Adults who are aware of child abuse or pervasive neglect issues have a duty to report. Parents of children who are abused or at risk of being abused have a moral and legal obligation to protect. If you failed to do one or both (regardless of the reason), expect your adult child or adult children to have serious child abuse issues to discuss with you as they age and time progresses.
Kids who verbally attack a parent using verbal assault tactics like name-calling and stonewalling are NOT the type of adult humans who need “validating”. Such children are typically being used to abuse you by proxy in order to please a social predator they support or they are neurologically broken to the point they lack empathy and are actively striving to both irrationally as well as to unjustly do harm.
But if they come to you to discuss their personal life experiences and are relying on you to help them successfully to overcome their early childhood, pre-teen, teenage years, or young adult experiences and you refuse to listen with an intent to understand and show a willingness to get to know THEM better by simply listening without constantly negating?
Then seriously, mom or pop… you are just being cruel.
[And yes, we do know reading such statements is likely to make narcissistic or toxic people mad. Our concern is for the Adult Children of Toxic Parents of loving parents who are estranged from their own children due to relationship interference by alienators, first and foremostly, not to spend one moment of our time striving to connect with stonewallers prone to rage issues or those unwilling to listen with the intent to understand why their own kids need support.]
Child abuse is a tragic reality that knows no boundary of nationality, religion, or gender. The first person a child who grew up labeled “At Risk” typically turns for mentoring, guidance, and social support is to their mother, father, or primary caregiver.
When a child is exposed to trauma at a young age, it permanently impacts them psychologically and socially literally FOREVER.
What that means is…
If they were four years old and unable to understand WHY daddy choked or punched mommy… when they come to talk to you about it, it’s more important to listen to how their mind and emotional body chose to process the memory than to ever respond with some invalidating hooey.
If they are striving to accept themselves as they are and need you to help be there to validate their life experience, telling them all the reasons they are or were WRONG to have felt the way they did is ABUSIVE.
Think of things from their perspective.
- If their mother or father chose to prioritize staying with an abusive mate or someone toxic for romantic reasons, the child who is bright knows full well that the adult who is abusive took preference over the co-dependent parent’s own offspring.
- If a parent chose to promote or overlook when a sibling with a personality problem was being abusive and chose to enable them, any abuse or emotional support neglect of the scapegoat target and ALL the siblings was directly, mindfully, arguably willfully enabled and condoned by them.
- If you were abused by your own parent or parents, then insisted on exposing your own children to the toxic grandparents for anything more than occasional cursory “meet the grandchild” types of experiences, understand that you more than likely enabled your own abuse as their bio parent. Grandparents with a proclivity for manufacturing chaos while seeking to socially elevate their own illusion of power tend to pervasively strive to undermine a grandchild’s relationship with their emotionally sensitive or most loving parent.
- If you allowed a toxic grandparent to treat their grandchild like your Golden Child sibling while they kept making digs to undermine that child’s trust or respect in you, then technically you were the conduit for both their and your own hospitality as well as social trust-based abuse.
- If you stayed with your abuser hoping that time would heal all wounds…
- If you stayed hoping and telling your child things like, “He didn’t mean it!” or “In her own way she loves you…” — be ready to LISTEN.
Because guess what, mom or pop? You are guilty of believing gaslighting tales that trauma bonding was love.
What’s worse, you probably wholeheartedly believed at the time that tolerating and overlooking abuse while striving to minimize was exhibiting what Abusers like to trick victims into believing it is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE to take abuse willingly without complaint while purposefully choosing to keep abuser secrets while actively ENABLING.
If you thought you were doing what was best for THEM instead of glorifying and prioritizing an abusive romantic relationship yourself), understand taking personal responsibility for underparenting is 100% socially and morally appropriate.
With that said, if they are over the age of moral awareness — a conscious development state that tends to arrive somewhere in a child by or before the age of 12 — that the right thing to do is validate your life decision without in any way striving to make excuses that invalidate THEIR causally related personal life experiences.
If a child has not come to realize by or before the age of 18 why a parent made parenting choices that they did in such a way that reflects empathy and compassion, odds are they will continue to reproduce the same tempo in life that they were exposed to or witnessed during the earliest years of their own birth through pre-teen childhood.
If they remain estranged from you during those periods, be ready to share your own abuse journal and forensic psychology story. Leaving a breadcrumb trail about how to wake up and make better life choices as well as parenting decisions is the most loving thing any human being can share with their children. It is crucial to avoid the promotion of toxic shame.
Pointing blaming fingers of listening with the intent to INVALIDATE is a horribly toxic approach to conversations about things like child abuse or emotional neglect. If a child felt left out, exposed to trauma, or in some way psychologically and/or socially neglected — it is not important whether you, the parent, thinks they are wrong or you were terrific.
If they are verbally combative and prone to LYING while irrationally blaming and behaving as if their parent is sub-human, that’s a Cluster B issue related to gaslighting for attention while smear campaigning. But if they express with honest sincerity memories about what they were thinking or feeling while they were young… or attempting to share how their own life history has directly impacted their own forensic psychology… the BEST thing you can do for yourself and them is to listen with the intent to UNDERSTAND.
Making the switch from being a compulsive over-explainer seeking factual to becoming an active listener who validates by listening with the intent to understand emotion takes time, due diligence, daily conversational practice, and a PHYSICAL desire to do it.
When you listen to a child and your heart just breaks, most human’s first reaction is to start EXPLAINING.
That’s where the advice we are giving here is likely to make any toxic parent ANGRY.
You see, when a toxic parent refuses to simply listen with the intent to get to know their adult child better, they add so many complex layers of invalidating, truly caustic undermining statements to the mix that an adult child striving to heal is likely to be psychologically and emotionally CRUSHED by the experience.
Imagine reaching out for comfort and support to heal unresolved feelings only to be told that not only were you in some way stupid and wrong for feeling them when you were a child but that you are still in adulthood not entitled to your own intellectual and emotional privacy rights.
Since most youngsters lack the vocabulary at young ages to express what they are truly thinking and feeling at the time they are abused, neglected emotionally, or made to feel fear, most tend to start seeking healing guidance and social support to help them heal resulting issues by the time they start hitting teen or twenty-something years.
Most children of truly toxic parents — meaning Cluster B adults with typically Malignant Narcissist or Dark Trian personality types — tend to all report that when they tried to speak with a parent to simply express some “please understand things from my point of view — this is what happened to me and how it has affected my self-esteem, thought processes, and biopsychology” standpoint, they were overwhelmingly rejected by their Abuser, the Abuser’s Enabler(s), and socially ridiculed or pervasively persecuted by the family for being a whistleblower.
The reason so many victims of extreme child abuse (ranging from childhood sexual assault to physical abuse or extreme emotional and psychological abuse) tend to “come out of the closet” post-age 40 (while seeming like they are waving skeletons) is for this very reason.
When a person or peer group who pervasively picked on, neglected or tortured a child for sadistic sport when they were young, they tend to be told that they are oversensitive and delusional when and if they seek emotional support or physical mercy from anyone.
Siblings who abuse while a parent is not looking then LIE.
Parents who laugh at caustic humor.
Adults whose own personal problems end up being foisted onto a child.
Nutritional deprivation for children rooted in the fact a parent with the responsibility to buy healthy food for the family is a picky eater.
A parent who pays country club dues before agreeing to buy their child adequate personal items like clothing, school supplies, nutritional beverage choices, or healthy food.
A caregiver who belittles others based on their own insecurities, projections of a false image, or while indulging their own covert and sadistic need to feel powerful.
Parents who punish the wrong child for a “domestic crime”.
Parents who triangulate siblings, comparing one to the other in the hopes of promoting sibling rivalry.
Why can’t you be more like XYZ, the girl next door, or so-and-so’s son –> implying covertly that anyone and everyone they list is somehow BETTER.
See where we are going with this?
If an adult child or mature age child comes to you and strives to share a candid memory from childhood coupled with an emotional assessment of impact, close your mouth IMMEDIATELY, start making supportive head nods (not side to side shakes), and simply be there to LISTEN.
If the reason your child was so traumatized they did not get some toy they wanted or food item at the store you, as their adult parent know full well that you wanted to get them but could not afford to buy, listen. Don’t tell them all your woes or that they were or are wrong to have felt neglected or abused in that moment.
Because the experiences we are impacted by from childhood are NOT rooted in our self-controlled, intelligent desire to include or ignore information.
Children under the age of 12 are the most malleable sentient creatures on the planet. What we take in at that age simply is what it is… a sensory issue that helps our brains learn how to make neural lacing connections.
Sensory impressions of emotional events or trauma exposure are not things we can pick and choose — especially when it comes to how it physically and biochemically impacts or scars our traumatized and/or socially nurtured brains.
To punch a stranger in the face, watch them bleed, then tell them if they were traumatized by the memory that they are stupid and have no rational right to be would be seen by judge and jury as the Abuser asserting insane levels of entitlement-based, grandiose thinking.
Chances are you two are going to end up with a lifetime of ongoing relationship issues if you choose to self-promote rather than to simply be there to listen and to answer direct questions as truthfully and factually as you can while resisting the urge to use language that invalidates.
Ask questions like “How did that make you feel at the time?” rather than blurting egocentric nonsense like, “I tried my best…” (while giving off all the facial expressions and body language clues you are angry, unsupportive, and trying to save face and/or to openly invalidate and dominate).
Try being a friend who listens, who guides, who validates and mentors. If your child is neurotypical — meaning NOT Cluster B, prone to enabling, or narcissistic — then it will more than likely be incredibly obvious when you have succeeded in becoming a successful listener.
An abusive child will seek to shame, humiliate, guilt, and punish. A loving child tends to seek validation, already is likely to be in your corner, and will want to provide you with the same listening mindfully with the intent to understand as mutually healthy, reciprocally supportive mentor/mentee type of behavior.
Go gray rock to the best of your human ability when and if you feel triggered by their sharing what they were told and lived believing by toxic grandparents or abusive co-parents. Understand that if they believed gaslighting tales about you or their own backstory of life circumstances that they lived it.
Just as you would not feel so great if you went to Mufasa, your father, to discuss your experience of having been abused secretly by Uncle Scar and your father — instead of listening — chose to defend himself, to back the Abuser, and to rage, your adult child is going to be emotionally destroyed if they share a memory YOU choose to personalize, essentially hijack, and try to “erase”.
Listen with the intent to understand — not to correct, to caustically over-analyze chain of events, or to emotionally strive to minimize. It’s non-productive, not about YOUR ego or experience, and pretending it is (depending on the personality type of the child) can be so invalidating you end up permanently socially as well as intellectually estranged.
If you love your child, listen and don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries about how you (as their parent) want to be treated, but be willing to shoulder the impact of your own mistakes. The result of unresolved trauma is not only a propensity in the child to replicate behavior patterns they were exposed to by parents and nuclear family in youth, but an increase in life-threatening, C-PTSD induced pervasive medical and mental health issues.
Trauma bonding includes abuse and good-bad or “push-pull” treatment of others. End the cycle of Narcissistic Abuse by validating trauma issues and changing behavior for the positive.
If you found this article helpful and are an abuse recovery advocate, please consider sharing the link to our post on your own fan page(s), preferred social media page, or with the loving parent or nurturing grandparent of an At-Risk child.