Detachment 101 Phrases

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by trinityroyal, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    It seems a lot of us are struggling with boundaries, detachment, and what to say to our grown children when they want to involve us in their problems. Years ago, we compiled a list of phrases. Some of the newer members might not know this list exists, and for those of us who've been around for a while a reminder never hurts.

    found it useful to practice saying these until they come naturally. That way, in the midst of a crisis, I'm not tongue tied and don't fall into saying "yes" just for something to say.

  2. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    THANK YOU!! I am cutting and pasting them into a list...

    as I mentioned earlier therapist states emphatically that H and I needed a well thought out and written script that we were to memorize and not deviate from when we speak to difficult child.

    These phrases will be on my script.
  3. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Following up - these are all great answers for difficult children who want help with something or money....

    What about answers for difficult child's who are throwing blame? While walking away or hanging up may be a good option, I'd love an answer that will stop it in its tracks...

    (my therapist cautioned me that difficult child would likely try to turn the tables on us/blame us when we tried to lay out the guidelines)
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Signorina - they're very good at that, aren't they? Gaslighting.

    I'll think about some... I know others will, too!
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hmmm...that's a bit of a tough one.

    One of my favourite old stand-bys might fit: "I'm sorry you feel that way."
    If you combine it with Fran's "What do you think you should do about it?" It just might work.

    difficult child: "If you hadn't blank-blank blankety-blank I wouldn't be in this mess."
    Warrior Parent: "I'm sorry you feel that way. Now that you're in this mess, what do you think you should do about it?"

    Signorina, does something like that fit the bill?

  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    It does but I am not sure it will shut him down...

    But if I am getting the gist of it - the point is not to leave any open ended questions - just to lob it right back... (I am rubber and you are glue, what you say bounces off of me and sticks to you :p)

    I'm projecting my difficult child will continue to say things such as:
    "I am an adult why do I have a curfew (need to tell you where I am etc)?"
    "Other parents are fine with their kids drinking and smoking, you're the ones with the problem"
    "Most people (or you did) party in college and they are FINE"
    "If you let me do what I want, none of this would have happened"
    "I had to lie to you because you wouldn't have wanted me to do it"
    "You refuse to compromise" (ha, as if - we've compromised so much that we are dizzy)
    "It's your fault because (you are too controlling, you breathe oxygen, your eyes are brown, you care too much, you care too little, you don't live in the real world, you are fake, this family is dysfunctional, you took me to FL instead of Aspen etc)

    I mean how do I refute his outlandish blame? Or do I just not go there? I've tried to say things like "you need to own your behavior instead of lying" and that didn't work so well. I tried to remind him that HE set the standards for his parental paid college life (3.0 no trouble, no substances, no drinking tickets, graduate in 4 years. his terms not ours) Again he turned it around on us. So how do we get the point across while shutting the blame down? Or do we just shut the blame down and not worry about making "our" point? Do we let him know that we don't need to justify ourselves? Because it's futile...
    Lasted edited by : Oct 26, 2011
  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Signorina, in my experience, trying to refute the claims is impossible. That's why they're so manipulative. There's nothing reasonable that you can say in answer to such a charge. And the point is not to prove that you're right and your difficult child is wrong, but rather to shut down the conversation as quickly as possible so that you don't get drawn into it.

    If your difficult child can draw you into justifying your actions, behaviour or decisions, then he's able to continue blaming you for his issues and not taking ownership of them himself.

    With my difficult child, I've found that the only thing that works is refusing to engage at all.

    difficult child: "Mom, I don't know what to do!"
    Trinity: "You're resourceful. I'm sure you'll figure something out."
  8. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree that you can't refute the claims. I really don't think there's anything you can say that will stop a difficult child in their tracks. Nothing you say is going to change their mind, or spur them to action (or inaction). But the canned responses help diffuse the situation and help you keep control instead of being pulled into the back and forth.

    I really think that part of the reason they throw blame is to pull us into an argument; it gives them power/control. Have you ever noticed that the more you ignore them, the more outrageous their claims become, as they attempt to get a reaction out of you? Honestly, sometimes I've outright laughed at the accusations thrown at me. I think you just have to develop thick skin and shrug off even the most ridiculous accusations. It takes a LOT of practice, though. Lucky for me I started early with learning how to deal with ridiculous blame ... from my ex-husband :p
  9. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    H and I brainstormed last night.

    I made him repeat "can I have $50" over and over again and I replied w a different answer (from the list) each time. By the end, he was laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes.

    We've come up with "I realize we're not your ideal parents; how are you going to cope with that?" as our detached reply to the "my only problem is you" retorts.

    Think that will work?

  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Oooh. That's a good one.
    The key is to throw it back at them. You may indeed be the source of his problem, but it remains HIS problem to solve.

    Oh...I forgot to mention. It gets easier with practice. The phrases come more naturally AND you begin to really like the feeling of less chaos that comes with it.

  11. dollphyn

    dollphyn New Member

    OMG!!! This is good..we're totally using this one!!!!
  12. Elsieshaye

    Elsieshaye Member

    This is a really helpful threat - thank you! I'm going to be practicing these in preparation for DS and XH coming to pick up DS's stuff in a couple of weeks. There will be much blaming and trying to suck me into arguments, and I want to feel a little more ready. I love the idea of saying "I realize I'm not your ideal mother. How are you going to cope with that?"
  13. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    We need a "See and Say" for Parent Emeritus. Everytime difficult child spouts baloney, we just pull the cord!!