When Your Kid Breaks Up With You


So you’re going along being a mom, and you think it’s permanent, because, you know, but then all of a sudden he or she decides it’s over.

He or she refers to you as a “biological mother” and pretty much tells you to fuck off.

He or she is just not that into you.

Naturally, you didn’t see this coming and you start wondering what happened, what drove him or her away.

Were you too clingy or too distant, too needy or too demanding, did you complain about the messy bedroom too many times? What did the other moms know that you didn’t?

Were you not a good listener? Were you too involved or not involved enough, too protective or too negligent? When they got big and started to scream at you, was it wrong to scream back? When you patiently read to them or tucked them in bed or served them dinner, was it stupid to think it was part of a lifelong deal?

When you get dumped, you have to let go. Mommy up.

They once loved you but now it’s over. Don’t stalk them online, looking for news, because they’ll just block you until you get the message. Even on Instagram.

It’s hard! But there’s nothing you can do. Accept that you have no power. It was good while it lasted. It was fun nursing them, dressing them up in those cute little outfits, watching TV with them, wrapping their Christmas presents, taking them to see Patti Smith, visiting their college.

They never asked to be born, remember?

Just try to forget about him or her. There are plenty of other kids out there.

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One Response to When Your Kid Breaks Up With You

  1. Sister Wolf says:

    23 Responses to Private: When Your Kid Breaks Up With You

    Jody says:

    ugh, my worst fear. no words, sister.

    Miranda says:

    I am, for once, totally speechless. WTF? Sending you so much love, sister.

    Dj says:

    Sister, let him go, he’ll be back…I send a big hug

    B the Cow

    This is common enough. There are groups and books about this. My friend, S, has a daughter who hasn’t spoken to her in about eight years. She’s forbidden any other family member to mention her to her mother on grounds she’ll do the same to that family member. Family dynamics are tough. Let him or her fly and wish him/her well, and hope he or she remembers where the nest is built. And how.

    Janet says:

    It’s terrifying how little control mothers have over how kids behave once they’re adults. I’m so sorry. I hope it’s only temporary. xoxo

    Marky says:

    Like many many many of your posts, this is tragic and beautiful and funny.

    Bevitron says:

    I don’t have any kids, so what do I know. Don’t listen to me.

    You didn’t drive him/her off, he/she drove you off, for reasons unfathomable, as usual. What age is the kid? Teens, twenties, thirties? People don’t get one fucking lick of sense, if they’re going to get any, until they get somewhere in their forties and see the first creeping signs of age – a few gray hairs, a little chin sag – and realize, well, shit, I don’t have FOREVER?? I haven’t lived this, but I’ve seen it over and over with my child-having friends.

    I bet the thing that would drive him/her the craziest, eventually, would be if they knew you were cool with it. They’d know.
    I don’t have the slightest idea how you do that, and I know it must hurt like hell. I’m so sorry, too, and I hope kid grows up and out of this.

    Kellie says:


    Family is so difficult. All you can do is your best, and thats got to be good enough. Especially considering all the extenuating circumstances, this is an incredibly low blow for the child to strike.

    I dont even know what to say, other than I am so sorry. And that my relationship with my Dad only survives as long as we dont discuss anything meaninful. When we do, all it is, is war.

    Hang in there. Day by day.

    Breathe. I always forget when I am stressed.

    Sister Wolf says:

    Jody – xoxo

    Miranda – xoxo

    Dj – xoxo

    B the cow – Well, I have no choice here. But sad for your friend S.

    Janet – xoxo

    Marky – Turning intolerable feelings into words seems to help me. Somewhat.

    Bevitron – Yep, no one really gets anything until some true existential crisis reveals how godless the universe is. Is that a “wake-up call” or a “teachable moment”?

    Kellie -xoxo

    Renee says:

    I already fear that I am driving my 10 year old daughter away. I can’t mother her well. I don’t have the skills. I am waiting, in fear, for the day when she says that I am the toxic person in her life and she needs to sever ties.

    G says:

    Would it shock you to know that I. the parent, made the decision to end relations with an adult child ? It happens. There are healthy limits to everything, including parenting. Self preservation of all kinds come into play.

    G says:

    I’m also using this valuable time to get back in touch with the person I once was before motherhood took over my life. I also feel unburdened by preconceived roles and expectations .

    Add to this, the fact that there is a great deal of stuff happening in the world right now carrying far more interest and importance than the drama that is my “adult child”.

    Sister Wolf says:

    Renee – I think the word ‘toxic’ gets thrown around too much – it’s a label that allows people to reject someone …”He/She is just a toxic person.” Before that, a good label was “Too needy.” Of course, some people are ‘toxic’ and destructive in relationships but your self-awareness and your concern make me doubt you are one of them

    Maybe you could talk to a counselor, at her school or a community clinic? Or a parents group? Maybe her personality is a difficult match for you and makes you worry about managing your own feelings?

    Love and empathy are the main tools but most of us could do with more guidance. Let me know if I can help find you book or resources or something. xoxo

    Sister Wolf says:

    G – Nope, not shocked at all. I’ve heard parents say that they don’t have contact with their kids and feel justified or relieved or somehow at peace about it. Usually there are stories about the kid being an addict or a car thief or some incorrigible type like that.

    If it makes life better for you, it sounds like the right move.
    For me, my kids are my heart and soul – I don’t know how to feel differently. I guess I’ll have to try.

    thrift store lawyer
    July 2, 2016 at 11:12 pm (Edit)

    Would it help you to know why others have broken up with their parents? I haven’t spoken to or seen my father in over a year, even though I’m terrified my girls might one day shut me out, too. But I’m sorry that you’re going through this, that the losses pile up.

    Sister Wolf says:

    thrift store lawyer – I didn’t speak to either of my parents for years. My mom once left a package of my baby pictures on my front doorstep, writing on one of them: “I hate you and I always have.” She was mentally ill but you know, she scared me. All I remember from my childhood is fear and shame.

    My dad was just a narcissistic prick with a sadistic streak. I’ll bed you have a good reason for staying away from your dad. Maybe you’re trying to protect yourself?

    Lauren Q says:

    Have you ever heard of the Reddit group Raised by Narcissists? It bills itself as a support group for child abuse survivors, and to be fair, many posters on there are abuse victims. But it is pretty much a toxic anti-parent cult.

    (Disclaimer: I am not a parent. I am a recovering child abuse victim who cut off contact with my physically/emotionally abusive mom a year ago and I still stand by that decision despite my feelings about RBN. I used to post on this group regularly before I realized how fucked up it was. Just so you know where I am coming from.)

    Due to the dogmatic anti-parent rules of the group, many impressionable young people, who have contentious relationships with their parents as is common at that age, are convinced by the group that they are being raised by emotionally abusive narcissists and that their only choice is to cut off all contact or else risk becoming narcissists themselves. These people construe any action or word on the part of a parent as emotional abuse or manipulation. People post perfectly normal emails from their parents and they are over-analyzed for signs of “emotional manipulation.” People post “Do you think my parent is a narcissist?” and the answer is always yes and to cut off contact as soon as possible, no matter what.

    As an example, if a member of RBN was to read your blog post on this topic, they would use it as “proof” that you were a narcissist because they would say you were “making the situation all about you” by posting about your feelings on the topic, and “trying to guilt trip your son” by talking about all the good memories you shared and how his estrangement has negatively affected you. They would probably also accuse you of being uncaring because you have attempted to move on from the estrangement.

    It’s all black and white. There’s no gradient of being a good parent, or being a parent that was imperfect but tried their best — nope, it’s just two options, “toxic narcissist abuser,” or “healthy.” And almost nobody seems to fall into the latter category.

    They have this rule called “assume a context of abuse” which pretty much means posters must automatically assume that anyone who posts is an abuse victim. Seems like a good rule in practice but basically what happens is a) people post about completely petty stuff, like their parent getting mad at them for not doing their chores, and the only comments that are allowed are comments validating this as “abuse”, or b) people post about situations in which they themselves are clearly acting abusively towards their parents, and either it is overlooked, *actively encouraged*, or if it is severe enough to be called out, the stance is still taken of “the parent must have done something abusive towards them to deserve it.” Any posts that do not adhere to this rule are deleted by the mods and the users are banned.

    I could give more concrete examples of this behavior if you want. Not all of the posts are like this of course, there are plenty of examples of real abuse on there, but there are also some examples of the stuff I described that are just egregious.

    Anyway the reason why I am telling you about this is, perhaps your kid has discovered this group and is being brainwashed by them into thinking that you are an “emotionally abusive and manipulative narcissist”. I suppose this may be a bit irrelevant at this point considering you are respecting his wishes to be estranged from you, but I thought you might like to know that stuff like this is out there. Best of luck.

    Sister Wolf says:

    Lauren Q – I had heard something about this group, but it sounded so deranged, I didn’t want to go near it. It almost fulfills the criteria of a cult, right?

    Getting together to demonize your parents sounds kind of pathological on some level.

    All parents make mistakes – but they’re the only ones you’ve got. Unless they wronged you by all objective standards, they’re probably the people who care most about your well-being and happiness.

    I’m sorry you had an abusive parent! I did too. And you do have to protect yourself. xo

    Sister Wolf says:

    thrift store lawyer – I didst mean to sound dismissive about your father! If you want to explain why you broke up with him, please do.

    thrift store lawyer

    No dismissiveness sensed, and no offense taken. I just haven’t been in a place (mentally or physically or both) where responding was feasible. What your mother did sounds horrific. It doesn’t help, but I’m still sorry she did that to you.

    My father was also a narcissist and probable sex addict, but he was a “normal” God-fearing man, by his account. He protected the sex abusers in my life and my sister’s life. After years of allowing my two young girls to be around him, I found out he had raped my disabled aunt and her cousin (both 9 at the time) when he was 14. When my sister confronted him, he expressed shame at “sexually abusing” his sister, but believed that his now-deceased cousin had “wanted it.” I had wanted him out of my (and my daughters’) life for years, and this finally gave me permission. He has since faked stage 4 cancer to draw most of my siblings and their children back to his bedside.

    Lauren Q, I have also visited RBN on Reddit and found it incredibly helpful for a time. I never became a part of that community–which sounds to be a good thing–but reading the posts of others with narcissistic injury did help me see my family what it was. Therapy and outside reading have since confirmed the suspicions that RBN gave me about my dad.

    It’s a process. I personally feel like we owe our parents an explanation of why we “break up,” though it was very hard for me to muster the courage to verbalize it. My dad knows my reason and thinks I’m full of shit; he attacked me bitterly and threw the sexual abuse I suffered as a child back in my face. Not all parents do that, but that’s how he always parented. I’m not sure we will ever reconcile (and my husband will never allow our kids to see him again under any circumstances). But I will keep working toward accepting that my dad wasn’t the parent I wanted, and see where that leads.

    Acceptance fucking drags on forever, right? I hope it drags less so for you and your boy.

    Sister Wolf says:

    thrift store lawyer – Wow. Awful. I have a friend whose father sounds alot like yours – he threw things in her face, called her a whore, and seemed to resent her efforts to overcome her childhood. I used to help her write letters to him that she had no intention of sending…it was just a cathartic exercise to call him a piece of shit.

    I think acceptance is a worthy goal. But I wouldn’t want to be around a parent who projects their own self-hatred on me or who uses me for their own weird needs.

    Me and my kid – I guess he needs to feel separate from me. We used to be close but maybe that was getting in the way of his independence. I don’t know what narrative he uses to explain rejecting me, but I have no power to change it. Deep down, as mothers, we know our ratio of good to bad mothering, I believe. If we’re not delusional, of course. And I was pretty good.

    On the bright side, we have a new dog, and he is totally great and adorable, and I get to pet him whenever I want. xo

    Kate says:

    Sister Wolf, since you had a narcissistic father and a despising mother it is highly likely you transmitted some of their habits in your parenting even if you tried your damnedest not to. My grandmother is an actual full fledged abusive narcissist and so is my mother while I have schizophrenia. My mom thinks she is the best mom ever, as did her mother. That in itself is a danger. I won’t be having any children so as to stop the cycle. Does that mean my mom was really a terrible mother or that when I cut her out of my life for the most part it is out of hate? No, it really really is out of love because this separation is the only way I can heal deep wounds. My mother had me medicated at a young age, sabotaged every attempt at maturity or independence, and was petrefied my father was in love with me. My older brother feels such guilt and need to be loyal despite my mother mistreating him also and feels he has to pick up the slack for my insanity. Since you come from a family of origin as crazy or crazier than mine you can surely understand. You were the best mother you could be and don’t have the superiority complex of my mom and her mom, so maybe this will just be an individuation phase. Reading your account of this process has made me reconsider cutting my mom out of my life though. Re: the Reddit raised by narcissists being a cult? Maybe, but this pathology is rampant and highly damaging. It comes down to: did a mother put her needs and wants ahead of a baby’s and/or feel attacked by or jealous of him/her more often than not? If so it is a profound betrayal of the most basic human trust process: birth, growing up. Your account doesn’t read like someone who did that though. This might have more to do with the whole intergenerational drama being pinned on you?

    Sister Wolf says:

    Kate – Wow. There is a lot to unpack, as they say on the news these days. First, I agree that family pathology is hard to ignore as a factor in anything. And your mother’s behavior sounds so destructive, you should get a medal for surviving. She sounds like a borderline – typical borderline combination of aggressive and needy. From what I’ve read, schizophrenia is genetically connected to depression and likewise can be triggered by adverse childhood experience.

    It is agonizing for me to have no communication with my child, but if he needed this for his well-being, I would/will learn to live with it.

    If being around your mom feels harmful to you, you must follow those instincts. If forgiving her a little feels like it could be positive, then that could be a therapeutic step.
    My kids have been the joy of my life. But you don’t get guarantees of anything. It’s a scary business.

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