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4 Ways Estranged Parents Tell on Themselves

Updated: Apr 23

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” - Carl Jung

Older people in shock

You can’t depend on estranged parents for good parenting advice (they’re expertise is more along the lines of what not to do as a parent), but something you can depend on them to do is tell on themselves. From my research on estranged parents—or “rejected parents” as they refer to themselves to trick you into thinking they’re the “real victims”—one of the things I’ve learned is that estranged parents have this thing for telling on themselves. They do it quite literally all the time. All you have to know is what to listen for. In this blog post I’m sharing 4 of the most common ways estranged parents tell on themselves without even knowing it. Let’s get started.

1. “My estranged child has a personality disorder.”

I recently received an email from an estranged mom who used the “My estranged kid is mentally ill!” card to unknowingly tell on herself. This so-called mom’s transparent email reads: “I don’t know what is up with all you counselors and therapists, but estrangement is NOT ALWAYS the parent’s fault! My estranged daughter is 35 and extremely manipulative, self-centered, angry, and entitled. She wants me to apologize for all these supposed mistakes I made raising her, but I refuse to apologize for being a PARENT. I’m a GOOD mom. Did I yell and say less than nice things sometimes? Of course!!! I’m not perfect!! The issue is that my daughter has borderline personality disorder. This estrangement is BECAUSE OF HER MENTAL ILLNESS! She’s the one who has the problem and should be apologizing for hurting ME, the loving mom who sacrificed everything for her!”

If only we knew where borderline personality disorder comes from…Oh wait, we do. Borderline (along with CPTSD and many other mental illnesses) comes from the very thing your estrangement from your adult child screams they experienced—childhood trauma. Trying to shift the blame onto your child for the estrangement by saying they have BPD is nothing more than an ableist self-own. It’s the epitome of saying, “My child’s needs went unmet in childhood because I failed them and now I’m continuing to fail them by blaming them for my mistakes.” The estranged parents who do this seriously need to get it together.

2. “My estranged child’s had problems since they were little.”

An estranged mom on a forum for “rejected parents” tells on herself when she writes, “As his Mom, [my estranged son] has been conniving and manipulative his entire life. He used to hide in the department store clothes racks when he was a young child because he knew it would scare me…and other actions like that. Perhaps that was an indication of things to come…Yikes! Many more stories like this one over the years.”

After explaining that the whole clothes rack thing is nothing more than normal child development, here’s what I’d love to say to this estranged mom: Your estranged son was conniving and manipulative since birth? Queue the Willy Wonka “Tell me more about that” meme. Who, pray tell, would you say was ultimately responsible for your child back then? Said another way, if your child really was as broken as you say he was, whose obligation was it to get him help? The answer to these is critical, so if you’re confused I strongly suggest a mirror. The truth can be painful, but that it never hurts as much as delusion.

3. “My estranged child’s a [insert name-calling].”

On a “rejected parent” forum run by the author of this dreadful book (see my recent post on Instagram to learn more) that teaches estranged parents how to play the victim, parents name-calling their own children is typical. One estranged mom on the site doesn’t mince any words when she refers to her estranged daughter as a “real nasty bitch” who can “go straight to hell.” Think that’s an outlier? Think again. The host who regularly signs each of her comments with a saccharine, “Hugs to all,” writes about her own experience of “having such dumbasses for children.”

You’re over here maligning your estranged children by calling them disparaging names in front of god and everyone, and you want us to think you aren’t at fault for estrangement? I get that this non-logic goes over just fine on your estranged parent forum since reality, like sound parenting advice, is the last thing you’ll find there, but the rest of us are cringing for you because you’re clearly the baddies and you don’t even know it. Since you clearly missed the memo, here goes: good parents aren’t the ones calling their kids nasty names on the internet (or anywhere else).

4. “My estranged child’s spoiled.”

Almost every day I find yet another comment by a self-righteous estranged parent that says something along the lines of, “My awful estranged child is so spoiled! Nothing’s ever good enough for them, and that’s why they left me!” usually accompanied by one version or another of the classic “Woe is me!” estranged parent anthem. Without fail, the same two questions always come to mind: 1) Does this estranged parent know how spoiling even works? and 2) Does this estranged parent realize how ridiculous they sound? If you’re reading this thinking, “Wow, it’s almost like the estranged parent is admitting they were a crappy parent, while blaming their child for experiencing their crappy parenting!” all I can say is I’m right there with you. Talk about telling on yourself.

A quick note about the whole spoiled thing: Whenever a parent—estranged or otherwise—tells me they think it’s possible for a child to be spoiled (i.e. loved “too much”) what this tells me is that they have a trauma history. Love, the real kind anyway, is an inherently good thing—there’s no such thing as receiving too much of it. The parent who does things for their child that their child can easily do for themselves? The parent who keeps their child from experiencing the real world? That’s not love; that’s control. Big important difference.


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