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I have been estranged from my narcissistic mother for 10 years. She is 75. She has attempted to contact me and my children over the years, but mainly with birthday cards, with no real indication of change and sometimes a little sarcastic message. I am feeling like sending her a letter or something, for closure on my part ( or maybe itís wishful thinking). I wonder what your opinion is on contacting her at this point?

This is a problem many persons have had: someone who gives offense and then, after a time, tries to resume the relationship, ignoring the past as if no offense had ever been given. If you have proper boundaries, however, you will not let it pass. Therefore, in your case, a letter would not be good because, without your mother acknowledging her dysfunctional behavior, the letter would contain information your mother has no interest in hearing.

Note that it could be helpful for you to organize your thoughts and feelings about your mother by writing a letter to her that you do not intend to send to her; just keep the letter for your own reference.

At this time, all that is necessary is the “something” you mentioned—that is, let it be a short note in which you give a one or two sentence summary of how your mother has hurt you, and then state that, unless she acknowledges her behavior and apologizes to you, you will not engage in any further communication with her.

What she does then is her responsibility. But if she tries to contact you in any way without making a proper heartfelt apology, and if you don't ignore her manipulative ploys, then you will get sucked right back into a dysfunctional relationship with her.

Thatís the problem with parental failures. If a parent cannot admit what he or she did wrong in the past, and then work to change that behavior, then the same wounds afflicted on the children in the past will be repeated in the present. In such a case, the adult children have no choice but to distance themselves (emotionally or physically or both) from their parents to protect themselves.


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