Monthly Archives: October 2016

Ruin Your Kid for Life

1. Give your kid everything he wants. Don’t deny what will truly make him happy. Overvalue money and things in his eyes.

2. Dress your child in designer clothes, no matter the cost. Show her that her outward appearance matters most of all.

3. Place your child’s needs over those of your spouse. If she cries, run to her immediately. If she interrupts, give her your full attention.

4. Entertain your child throughout the day. If she wants to play tea, put your plans aside. If she wants to watch her favorite movie for the hundredth time, forget your idea of going for a walk and getting some sunshine.

5. Plan your menu around your child’s desires. No child should have to eat something he doesn’t like. If, by chance, you want to make something other than macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, feel free to cook your own meal, just as long as you have time to fix what your child likes.

6. Sign your child up for as many extracurricular activities as she desires, even if it means giving up your evening plans on a regular basis. Don’t worry about trying to gather around the dinner table either. He can only be in the junior soccer league for so long, and you don’t want him to miss out.

7. Don’t discipline your child when she acts up. Everyone should learn to express herself in her own way. If she demands something, then applaud her efforts. At least you know that she will not be a pushover or a doormat in this world.

8. Don’t worry when your child fights with neighbor kids or even when he is a bully. Life is not fair, and someone always has to be the underdog. At least your child is learning to elbow his way to the top at a young age.

9. When your child has a disagreement with her teacher, always choose your child’s side. Don’t show up when the teacher wants to discuss your child’s problems. The teacher will want to take a course of disciplinary action and that’ll hurt your child’s feelings.

10. Don’t share your faith with your child. After all, you don’t want to offend. Let your child decide if she wants to hear Bible stories. And don’t pressure her to memorize Scripture verses. She might get disheartened if she doesn’t get it right the first time and you’ll ruin her self-esteem. More than that, you don’t want her to know there’s a God who runs the universe, makes the rules, and determines eternity. The thought is too hard, and your child might not understand. More than that, she won’t be self-dependent and strive to be a good person.

Parents and adult children

When you’re about to ask a friend or a colleague whether they’re going home for the holidays this week, think twice.

The holidays — so often tied to family and tangled in questions of going home — are not always so happy when you are estranged from a parent or child. They’re even more difficult when well-meaning types push you to bury the hatchet for the sake of peace in this theoretically joyous season.

 

Defining Estrangement

Kristina Scharp, an assistant professor at Utah State University and director of the Family Communication Lab there, has published extensively about parent-child estrangement. She defines estrangement as occurring when at least one family member voluntarily and intentionally distances himself or herself from another because of an ongoing negative relationship. And she notes that estrangement is complicated for the people experiencing it.

“Sometimes estrangement means a clean break, a fight and that’s it, but it can also be a chaotic disassociation, a relationship that’s on and off again over the years,” Scharp explained.

Estrangement is not simply needing to distance oneself from a parent and not coming home for the holidays one year, added Leah Bryant, an associate professor from DePaul University who teaches Family Communication and the Dark Side of Human Relationships.

“There’s a difference between wanting a hiatus or wanting space for awhile and deciding that your life would be better without them,” Bryant said.

 

How Estrangement Happens

Bryant notes that estrangement is not usually a mutual process, and the circumstances depend on who is doing the estranging.

“With adult children, it is often based on prolonged psychologically damaging interactions — mistreatment, abuse or just indifference — with their parents, and they finally have the fortitude to put some distance between themselves or sever that relationship,” Bryant said.

There is an idealized image of what families are like, and it’s a reminder now that the family is broken and they worry that maybe they themselves are broken.

— Professor Leah Bryant, DePaul University

Parents often don’t know why their child is estranged from them, though most people have heard stories about children of narcissistic moms who severed ties or “casually cruel” parents who severed for their own sanity and self- preservation as well as that of their loved ones. Scholars point out that this type of estrangement is sometimes healthy for both people in the relationship.

“A lot of parents have no idea why their grown children don’t talk to them anymore, and it’s devastating to them,” said Scharp. “It’s this weird thing where it feels terrible, but it’s probably also helpful because often, the other person (parent or child) might not be good for them.”

Although there are varied reasons cited for parents severing ties with their adult children, Bryant said much of the research cites parental disapproval of their child’s love interest or sexuality. In these cases, the estrangement can become mutual, she said.

Something you write strikes a chord

This post about a heartbreaking, pervasive problem struck a minor chord in a major way: It was the most viewed article in Next Avenue’s history, garnering more than 1.5 million views, 32,000 Facebook shares and 5,500 comments, and was printed over 3,100 times.

I want to share some of the poignant, funny, helpful and angry comments Next Avenue received (shortened for brevity in some instances), as well as a few suggestions readers offered for selling, donating or passing on parents’ possessions.

The Facebook comments mostly fell into one of five camps: “I so relate,” “This is so sad and difficult,” “I feel guilty about what I had to do,” “I won’t let this happen to my kids” and “You’re wrong! People want  these possessions.” A few plaintively seemed to ask if anyone wanted the particular items they needed to unload. For instance, Nina Mizrahi posted: Does anyone know of folks who collect old crystal set “radios?” Model Steam engines? Colleen Ferguson queried: Anyone want a 1980s soft-sided waterbed?

We will not leave a mountain of stuff for our daughter to deal with. Period.

— Deborah Laister Wagge

I So Relate

Many people said things like “This is spot on!” and “Living it.” Others, like these, got personal:

Merilee Campbell Bridgeman: My children have already told me they don’t want any of our antiques because they don’t care for ‘brown furniture.’ Drives me crazy that they prefer cheap furniture made of pressed sawdust and glue, but what’s a mom to do?

Julie Cranford: That’s why my mother’s beautiful and very valuable antique furniture is still in storage. Unfortunately, I brought home my mother’s, grandmother’s and even great grandmother’s silver, china and glassware. With three boys, I’m sure it will all end up in a dump somewhere. 😉

Annice Laws: My mother… amassed an unbelievable amount of stuff over her lifetime and always preached to me the “value” of this or that…. Well, I’ve learned that nothing is worth anything if no one wants it. My siblings and I kept the select items we were personally interested in, and for the rest of it I’ve held yard sales, put things on consignment, gone to pawn shops, posted on Craigslist and eBay, so on and so forth, but have never made more than a few dollars. I couldn’t even find buyers for her genuine gold and gem stone jewelry and had to liquidate it for pennies at one of those “we buy gold” places. I still have a storage unit full of stuff 20 years after her death because in her memory I can’t bring myself to just give it away.

 

This Is So Sad and Difficult

Connie Guerrera Maida: Purging my parent’s home of all their possessions was the most daunting task I ever had to do!!

Amy Kelley Warth: It is so overwhelming. Piles and piles of boxes in our basement that are completely random/disorganized… But 95 percent of it is “junk” — nobody wants it. So frustrating and stressful…Just when we got our house settled and had a minimalist lifestyle we were comfortable with, we inherited all this STUFF!

Ellen Schrader Stutts: Just went through this with my 91-year-old mother’s things. Gorgeous refinished furniture that went for fire sale prices at an estate sale… We ended up donating truckloads of stuff to the local shelter and thrift store. Heartbreaking.

Craig Unruh:. I know of three old men who were liquidating their collections and were sadly disappointed in the lack of interest. They collected French Art Posters, Royal Doulton Jugs, and rare Lladros. All their lives they saw the value of these things go up and up, and figured they were building an inflation-proof collection. So did a lot of other collectors of this stuff, but they all need to sell around the same time and not nearly as many buyers as there used to be.

Amy Stoopack Zipkin: In my experience, good luck involving a parent while they are still alive. Perhaps more productive to confer with sibling(s) to begin to establish realistic expectations for the inheritance.

Sofia Dakos: I am afraid we will destroy MANY items that will be sought after in future years and we will be moaning “why did I ever get rid of …”

Nancy Shire: What do you do with the hundreds of pictures of the grandkids taken when they were babies, of which there are probably dozens of duplicates? Who wants my Santa Claus collection? What about all the books? What about my daughter’s Girl Scout awards and sash — how can I throw them away? I guess they’ll all have the joy of plowing through everything when the time comes.