Table of Contents
When Children Reject Parents
Rejection, Betrayal & Abandonment © Martyn Carruthers
Were you abandoned, betrayed or rejected by someone you loved?
Have you deserted, neglected or pushed away someone who loved you?
These behaviors often create unpleasant bonds.
Many people have told us that they are unhappy because their parents didn’t love them. They told us why they distanced themselves from their parents emotionally and geographically. Parents have told us about feeling abandoned or rejected by children.
Parents sometimes complain about their children’s lack of gratitude. They ask, “What did we do wrong?” They say, “We did the best we could! Why don’t they love us now like they did when they were small! I wish they had never grown up!”
I hated my parents for what they had done to me. Thanks to you,
I now see them as ordinary people who did their best. London
Even young children seem to know how much they depend on their parents’ love. And young children may convince themselves, despite evidence, that their parents are good, caring people who love them. Children often distort reality and bond to their fantasies of parents – rather than to the real people. Later, as they grow up, they may cling to their childish fantasies … and reject their parents.
I left home when I was fifteen. I banished my parents from my heart and my mind.
They blamed me for everything and tried to make me look after them and then
blamed me more. I don’t want to hear them criticize me ever again. London
What does REJECTED mean?
- To refuse to consider; to deny
- To discard as defective or useless; to throw away
- To refuse to recognize or give affection to (a person)
- To refuse to accept, to submit to, to believe, or to use
Both rejecting someone and being rejected are stressful events that usually feel horrible (for healthy people). When your own family rejects you, it is worse. And worst of all may be if your own children reject you.
Signs of Rejection
Children who reject their parents may be diagnosed with attachment disorders. In blended families, adolescents and teenagers may reject a new step-parent. When adult children ignore or reject parents – something systemic is going on – something hidden in the family’s structure or relationship dynamics.
A child may dispute a parent’s decision, but it’s rarely a crisis. But you promised we would go to the beach today! You’re a bad Daddy! Teenagers and adult children who feel betrayed may use hurtful words, e.g. Screw you – I’ll do what I want!
Many parents enjoy good relationships with their children until a crisis such as separation or divorce – and then they feel rejected by their children. Some warning signs of parental rejection are that a child:
- ignores a parent or step-parent
- becomes distant and dissociated
- insists that he or she hates a parent
- tries many ways to make a parent go away
- can’t remember any good times with a parent
- can’t identify any “bad” qualities in a liked parent
- can’t identify any “good” qualities in a rejected parent
- cannot clearly describe behaviors (e.g. “Dad was mean to Mom”)
Some children perceive a parent as a childish or immature victim. Many children try to partner or parent such parents. If ignored, such confusion may lead to relationship confusion throughout life. See covert emotional incest.
Rejection is Part of Life
If you are a parent, it is not likely that your children will always accept and respect your decisions. It is more likely that you will sometimes feel rejected. Much worse than your actions, beliefs or decisions being rejected is being rejected for who you are.
You helped me move on, accept my parents as they are and
avoid a life of unresolved pain and regret. New York
Being rejected by friends or colleagues can feel very unpleasant. Rejection or betrayal by a significant person may change your beliefs and relationships, and damage your ability to succeed. And these feelings often continue for years – unless remedied. We help people change.
My mother kept my father from me. She falsely accused him of horrible things and
robbed me of my Dad. She boasted about how she manipulated the legal
system to get more money from him. She wrecked his life … and mine.
I never want to see her again. London
Maturity & Rejection
Maturity helps predict how people respond to rejection. Mature people may acknowledge a situation, deal with self-pity, pick themselves up and move on with their lives. (If you don’t know how to do that – we can help you.)
My step-parents forbade me to meet my real parents.
I HAD to say that I hated my parents or I was punished.
Do minor rejections cause you to relive major rejections and huge emotions from past relationship problems? Do they trigger unpleasant memories of feeling helpless, resourceless or childish?
We can help you through and past all this. We can help you assimilate and manage the emotional consequences of being rejected; and change your habits that lead to further rejection.
Rejection & Identity Loss in Relationships
Most people are alert to justice, respond to perceived injustice following the examples set by their parents. A common response to rejection and injustice is identity loss. Resolving identity loss solves so many problems that it is central to our systemic psychology.
Four common forms of identity loss are:
- Tries to live someone else’s life (Identifications)
- Cannot change beliefs or behavior (Relationship Bonds)
- Cannot make decisions without conflict (Identity Conflict)
- Cannot describe, feel or express emotions (Lost Identity)
Do you alienate your family and friends because
you have emotional problems and you won’t get help?
Do you want to manage your emotions and solve relationship problems?