Stress and Self-Care
Very often, the adult child who precipitates estrangement has skewed perceptions and inaccurate memories of the past. Many parents have experienced extreme frustration, stress, and shock at their adult child’s erroneous perspective and narrative. The adult child often scapegoats the parent(s), using them as a vessel in which to dump their poison. They use parents, especially the mother, as a whipping post, knowing that she loves them unconditionally. They may bait you, emotionally blackmail you, accuse you of sins they themselves committed, projecting their own misdeeds and corruptions onto you. They may manipulate you until you don’t know if you’re coming or going. It’s extraordinarily stressful.
Most parents and grandparents are getting to an age where they can’t bounce back like they used to. Stress causes the fight or flight response, elevates blood pressure and can cause heart palpitations, even a stroke. Parents who have dealt with the unconscionable, cruel behavior of their child for many years are in danger of a cumulative stress response. They may have developed numerous health issues and simply cannot withstand the stress.
It’s vitally important to take care of yourself by avoiding stressful encounters with your adult child. Walk away if your child begins a tirade; inform your child that abuse is no longer ok. Have a back-up plan and set healthy boundaries that you enforce, like taking a time out, going for a walk, or quietly telling your child you’re willing to discuss the problem, but not under abusive circumstances.
Parents hang in there, doing their best to accommodate their child and understand where they’re coming from because they don’t want to lose the relationship. But, sometimes, the adult child asks too much of them – more than they are capable of giving. There comes a time when you have to choose whether to continue to jeopardize your health by engaging in toxic encounters or set boundaries and refuse to take part in yet another ugly, crazy-making scene.
If you don’t take care of yourself – your heart, your emotions, and your health – there will be a huge price to pay.