"You owe me"

High level brainwashers (parents actively campaigning to eliminate an ex from the child’s life) very frequently have a “You owe me” expectation once the child becomes an adult. How does this come about?

It’s simple.

High level brainwashers are hyper-selfish people who are experts in playing the victimhood card. They view parenting not only as an obligation but also a favor to their child, and expect something in return down the line. This is the ultimate form of entitlement. Moreover, they view the child as an extension of themselves, not as an autonomous human being. They’re clueless to the notion of,

“One’s child is not an extension, let alone a clone, of oneself” – Dennis Prager

The brainwasher’s thought as the child nears adulthood is, “How dare you leave me and live an independent life!” Any guesses on where this next leads? It leads to the parent heaping a heavy dose of guilt onto the child. And further victimhood status:

  • “You don’t love me anymore, that you would even consider moving away to New York”
  • “I gave you all of this, and now you’re going to love someone else?”
  • “I sacrificed the last two decades to raise you, and this is the thanks I get?”

In raising kids, these parents try to make themselves indispensable to the child, and have an entitlement mentality that eventually turns into “You owe me.” It’s completely unhealthy emotionally. Instead of turning to another adult for emotional support, this type of parent turns to the child, using him or her as an emotional confidant or spouse.

That’s the unfortunate thing about high level alienators. Their inappropriate enmeshment with their own child doesn’t cease upon the child’s entering adulthood. Rather, it kicks into new gear, centered around guilting the child for expressing and acting on his or her natural desire for independence. To these parents, this is a threat of the highest level imaginable– not being needed.

But what happens when the child, now an adult, resists such manipulation?

The alienating parent will do one of three things:

  1. Tell sob stories of how miserable they are (guilting the child), perpetuating their “victim” status
  2. Complain about the lack of respect their child is giving them (guilting the child)
  3. Write their child off completely (the ultimate act of guilting/vengeance)

Don’t underestimate the ability of a toxic, manipulative, brainwashing parent to wreak havoc on their adult children by playing the “You owe me” tactic.

Bonus: Adulthood is usually the time where these children become closer to the non-alienating parent, no matter how much damage was done by the brainwasher. The truth eventually comes out– always– and the brainwashing boomerang goes into effect.


About John

John Thomas Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son's relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation. In this blog, John shares his insights, techniques, and tools in combating emotional child abuse. He did it-- today his son's love has been restored-- and you can too!
  • I am in relationship with man who is exhibiting all symptoms due to mom’s Narcisstic contro rendering her adult son controlled, confused, depressed, isolated, anxious, withdrawn from me upon contact with mom and despondent & dependent on mom for his daily survival (1/2 of every month!. She attacks him verboten in front of me & calls me to degrade him until I began informing him of what I researched. He is in denial & lies to protect every aspect of mom’s cruelty and becomes withdrawn when discussing altdrnTives to her bizarre request of him to run around in irrational merry-goroumd activities to obtain financial gain! He was able to put up front for a couple month then little byite until full blown now but I never experienced such control, brainwashing & stockholme syndrome reactions like feR, anger, depressed, co fusion, in pain but total loyalty and defence of mom. He is paralyzed with feAr which I don’t understand & can’t move on to better his life. I am exhausted attempting to build his self esteem and withdrawal if to self imposed prison and bizarre rage and babble & rhetoric of ideas aced in his head by abuser! I am unqualified to cope much longer with the sadness I feel when observing g the destruction inflicted on sensitive, kind, intelligent yet a used beyond endurance I suggested everything recommended from my research like no contact til stronger, therapy, sf love, reDing self-help books to no avail! Wat does anyone recommend

  • Hurt Mom

    I am in the same situation. My ex husband was so controlling, manipulative and toxic. He put me down constantly to the children, told them that I don’t care about them, and would set up situations in which he would use to his advantage. Such as showing up and dropping the kids off unannounced when I was in the middle of a move (more than once) or telling me that the kids couldn’t come over this weekend, yet showing up at 5:30 pm after he knew was home- in anticipation that I had made plans since I was free that weekend. Then he would show up, I would refuse to break my plans at the last minute (in an attempt to stop his manipulation of my life. So he would drive home all the way telling the kids how I don’t care about them and we’ll it’s ok cause they always have him, etc. He would also talk down my boyfriends and eventuall when I got married again, my husband. The better looking, wealthier the boyfriend was, the more flagrant attack he would wage. The kids are grown now and are extremely disrespectful to me, and repeat the same old garbage back to me that my ex did. Mind you, they never make accusations that I beat them, starved them, etc. But it’s always petty accusations such and saying that I married my husband for money (I had been making it quite well alone before the marriage driving a Mercedes and having lived in a Hugh rise penthouse for several years on my own) or saying that I was a horrible mother because I went on a 3 week vacation to Turkey without them, and numerous other very petty, jealousy driven comments that he had been repeating for years. And so of the three things that the alienating person usually does after children are grown, I have been forced to do two of them. The kids are very disrespectful to me And I have told them that and my family has backed me up on that. They continued to verbally abuse me and so I have cut off contact with all of them because after the years of torture and abuse from their father, and me foolishly thinking that it would end when they were grown. My children have taken to treating me the same way and I cannot take it anymore. On the other hand, this man has does such mean spirited things to them such as threatening to stab me to them, and throwing their christmas gifts in the fire and countless others… Yet they have grown extremely close to him. I don’t know what to do, I feel like if I put up with it, then I am enabling their behavior. And I feel like all that I can do at this point is save myself. This SHOULD be a criminal offense. He thinks he has taken something away from me and has gotten revenge, yet I see that he has actually stolen something from them.

  • David

    I think my narcissistic mother’s reaction to the thought that I might one day get married illustrates your point. She said, “I didn’t cultivate the field for all these years, only to have someone else come along and reap the harvest!”

  • Adaughterinlaw

    Today I found another one of mother-in-law’s diatribes against me on the internet. She posted a link to a video about a woman whose husband put a gun to her head almost daily, pushed her down the stairs, beat her, etc., and said that this is the hell her son is going through with me. It is a complete fabrication, but the result is similar to what Nicole Jenet is experiencing. It’s almost as if the children who grow up with an abusive brainwasher for a mother cannot reconcile reality with whatever their abusive mother continues to brainwash them with for the rest of their lives. They know what she is saying is false, but they feel they have to believe her anyways. They fear her, even though they grow up to be taller and stronger than her. They think she has the right to control them, even though she no longer has any control over their lives. In fact, some of these abusive mothers will tell them, over and over, “It’s my right.” If it’s not “you owe me,” then “it’s my right”. It is mind-boggling how effective the brainwashing from childhood is. I think these women should be called “MK Ultra-moms”. They destroy their their adult children’s lives, but ultimately it is the children themselves they seek to destroy.

  • Instead of turning to another adult for emotional support, this type of parent turns to the child, using him or her as an emotional confidant or spouse.

    This one jumped out at me. My STBE has, for years, used our youngest son as his emotional confidante. He refused to go to individual counseling, declaring all the therapists in our area to be “incompetent” and refused, also, to go to a larger city near us because the drive was too far (apparently the importance of one’s mental health relies on the distance traveled?)

    When our youngest son was about 15, he’d already been seeing a therapist for some pretty serious depression, having a couple of passive suicide attempts under his belt. At this point (age 15 or so), he finally told his therapist that his dad had been using the half-hour to school each day (the STBE drove him every day) and the half-hour back home each afternoon, were nothing but his dad ranting about what a horrible person I am and how abusive I was to him (narc translation: I was starting to stand up to him). The therapist called the STBE in for a private meeting and explained to him what he was doing was emotional abuse and if he ever found out about it again, he was going to turn the STBE over to CPS (and why he didn’t do it that time is beyond me. I should have insisted on it being reported)

    Rather than stop the abuse, the STBE told our youngest what happened in the meeting and said, “And if you tell anyone again about this, the state will take you away and you’ll never see your mom or me again.” Talk about terrifying to a 15 year old!

    Our youngest son is turning 20 in a couple of weeks and I’ve not spoken to him since three weeks before Christmas, the alienation complete with his saying to me, just before he hung up, “You need to just kill yourself and put dad and me out of our misery!”

  • What is an STBE?

  • Well said. These parents are highly insecure on top of being narcissistic.

  • This man has been browbeat into submission to his abuser, his own mother. I suggest a relationship with him at this point is wasted effort on your part. He is stuck in her vortex of negative energy, and you’re being pulled into it.

  • Diane M Gooding

    My mother told us we owed her. She was very manipulative and turned the smallest of problems into crises and expected us to run and fix them at the drop of a hat. It didn’t matter if I was at work, or asleep in the middle of the night. And she would call all of us….I always ran , because she was my mother. But the guilt I felt over wanting my own life sent me to therapy. I got away briefly, when I married and moved away. But she called me continuously, crying that she needed me and to please move home. I was so torn …..I had a breakdown, and my husband moved us back to be near her. She’s gone now…..and so are my chances of every having a normal relationship with her.

  • StrangeCalibur

    I find it odd that someone would marry a person, realize there is a problem then just leave like that. There must be some reason why she is with him. If she cares about him, loves him, do you really think she is going to pull the last bit of support from under his feet by leaving? If the roles where reversed you would never advise that kind of action, feminists would be up in arms. When its a man? Who cares girl you deserve better, if he cant handle his mother he doesn’t deserve you.