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 adult life. 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 question is as infinite as the variety of different ways that CEN can happen. It can be extremely healing when an adult child and his or her 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. 

The 3 Main Categories of CEN Parents

  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. They may be struggling financially, emotionally, or with the caretaking of a sick family member or child, for example.
  3. WMBNT or Well-Meaning-But-Neglected-Themselves: These parents love their children and give them everything they can. But they are not able to give their child enough emotional responsiveness and validation because they didn’t receive it in their own childhoods. They may be simply “emotion blind.”

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.

5 Ways to Talk With Your CEN 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 your 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: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect 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 (even if it causes a rupture or distance between you), 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.

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 with 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. 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.

The Takeaway

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. For much more information, details, and support for how to decide and how to protect yourself see the book Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents & Your Children.

To find out whether you grew up with CEN Take the Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free.

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


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Help! In need of guidance - July 19, 2017 Reply

Okay sorry if this long but I gotta get it out,and maybe someone could give me some words of wisdom.
Well I guess i started writing this because I’m too self aware.Last night/morning I had one of the worst experiences I’ve delt with. I came home got on my phone and proceeded to confirm what I already knew,I have. Social anxiety,and depression.I read all these collums multiple websites learning so much. Ive been up over a day now and I finally wanna ask for some help. Please guys don’t be discouraged I know you guys are (sorry) like twice as old and some probably older. But I’ve read your comments and I’m worried for my future I’m almost 17 and these symptoms and causes I can relate to. Like the narcissistic mom and that whole weird sexuality thing, I see it alot in my house. My mom will always be looking and criticize me and my older sisters bodies and stuff. But I cant help but squirm i find it really uncomfortable. So she’ll
Go find someone else. But that’s not all,This and other sites says that emotional neglect can be a lack of acknowledgment for ones emotions or something like thay. That one hits me hard. I remember when my dad left and she told what happend,and I didn’t really know what to feel I don’t know if she even asked me she just let it me be. But I pretty much just remembered my sister andy one friend till I was about 8. When my little sister and her a-hole dad came into the picture. My mom had me at 26 so after that i guess she went wild because my mom had my older sister when she was just a kid herself, so that was my mom’s “party stage”. So that left me and her boyfriend and my little sister. My older sister left at the right time For sure. He kinda was likey dad him asking me to get him beers and him
(Well let’s just say I know what sex was at a young age) with my mom. Which Is funny that I bring that up. The first time o caught her and a-hole together I didnt know what to do so I acted out one of the handull of emotions i knew and just super pissed. Even though they were together for awhile at that point. Weird… But hank God that a-hole is gone he definitely had played a role in my depression. When we moved in to his place everything changed and we saw this man for what he was a great big mean achoholic. We lived there maybe a few years my mom had came to her senses.Me and this man would fight every night because he would have nothing to so he would start sh!t with someone he knew he could piss off. The fights actually let me tell him how I felt which kinda was an outlet for me. But the end of the fight is what stuck with me. My mom would never take my side. This man had her come into my room because she was the only person that could get me to actually apologize to him. I’m not saying I was right every time. But most of the time I was.this probably sounds dumb but she would have his back not mine I guess..

To add even more to the rant about my mother she never really seemed be interested in what I would do,even now. Hell even to her 8 year old. She would never take me out to the park or to see the fireworks in july.I’m passed that now but I hate having to see my sister dispointed in our mother like I did. So I did what I always do and stood up for someone other than myself. And told her that she at least gotta see them once trying not to push limits.No fireworks that I felt bad.My sister is gonna have to go with out with our relitives to be able to do cool stuff.Just like I did.
Befor school ended I skipped my classes. And My mom gets home ealry and knew what I was doing. And starts yelling. I finally tell her that this is me trying to get her to step up.I’m so fed up with her I’ve been depressed since middle school she has seen my scars I’ve been asking to get some F***ING help since freshman year. And every time she says you “we’ll find someone” trying to reassure me but she never does. We are not rich whatsoever my whole family is covered by the state it’s freaking free!!!!!

I know my mom knows I need help she always put it off. Hell puts me off when I beg and beg for any type of support.Now that I think about it. How the hell is she gonna see me at my worst. She doesn’t see me at…

God damn. They only medicine I got is the kind you got dropped off to you, or some classic bottle either way I know this is not a good way to cope but what have to make an effort to have somewhat of a social life.
Has anyone been like, still is? If any elders are reading please tell me what my future could look like?
P.S is anyone else here really parnoid sometimes???

    Help! In need of guidance - July 19, 2017 Reply

    The ending to that was kinda blunt but I’ve heard of people haVing paranoia and I fell like might have it.

    Anonymous - July 28, 2017 Reply

    I liked the article. Talking it out with my Mother about the emotional neglect which still exists to this day is just not an option. she is hypersensitive, loves to play the martyr, draw attention to herself does not matter what the situation either. But this article explains a whole lot. My Mother expects to get cards on her birthday & Mothers day ( I don’ like doing this but I do) she expects to be catered to like she is the Queen or something. I do have the book by Dr. Webb on C.E.N. and I read some of it when I can. It sometimes triggers me so I need to put it down. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of issues with my Mother.

Shanon - June 4, 2017 Reply

I have been physically and mentally and sexually abused. My parent separated when I was 5. I lived with my mom and her boyfriend along with my younger brother which was 4 and my older sister and my older brother which were early teens. My moms boyfriend had 3 kids of his own and they couldn’t do anything wrong.Well my mother was never around she didn’t care about any of her kids my older sister acted as our mom she did everything with us and I have so many good memories with her I love her so much for being there. My moms boyfriend slept with my sister not sure if she wanted it or not but I don’t care she was young a teenager he was old and grown and new better well any way my mom found out and kicked my sister out and my younger brother and I watched her try to commit suicide thank god she wasn’t successful but she kept her boyfriend he was very abbusive to us kids and threw my older brother threw the wall because he wasn’t home in time to babysit me and my moms boyfriend ran over his bike on purpose and my older brother left to well him and my older sister moved in with there dad. Now it’s just me and my younger brother and my moms boyfriend hates us and was very abbusive to us so welfare told my mom she had a choice either her kids or her boyfriend and of course she chose the boyfriend so my brother and I went into foster care and that sucked as well living with strangers that you don’t know and the foster father was kind of abbusive but of course no one cared no one would listen but after a year my dad took us in his home he had a girl friend and she had 3 kids of her own that could do no wrong so my brother and I still weren’t wanted my dad was very abbusive and he has sold me to his friends for things he wanted. I told my dad what his friends did to me and he said do to me what he did to you and I wouldn’t touch my dad like that I was only like 8. He never called cops or nothing he never protected me. My brother and I ended up going back to my moms and her boyfriend still hates my brother and I and he beat us and I hate him for what he done to my sister so I was scared he would touch me so I called him a pedifile and a child molester and told him he would never get his hands on me and I never felt comfortable around him. So my mom had his cousin babysit me and my brother and he sexually abused me and I told my mom and she never did anything about it. She didn’t care. My mom and dad never loved me. Her boyfriends kids were everything and they got everything my brother and I got nothing we were always told how bad we are and how we don’t deserve nothing. For awhile I thought I had a neon sign on my for head that said it’s ok to malest me and rape me because no one cares. I even had a foster parent do it and nothing happened to him welfare just took me out of the home and swept everything under the rug. So I have a hard time letting all this go because I don’t know how. My parents are the ones that were supposed to love me unconditionally and protect me and they didn’t. I feel if my own parents didn’t love me then how is anyone else gunna love me. My parents weren’t alcoholics or drug addicts.

    saber - July 21, 2017 Reply

    i am sincerely sorry to hear these facts, sadly our parents are real boastful people who just care about themselves

    Amna - September 3, 2017 Reply

    I’m really sorry Shannon. My heart goes out to you and your siblings. Sometimes I wonder at the evil that exists in our world. I hope you’ve been getting the help you so deserve and need. Nothing can ever alter or touch what’s truly in you. I hope you find peace in your life. You were/are a beautiful, innocent being and always will be. Please look after your beautiful self and learn to connect with people that are good for you. It’s a slow process but it’s doable. If spirituality is something you feel inclined towards, I hope you can find something that will resonate with you. Perhaps meditation or yoga. Take care my love.

    Midnight - October 7, 2017 Reply

    This makes me so mad and sad! How can people be so evil! Even the foster care system is failing! & Yes someone will definitely love you! You have done nothing wrong. Your parents not loving you doesn’t affect how people see you or their affection towards you. They have zero power over you and you will be able to lead a good and happy life while they stay miserable. I do not know how old you are now but I really hope you find help (if you haven’t done so) to get you and your brother out of the situation.

Mae - May 25, 2017 Reply

My parents divorced at 3. My mother left the country with my stepfather, who openly hated me, when I was 7. My alcoholic father, had us 95% of the time, never once told us he loved us, never hugged us, no affection period. My mother would write letters that were signed “huggies”.
We were unloved. I shower my children with attention and love and material things, but inside I am empty, yet angry and sad, and always on the verge of suicide (I tried as a teen, but I’m now 44 and have only seriously contemplated it once in the last six months – otherwise it just looms).
I had so many other events in life that I viewed as hurtful but I wonder if it all is the product of early emotional abuse/neglect.

    Beesy - July 28, 2017 Reply

    I just landed here randomly and saw your post. I feel like your childhood reflects mine (not for the details because my story is a bit different) but in the sense that you were not important to anyone as a child (at least that is how it has been shown and now internalized) when your parents should have loved and protected you. I just started getting help with this through a therapist (I have seen many, but this is the first time that I am being honest with myself about things, including feeling suicidal along with other issues). I struggle throughout my life to want others to perceive me as important to them and often act out in a sense when they do not. I am constantly disappointed on my birthday and am always looking for people to prove my worth to them (usually in a very passive-aggressive manner, like non-confrontational). I am 39 years old and I am just starting to deal with it. I tend to be a perfectionist, but also suffer from depression and anxiety.
    You need to get a good therapist to work out these deep-seated disappointments and the effect on your self-worth because you know who you are very important to (whether or not you 100% in your heart believe it)? Your children. And if you were to commit suicide, they will believe they were not important enough for you to stay. Get the help and take care.

lauren - May 8, 2017 Reply

Hlo I’m a teen girl since I am born I have never seen my parents happy with each other on the other hand I have never been happy with my life till date. the old I’m growing up my parents are restricting me for everything let it be going out with friends wearing clothes talking loud eating junk food they just restrict me for everything. They also insult my interest I like to draw as my boards exam were over I started my drawing again and on the third day my mom says y do u draw so much ur drawing isn’t going to earn u a living during boards if I study they says just a show off wht u r doing I was a failure I failed 1st 9th still in 10th I came up with 80% but still here I am writing my story I hv a boyfriend even if I tell him these things he says what kind of parents do that nor I go out its been 6 months I never went out alone just to meet my friends I’m just sick of my life. My brother he was always a bright student and everyone just praise him he’s good in every aspect. Once when I was in class 6th my brother used to go to guitar classes I wanted to learn drums but no she just forced me to learn what synthesiser I have always been strong but now I really feel broken inside sometimes I just sit and cry alone for hr. I don’t know why they treat me like this I’m always scared when she returns from her job that she’ll shout on me I know I haven’t done anything wrong still she’s gonna shout on me my friends they always say to my u don’t come with us and they all post their pics on social media together having fun and here I am not even having a single memory with my friend

    Jonice Webb - May 11, 2017 Reply

    Lauren, please talk with a teacher or guidance counselor at school. This is not an okay way for you to grow up, and we want you to get more help than you can get on the internet. Please find an adult you can trust to talk with. Wishing you all the best.

    Rosie - June 3, 2017 Reply

    Hi Lauren. I read your story and I want to say I understand how you feel. My parents were never that openly mean to me. But it aad th same effect. Instead I would feel guilty to ask then for anything, because I thought that the neglect was actually thm trying to help me. Now I am older I find it really hard to look after myself because I never ‘escaped’ I stayed with my family because I felt that they needed me. Like Meg Griffin. I just want to say that I am here for you and if you want to talk I can send you my details. I have found reading other peoples stories has really helped me understand my own situation and I hope to give back. My only advice is, find comfort in caring for yourself. Not in a lonely way, but just make sure you keep the basics. Seek someone to talk to when you feel upset, go to a doctor if you feel ill, go to a dentist to look after your teeth. These things will never leave you, and these people you can usually trust to do their job.

    Please contact me if you want to talk about life.
    It’s hard to see from where you are now, but there are amazing people out there who will love you and treat you with kindness and respect. Just don’t lose sight of your dreams, because deep down you know what is right and wrong. Keep believing in yourself 🙂

jg - April 7, 2017 Reply

I had struggling parents and fell completely between the cracks. My mother later admitted that I’d raised myself. Destroyed my self esteem, feel completely unlovable – which is especially hard when there are people who love me and basically believed I wasn’t worthy of attention. I feel like I’ve spent my entire life looking at life through a window. I’m friendly with everyone but nobody’s friend. I estranged at one point, briefly, but wished I had just walked out the door and never looked back. At least I would have made a decision but I was so intent on being noticed and acknowledged that I stayed. Now they’re gone and I’m bubbling over with anger and resentment and an inability to tell them.

    Rosie - June 3, 2017 Reply

    I feel this. I am still here, but because I would never harm anyone the way I have felt I couldn’t talk or reject my parents. Tat would make me feel worse. I am in this mix of wanting acknowledgment but at the same time not accepting it. Can you give me any tips?

Lorraine - April 5, 2017 Reply

Let me just say that I am glad to have found this site. I can relate to everyone’s issues and pain. I am very angry at both my parents now because of my life has unfolded into chaos on an emotional level. I am in a second marriage currently of fourteen years. My marriage is crap. I have good days when I am like on top of the world and then on other days well it is just awful. I get mad over the slightest things, my temper is loud just like a child throwing a tempertrantum I scream out and just make my blood pressure rise. My mother was an alcoholic and my dad divorced her after 28 yrs of marriage. My parents are both dead now. I have a therapist. Nothing is helping me. I have these feelings of rage, anger, frustration, sadness, etc. all the damn time and I take it out on my husband. It is wrong and I know it. He doesn’t get why I do what I do. He says he feels sorry for me, and tries to comfort me but it doesn’t help. When I get into a rage of anger, I blame my mother for everything. She robbed me of my childhood by making me clean up the house, doing adult work all the time while she sat around and drank booze. She also grounded me for stupid things. She let my brother do anything and everything he wanted and never reprimanded him on his short comings like she did me. I was always told not show I felt or just be quiet and stop crying when I was being punished. I felt so alone when I was a child. I didn’t have any friends. Just my pet dog. As I matured I realized that when I was on my own, I would never let anyone hurt me again in any way or fashion. So now I have turned into a very selfish woman of fifty five yrs. I don’t know to stop the hurtful brutal memories that are coming back into my life now. My therapist says once it was spoken it got absorbed in my memory and now it will stay there for my life. It sucks, and hurts cause I don’t know who I am anymore. I have lost friends over the years with this crap. My therapist has given me some tools to help me out, but so far not working.

    San - April 16, 2017 Reply

    Hi! I feel your pain and wish i could hug that child in you, you are not alone i do the same like depresive witch i loved in my life, im 37 and mess, i would say programmed wrong! Just remember love that you give to your kids and i wish it get better one day….. Im sending you my tears ……

      Mike - May 5, 2017 Reply

      I wish someone would call my mother, and tell her to stop tormenting me. I did not ask to be born, and it is not my fault that I look like my father that I have never seen.

      For 41yrs I have been a good son to my mother, I never ask for anything and did not receive anything from her other than criticism.

      No I am struggling to with my own daughter. Since I am no longer with her mother for reasons similar to the reasons why my mother is no longer with my father.
      At least my daughter knows that I love her through my actions.

      Love of a woman is a very powerful thing, it can make or break a man.
      When I mother fails to love her son, it can totally break you no matter how strong or successful you are.

      The older I get the harder it is for me to contain my feelings. Especially when your mother fully supports your step brothers and sisters regardless of all the negative things they put her through.

      She only come round once every couple of years to bring criticism, then goes off again making sure that you are derailed.

      She feels the need to be begged by her son.
      She probably ruined or tried to ruin my father, which is why I do not know him.
      I just do not know how someone could hate so much.
      Forcing me to your some interest in the death of my siblings father, whom I only knew briefly as a child.
      I wasn’t even allowed to play with my siblings when I live with them.

      It’s a shame that I did so much to make sure my mother had a peace of mind, and helped her when she became a single parent.

      She would even throw birthday parties for my siblings and not invite me.

      Anyone who says to forget and move on, will need to live through this before opening there mouth.

        R - July 2, 2017 Reply

        I am sorry you had to go through that. A mother is responsible to care and love their children unconditionally. Unfortunately this is almost similar to my dad’s past. His mom doesn’t care to call. He used to willingly go over her house to help her out and her fiance with things. Even though he worked long hours everyday he would do it. His brothers (step) and sisters could care less yet the mom calls them more often instead. They don’t visit or call us. It’s sad because they have grandchildren whom they didn’t even got to see them grow up. It’s their loss. I agree you’ll never get over it. How could you? That’s really selfish for a parent to give up on their child. Be there for your girl. We shouldn’t repeat the same cycle. Sucks.

    S - April 17, 2017 Reply

    Lorraine, you need a new therapist. Someone who tells you you can’t heal is not helping you. There are ways to change your internal ‘script’. Please, get a second opinion.

    Maggie - April 22, 2017 Reply

    Lorraine, I’ve just read your story and i am in a very similar situation​, though i have just left my second husband. Can i recommend two books for you to read? I started with Hold Me Tight by Dr Sue Johnson which will help enormously with your relationship with your husband. I wish I’d read it years ago as it would have saved my marriage. Then i went on to read Learning to Love Yourself by Gay Hendricks. This is the way to heal yourself. It can only come from you, no one else. Be kind to yourself and even just read the reviews of these books to see how many people have been helped by them. I wish you a happy, contented life. It is more than achievable x

    Kay - June 15, 2017 Reply

    Hi. I can relate to all that has been said…my parents over very abusive and my life used to be miserable….then recently I found meditation to be very helpful. It actually teaches you to get rid of all your unnecessary thoughts. It really works….I have been doing this for more than a year now…
    Pls have a look…

Robin - February 7, 2017 Reply

Growing up slapped and constantly screamed at….for nothing…..she had too many kids(underfoot in kitchen and never taught us how to cook) and a drunken husband…..Wait till your father gets home I wished he never would…….when I moved out at 15 he never came home again….tearing up our entire house, before he just left. because I had moved out….I hated him soo much and feel the anger towards my mother she was exactly the same as him except not drunk, always…when times got rough she picked up anything she could to smak the sense out of me….fly swatters, shoes..wooden spoons….grounding forever and a day she injured her hand severely he he he ..I never got to tell them what I felt…my dad is gone now….never knew him and till the end always, still told me how to behave and embarrassed me in public….He was the one when he did get home……I had to pick the belt, in which i chose to be hit with….placing my hands on my butt to not hurt me and saying this will hurt me more than it will hurt you…I could not even cry any more…I hated him soo much…..I am glad he is gone but I would like to talk to my mom. but she is getting up there and I do not think that would help…..I can do this myself…getting over the hate by thanking god he is dead…..cancer……he deserved it…….only good die young….In the end my child was never hit…a very well behaved child..he got spoiled that was not good either , now when I see him disciplining his own children I cringe and have to walk away because he will not listen now for he is an adult…..makes me sick…so no win win here……but the fact of thinking what they went through….makes me shudder they never talked about it….I know they had hard lives…..back then every thing was….enough for now……feeling positive knowing there are soo many of us…..boomers!!!!!!!

Lyla - January 8, 2017 Reply

I develop PTSD after I’m being pressured someone I don’t love by my mother. Months of forced sex, and pressured obligations to my manipulative husband make me having so many panic attack and social anxiety. I know one of the reason of my marriage failures are because I can’t accept love as easily as other people being emotionally neglected children, and my husband can’t accept that I’m not ready yet in this marriage so he tried using my parents to controlled me. I’m 7 months pregnant right now and I am hiding in my parents house from him, because my therapist told them I need to be away from him. Yet my parents still told me that I’m only getting worse from avoiding him. I tried to tell them that I’m scared of him, they dictate my feelings that is not what I felt. I’m not scared, I’m just hateful they said. They told me that I’m avoiding responsibilities, when I know they just basically told me to shut my mouth.
For information, I already used all the strategy above long before my anxiety get worse. I even told them I considered suicide because I feel like I can’t escape. They said they feel betrayed by me. I told them repeatedly that I’m not blaming them (for forcing me into this marriage), yet they said they feel hurt because what I’m feeling. They even threatened to not speak to me again ever, because they’ll be at fault anyway. I’m crying, hyperventillating, my panic attack comeback and no one even tried to comfort me. They, including my husband, all put their back against me, telling my relatives, my friends, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles how immature and selfish I am. I have no one. My therapist never come again, she is a volunteered therapist. My parents won’t pay a cent for me finding therapist moreover to help me getting divorce. I wish I’m broken completely and going insane because my sanity right now becoming a cursed that my parents using against me.
Right now I can’t even speak up. I’m always afraid, saying wrong things again and being accused by them. Having to face my mother crying because apparently I’m always hurting her with my selfishness. Blames me, blame my ‘hateful’ feeling against my husband. Every time I tried to say something how I feel, they always cut me off and saying that’s not what I feel. In the end I can’t speak up anymore, and now they said that I’m just getting worse and I need to face that what I’m feeling is wrong. I need to face my husband and asked him for forgiveness. I need to repent and pray every minute for my sins. I can’t even form words coherently, and keep saying, “but I’m scared… I’m scared…”
They don’t believe me. They won’t believe my husband capable of making me traumatized. They said they will be my side when I’m facing my husbands family, but I know my parents. What concern them the most is their images and they won’t let me speak up honestly about what I feel if they don’t approve it. I will be beaten like rags if this happen. Can’t speak. They will correct every words that come out from my mouth, making me feeling helpless. I can’t get out, I can’t escape. I’m financially dependent on them and heavily pregnant right now. I have zero friends that can help me. And there’s no woman rights association near my place. Even though there’s one, I can’t reach out to them because my parents job depend on their images, and I can broken my family lifeline if I uncovered what happen to me. I wish I’m losing my sanity soon.

    Liam Smith - January 21, 2017 Reply

    Their got to be a way were you can get government help or financial aid from the government to get out of that house in general . You don’t have to put up with that crap , your feelings are valid and are what make you you . Your feelings are true and should be respected fully . Family love is tough espically when your not getting the respect and validation that you deserve aswell as the care and support, I mean fuck me their your family they should respect and love you unconditionally . And if they don’t then you shouldn’t give into the attack from others to love and care and resoet who you are . It’s hard with the money side of things because it’s just another thing that keeps you locked in and trapped because the thought of going out on your own can be extremely daunting and over whelming not to mention your having a beautiful baby that will some day be so proud of his or her mommy . I wish all the best for you because I know how it feels I have had something very similar going on in my life and it can be scary and overwhelming and it can really make you feel like your going insane like crazy were it’s like your feelings, needs ,goals and emotIons don’t seem to have any value or like are not respected even by the people you thought you could trust and love the most . It makes me so angry and frustursted to think that someone has to feel guilty about being them and having their own emotions . Makes me sick . I wish all the best for you and hope that you finally realise that you are not going crazy and that it’s okay to have needs and to respect and validate your own feelings and that it’s okay not to be okay and that you got to stick up for self , if you can stick up for self that’s a big sign of self love because that means that your showing you Self that your worth it that you don’t actually need anyone else to stick up for you you can do it yourself , and when you do that it’s like it hits home with everything inside because it’s like for a very long time I actually believe and know that I am worth it that I can protect myself and I value myself enough to speak up and care for who I am because I am worth it and I’m lovable and worthy of respect and love and care and support .

      San - April 16, 2017 Reply

      It sound like india where they push females into merriage, you have to get to money and run, do not back! Leave all negativity who care about they image, save yourself, wish you the luck….

      Ali - July 23, 2017 Reply

      OMGoodness, this site is great. I am 57, and JUST realizing the damage is set in my head, like brainwashing. I feel I am strong, but it got me. I have 2 animals that I adore, and pouring my love and care into them and delighting in their happiness has helped a lot. But, I now too late at 57 realize that my success factor had been severely damaged by bad hurtful awful parenting, they purposely tried to ruin me, and all along as a child I thought I could fix them and help them and that they just didn’t understand, but meant well. What a cute sweet child I was, lol. Every success I made, which was great then as I was , I realize now, up against a never failing wall with them, was great, and I knew how great it was to get a success, but I got punished for every one, every single one! My whole llife growing up was punishments for things I never knew why! I would beg to know why and tell them I want to fix what I did wrong, but I couldn’t unless I knew what to fix! I got punished more, for “lying” about it, I was so hurt and scared and my butt hurt so bad from being spanked with something naked, I was scared out of my mind. I think just being in school around people helped a lot, and I always thought I would be OK, because I felt like a peaceful strong warrior inside, but no, it got me. Now my finances are ruined, and I am trapped by an abusive boyfriend who won’t let me make enough to get away, and well he is in my house in my name in my responsibility, which he slowly destroys too, and I have been forced to think of suicide, but don’t want to, it’s not good to have to think it is the only option because I don’t have enough money to live, taxes are due and I have no money to pay, house needs fixing, and my bf yells at me to fix, but no money to pay, and he won’t work! Tells me I spend too much time playing with my animals and should be working all the time. He won’t let me love him, like normal, and I tried with him so hard. He was at first so loving and caring I thought I found the man of the world. But no, it was a con, and now I am stuck. What do I do. I need money to ask him to move out, and I don’t know what to do. He has to stay until I get enough money to live normal. I think it’s too late for me. I always thought I was strong enough to make it, and now realize that awful background had a hold on me like an invisible force getting in the way of success. No family or friends to lean on. Just God, and when you get scared, God doesn’t work really well either cause my brain is full of fear and scarcity. I thought I was strong. Oh and because I am so kind and giving and loving, and naive, people think I am stupid and deserve bad treatment, and or can’t stand the sweetness, so no one likes me for that. I guess it’s too obivious how naive I am and vulunerable, it makes people want to find something wrong with me and attack me. I don’t even care about people misunderstanding me except for the emotional trauma I have to process through to find that good place again, but my money is gone. I am not ready to leave the planet because of that. Does anyone know of anything anywhere to reach out for help to get over this closed door bridge,? I work very hard, my house is a mess as I don’t have time to do housework, and work all the time. I get yelled at for that too. I am starting to fall apart, and don’t feel I should have to because of circumstances, that have gotten out of control. Any advice will be helpful…I am working on asking God to transform my mind to think and be super successful to bring in more money so I can jumpstart my life, God knows I am willing to work more than any human should to do it, so what gives? I am sure several people out there feel the same as I do. Thankyou for your help, and may the best come to each and every one of you. My parenets hated me because I had gifts and my dad didn’t want me to be born, so he told everyone in the family he would have nothing to do with me, and he didn’t, but he also hurt me terribly all the way till i moved out and told me to my face over and over, I will make sure you never succed at anything, no relationship, no career, no nothing! Why did he do this, I was so sweet kind and giving and knew in my heart as a child they were lost and I tired to help them. Not till in my fifties did I realize by looking back, how they really did try to hurt me and ruin me, and that that programming gets in the background of your head and seems to override you somehow, weird, yet even though I push forward in a loving kind manner which is who I am and I am not even needy, just trying, I guess I don’t have the tools wisdom and knowledge to do it! Any thing by anyone will save me, ty Oh, and my brother tried to beat me up all the time, so when I hit back my mother punished me severly, and he continued to beat me up and I could do nothing. I guess I am screwed up, but I know inside we can overcome and I am trying real hard, what is the secret guys? I have 3 brothers I am eldest, two brothers adult and grown will always live at home, never moved out in northern callifornia and they are well cared for. Another brother married has children and lives on his own. I can’t visit as I don’t have enough money to stop working or relax and let people over here, I am so trapped. How do we abused make extra money? I can’t get therapy. I am a wonderful person and value that, but success is too hard now. I no loner have a car and rely on abusive boyfriends, but it is a risky ride for sure and he yells at me if I ask him to fix something. Help!

    Margo Healy - March 20, 2017 Reply

    Hi Lyla…
    I’m Margo, and just read your post from January 8, 2017. I hear you and feel for you. My story is different but a lot of what you’re feeling I too have felt. Images, others twisting your words, not listening or hearing you, no friends, support …I wish I could find you and be a friend and support you! I pray, so I will pray for God’s protection and healing be around you always.

      Wakeisha favors - March 23, 2017 Reply

      My moms says alot of hurtful stuff about me .how should i handle it

        Sam Das - May 6, 2017 Reply

        My father was angry and now my mother tell us to leave our house because father is short tempered what will I do I have to leave our house and also my school which I really don’t want to leave. In that way What should I do ? Is there is no other way to stop this?

Kira - December 3, 2016 Reply

Sibling conflict, selfish and neglectful parents, tell me about it. Those are in my life. I’m student who is taking care of my mother while my brothers are working, partying, building family in god knows where. While I don’t mind taking care of her since I’m student, do have time, I’m really starting to hate my brothers. Main problem in our family is my mother’s selfishness, her general attitude that I’m not one who is doing nothing! Hello, Who is taking care of your needs?(from making tea to cleaning after her, etc) But no, it’s my brothers who visits once in month are angels who are doing everything in our family while I’m just your house keeper(maybe she thinks of me lower than that, who knows) Well, thank you maybe next time you say get out to me, remember who is the one who stays with your unreasonable self.
Sorry for rant. Had to get it out of my chest.
Yes, my life recently became some kind of drama or prison for me. My parents pressured me to help them, especially my mother needs help since she got some kind of liver sickness( I don’t even care anymore about its name). Selfishness of my mother has no boundary. She hates me, then she needs me.*sigh* And apples of her eyes are not here to take care her. Well my brothers always gets anything from her while no mather what I do, I’m always at fault. I even changed my university to care her under her orders. But she just hates me more, then she tell me make dinner.My grandmother hates my mother and their grandmother hates them. I think it’s some kind of circle where they all don’t like their daughters.
And I decided that I won’t have children(especially girl) in future. I won’t let this monstrous history repeat itself.

    anon - December 11, 2016 Reply

    Leave that bitch . Then she might realise all you did for her . You are free to leave at any point . You don’t owe her anything . It was her choice to give birth to you , not yours . Get the hell out of there and enjoy your life .

    Suzanne Rogers - January 2, 2017 Reply

    Damn, I understand what ur going through. Ive experienced the same thing with my mother throughout my life….I really think it has to do w/her selfishness (duh!) along with her JEALOUSY (towards you)…& you can never win against this! I’m now 50 and still battling against my Bros/Sis who still live in the small town we were born/raised in – (while I moved to a larger City years ago)….and I continue to hear how “they are ALL there for her” – except me – who’s SELFISH and moved away! ARGH! Im sick of hearing this as I’m NOT A SELFISH PERSON! IT’S JEALOUSY!!!!! its her problem!!! Please do as Im doing and see a therapist as you HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE A HAPPY LIFE – No matter where u choose to live!!
    You also have a right to have a feeling of SELF-WORTH!!!! 🙂

    Anthony - January 20, 2017 Reply

    You are definitely correct and you need to say to yourself Kara, you and I have been friends for a long time but you let everyone else come before me Kara. Kara I will take care of your now and you are number 1. The hell with other people. Kara you are now number 1!

    Suzanne - April 6, 2017 Reply

    I think it must be some sort of Jealousy that these mothers (& my own!) felt for US personally for some reason….
    my 3 other sisters & 3 brothers think “I’m crazy for saying this stuff about mom” as they don’t remember her being mean & condescending to them!!
    There IS such a thing as mother/daughter jealousy (where one female child in particular is targeted because they’re different than the others (usually more attractive than the others & Mom) & SMARTER than all….
    I’m thinking this is the situation I’ve been in with my mother as she never picked-on my other 3 sisters- and yet I was the one that was always punished grounded etc. from going to family functions because I was the “naughty child”.
    ( it was different and have my own opinions and thoughts where as my three sisters only thought with my mother wanted them to think and that pissed her off as she’s very narcissistic )……
    By the way I bet you’re the most attractive woman in the family too??!!!
    (I was/am and I feel my mother held that against me too as she never once told me I was pretty or beautiful as a woman )…
    ( but I’ve heard her tell my other sisters “oh you’re so pretty just like mom”… lol)…
    My advice to you is move out start making a life of your own!
    Don’t let your mom make you feel guilty and by the way I’m sure your brothers will also make you feel guilty as mine have to when I move 1200 miles away (when I was 20 years old).
    Just do it!! … maybe in a few years you can actually have a decent conversation with your brothers and maybe they will actually listen and hear you and even try to understand where you’re coming from… Maybe .
    I sincerely wish you the best!!! 🙂

    jg - April 7, 2017 Reply

    You have to understand that you will never, ever, win this one. Ever. You will always be the heavy, the bad guy, but if you act sooner rather than later you there’s still a way out for you. Tell everyone, everyone in your family that you are not going to do it anymore and then make sure you follow through. They’ll never understand, call you bad names, think worse names but if you have any sense of self worth get the eff out of that situation and let your siblings take over.

    Jen - September 8, 2017 Reply

    My mother is exactly the same! She does this for power. She’s acknowledging others around you and purposely not giving you the same recognition to keep you down (in your place). It’s sick, twisted and childish logic. She is jealous. She feels threatened by any accomplishments you have. I had to go minimal contact with my mother. We don’t talk. I haven’t seen her since my father died (3 years ago). She has been fine with this. She doesn’t have any interest in me or my life. She hasn’t asked me a single personal question about me or my life in over 8 years. She just talks about herself when I do see or hear from her. It’s really hard to go no contact, but it can and should be done for your own mental health.

depressed girl - November 29, 2016 Reply

I feel so bad to say I suffer from CEN. But I took the quiz and answered yes to pretty much everything. My parents gave me so much. On the outside I would look like a spoiled person who needs to grow up and get over myself. But I have been in emotional pain and felt alone in it. My mom would say things like “it’s not that bad, get over it, your feelings are wrong/inaccurate, you’re too sensitive ” etc. I’ve told her before how those statements messed me up but she repeats them anyway. My dad has spent his life working hard making making money but not that aware of my day to day life experience. He was busy providing for the family. Sometimes I feel like nobody knows me. They say they love me and care, but I don’t feel it. When you open up and are responded to with judgment, invalidated, etc. then after a while it’s like Why bother…It just feels abusive. My mom wants to be all close but how can you be close when someone says those hurtful things? I’m so hard on myself and feel disconnected a lot. Everyone wants me to” snap out of it.” I’m pretty sure I have CEN but have trouble validating it…Everyone else in my family seems fine and dandy so it’s confusing. I question myself a lot. I used to just trust myself…It seems society is not emotionally healthy. People drug themselves up and numb themselves out, running away from their pain. Maybe it’s because of CEN. I hope future society can be more healthy emotionally. I’m grateful for this book. I’m working on tuning in to how air feel. But I still get overwhelmed in it. I have trouble with the action part. I want to be able to express what I’m feeling but feel worse when I share my feelings. I guess journaling will have to do for now. Sometimes I think I’m insane and I just want to find another human being who understands me. Maybe that’s too much to ask. I even went to a therapist but still don’t feel understood. I wonder if anyone reading here feels like me. I feel lost in the world like I don’t belong anywhere and everyone else is happy and normal. (Fatal flaw?) I learned I’m an hsp too so I feel everything more deeply. I feel so much emotional pain and no one else understands it. Especially after CEN and learning how it possibly affected me. I’m just venting and feel better after writing all this. Maybe my comment will help someone idk. But I still feel guilty saying I have CEN. I’ve been given so much…Who am I to complain?

    Tina - December 4, 2016 Reply

    I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling this way but I can assure you you’re not alone!I grew up with a single mom and a dad who was not in my life at all so all I really had was my mom but I think maybe because of how she was brought up it made her bitter or maybe she didn’t know any other way how to be? But when we were growing up i feel like maybe she was bi polar or something because some days she just seemed to hate us and we didn’t even know why and I think that can really mess you up as a person. . I guess what I can suggest to you is to console and try and find other people around you who really do understand who you are and love you for you because trust me they are out there! Sometimes we can’t help the families we are born into but we can pick our friends and they become our family, I know in a huge world it’s very easy to feel alone and misunderstood but I think people feel that way because we are all different 🙂 and that’s awesome! Trust me your not alone and there’s nothing wrong with feeling deeper than people because that just means you love deeper and feel happiness stronger 🙂 if you ever need to talk or share your feelings don’t hesitate to reach out!

      depressed girl - February 19, 2017 Reply

      Hey, thanks for the encouragement! I agree I need to go out and find more friends. I know there are nice people out there who will “get” me (can’t lose hope lol). If I just keep following my path!

    Marie - December 21, 2016 Reply

    You are not insane and you are not alone. I envy my friends who have selfless parents. I always wished for a Mumsy Mum. A mum who calls me and asks how I’m getting on without making it all about herself. She see’s no wrong in breaking down in front of me, never encouraged me with homework or school, uni, driving et. Didn’t care if I stayed out all night when I was a teen and says ”I give you freedom because of my strict upbringing”
    Living with emotional neglect is horrific. Some years my Mum would just ”cancel Christmas”
    Most of the time I would cry and just repeatedly say I needed a cuddle. She wasn’t all bad, of course. But she was certainly inconsistent and is still not genuinely interested in my emotions.

    Suzanne Rogers - January 2, 2017 Reply

    Please see my response to Kira…I’m not sure if it’ll help you, but even tho I wasn’t raised “with a silver spoon in my mouth” (as it sounds like u were), WE ALL DESERVE TO BE HEARD AND VALIDATED AS HUMANS!!! 🙂

    Becky - January 14, 2017 Reply

    Hi. Sorry to read your message. I’m also in a similar boat as you, so can understand fully. My parents have given me so much too, but not been there emotionally. My sibling is a match of my parents and is following in their showey lifestyle. Such a long story. In brief whenever I speak up to them about my emotional needs, they go into victim mode & i’m made to feel guilty. Feel in a sad and lonely place. So difficult to validate, I agree.

    Jen - January 27, 2017 Reply

    Sounds like you are all daughters of narcissistic mothers. I am one too. Their cruelty is beyond belief! Google “daughters of narcissistic mothers” and you’ll get lots of helpful sites.

    Emer - February 2, 2017 Reply

    I feel the same. Your parents sound similar to mine. I am 25, have 4 siblings and I seem the be the only one feeling this way.

    You can email me if you would like someone to talk to.

      depressed girl - February 19, 2017 Reply

      Thank you and everyone else for the support! It means a lot…And to one of the previous commenters, I don’t come from a rich family at all. They are just super hard workers! I feel guilty even posting my first comment on here. My life hasn’t been very horrible at all (some people come from constant hellish situations)…still, the book helped me. Emotionally, things weren’t always perfect, and I can relate to some things in the book. Even if no one else in the family agrees with me, I don’t care! How your parents treated you emotionally, affects how you learn to treat yourself. And sometimes I didn’t treat myself in healthy ways. I abandoned myself! Stuffed my feelings, judged my feelings, didn’t know how to speak up for myself. Let myself be treated badly. No boundaries. Felt powerless. Waiting to be rescued, validated, for people to respond how I wanted, etc. Had trouble asking for help, felt scared of judgment, etc. Felt unprepared for adulthood and didn’t know how to meet my needs. The important thing is awareness and learning from it. Can’t go back but moving forward I have a beautiful life ahead and going to make the best of it…pain can give us more compassion for others in pain and desire to heal the world. If we want to be happy then we need to honor how we feel and do something about it. And accept that we’re good enough! Also holding onto resentment forever is unhealthy & in my case they also say they never meant to hurt me so yeah.

    Eve Dyson - February 6, 2017 Reply

    Want to let you know i relate immensely and you are not alone <3
    All of you reading this, we are better than this, the fact we even googled this, its time to let go of could of been..and move forward with our OWN lives! Its short its OURS and fuck the rest!

      depressed girl - February 19, 2017 Reply

      Seriously great comment. I have a tendency to think about “what could have been” & it can leave me feeling hopeless and powerless. Time to move forward with my life warts and all. And stop expecting a knight in shining armor to come in my window and rescue me. He’s more likely to show up if I’m out in the world living my divine light and finding fulfillment in my day to day life. Success isn’t about being perfect. Success is learning from mistakes, pain, etc. and continuing to move forward and create something beautiful! Or we can choose to waste our lives away constantly complaining about everything that went wrong.

    jg - April 7, 2017 Reply

    I am you.

    Ede - May 3, 2017 Reply

    It sounds very similar to my experience growing up – my dad worked a lot and never paid real attention what’s going on in our lives, my mom also and we didn’t lack money or food or anything, but emotionally I felt so alone most of the time. I’m also as you a person who takes (took) every negative comment/confrontations/situations and people in general very sensitively and when I tried to deal with it and asked for help from my mom got the same answers – get over it, don’t pay attention, don’t be so sensitive and felt so stupid for even feeling this way. So never truly learned how to deal correctly with my emotions because in a way they were never allowed in our family (if someone tried to talk about some serious stuff or how they felt, everybody felt too uncomfortable and always changed the theme of conversation to something unimportant, so serious emotional hard aches were never truly addressed.
    Ok my parents probably didn’t know how to do it because now I can see how fucked up and emotionally constipated they were in their own way and therefore couldn’t teach me, but at the same time this trips me all the time in life – I get frustrated and guilty that “oh boohoo little spoiled girl didn’t get enough hugs from her mommy you don’t know the real struggles people have to overcome in life…” and also it prevents me from really enjoying life and enjoying others company because I always feel that eventually people will see that I’m stuck and not one of those “normal” ones and will run for their lives:) Some don’t, at least not yet, but I really do feel that being CEN gave me a lot of unnecessary struggles and sometimes living still feels like reinventing a bike all by yourself over and over.

      Lucy - May 7, 2017 Reply

      Ede, your reply is exactly how I feel too. How do you cope with it may I ask? As it now affects me with friends and potential relationships as I feel they’re going to see I’ve got these issues that have seriously affected me.

        Ede - May 23, 2017 Reply

        Hey Lucy, I wish I could tell you that I cope in this sophisticated and grown up manner with it all, but honestly I don’t. I go in and out of depression (though I guess I suffer more from anxiety and depression is it’s companion); sometimes I isolate myself from others and limit my interactions with people as much as possible; each day I have to remind myself that it’s ok to feel anger, or frustration or love or shame or sadness and because I’m feeling it doesn’t mean that I’m a bad/shameful person; sometimes I use food as my calming agent (when I’m too tired of feeling everything all at once, it does help for a short time and then it never really does because of the shame that comes afterwards). But at the same time I’m lucky that I found one friend with whom I can be everything (sad, angry, happy, frustrated and all) and we can talk about it and it helps tremendously the feeling that somebody takes me the way I am (doesn’t matter how ugly and fucked up). Even if it’s just one person in my whole world. With others (my family and other friends) it’s a constant frustration that I have to be just a certain way and if I’m not and I act somehow not like usual self (pretending to be “normal”) they all freak out and make me feel like I’m some kind of freak (which can turn on my self isolation cycle and make my anxiety levels go through the roof), on those days it helps to remind myself that it’s ok not to be ok (I bet this line is from a song:)) and that I’m a person of many things not just the ones that people think are acceptable and nice, because we all are freaks in our own way, just some are better at pretending (and especially with themselves).
        On bad days I think about the thing that my beloved friend told me once – that even if everything all feels (relationships or life in general) like a burned down house and all is left are ashes there is always the possibility to build something new in it’s place, you don’t have to live all your life just walking through ashes. I know, it’s a bit philosophical mambo-jambo but still it feels great to hold on to hope that life can be good too. And if that doesn’t help – I go on the internet and remind myself that I’m not alone, that there are people that feel exactly the way I feel.

    Lucy - May 7, 2017 Reply

    I was reading all the comments and some sort of related to me but your comment I related to 100%. I understand how you feel as I feel exactly the same way. On the outside it looks like I’ve had a lovely childhood and got things I’ve wanted but the emotional side isn’t there. I get told to “get over it” on a regular basis and get told I’m aggressive a lot when it’s just me trying to express the way I feel. I told my mum I don’t like it when she calls me aggressive and it affects my mind and the way I perceive myself but she still says it. Honestly everything you said I feel and I’m so happy to come across your comment because I tried to speak to other family members or close friends and no one really gets it. I feel each thing that happens in my house just gets me more and more down. It’s a constant struggle between meaning well and being an emotional person looking for approval in others and wanting that emotional love and suppprt that isn’t there and facing the realisation that it will never be there. But thank you for your comment it really is exactly how I feel so I now know someone else feels the way I do and doesn’t just put me down as a “spoiled brat”. I struggle to put how I feel into words so you’ve just cleared my mind a bit for me.

    AS - May 23, 2017 Reply

    Depressed Girl,

    Wow this hits home. I too came from a family where on the surface appeared to have everything. But growing up I never felt that my parents wanted me around…there was little interest in anything I did or who I was. My younger brother was the focus and the golden child. It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I realized how devastating this lack of love or even regard really was. I lack confidence, trust, and constantly second guess myself. I feel like a fraction of a person. I worry about everything and go in and out of depression. I did choose to tell them about my feelings but they refuse to admit or even show empathy for how I feel. The hardest part is that the dynamic continues…they rarely contact me or my daughter who live near them but continue to dote on my younger brother who is hours away. Our family is not close. My older brother feels the same way I do and does not speak to them or our brother. I have told my parents that their behavior has divided the family and as a parent myself, I don’t understand how you could withhold love from a child. No response. It’s hard to accept their coldness but I need to get to a better place for myself and my family.

      GrowingStronger - August 15, 2017 Reply

      I have such a similar story to AS and to depressed girl in that I lived in a nice neighborhood growing up, we went on a vacation yearly, I went to a private school and I always had food and clothes etc. so who am I to complain?? This image of a great family is probably what kept this dark secret of an emotionally empty family hidden for so long. Like you AS, I realized something wasn’t right after having my first baby. He’s now almost 3 and his entire life has been a roller coaster for me regarding coming to terms with my childhood. I was always told I was an infant who cried SO much for 3 months straight. Well when I had my son my mom told me to let my 11 day old cry while he was sitting in his baby swing- he will learn to self soothe she’d say. Well I scooped up that baby anyways and he needed a clean diaper. Then she told me to leave him in wet diapers- the diapers are designed to pull moisture away from his skin she said. I changed that baby anyways and put him back in his swing where he was content again. She told me not to hold him so much because he would get used to me holding me. Well I did ignore her and some of my fondest memories are snuggling in bed early in the morning with my baby, putting him on the wrap and taking walks. I naturally gave him the things that he needed, that I neglected to even get as a baby I assume. Since then I have done so much thinking. I’ve found an amazing therapist after having not such good luck with others. Through this I found my mom likely has narcissistic personality disorder and my dad is the enabling father. I’ve had countless flashbacks to my childhood and I now look back and think how could she do that to me if she loved me like I truly love my child. How could my dad have allowed that? My parents were only aware of the physical side of raising a child. My emotions were stifled. I am lucky to have 1 good friend who is a true friend and knows a lot of what I’ve dealt with. But I have had far more “friends” who were not real friends at all because I grew up accustomed to settling for less and accepting people who don’t give an F about my feelings since that’s how I was raised. My whole goal in life is to not allow my children (I’m due any day now with #2) to be hurt like I have been. Yes my parents do care about me, but they do what’s convenient and if being there for me isn’t convenient 100% for them, they aren’t. It’s a lack of support that is so hard as I am raising my own family now. I see friends and acquaintances who have that support, and it hurts knowing I wont ever have it. but it’s also one of the things that opened up my eyes. My mom is stuck so far up her mothers ass (probably still seeking the approval she has never received in her life due to what I have dissected as a messed up childhood also lacking in empathy- probably more so than mine). If my grandmother needs something the rest of us are chopped liver. And that’s always how it’s been and was considered normal growing up. But I now know it’s not normal to put the needs of your parent above the needs of your children. My grandmother cooks, cleans, drives etc. and my mom bends over backwards for her, even if I need her more. In turn, my mother expects me and my siblings to worry about her needs before our own often. She will be surprised and let down when I don’t do that ever and I instead prioritize my children. I am one of 3 adult kids and I am the only one who thinks anything is truly wrong. My brother is the golden child and I am the scapegoat so I guess being hurt enough wakes you up. My brother can be enjoyable to be with at times, but he’s emotionally empty. My sister is a lost soul. She can validate when I am hurt but she can’t put the pieces together. She has similar type “friends” as I’ve had.
      So wow this got way longer than I wanted as I am doing some self therapy after being hurt again (maybe it will help someone reading this) and typing out things while reading about others experiences. Most recently my mom planned a family vacation, knowing I am pregnant, and planned it for when I was less than a month away from delivering and unable to travel. She acted like an ignorant idiot when I was like well I can’t go. She booked it when my aunt (her sister and she’s also up her ass) and my grandmother could go. And she “invited” me after it was all booked, deposits paid. She claims she had no idea I couldn’t travel this far along. Well bottom line is that if you wanted me to come you’d have planned with me and your only grandchild, And asked when I could go. But as my husband reminds me- would I REALLY want to be on vacation with her? She’s not fun to be around. He is SO right. She’s so hard to be around.
      Anyways, Nothing can replace the love and affection you need as a child. My childhood was void of affection. And it hurt me a lot. so after most recently being hurt (again) I have decided I just need to permanently lower my expectations. I have given them chance after chance. They have very, very occasionally come through and then I get my hopes up. But no more. I will try instead to keep my space and only allow them into my life in limited amounts. And I need to protect and love my children in a way I never was.

        GrowingStronger - August 15, 2017 Reply

        Also one more thing to add that has hit me hard is that I have very few memories (like I can barely count on 1 hand) of my parents telling me they love me, giving me hugs or kisses. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things really as I hug and kiss my child everyday and can’t tell him I love him enough. Just because you buy your kids stuff doesn’t mean you truly love them, and that’s the only way my parents showed me affection. Kids need to be shown affection and love and have their emotions validated. Otherwise you grow up and find yourself in therapy and on online boards. One more thing for people to look into is that it’s common for adult children raised like all of us to have health problems. I just found this out recently. Both my sister and I have autoimmune disorders. My brother had back surgery at 26 (golden children are also far from “okay”) and doctors could not explain his reasoning for needing it (no accident or anything) but he was barely able to move for months. My dad (while part of the problem) was also raised in a seriously emotionally neglectful home (his mother abandoned them as children) and he also has an autoimmune disorder. I know cardiac issues as well as other health problems can arise from being raised like this. So if you’re reading this please look into it because it was eye opening for me. It’s a huge link and explains why I was so sick in my 20s. It can mean that the distance you may create from these kinds of parents can actually improve your physical health.

Christina - November 24, 2016 Reply

My mom was a single mother of 3 kids all around the same age and although I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her it’s still extremely hard now for me as an adult to understand her behaviour now that all her children are pushing 30, she barely speaks to any of us. My brother and sister both just had babies within the last 2 years and she doesn’t even really seem that interested, I live in a completely different country than my family and never hear a word from my mom unless I initiate conversation, she can’t even pick up the phone to text me or go on Skype and message me, on Monday this week I messaged her asking about family information and to say I miss her and love her and I still haven’t heard anything back yet and it’s Friday 🙁 I don’t have a dad and she’s the only parent I have and I don’t even really feel like I have her, it really hurts my feelings as it just feels like she doesn’t care and would rather do literally anything else but message me, another sad fact, I’ve been out of the house for 10 years and she’s probably only called me once or twice in all those years..I know she loves me I just wish she would show it, my brother and sister feel the same thank goodness for them or I would feel so alone. I feel like if I spoke to my mom about this she would get offended and I’d here from her even less..

Laura - November 17, 2016 Reply

I grew up with everything i needed to survive. There was no reason for me to think i had a story or a bad experience. It happened to others. But not me.

Then in 2014 i fell pregnant. During that 9 months i went on a roller coaster of emotions towards my parents. Suddenly it hit me how they were difficult. They tried to stop me finding out the sex of my baby and went grumpy when i did. They told me my 4d scan was a waste of money. The rest of my pregnancy i took in my dads sarcastic comments and my mums negative comments and realised all my life they had behaved that way. They were difficult. They never visit our houses but soon moan if we dont go around. On the rare occasion they do come around they grumble about the garden or housework not being to their standards. My mum is emotionally cold. Ive never seen her shed a tear. She has never kissed or hugged us. If i cry Infront of her she carries on cleaning. Never have i had a heart to heart with her. No praise is ever given. I genuinely feel like my parents talk about us behind our backs. They don’t like it if we do things differently to how they do. My dad calls our partners when they are out of ear shot if they have dealt with something in a way he wouldn’t of. My mum always moans about people who say love you to their kids on facebook etc. she even calls her grandkids bootiful to avoid saying beautiful.

I am trying to sort out my confidence for my 2 year olds sake. I Make sure she gets hugged and i always tell her i love her. Its so important to me that she feels comfortable and open around me and her dad

    Heather - November 24, 2016 Reply

    I was 46 and on my second child when my mind was flooded with memories of what my parents could not be bothered with when raising me but that I work tirelessly to provide for my own children. I too had sudden realizations about my parents behavior. I believe that because it was my norm at the time that I was not able to process their short comings until I was an adult. The contrast between how they responded to my emotional needs versus how I respond to my own children was stark. I think I strive to provide my children the attention and love that they deserve and I want them to know they are loved and accepted because I was not. Expense (within my means) will never be an issue if it is something they need. Gifts just because I am thinking of them are frequent. Hugs, kisses and showing up on time and being home when they need me is the norm for my children. You can be everything that you want to be for yourself and for your child. Just love them the way any child (and you) should be loved and appreciated.

    Ramal Yelloh - November 30, 2016 Reply

    Unfortunately, your parents are uneducated in the matter of parenthood. Fortunately you ARE in parenting. Take advantage of this and focus on giving your child what you’ve always wanted and never had from your parents. To me, it already sounds like you are. So there is not much more to say other than to please continue on for your children and for your future, and not worry about the past or what your parents think, say or how they feel. I know its easier said than done, but please focus on you and your child and BREAK the “chain” of bad parenting. Life is a tough one, but you can make it better. And you are! Continue on strong one! -Single Father of an angel

    Jennifer - January 27, 2017 Reply

    Google “Daughters of narcissistic mothers”. I have a NM too. Everything you described is just like her. (((Hugs)))

Tracy - October 26, 2016 Reply

At the age of 50,I was wondering why so much was flooding into my mind about how lacking my parents were when I was a child. Reading the comments here with so many similarities to my own childhood made me realize something. Now that my kids are young adults and pretty self-sufficient, I’ve got more free time to reflect.When my kids were little, my husband and I were always so busy covering all the bases of parenthood, I didn’t have time back then to notice or recall where my own parents came up short. It’s hitting me now like a ton of bricks! My father passed a few months ago which definitely has made me replay alot of stuff from my past. I also have guilt because I don’t seem sorrowful as some of my friends who lost wonderful dads. There’s this emptiness when it comes to my parents. It’s an emptiness that doesn’t exist anywhere else in my life. Unfortunately, forgiveness seems pretty far away for me. Not sure if I will ever get there. I’ve had talks with my 80 year old mom. I’ve asked her why so many things got overlooked with me and my siblings. She’s never answered with the same answer twice but at least she attempts to answer. It’s almost like she’s trying to still figure it out. So after all the searching I’ve done to find my own personal answers, the healthiest advice for me so far is…Aside from all the bad stuff, my parents gave me the greatest gift, which is life itself. I literally have to focus on the first day of my life to get over all the other bad days. The first day of my life has led me to all the wonderful things in my life, especially my husband and kids. That’s what I’m living on. To all others on this site, thank you for sharing.

    Tina Fell - December 25, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. The holidays are especially difficult to get through dealing with parents that never participated in my life. I also experienced rejection from my husbands’ parents. They were mainly self-centered and didn’t have priorities for grandchildren.
    I get really angry with both sets of parents. During the holidays it’s easiest for me just not to communicate with family. This seems drastic but has helped this year. Will I ever be able to move past this emotional scarring.

chat - October 3, 2016 Reply

It’s very sad growing up with neglectful parents. Yes, my parents worked hard but I grew up with a strict European father who showed no loving emotions, never encouraged me, was horribly negative, ignorant, and till this day when I come over he never says hello, how are you, are you okay? nothing. Would never hug me unless I give him a hug first. It’s ridiculous. The man is in his own world one hundred miles away. He’s such a religious fanatic. The only thing that mattered growing up and till this day is church, Jesus and God 24/7, obsessed with listening and watching Jimmy Swaggart all day. Growing up and in his head and every single day I was told everyday is going to be the end of the world, nothing in this world or life is good, nothing matters but God and our souls going to heaven and when I would ask his opinion about what career I should enter, it would always be that’s stupid, and dont worry the end of the world is near. Anytime I wanted to join an activity like dance or something else like the other kids oh my God, it would be the same answer that’s to worldly and again only God and Jesus mattered. Now I’m older and I realize because he didn’t want to take anytime away from his God. He came home from work miserable every day because he said he was under oppression from the devil and everyone is against him because he’s a Christian. It was sickening to the pit of hell. I went through a divorce and I’m getting back on my feet and like never before these emotions of not having my father be there and emotionally neglectful is so hard. Growing up all my friends have parents that are so supportive emotionally, sometimes financially, and most of all their very close with their families. My friends parents were so into their education, activities, and really cared about what they did with their lives. Sometimes these emotions I go through are crippling. I just want to say goodbye to them forever. I realized this years ago when I had my children that I am and always will be there for my children 100%. I praise my children every chance that I get, I’m involved in their education and thank God their honor students, I believe in every dream they have and never put them down knowing this can damage their self esteem and confidence. I may be strict and firm at times but that is to keep them away and out of trouble and I do it in a fair manner. As for my mother she’s in la la land too. She is a good mother but in her own world. She let my father spend all his free time praying for hours and hours a day and let him live in his own bubble. From when I was a little girl I would always say and I say it till this day. He should’ve never gotten married and had children. He should’ve became a monk or went to work and lock himself in his own house or apartment so he could give his God all his time.

Adrian - September 5, 2016 Reply

My parents came from a not so wealthy family and they managed to establish themselves in a good economic condition by hard work. I was never spoiled, they gave me all the economic support that a child would need (clothes, food, school, etc) and I am grateful for all that they have given me, but when it comes to emotional support, they weren’t on point. Even though my mother is telling me she loves me all the time, I don’t really feel attached to her. She means well but she only thinks that what is best for me in her own opinion and is slightly intolerant. And my father actually never really showed affection neither towards me or my brothers, at least I don’t recall him ever willing to, only when I hugged him or something like that he responded, but never came to me and said he loved me, and is brute and a lot more intolerant. During my childhood i didn’the really think about this stuff and loved them unconditionally. But recently I started to realize that a lot they missed while raising me. I realized that they never really really talked to me about emotions, life lessons and stuff, they only talked to me when there was a problem. They only said that I had to go to school, study, graduate and I would be someone in life, but never asked about what I wanted to be or do. I really am not attached to them at all and I am not comfortable at all talking to them about my life. And the thing is: is it selfish or should I feel guilty that I all I want to is move away, live on my own and never talk to them again?

    oladelesalako - September 12, 2016 Reply

    when your mother tells u she loves you she mean it but my mother is the best but my father is the worst and he is so annoying be thankful your father is better

    Mansoor - September 12, 2016 Reply

    well i grew up with ADHD and the age of 8 i got under medication. i was not going well back home i had trouble with my mother with relationship but i loved her she was my life. and so is my dad i love more than anyone in this world right now. i would yell and get angry very quickly and after i get mad at my mother very soon i realize that she just wanted the best for me. which I’m really happy for. when i was about 12 i got into a hospital not a mental one just a behavioral for about a month. i went back home and stuff still did not go well. a year and a half later i went to a theraputic boarding school in the USA which I’m pretty much done with that school and starting high school with soft therapy. and after going through my therapy for years of leaving home things are going great i have learned so much but i have gone through so much. now im almost a senior will be going to collage in a year and a half. it truly helped my relationship with my parants and siblings and all of that. so ya that is the story of my life

    annie - September 19, 2016 Reply

    Adrian, you are not selfish and the guilt will go away like it did for me! My deceased father was the abusif one, my mother the co-dependent. We were also physically abused. I also never felt attached to my mother, always feeling something was not right. Well, I finally discovered why, a few months ago. I had already gone NC in 2010 for three years after my father died. She was lost, angry and frustrated without ever talking about it. She didn’t know how to communicate, being controlled by my father. It severely affected my health. We were both very emotional, I couldn’t handle her. I had reconnected with her but now, I finally got the picture…nothing will change! She had been harassing me and using emotional blackmail because I decided to cut ties with my alcoholic brother who was absent from our lives for 35 yrs and even though he came back, he disrespected my mother, husband and myself. She will not talk about the real problems, so I’m out, enough is enough. Telling me that we were bad children. I am fine my decision. I am her scapegoat, always was, because I speak my mind and she always compares me with my other siblings and goes to them, complaining like a victim. Of course it has affected my relationship with them. I am 60 yrs old, suffered from anxiety,depression and bad relationships (with men)and went to therapy most of my life. I have unfortunately passed down my emotional neglect to my daughter. I will be concentrating on working this out with her. That is what is most important to me in my life right now! I am happily married and grandmother of two,the third on the way! Take care!

      Adrian - September 21, 2016 Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story annie, made me feel better! Best of wishes!

      Ann - October 21, 2016 Reply

      Hi Annie,

      I have a very similar problem with my mother. Although my father is still around. I am the scapegoat, and my mom runs to my siblings (she used to go to my sister when she was alive). I live with my parents, because I am disabled. I get the silent treatment, and actually still get “sent to my room”. It’s embarrassing, to say the least. I am 48 years old!

      My family was never much for hugging or welcoming my accomplishments (unless it made MOM look good, and she could brag). But behind closed doors, there was a lot of physical, mental and emotional abuse. After two failed marriages, and becoming ill, I was forced to move back in with them for lack of anywhere else to go. For that I am grateful. But she always uses that to her advantage and threatens to kick me out on the street. This stirs up my feelings of abandonment. They both treat my brothers so much more favorably. It makes me very jealous, and that makes me angry with myself, because I know that God wouldn’t want me to feel that way (it’s not my brothers fault). I wish there was a way I could address this issue and find some resolve, because I can’t continue to live this way.

      I don’t have any children, and I think they hold that against me, as well. But if I’d had children, it would have put my life at risk (I had multiple brain aneurysms which cause me to stroke and required 2 surgeries). I don’t have anyone else. It’s not as if I can move out, because I can’t afford to live on my own. Mom knows she has me “captured”. I suffer from PTSD, clinical depression, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Fibromuscular Dysplasia. She actually said I was “gaming the system” because I’m on SSDI!!! I worked over 20 years and paid into the system. I would much rather be healthy, working, and living independently. She doesn’t know how much comments like that are so insensitive to someone with invisible diseases. My sister died from lung cancer, and I think she wishes it had been me and not her, because she was close to my sister. I didn’t live close during most of my adult life, because of my career.

      She is extremely domineering, and I don’t think my father would speak out against her, knowing she is wrong, just so he doesn’t stir up her anger. She can be really mean to him, as well. All she ever does is yell at him, too. I don’t know how they managed to stay married this long! I am so terrified to post this, for fear that she may somehow see it…

      I just want some peace in my life. I want to be happy, but I really don’t think that bringing this up to them is an alternative. I try my best to be “good”, but we all know the egg sometimes cracks. And right now, as I sit in my room, there’s a mess downstair (that needs to be medicated!!!!)

    rachel - October 10, 2016 Reply

    I’m in the exact same position. My mother praised herself my entire life because she wasn’t an alcoholic like her mother (in the 80’s/90’s we didn’t realize prescription drugs were a problem). So I now realize she was never really “there”. She was drugged up all the time and I get it now. My dad was a pot head my whole life, and tho some may not see it as a drug, he was too much of a moron to fight for me. I don’t respect my parents, I’m 35 and the older I get the more I’m like, REALLY? The more you realize the worse it is. I barely see my parents and it’s for the best because feeling hate is only hurting me.

fatherless - August 15, 2016 Reply

This does not work !
Chatted to my father one day of how hard it was for me and my brother and mother growing up with out him.Before I knew it the conversation was turned upside down, He said everyone just wants and want from him , this to a child he did not call for years taken of insurance as soon as I left school God forbid anything serious happene, Whilst his FOUR stepdaughters and my stepbrother lived very comfy lives. His wife controls everything and everything is for her kids. She sees nothing wrong with it and well so does he. The last time he gave something of monetary value was after college which he did not want to pay and my mother struggled to pay . Yet everybody wants something from him…. Yes his grand step children. Yes he did pay alomony … Sometimes not and it was barely enough for a single mother to use… The fathers days my mother okd it for us not to go to church. When I was bullied he was not there . Abused by an uncle. Misused and mistreated. Now today he wants to brag about my brothers success…. Sure he would cause he expected I was not his kid and rather gymed than come to hospital…. Yet yet yet…

How can a man forget a piece of himself. How can he call himself a man and eat something whilst his bio children had scrapes or nothing , yet his sporting feternity praises him even some church folks.. Good luck to them.. The good guys aren’t anymore in church that’s why the bad guys florish there.
We could not even afford to call him.
Years after the neglect they are near retirement their house is almost empty and wow building it more cars for everyone.

I just wanted to tell him what you did wasn’t right , it hurt like hell, I struggled without you. It still hurts. Your wife was not a good lady.
See how hard I worked just to have normal folks have and that without you.

But swings it in his favour and I must just accept it not understand it but accept it.

Moved back to birthtown for a promotion did not have time for him.
One day he introduced my little brother as his son and not me … Yea a bit childish hey at 28…

We have not spoken in almost three years , he has not called my son nor seen him since my son was 1 , my son turned 4 the other day… We get a supprise call Hello its daddy How old is your son …. I say nothing and put the phone against my sons ear … He does not know who he is speaking to….

Messed up …

I want him to feel my hurt my neglect my dissapointment. But people his age have mastered not feeling anything .. Its for their survival, if he has to face all his wrong in his life he would crumble…

No … I don’t abuse my wife nor go on in the house yes I remember those images just four years old . I don’t sleep around nor flirt the world.

I stand up with my GED and compete with degreed level people for my son and tell him almost everyday I love him .

People I work with multiple degreed people friends business partners tell me I have a good brain with a high intellect why didn’t I study or persue my dreams, well without some help against neglect depression suicide poverty , you just learn to run the quickest race to make money ..

I am more a man than he will ever be.

Stand proud neglected children, you made it without them. They weren’t in your life for a reason….

    T - September 20, 2016 Reply

    Great post. I was saying the same thing last night,it is hard getting ahead with no support from parents,not meaning money at all but a good job or great idea! Would have been nice to hear. Mine were awful dad was completely absent,mom only cared about herself still does.

Deya - August 9, 2016 Reply

This article is on point 🙂 I just found about that CEN was actually a thing…
Yesterday, my father (who has ignored me for the past 2 months, he always does that as soon as my older brother, who he is constantly fighting with, starts speaking to him again) wrote me an email saying he was sad and disappointed that he could not reach me, that he really needed to talk about his emotions and situation and that I was not there for him (flashback: he called me once while I was at work, I wrote him to please call me back later, then multiple messages to which he never answered).
I never said anything to my parents but yesterday I just cracked. I wrote back to him, as calmly and “non-blamingly” as possible, that I was saddened that he ignored me, didn’t even asked how I was and on top of that accused me of neglecting him.
This is a pattern I seem to be realizing more and more: for my parents, I have always existed only to fulfill their needs. It’s like I’ve never had the right to be a person, with my own opinions and feelings. Every single thing that didn’t please them was severely punished. My role has always been to take care of them, listen to their problems, fix them, entertain them, and above all don’t disturb them.
After writing to him, I wrote to my mother. I basically said the same things to her: that now I would set clear limits to protect myself (I have battled against depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies all my life and am finally starting to get better), that I loved them and cared for them, but now I wanted to build a new relationship with them where I was respected and treated as an equal.

My father didn’t answer yet, but my mother immediately called my bestfriend (who she knows is my confident and the person who supported my when I was suicidal), to tell her that I was blaming them in a mean way while they were struggling with personal problems, that my boyfriend (who happens to be my friend’s cousin!) was “empty” and all my issues came from him, and she tried to convince my friend to “calm me down” so I would be nicer to my mother. So basically, she tried to manipulated me via the person she knows is closest to me, and victimize herself in an attempt to turn my friend against me. Fortunately my friend told me everything (she felt extremely bad) and we agreed that she would not take a call from my mother again.

This is not the first time, in the past she has repeatedly tried to “turn” my boyfriends and friends against me.

But I am so saddened by the fact that, even though I tried to write to her in the most gentle and open way I could, she still reacts like that.

I am still hoping that I will find a way to speak to my parents, find the right words so they will understand me and accept to open to me, without being defensive and agressive. That I will heal and fix this relationship and finally have a healthy family. Letting go of that hope is really hard for me, despite basically everyone telling me that my parents will destroy me for good if I don’t cut them out of my life.

Reading this article, I think they are definitely in the abusive category. I don’t know what to do to “protect” myself emotionally. I just dread their future reaction to my messages.

    Andrea - August 22, 2016 Reply

    Deya, I completely understand what you’ve written. I am hoping that you get through this very soon. Your friend sounds like a very good friend and we’re lucky to have these people who while they are not blood family, they become our adoptive family, as we realize our own family really just sucks. I just found this article and am starting to read the responses. Your situation is very very similar to mine in that my parents shut me out for years at a time. I want to focus on what the article says about how to heal ourselves without even speaking to our parents. That we can do this without even involving them. In my case (I’m in my mid-40s with two kids who are also affected by how very crappy their grandparents are), I need to move forward without my parents. I have tried every single angle possible for years, and they still turn it around on me. All the time favoring my brother to the nth degree. It’s too much. I’m hoping I find more online (this is my first time looking) about how to go and heal ourselves from this crap. We need to move on. Life is way too short. Take good care and I hope you find your path to happiness and contentment soon.

      Deya - August 22, 2016 Reply

      Hi Andrea,
      Thank you for your kind words!
      I don’t know if it could help but, after reading a few articles about emotional neglect, I stumbled upon Narcissistic Personality Disorder, narcissistic parents and something called ACON- Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents. It was really a huge eye-opener for me, as I realized that all this time, my parents were both narcissistic, and our family dynamics was completely based on that, with my brother being the “golden child” and me the “scapegoat”. Everything now makes sense. And I realize that I have spent so many years trying to build a fake self to please them and cater for their needs, that I have no idea who I am and what I really want.
      Maybe that doesn’t apply to your situation but, just in case…
      You’re right, life is too short. I wish for you to find peace and happiness as well 🙂 Especially with your kids, who by the way are lucky to have a mom who is aware of the damages emotional neglect can do!

      My father never answered my message. My mom finally called me and literally whined like a sick child during the whole conversation, trying to play the victim and complaining about the fact they had to move countries again at their age (a situation they totally brought upon themselves by being irresponsible both financially and socially). She played the card of “we are so unhappy, we need moral support”. I offered them money repeatedly (I am struggling myself but I wanted them to know I wasn’t abandoning them) but, when she mentioned their need for emotional support, I just said “I understand this is difficult, so maybe you should seek the help of a therapist”. It was really hard for me to stay cold and distant, as I have always been my parents shoulder to cry/shrink/mediator/punching bag, etc. So it was the first time I rejected her like that. It felt sane but terrible at the same time.
      I felt so guilty that I didn’t sleep all night (had to call in sick at work the day after), convinced that my mother was dead, that she had killed herself because I had let them down.
      To this day, I live constantly with this fear. I’ve understood they won’t change that easily and that I am now officially by myself, the only adult of the family (ironic since I never wanted to grow up).
      I’m thinking about breaking up with my partner too; he’s a nice guy and I love him but we are really worlds apart and he is more like a teenager I have to take care of than a man I can rely on from time to time. But I can’t trust my own judgement. I feel so sad and lost, and like such a failure on all levels.
      It’s difficult for other people to see that, because I am known to be the optimistic, positive, happy-go-lucky one. Even my partner, who knows everything, told me today: “I didn’t know you felt so bad, I see you laughing everyday”. Of course I laugh, I cannot curl-up in a ball all day and wait for someone to cheer me up. I’m afraid that if I stop being cheerful, if I allow the pain to set in, it will overwhelm me.
      The road to self care is still long, and I’m constantly looking for ways to love myself better. I hope you found resources too Andrea.

      I am very curious about how you managed to be emotionally present for your kids, considering how your parents were with you? If it’s too much of a personal question, please disregard!

      And sorry for the long rant 😉

        erow - October 17, 2016 Reply

        Hi deya.
        I just read your comment and wanted to tell you what I think.
        The first time I knew about narcissist was when I was depressed. I discover that my best friend is a narcissist. I was in fear and cant think straight, as it was so scary. Then I found a video on youtube about codependent and I match the criteria. I overlook this as it was not important and focus more about the narcissist. I also found out about how codependent will always attract narcissist by dr. Rossenberg and it opened my eyes that I have been in more than one abusive relationship and everybody in my life is people who is narcissistic, codependent, or people that used by the narcissist to keep me in a relationship. It also took me a while to recognize that my father is a sociapath ! And has been emotionally abusive and has covertly sexually abuses me. Everything become more clear to me when I write about what I feel about the situation. Its hard for me to write what I truly feel because its somehow painful and embarrasing and I am so ashamed of it. But I give it a go and it makes me really angry, I realize that I wasnt very happy or never really been happy my whole entire life, thats why fantasize too much.

        What Im trying to say is, it may be hard for you to accept what you’re feeling. And yes it can be overwhelming sometimes. But when you do accept what you feel, you will have a clear sense of your self. For example : feeling angry can do you a favor to remind your self what you will and will not tolerate, it can also motivates you to take action. And suppresing your feelings wont do any help and only make things worse.

        Last but not least, try to write a past event in your life and write what you feel about it. Things will get more clearer and you will appreciate and love yourself more. 🙂

        Andrea - February 2, 2017 Reply

        Hi Deya! And anyone else who is reading this! 🙂 I apologize for taking months to reply back to you. I hope you are doing well and better than when you first wrote?? I find it amazing how many of us are on this very page, how similar our stories are, and how helpful people are. We are NOT alone!! 🙂 That’s a good thing. The trick seems to be finding people close to us to keep and knowing when to let others go, that are not healthy for us.

        You asked how am I emotionally present for my kids. In my post I didn’t mention my ex-husband much I don’t think. He’s a duplicate of my father. Looking back I know I was with him to try to get my father’s approval. Long story short I tried to break up with him when I was 25 (we were just dating at that time), he threatened to kill himself and had the entire thing planned out how he would tell my parents it was my fault via mail. At the time my father just loved him. Thought he was the best thing ever and I was nuts if I didn’t marry him. But you see, finding this out later with several different counselors, my ex was (still is) narcissistic, pathological liar and passive aggressive. Fun combination… So I, being 25 and really naive and scared of losing my family, married the bastard.

        It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I finally stood up to him and there was no way I ever let him treat her poorly. My son was born less than three years after her, and from that point I pretty much plotted how to get the three of us away from him. I knew my family would back him and all the crazy stuff he made up, and I’d be alone. I divorced him seven years ago (when my kids were 5 and 8) – I had to be able to have my son communicate to me if anything ever went badly when he was away from me – and I know I did the right thing. I would rather be alone with my two kids, than with anyone else ever again who is so horrid to me and them. I broke the cycle of horrible parenting on my own end (from my parents) and gained 90% custody so my kids would have limited time with him. He’s just a horrible person and parent. He could never put the kids first. Everything is about him and everyone else is in the gutter.

        Flash forward to now, I have sole custody of my daughter who is 15 and doing great in school and is a happy, beautiful person, and my sweet son is 12 and also doing great in school and goes to see his father for a few hours every few weeks when he wants to. I have since remarried a wonderful man who loves my kids like his own. He is also a CEN person and we have both been through some awful stuff. But in that, he’s so good with my kids and me. He’s not manipulative and loves me (us) for who we are, not what we can do for him.

        My father and brother (and his wife and three kids) still are not speaking to me. I lost my whole family after I got divorced. My mother tries to see my kids when she can but she is the classic enabler of my father. It’s very hard to deal with sometimes. And my kids feel bad that they have no family. They don’t see their father’s family much because he now has a girlfriend that neither one of my kids like. That is a whole other story. But in short, my daughter feels like he chose the girlfriend over her and my son just wants nothing to do with her. I almost feel bad for her because she has not really done anything to my kids, but their father is such a jerk around her, they don’t want to be around them.

        As their mom, I feel it’s totally my duty to be the best mom I can be. That they have every single right to react the way they naturally do to anything that happens. I will not judge them for how they feel and they know they’re safe in that. Thank God, they are not angry people through all this. They have their moments when dealing with their father, but generally are happy people. They know they’re safe at home. So if that meant letting go of my horrible parents, (their grandparents who judge everything and make them feel bad) then so be it. We’re our very solid team of four. I have my two kids and my husband and that’s all I need.

        That’s my mantra at the moment. I need to be grateful for what I have and let go of the bad stuff. My kids know I am there for them no matter what. That’s the most I can do and no one, not even their shitty father, is going to mess with them and make them feel badly in the inside. He’s done quite a number on them already. My son can’t even talk to him on the phone for 5 minutes without feeling awful after.

        Okay sorry for the giant long rant. I really hope you are well and happier. Be happy with you, that’s the start of everything I think. And we all need to be patient with ourselves. We’ll get through this. Don’t give up!! God bless you and anyone else reading this. And none of us are alone. Thank goodness for this website and Dr. Webb. 🙂

      annie - September 1, 2016 Reply

      Deya,I can relate to so many things you wrote! I am 61 and my father was the abusif one. My mother was being controlled by him. I am reliving my past once again but this time with my mother. My father died in 2008. Being the second child of four, I took care of her but being a narssistic herself, I cut the ties after a year because it took a tole on my mental health, ended up in hospital and my dear husband took care of me.I was out of it!I’ve had anxiety,panic attacks all my life and went to therapy. We reconnected three years later but of course nothing had been resolved or talked about. Then my older brother,who had chosen not to be in our adult lives even though he lived 90 minutes away,comes back in our life. He chose not to attend my nephew’s baptismal even though he was the godfather of our brother’s son. Did not attend my brother’s (the same one)wedding also! He is back because his wife did not want to have anything to do us. Actually, we would see him about every five years and never long, always without his wife. My children would ask about their uncle,mostly my son but he never did anything to get to know them.Would never call.His wife passed two years ago.That is the only reason he is back. He has no backbone and is a yes man! Now, we all forgave him but when we (my husband and mother) went on vacation, he acted out on his alcoolism and disrespected us including my mother. That was the last straw. I cut the ties with him and my mother was on my case about that and enables him today! We have to forget, like her and forgive?! Like, how many times! Enough is enough! Well, she of course is happy to have him back in her life! Plus he buys her things and groceries. She has been using emotional blackmail by saying that she won’t attend my family reunions, holidays,whatever, if that brother is not there.And she expects my children to call him on his birthday and complains.Her relationship with that brother is so unhealthy and co-dependent.So concluding.Like you said we always had to be there for them,listen, shutup and entertain and do not disturb their world!She told me that there are so many problems in the world and that I was just looking for problems. I said that she should look at the problems in her family instead of the world. She denies our abuse saying we were missbehaved!! She’s negative and even complains about family friends who take care of her. Still today, I am not allowed to my feelings and opinions. I blew up and told her I was better off when I didn’t see her. I know I have emotional issues!I had alot of anger which as diminished in the last few months. I realize today that I did not do well with my daughter,passed on the emotional emptyness and am suffering in that relationship because of that. I will have a heart to heart talk to her one day. Now is not the time, she is pregnant and fragile,had three miscarges. Feels good to vent with other people who have been through this!I My good friends understand me and are supportive. My other siblings,for the most part avoid it. I’m the scapegoat, the bad girl! Take care of yourselfs! Now, I will work on my family.

emotionally abusive parents | lighthousefamilychurch - July 31, 2016 Reply

[…] How to Deal With Your Emotionally Neglectful Parents […]

Linda - July 3, 2016 Reply

I have always felt that I was not the best parent to my kids. For everything that I did when they were younger, particularly using a belt more than once, I have apologized. I know I hurt them and it makes me sick that I can never make up for those times. I don’t know what more to do. They continually remind me of it.

    kari - July 30, 2016 Reply

    Hi, Linda.
    I want to be helpful. Here are two suggestions:

    (1) Is it really true that they “continually” remind you of it? Do they bring it up daily? If they bring it up once a year or so, I can see how that would be painful, but that’s very different from bringing it up “continually.” Keep notes if you need to and begin describing their behavior (to yourself) in an accurate way.

    (2) If you feel continuing guilt over this issue, seek therapy. Look at therapy for yourself as the best thing you can do for your children now. It is possible that they are stuck in a blaming mode (if they really do “continually” remind you of your failures as a mother, this is 100% certain to be the case). If that’s the case, your _refusing_ to shoulder the blame for their current troubles (while apologizing for your past failings as a parent) might be the most helpful thing you can do for them. A therapist will help you sort things out.

    The fact that you can look at your parenting and say you came up short puts you in a tiny slice of all parents. Virtually all neglectful, abusive, or simply imperfect parents find this impossible to admit. You might actually be taking _too much_ blame for your parenting! This is another reason to seek therapy.

    Bless you and good luck. I know you love your children and would do anything to set old hurts right. I am sure they know that too.

Rising Sun - July 2, 2016 Reply

Lord, so this is it. Im a 27 yo male, middle eastern man and both my parents are neglectful, i had to learn everything on my own, raise myself, become a man myself, everything was HARD for me while for others it seemed OK, i feel like i have to put twice the mental effort to do anything and only god knows how i had the energy to graduate from university. now i work as a marketing manager in a well known brand (seems nothing to my parents, just nice) it almost feels like they hate me. I got bullied alot when i was a child, but no mentor taught me how to deal with it (both parents are weak) but my natural physical strength helped me keep them at bay (which meant even more isolation from people since i could not handle them mentally) i have a hard time connecting with new friends (i have a small circle of trustworthy friends and very cool guys), generally shy, problems connecting with women, eventhough i attract looks and smiles all the time. NO one would expect me to have such problems and i dont look like one with such problems, people think im arrogant (and i cant tell them im shy, so still isolatied), it was so bad to the point i could not read people, could not read enemy from friend, mocked, bullied seems natural untill one day my brain suddenly connected everything i read and learned together, suddenly felt a part of my brain that was not functioning started working, suddenly a list of all people who were enemies (which i couldnt tell) appeared, and i suddenly had the ability to deal with each one of them and got my respect, it was a very very hard process and only god knows how many are still in the chains, now im still facing problems but it is ok, i have to learn everything so i could give my children, my wife the life they deserve (money cannot buy this, so even a mil dollars doesnt look so wow for me right now, since i know people with more than 20 mil who cant solve such problems), i have learned how to be a decent man, my parents still dont see that, and dont care.

    Rising Sun - July 2, 2016 Reply

    What i learned from this, is that you have to deal with each problem head on, even the small silly stuff, find soloutions the internet is a blessing and it provides enormous access to all sorts of information that could change your life around, now i have a much better mental psyche, it became so hard to put me down by other people and now i can fuck with them as well, only i put myself down sometimes out of frustration. Whoever is going through this, i feel your pain, especially the pain of feeling (alone), feeling like im fighting 20 people on my own and giving them a hard time without anyone noticing my efforts. at the end they are parents, we should be more understanding, leave them and move on, just keep serving them as parents, tend to their needs as they get old and just learn to move on (emotionally).

      Lana - July 20, 2016 Reply

      Gosh, it’s like reading my own life. Very much like you except I’m a girl.
      After 30 years I need to search for advice and help on internet, I’m holding and forcing my self from bad thoughts and negativt feelings about my abusing mom, she is middle eastern too.
      It amaze me how strong I can be at some times and other times destroyed by pain and negativt thoughts. I am very sad that it only stops me from my carrier and studies, just like you said it’s hundred times more difficult for us to finish studies and other things that requires focus and being alert to maximum. But giving up isn’t an option either. I guess with time things will feel lighter.
      Wish you all the best

        Nyef - July 23, 2016 Reply

        I hope you emerge out of it stronger and more enlightened. I have changed since i wrote the latest post here… Id like to add that You have to understand your emotions perfectly each emotion you are getting has a reason that you need to solve (even parents can be the cause and you can deal with it)… And know who you are and your capabilities and skills… As for mine i discovered that if i follow what im good at im going to end up in Jail lol. Since im a man who loves history and learning the truth about everything and connecting a variety of information together to get a perfect big clear picture. This skill also helped me in overcoming my emotional prolems. I wish you well.

        Aura - July 31, 2016 Reply

        “…it became so hard to put me down by other people and now i can fuck with them as well,”

        Do you have any tips or resources you can point me to that worked for you regarding setting boundaries and standing up for yourself?
        I am struggling so bad with this right now and what makes it harder is that I’m approaching my mid-twenties and feel like this should come naturally to me at this age.

          Deborah - October 25, 2016 Reply

          I highly recommend a wonderful book called ‘Boundaries, When to Say Yes, When to Say No – to take control of your life’ by Cloud and Townsend. All the best.

          Nyef - December 4, 2016 Reply

          It is a hard process but you need to stay strong. It is ok to get hit and lose confidence, sometimes its going to feel like a punch in the gut, just dont let it it control you and learn more about people. Learn how to gain your confidence back! Put yourself first before others, your needs come first. Speak up whenever you dont like something. If you missed the chance at leadt think what you should have said, this way you will train yourself on thinking faster, and taking better decisions faster.Stay strong everyone. The most important advice: never stop learning.

    Rizzle - September 21, 2016 Reply

    Great post. I can totally relate to this. 30 year old male here. Having been through a very similar thing.

    Teen in need of guidance - July 18, 2017 Reply

    I’m almost seventeen and I wish I wasn’t this self aware. My biggest challange Im facing in my short life is I’ve just come to terms that I have SA,and what seems to be like seasonal depression not sure, it comes and go’ I might be bipolar I dunno.After reading this article and many others I’m convinced I have this fucked up brain,because it might run in the fam.Or just how I was raised.

    I would spend most of my time when i was born with my grandparents.while Mom and dad went to work. My parents got divorced when I was 6. And he sucks. Why? Well He only comes to my like once every 3 months house to flirt with my mom. Not like I could talk to him if I wanted. anyway.BTW I’ve been “shy” since I can remember.Anyway It was me and my older sister,and my mom after he left. My mom had my little sister when I was 8 and the clichés are true. My older sister is the goodie two shoes I of course am the badass middle child, or more accurate the lonly one. My little sister right now is pretty bratty. I started to develop depression in middle school Now btw this is when the drunkard that is my lil sisters dad was still in the picture. My mom and him were together for 9 long shitty years.
    So home life was boring.
    But I also didn’t have any friends. I talked to people at school (which i wish could now) but thats it, So I would go home and my mom never really did anything with me. so I would just be in my room.Somtimes we go grocery shopping together or we go eat with the fam(rarely). But what sucks she would go out Whenever she feelt like it, still does. I wait till she’s off for two days.She will spend one day in her room. And the next night She leaves. Not to mention I’ve been left alone alot. So I got used to the feeling of being alone. I’m concerned for my 8 year sister that sits and is online all day. My mom just wants to stay home in her room and watch tv.My older sister lives with us and thats who mom talks to the most. she’s gonna move out soon so I bet that this house is gonna be so silent when she leaves.I mean im pretty much on my phone silent depending on the day.Anyway,I’m a junior now and I’ve asked my mom if she could to get me some help for years! Like three years, and she says she’s gonna get help but alas I haven’t gotten it.She doesn’t know that I take drugs for my SA.She doesn’t even Know I have it. I mean I don’t get how my mom doesn’t figure it out. I rarely go out with people i say are friends but we just do drugs together lately. I found this website while on a certain type of substance. And I never had a reaction like this. I was already speaking in little bursts and paranoid because I felt the group staring at me I know this because I was the only one who did stuff. The room is quiet and I feel way to uncomfortable than I would have sober.The weight on my chest was unbelievable.The group including me bearly talk for the rest of the night and I couldn’t help but think that I made it weird.

say it - June 27, 2016 Reply

You know things are bad if you have no regrets not having attended your mothers funeral.
That woman damaged us kids in all the bad ways she could dream of.
Therapy is all I have known for the last 23 years… And still struggling to heal.

She did not do all the damaging. But she sure set the stage and course of action.

IHOP she found her way to the hotter part of hell. She deserved nothing less.

Tonya - June 15, 2016 Reply

I told my parents using the advice of this article, and they called me ungrateful and bratty. They said I’m luckier than most people, and that I should be grateful for it. They’re not wrong, but what’s the point of having parents if you raised yourself? I tried to explain to them that I had a rough childhood, and that I wished they could’ve been there for me and didn’t move from state to state, and county to county as frequently as they did. I told them I was bullied often (I even got beat up once) at school, and that I had depression and was considering suicide. I cried in front of them and they started scolding me, calling me “weak”. They said I should be grateful for what I have, and that there were people in the world worse off than I. They weren’t wrong, but I hated that they couldn’t even manage a simple apology or a valid reason to be such terrible parents.

My parents are strong believers in astrology though, since apparently their perfect lives were predicted by astrologers. They went to India and had my astrology read. The astrologer stated that I would grow up to be extremely rich and successful, which Isn’t too unbelievable considering I drown myself in work and study to avoid my crappy life. But as soon as they found that out, they started buying me new things and asking “You’ll give us 20% of your income, right?” All I could do was smile and lie. I don’t plan on giving them anything, honestly. I’d rather donate it to abuse prevention foundations.

I tried to ask them about their childhoods. Turns out they were preps in school, had their tuitions paid for them, had their parents with them the entire time, and genuinely enjoyed their childhoods.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just pretending to love my parents at this point. They’re judgmental, they gossip about me all the time and complain about how I’m such a terrible/stupid child, they refuse to let me talk about my problems, they call me ungrateful, they never come to parent teacher conferences, schools activities, etc., they yell at me whenever I’m not studying.

My older sister got addicted to drugs at my age. She found more comfort with boys who used her in the end. Probably because of her shitty parents. She is also very emotionally abusive, but she doesn’t bother me as much as my parents.

It’s clear that I’m a messed up person for a reason. Quiet, bitter, angry, depressed, suicidal, anorexic, and genuinely unhappy.

    Becky - June 19, 2016 Reply


    Hi there.I felt very sad after reading your email.You’re obviously not old enough to leave school yet but when you can I would move away from your parents , as far as possible.

    Your parents are terribly abusive and sound like narcissists.They are projecting onto you all the time.

    Move away , find a very good therapist and make your own healing a priority.

    It sounds as if your parents would not like you putting in boundaries , but if you choose to see them then limit contact.You do not owe them anything.If you are financially successful you can treat them sometimes , in their own homes. You do not have to let them stay enmeshed with yours.

    take good care


    junaki - July 23, 2016 Reply

    Once you are out of your parents lives your free. I had uneducated backward parents. Didnt know what happiness or choices was about. Just went by religion and culture. Dont let them ruin your future even though they ruined your past.

CN - May 25, 2016 Reply

I tried and it failed horribly. Now I’m even more emotionally detached from my parents I politely asked them if we could talk and started to explain everything and I got a very negative response from both and they even denied what they have done but I still love them this hurts so much.

    R Nardari - June 9, 2016 Reply

    Feel so much pain for you, I have been going through 30 years of this sort of agony and it has exhausted me. You are not alone, you are not crazy, you are not unreasonable. Your experiences were painful and real and deserve to be acknowledged. Please try not to let it make your day to day life heavy. I try to live in the moment of just small pleasures in life. I will never get what I need from my parents, but I will find happiness. If you want to talk, I would be happy to release my address through the website if allowed. Take care of you and value you.

Ryan - May 17, 2016 Reply

They were always arguing, always too wrapped up in their dramas of door slamming, alcohol abuse and arguments to care about something as subtle and vulnerable as a child’s emotions. How hard can it be to just pay honest attention to your kids’ needs and give them love? God damnit. I hate it.

Rhian - April 22, 2016 Reply

Thank you for this article. It is interesting to see so many stories that have the same theme but all completely different.

I am very frustrated by my mother. I feel sorry for her as she married an abusive man as a teenager and her parents died within a couple of years after. She ended up living in a homeless hostel with my 4 older siblings when they were kids.

She met my dad who was 25 years her senior. He was barely in my or my younger brothers childhood (mainly my dads fault). Then he died when I was 10 so he was out the picture.

As a single mother family we were very poor, spent the first 7 years of my life on a housing estate sharing beds in a house that had boarded up windows. This is one of my gripes. Never in my whole growing up did she attempt to make us financially better off. We lived in a very small town where mainly only the men could get jobs so I appreciate it was extremely difficult for a woman of little job experience but she could have tried, especially when were teens and didn’t need 24/7 care.

Secondly it the physical neglect. I barely got dentists appointments and as result have bad teeth. It was only when I passed out from dental pain which lasted literally months hooked on paracetamol, at the age of 15/16 did she make phone calls to get me an appointment.
Further to this when I was a child she used to use hitting as discipline. Sometimes she would make us sit in front of her armchair in silence and if we moved or said anything we would be hit around the ear. It was only when we got taller and stronger than her, that she stopped this.

Then there’s the emotional neglect. She has never praised me to my face about my academic achievements. I was always an A grade student and not once did she say well done. I remember other teens getting cards, gifts and money when they passed with Cs and all I got after she looked at my school report was a “there you go then” (with shrugged shoulders). But she would use me to brag about when she met family and friends out and about. Only then did I ever here praise. When I got a honours bachelor of science she told me it “was easy and anyone could do it, and oh well you’ll never get a job with it anyway.” She never passed high school exams and is of lower intelligence which is maybe why nothing she does is logical.

There are so many small events that add up and are insidious. When my sister married me and brother were bridesmaid/page boy. The night before my mother forgot where she put her new shoes, accused another family member of stealing them and decided that meant she or us kids couldnt go anymore. To her daughter’s wedding! It was late in the night and all the husband-to-be family was there to witness the chaos and we all had to play along as if she wasn’t deliberately sabotaging my sister’s wedding day.

As an adult I saw less of her. I was the only child out of the first 5 leave the house out of choice. Everyone else got chucked out over petty arguments. Every time I go back to the house on important holidays I instantly regret it. She’s the kind of person who will talk at you for hours on end (about literally nothing) without you needing to reply. I don’t know if she sits in silence now she lives alone or carries on regardless.

I’m 25 now and just finishing a degree I studied overseas. She know I will be homeless in a couple months time but it’s clear I’m not welcome to stay with her even for a few weeks or months until I find a job. After my bachelor degree I broke up with my bf so ended up staying with a friend for 3 weeks. I went to visit my mum to give mg friend a break from me and my mother treated me like I was a criminal the two days I stayed with her. She knew I had no money or job and she still insisted I pay her train fare of a two hundred mile return journey so she could make sure I excepted the first bed I could find for rent. (Turns out that place had 10 people sharing one shower that was only ever freezing cold or scalding hot).

She’s almost 60 and has been in poor health for as long as I can remember. She takes more than a month to get over flu and I honestly don’t think she’ll be alive much longer. Which makes me feel like I should spend quality time with her. I went home for 3 days over her birthday and she was enraged that I didn’t stay longer and told me I might as well have not bothered. Even though she knew I had work to do. As an adult I realise now she has extreme mental illness that to my knowledge has never been addressed in her life. It’s clearly too late for her to redeem herself or get some kind of joy out of life and like another poster on here I will be filled with a bit of relief that she won’t have to suffer when she does pass away.

Sorry for the rant but I needed to get it out. All my friends have caring parents and trying to explain this to them would be difficult and most likely pointless. “at the end of day she’s still your mum” etc.

    Lynn - May 27, 2016 Reply

    Rhian: Just read your story. My heart was breaking for you. I am a mom of 6. And it has been the most rewarding and wonderful “job” I have ever held. Your Mom seems terribly selfish, sad, and sick. She has missed out on the best things in life…children and family and love. I am sending you love and prayers. You are a great kid. You do not have to own her bad behavior. You are strong and smart. For the rest of your life, know that you are a gift and worthy of celebration. You will able to be compassionate, sensitive, and understanding to those around you because you are a survivor. Hoping for the best and brightest future for you.

Zora - April 7, 2016 Reply

Today was a hard day for me. My dad and I have had a very troubled relationship. First of all let me say that I cannot blame him completely for all the roadblocks we’ve had in our relationship. My mother’s character was very questionable when she was younger. She got pregnant with me and never told my father about it. She married another man when I was 1. This man was an amazing human being. I never knew or even suspected he wasn’t my father until he died when I was 10. Soon after he died my mom sat me down one day and told me she had contacted my biological father and that his family was coming over to see me. I was in shock and the saddest I’ve ever remembered being. But coming from a typical African family, I did not have the guts to even question her. Shortly after my “biological father’s” family visit I was sent to live with my aunt. I lived with my aunt for about 2 years before I met my “biological father” for the first time. He was very sweet. He was in town for a couple of weeks and made sure to spend some time with me. 5 years later, I travelled overseas to go live with my dad. He was nice but we had no relationship. We barely spoke to each other and we lived like roommates. I went off to college which expanded the distance between us. At the time I didnt care. I have never felt close to him and I had nothing of him to miss. To me it seemed like he never wanted to be a father. Everyday I got the feeling like he didn’t want me but he was forced to accept me. And my suspicions were comfirm when my dad bought an apartment in New York and I was so proud of him I walked around the house screaming my dad bought an apartment my dad bought an apartment then my aunt said to my one of my relatives “My father, My father please. If I hadnt force him to take her. She wouldn’t be here now”. I was broken that day. One day I couldn’t keep it in anymore and I told him that he wasn’t my father. I told him my real father was dead and he was just my biological “dad”. He was very angry and called my mother to ask her who was my real dad. I think he was hoping my mother would have named someone else so he can be off the hook. Anyway, years later I made an effort to work things out with him. I told myself to love him unconditionally no matter what and I did just that. However, nothing changed at n his part. We are cordial but there is no father daughter relationship between us. I never know what’s going on in his life. We communicate through whatsapp once a month. He’s always away on work missions so I see him once a year sometimes 2 years. Recently on his birthday I sent him a birthday message and family members also wished him happy birthday on our whatsapp family group chat. He replied to the family group chat but not my messages. I brushed it off. Today I was with my aunt when he called to speak to her. About a month ago my aunt told me my dad was getting remarried. I waited for him to tell me but nothing. So today he was ironing out details for the wedding with my aunt when I screamed “hi dad” I asked my aunt for the phone so I could say hi. That’s when my dad says “heyyy I was going to call you later. I’m getting married on the 23rd. It took everything in me to say “congrats dad, I’m happy for you.” I found out my dad was getting married 2 weeks to the wedding. He says ” I know it’s too late for you to be at the wedding but we’ll do a celebration in May and you should travel out here to be present” I said great. However, I will not be going. If he wanted me around I would be at his wedding not a later celebration. I got home and cried my eyes out. Still crying as I write this but I need to empty my heart. I have spoken to my dad about how he makes me feel but he says I’m too emotional and brushes me off. I want to stop trying. He is emotionally draining me. I want to know what I can do to get over my dad. I’m tired of crying. I need help to stop loving him so I can stop crying. WHAT DO I DO TO GET OVER HIM????

    Cielle - September 20, 2016 Reply

    Zora, I know this reply is several months late, but I just found this Web site today. I read your full story, and it my heart really hurt for you. How are you now? Have you done anything to help yourself? Not the relationship, but YOU! As tempting as it is to want to keep trying to get your father to love you, acknowledge you, respect you, include you, etc., you would do well to focus your energy on YOUR healing. If you haven’t already, find a good therapist/counselor that you can get help from. We are all broken in one way or another, some more than others, but in the end, it’s all about how we manage our hurts, pain, disappointments, etc. Stay in the company of people who take your feelings, needs serious…people who love, accept and support you. And even on the days when it seems like no one is there, remind yourself every day that you are special, worthy, important, loveable, creative, successful… and that your Creator loves you immensely! I hope this helps some. (((((BIG HUGS))))) to you now and always! Take care of yourself, OK? Peace and Love, Ms. Cee

Julie - March 16, 2016 Reply

Hi, my mother was hopeless, still is. Emotionally and verbally abusive. Now she is nearly 80 and has cancer. I have always been the one out of six children who supported my parents in all their failures. But this time I am saying no. My brothers can do no wrong, I am the bad daughter and will be punished by all of them for saying no this time. I just cannot do it anymore. I have my own happy family and I want to focus on that. I wanted to write my mother a letter telling her that I cannot forgive her anymore for the neglect and the abuse but my friends tell me that would be cruel because she is dying. I feel if I dont say it now I never will and I will feel forever robbed of getting some recognition of the horrible things she said to me. I would appreciate some/any thoughts as this is really tormenting me at the moment.

    Robin - April 6, 2016 Reply

    You should write the letter. Get everything out. Don’t hold back. When you’re done, you can decide whether you want to give your mother the letter or not. Your friends might mean good, but it is not their mother nor their abusive childhood memories. You shouldn’t feel bad, and you should focus on your own family (like you’re doing) to stop the circle of abuse and neglect. She wasn’t the parent you needed and even though she has cancer and is old, that still doesn’t make anything right. Especially if you’re still treated as the “baddy”. You’re not selfish. You’re just doing what is best for you (something you should’ve done along time ago). All the best!

ali reza - February 16, 2016 Reply

hello everyone i am glad i read this , i am 30 years old male and i have been thinking about leaving my parents house for some time now actually i wanted to leave a lot earlier but i was dependent on them now that i can barely afford my place food etc i want to move out ,i have a long story of abuse… neglect …and one crazy family to make it short ill say i knew something was very wrong about the way my family was but then my elder brother who after alot of fighting has moved out told me that our father is a narcicist and i didn know what it was so i read n i read an all the traits of a naricicist ware there 100% he offered me to move in with him but i refused was scared of how will i survive alone . i still am confused that can parents actually do all that all my other siblings agree n tell me to stay away from home as much as u can spend ur time outside just come home to say hi to them n then u go in ur room sleep n the next morning leave basically dont spend much time with them. i need someone to talk to i need someones advice someone who can listen to my story and tell me if i am right in leaving my parents or its just all in mmy head ..i have saved money to move out but i cannot afford any therapist at this time i dun have the time or the money for it i was prescribed anti depressants from my doc which am taking for some time now

Dee - December 14, 2015 Reply

I recently (a few days ago) wrote a letter to my father to finally express how me witnessing the domestic violence between he and my mother and how his alcohol abusing impacted me as a child and adolescent and how I have been working over the past year to reach some understanding of my issues with anxiety and feeling of powerlessness and lowered self-confidence. With the discovery of the primary root of these issues, most prominently the abovementioned past problem, I woke up the morning I wrote the letter and cried harder than I have since my grandma died in 2004. I realized that I had my final and full realization and needed to take action, so I wrote the letter and sent it off in the mail (I live 400 miles away). I then called him the next day and let him know what I did and that it was a heavy letter that had in it all the things I have ever wanted to say to him and never had the confidence or felt there was ever a right time to do so. I know it made him uncomfortable and I know he is anxious about it because he and I are very much alike in that way. I feel proud for what I did and how I feel about my strength and courage because I am speaking my truth. I am hopeful that when I see him this coming Sunday there will be some sort of resolution. At least that’s what I would like.

Lisa - November 5, 2015 Reply

My mother was a hot mess! Alcoholic, drug user, man user, dishonest, unfaithful, irresponsible, flesh driven, not up for mother o the year. I left at 18…she pretty much ignored me after that. At 23 I finally came to realization that my anger toward her was only hurting me…she was clueless. I decided that I was going to chose to not let her live rent-free in my head. Over the years, although somewhat estranged, I learned to accept her for who she was…wounded, imperfect, knowing “hurt” people “hurt” people. I began to see the person she was instead of the mother she wasn’t. I began to set myself free from my resentment. She died 9 years ago from lung cancer. She was a lifelong smoker. My grief was not so bad. It was almost a relief to know she was free from the uncomfortable bed in life she had made for herself. She taught me well about the kind of person and mother not to be. Today, I have a great relationship with my children and when I look in the mirror I feel tremendous pride about being a mother. Sadly, she missed a lot of joy in her life, but I am making up for it in mine!

    Lisa - November 5, 2015 Reply

    I wanted to add that on her deathbed she asked if I had forgiven her, that she new she had not been the mother she should have been. I had, years before…forgiveness was not for her benefit, it was for mine. I was letting go of allowing her the power to make me feel bad anymore. I stopped giving time and energy to the past wrongs. Why spend energy on what’s done and over. I chose to live in the present with intention and purpose…choices that caused me to be better, NOT BITTER!!!!!

Number8 - September 28, 2015 Reply

I accidentally hit a button that posted my partial comments. I am the baby and the only child who sought out years of therapy to address the hell one feels inside when you have multiple-failure parents. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, Narcissism, Selfishness, and our Mother – neglectful based on all the aforementioned. When I came along my parents were already into life part II and my closest sibling is 9+ years older than I am. I managed pretty well for years, I maintained healthy boundaries. Then, we ended up with an empty nest, and my poor little niece now living the same hell from her parents only roles are reversed. My sister is an alcoholic, she is verbally abusive, she lacks appropriate self-care – her husband, same thing – he an alcoholic, he goes through cycles of anger where he internalizes then he blows. My niece was talking to a therapist for a couple of years after receiving threat from her boyfriend that he would leave if she didn’t try to help herself. They ultimately broke up, she moved back home, she is mid-30s but mentally about 18, she has social anxiety, blah, blah, blah. Outside of one brother I try to maintain healthy boundary. I had to cut off my niece because I would take her calls, I would listen to her, I would try to carefully champion her… I offered to let her move in – she said she wouldn’t move without her cats and was afraid of how angry her mother would be. So, I would try to be there. I had to stop! I recognized both in her and in myself this old yuck awful co-dependent behavior pouring out of me. She would walk the plank – say something to me – repeat what I said and this awful cycle started. I told her I loved her and want to be there for her when she really wants to change what her future looks like. So now, #6, sister – gypsy for a lifetime, 3 marriages, our parents forced her to give up a child at 16 – and she wanted her to have a happy healthy family. Now because of the same dysfunction, she finally found her daughter – but clearly something went badly wrong – because her daughter will not speak with her. She is wandering around the country and staying with people until she wears out her welcome. She is on disability, has gone through hell following knee replacements – and tries anything and everything to find someone to take care of her. It’s heartbreaking. So I haven’t even gotten through everyone but the bottom line is I am the baby to a family of addicts other than two – #6 and #2. (#1 perished in an automobile accident at 22 months, #3 perished in an automobile accident at 34 years). If a person is in the presence of two or more of us – you can just feel the “ick”. My brothers and sisters of course attack me because I don’t have a substance addiction, I vowed the my parents taught me what I did not want to be and I sought out years of therapy. My kids aren’t running for Presidency, but they have done OK, my son serves in the military, my daughter is to be married, my daughter has strong faith, and is happy. My son is at that age of questioning his faith, he has a son, we have our first grandson and he didn’t really know the baby momma at first so they are working on that one day at a time and have done an amazing job raising their child. So – was our little family perfect? My brother who sadly I learned late in his life about his lifetime substance abuse – his family is doing OK. I worry about him and pray for him every day. He needs to continue therapy. So, anyway, I guess my point to sharing all this background is – it is OK to revisit therapy! I am now recovered from a severe automobile accident and once I get back to work – that’s the first gift I am buying myself! It’s CRITICAL to maintain your HEALTHY boundaries. I have the angry ones that you really shouldn’t be honest with and that you really shouldn’t confront – they get MAD AS HELL! They rip you apart they go on smear campaigns, they manipulate – Ughhhh – it’s a very hurtful thing to be subject to. That’s why I can NOT wait to get back get going on some old exercises to help me stay healthy! We have too much to be happy about! But – hey – if we fall down, all we really have to do is get back up…. I spent a few days shaming myself – for what? I didn’t do anything wrong! I was honest, I told #6 how something made me feel that she did and it was important to me not to let that fester – Oh my Gosh you would of thought the world was ending – I became an abuser by that statement – but had I practiced what I learned I would have known that. I totally put her on the defensive. A couple of my siblings said that all I have to do is let go. Hmmmmmm and how has that worked out for ya?! Thanks for listening – THANK YOU for this article.

Number8 - September 28, 2015 Reply

Oh my – I and my siblings came from multiple-failure parents. They are both passed now. I am the only child of the six of us still living who ever sought out years of therapy. I practiced VERY limited interaction because literally within the 1

Ella - September 21, 2015 Reply

I am only just seeing this happened to me. Life has been lonely, difficult and puzzling. There are many threads. This is one.

It isn’t about blame. My parents are dead and anyway it wasn’t their fault my sibling had such awful problems and there was no good help back then, not even a proper diagnosis.

But –

I am still angry. I feel sick with rage about it. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right, they hurt my feelings, they should have been nicer to me. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair.

And part of me thinks: No, it was fair. You’re just worthless and dirty and stupid and why should they have bothered about you?

And another part says: YOU DISGUSTING SELFISH SPOILT CHILD blaming your poor parents who were doing the best they could! How ignorant, stupid and evil of you to still be wallowing in this! DECENT PEOPLE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS.

There are some things which are NOT TO BE MENTIONED. Ever. Not then, not 50-odd years later.

I see how that time damaged me and I see how it could have been different if things had been different and I feel so sad.

So what I mean is: let it out. You can’t do a thing till you let it out. However unfair, unjust, wrong, spoilt, unkind, selfish, selfish, selfish it feels: you have to feel all that. I think.

Then it might get better.

Who knows. I hope.

Kelly - August 13, 2015 Reply

Thank you for this article. I’m always disappointed by my parents, and just now learning to stop trying to give them “another chance to prove themselves”. They never took me to the dentist growing up, latch-key kid, my older sister taught me how to drive, they don’t know any of my friends names, never attended my HS, college or masters graduation, or birthday celebrations, showed up late to walk my sister down the aisle of her wedding, never met my in-laws or care to… and my Dad’s bill collectors STILL contact me weekly for his whereabouts after I cut him off financially when I was 25. My parents never call me or visit. My husband and I eloped after they said “maybe” they could attend our wedding and acted like it was a hassle. They never sent a card or anything to congratulate us (forget b-day or Christmas calls). But you bet you dollar they expect gifts for their birthdays, mothers/fathers day, xmas etc… my dad also drives a brand new Mercedes and my mom always flaunts a Louis Vuitton bag. But they rent a condo and are always behind on bills and need more money/things. They have no friends and are estranged from their siblings for decades now. No hobbies, no church, nothing.

More reasons to let go: My dad was in prison/halfway house for 6 years when I was 8-14, and my mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia and attempted multiple suicides since I was a teenager. My mom never takes her meds and waits (read: she gets violent/abusive) until the police/fire trucks come for a 51-50 to take her in under force. Never-ending cycle. That means I’ve been visiting either prison or a mental institution for 22 years now seeking some form of love from my parents. It’s a tiring, painful, heavy, shaming relationship that always has volatility.

I’m beyond ready to let go of them emotionally now that I’m 31 and thinking about having a baby. I receive and I am able to give more love with my husband, sister, friends, in-laws and extended family then my parents are/were ever capable of giving. My other relationships make it easier to recognize that HEALTHY stable love is out there and to be grateful and focus on that.

Here’s to changing the next generation and letting go of expectations of existing parents.

Fear and Guilt Will Keep You in an Abusive Relationship If You Let Them (Don’t Let Them) | The Invisible Scar - August 10, 2015 Reply

[…] “Make the decision about whether to talk to your parents about CEN [childhood emotional neglect] 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.” (Dr. Jonice Webb, “How to Deal With Your Emotionally Neglectful Parents“) […]

Fenris - August 7, 2015 Reply

On public holidays, I feel this neglect of emotions much more. my father’s a hoarder, mother is often emotionally in denial. I’m pissed as she can feel sorry for other children, but at that age when i needed help she ignored me. i felt damn jealous when she flashback to a bullied person, so I said why didn’t u help me. can’t forgive her response: oh it wasn’t that important to step in at that time. so i voiced out how angry i am, and she said no use talking about the past. I’m in asia, where families are SUPPOSED to be more cohesive. Although I’m not a teen now, I’m unable to find many close friends when i need them. For some who are social, this doesn matter as they feel happy when they’ve many circles to join. I am ok with solitude,always been like that
but on specials days I Plan something. I know father is self absorbed but Mum also dw to spend time with me. >: the only time she wants to comment more are on what’s wrong with the way i do chores, or other stuff.
Pfft, expect me to be happy to do chores when she doesn’t even listen to me 3/4 of the time! >: I try do things myself, but it still a downer when i see how united people are. Mine are definitely Not caring

Semmy - July 29, 2015 Reply

Even though my parents are together, my dad has always been too preoccupied with work and has essentially left my mom to raise my sisters and I as a single parent. He provided money for my physical needs but has been emotionally neglectful. He was more of a sponsor than a parent.

He claims family is the most important thing but instead of acknowledging who I am as a person, he imposes his own interpretation of an ‘ideal daughter’ on me. But it’s not who I am and anytime I try to break away from this image he gets mad and starts lecturing me about my bad behaviour and how terrible I’ve been.

He wants to keep his family together but living under his values and ideals are just too damaging to me. How do you live with someone who refuses to listen to what you have to say?

rachel - July 23, 2015 Reply

Hi Jonice, after years and years of trying to figure things out, your book makes perfect sense. I am that person you write about, the feelings now I have as a adult as the result of emotional neglected, I still strive to make sense of the relationship I have with my narcissistic mother. My whole life has been dominated and consummed by why does my mother do the things she
does. Why aren’t other people treated this way, I feel very lonely and frustrated at times because it is very hard for other people to understand. Thank you for your advice

private - July 12, 2015 Reply

I do not agree with the above information. We are the victims.We have suffered the abuse, and you want us to understand the abuser parent. You have a funny way of thinking.

    Jonice Webb - July 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Private, there is nothing in my blog which says you should understand an abusive parent. Abuse and benign neglect which was passed down invisibly are two very, very different things. Please re-read the article. Thank you for your comment.

Rita Grace - July 7, 2015 Reply

This is Great advice! I feel like it would be extremely dangerous to talk to my parents about their neglect. My mother is incredibly narcissistic and my father a typical enabler. No matter which nonsense my mother says or does, my father does and must agree with her, with conviction. I have started therapy on a weekly basis one and a half years ago, right after my daughter was born. The neglect over my pregnancy and delivery was too much to bear, and on top of that, the second I looked at my daughter, I saw my mother, which was something that terrified me tremendously. She looked exactly like my mother, and I was so anxious she would turn up like my mother. Therapy has helped a great deal. So far, no more sleepless nights over my parents. But they still exist, and I still have to be with them sometimes, and deep inside, I still crave their attention, love and validation. But attention, love and validation, is something I never got from them and never will. With toxic relations like these, I think I would be better off just divorcing from my parents. But unfortunately I’m too afraid, too weak.

    Jonice Webb - July 16, 2015 Reply

    Dear Rita Grace, you are not too afraid and weak. It is incredibly difficult for anyone to divorce their parents. Your brain is doing what it is meant to do: seek approval and love from your parents. So don’t blame yourself, just focus on doing the best you can to take care of yourself, and try to keep shifting your focus further and further off of your parents. Wishing you all the best!

    Fenris - August 7, 2015 Reply

    Correct, i understand also about not having attention and validation from parents. Father is a hoarder, and I depended on mum. But she was too preoccupied with chores. Now im adult, she actually expects me to Like doing chores when she doesn’t validate my feelings. I’m unwilling to, coz will be criticized. Counselors say we need to support ourselves internally, to heal. On some days I still feel the hurt and emptiness.
    Friends can’t always help me

    A supportive reader - November 19, 2015 Reply

    Hi, I wanted to reach out to your post and let you know I can completely relate to what you went through with your parents. My Mother is the exact same way- and my Father must agree with her or there would be hell to pay. I didn’t quite realize I was emotionally neglected as a child (and even an adult)until I really started to explore my feelings deeper last year – my anger always stemmed from long-standing childhood wounds that never healed. I had set many boundaries with my mother- I first let her know I didn’t want to hear about her problems with my father, and she became enraged at me for that. Then, I slowly stopped taking her calls-I would become physically drained after listening to her endless complaining on the phone to me. I would communicate to her through email mostly. Then I moved away- about 1000 miles away. I thought that would help somewhat, and it did, but I would still get emotionally effected- triggered- by both my parents when I spoke to them. After a very difficult year in 2014, I literally had lost most of my possessions, my business, and my health, and my parents were not there for me. They didn’t call me to see if I was even alive- instead my mother emailed and told me about how she lost money gambling the week before. That pushed me over the edge- it was at that moment I realized my Mother may have a mental illness; to not even realize her daughter was suffering severely and she was more upset about losing a few bucks at a casino. Right then and there I knew I needed to protect my emotional health better from them and wrote them a letter. I told them I loved them, but I was extremely disappointed in them and said I was better off without them. I divorced my parents and haven’t spoken to them in almost 2 years. Although it was the right thing for me to do, I won’t deny that it was extremely hard to let them go from my life 100%. They never reached out to me after my letter- but then again, why would they. I realize now my parents don’t love me, and I don’t think they even love themselves. I’ve never heard them ever say “I love you” to me, or each other. I do believe we have a Soul family in our life- people (strangers) have offered me more love, kindness, support, and encouragement than my birth parents ever had in my 39 years of life. I value those people – my soul family- so much. I hope you found your Soul family, too.

Ikim - June 19, 2015 Reply

I am feeling like this as well. I am trying to look at myself and work on myself more and more. I am 26 years old but I did not realize how much power the past has an affect on me… I was emotionally neglected by my parents. I felt lik everything I did was wrong. Nothing was ever right and knowing how Asian parents are they constantly condemned everything I did and never would say anything positive about my life. Leaving me emotionally hurt. Or they would just say stuff to hurt me but would not care if it hurt because they would say I deserved it. It’s not easy to deal with, I read a lot of books to get some healing yet I still feel like I am still stuck at where I am. I try so hard to think more positively about my life yet I still struggle with low-selfesteem. Like a child looking for a solution and direction for her life…. Yet her parents aren’t willing to listen to the demands of the inner child, yet I try my best to nurture that child. Yet I am not a child any more and I am trying to fix my life and I some times feel alone in all of this. I some times don’t know whAt to do.

I am trying to make the most out of my life and deciding what is best for me… After losing my job and being in a car accident I am losing mind and trying to fix my own situation at times it seems like to no avail. Yet my mother says things that are not helpful and just doesn’t give much moral support. They constantly think that by always putting me down or being “realistic” will help me understand life but they don’t even understand my feelings. Some times it is hard for me to even get close to anybody at all. I am doing what I can to make the most out of my life with no outside support. I feel alone in all of this… Everything you have written is exactly what my parents are like. I some times feel like I am a teenager living at my parents home and all I want is out of my situation and I can’t. It gets pretty frustrating along the way, I don’t need constant lecture what I need is some one to listen and sympathize with understand me not always contradict me or argue with me about minuet things. I feel like that’s all it is in this house. Especially with my father. I just can’t seem to get a peace of mind. I am trying to make things right. I feel like when I am at their house I can’t get that peace I need.

It’s just getting to be much… I need that peace in order to make life more manageable. My parents never taught me how to live my life. Nobody really taught me how to make right decisions. I was left alone in the situation. My father and mother put more effort with my sister than they did with me. I know they intend to mean well it some times though I just wish I could’ve had that time and moment to have a normal conversation about my life about what is going on without judgement but that wasn’t the case. They wonder why I don’t speak with them or have a “normal” conversation because every time I do they pick at something that is wrong. I can’t deal with it. I need some understanding. I do my best to listen to them understand them yet the reverse roll occurs. I am tired of it, I just want to be able to get over this and have a conversation with them that will be effective for both parties not one sidedness. I hope to also make things right and still able to fulfill my dreams and goals in my life and eventually move out on my own. (I may have to start saving all over again but that’s price after losing a job) but I want a normal life without constant judgement. Or comparison…. I want to not have to fight any more and just communicate with them more effectively. It would help,… I just need too get back on track.

Kim - May 27, 2015 Reply

I can certainly relate to the concept of CEN. My mother was probably the third type, she certainly seems to have meant well, but had difficulty with her own CEN. My father was the first type, emotionally abusive and highly controlling at times, as well as narcissistic. I’m actually staying with them at the moment due to a divorce, but am looking to move out very soon. It is going to be difficult to tell my father as he will get very angry because he thinks I should stay living with them for 3-5 years. If I tell him I want to move out, he will constantly badger me and try to get me to change my mind about it. And when I don’t change my mind, that’s when the cruel words will start, such as I’m making stupid decisions, I’m not being “prudent,” or I’m somehow ungrateful to him. He constantly gives unsolicited advice and tries to control certain aspects of my life. Right now he’s fixated on my divorce, but he also attempts to interfere with me paying off my student loans, communicating with an employer of mine, and communicating with any landlord that I might do business with. I’m 31 years old but he definitely still treats me like a child. It’s very frustrating. I’m getting ready to move out but worry about telling him due to how abusive he can be and for fear that he will try to stop me from getting my property out of the house. I am also going to be switching attorneys, which he won’t like because my current attorney speaks to my father about my divorce case. Anyway, I know this is a lot of issues, but any advice you can give me is greatly appreciated!

    Jonice Webb - June 4, 2015 Reply

    Dear Kim, it’s time for you to stop thinking about your parents and start thinking about yourself. You need an internal “wall” between your father and yourself so that he can’t have so much control and effect on you. Please do what you need to do, don’t feel guilty, and move forward.

    Kaitlyn - August 11, 2015 Reply

    Kim, I just want to say that I can relate. Your family sounds a lot like mine. My father is controlling and narcissistic, and fairly oblivious to others’ experience (definitely in the first category). My mom probably tried her best, but had so many unhealed wounds and unmet needs of her own, likely both from childhood and from her marriage to my dad. So she was very neglectful while I was growing up, and put a lot of responsibilities on me while allowing me to be treated badly by my father and older sister. I also went through a bad marriage that ended in divorce at a relatively young age, at which point I started exploring how I ended up with such twisted ideas about myself and about relationships. Just one year later, I’ve found incredible freedom and happiness. I’m finally learning what healthy love is.

      Kim - August 12, 2015 Reply

      Kaitlyn, sorry to hear about your marriage. Thankfully, my marriage is working out and a I have a very understanding husband. Our parents do actually sound rather similar! Feel free to contact me at kimalee1983 at G mail dot com if you ever need to talk.

Perplexed - May 18, 2015 Reply

I am so grateful to have found your website and your book. My father has passed away, and my mother is 87 and in poor health. She would like one of her six children to take her in. I don’t think I could, and most of my siblings are busy with other obligations. How do I heal this hurt? Further, I am already in my late 50’s and probably damaged my children. How do I speak to them about what I have learned, and how they need to change to interact competently with their children so this cycle can be broken? Thanks for any tips you have.

    Jonice Webb - May 24, 2015 Reply

    Hi Perplexed, just do what you can for you mother but don’t feel guilty! We all have limits, and it’s OK. As for your children, most adult children (often teens too) are very relieved to have their parents acknowledge the CEN cycle, and put it into words for them. Many families have read Running on Empty together as a way to heal. Only you can judge whether your kids would respond well to being given a copy. At the very least I think it’s a good idea to try to talk to them about it.

V Lee - May 3, 2015 Reply

I think it’s hard. We all were subject to the good and bad of our parents parenting skills. We strive to better ourselves, better life for our kiddos, and hopefully our judgments aren’t to justify but to heal! I watch my daughter parent more like my sister than me, physically and mentally a tyrant,and have chosen a legal battle to protect my grandchildren. It causes great stress that this is happening but I can’t let the grandkids be failed.

    Jonice Webb - May 7, 2015 Reply

    I’m sorry that you’re going through such a difficult and painful situation. Yes, we’re all a product of our parents, but also of the choices we make ourselves. I’m so glad you are looking out for your grandchildren. Wishing you the best.

Meghana - April 7, 2015 Reply

I don’t think telling my parents would ever work. I don’t know if its my culture, because in our society talking about feelings is seen as a sign of weakness though I fail to understand why.
But my parents neglected me as well. They were never there when I wanted to talk. Even now when my brother is upset about something the whole family is rallied up to support him and talk to him because he’s seen as the emotionally ‘weaker’ kid but when I mention something about my anxieties and stress its laughed off. I have faced this throughout my childhood and only now realising that it could be the reason for who I am and for my failed relationships and friendships.
I just don’t want to pass this on to my children when I have them because I don’t want them to struggle like I did with my feelings.

    inick - July 26, 2015 Reply

    Hi Meghana,

    I am assuming you might be from Indian culture, which I am . I have a similar experience of not being able to communicate with my parents, and my sister getting all the attention she wants ( I am gay, and my sister is married with children ). All the books I read tell me to communicate with my parents , and to tell them how I feel, but when they don’t want to listen, or make it about them, then it is hard to communicate. This leads to bottled up feelings. The worst part is now coming true where they are getting old and sick, and as a dutiful son I still have to be there for them , emotionally, physically and maybe even financially.

Tamsyn Jenner - November 29, 2014 Reply

After i left hospital 6 years ago i met up with parents, i had written down all i wanted to tell them about my childhood and how it was for me, abusive, harrowing, loveless…. my mother sat and cried, my father couldn’t look at me. After i’d said my bit, my mother composed herself and said i’d always had an over active imagination and then stood up and told my father that they were leaving. And leave they did. They have tried to see me since and they pretend that the meeting didn’t happen and that my 6 weeks in hospital was to do with my silly nonsense! i have have since written to them to tell them not to contact me and not to call at my house. They haven’t tried!!!! So that draws a line under that relationship, but does 1% of myself wish they would turn up, all apologies and filled with regret and hug me like i’ve never been hugged before, sadly yes.

    Jonice Webb - December 1, 2014 Reply

    That is understandable! We all need our parents to want and love us. You are just feeling normal human needs. I admire your strength in speaking your truth to them. It shows how very strong you are. I suggest that you keep your focus on yourelf, not them. Build up yourself by focusing on your own strengths and needs. I’m rooting for you!

Lisa - September 9, 2014 Reply

For me it may be largely about revising my thoughts on the phrase “blood is thicker than water”. People are conditioned to believe that it’s always a shame when family members become estranged. The cause of the estrangement may be a shame, but the result is sometimes, the best gift a wounded person could give herself.

As a victim of abuse by an alcoholic mother and a passive-aggressive stepmother – all of which was enabled by an ostrich father – I’ve long ached for an apology. There have been times (way in the past) that I’ve received commiseration from my father – but never any measurable action on my behalf. Now, when I ask for his understanding, I just get hostility.

My deceased mother was the first type in the list; and If my father was not originally the first type, he is now. I’ve spent way too many years trying to receive positive recognition from my father and stepmother – I realize now, it will never materialize. I need to keep reminding myself of this so that I don’t waste any more of myself on this pain. I also want to shed some of the negative traits I have picked, including those relating to parenting; and I’m not sure I can do this without letting go – I mean completely.

I do recognize that my stepmother and my father most likely also had nurturing issues when they were children. When I think about it, I feel sincere compassion, followed by an urge to express sympathy, and to relieve them of any blame. But at other times, like during the toxic conversation I had with my father a week ago, at the point where he countered with an abrupt announcement about how unhappy he and his wife are, and how she no longer wants to live — I felt relieved. I know that’s not how a nice person is supposed to feel — but I truly can’t help feeling that way. When I am away from them for long periods of time, all the nasty feelings stay at bay too. It’s clear I have become noticeably warped by my up-bringing, and I do not want to pass this on to anyone else. I truly believe my best option is to cut the ties — completely.

    Jonice Webb - September 10, 2014 Reply

    Dear Lisa,
    Your responsibility is to yourself and your own health and well-being. I can’t give you advice except to say that you should do whatever will promote that, and if you need help, please find a good therapist to guide and support you. All my best wishes.

jennifer - May 20, 2014 Reply

Helpful.Hard to see on paper.This journey of healing really sucks. Its like a double whammy. First, you live it, then you have to work at recovering from it, while paying constant attention that you dont repeat any of it with your own children inadvertantly. Tough stuff. You know, all Id really like is for my parent to just say “Im sorry”. Anyhow, working weekly with a counselor to help myself figure out how to be okay without the apology that probably wont ever be said.

    Judy - March 29, 2015 Reply

    My dad died before he got to make peace with me. My mum is alive and getting her own wish fulfilment from an adult who is a university type, and who she took in and began to treat like her son. She does not even see the hurt she causes her own hardworking oldest son. Yes, she apologised, but has not changed. It’s complicated alright.

Leah hill - March 3, 2014 Reply

Great information- extremely thorough. Thank you.

    Lisa - April 1, 2015 Reply

    I was neglected by my parents – also humans, people who did the best they could at the time and who’s best was, unfortunately, inexcusable – and I have three immediate reactions to this question:

    1. I wasn’t the only one struggling back then – we all were – and if an appropriate home for me to address that comes up (for me, it did), then, maybe I’d tell them it was hard. Otherwise it’s not as if they were having fun, either; I think it’s important to realize that they wouldve made things better if they could’ve.
    2. If my parents weren’t the type to care how it was for me then, why would they now? My folks weren’t like that and I understand the impulse to make them know their impact, but more than likely parents like this won’t care now, either.
    3. after we turn 18, unless we plan to cut ties less they acknowledge the pain they put us through, it’s none of their business.

      Jonice Webb - April 5, 2015 Reply

      All good answers Lisa which make perfect sense. You are acknowledging here some very painful truths, but truths which will help you move forward on your own. Often the answers don’t lie between us and our parents, they lie within ourselves. I hope you are focusing on yourself now and your own needs, and moving on with your own life. My guess is that is exactly what you are doing. Take care, OK?

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