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    How to deal with rude disrespectful adult children

    Asked Jul 25, 2012, 09:31 AM 14 Answers
    Seven years ago my husband and I divorced. We have 4 grown children 33, 35, 37, 39. I have 2 boys and 2 girls. My oldest son won't have anything to do with me because he blames me for the divorce. We had been married 35 years and had problems years ago, but I stayed because of my kids. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I married at 14 and had my first child at almost 17.

    Since that time their dad has played the pity card. He used our kids to try to make me stay in a marriage that he refused to work on or communicate until I finally said enough. My 2 daughters include him in everything and rarely include me and my husband. They are very rude and disrespectful to me unless they need me for something. My oldest daughter constantly talks hateful to me, tells lies about me, and she won't let me see my grandchildren.

    The only time they include me is if they need something. When trouble comes they call me, but the rest of the time dad is their concern. The treat him like he is an invalid and baby him to death and he encourages it, he encourages them to be rude and mean to me. They did it while we were married, he didn't want to do the hard part of parenting like telling them no... he always put that on me.

    Most of our married years he was never around anyway. He came home on the weekends and did the play with the kids routine, so all they remember was the "play daddy" and the discipline and saying no from mom. I went to college with all four of my kids and am a retired teacher.

    I am a Christian and I struggle with just cutting ties with them, but this has been going on since before my divorce but it really escalated after the divorce. My ex-husband never stood up for me or respected me in front of his kids. This has been going on for 7 years right now to a point that I stay so depressed and cry because I never know what I am allowed to say, when I am allowed to call their home, but they feel they can call me anytime , they don't respect my privacy or that I might still be in bed of the morning or at night. It is all about what they want, they never consider me or my life.

    I am just at my wits end, I feel like I am constantly walking on eggshells around them and they make no bones talking badly to me because they have always gotten by with it, their dad never did a thing when they did it. I just need help..

    Last edited by Mojobossy; Jul 25, 2012 at 09:40 AM. Reason: grammar and punctuation
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    jenniepepsi's Avatar
    jenniepepsi Posts: 4,038, Reputation: 533
    Ultra Member
     
    #2

    Jul 25, 2012, 11:03 AM
    I am very sorry you are dealing with this. But please, quit blaming yourself, and at this point, even your ex husband. Place the blame where it belongs, with your kids. They are in their 30s. They make their own choices. And they are WELL BEYOND old enough to be able to see past their fathers lies. They CHOOSE not to. And that is on THEM. Not you or anyone else.

    I don't know how to make this better for you I wish I did.

    But as far as YOU are concerned, and YOU alone, get into some counselling for the depression, and work through some of these feelings. Get some friends, to spend time with, and hang out with. Get a hobby that you enjoy, and spend some time on yourself.

    They may or may not ever come around to you. But take care of YOU.
    Helpful
    gmaof04's Avatar
    gmaof04 Posts: 33, Reputation: 3
    Junior Member
     
    #3

    Jul 29, 2012, 05:35 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Mojobossy View Post
    Seven years ago my husband and I divorced. We have 4 grown children 33, 35, 37, 39. I have 2 boys and 2 girls. My oldest son won't have anything to do with me because he blames me for the divorce. We had been married 35 years and had problems years ago, but I stayed because of my kids. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I married at 14 and had my first child at almost 17.

    Since that time their dad has played the pity card. He used our kids to try to make me stay in a marriage that he refused to work on or communicate until I finally said enough. My 2 daughters include him in everything and rarely include me and my husband. They are very rude and disrespectful to me unless they need me for something. My oldest daughter constantly talks hateful to me, tells lies about me, and she won't let me see my grandchildren.

    The only time they include me is if they need something. When trouble comes they call me, but the rest of the time dad is their concern. The treat him like he is an invalid and baby him to death and he encourages it, he encourages them to be rude and mean to me. They did it while we were married, he didn't want to do the hard part of parenting like telling them no...he always put that on me.

    Most of our married years he was never around anyway. He came home on the weekends and did the play with the kids routine, so all they remember was the "play daddy" and the discipline and saying no from mom. I went to college with all four of my kids and am a retired teacher.

    I am a Christian and I struggle with just cutting ties with them, but this has been going on since before my divorce but it really escalated after the divorce. My ex-husband never stood up for me or respected me in front of his kids. This has been going on for 7 years right now to a point that I stay so depressed and cry because I never know what I am allowed to say, when I am allowed to call their home, but they feel they can call me anytime , they don't respect my privacy or that I might still be in bed of the morning or at night. It is all about what they want, they never consider me or my life.

    I am just at my wits end, I feel like I am constantly walking on eggshells around them and they make no bones talking badly to me because they have always gotten by with it, their dad never did a thing when they did it. I just need help..
    My daughters are 29 and 31. My 31 year old has been in "counseling" for more than 5 years now, because of "relationship/health/emotional" issues. Over the past year, she has become distant and short with me. She is mother to my 3 grandchildren whom I adore. I rarely get to see them anymore, even though we live just 15 minutes away. I've become the target of her "issues".
    I feel for you. I don't really know why our adult children do this to us. We did our best while raising them. By the way, my first husband was exactly the same. Gone 2 weeks then home for a weekend, the "playtime daddy". My daughter sent me a scathing email the other day, when I had asked her what I had done that was so horrible. I then asked if I could meet with her counselor so we can put an end to this constant battle. She's very hesitant which throws a huge red flag up to me. I'm wondering what she has told this counselor?
    I wish I had an answer for you, but perhaps as mentioned here before, get some counseling for yourself. If for no other reason than to be able to unload on someone who is not so close to your situation.
    Take care...
    Helpful
    Mojobossy's Avatar
    Mojobossy Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    Jul 29, 2012, 02:03 PM
    Thank you for answering my post. My oldest daughter has 2 children that she uses each time she gets mad at me. My granddaughter is just 2 yrs, her name is Grace. She has a rare form of dwarfism and has been through so much in the past 2 years. I helped take care of her the first year, I babysat 3 days a week, I drove to my daughters house and stayed. I never ask for anything, but 1 week before school was out and she knew she didn't need me for a while she found a reason to get mad at me. So I never saw my granddaughter all summer and like you I was about 20 minutes away.

    When things are going good, their dad is the center of attention. When things are falling apart, they call mom. My kids cannot accept that I am not going to take their dad back. I think they feel like as long as they reject me it will make me do what they want. It has really been a struggle for me. I have a lot of bitterness toward my ex recently because he is still playing the pity card and pushing his agenda.

    My oldest daughter got mad because I called at 9:00 and didn't use the home phone, after she had text me the day before at 7:38 a.m... but she had a problem and was upset... so that made it OK. How dare me call at 9:00 because they might not be up. It just escalated from her smart remark to her calling my husband at work to tell on me... the husband they can't stand. She is 39 years old!! It is like I am just there to appease them when they want something.
    Helpful
    StephyRC's Avatar
    StephyRC Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member
     
    #5

    Sep 11, 2012, 01:03 PM
    Hi, I am a recently, retired therapist. I used to work for the mental health team in the United Kingdom in the National Health Service. I now live in Canada and have done for the past 6 months.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, Mother's usually tend to bear the burden of family unity while men tend to escape this responsibility. It seems we (men and women) are biologically disposed towards this kind of set-up.

    In some sense looking at what your ex may or may not do is unhelpful to you. You need to free yourself from this kind of thinking as it is self-destructive and your ex may or may not know what he is doing. Men generally use this kind of tactic as they deal with break-ups differently to women. Nobody deals with rejection well but when men (again generally, not exclusively ) experience a lack of control over their circumstances they respond with primitive, defence mechanisms.

    Try to recognize your accomplishments as a Mother and not what is happening now. Adults need to take responsibility for their behaviour and it sounds as if you are still taking responsibility for your childrens' behaviour. Sometimes people, our children included, restrict their search for answers in an attempt to avoid emotional pain. It is a paradox of the human condition that in order to avoid feeling a specific pain we create even more pain for ourselves. They may never have dealt with the break -up and use you to release their own pain and blame is part of that cycle. They cannot blame their Dad he wasn't there, he was a play Dad. I don't mean that he had no part in this, I mean it from the perspective of a child.

    Your children may use you as an insuarance that things are the same (they come to you when things go worng), even though you have split from your husband . The absent father receives the attention because he was absent (the play father) whereas you ,Mum, have always been there having to create rules. You are the rock upon which all this unfolds. However, if you take responsibility for the way they treat you now, as if it is somehow your fault, then you would have to take responsibility for every other choice they have made in their lives, which is impossible - what about all the other influences we have growing up? I don't remember my Mother pushing me to be unpleasant and ungrateful, but I was .

    The feelings you are experiencing are obviously because you wish things were different, but until you are different it might never change. It may mean you taking a chance on stating your feelings to your family, whether they are listening or not, and backing off until you are contacted. It might also mean that when you are contacted you do not allow anyone to speak to you disrespectfully from the start and tell them you will not respond if they do. You do not know what to do or to say because it will always be wrong - they have always done it because you have always been there to do it to.

    Whatever choice you make it means respecting yourself first. Don't you deserve some consideration? Your children emulate their father's treatment of you - maybe it's time for you to remember what you have done for them and now begin to respect yourself . We cannot change other people but we can change oursleves - be knider to yourself and care about you more than you have in the past.
    We can love and protect our children but unfortunately it does not always guarantee they are that way in return.

    Sorry I can't write more and I hope it's helpful.

    Best Wishes
    Stephen
    Helpful
    Bossmyers55's Avatar
    Bossmyers55 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
    New Member
     
    #6

    Sep 11, 2012, 02:53 PM
    Thank you for your reply. I know that much of what you say is true, I guess being the oldest child of alcoholic parents, I try to fix everything. I fear that I will be the cause of something going wrong or someone getting hurt if I don't try to help.

    Even as a 12 year old I cared for everyone, I tried to take care of them. I however, never seemed to be important to anyone. I still feel that way.
    Helpful
    panther196's Avatar
    panther196 Posts: 64, Reputation: 1
    Junior Member
     
    #7

    Sep 11, 2012, 03:29 PM
    Marrying at age 14 is way too young. You're immature & still going through puberty. Im surprised the marriage lasted as long as it did. Your son who refuses to talk to you needs to grow up.
    Helpful
    StephyRC's Avatar
    StephyRC Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member
     
    #8

    Sep 11, 2012, 08:40 PM
    Hi,
    Ok this is a bit long on explanation but please be patient there is a point to it.

    It is unfortunate that we can, as children, learn to abuse ourselves because the adults in our lives make us feel worthless. Children devise all sorts of ways to cope with their painful emotions. You were the carer looking for affection as we do as children and didn't receive it. It's not hard for me to guess that your childhood has been extremely hard and loveless and then to be married at 14 - you were still being abused.

    It does not have to go on that way. If a child came to you in the street and asked you if she or he was worthless would you say yes? I don't think you would. I think you would try to tell the child that she or he was worth a lot and do you know it would not make any difference. Because, what has been damaged in the fictitious child, as it has in you, is self-worth independent of others. While we work hard to be worthy of others, if that was the answer, it would happen as soon as someone complemented us. How is that it is never enough and we can go on looking for worth when all the time it is our self belief that poisons our lives.

    I have worked with alcoholics and one thing that is common is never taking responsibility for their actions. They blame others for everything. What are you able to do as a child to defend yourself from those people you expect to love and protect you nothing except what you did.

    I am guessing that in most difficult situations you have faced in your life it is probably the little girl that has leapt into action but it hasn't brought you any happiness - again I'm guessing, and yet you continue down that same road with the same responses as we all do even thought they don't work. Our brains do that to us! Once a threat of any description is experienced by the brain it is designed to take control in whatever way it can, hence the flight or fight response. Our brains are simplistic devices in survival terms. The thin layer that coats them is our cognitive intelligence. I have always said that even if you believe in God wouldn't he have designed us with some automated system to get us out of trouble? We don't stand and decide if the car is going to knock us down or not we react. Just as the autoimmune system in our body fights infection without us thinking about whether it should or not so do our minds react to stress in a tried and tested fashion, regardless of how good it may be for us socially. That's why people that are happy to be married can bolt on their wedding day because the brain says so run! But it's not really what they want to do and it is only after the action they stop and reflect on what they have done. It is then they may feel sad, or sorry or guilty or anxious. Or the whole range of emotions. And so the circle continues - worthlessness

    The first thing you need to recognise is that your mind (that's all of us) is not necessarily your friend. Do thoughts enter your head and you get caught up in debate with them are they mostly negative? Do you respond to your thoughts as if they are orders? It is something we all do unless we learn another way. Your brain recreates the threat of childhood the losses the lack of affection and love but as an adult you can choose. Another path. I want to recommend a book to you, which has nothing to do with me.

    It is an evidenced-based self- awareness book based on the work of psychologists in the US and it is the only one that makes any sense in the way we live our lives. This particular book is written by a laid-back Australian Doctor of Psychology and is easy reading but takes time to implement. I don't make any money from it and it is the only book I was happy to recommend when I was working. You can buy it for a few dollars second-hand on Amazon. It's called:
    'The Happiness Trap' written by Dr Russ Harris
    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Happiness-Trap-Struggling-Living/dp/1590305841
    The resources that go along with this book he has provided free on the internet.

    Please read it. My wife has read it and has found her life long habit of self-doubt disappearing and her intrusive thoughts ( which all of us have) lessening.

    While you are waiting to get the book try this.

    Sit in a chair and imagine a flow of water running down a hill. Every thought that comes into your head write it on a leaf and imagine it floating away. Try not to engage with the thought but if you do as soon as you realise you have don't be angry with yourself, accept it, and continue doing the exercise. It is designed to help you remain in the present rather than be living in the past or having negative thoughts about the future and things you cannot change. Even if you have the thought 'why am I doing this stupid exercise recommended by an idiot I don't know' write it on the leaf and let it go. You need to practice this but don't try to use it when you feel bad, it is not for that. It is called Mindfulness and is one of many techniques to help train your mind to be present. The cost for living in the past and worrying about the future is the present, and that's all we truly have as the rest exists purely in our minds to terrorise us.

    I know we don't know each other but here is something for you to ponder. I was looking on the internet for French lessons and have no idea how I stumbled upon this web site. I don't write on them and I don't belong to any groups. I read what you wrote and could not ignore it. It has been my happy task to meet a lot of people in my career that I have regarded as teachers as well as clients. As one human being to another without any agenda I wish you well so you can't be worthless can you?

    Best Wishes
    Stephen
    Helpful
    SusanQG's Avatar
    SusanQG Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
    New Member
     
    #9

    Oct 3, 2012, 06:20 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by StephyRC View Post
    Hi,
    Ok this is a bit long on explanation but please be patient there is a point to it.

    it is unfortunate that we can, as children, learn to abuse ourselves because the adults in our lives make us feel worthless. Children devise all sorts of ways to cope with their painful emotions. You were the carer looking for affection as we do as children and didn't receive it. It's not hard for me to guess that your childhood has been extremely hard and loveless and then to be married at 14 - you were still being abused.

    It does not have to go on that way. If a child came to you in the street and asked you if she or he was worthless would you say yes? I don't think you would. I think you would try to tell the child that she or he was worth a lot and do you know it would not make any difference. Because, what has been damaged in the fictitious child, as it has in you, is self-worth independent of others. While we work hard to be worthy of others, if that was the answer, it would happen as soon as someone complemented us. How is that it is never enough and we can go on looking for worth when all the time it is our self belief that poisons our lives.

    I have worked with alcoholics and one thing that is common is never taking responsibility for their actions. They blame others for everything. What are you able to do as a child to defend yourself from those people you expect to love and protect you nothing except what you did.

    I am guessing that in most difficult situations you have faced in your life it is probably the little girl that has leapt into action but it hasn't brought you any happiness - again I'm guessing, and yet you continue down that same road with the same responses as we all do even thought they don't work. Our brains do that to us! Once a threat of any description is experienced by the brain it is designed to take control in whatever way it can, hence the flight or fight response. Our brains are simplistic devices in survival terms. The thin layer that coats them is our cognitive intelligence. I have always said that even if you believe in God wouldn't he have designed us with some automated system to get us out of trouble? We don't stand and decide if the car is going to knock us down or not we react. Just as the autoimmune system in our body fights infection without us thinking about whether it should or not so do our minds react to stress in a tried and tested fashion, regardless of how good it may be for us socially. That's why people that are happy to be married can bolt on their wedding day because the brain says so run! but it's not really what they want to do and it is only after the action they stop and reflect on what they have done. It is then they may feel sad, or sorry or guilty or anxious. or the whole range of emotions. And so the circle continues - worthlessness

    The first thing you need to recognise is that your mind (that's all of us) is not necessarily your friend. Do thoughts enter your head and you get caught up in debate with them are they mostly negative? Do you respond to your thoughts as if they are orders? It is something we all do unless we learn another way. Your brain recreates the threat of childhood the losses the lack of affection and love but as an adult you can choose. another path. I want to recommend a book to you, which has nothing to do with me.

    It is an evidenced-based self- awareness book based on the work of psychologists in the US and it is the only one that makes any sense in the way we live our lives. This particular book is written by a laid-back Australian Doctor of Psychology and is easy reading but takes time to implement. I don't make any money from it and it is the only book I was happy to recommend when I was working. You can buy it for a few dollars second-hand on Amazon. It's called:
    'The Happiness Trap' written by Dr Russ Harris
    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Happiness-Trap-Struggling-Living/dp/1590305841
    The resources that go along with this book he has provided free on the internet.

    Please read it. My wife has read it and has found her life long habit of self-doubt disappearing and her intrusive thoughts ( which all of us have) lessening.

    While you are waiting to get the book try this.

    Sit in a chair and imagine a flow of water running down a hill. Every thought that comes into your head write it on a leaf and imagine it floating away. Try not to engage with the thought but if you do as soon as you realise you have don't be angry with yourself, accept it, and continue doing the exercise. It is designed to help you remain in the present rather than be living in the past or having negative thoughts about the future and things you cannot change. Even if you have the thought 'why am I doing this stupid exercise recommended by an idiot I don't know' write it on the leaf and let it go. You need to practice this but don't try to use it when you feel bad, it is not for that. It is called Mindfulness and is one of many techniques to help train your mind to be present. The cost for living in the past and worrying about the future is the present, and that's all we truly have as the rest exists purely in our minds to terrorise us.

    I know we don't know each other but here is something for you to ponder. I was looking on the internet for French lessons and have no idea how I stumbled upon this web site. I don't write on them and I don't belong to any groups. I read what you wrote and could not ignore it. It has been my happy task to meet a lot of people in my career that I have regarded as teachers as well as clients. As one human being to another without any agenda I wish you well so you can't be worthless can you?

    Best Wishes
    Stephen

    Hello Stephen,
    Sometimes we are blessed, guided, or lucky enough (depending on your point of view) to be in just the right place at just the right time. Today I have been both guided and blessed.
    I am grateful for the thoughtfulness and generosity of time which you put into this post. You should know that for me, you made a difference.

    Thank you, Stephen. Thank you so very much.

    Prayers for you,
    Susan
    Helpful
    StephyRC's Avatar
    StephyRC Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
    New Member
     
    #10

    Oct 3, 2012, 08:49 AM
    Thank you Susan. You are very kind. I hope that the present brings you contentment.

    Best Wishes
    Stephen
    Helpful

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