Engaging Our Adult Children

Many of us reading this wait for the day when we can be re-engaged with our children. Yet many of us know that they will be past childhood and now be adults. Self-Care Haven published a blog by Shahida Arabi. I figured as several of us are parents or families that have been #Erased that it might be important to understand what we might encounter when we face our children again from the Alienating Narcissist.

Your life resembles a reenactment of old traumas.

Our children might exhibit signs of being in relationships with those like the alienating narcissist. They also may have friends who exhibit similar behaviors and their life may appear very chaotic. They may at times shower you with attention and love and then withdraw it for no reason. We must remember to be patient, understanding and consistent with our children when it is time to reengage. Maintaining communication once reengaged can help in beginning to heal our children from these old traumas brought on by a HCBP.

Verbal and emotional abuse has conditioned you towards self-destruction and self-sabotage.

Multiple writings I have shared discuss about how leaving our children with only one parent raises the risk of our children being self-destructive.  I appreciated Arabi’s point from Dr. Seltzer that as adults the survival instinct develops into maladaptive “survival programs” by becoming a self-sacrificing people pleasing adults. We must make sure to let our children know that we love them. That our love does not cost anything and that they need not sacrifice themselves and their desires to be engaged with us. We must remind our children that they are good enough for our love and always have been because by the time they reach us they may not have enough self-confidence. Others might be perfectionist to keep validating to themselves they are worthy and we must remind them that despite their achievements or lack of them that we will never forsake them.

Addictions and dissociation become default coping mechanisms.

I know this is what many of us fear when we begin to engage with our children again. Their self-coping mechanism. Can range from sex addiction to drugs and alcohol. It can start with a video game and separating themselves from their current environment to prevent further trauma. By the time our children are adults they may be full grown addicts to behavior that are not appropriate or even deadly. Encouraging our children to seek help and being there to support them through their treatments are probably not how we want to spend our first couple of years with our children but as parents we are called to take care and support our children despite whatever issues they have.

Suicidal ideation is devastatingly common and pervasive among childhood abuse survivors.

Our children will often not cope with complex and challenging events well. Going back to number one, reenactment and encountering similar traumas in adulthood leads to a sense of helplessness. This may be why your children have sought you out because they are feeling hopeless and making an effort understand or get help. Reconnecting with old friends and extended family as if to say goodbye is often seen as a sign and behavior of adults that are planning on committing suicide.If your children are having ideation of suicide please contact 911 or reach out to 1-800-273-8255.  If you want or they want to chat with someone online please click here. Be aware and watch for signs and signals

I  – Ideation (suicidal thoughts)

S – Substance Abuse

P – Purposelessness

A – Anxiety

T – Trapped

H – Hopelessness/Helplessness

W – Withdrawal

A – Anger

R – Recklessness

M – Mood changes

There are disparate inner parts that develop which seem out of alignment with your adult self.

These often are defense responses to trauma our children have endured during their childhood. Our children may go out of their way to protect themselves from living a traumatic event.  We must pray for our children now and in the future. We must understand that who they are now is not the person they were when we were forced to leave. All we can do is be supportive. We might come to see and know our adult children as the individuals we remember them being but this will take time as they work out the difficulties in their lives, learning to be a survivor. While we understand that they may lie and over compensate to protect themselves from being hurt by us again we must be patient and willing to wait no matter how long for the individuals our children were then can reunite with the adults they are now and find beauty and peace with us once again.

I know our biggest joy and fear is being reunited with our children when they become adults. Part of us wants to express joy, shed tears, and speak the truth. However, while this is what we want it may be not what our children need. We must be opening to listening and being honest without children when we are allowed to be reunited. Because while we all wait for our final day to become an untied family again, we understand that it may take longer for our adult children to reach out but we must be willing and waiting patiently for them. Because when they do reach out it will be our help they need to finally make sense of their life in the past and for their future to come.


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