What they really want is our support

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I am now grandmother to five children under the age of four, with one on the way in September. Six grandchildren! There is no way to describe the joy of grandparenthood to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but it’s true that being a grandparent is better than being a parent. (At least for me and about a million of my friends and acquaintances.) But I have discovered the biggest challenge of being a grandparent is keeping my mouth shut when I think the way our kids are doing things is bonkers. Or when I think there is an easier way…

I am tired of looking at myself all the time

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Two hours into my Zoom meeting and I am staring at myself while I talk. I am noticing that I move my mouth in a weird, exaggerated way when I speak, especially when I am passionate about what I am saying. I start trying to reign the mouth in and stop moving it so much. I am still trying to concentrate on what I am saying and focus on the people in the group, but I can’t stop being horrified by the way I look when I talk.

Before now, it has never occurred to me to think about how…

Unlearning self-hatred and becoming whole again

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When I was a little girl, I did many things that upset the grown-ups around me. I talked too much and too loud. I laughed uproariously whenever something struck me as funny. I sang and danced and twirled and jumped. I was told many times to be quiet and be still. I was sent to my room. I was chastened and reproved.

Consequently, I learned to hate myself because I was always getting in trouble for being me. I know, now that I’m an adult, that it was not the intention of the grown-ups in my life to teach me…

Why mothers overcompensate and how it hurts our kids

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We need to deny the over-popular trend of smearing fear and shame all over ourselves and instead celebrate compassion, colossal screw-ups and vulnerability. — Jen Sincero

Most mothers I know — myself included — see our parenting mistakes in stark relief against a backdrop of feelings of inadequacy. We feel like we have to make up for the ways we have failed, for the times we were less than patient and kind, for our inability to always be what our children needed us to be. At times we try to make up for that lack by overcompensating. …

A dilemma for parents in ‘long-haul’ estrangements from their adult child

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When a parent first experiences the grief and shock of estrangement from their beloved child, the only thing on their mind is reconciliation. It is the first thing we think of in the morning and the last thing we think about as we fall asleep. We are desperate for our child to come back to us. It consumes us.

Most parents would do anything to reconcile with their child. The problem is, until recently there has been little support or advice from ‘experts’ in the field because it has been a topic that is hidden behind so much shame. Most…

And everyone thinks they know how to diagnose them

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Go ahead and google “narcissism,” “narcissist,” or “narcissistic personality disorder.” What you find will boggle your mind. If you were to believe all the articles out there, you might come to the conclusion that every other person on the planet is a narcissist and the goal is to get them all out of your life. The thinking is that when you can rid your life of these toxic humans, everything will be just fine. Then you can have the life you want.

Am I the only person who is alarmed at the tendency for us to label one another, therefore…

It has taken time, but now all that’s left is the love and the scar

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I broke a glass in my hand once. It was a thin, crystal glass and it sliced the inside of my thumb below the knuckle. The gash required stitches, and because the doctor could not staunch the flow of blood, he was unable to see that he was stitching a tiny shard of glass into my thumb. It was now a part of me, whether I liked it or not.

From then on, whenever I grasped something, it sent a shock of pain through my thumb and up my spine, reminding me of the original trauma. Sometimes I would run…

Throw away the rules when it comes to your personal journal

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For years I had an on-again-off-again relationship with my journal. I would start a journal and because of the rules I created about how my journal had to look, my effort would flop. I would write for a few days, or a few weeks, then get off track, unable to meet my self-imposed perfectionistic standards. I had rules for how often, what, and how neatly I wrote in my journal.

The problem was, I was making journaling hard because I had set up expectations that were totally unrealistic and unnecessary. It didn’t help that I I was reading articles about…

And how to find support from people who do

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When I first became estranged from my youngest daughter 10 years ago, I did what I always do when faced with a question that needs an answer: I went to the library. Guess what? There were no books about family estrangement in the library. None. There was one book about difficulties in parent-child relationships, but it didn’t have much about estrangement.

I was at a loss. I knew no one else whose child had cut them out of their life. I was confused, hurt, and above all, deeply ashamed. How could this have happened? It was the last thing I…

Won’t my child think I have abandoned them?

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

When your adult child estranges themselves from you, the first thing most parents do is go into overdrive trying to reach out, reconnect, let them know that you are still there and you still love them and want them in your life. This is the natural response to losing someone you love in this way.

But when the estrangement goes on for months or years, even though you have reached out over and over again, should you stop trying? Will your child feel like you have abandoned them if you stop attempting to reconnect? Will they think you don’t care…

Beth Bruno

Human learning to be human. Writing in hopes of getting there.

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