Are You "Ghosting" Your Child? (On Setting Appropriate Boundaries)

"Mom! Mommy! Mama! MAAAAA!"

Some days the thought of hearing a child call your name once more makes you nearly lose your mind. If your child has challenges that require extra attention, there's no doubt you hear that little voice more often than most. Spending all of that time together at therapies, in medical appointments, and offering assistance at home can suddenly become like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.

My youngest child has taken to telling me that she thinks she has OCD. I think it's completely possible. She always perseverates on favorite topics, and she NEVER.STOPS.TALKING. I love her to pieces, but I need my distance to replenish. Quiet helps to refill my cup. I can then rise to my child’s needs.



I never get as much quiet as I need to recharge. That has resulted in the bad habit of tuning out or “ghosting” my child. This means when I am hearing the “MooOOOm!” one too many times, I ignore it. I get to a point where I.just.can’t. I just keep hoping if I deny its existence, the neediness will just go away. But it never solves the problem. The calling, and demanding, and nagging only escalates.

On top of that, it does something terrible to my child. It shouts right back, “You AREN’T important to me.” I am telling my child that her needs aren’t a priority. Her concerns are insignificant. I don’t care.


My eldest child, now in college, unwittingly brought this to my attention recently. She described what she is learning in one of her communications courses.

“Mom, did you know that there are studies that show that the need for communication is literally as important to human survival as food and water?”

She described "ghosting" as a stern punishment to those on which it is inflicted. I had never even heard the term until she had described it in this conversation.

Urban - "Ghosting"

My heart sank as I immediately thought, That’s what I do to my kids in my worst moments as a mom.


The good news is that I have caught myself falling into the bad habit and changed it. If I can turn it around, you can too.

Anyone who has read my writings in the past knows I am a huge fan of Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Moms need boundaries. So do kids of EVERY ability. This translates into setting clear guidelines around when a parent needs to take a break from being fully attentive. I literally say to my kids, “Okay, I am not in very good shape for listening right now, but come back in 1 hour, and let’s talk about it.” Other times, “I am not able to discuss this with you today, but I promise to tomorrow when you wake up.” I stick firm to those promises.

Using this approach does several things:

  1. It teaches my children that they are not the center of the universe.
  2. My child is affirmed that they ARE important to me.
  3. I get the replenishment I need.
  4. We get the ability to build healthy relationship as family.
  5. It puts an end to me continually pushing away, ignoring, or “ghosting” the child I love.

If you find yourself cringing at the sound of your own name, give it a try. There’s hope when a depleted parent is hearing the needy voice of that young one a little too often.

So? Are you ghosting your child? What will you do about it?

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