate to Labeled girl here – each time I attempted to talk with them I was shut down, labeled or charged with guilt and anger. I believe working on yourself and giving parents small chunks of trauma you experienced has useful impact. I believe each time I make a little progress, a decade-long tangled trauma develops bit by bit. it’s just, I very often feel regret for all the wasted years 🙁 any advice how to stop that?

    Regards,

    Filip

      Jonice - September 10, 2018 Reply

      Dear Filip, it sounds like you’re doing some great work. I want to assure you that you have not wasted years. It takes most people a long time to get themselves ready for change, and that’s what you’ve been doing. None of this is your fault. Just keep working!

Anonymous 31F - January 4, 2018 Reply

I was born to a young mother who I believe also suffered emotional neglect and abuse. She stayed in a relationship with my father (who didn’t live with us and who I didn’t see too often). I felt very protective over my mother who I thought was only staying with my father because she had a child with him (these are some of my earliest memories). I struggled with selective mutism from as early as I could remember. It was brought up by my school that something was wrong and I never received any help. I often heard my mom criticize others for petty things (even my young friends) and I never saw her get close to anyone. She enrolled me in things she wanted to do as a kid and if I didn’t do what she wanted, all her love was taken away. She ridiculed me for crying, saying anything negative, and standing up for myself. Looking back, I had very unstable relationships with everyone in my life from a very early age. I got in trouble for confiding in friends about seeing my parents fight. My mom would even call the school and tell them who I couldn’t play with. When my friends did something to upset me, I cut them out of my life forever, instead of talking about it. As a pre-teen, I got into very depressive rock music which was my only escape. I was numb to everything. At age 15, I broke down in public and couldn’t stop crying because I was troubled with strong suicidal thoughts. My mother ridiculed and shamed me. I knew I could never come to her with anything. Finally, when 16, I decided I would either kill myself or ask my mom to take me to a psychiatrist. It took me months to work up the courage to do it. I was relieved that she was willing to take me to see someone that could help me. We never talked about it, all I said was I was depressed and needed help and she said okay. This opened up so much to me as I felt more comfortable with myself just being able to express that I need help and to be open with my feelings.

As a young adult, I made a decision to move 6 hours away from my family and I saw how much happier I became. Over the years, I continued to have rocky relationships. I chose men that I knew were awful for me and who were overly emotional. I think it distracted myself from facing real issues. I was unable to trust or handle any of my own emotions. I used to blame my dad for a lot of things but I don’t anymore and he even apologized to me for not being around as much as he should have but also told me my mother kept him away.

A year ago, I met the most wonderful man who loves and cares for me so much. I was so excited to tell my mom and like most things good in my life she told me that it’s too good to be true. We did mushrooms and LSD together a few months ago and I feel like I had start to become very negative. I had a really rough patch with him the last few months because I needed so much validation from him and I couldn’t calm myself down. He went home with me for the holidays and told me that being around my family is very hard for him because he feels the tension and he said he watches my mom bully me and I do nothing about it. He’s confused by how passive I am with her. I don’t know how I once thought my mom and I had a good relationship. Now I realize why she liked me around- I was validating that she was a good parent because I listen to her and I am normally a “nice girl”. I see how threatened she is by me trying new things and being close to other people in my life. I see now how I get anxiety interacting with her. I still feel like I have to maintain this image of being a good daughter. My mom blames me for my rocky childhood to this day, saying I should have just gotten over my anxiety and I would have been fine. Looking back, I see how terribly neglectful she was in the past and how unbearably unsupportive she is in the present.

I do not want to ruin my relationship with my boyfriend who has been very patient with me. I had an epiphany yesterday that I don’t have to be a victim. I can stand up to my mother. I can stand up for my own needs. I realized that no one is asked to be born and all that can make us happy is compassion for others and the freedom to explore the things we love. I am grateful to have met my soulmate and I feel a sense of peace within myself I have never felt before. In hindsight, I think the psychadelics made me confront 30 years of pain within myself, understand it, and let it go. I hope you can all do the same. (I am not endorsing drugs, you do what’s right for you!) I don’t know what the future holds in regards to my relationship with my mom but I know that I am in control of my own happiness now.

    33 - August 12, 2018 Reply

    Hi just having a hard time dealing with life and reading your story just been so aye opening to in a way of its like a cloudy mirror I can see a reflection/similar situation in my life. I never left a coment before but I’m starting on this journey of self help and have been considering the psychedelics for some time now as red in to it and heard that it can help and now I feel like there is more light in this long dark tunnel of life! Thank you for taking time to write it! M

      Jonice - August 16, 2018 Reply

      Dear 33, I do not recommend psychedelics for anyone. I’m glad you’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel! Just keep up doing the work and it will pay off, I assure you.

Erin - December 30, 2017 Reply

I had a mother who used guilt to control me, but not on purpose. I felt like no matter what I did, I was a mean hurtful child and needed to be better. She’d say things like “what is wrong with ME? you don’t treat your father this way.” She also seemed to be really happy, and it seemed to fall into her lap as though the emotional baggage had skipped a generation. It didn’t feel fair, and also it didn’t feel fair that as soon as I started being kind to myself (treating myself the way my therapist treated me), I moved back with her and felt like I’d undone all that work.

I just spoke to my mother about it, and it turns out she does feel the effect, but she is really good at pretending (she’s got a terrible poker face, so it surprised me at first that she could do this). And I feel less threatened. Perhaps because I know whenever she judges me for being imperfect, it hurts her too? Whenever she looks down on me I know she’s looking down on the parts of her she doesn’t like. I feel rather optimistic, whatever it is, that through this (and more therapy) I will come through as a secure person.

Kiera - December 17, 2017 Reply

My parents do not defend me from unkind words from others. They blame it on me, citing “poor mental state” therefore I get affected. But when your own relatives (their siblings) call me fat, elephant thighs, thunder arms, when I am actually a girl who is of acceptable weight (standing at 166cm, weighing 63kg, well within the healthy weight range of 55kg – 69kg), and your parents just listen and do not stand up for you time after time, it really slowly eats you up.

It’s been happening for many years now so it’s up to the stage whereby I’ve started to eat slimming pills, go for slimming treatments and even google for liposuction options. I’m starting to think that being anorexic or bulimic will be the fastest way to lose weight so that they’ll all stop commenting about my weight (p.s. I have larger sized cousins and they say nothing about them) but I remember the time when I was severely underweight and everyone commented about how sickly I look.

It’s like, impossible to ever please them.

Now I’m thinking of suicide options, and I think I really need help.

    Mecto-grama - December 18, 2017 Reply

    Hi unknown buddy

    Oh dear.. that’s too bad, listen, first of all read all this comment please, and don’t think bad of it (i’d went through this and i think it can help you too)

    1. “anorexic or bulimic” ?? “Loss weight?” No! What you wanna do is to mess with your health status and there’s no way back once you start (basically because you ruin your muscles or even starve to death, or in bulimia, burn your throath with your own acids or even unleash a gastric illness, both having a terrible ending btw), sure it will help you loose weight but also risking your life so badly, so i highly recommend that you must not do that (why?: because its also like giving them what they want, to ruin yourself, so don’t let them to succed, ok?)

    What you can do instead, if you wanna find out if you’re on your right weight, i would suggest you to BMI (Body Mass Index)

    https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
    http://www.smartbmicalculator.com/
    http://www.calculator.net/bmi-calculator.html

    and if you wanna loose weight.. you can go with a nutritionist, if not, you can do some excersises (running, swimming, any sport-related or go to gym) and diets along with drinking lots of water, sleeping 8 hours per day, taking meals at your right hours, avoiding fries and flours, and avoid eating too much at night (because of metabolism, it will not be taking vitamins and instead, it will be saving it as fat cells in your body) will help you up (seriously)

    2. its not ok being tagged as “poor mental state”, you know how much you’re worth (no, not less, you mean a lot!) so ignore what they say (negative stuff, of course) and stop giving a damn on what they tell at you, damns doesn’t grow on trees, they’re so limitated and expensive, so give them wisely (what i mean is that care for important stuff, not on a brat’s talk)

    3. one of the very awful things you could plan is that, you have dreams, right? you have goals! you have things you wanna do! and it can’t be that you won’t do that just because of a bunch of jerks and their attitude, no, you will purse what you wanna do so don’t think about that and go ahead!

    4. Try to understand why ppl are acting like that (by that i don’t mean yelling to those dummies like “WHY?!”, no, just trying to understandby analysis) perhaps its just another vicious cicle of them repeating what they did countered a time ago (Ex. perhaps they had been treated like that and unconciously they’re doing the same) and the only way to break that mean circle is stopping it instead of spreading it 🙂

    5. You don’t have to please everybody (im starting to learn that btw) just the ppl you believe they’re worth (again, the example of the tree of “damns” don’t give it to wrong ppl, since those are so expensive, of course) it will help you to not only avoid and/or stand deceivements but it will help you emotional and even in health terms (remember it, ok?)

    6. Remember, unknown distant buddy, that you’re worth (over 9000+), you’re so great! you’re awesome! and that my grammar is terrible because its not my main language (sorry), you will overcome this and look back with an smile knowing that you’d been able to succed and move ahead becoming into someone strong and brave, i seriously believe in you (sorry if im too cheesy XD)

    Hope you read this on time, it took me years to understand it now, so please read what i wrote and follow it to avoid the same mistakes i did and pleasey pleeeeeeeease!!!! 🙂 stay safe , be strong, yourself and brave

Peyng - December 12, 2017 Reply

My mom included me with my “sister and her” fight because I am very close with my sister. The conflict happened April of this year, and I have invited her to both: Baptism (June 2017) and 1st birthday (August 2017) of my 2nd born son. She never came. Never text, greet or anything. So, I was trying to be understanding. Texted her on her birthday on September 1st 2017. She said thank you and that was it. She deleted me, my husband, and in-laws on her social media. Yet I saw her lurking on one of my social media accounts. I did not communicate after her birthday. Did not greet her on Thanksgiving. I know I kind of feel bitter because I did not do anything bad to her, but I can’t be involve with her & my sister. Doesn’t mean I have to stop talking with my sister so she will reconcile with me. I think it’s very childish. Now, Christmas is coming. I do not really know what to do.

    B - December 12, 2017 Reply

    How do you know if someone is “lurking” on your social media?

Marco - December 10, 2017 Reply

I have been neglected my whole life by my parents, even now when I am 32 years old they keep neglecting me. I can be understanding and forgiving of the neglect during my childhood due to economical issues and that my brother who has ADHD (diagnosed in his adulthood) got all the attention. But there is no excuse in the world for it to continue to this day. I have started to think that it was a mistake that I was born and that I am not wanted by my parents (I am the youngest sibling of three). Since I moved away from home 12 years ago my parents have only visited me once in all these years even though I have been living fairly close to them all of the time. They have been visiting my sister who lives 6 hours away multiple times and it seems like they visit my brother every other weekend.I have been excluded from dinner parties, BBQ’s and I am always the one who is uninformed about family matters. It is just so painful for me and I have been carrying these feelings of shame my whole adulthood. It gets extra painful now when christmas is coming.

    emily - December 11, 2017 Reply

    crazy. very sorry to hear that. have you confronted them about it?

      Marco - December 11, 2017 Reply

      No I have not confronted them, yet. But I am seriously considering it now. I have only felt shame and sadness about the whole situation before and tried to press down the anxiety, but now I am starting to feel anger. I think that I would be better of without this painful relationship.

cour - November 6, 2017 Reply

I am 27. I am living with my mom again and I feel like giving up completely. I cannot believe how low I feel living in a home with someone who thinks only about herself. the thing is, I feel this deep sadness for her because she is recently divorced from my dad and my younger brothers (who are painfully socially awkward and always engaged in unhealthy behaviors) only choose to live at my dads house, leaving my mom alone most of the time. she acts like it doesn’t bother her, but how could it not? as she has no real friends or partner and no job. as a child I received no emotional support from them at all whatsoever. since 8 years old I remember feeling extreme frustration often causing me to fall asleep crying. nothing has changed. I have spent my early twenties traveling and finding amazing communities and living on farms, off the grid in Hawaii and other countries. I have found amazing people and felt very, very loved. however, a situation arose where I have no choice but to live with my mom again, in a crappy town. I have NO friends here and NO support from any family member. No emotional support that is. they will buy me food and provide me a place to live but when I bring up anything remotely related to how I FEEL I am replied to with silence or a weird “Why would you say that??”. They have NEVER understood me and most of the time I am mocked and disrespected by my parents and two brothers. I am 27 with a job I don’t like, at my moms who I cannot stand, with no friends. It’s amazing how the years just creep up on you because it feels like only yesterday when I was 23 and still had my hopes and dreams intact.

    TAM - November 15, 2017 Reply

    Cour – Read back what you wrote and the answer seems very clear. You are asking whether to live a life of misery or of contentment. It seems a no-brainer! 27 is still very young, btw. It’s not too late.

Joni - October 31, 2017 Reply

I grew up as a only with two alcoholic parents. A The were caring and loving in my youngest years. As their drinking became worst so did the relationship. This led to a lot of trouble in my life with anxiety and depression. They would drink and fight and pass out then act like everything was normal. I’m realizing now how much it affect me.
At 14 My mom left and got pregnant by a ex con who was abusive. She had no time for me then. But I did spend time trying to be good enough for her to choose. No luck.
My dad the remarried to a woman who hated me. She wanted me out of my house and made my life very sad and loney. Her daughter had committed suiside right before getting with my dad. She was the same age as me, I think that played into it. My dad never stood up for me and always blamed me for everything. He has never apologized or acknowledged how bad they treated me.
I ghosted my dad about 10 years ago and all family involved with him. I mean they never took my side and are still friends with my dads wife.
All these feeling are coming up lately bc I’m realizing a lot of unhealthy patterns I have and they are not letting me live. I have learned them all to protect myself from pain and drama. I do have unresolved issues. I didn’t want to leave my family but I felt like no one had my back against my dads wife.
I’m not sure if I should reconcile with my dad or not. I don’t trust him with my feeling. But I feel Scared if he died or something I might feel horrible. I have many things I would like/need to express to him. But I don’t think he can see it from my side. He is a emotional idiot.
I need to deal somehow and get over these past feelings that are coming up. It’s not healthy for me or my parner. I want to have a good life and not live in the past trying to get something I never had.
I do love my dad and I know he was raised with no emotions. I guess it’s just hard realizing you never had something you thought you did. I’m scared to contact him bc he will prob make me feel bad in some way. Also I hate my dads wife for everything she did to me.
Should I write him a letter expressing everything? Not a aggressive letter more just like letting him know my pain? I want him to know why I stoped talking to him but also he might think it’s stupid to feel that was all these years later. Idk

    Athena - November 4, 2017 Reply

    I say you tell your dad. It’s obviously eating you away inside and I think it could help in the healing process. You don’t want to always wonder, what if, or it’s going to make it worse. You’re already feeling regret if you don’t end up having a chance anymore. It’s a scary step but I think I think you can do it! I think you still have some compassion and just try to spread it in the letter you end up writing, or whatever you end up doing to tell him. You may be surprised! Good luck and I hope it all turns well for you, enabling you to move forward!

Anonymous N - October 31, 2017 Reply

These things kind of take place over a span of years up until recent. Life for me and my sister has not always been easy and most often to the outside it looked good and happy and joyful, but it didn’t work that way on the inside of things. A few years about my mom and step dad got a nasty divorce soon after they got married and for the most part my sister and I wanted them to get a divorce because of his abusive nature. But we had no idea that it meant we had to leave our family, and our school and move back to our birth state to live with my grandparents because at that time we had become homeless. Life for my mom was very bad from the very start her parents were abusive and neglectful and when her father remarried and had three more children he favored them over my mom on top of that people who where suppose to love her took advantage of her for there own greedy needs and that also includes those who just used her and hurt her against her will. With an early life like my moms I could expect her to became bitter and angry and upset and really messed up, but never towards me and my sister; because it wasn’t always like this. When my sister and I were really little my mom was our world and vise-versa because before me and my sister were born my real dead abandon us and never made a true effort to be in our lives and on the rare occasions that we did see each other it was always filled with hurt and pain. It got so bad that I had asked my mom when I was around 4 or 5 what I did wrong to make my dad not love me anymore. She told me I didn’t have to worry because she loved me and that’s what mattered. But when the divorce happened and we moved that became less true. Being back in my sisters and I’s birth state my mom met an old ex that she had dated before we were born and quickly started dating him again, forgetting that her now ten year old children just had theirs lives turned around so completely they fell into depression. My mom abandon us choosing herself and her love life over us because she was hurting too. Eventually they broke up and we move yet again this time she ran into another old flame and they started dating a week after re-meeting. I can’t tell you what my mom felt at that time because I dont even know. Then after that we moved again, at this time my mom had found a new hobby of baking and she wanted try with us and see what would happened in we put colored dye in our cake batter what would happen, but just as we were mixing it together her boyfriend walks through the door and she ditches us to go spend time with him. My mom began showing a pattern of letting her family and her boyfriend disrespect me and my sister as people. If it wasn’t what my mom wanted then the other person would have suck it up because she was going to do whatever she wanted and with my aunts backing up her mind set she became un-stoppable, because not only would she jump on us and yell at us she would allow her sisters to do the same and they were worse because they cussed at us. Then as we got older my mom got worse, eventually she stop seeing my sister and I and her daughters or family we became her enemy, the one thing that blocked her form living the life she never got to. It was the same for my dad my sister and I became his enemy we became our parents burden. Around the age of 15 my mom and my sister and I had gotten into a huge fight and it was bad enough that now me and my sister were on bad terms, but in the fight between the three of us my mom had gone physical and attacked my sister, I had rushed to get my om off so I pushed her, and from that day on I had lost respect for my mom and stop watching how I talked to her, how I acted.On my 18th birthday this just blow-up in my face, because my mom started pushing for me and my sister to find another place to live, to move out even though she said we would just have to help with things like the internet bill and cleaning around the house more in order to live with her, and that was fine because at least I got to keep my home, but it wasn’t until I turned 19 that things really really got bad. Recently my mom wants to move because she got a new job and she doesn’t want to continue to drive and hour and since she works night shifts now, and I know that it doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is. Because in the place that we live no my sister and I finally got to experience the stability we lost in the divorce, we finally got to start living a normal life and actually make friends something neither of us have really had before so we naturally don’t want to move because we will loose that and she called my selfish for wanting to keep the good things in my life. Not only that but she recently has taken to saying to us “Well your an adult now, if you don’t like it then you cane move out no one is forcing you to live here” she has been saying something similar to this to us since we were 15-ish, I hate it so much when she says those words because were am I gonna go? I know my grandparents would let me live with them, but they have already been through enough with their son and my mom fighting each other I can’t burden them too, I don’t want to become a problem for them like I have my mom. but in-spit of all of that my mom of course doesn’t care because it is not what she wants, she always say to us “What about me what about how I feel. What about what you have done to hurt me to add to the problems in these past year, huh?” But I bite my tongue because it’s like what about how you? You continuously insult and spit on and ignore how my sister and I have been feeling for these past years what make you think your feelings take rule over ours when you never even started to consider us since that divorce. I love my mom, I have given all I cane give to her. For me that way I see it is to love with your heart and give when you cane because if I was in that situation I would want someone to step in a help me too. I have given hundreds to my mom to help keep her head above water and all I ask of her in return is to love me and be kind to me and consider me and be emotionally available as my mom, just be my mom, but she can’t even do that without complaining without feeling defensive when I get made because I feel taken advantage of because of all that I have given her emotionally, she gets pissed when I get mad about her taken advantage of my kindness and being hurt by the fact that its so hard for her to think about some else other than herself to return what was given out of love. I can’t even believer her now on the very rare occasion that she says she loves me and my sister because it feels fake like a lie, and something that she is saying out of obligation instead of out of maternal love, she doesn’t even ask us how our day was and when we hug her she acts like she doesn’t want us touching. My mom makes so many excuse about why she is the why she is why she can never be emotionally. My sister and I can never ever have a serious conversation with her about our relationship as a family because she always thinks we are attacking her she can never admit when she has wrong someone, when she has hurt them and the one time she did it was because me and my sister kept bringing it up to her but even then she just went back to her old ways. My mom is very childish when it comes to our family. And for the most part she doesn’t seem to care if we have a relationship with her or not because her world is wrapped around her boyfriend and herself. My mom never fought for us when we couldn’t never chose us and the one time she did was when she deiced not to move us in the middle of high-school and let us live a normal life. She told us that if we didn’t move with her or go live with our grandparents she would put me in my sister in an apartment on the bad side of town rent is cheap on that side, I can’t win with her, she is focused on her achieving her own happiness at the expense of me and my sister.

Even now I get on myself about my own feeling because I have been told that they are childish and dramatic that I am that way and it started messing with how I though about my life. I questioned whether I had the right to be sad and hurt an upset because I always knew some out there ad it worse then I did, so what right did I have to even feel pain because of the things I was going through, but my grand told me that I had a hard life since I was a kid even though it look clean on the outside. I just wonder were I went wrong what I did to make my mom stop caring about me, stop loving me because I would fix it, I just want to mean something to her again.

This is not to generate sympathy for myself just a means of finding from release from all the drama and sadness and madness in my life. This not meant to generate and hate for my mom, I’m just honestly trying to understand were it all went wrong.

Israel - October 7, 2017 Reply

Hi im 15 and have been reading this stuff about parenting and realized that the relationship with my dad is nonexistent,my parents divorced when i was 1 and my dad would provide for me well but never did anything besides that and would leave me for weeks on end playing videogames and never telling me to go out side or do something and he never taught me good habits like brushing my teeth, i can’t remember him saying anything besides the obvious drugs are bad and stuff like that, but am now finding trouble talking to anyone especially girls. And am super self-conscious of how other people think of me and make jokes to hide how shallow i am conversation wise, and i dont feel comfortable going to him for help on anything and never ask for amything extra from him, it seems like he just doesn’t care enough to try. And now when all this is catching up with me and i am now getting ostricized by my peers i don’t know anything. Im like a shell of a person with no personality and always think people are better than me and that is why they have relationships and success
And i try to cry but i can’t, when i go into thinking about this i just feel lost and confused and don’t know what to do to make it better.

    TA Mole - November 15, 2017 Reply

    Israel – I wish I had been as brave and smart as you when I was 15. You have realised something is very wrong with your dad, and everything you have said about you is the impact of HIS behaviour. Well done for seeking answers and looking for help. Keep going. Keep looking and asking. Is there someone at the school you can talk to, or a neighbour or a friend’s parent? Keep trying. You can and will find solutions. You are on the right track.

    Anonymous - January 4, 2018 Reply

    I would encourage you to find activities you are passionate about! Hopefully, it would lead you to meet others that like the same thing.

    You are so young! Life seems so hard at your age but it gets better. Pretty soon you can build the life you want. Financial independence can help you get out on your own and get you going towards that.

    Best of luck to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to trustworthy people.

anonymous - October 5, 2017 Reply

hi. today, my mom told me i was selfish and very mean to my sisters. i have been mean in the past, i agree. she told me that she will always stand up for my sisters and if it was the other way around she would stand up for me; however, there have been times when my sisters have been mean to me and she told me to figure it out and it’s my fault because i’m the oldest girl. i am a role model to my sisters and my mom said very soon i won’t be. she is the only one who is saying this to me. i have two younger sisters and we are all in the teens. she is a single mom. i have no idea what to do. she always wants me to do what is asked and if she’s mad at me she will give me all these jobs. she says in the morning i am always negative, but sometimes i’m not and once she says something mean to me then i am not in the best mood. my sister wanted to go to my school’s homecoming game and i have never been to one so i was so excited to hang out with my friends. i did not ask my sister if she will be with friends or not and my immediate reaction was nooooo. i don’t know i just feel like sometimes my mom makes issues bigger then they are or she just wants me to be the best sister 24-7 in this era. like, most siblings are so mean and i think i’m pretty nice relatively. i know i will start to think more about what i say before i say it and try to be more compassionte, but what else do i do? my mom says nobody else is going to want to be around me and i can just stay in my room. sometimes i am sooooo happpy and she’s like well i better enjoy this because this doesn’t happen very often and i’m like omg.

Elise - September 17, 2017 Reply

I feel totally worthless and like i am nothing. its my birthday and nobody in my family has said a thing out it. I’m not good enough for my dad and he hates me I’m nothing to him. “you’ll go no where in life” or my mom calling me “the most horrific bitch she’s ever met” i can’t be here and nobody sees that my acting out is result of feeling worthless and never loved. i just can’t be here in this house any more but i don’t know where i would go. happy 16th to me….

    Deb R - September 19, 2017 Reply

    Dearest Elise, May I just wish you all the very best for your 16th Birthday beautiful girl. You are so precious, there is no one else in this whole world like you. You’ve probably heard the saying hurt people – hurt people…. well that’s what your parents seem to be doing. I was the black sheep in my family at 15-16, I felt unloved and misunderstood. The black sheep are the ones that absorb all the emotion that’s going on around them and then express it – but as young people there is no filter so it all comes out…. My mother said terrible things that I didn’t know how to deal with or who to turn to. I made decisions I regretted and had to live with the consequences. When I became a Christian it was as though I was able to press restart and experienced forgiveness and unconditional love for the first time in my life.
    The truth Elise is that sometimes our parents are broken and we have a choice to make to let their brokenness break us or go and find a beautiful community of people to be a part of. After causing myself so much heartache and harm I finally made a decision for my life and found a church that adopted me in then the healing began.. My grandfather wrote me once and said ‘We become like the people we spend time with so choose your friends/community wisely’. My prayer for you is that you find somewhere you can belong, extended family to live with or some supported accommodation somewhere. There will come a time when you can look back on this time as a wiser woman who chose to walk through this dark time to become an even deeper, more compassionate person who understands heartache and loss. You will be an amazing wife and mother one day and your story will inspire others. We learn most of life’s deepest lessons not on the mountain top but in the valleys. I got through those times and am now married with two beautiful strong children who care so much for others. Praying for you.

    A.J London - September 30, 2017 Reply

    Hi Elise:

    If this message finds its way to you I send a happy belated birthday. My birthday is Sept. 17 as well. I remember my 16th birthday (many years ago). It was a horrible time in my life and I really acted out. My parents never took any interest in my life so I felt unworthy of any type of healthy love. I had zero self-love. Here is what I have learned. I decided at some point to LOVE myself no matter what anyone said. I still have some bad days but they are becoming fewer.
    Elise put your mental, spiritual and physical HEALTH FIRST over any relationship! I cannot stress this enough. Also, don’t have children until you learn to love yourself and can share your inner joy.
    YOUR PARENTS ARE FOOLS

alex - September 10, 2017 Reply

The main thing to remember is that the best revenge is success – don’t do any self-destructive things, you would only hurt yourself. Also even though not talking to abusive parents for a few years is useful for self-esteem, actually being able to overcome yourself and learn to talk and respond cohesively and not being afraid is just as useful.

    Sandra Donolley - September 15, 2017 Reply

    This entire article is about how to understand the parent. Ridiculous! That’s their job, not mine!

      Stacey - October 4, 2017 Reply

      Yes! Someone finally understands! I’m 44 yrs old and my parents last year decided to not have anything to with me because my sisters young boyfriend decided to cause a fight with my son who at the time was 22. These parents just cut me off over that??!!

Anonymous - September 8, 2017 Reply

My mother is a narcissist; didn’t visit me when I was hospitalized because she “can’t” [ie, won’t] travel…this after I took medical leaves to fly out to be with her during all her ailments…never asked her for anything…never again…

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