Author Topic: Can parents become indifferent to their children?  (Read 2906 times)

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Ants

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Can parents become indifferent to their children?
« on: April 07, 2011, 01:22:23 AM »
Hello everyone! I'll just cut to the chase. I have much in common with my father: we both have an immense love of learning, we both strive to be as rational as possible, we both love odd humour, unusual music and 'intellectual' conversation, and we are both very introspective and analytical. He has told me on many occasions that I am the person most similar to him that he has ever met, and that only with me can he engage in a certain level of conversation. My parents divorced when I was three and my father eventually remarried and produced two new children, but he was always a major presence in my life, taking me on long holidays, frequently keeping me with him on weekends and having many formative discussions with me. This is why I have trouble understanding his recent behaviour. I am now over thirty (sorry, can't help it) and have been married (happily, I'm glad to say) for five years; because of my marriage I had to move to America, while my father lives in Europe. Obviously this means that I can't physically meet him very often and naturally we communicate less frequently than we could if we lived closer together. However, while I see that he is quite active on facebook, having little 'wall' conversations with his friends and commenting on 'links' and so on, he hardly ever communicates with me. If I write him an email he hardly ever answers, even if the email is full of the type of interesting little facts, analysis and quirky humour that he loves. Recently I wrote to him regarding an important practical matter, with the heading 'please do not ignore', and added, after I had explained the main issue, something about my fear that he didn't seem to be overly bothered with me nowadays. He did answer, adding something along the lines of 'what's this about me not caring about you?' and I wrote back explaining that I felt ignored. He never answered. That was about three weeks ago. Two days ago I sent another little email saying that I was hurt that he hadn't bothered to reply, and that this gave substance to my fears, but again he didn't answer - while contemporaneously engaging in animated conversations with his friends (and even my friends) on facebook! My husband saw my distress and attempted to jolt my father into action by sending a seemingly innocuous 'hello there, how's things, here are some recent photos of us' email, but he didn't answer that either. What is going on? What I want to ask, especially (but not only!) if any of you are psychologists and therefore familiar with the workings of the human mind, is this: is it possible for parents who formerly loved their children, and had a special bond with them, to become totally indifferent to them?

(And of course, any other thoughts are most welcome even if they don't answer the main question directly: I am at my wits' end).

I've posted this on another forum as well (another website, not another sub-topic of this forum), but I'm also posting it here because I don't know which site is likely to be most responsive.

Sorry about the long message, and thanks to anyone who takes the time to read it and post their thoughts!

gone

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Re: Can parents become indifferent to their children?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 08:42:10 AM »
I wonder if the problem is the new form of 'communication'.. FACEBOOK!
You mention he ignores your Facebook messages.
I've also encountered this problem with family, believing them ignorant, I can't believe they can ignore my facebook emails, but as it happens more and more I've become aware this is the culture of facebook. It seems the email facility is not used as traditional email communictions but it seems it's acceptable to ignore messages via facebook.. I don't know why, but it's definately a culture I've become aware of over a few years. I think the facebook culture in language communications has settled at brief comments on status updates. Personally I've learned NEVER to communicate via facebook email as I NEVER get a reply. I wonder if this is what you are experiencing too. And yes at first it's mystifying how people can be so god damned ingorant. But they're really not aware of their ignorance. My sister complained to me that emails she sent to our nephew on facebook were ignored, and she was hurt. But she's ignored all mine emails to her via facebook, so she doesn't realise she's guilty of the very same.

From the way you write, I do believe this is something you should explore as the root cause of your problem. I don't think it's that your father cares less, as he responded to reasure you while confirming he was unaware of your hurt. I don't think he's become indifferent, just perhaps doesn't take to communicting via facebook. Brief status updates and comments are very different to emotionally charged or emails of a serious/informative nature... the banter he is engaging in with friends in status etc is very different from engaging in emails and I don't think you should think he's ignoring you, just back off from email and write the OCCASIONAL comment. When you want to say something use an ALTERNATIVE method of communications, ie: phone or different email account.. worked for me.

Ants

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Re: Can parents become indifferent to their children?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2011, 11:13:47 AM »
Hello, and thanks very much for taking the time to reply!

Perhaps I didn't make it clear that the emails he wasn't answering were not on facebook but on gmail (oh dear, these words like gmail and facebook do make everything sound ever so dysfunctional though). So he's doing little history quizzes or whatever on facebook, but not answering my emails which are not on facebook. I did notice, now that you mention it, that he has tended to reply more when I answered little facebook thingies (status updates or whatever). I am interested in the view that you proposed about how something small and frivolous and quick like the little status updates might be answered more readily than a big lachrymose email about heavy emotions. I just have to hope that it's that, rather than callousness or indifference.

Ok - sorry to go on about this a bit more. Perhaps he didn't see my tearful emails, and this is what I'm hoping. But what worries me is that he did see them (his own child, after all, saying "I feel ignored and unloved" - I mean even a planarian would feel the need to answer that) and still not bother to answer. That is what gives me goose bumps: that he might know that I'm in pain and simply not care. I don't have children myself (not planning to spawn any time soon) but is it really possible that a parent that showed such emotion and such a bond towards a child could suddenly care not at all for that child? Looking at pictures of him with the most beatific grin on his face holding me as a baby, I am really at a loss to explain what happened. I'm not aware of having done anything to make him stop loving me. I've never been much trouble really.

Sorry to whine - and I really do appreciate any replies. Thanks again 'psycho-mother'! -Ants.

MG1991

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Re: Can parents become indifferent to their children?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 03:24:18 PM »
I just feel you're too dependent on your parental figure. Think about it, he took you everywhere everytime, and now that you've cut the cord, metaphorically speaking, he's able to express his own personality without anyone really looking up to him. It's possible that he took up that personality just so you feel more comfortable of who you are. People change over time.

voodoo scientist

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Re: Can parents become indifferent to their children?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2011, 10:29:01 AM »
He's just not that into you?

That's mean, and not entirely true, but this is a natural consequence of moving continent. Real, face to face conversation is important to human relationships - a considerable part of your brain is dedicated to processing faces, and while communication is still possible on some level without engaging that, you should expect your affective relationship with anyone you aren't seeing on a regular basis to approach indifference.

You could try video chatting with him, but you really shouldn't expect to maintain strong emotional relationships with anyone you can't see fairly regularly.
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Ants

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Re: Can parents become indifferent to their children?
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 01:15:17 AM »
Hello everyone! Well, it turns out that my father wasn't writing long emails because he was trying to finish lots of work in order to come and visit us for three weeks. He was translating several huge academic books and wanted to clear them all to create a chunk of time to see us. He did eventually resume 'commenting' on my facebook things and so on, showing that I'm not 'excluded' from his daily interactions, and I think I just misinterpreted his unexpected and sudden silence and got overly worried for a while. He is staying with us now and we are having lots of nice convoluted conversations as in 'the old days', and he also seems to be getting along well with my husband.

I felt suddenly forgotten because his behaviour changed from one moment to the next and I didn't know why, but it turned out that there was a practical explanation for this. The fact of not knowing and the suddenness of the change were what confused and worried me.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply - and good luck to all! -A.

 

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