Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 18th 2013 Contents "I broke up with my mother in
May 2010. It was a great victory
for me, but also, of course, very
In August of that year, she called
me for the first time, as a narcissist
does not respect boundaries. I didn t
answer. Just the idea of talking to
her sent me into a tailspin, and I
spent a weekend in my pajamas.
"Things have gotten a lot better
for me regarding my mother since
"She s established a pattern of
stalking me on the Internet and e-
mailing, calling or texting me every
couple of months to tell me what
she s found. Occasionally, this can
be entertaining; once she believed
that a homework assignment I d
given my students was somehow a
reference to her.
"I read her correspondence, but
I almost never answer it."
This was posted on the site
community project, which seeks to
provide a healing forum for adult
children of mentally ill parents
Most Acoms here are expressing
their reasons for adult child-parent
separation. Almost all of the wound-
ed are estranged from their parents
who have been mostly listed as abu-
While the site is specific to chil-
dren "of mentally ill parents", family
estrangement happens even in
seemingly normal circles. Regardless
of what we think of our children
separating from us, and in spite of
what we desire with them, it will
do every parent well to pay attention
to things we should do if/when our
children divorce us.
An article in the AARP (formerly
the American Association of Retired
Persons), suggests the following for
when your child divorces you.
Own up. Take responsibility for
mistakes you ve made. If there s a
kernel of truth in your child s com-
plaint, acknowledge that.
Accept a contrary view. Even if
you think you acted in your child s
best interest, your child might not
have experienced your actions that
way. Don t try to prove your child
Avoid guilt trips. Making a child
feel sorry doesn t work. Even if it
seems effective in the short run,
you ll pay a high price for the resent-
ment you ll generate.
Hear them out. Don t be defen-
sive. Ask questions and then really
Wait... then wait some more.
Don t give up too soon. If there has
been an estrangement, you may
need to reach out for a long time
before the relationship improves.
Button it. Don t give advice that
isn t requested. Don t criticise your
child s significant other or sexual
orientation. Don t tell your children
how to parent their kids. You had
your turn; now let them have theirs.
My first real-life example of adult
children separation had nothing to
do with a diagnosed mental health
issue. It was with two siblings
who re both my friends.
They grew up a close-knit family
in a well-to-do situation, experi-
encing the best of church, school,
friends, and a supportive extended
And then, in a combination of
adopting a different religious ori-
entation with altered values from
their upbringing, which at first did
not garner parental support; and
also discovering the fracture in their
parents relationship, they began
living out the disappointment of
not being a "perfect" family.
Realising their father s infidelity
and recognising their mother s dig-
nified calm and compassionate
stance towards the child from that
relationship were equally difficult
for the son as it was for their daugh-
ter and it sparked a period of
estrangement between children and
In the ensuing years, with matu-
rity on all sides, the family has
regained its bond and strength. It
took a lot of changes in the hearts
and mind of each individual to
recapture this place, and thankfully
they each had the humility and
depth of love for each other that is
required for reconciliation.
In my mind, the key to recovery
was the respect the parents showed
their children throughout, never
overstepping their children s bound-
aries. Instead, they remained avail-
able to their children for all of life s
Without intruding, they attended
their children s weddings and played
whatever role they were assigned
and remained present, yet restrained
for the arrival of the grandchildren.
But not all stories of estrangement
have such a happy ending.
On ACOM, Anonymous writes,
"This evening, I talked to my hus-
band about the difficulty of dealing
with her (my mother s)
histrionics. I told him
about the reactions I ve
had when she s contacted
me at various times and
the struggle of knowing
that keeping my distance
is the right thing for me.
"He asked me if I would
ever be able to talk to her;
if I would ever be at the
point where talking to her
is meaningless to me and
doesn t create an internal
"It was a really inter-
"I m so angry with her
about how little she values
my emotions that I can t
even imagine what that
would feel like; what the
world where I m free from
her would look like."
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
Parents should respect
adult children separation
Going on a health kick reverses ageing
at the cellular level, researchers say.
The University of California team says
it has found the first evidence a strict
regime of exercise, diet and meditation
can have such an effect.
But experts say although the study in
Lancet Oncology is intriguing, it is too
early to draw any firm conclusions.
The study looked at just 35 men with
prostate cancer. Those who changed their
lifestyle had demonstrably younger cells
in genetic terms.
The researchers saw visible cellular
changes in the group of ten men who
switched to a vegetarian diet and stuck
to a recommended timetable of exercise
and stress-busting meditation and yoga.
The changes related to protective caps
at the end of our chromosomes, called
Their role is to safeguard the end of
the chromosome and to prevent the loss
of genetic information during cell divi-
As we age and our cells divide, our
telomeres get shorter---their structural
integrity weakens, which can tell cells to
stop dividing and die.
Researchers have been questioning
whether this process might be inevitable
or something that could be halted or
The latest work by Prof Dean Ornish
and colleagues suggests telomeres can
be lengthened, given the right encour-
agement. They measured telomere length
at the beginning of their study and again
after five years.
Among the ten men with low-risk
prostate cancer who made comprehensive
lifestyle changes, telomere length
increased significantly by an average of
ten per cent.
In comparison, telomere length
decreased by an average of three per cent
in the remaining 25 men who were not
asked to make any lifestyle changes.
Shorter telomeres have been linked
with a broad range of age-related diseases,
including heart disease, and a variety of
The study did not set out to check if
lifestyle changes and telomere lengthening
would improve cancer outcomes, but the
researchers say this is something that
should be investigated.
Prof Ornish said: "The implications
of this relatively small pilot study may
go beyond men with prostate cancer. If
validated by large-scale randomised con-
trolled trials, these comprehensive lifestyle
changes may significantly reduce the risk
of a wide variety of diseases and pre-
Dr Lyn Cox, a biochemistry expert at
Oxford University in the UK, said it was
not possible to draw any conclusions
from the research, but added: "Overall,
though, the findings of this paper that
changes in lifestyle can have a positive
effect on markers of ageing support the
calls for adoption of and adherence to
Dr Tom Vulliamy, senior lecturer in
Molecular Biology at Queen Mary Uni-
versity of London, said: "It is really impor-
tant to highlight that this is a small pilot
Experts agree that telomere shortening
is unlikely to be the sole explanation for
human ageing. But past work has shown
that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle
can experience accelerated cellular ageing
in the form of more rapid shortening of
their telomeres. (BBC)
Health kick 'reverses cell ageing'
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