As another birthday (or Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or holiday) passes without word from your adult child, you feel more hurt than ever. Doesn’t my child have any empathy? you ask yourself. Doesn’t she care about what it’s like for me, not hearing from her today?
It’s very sad to think that your own flesh and blood could feel less concern about leaving you alone on a special day than a stranger might. And a lack of empathy is one possible (but not required) criterion in the diagnosis of narcissism. But before you rush to pin the label “narcissist” on your adult son or daughter, consider the following.
Hurt People …
There’s a pithy saying that’s all too true: Hurt people hurt people. One of the most difficult ideas for parents to wrap their minds around is that, despite your best intentions and honest efforts, your child feels hurt somehow by the way you relate to him. And that’s why he doesn’t want to be close.
We have research on this, and it’s true across the board. Adult children cut off their parents only as a way to protect themselves. It’s not to punish you, or because they don’t care about you. It’s because they’ve been hurt too many times.
That’s an extremely painful and confusing reality for most parents to grasp. Especially if you’ve tried your hardest to love and protect your child all her life. And yet it’s possible to do your best and still unwittingly do damage. It’s part of human relationships, and none of us can ever really escape that risk. Especially parents.