Blaming Your Parents Hurts You MostMarch 11, 2013 • By Beverly Amsel, PhD, Individuation Topic Expert Contributor
Some people come to therapy full of negativity and anger toward parents whom they hold responsible for the way they feel and the lives they live. For example, they might explain their difficulties in relationships by referring to a parent’s emotional coldness, criticalness, or divorce. Or they will fault a parent’s lack of encouragement and involvement when they were growing up for their failure to do well academically or professionally. Blaming parents for their struggles keeps these people stuck in angry, anxious, and depressed feelings, and interferes with their ability to think about what they could do to make their lives different.
“Gloria” came to her first therapy session with me and immediately began to talk. Sounding irritated, she explained, “I’m here because I can’t take it anymore. I hate my life. I’m either angry or depressed. I’m 29 years old and I haven’t been in a relationship for more than three months. I can’t seem to keep my jobs for much more than a year. For nine months, I’ve been working as an assistant in a recruiting firm where I answer phones and type résumés. I know I’m smarter than that, but I don’t know what else I want to do. I seem to go from one dead-end job to another. I’m such a loser.” Then Gloria sobbed, “I am just so stuck.”
Gloria began therapy. She typically entered my office with heaviness and depression, and talked about how miserable her life was and how hopeless she felt. She believed that nothing could change. When I asked her why, she thought she was stuck in this awful place, her lethargic demeanor changed to anger, and her voice turned strong.
“How could I change?” she said. “It’s all about my childhood. My parents separated when I was 5. My father left the house and I rarely saw him. Sometimes he would take me for a weekend, but I never believed he really wanted to. He met this woman, Fran, and all he ever talked about was her. They got married when I was 7, and then he moved to another state. I would visit them three or four times a year. She had two daughters. I could see how much he loved Fran. He never looked at me like that. He would criticize how I dressed and compare me to my stepsisters. I hated them. I could never get anything right, and they were so pretty and perfect, and I could see they were the children he wanted. When I would go home to my mother and complain, she would hardly listen. She never seemed very interested in me, either. She had a big, important job, and as I grew up, I didn’t see so much of her. She never got very involved in anything I did. She would even get nasty and critical if I told her about something good that happened. I remember when I told her that I had been asked to run for class secretary in middle school. She laughed at me and said, ‘You’ll never get elected, so you shouldn’t run. You’re just not popular enough.’ I believed everything she said about me, so I didn’t run. By middle school she had a serious boyfriend and she was always with him and never had time for me. I never thought I was good enough for much. When I think about it now, I can see my mother was really into herself and I think she was competitive with me. I don’t think she wanted me to succeed or dress well or have boyfriends. I guess she is still getting her way.”
The more I learned about Gloria’s childhood, the more I could understand why it was so difficult for her to have positive feelings about herself and to believe that if she worked at something, she could succeed. She consistently assumed people’s responses toward her would be negative personally and professionally. While her expectations were understandable in light of her childhood experiences, she was able, when pushed, to come up with memories of positive relationships, work experiences, and even good feelings about herself. Nevertheless, these exceptions to what she anticipated did not go very far in allowing her to step back and consider that she was not (in her words) “doomed to fail.”
It became clear to me that Gloria was stuck in blaming her parents for how she saw herself and how her life turned out. What made it so hard for her to move on? Was there some risk in letting go of her anger? Was there a downside to not living up to what she saw as her parents’ view of her? Was there something positive in it for her to blame her parents? These were the questions that occurred to me as I listened to Gloria, who presented herself repeatedly as a victim who would always be at the mercy of the impact of her past treatment by her parents.
I began to raise these questions to Gloria, who became curious about them. She began to consider the risks of letting go of her anger and blame. She talked about worrying that she would be letting her parents “off the hook” if she stopped blaming them or being angry. “They know how I feel and I like to think I make them feel guilty,” she said. “When I was a kid, they never seemed to expect me to amount to much. They’ve gotten what they wanted, but I do think I’ve managed to finally make an impact. I think I’ve succeeded in making them feel guilty. If my life got better, maybe they wouldn’t feel so bad or guilty. I feel bad and I want them to feel bad.”
At first, when Gloria continued to talk about her desire to hurt her parents, she smiled and said, “Now that I understand that this is what I’m doing, I have to say that revenge is sweet.” She would also get angry in our sessions and acknowledge that this new awareness created a real conflict for her. “Rationally, I get that it’s me,” she said. “I can see that I think my parents are responsible for my being a failure. They made me this way, so I’ll be the loser they created. I want to hurt them. I guess I could work on getting the life I’m always moaning that I’ve never had, and I know that would be the best thing for me. But I just don’t want to give them any good stuff.”
As we continue to talk about this conflict, which creates great anguish for Gloria, she has not been able to choose to work on giving up her anger and blame. However, she is considerably less attached to viewing her life through the lens of doom and failure caused by her parents. She has begun to take some steps to get more for herself. She has gotten a promotion to recruiter, and has made a placement that will double her income this year. She has also enrolled in a management class at a local college. We’ve even begun to talk about online dating. As Gloria continues to work in therapy, I believe she will achieve more for herself and gradually be able to see her identity in a new way and identify less and less as a victim. As she allows herself to experience the satisfactions of success, I am hopeful that the pleasure of revenge will be less gratifying.
My work with Gloria is just one illustration of the ways in which blaming your parents can keep you stuck. There is a terrible paradox in these situations: You are angry and blame your parents’ treatment of you growing up for your unhappiness and failures in your adult life. But the wish for revenge and these angry, blaming feelings keep the connection and repeat the relationship between your “bad parents” and you, the unsuccessful, unhappy child. As a result, you are stuck in the position where you cannot become the person you say you wish to be or create the life you say you desire.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
deandraMarch 11th, 2013 at 9:29 AM
i used to be just like that girl who is in this paper. me and her were a lot alike. then one day my grandma said. deandra why do you always blame your mama. for everything? i told her i didn’t know and me and her talked about it a real long time. she told me all about her struggles growing up and how she always blamed her daddy. for everything too. it really helped me see how i was messing up and how i was the only one who could control what was going on right then. she said jesus would want me to forgive my mama so i did. it made such a big difference for me i was able to have the life i always dreamed about once i could see my choices were mine to make and mine to mess up or not. i sure hope this girl will understand this and make a good life for herself.
JenaMarch 11th, 2013 at 9:31 AM
It is so hard to admit you are getting something out of being miserable. But, the only way you’ll stop being miserable is by stopping the process of allowing yourself to be the victim all the time. Giving up the victim role can be empowering in the end, but it really isn’t any fun at all at first. It really means that you have to take responsibility over the decisions you have made and are currently making. But, we all know that people don’t do things unless they are getting something out of it.
IonaMarch 11th, 2013 at 9:32 AM
You sound like a really good therapist. Keep up the good work!
jedaMarch 11th, 2013 at 9:35 AM
gloria sounds like a really smart person. she was even smart enough to now she needed therapy. everybody ain’t like that.
i wish i could be that smart i have alot of problems but i am scared to go to therapy i know you have to be honest with your therapist in order to get better
but there are alot of things i cant be honest about cuz i could get in alot of trouble so what am i supposed to do?
how am i supposed to get better and start acting rite if i cant be honest with a therapist
SheilaJune 14th, 2014 at 3:55 PM
look into your heart and reveal what keeps you from forgiveness. This will be your freedom. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Place that either spiritually, through therapy or that thought in your own personal bucket of the mind and deal with it when you’re ready so you can be free and live a life free from guilt and shame.
Mama BearMarch 11th, 2013 at 9:38 AM
Blaming your parents for your problems will get you nowhere, it is so true. I used to do that. YOu know when I stopped? When I had two kids of my own. I realized that even though my mom and dad weren’t perfect, they probably did the absolute best they could. Sure they may not have spent the quality time with me I would have liked, but they gave me all of themselves that they could. Sometimes we forget that our parents are people, too. They have their own baggage created by their own childhoods and really are just doing the best they can with what they’ve been given. So, lighten up on the parents! I can only imagine what my kids will tell their therapists…until they have children of their own, that is.
HannahMarch 11th, 2013 at 3:12 PM
Yeah, I think that the time to stop blaming your parents for everything comes about the time when you are old enough to realize that you have to take some ownership of the things in your life too but are just unwilling to make that step.
I would hate to think that I was a senior citizen still complaining about all of the things my mom and dad did or did not do and blaming them for all the things that were still happening to me. But you see this all the time.
U.L.HMarch 11th, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Parents can have a big influence in our lives. And their actions can bring in new turns in our lives too. No doubt. But how much we let others’ actions affect us depends on nobody else but us!
There is always ways to counter any negative affect that others’ actions have on us. Blaming is no solutions. A better way would be to see and assess how that has affected us in the past and in the present and doing something to rectify it.
RODMarch 12th, 2013 at 4:03 AM
if you are always going around blaming your parents then you are never owning up to your part
there comes a time when you have to put your grown up pants on and determine that you have to make your own way in life
regardless of what happened to you when you were young
you have to move past all of that and create a life of your own that is free of that
SheilaJune 14th, 2014 at 3:47 PM
AnonymousMarch 12th, 2013 at 12:27 PM
How about those parents who are overslly controlling and don’t allow you to take your own decisions?
How to deal with them?
Yes, i dont want to blame my parents for my failures but they dont give a charge of my life to my hands.. What to do except to blame them?
Corps86March 13th, 2013 at 10:50 AM
There r parents who do deserve blame. The ones who torture, abuse, ect…A person has the right to blame them until or if a person can reach a point of forgiveness. Blaming parents who caused damage can’t do more damage the damage is already done
BrianMay 13th, 2013 at 3:14 AM
I agree with the last comment. If a parent is abusive in any way or it feels weird with them you don’t have to stay in relationship with them AND move on at the same time. It isn’t an “either or” here. You can do both. Say no to the parents and their bullshit and if it doesn’t stop block them out while moving on with your life and finding ways to live your dream and support yourself.
It isn’t cookie cutter. For some forgiveness could come and for others forgiveness without real remorse from the parents would just be a bypass.
I don’t like new age or things that bypass real feelings and you can’t just will forgiveness. It usually comes when someone apologizes for real with remorse that you can feel from the person who hurt you. It usually dissolves into forgiveness that moment when you can really feel it.
EnigmaJune 26th, 2013 at 6:36 PM
Anonymous … If you are living your life, paying your bills, self-sufficient … the answer is easy.
If you are “dependent” on your parents (monetarily, living arrangements, vehicles, etc.) that’s on you. If you put in place healthy boundaries and are taking care of your own business, it gets much easier.
SabaJuly 20th, 2013 at 8:44 AM
I still blame my parents for alot of things, on a daily basis. I don’t do it so much verbally, but definitely mentally. I agree with Rod, that one day you have got to put your grown up pants on, as taking responsibility for your own decisions is one of the characteristics of an adult.
I also agree with Mama Bear, in that remembering that your parents were probably trying to do their best, and probably trying to cope with their own baggage as well, whilst they were raising you, helps you get some relief from these powerful feelings of sadness, and inadequacy, that some of us torture ourselves with, throughout the day, on a daily basis. s: There’s a good quote I heard, out of all places, from this tv show that’s on here in Australia, where one character says when trying to help another character, ‘Look, you can either be right, or you can be happy.’ I think that sums up the problem all of us here have, with the treatment we’ve recieved from our parents. Yes, they may have abused us, in some shape or form, and yes, we want our parents, and the other people around us, to feel our pain, for other people to acknowledge our pain, and say to us that, ‘Yes, that’s not fair, what they did to you. It hurts. It shouldn’t have happened to you.’ And so we absolutely hold on to this victim mentality. So even though we may be right, we are definitely not making ourselves less unhappy, by doing this to ourselves. Gloria, I hear you. And to everyone else in the comments, I hear you, too. But- we have to do some good things in our lives, whether that’s painting, listening to, or learning to play music, drawing, having a positive relationship, cross-stiching, claywork, cooking, dancing, reading, laughing, writing, studying, going to the beach, or to the park, meeting up with friends, gardening, planting a tree to help a depleted forest regrow, or doing good deeds for others who are suffering more than ourselves, or for our family members, like helping with the dishes, learning a new language – the list of possibilities for good, healing, soothing, therapeutic, things that we can do in the world, and that can happen to us, in return, are actually limitless, folks. So although the pain of holding onto the victim mentality feels vindicating in a way, we should just try to do things that make us happy. :) As the excellent psychologist on this site has written, she, and I’m paraphrasing this, she ‘hoped that the satisfaction that Gloria had started to experience from her successes, once she left the pain alone, and started to open herself up, the pain reduced automatically anyway, and that the taste of these successes became far more enjoyable than any vindication she recieved from any from her victim feelings.’ I really hope that me, Gloria, and the commenters, can detach ourselves from holding onto our pain, and can create a good life for ourselves. :) I wish peace, love, contentment, light, satisfaction, laughter, feelings of adequacy, and fulfillment, in our lives. :) Good Luck, everybody. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. :) Love, Saba from Sydney. :)
LoganAugust 23rd, 2013 at 3:20 PM
When I was young my parent hurted me when I said please stop 5 times they hurt me so bad I lost power and dreams they broke my dreams I wanted to happen. Destroy my toy I love.they never even make birthday party’s for me every year I lived a sad painful and no great times in the old times. Don’t do it to your children you may go to jail for 25 years don’t let it happen I agree that children should blame parents for there anger
MarieAugust 25th, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Wow. This is just Mind blowing. My daughter has blamed me her entire life for her unhappiness. I have always thought she must be Bi-Polar, as she has always mistreated me, from a small child with little respect, and hatred, that has continued for all of her childhood, and into her adulthood. She will be 32 in less than 30 days.
I will say that she has not had the best advantages in her life, but has blamed me for everything. I think we have had a very Co-Dependent relationship, in which we have continually tried to rescue, and save each other from lives trauma’s, only to find that nothing ever really changes in the long run,and that we are both still just Miserable. She has ruined my potential relationships with Verbal, and Physical abuse, which has made it impossible for me to succeed in any way.
This madness just has to end, as now I am approaching 55, single, and pretty much struggling to survive. She has used me, stolen from me, and has demoralized me, time and time again. She has physically knocked me down, abandoned me in Las Vegas, stealing my car, and left me at casinos when I had no way to return home safely, with little remorse.
She always brings up my past, and my single life when I was divorced, and made me feel like a whore. Funny, I look like a Nun when I compare myself to her. She meets men, stays with them for weeks, and after they are done with her, she reaches out to me with complete desperation for help, and rescue.
baby bearSeptember 12th, 2013 at 2:44 AM
I had this realization about a year ago… I’m twenty-five. And yet I still won’t let it go. It’s exhausting, and ruining my mental state. But these feelings of intense anger just keep creeping in, daily, hourly sometimes. I’ve tried to escape them with drugs and alcohol, I’ve tried to deny them and tell myself that they did the best they could, but deep down I still feel that they had no right to bring me into the world. I still keep in touch with them even though I feel they have no right to a relationship with me. I’m no longer their dependant, but I still bend to their wishes because I fear losing the respect of and contact with my extended family if I sever the ties of contact. The idea of standing up to them is absolutely terrifying to me because I am fairly certain it would elicit an emotional response, and yes, it would hurt their feelings because they did sacrifice a great deal for me. But in the end, I never asked for any of it. In the end, because of genetics and patriarchy and heaven knows what else I’m a mentally unstable young woman who tends to have unwelcome and obsessive thoughts of suicide and self-harm, and equally unwelcome bouts of risky, impulsive behavior. I’d love to have a kid and say, “oh, now I understand,” but I truly believe I’m unfit to be a parent. Maybe that’s what hurts the most.
Beverly Amsel, PhDSeptember 12th, 2013 at 5:10 PM
Hi Baby bear
You are clearly struggling with a lot of feelings and conflicts in relation to your family.You don’t have to be trapped by genetics and patriarchy. I think it is very important that you find someone to talk to so you can find a way to move on and have a good life for yourself.
LeetheGirlOctober 4th, 2013 at 2:25 PM
This is an issue that I have. I often feel like I am an underachiever and inadequate and that other people must feel negatively towards me for any given reason. And, worst, that no one cares about me. I act nonchalant a lot of the time when I am honestly worried about what others think of me.
I blame my mother for this a lot. And I also blame my father a bit for not standing up to her.
My mother is very bossy and controlling. She victimized my father, my siblings, and myself by belittling us, yelling at us, hitting us, screaming, you name it. She acted harshly towards anything she viewed as different or strange.
And so I, being awkward and having a hard time making friends since kindergarden, was a prime target for her. And her humiliating me over having no friends, calling me horrible names when I did
something “wrong”, swearing at me and yelling at me to put me in my place has, I feel, made me an emotional wreck.
I realize, of course, that only I can change my viewpoint in the long run. But I think what will help would be my mother’s admittance to her treatment of me. And, most of all, an apology. Which is something I doubt will ever happen.
I don’t want to feel this hatred towards my mom so often. I know she actually does love all of us, she has done a lot of good for us. But I’ve brought this all up with her in the past and her denial of what she did, or claiming she has ‘forgotten’ makes me feel even more anger.
SandraJanuary 19th, 2014 at 6:42 PM
I was not a great mother. My daughter suffered from my overworking, my dating, and a father who was verbally and physically abusive. For the past 2 decades I have done all I can to make up for it. We got along great for awhile and she forgave me. I was so grateful. Then she made some decisions in her life which did not pan out well for her. She also chose some men to date who hurt her a great deal. That’s when the blame game came into full swing. I fell for it out of guilt and began paying her way for a lot of things. When I saw that our relationship was only getting worse, I gradually cut the flow of money and then the verbal abuse started from her. It hurt a great deal but I told myself she’s just having a tantrum because things are changing. Five years of disrespectful behavior from her and she didn’t get the results she wanted (me to grovel and give her money). She then did the cruelest thing a mother can experience. She cut off all ties with me and said I had ruined her whole life. My parents consoled me (she is not in touch with them either) and told me to hang tough, that she just needs to grow up. I’m working to stay strong but it’s been over a year now with no contact. I see a lot of parents hurting online due to estranged adult children. It seems epidemic and I think that they are being misled to believe this is a good answer. My daughter and I have both been cheated out of a lot of good times because of her stubborn demand that everything go her way or no way at all. I hope she can work through this and come back to me but she is 41 years old and I have come to accept that she would rather be selfish and “right” in her mind than to have a better life with her loved ones.
MonkeysmomFebruary 12th, 2014 at 12:45 PM
I don’t blame my mom so much. But I do know my childhood experiences shaped how I think and how I make decisions. There are things she did that I will never forgive her for because of a deep belief I had in her that she destroyed in a matter of months when I was 12. My mom wasn’t abusive or really neglectful. She is selfish and made bad decisions. I hate to say it, but my mom is not a very smart person. But I also know her childhood and she always felt unwanted and unloved. She literally did the best she could and I can’t fault her for that. I fault her for lying to me because that was something she could have helped. I fault her for relying on me for emotional support when I was growing up. I fault her for saying and doing things (mostly to or about others) and not caring how they affected me. I grew up believing (and still do) that I am judged by others because of her, I am a reflection of her. The way people see her, is the way they see me. I have worked very hard to overcome this (mostly my separating myself from her), but recently I have been reminded of it and I have I realized it’s the reason my ex-husband treated me like he did. He became very controlling in how the house appeared, how I appeared to others. It was all very subtle and most people never realized what was going on. I didn’t really realize what was going on until I finally had enough and left. The point is I don’t so much blame my mother because I know she did the best she could. I just wish she would have learned to keep some very hurtful things about others to herself, because I am tired of taking the fall for it. I do struggle with the perception of people judging me, especially after they meet my mother (who I rarely introduce to people I know). I struggle with people treating me as if I have nothing to really contribute to work, relationships, etc. Most of it is a perception and I know this, but at the same time the same situation keeps coming up. I try different approaches and yet I still am left behind or feeling I am not important enough to even be considered a person of any value. I have a few very close friends who understand this & do what they can to help, but it seems to me that eventually it gets turned back to them & I am supporting them. That is what I struggle with, I am always other people’s rock, yet I can’t find a rock when I need one. Tired of being “strong”, tired of working hard and no one really caring about how much effort I put into it, or when I ask for help, I don’t get it. Most of the time I feel like people just push me aside and think ‘she is fine, she is strong’. There is a little girl crying in this strong woman. I guess that is what I blame my mom for..
Chris LaforestMarch 8th, 2014 at 7:35 PM
First of all, lets get it out of the way – yes I think there is value in a concentration on the future as opposed to the past, and of releasing those who have harmed you.
But what is so key in that understanding – what is, in fact, the whole point of forgiveness – is the fact that you let them go for good. To say that you’ve forgiven your parents, when they haven’t made any personal effect to apologize for the wrong they might have done you, but then that you continue to have a relationship with them is to entirely miss the point of forgiveness – I think.
The fact of the matter is, emotions are the human way of experiencing and understanding the world and, most importantly, our relationships. When you are feeling angry, your intuition is telling you something valuable. So I am pretty tired of seeing this mantra repeated that feeling angry and betrayed by your parents after realizing the true nature of your childhood is somehow unhealthy. It is incredibly important to get this. Emotions can never be incorrect. Emotions are simply fundamental reactions to base stimuli. The only thing that can be wrong, in terms of our emotions, is our interpretations of them; why are we really feeling angry? Who is at fault?
Writing off emotions because they, as a symptom, bring about undesirable feelings is an incredibly self-destructive mistake. Emotions are only a symptom of the actions of other people towards ourselves. We have absolutely no control over what emotions we feel if someone does something that causes us pain.
Because emotions are symptoms – and signals – it would be a huge mistake to treat them as the cause of our issues themselves. No, the cause of our issues are the people who hurt us, and the long repressed feelings and incredibly crippled ability to sympathize with our own emotional experience which resulted from being hurt is our signal from our true self to deal with the original pain. Treating these symptoms directly can only paper over what we believe – falsely – to be the problem. Inevitably, the emotional pains will surface elsewhere because our soul is constantly trying to get us to go back and feel the pain that we have been forced to repress and hide and pretend doesn’t exist.
I think that clears that up pretty well. Negative emotions are not the CAUSE of our disturbances – they are merely the baseline communicators of the real causes which lie, usually repressed or otherwise ignored, in our historical psyche. To continue relating with people who claimed to love you but who hurt you – when they haven’t gone to great lengths to apologize for what they did in making you as dysfunctional as you are – is nothing but self-destructive and basically to, de facto, blame yourself for all of the negative emotions you are feeling. The key is that someone has to take the blame for the pain. If it isn’t the person who hurt you – and we know it isn’t any fun to tell your parents (who may not have been nearly as bad as the average) that you now understand that they hurt you and that you have that much less respect for them for it now that you are an adult and you realize how they treated you even in the situation of complete dependence to them that you were in – then you must, necessarily, blame yourself for that pain. This popular notion of “forgiveness” is basically the idea that nobody has to take responsibility for doing harm. But the fact of the matter is that, while we may be able to empathize, in an abstract sense, with the situation our parents were in – be it through their own parenting or their peers at the time, our personal experience cannot be understood through the abstract.
Now, I have to reply to Marie, and my comments will also apply to many other sentiments in here with which I strongly disagree. It is truly disturbing to see the way in which Marie interprets her relationship with her child. She describes herself as being on equal footing with her daughter emotionally – bouncing off of each other in terms of their similar dysfunctions (dating crappy guys, etc.)
Now, I could go on with the specific things that Marie talks about and relate it to the point I’m going to make – that which I think is the clincher in this whole “debate”. But it’s pretty simple, and I don’t want to come off as deliberately trying to hurt people; because I just want to help them understand what is actually going on. I will make my point, and you can apply it yourself and see if you think it makes any sense.
The parent-child relationship is not equal; like the partner-partner relationship, or the employee-employer relationship, or indeed any other relationship. The child makes no positive choice to be born, or to be born to the parents they get. They have no choice regarding what kind of people their parents are going to be, and they can’t leave – especially not in the most formative years (90% of emotional brain development in the first 4-5 years). In fact, in those most formative years, the concept of leaving would not only be an impossibility in the mind of the child – who considers the loss of their mother’s love (and by mother I mean the main caretaker parent) as real death, they really don’t know the difference. It wouldn’t ever occur to them because, of course, they don’t yet have the capacity for such complex concept understanding. What I am describing is the incredible power disparity in the parent-child relationship; in terms of physical power, emotional power, experience, and most importantly, the fact that parents have about 99% of the choice involved in the process of “having a baby”, while the child has absolutely 0. The other 1 percent is a courtesy for the parents who didn’t want to have kids. But let’s be honest, the capacity for young adults to understand that having sex can result in pregnancy FAR SURPASSES the capacity for an unborn child to choose not to be born.
So why am I going on about the real nature of the parent-child relationship? Well, when we read posts like Marie’s here, we get a completely different set of claims about that relationship. Marie goes on in detail about the various character flaws that her daughter has, but skips completely over any responsibility she might have for creating those character flaws in her, and skips right over to feeling hurt by the fact that her daughter is blaming her. Absolutely no curiosity. And what’s worse is that she is claiming to be making this post and these comments in the interest of her daughter – in whose best interest it would allegedly be to stop blaming her mother for her disturbances.
Well, isn’t it pretty clear that her habits and addictions are identical to her mothers?
So again, if we try really hard to consider the definition of the parent-child relationship that I gave before and compare it to Marie’s relationship with her daughter and her interpretation of it, do we not find that there is a huge disconnect? I can’t say I really care what the end goal is, it is all to clear that Marie is using this blog post as a shield – though I’ve already explained that it isn’t actually a functioning shield – against her daughter’s completely legitimate claims against her.
I have to say that I do not believe you, Marie, when you say that you have tried appeasing your daughters desire for closure in accepting the blame, and so that you’ve realized that the answer isn’t for parents to be blamed. The reason I don’t believe you is that you consistently refer to your relationship – from since she was just a toddler – as one sided against you. You make it sound like you did everything you could but that she was just impossible to deal with. You explain it as though she wanted to hurt you for no reason.
I know that you can’t have ever really apologized to her for the harm you did her, that for which she now blames you, because – in every way you describe your relationship – you see yourself as the victim and her as the aggressor.
When you have described a grown woman as a victim, and a helpless young child – whom that grown woman was responsible for bringing to life – as an aggressor; I’m sorry but I just don’t see how anybody could or should take you seriously.
That’s why I can’t just move on with this forgiveness crap. In order to deal with the consequences of trauma, you first have to admit that there has been trauma. When you do admit that, it becomes obvious that someone actively did it to you, and that that someone now wishes to be a part of your life in a big way.
So if they get hostile, or scornful, or claim that you are being insensitive when you bring up the fact that you have concerns over the way you were raised; these aren’t people you want to hang around with anymore and to continue to do so is only to reinforce your emotional disturbance – which is that you were forced, as a child, to suppress or completely ignore your own feelings for the sake of filling an emotional void in your parents that you didn’t create. If you continue in such a relationship without their full changed devotion, you recreate your crippled self-esteem by concentrating on showing sympathy for their situation – for which the other side of the coin is ignoring your own feelings.
Astri BApril 28th, 2014 at 6:36 PM
Many, esp young grown up people tend to blame their parents for their sadness, for feelig lost, lonely, their anxiety, disappointment in their own achievements in life or whatever, despite the fact that they have grown up in homes where love , respect and mutual understanding were important values all the way. They feel that the parents do not accept them, even though this may not be true at all, quite the oppsite, even. I modern society it seems like blaming caring and well functioning parents, especially mothers, is the most intelligent and psychologically correct reaction. In many cases these young people are dissatisfied with themselves, and believe the parents also share this negative attitude, no matter how much effort they put into trying to explain the opposite. When they talk about their parents’ attitudes they actually describe their own. Why do so many people do that? Is it our freudian inheritence? Is it because they don’t understand that all the feelings I mentioned in the beginning are part of life, and part of growing up is dealing with that? How realistic is it to believe that we can go through life without depression, feeling lost and anxious at times, especialliy in years of great changes? If the parents have not been directly abusive, I am optimistic enough to believe their offspring would be strong enough to handle these difficult periods of life. In one sense we could say that we are all victims, victims of life itself… but isn’ t it more important to focus on how lucky we are to have got the chance of living life with all its pleasant and not so pleasant challenges? With the devastations and the happiness? Humans can communicate, help out, exchange experiences. I’d rather do that than blame my old mother or have a therapist blame her for things I as a grown up human being need to cope with myself. Life is about growing, and that may hurt. So we all need patience, love, empathy and understanding to help one another to move on in life, not accusations, self-pity, rejection and self-righteousness
MaryMay 15th, 2014 at 8:58 PM
Very well said, thank you.
ConcernedMarch 16th, 2014 at 12:47 PM
Hello all, I’m a concerned parent that has 2 children who are now 25 and 21. My spouse and I are very concerned about our youngest, I’m sure we weren’t perfect parents and we could have done some things differently. Both were raised in the same way but were so different from each other from the very beginning. The oldest was a happier child that seem to make friends easily, the other seem unhappy from a very young age, although he was very intelligent he never did well in school. He had trouble concentrating and staying focused on any task, and because of it he would disrupt his class mates and the teacher would single him out and usually send him out of class. I think the other kids would tease him and bully him because of it. At first we thought his problems in school were behavioral but he was a good sweet kid at home. At a loss of what else to do we put him in a different school for his last couple years of preschool, although we found his new teachers better equipped he still seemed to have trouble focussing on tasks which continued through high school. We always new he was a special child, so intelligent! We aren’t stupid but never considered ourselves to have that level of intelligence. We have always been very proud of both our children but now our youngest child blame us for his feelings of depression. He is very analitica about every thing he takes interest in, I think to the extent of being obsessive and compulsive. He says that we weren’t terrible parents but something we did or didn’t do as parents has caused him to feel this way. He thinks he’s repressing something terrible that we did to him as a child. We tell him that we weren’t perfect but we did do the best we knew how at the time.
He was loved, and was never abused in any way. I and some of my siblings have dealt with depression through our live’s and some of my parents siblings have dealt with depression and other mental illness’s. Is it possible that my son’s depression is due to hereditary reasons? Or did we do something wrong however small raising him that would cause him to feel depressed.
hard to be a parentMarch 28th, 2014 at 1:18 PM
Interesting article. My daughter is 25 and blames me alot for her life not being where she wants it to be. I didn’t do this enough, I didn’t do that enough. I listen and try to support her, but also understand she needs to get help to work through this properly or she will be like one of my sisters who is now in her early 50’s and still is living out her childhood unhappiness. We were talking on the phone in the past 30 minutes about it and she had to go and has just texted me asking if we can talk about it later. I told her definitely yes, and we will. But blame doesn’t help – she needs to work through this so she can be happy in her own skin.
Sasha'sJune 22nd, 2014 at 12:46 PM
My two daughters are heroin addicts. holly 27 and jennifer 25. Jennifer blames me for everything wrong in her life, she is having an affair with a bum, he’s a heroin addict and she is being drug tested for almost dying from an overdose. He took her heroin to her job, my husband (her stepdad ) has made a promise to our granddaughter to always be there, never let her down, and my daughters knows this and thinks she can call me names while I am baby sitting her child for free…
What happened to this generation of kids?
I don’t know what to do.
I am not speaking to her over her lies to me over everything. And I mean everything…she is jelous bc I’m talking to her husband and not her. He has been using and spending money. I told her he has helped you throughout this for 6 years and you need to help him get clean.
Then she leaves her daughter here and drives (on a restricted license) to pick him up at a bar…
Sends a pic of her in bed with him to her friend who was dating him!!!!
Who does that???
Please give me advice on how you would handle her and say to her…
God bless and thanks for listening.
buddyApril 3rd, 2014 at 7:35 PM
From the beginning I was without a dad I always got beat 3-6 I did sports and everything was left out a lot by family always got in trouble met nathan my step dad bought us everything always took care of us through the hard times but I feel like he changed my personality because of the way he treated me I feel like gaming unconditionally didn’t help and having friends kinda but I never had anyone or felt like it that I could talk to now im 20 and I cant think of anything I lost interest in sports shortly after meeting him lost touch with friends by moving back and forth I don’t feel like I ever cared about anything I don’t really have feelings but I cry because I cant get my life together I make myself thinking about bad experience I remember experience but I can’t think of anything I really can’t remember alot im just negative I don’t really think of anyone else how do I change when I dont know what to think and its hard to cate
Beverly Amsel, PhDApril 5th, 2014 at 11:41 AM
I’d like to reply to Buddy. First, thank you for responding to my post. I hope this is a step in seeking help to get your life together. The best way I know to move forward in your life and get to know who you are ans what you think is to find a therapist to talk to. Even if you don’t believe this will help, I urge you to do it anyway. You can check the listings at goodtherapy.org for a therapist in your area or contact your local mental health association. I believe very strongly in the power of talking and I sincerely wish that you follow up on my suggestion.
TammyApril 6th, 2014 at 6:53 AM
My 38 year old son has been unemployed for 6 months, is bi-polar, gay, and in a relationship. He does not live near me and has issues with substance abuse in his past-not sure about the present. Recently he let loose with a diatribe of blame for all that is lacking in his life. I know he needs to change his focus and wear the man pants, get a job, take care of his health needs, and deal with his present situation so his future will be a positive one. How do I have this conversation with him while not alienating him? He does not take criticism well. He has cut us off before. His father is dead and they were not speaking so he got no closure there. I am remarried with an 11 year old. He does not like my husband. I would very much appreciate some advice and direction. How do you move an adult child into the future when they are so wrapped up in the problems of the past?
Leonor PereiraApril 12th, 2014 at 3:26 AM
To Chris Laforest – thank you for a very insightful, well written response. I am learning to take “expert’s views” with a pinch of salt these days, as so often their work clearly is not helping their clients, and totally off the mark. Of course, in order to overcome trauma, and function in the world, we have to find a way to move on. And some how, we do so – with or without years of “expert counselling”. But suggesting that we somehow forget and move on without any acknowledgement of wrong doing, and expect that to have no impact on our psyche, or to remain with those with those who cause us pain is indeed dysfunctional. And as parents, whether we like it or not, we elected to bring human beings into this world and we are entirely responsible for providing them with a foundation on which to build the rest of their lives. A foundation that will shape their relationships, their inter-action with both their internal and external world, and we must acknowledge this too – a foundation with how the next generation – grandchildren, will flourish, or not. There is enough evidence out there to show how fundamental our influence as parents is to future generations. It does not end with our children folks, I wish people would consider that. Stop making excuses for bad and self-centred parenting. This is the information age and you are not living under a tree. Take responsiblity.
Leana LydenApril 12th, 2014 at 9:27 AM
Im 15 years old… I constantly find myself crying and angry because of my mom. I always say i hate her because i feel like age never supports me or loves me. I dont try to talk to her so she yells at me for example: her: You need to clean the dishes do them RIGHT NOW i dont want to hear it!!!! Me: What are you talking about? i didnt even say anything. You always call my name to do everything you never call anyone else ive done the dishes 4years in a row and havent missed a day im the only one that cleans and you dont even clean cause im the only one that does! her: SHUT YOUR MOUTH!! If i hear it again im gonna punch your face! So i just walk off into my room then she comes breaking my door and screaming at me. I barely want to talk to her because everything she has to say just turns into an argument. Ive gained alot of weight and i dont know why but she has to keep yelling at me saying “You sleep too much, you dont care about anyone but yourself thats why youre gaining weight your fat and stupid do you even go to class? Then why arent you smart?” She always brings me down. Ever since the divorce shes been taking all her anger out on me and hating me but spoils my little brothers and is a whole new person around my older siblings. I feel so lonely cause no one even wants to listen or care about me. I try taking sports and i made the cheerleading team yesterday but my mom said shes not paying for it not a penny. i would ask my dad but, He doesnt pick us up anymore and he changed his number. I dont know what to do so if she doesnt even want to pay for school, why not just drop out why not just leave everything just how everything left me. I dont treat anyone fair cause noone treats me fair.
VickyAugust 14th, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Well my parents are not divorced but they are cold towards me and say the sme things your mum says to you….except the dishes part…. i think you should get a part time job and start paying for your own things…at least that what i was going to do if my country allowed 15 years old kids get a part time job…
Beverly Amsel, PhDApril 12th, 2014 at 12:09 PM
This is a post for Leana. Sounds like life is pretty tough for you now and it’s hard to imagine you would feel anything but angry, lonely and depressed. What worries me is that you are taking the anger out on yourself. Please don’t give up on yourself. You have a future in front of you and the decisions you make now are important. It’s great that you tried out for cheer leading and even greater that you made the team. Please see if there is any way you can get help at school so someone can speak with your mother so you can participate. Even if this won’t work, most important is to try to get help so you are not so alone with your situation and such difficult feelings. Is there a teacher or guidance counselor or a friend’s parent that you can turn to? If you could find someone to speak with, it could really help. The more you can find support and not have to endure your situation alone, the better. Don’t treat others the way you are being treated. You’ll end up not liking yourself and then continue to take it out on yourself. Please take this seriously. As difficult as life is now, you matter (a lot) and your future matters.
Carol BMay 12th, 2014 at 6:36 AM
I have a 22 year old daughter that harbors ill feelings towards me. I am divorced from her dad and the divorce was my fault. She has a grandmother that fills her head full of things that I supposedly did and some are true but other things are not. We go in spurts of getting along and then something will set her off and she is hateful and angry. I’m at my wits end as to what to do about it or even if there is anything I can do. Everyone tells me it will get better with age. I certainly hope so.
AshJune 26th, 2014 at 8:52 AM
Oh Carol, when I read your comment I honestly though, “Did I write this?”! My mother is toxic to me, and has been supporting (enabling) my addict (adult) daughter for two years now. I have tried everything to put a stop to this, but my mother is also a LIFE-LONG addict, that desperately needs another addict in her life at all times. She even went so far as to fly my daughter down to Texas (behind my back, and on Mother’s Day of all days), only to eventually leave her stranded there w/o a dime to her name. All because my daughter told her she didn’t want to stay with her, against my mothers wishes. (My daughter was frightened at the level of insanity my mother functions on, and I had done my best to worn her of her grandmothers “potential”, but I didn’t get “real” enough in those warnings apparently), I was still always protecting my mother, when believe me, I have NO reason to do so other than life long “conditioning, or training” by my mother I suppose. Of course I spent the 600+ to get her home, when I finaly got the “rescue me mommy” call and found out that she was in Texas. The entire past two years that my mother was keeping my daughters “head above water”, and drugs in her veins, she was telling my daughter “how bad I am to her”, and making things up that are OUTLANDISH and blatant lies! Now with my daughters drug use and all the terrible brainwashing (which wasn’t hard to do, mind you), I feel so powerless to help her…
My daughter sends me barrages of text messages, blaming ME and the ENTIRE family for the state her life is in. I know it is not my fault, or the fault of anyone but herself, that she is an addict/thief/liar and danger to herself and others. It is just none the less hurtful and a terrible feeling to have these fantastic lies being thrown at you. I try my hardest to not let them “stick”, and I, and everyone outside of my mother and daughter know better than to buy into it. It just doesn’t feel good, and I empathize with you so wholeheartedly!!!
I remain as strong as I can, and have to tell you, that it took cutting my mother completely out of my life to get even the slightest bit of normalcy. She hast stopped harassing me though, and my next step may have to be getting the authorities involved :(
Best of luck to you my friend. You know who you are, so try your damnedest to stay above the fith that they throw at you, and take whatever steps necessary to make sure it doesn’t ruin your days, after all life is too short to miss out on the happiness WE DESERVE!!!
Beverly Amsel, PhDJune 24th, 2014 at 11:37 AM
This is a reply to Sasha. I can see that your situation is very painful. I wish I had some advice to give, but your situation is very difficult and complicated so that I wouldn’t feel qualified to make any specific suggestions. I would recommend that you try to find someone to talk to either by yourself or if you could get your family involved that would be even better. You can look for someone at Goodtherapy.org or you can contact your local Mental Health Association.
LeighJuly 21st, 2014 at 8:57 PM
I blame my mother and step father for abuse. I demand that they see how it effected my life. “Blame” it’s called taking responsibility for your actions.
And it’s not about hurting anyone… It’s about healing.
craigJuly 28th, 2014 at 8:37 AM
I’m 41 years old and my life hasn’t amounted to much. I grew up with my mother and a step father. I have always had a learning disability growning up my childhood was not to good my adulthood is not good at all. Growing up I could do no rite in my step dad’s eyes he was always puting me down, always yelling at me. Today when I’m around some one that’s starts to yell I clam up and freak out inside. I couldn’t do anything rite. He would scream at me and just send me to my room. there were times he had pined me down on the bed and was just slapping myface screeming at me I would have nightmares every night of my child hood. I have a older sister that in his eyes could do no wrong. He did everything nice for her she was smart and pretty. I was dumb and I thought I was ugly. No one told me any differant. I struggled in school so much I just could understand things. I remember trying so hard and I will get so mad at my self I would cry punch my self in my head, I was Avery angry and confused child. School just kept pushing me through and by the time I got to 10th grade I just gave up and stopped trying. I got kicked out of high school my first year for not going to class not having enough credits I don’t know, I didn’t understand really. My mother and step bad never thought me a thing about life, nothing. I blame them so much for were I am now, I could never hold a job always lying about having a diploma or GED just to get a job. Now I live with my mother and she can barely support her self in a house that’s falling to peaces I just don’t know what’s going to happen to me I have no job I have panic attacks, I am depressed, I feel so hopeless, I have a strong fear of dieing, my life is so empty and I blame it all on them. There is so much more to this but its just really hard to talk about. The hole time typing this I am crying.
The GoodTherapy.org TeamJuly 28th, 2014 at 8:43 AM
Thank you for your comment, Craig. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
Beverly Amsel, PhDJuly 28th, 2014 at 1:08 PM
This is a message for Craig. I urge you to follow up with the links that the good therapy team has provided you with. You can also contact your local mental health association or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. You have had so many awful experiences that it easy to understand why you are having such painful feelings. But, help is possible. You have what it takes to seek it, so please find help for yourself.
EstherJuly 29th, 2014 at 11:41 PM
Its always easy to say don’t blame others and forgive when you are not the one who experienced the pain and trauma. I’m a survivor of domestic abuse & childhood emotional abuse (my father is the pepetrator) since elementary school and it wrecked my pre-uni schooling years. I was ostracised at school because everyone could tell I was anxious, wierd and unhappy (because of what happens at home). I also have nightmares of running away from home and have sleepless nights after an episode of domestic violence because I feared my father will kill me and my mom. He had done multiple threats and attempts of family suicide and pointed knife at my mom in front of me every time there was a quarrel.
When I was in junior high school I was already abusive towards animals – it makes me feel good seeing them suffering for some reason. I had no idea why I was like that and certainly had no clue I was going through abuse trauma. My parents were even more clueless and didnt know a thing that what they were doing was causing me real harm. Slowly over those years I begin to realize the truth of what I’ve been through and things got better for a while. Just as I thought everything is over, the years of emotional torment (fear, anxiety, depression) has put a toll on my emotional health. I’m only in my 20s and have PTSD and depression, and taking multiple leaves of absence for my university degree. My friends have all graduated but I’m still struggling to get through each stressful semester because I’m so fucking emotionally worn out I cant handle the stress of university life.
Are you seriously telling me to not blame my parents after all the lost years I spent in misery? When everyone is enjoying their youth making friends, partying and whatnots, I’m struggling with fear, anxiety and having a hard time connecting with my own friends. (never had a single close friend these years) That’s almost 10 years of my life, for goodness sake. Now, I still need to go through university with this PTSD and depression, and I’m already feeling embarrassed that I am not achieving as much (socially and academically) as my friends who are now either working or doing a second degree and have tons of connections. I’m totally isolated from them now and can’t even find the courage to bond with people without feeling shameful about my past. Who am I supposed to blame for my failure and stupid life? I have always been working hard, that is why I could get into uni but still, my life is a piece of shit compared to that of friends brought up in healthy families.
I will be blunt to say I hate my parents, my father for being the controlling, abusive man he was, and my mother for being the weak, ignorant fool for not stepping up and taking steps to protect me from the harm my father is bringing to me. I blame them for all my low self esteem among my friends and classmates because I cant even raise my head and talk about how wonderful my life is because I have a shitty family. I lower my head and keep quiet when people share about their wonderful social life because I have none of those as a person struggling with intimate relationships and anxiety problems. Thus, I have every right to blame and be angry at my parents because I didn’t choose my parents and couldn’t do anything to stop my life from spiralling downwards when I was but a mere kid. They don’t even deserve sympathy because none of their parents were abusive and I have no clue how my father became that insecure, abusive moron he was.
I also applaud those who choose not to be parents because of their childhood because SERIOUSLY, if you are one unhealthy, immature person, you have no right to parent because you will only raise unhealthy, unstable children. My parents are foolish for parenting me when they couldn’t handle themselves like mature adults and then leaving me with a huge pile of trash to clean up now that I am in my adulthood. Don’t you come and tell me I shouldn’t blame my parents because they deserve it for what they have done to me.
ValerieSeptember 16th, 2014 at 4:38 AM
Esther, I read your comments and wanted to respond because your childhood sounds so tragically sad. I could hear the pain in your words and that it’s still hurting. That it hurts you every day. That it holds you back from the life you want to have. It sounds like a terribly rough start.
When I read the piece about how blaming your parents hurts you as the abused child it made sense to me. My situation was more of neglect. I’ve held onto that sense of not being worth anyone’s time or notice for many years. I either hate myself or falsely push myself forward in awkward ways trying to be noticed and accepted. After years of trying these ways and failing and hating myself and my parents more I have started to let go of the damaging attachment and try some new ways of thinking and acting. It’s really hard work. Sometimes I slip back into old patterns. But overall it has helped me to quit blaming them not because they deserve it, they don’t. But because blaming them was hurting me. I have had to quit blaming them because it is an obstacle to living a better life.
Also, I’m finding that many people who seem to have that better life have their own struggles from their own messed up childhoods. I firmly believe we are all “damaged goods”.
I think it says a lot about your perseverance that you have kept working on your university degree at your own pace. Good for you! I hope you’ll find satisfaction in the achievement when it comes.
Therapy helps. Tomorrow can be better. I hope you’ll keep trying and find a happier life.
john d.July 30th, 2014 at 10:59 AM
I understand the motive of stop blaming them. in my head. But my heart hears. “As always they won, and you lost ha.. you loser… Everyone believes they (parent) are the victim and all this is your fault so don’t blame anyone” for a long time I just longed for someone to say,I understand, I just wanted someone to be on my side for once. My father has a Narcissist trait and as a child it’s not nice living under that. He was very good at fooling others and even bring them to his side while abusing me. Sometimes I went to bed wondering or hoping I would die. Now that I am older they also are older and people make you believe you must support your parent. In my mind it sounds like this. “You lose again. Its always about them” or your parents are old you must support them. And when you don’t you look bad. I don’t hate my parents I just wish people would see beyond the narcissist cover and hold them accountable to their actions. I have a hard time believing in authority for that reason. I find it hard to believe authority can see the real truth. And abusers are such good actors. You (abused) lose – thus the reason many just suffer abuse than talk. I think abused people just want the abuser to be sorry and stop pretending. And people to stop passing false judgmenets. I think they just want someone to say. I am here, because they believe them not because they are being paid or forced. My experience/opinion. I understand the not blaming part. But like a house, without a good foundation it will crumble. Good article though.
NidaAugust 3rd, 2014 at 7:12 AM
Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the
ChristineAugust 4th, 2014 at 3:30 PM
I understand Gloria. I was that girl. For myself I have overcame a lot of hurt and pain and made a new life for my family and I. Like Gloria, my mom never believed in my also. She also told me I was not popular enough to run for student council in high school. I didn’t listen to her and ran anyways. I didn’t win. However, I’m proud of myself because I ran, made signs all by myself and the race was close. I did it because I wanted too. My mom lived through my sister who was popular and did everything for her. In high school, a lot of my afterschool time was spend at my sisters games. My mother was at everything and did everything for my sister. She was popular and had designer clothes. Back to school shopping I dredded. I had the clearance and sale clothes and I was the older sibling. My sister got designer and fancy sports gears. My junior year of high school I got a boyfriend so he occupied my time. I was the president of the a club at school and my mother didn’t even care. I taught myself about the birds and the bees and when I got my first period my own mother didn’t even talk with me but shunned me away. She didn’t have to worry about that with my sister because she is gay and was never into boys. My mom is gay too. I learned from libray books and the school nurse gave me pads. Sounds odd. Emotionally she was never there for me. She was there for family get togethers, parties and the other family but not her own family, as she walked out and left my dad and wanted to return. After he laid down rules and what he didn’t want so he wouldn’t be hurt again, she sent all bills and bankruptcy to him. She never once apolgized to him or our family and to this day has not. She lives with my sister with her mom (my grandma). She can’t afford to live on her own. Recently, my mom got upset and my child for drawing on their sidewalk with sidewalk chalk and made her wash it off. Reason, It’s too messing. I love my mom, but there are many things I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be that controlling parent where everything has to be perfect and organized. Let the kids make a mess and make memories all while having fun. I was never allowed to play with paint, make homemade play dough. I don’t have memories of going to the park with my family, regular. We did more things with nephews and nieces than just our immediate family. I forgive but not forgotten so I can use these experiences to help me grow and be stronger for my kids and be there for them emotionally and have strong bonds. I know how Gloria felt.
Sara G.September 7th, 2014 at 12:35 PM
As a parent dealing with grown children who are quick to state that they are embarrassed about the financial situation they were raised in to every parenting flaw and imperfection they perceive in me as a parent. Let me remind each of you that no child comes with an instruction manual and becoming a parent does not wipe out all those human flaws or problems you have as a person. You do the best you can with the money and resources emotionally and mentally you have at the time and pray that it all works out. At some point as you grow. You need to accept that your parents are flawed humans and as adults it is now up to you to finish what they started. Look to the positive things that they were able to bring to the table and try to understand and show compassion for their flaws
BethSeptember 16th, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Sara, I love that name. I’ve always dreamed of having a daughter of my own and naming her Sara. I was too terrified to have a family of my own after my own and my brothers childhood. You’re the parent, I’m speaking as the adult child. Your daughter sounds like my brother. I’I would, could never sopenly scorn my parents. I love and forgive them no matter what. There were good times, they were doing the. best they could never(people usually are) and my plan was to improve upon what they’d improved upon as a parent myself. Compassion is key to straightening out that problem of being “stuck”. Fortunately I’ve finally found effective therapy that has given me my life back. Unfortunately I’m now beyond my childbearing years and so there’s a real sense of loss there. My mother discouraged me from becoming a parent, as if. I’d fail if I tried. I shouldn’t have believed that. Now I don’t have a daughter of my own. Some people resist therapy. Not me. I just found the right help little too late to still have a family of my own. Good for you, speaking up for the parents side of this issue. My mother was suffering. Only someone in a lot of pain would damage, almost irrepairably, their own children. Forgive but don’t forget-and don’t miss out on your own lives, ladies!!!
ChristineAugust 4th, 2014 at 7:37 PM
Leethegirl, I know how you feel. I understand I may never get an apology from my mother for the hurtful things she has said and had done. Like your mother, my mother denies and saids she forgot. Seems to be an excuse of an answer. Yes it makes me more upset at her but I don’t like feeling like that so I push hard to not feel that way. Yes my mom has done great things for the family but she has done a lot of hurt. She does more for the extended family who do absolutely nothing to help her and still owe her money. My mom is good at parties, get togethers, and being positive, but if you ask her a straight out blunt question, she avoids you, walks out of the room and/or change the subject. My mom will never admit to wrongdoing and come off as businesslike to even family to “take responsiblity for their behavior and accept an apology. However, she does not do that for anyone. I use to think I needed to apology and it was my fault but it’s not. My mom is partly to blame. I don’t think I owe her an apology but think she should give one to me and the rest of the immediate family. BUT, I understand I won’t ever get an apology for past actions or recent actions from my mom so I let it go.
DonnaAugust 10th, 2014 at 12:53 PM
My daughter has not only blamed me and her father for her situation,but she will deliberately make us feel guilty,and totally responsible for her bad behavior. She’s an open book when it comes to relationships,and most of the time over the top with her actions.If she feels wronged,She is relentless,and will make that persons life a living hell.She doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough. She will beat a dead horse.I’ve known many of men who have felt her wrath.But not just men.friends and family as well.My hands are tied.I’m not a physician,but I feel she should see one. I’ve suggested support groups,and counseling,but she feels there’s nothing wrong with her.”It’s everyone else” She has an autistic little boy who takes a lot out of her,and she feels that if she had never had him,Her life would be so much better.She feels men just want sex,and will do and say anything just to get laid.Maybe that’s just how they are these day’s.But she blames me for not letting her know that men behave in this manner. She wants to be loved and to have a family,But she will sabotage any relationship before it get’s off the ground.She want’s it all now,and doesn’t understand that they have lives outside of dating.She can be at times a living nightmare,Especially if you’re on the receiving end.
Juliet McGrathAugust 30th, 2014 at 2:48 PM
She sounds like my daughter. They should meet.
HinnantAugust 12th, 2014 at 6:12 AM
In my family the lack of empathy was from behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. Many times, parents are cold and uncaring from a problem that may affect you later.
SBSeptember 5th, 2014 at 9:15 AM
Hanging onto blaming your parents will get you no-where. In my case my parents are definitely at fault for a number of issues I struggle with today but if you hold onto it, it will destroy you inside. It’s up to you whether you choose to forgive and forget or completely remove them from your life. There is no right or wrong answer here it’s entirely up to you. So don’t beat yourself up if what you decide to do is different from the advice your seeing here. I chose the forgive and kind of forget option but I’m so scared from crap parenting skills I never want to have children and possibly put them through the same turmoil as I went through
KarenSeptember 17th, 2014 at 5:08 PM
My story is a little different. My parents were good people. They took good care of me. They weren’t very demonstrative though so I decided when I had my girls I would hug them and tell them how much I loved them. Their dad and I separated when they were 12and 11. I got custody. I didn’t date anyone for two years though their dad found a woman and lived with her. He kept breaking into my home and grilled our oldest daughter about me. The third year I started dating and my oldest daughter began to be very obnoxious. I finally got mad at her and sent her to her fathers. She ended up staying there for a year and I talked her into coming home. She started running with a bad crowd. To make a long story short she is now thirty with two kids. The youngest child is living with her father. The oldest one and my daughter was living with a decent guy that threw her out. She does drugs. Drinks and doesn’t take good care of her son. She was living with me and recently threatened to hurt me physically. I had to have her removed from my house. She blames me for everything and the worst thing I did was maybe love her too much. I don’t understand this. I read these other stories and feel so bad for these neglected, abused and unloved children who are now adults. But here I am being blamed by my daughter. I don’t drink or do drugs. Her father however drinks quite a bit. But she don’t blame him. I just feel lost in a nightmare!
RebeccaSeptember 19th, 2014 at 11:38 AM
It sounds so easy to just stop blaming your parents – it implies that all the responsibility rests with you now because you have reached adulthood. But it’s not as simple as that. Sometimes the hurt has been so deep and the consequences so devastating that there isn’t going to be much of a recovery, or for some people one at all.
I suppose I should consider myself lucky to have survived to adulthood when some children don’t. What I have grappled with for the past 20 years though is having had a severe mental illness as a consequence of the ‘parenting’ that I had. My mother in particular has been in denial and it took her 20 years to admit that my stepfather had kept pushing my head underwater when washing my hair as a young child.
During my childhood I used to dream that one day I would be free as an adult to make something of my life. I didn’t know that the fallout from the emotional trauma would be so great, that I wouldn’t be able to realise those dreams.
I have gone through times when I have wanted to stop contact with my parents, who to the outside world are considered charming and pleasant. And yes, they are mostly pleasant to be with now as they are happily living in affluent retirement. But faced with so much stigma from other people at being guilty of rejecting my own parents, I caved in and kept in touch with them and thought I should try and work on the relationship with them. What a mistake! As I’m now nearing 50 I realise how used emotionally I have been. When they ring the conversation will inevitably focus on them and their concerns – they have been using me for emotional support for as long as I can remember. I kept hanging on because it was so awfully painful to acknowledge that they actually rejected me as a child, and favoured my siblings that I couldn’t really come to terms with it.
Yes I blame my parents because their emotional abuse and emotional neglect damaged over 20 years of my adulthood. As to how to stop being a victim and stop blaming – well them acknowledging responsibility for the damage caused to my mental health would be a start not to mention the loss of a career etc. I think though that what I’m realising as I write this, is that no one has the right to make me feel guilty for wanting to stop contact with them and no one has the right to pressure me into maintaining contact. Sometimes people expect too much.
Forgiveness can be good to practise and I have tried very hard, but I think it’s about time people forgave me for not wanting them in my life.
LizzySeptember 23rd, 2014 at 6:12 AM
I don’t want to be angry at my parents for my abuse. But it’s only in the last year I could really admit to it.
I am not angry at my dad. He has rage issues caused by is own anxiety caused by, I am guessing, his own abuse. I know I have a lot of bad thought patterns and a good deal of my dysfunctional behaviors stem from physical abuse and being called worthless when he was angry.
I am dealing with more anger toward my mom. I am 30 and have spent years trying to please her and take care of her. I thought one day, when I needed her, she would be there for me. Well, I have had a number of times in the last year where I needed her. When I was upset about layoffs she told me my feelings were inappropriate and to see a therapist. When I dated someone and was open with her about the relationship she was extremely critical of me, him, and the relationship. I told her I was upset that she didn’t support me and she said, “what do you need support for, I am the one who needs support”. She became angry and resentful when I tried to make friends, when I didn’t immediately meet her needs.
Therapy is changing our relationship and she is angry and resentful toward me. She keeps telling me I have abandoned her. And asking me if I talked to the therapist about her, that doing so would be a betrayal to her and the family. I feel hurt and somewhat betrayed. I put this woman at the center of my life for 30 years. Now I find that doing so caused much of my dysfunction. Honestly, I really don’t know if she loves me. She certainly loves the things I do for her. But I realize she has never cared about my feelings or my life unless it directly affects her. And that she has always expecte me to put her feelings above my own. There are a lot of hurtful things she has said in the last year. She is very angry at me. I don’t want to be mad at her, but I keep feeling anger and hurt creeping in. I know she is going through a hard time herself but I can’t help but see aspects of our relationship as lies.
I have been suicidal. I realize how bad our relationship is when I realize that when I am down, I avoid contacting her because I am not strong enough to interact with her. I could never call her for help. Based on how she treated sisters who have had psychological and emotional issues, I don’t think she would believe my issues and would make fun of me behind my back.
It’s hard not to be sad and angry that some of my loneliness comes from that relationship
BradleySeptember 23rd, 2014 at 9:03 PM
Chris Laforest, the last part of what you said is really true for me. I’m 23, didn’t like my university course and have had trouble finding something i’d like to do since, just having a couple of dead end jobs here and there, long hours, crappy management inevitably making things worse. My parents have been highly anxious since the day i decided i didn’t want to stay on at uni, if not before that, i could of always done better or was never doing enough towards school. I was more than anxious about telling them i wasn’t sure about my course and so waited for them to find out. I’ve always been a bit anxious in general and i’ve not known exactly what i want to do since i was a kid, i used to say everything, im pretty observant and fascinated by pretty much anything in 1 way or another. I was pretty smart at school whilst still having a good social life (really good at distracting me) and i’m really good at distracting myself and appearing more happy than i am. One big anxiety is that people will just think im a sad loser, no one likes someone who’s miserable so i always have and still do cover that up, even to my parents. My parents aren’t too compassionate and when none of us have things playing on their minds, we all get along really well. This leads them to not say or ask much about how i feel and what i’m thinking about doing etc so when it comes to talking about what i’d like to do and how i can progress it’s a very tense situation for something i already find a BIG mental block with already. I always make a point that i’m not blaming them id just like them to be more compassionate and loving rather than make it sound like the biggest deal and that i must be so abnormal. Alas they always argue that it is abnormal and i am blaming them and to them its like i just “get defensive” because i don’t want to do anything and blah blah blah and all the usual things from struggling parents who don’t know what to do. I tell them pretty much directly, i do have feelings and that if they could just leave the angst etc and not make sarcastic remarks or give me funny looks and think from my perspective and stuff i’d feel 100x better. But they say they have the right or they can’t help it or i should look at it from their shoes and all that stuff and it’s me not doing anything that causes them to be like that.
Basically, i just want their love and support to help me do the things i’d like to do, fill me with confidence, pick me up, make me feel good about myself etc. But they get angry and worked up by it to the point where it’s never easy to talk about. They 100% ignore the way i feel and just look at it as a matter of, i need to just do something. I can’t dismiss the way i feel and this will be a long road if they don’t change the way they handle it. I do not and cannot just forget about them and leave or whatever, i’d be even more depressed. I want my parents to understand and have some compassion for the difficulty i’m having and always have had. They’ve always relied on someone else doing it, “go and speak to someone who knows what they’re doing” is a common thing to hear from them now that i don’t have as many friends (they have said some hurtful things in the heat of the moment and apologised the same day but any mention of it now and its not sorrow i feel). I just want their love and empathy more than anything, it’s worth a million other peoples. I don’t know how to get around their angst about the whole matter though :( and i’ve probably gone on more than enough now. thanks if anyone got this far.
BradleySeptember 23rd, 2014 at 11:25 PM
To add, a good example i remember from when i was younger, i always found it difficult to sleep, i just couldn’t stop thinking about stuff and then early teens, maybe a bit younger, i suffered from weird things like false awakenings and sleep paralysis, fairly consistently. A common thing was knowing when i go to sleep i’ll wake up in 10 minutes because of it. For a kid though, being pushed/pulled around your bed and things walking in when you thought you we’re awake and paralysed or something weird was pretty scary. I quickly learnt to get-over-it though, and it was just more of a hassle than anything. It was still pretty fearful, i just had good control of it, if that makes sense. This carried on up until university, at which point i found it pretty cool and tried to understand it better, albeit less common. The getting to sleep was made more of a problem because i’d miss my alarms for school so a lot of rushing to get the bus, maybe my parents just didn’t handle it very well. They wouldn’t really believe that i just struggled to get to sleep, it was too often. Because of being a kid i don’t think i thought to speak much about the getting to sleep past the point that i was struggling. Overall, today, i get the impression my parents think i want to be some slob and this is all my decision etc, when it’s not and i tell them. i have so many things i want to do in fact it’s difficult deciding what to do and i’d like their help. That’s pretty much where the mental block comes in with what do i do. But i can never get to that with them because emotions get the better of things or they say, “just do anything” which is not helping. For someone who finds it hard to open up to them, it makes it harder in fact, and i tell them this. I feel strong minded though, and i’ve never given up anything easily, i’m not going to cave in, as much as i think sometimes it might be easier to be dead, i know im better than that even at the time. I know people will say “go speak to someone, it sounds like you have lots more to say” but typing in this white box is much easier than going to a professional to potentially find someone i’m not happy with or just to be put on some pill, which i will not do without good reason, and much convincing. I want to talk about how i feel, but with my parents; friends are great, but there’s only so much they can do past the point of understanding and talking about each others difficulties. I honestly feel that the most understanding parents have the happiest children, i can’t just say that to my parents though, my mum isn’t the hardiest and would feel awful. I’ve said nothing and she has assumed before that she is just a terrible parent or whatever and i always reassure her that’s wrong because i am clever, i do care about people and everything, i believe in good moral and ethics, but it as if it’s forgotten when next time it’s back to, all my fault and “i just don’t want to do anything”. I feel better just typing this, sorry for the wall of text, this was only meant to be the story about my troubled sleeping patterns. Thanks again anyone reading. Much love.
Cole BrooksSeptember 28th, 2014 at 2:44 PM
What 40 year old divorced parent wrote this. All of this is just a confidence booster for the parent when it is supposed to help the teenager asking for help. You really need to figure out who you are trying to help!
PaulineSeptember 28th, 2014 at 11:52 PM
I really do empathize with this girl. Growing up under parents who do nothing but belittle and abuse you, has a huge impact on one’s self image. Both of my parents were mentally-ill addicts. My mother is a manipulative, cold, sociopath who delights in crushing people that she can’t control. She couldn’t manipulate me, so I became her scapegoat and bore the brunt of her abuse. She abused me physically and sexually as a small kid and then mentally and emotionally after that.
My father was a drunken weakling who couldn’t find a willing woman to start a family with, so he went on a vacation back to the “old country” when he was 35, and screwed and married his 20 year old 2nd cousin (my mother) and got her a green card in the US.
He was also very belittling of me and every little accomplishment I earned at school and in life. He was a weird guy who on one hand was very judgmental and moralistic, but on the other hand was kind of perverted, almost pedophilic, in violating normal father-daughter boundaries. I wasn’t allowed to have friends or do much outside of the house. Neither of my parents had any empathy. I was deathly ill alot as a kid, but rarely went to the doctor, and never got any nurturing or care from either of them. I basically ran from their house when I was 18 and they stalked, threatened and harassed me for almost a year, just because I told them to go to hell and I left.
It was a very bizarre childhood, and it scarred me until I was in my late 20s. As a teen I was unloved, withdrawn, suicidal, and miserable. At 28, I decided to hell with them. I decided they could drop dead and that would be fine with me. I changed my name, made sure they couldn’t find my address, or how to contact me. And I dropped off the face of their earth. It was easy to do really, they never offered me any emotional or financial support. So I wasn’t “losing” much.
….And that’s when I was able to take control of myself and my life. And things got so much better. I felt empowered and I was finally able to realize my potential to do something with myself. I still ABSOLUTELY “blame” them for what they did to me and for their selfishness and abuse. But I’ve realized that I deserve to succeed and have a good life, and I am responsible for that.
Every once in a while an extended family member will see me in public and run up to me and tell me how “terribly” I’ve hurt them by cutting them out of my life. I tell them every time, “I don’t owe those abusers anything.” And then I walk away.
Escaping from an abusive family (even if the abuse is limited to psychological/emotional) is alot like escaping a cult. People who haven’t been thought it, can’t understand it.
beeetsOctober 16th, 2014 at 8:49 AM
I get where this article is coming from, and I have been trying very hard to forget my parents, what helps me is to act as if they are already deceased. One bad thing that really plagues me, is when my confidence falls for any reason, I feel this unrelenting sense that I am being pursued, that literally someone is at my back trying to touch me, specifically my genitals, neck, and arms, and in my mind it’s my parents trying to literally subdue me. Then as many people with bad parents can relate to, those negative voices inside your head, ARE your parents’ voices. It can be something as little as dropping a spoon, then there they are instantly screaming at you about how bad you are, and how much they need to take control over you. I literally feel as if I have to physically run away, or fight someone off, but cannot, and all that fear just floods me and I can get really violent, I can’t be around people when this happens. I was molested sexually, abused emotionally and physically for 20 years before I realized something was wrong with my parents, and not me. My parents are still alive, and although I have confronted them many times about their abuses, they scream and shout that they are good people and if I’d just go back to being that compliant girl. They literally urge me to forget what they did, they mock me for remaining angry at them. They never apologized, they were very careful never to apologize. They continue to try to manipulate and molest, and insist total control over me, and pretend I’m the abusive one when I don’t jump at their demands. Literally, mom would do things just to make me jump, her actions had no purpose other than to make me jump, just because she liked to see me jump because of her. Dad claims he has a right to my body because I’m his daughter.
I told my mom in our last “talk,” that if she won’t take responsibility for her actions towards me as a child and young adult, she will not take responsibility for my life’s accomplishments. She didn’t like that. I feel as if it’s unfair, terrifically unfair that they get to assume my accomplishments as their own when they did everything they could to bring me down and break my spirit. So, I do not tell her anything about myself. Literally, when she asks, I tell her that I’m not going to talk to her. I explain to her again that she does not have absolute power over me, and I choose to not explain my life to her, my choices, anything about myself. She didn’t like that either, and I got shoved into the corner for denying her, held there, and screamed at for multiple occasions. If you can think about how a tiger looks at it’s prey, that’s how my mother looks at me. She literally on multiple occasions looked at me, said, “You know I love you, right?” and laughed. It’s very hard to see this thing as human, let alone a victim of her own life circumstances. It seems to me, that if she’s just “transferring” the abuse that she suffered as a child and young adult, would that mean that if I ever have kids, and I abuse them, do I get off the hook too? It doesn’t make sense to me. I continue to deny her access to me or my life, but damn does she try to get at me, and that’s besides the inner voices that sound like her, she really does continue to try to get to me in real life. She doesn’t love, she just WANTS.
When she turns around and blames me for the abuses I accuse her for, she then considers the argument “won,” for some reason, and she attempts to make our relations go back to the way they were. She has this ability to speak into reality her own truths, ones that benefit her, and she used to do this and I used to fall for it, because of religious reasons I really thought submitting to my parents wholly was what made me a good person. So she’d put on this voice of what I assume she thought an authority figure sounds like, and she’d speak her own version of reality as if she was speaking absolute truth. I told her, she just wants me to lower my guard so she can continue the same old abuses without the nuisance of an uncooperative victim. Literally, she is like a predator. She never stops trying to dominate and control. I said to her one day, “Love is not control,” and she said with her authority voice, “Sometimes it is.”
Some people tell me, “Well, when she was loving, wasn’t she really loving?” I have to correct them and say that this kind of behavior from her was so normal and consistent growing up, that I thought it was love. I know no one believes me when I say this, but I literally was taught to be disgusted and reviled at how other people relate to each other, that what the rest of the world considered love was actually a weakness, to the point now where I distrust any kind of affection. Now that I’ve come to realize and give a label to mom, as manipulative, she’s kind of ruined me completely, and I think in a way she wanted that to happen, as if she was transferring abuse from herself to me, so she could be rid of it.
It’s not easy when you were raised exclusively like this, and it took me twenty years, right after college, to realize this wasn’t normal or good, and it’s like being a baby in a twenty-year old’s body. I feel very much alone, I feel very much pursued to be used and consumed, and I do contemplate suicide as relief from this constant fear. It’s actually very scary for people to tell me, “Well you just gotta open up to others and just do it, you MUST do it, you must learn to love!” because my whole life under my parents was being used and forced to do things like I was a ragdoll. I really just very much want to be rid of them, first, if anything, I want them dead and gone, and I want others to know how they are, because another aspect of the abuse was that they were perfect people in public. My mom’s been a Catholic youth minister for two decades now. Everyone loves them. Life was so drastically different in the house. No one believes me, or if they do beleive me, their loyalty to my parents is much stronger than any pity they’d have for someone my parents don’t consider human.
Beverly Amsel, PhDOctober 17th, 2014 at 1:41 PM
This is a response to beets
The description of your experience with your parents illustrates the enormous difficulties you have had to overcome in your life. Not only are you describing abuse, but by showing a completely opposite face to the world, your parents added to your feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and confusion.
You seem to have managed to understand a great deal about your experience and be somewhat able to put the responsibility for your treatment on your parents rather than on yourself. This is one of the most difficult things to accomplish: to really accept you are not at fault for the horrific treatments you had to endure.
I understand, given your life history, why it feels so hard to love. This is something you should be able to have in your future. For now, it is good to accept your own feelings and not feel pushed by others who are trying to be helpful but may be unable to appreciate that this takes time and work and can’t occur just because you (or they) would wish it to.
If you have not yet sought out therapy, I strongly encourage you to do so. You can use the goodtherapy.org website or seek out someone through the mental health organizations in your community. I take very seriously when you state that you contemplate suicide. I hope you will take it seriously too and treat yourself better than your parents do by getting the help you need and deserve.
EstherOctober 20th, 2014 at 2:32 PM
Thank you for your comments and encouragement. Yeah, the more I realize how tragic my childhood had been, the more upset and angry I get and the more I cannot stop myself from blaming them.
I deeply suspect that my father has some sort of mental illness and my mom has some personality disorder. He’s always suspicious of people and thinks the worst of them. What makes me sick now is the fact that despite all the emotional swings, they keep asking me to just change my mindset and move on. I try to tell them I’m angry because I read that many people going through abuse suffer well into their adulthood and it can affect their relationships and even marriage, but guess what their response is? Mom: “That’s nonsense.” Father: “Stop believing what is on the net, its not good. Look mom, they’re trying to ruin our relationship with our child.”
Like WTF? To them, survivor abuse stories like the ones shared on here and their actual suffering is nonsense and non-existent and the internet are full of people trying to ruin my relationships with my parents. That is their fucking view on this whole topic and they brush off their actions as an example of care and concern and something normal in every family. Like how the fuck am I supposed to stop blaming them when they can’t even live up to the fact that they are abusing me even if they don’t mean to do so? They don’t even believe that they have caused me enough harm to render it as abuse and my effing father skew everything as bad according to his distorted viewpoint of the world.
None of what I’m going through is normal and I know this because I have the courage to read up about what others are going through, but my effing parents don’t read up about anything to help me. They go on life as per normal, and yeah thank God the domestic violence and abuse stopped, but they disregard every bit of suffering I’m going through NOW for THEIR past actions. And I’m supposed to stop blaming them and forgive despite their nonchalant attitude? How is this fair when I lost a job offer from an internship, gave up honors degree because I’m mentally exhausted and 5 years into university and still haven’t graduated? AND ALL OF THIS IS BECAUSE I’M STILL SUFFERING THE AFTERMATHS OF A WARTORN CHILDHOOD?
Not to mention what I’ve been through in my youth and the lost years of joy, I’m just so fucked up and frustrated I feel like ending my effing life. Seriously, I wonder why people with mental illness and personality disorders can have the right to have children. Why isn’t there a law to prohibit such people from marrying so they don’t bring harm to an innocent generation?
KevinNovember 3rd, 2014 at 8:55 AM
Esther, if you wish to be happy, remember the four most important words;
“All emotions are optional”,
Your brain, through belief in these words, and with practice, can make any choice it wants.
Your parents had bad parents. Your childhood sadly was very likely better than your parents childhood. That thought alone is important.
Think we’ll, you eventually will realize that you have always been I n total control of your thoughts. The brain is Powerful.
EstherOctober 20th, 2014 at 2:34 PM
Thank you for your comments and encouragement. Yeah, the more I realize how tragic my childhood had been, the more upset and angry I get and the more I cannot stop myself from blaming them.
I deeply suspect that my father has some sort of mental illness and my mom has some personality disorder. He’s always suspicious of people and thinks the worst of them. My mom, on the other hand, is just one emotionally detached and cold stone and I could be crying out my lungs out of grief and she would just sit there and do what she is addicted to. What makes me sick now is the fact that despite all the emotional swings, they keep asking me to just change my mindset and move on. I try to tell them I’m angry because I read that many people going through abuse suffer well into their adulthood and it can affect their relationships and even marriage, but guess what their response is? Mom: “That’s nonsense.” Father: “Stop believing what is on the net, its not good. Look mom, they’re trying to ruin our relationship with our child.”
Like WTF? To them, survivor abuse stories like the ones shared on here and their actual suffering is nonsense and non-existent and the internet are full of people trying to ruin my relationships with my parents. That is their view on this whole topic and they brush off their actions as an example of care and concern and something normal in every family. Like how am I supposed to stop blaming them when they can’t even live up to the fact that they are abusing me even if they don’t mean to do so? They don’t even believe that they have caused me enough harm to render it as abuse and my effing father skew everything as bad according to his distorted viewpoint of the world.
None of what I’m going through is normal and I know this because I have the courage to read up about what others are going through, but my effing parents don’t read up about anything to help me. They go on life as per normal, and yeah thank God the domestic violence and abuse stopped, but they disregard every bit of suffering I’m going through NOW for THEIR past actions. And I’m supposed to stop blaming them and forgive despite their nonchalant attitude? How is this fair when I lost a job offer from an internship, gave up honors degree because I’m mentally exhausted and 5 years into university and still haven’t graduated? AND ALL OF THIS IS BECAUSE I’M STILL SUFFERING THE AFTERMATHS OF A WARTORN CHILDHOOD?
Not to mention what I’ve been through in my youth and the lost years of joy, I’m just so messed up and frustrated I feel like ending my effing life. Seriously, I wonder why people with mental illness and personality disorders can have the right to have children. Why isn’t there a law to prohibit such people from marrying so they don’t bring harm to an innocent generation?
LaraOctober 22nd, 2014 at 2:34 PM
OMG Esther, you have had a hard life. Nobody deserves that sort of treatment. Know this: your feelings, thoughts and opinions MATTER and are true. Your parents don’t deserve your time or energy. If I were you I would severely limit exposure to them; they sound absolutely toxic! Mothers Day and Fathers Day must be very hard for you. I hate how our society reveres parents even if they do a shitty job. Merely reproducing does not make you a selfless saint. I feel angry just thinking about your parents and I don’t even know you!
Read M. Scott Peck’s ‘The People of the Lie’, it talks about evil parents who inflict abuse/neglect on their children and never take responsibility for it. Find a good therapist. If you can’t afford one, try talking to therapists in training. In addition to therapy, you can also join a support group such as ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) who accept adult children of dysfunctional families, not just alcoholics.
I wish I had been as aware of the trauma of my family of origin as you are when I was your age. It wasn’t until I turned 38 that I began to see very clearly how f***ed up my parents were. I swore I would never have children so as to stop the cycle of abuse.
I am seeing a great therapist and have the love of a wonderful man, but I haven’t yet released my anger towards my parents. My anger is instructive and I am working to have it manifest in productive ways, learning how to express it in a non-destructive fashion so as to not hurt others, while feeling heard and understood.
To this day, my family sees me as the problem. I am the oldest child, very intelligent (read: too smart for my own good) who was not shy about speaking my mind, which resulted in a great deal of rage from my alcoholic parents. They parentified me, invalidated me, and competed with me. I chose a completely different career (law) to appease my father when he refused to support my decision to follow in his footsteps as an engineer. I wasted decades of my life and energy to please them, hoping they would finally love me. When I moved back to their town, I was labeled a prodigal daughter and all but turned away. I struggled for years wondering what was wrong with me, carrying around their voices in my head saying I was difficult (read: unlovable). My brothers were trained to blame me, also.
I own my life and my choices now and have healthy and loving relationships. I’m Me and finally free. I don’t think its even necessary for me to forgive my parents for being so unrepentantly clueless. They were immature and self-centered as young parents and I don’t see much growth in them now, as they age. My mom is a textbook covert narcissist, my father emotionally unavailable. They still feel justified in abusing me. Their lack of remorse, lack of awareness and lack of desire to address their own shortcomings, and feeling completely justified in blaming me for the chaos of our household is proof enough that I am right and continue to be right. Trust me, I would rather be wrong, but its delusional to pretend they loved me with all their hearts and “did the best they could” (barf) when they were so willing to sacrifice my mental and emotional health by scapegoating me to alleviate their guilt. They are evil and I feel fortunate to have escaped.
Learn how to give yourself the nurturing love you never received as a child. Allow yourself to make mistakes and grow and learn at whatever pace you are comfortable with. Its going to be hard, but you can’t truly love another if you don’t love yourself and you need to trust yourself in order to trust another so you can be truly vulnerable in love. Its such a gift to be able to finally feel and express my emotions, knowing it is safe to do so and trusting that I am loved enough that it won’t be used against me. I hope you find that freedom.
EstherOctober 23rd, 2014 at 3:54 AM
“If I were you I would severely limit exposure to them; they sound absolutely toxic!”
Oh yes they are toxic! I didn’t realize that until I started seeing the damage their actions inflicted on me. I live in Asia where children don’t become financially independent until uni graduation, and as a woman I have no support from anyone other than them. The toxicity level has decreased greatly already these one or two years, but its still there you’re right. And what can a helpless child like me do to keep out the toxic influences? Absolutely nothing!
Worse thing is, Asian society don’t speak up against abusive parenting. They don’t even recognize it for what it is. In general, everyone is selfish and don’t really care to defend the helpless and vehemently condemn abuse on children. People will keep their distance if they think you are brought up in a violent family, and then the abused kid is left all by himself or herself to struggle through life. I still remember the domestic violence was so severe in my family at times that even the police came to our house, yet NOTHING was done to check on whether there is active abuse in the house. This is all but part of the reason I am SO F***ING ANGRY at everything in my life.
“I wish I had been as aware of the trauma of my family of origin as you are when I was your age.”
Well, I really don’t know if this knowledge is a blessing or a curse. Before I knew about the trauma, I already made the conscious decision to forgive my parents. This was because of my faith. But only now did I know my forgiveness brought no complete healing to my life. I am now prone to depression and mood swings, all taking emotional tolls on me on top of what I have already experienced.
“I swore I would never have children so as to stop the cycle of abuse.”
I not only don’t want to have children, I want no relationship with ANY MAN, no matter how loving they may appear. I know given my current condition I am going to find partners who only are similar to my father, so why burden myself with more toxic relationships? I would rather die alone than take the risk.
“I am seeing a great therapist and have the love of a wonderful man, but I haven’t yet released my anger towards my parents. My anger is instructive and I am working to have it manifest in productive ways, learning how to express it in a non-destructive fashion so as to not hurt others, while feeling heard and understood.”
I am happy for you that you have a good relationship, and hope that this will help you heal better. (I believe it does) I am not so optimistic about my own relationship, I’ve had enough of the bullshit in my life I’m not going to give anyone the right to enter into my life with more bullshit to throw at me. Never had a boyfriend and never will, to hell with marriage and courtship.
And I doubt I can grow out of my anger so easily, if you just consider how much I am losing out on life. I have become the laughingstock among my peers, all because I was oppressed by two people who call themselves parents but never educated themselves on what is really best for me. Now they realize they shouldn’t have forced me/compelled me to obey in so many ways, but it’s too late. The damage is done, and the shame is already on me.
You know what Lara? When I first got into university, I already knew the current degree is too taxing for me. After one semester I wanted to change to another degree, but my parents was so angry they thought I was crazy and forced me to go and see a psychologist. Of course there was nothing wrong with me, but they just wanted me to continue because my degree is a promising one (I study accounting). So having no other way, I continued. I still worked hard for two years until I started suffering from depression and fatigue from overworking myself. In order to do my best in a degree I had no real passion in, I worked late into the night, forsaking sleep and delaying my meals just to catch up on my project work and revision. Even my ex-friends said I’m among the more hardworking ones in uni.
But what did I get in the end? Poor emotional/physical health, and having the effing life and motivation sucked out of me.
“To this day, my family sees me as the problem. I am the oldest child, very intelligent (read: too smart for my own good) who was not shy about speaking my mind, which resulted in a great deal of rage from my alcoholic parents. They parentified me, invalidated me, and competed with me.”
The only difference between your parents and mine are perhaps the notion that my parents delusionally thought all the things they did were out of love. Your parents sound really cold and heartless, do they even love you at all? Did they even say “we are doing this and that because we love you”?
I’m glad you have not let the past haunt you. Your success show that what your parents say is not true at all.
I’m not so fortunate though, having lived in fear and anxiety for so many years, having been ostracized in school and not able to make much friends, I don’t believe I can have normal and loving relationships. Those friends (now ex-friends) who heard about my upbringing are all no longer contacting me, probably seeing me as an outcast. This is how Asian societies are like.
“They were immature and self-centered as young parents and I don’t see much growth in them now, as they age. My mom is a textbook covert narcissist, my father emotionally unavailable. They still feel justified in abusing me. Their lack of remorse, lack of awareness and lack of desire to address their own shortcomings, and feeling completely justified in blaming me for the chaos of our household is proof enough that I am right and continue to be right.”
My parents were not only immature, they made me live in fear and anxiety at a young age because they couldn’t regulate their own tempers. They made me want to end my life and have nightmares of running away from a violent man who is out to kill his wife and child. Home, which is supposed to be a safe haven, is a living nightmare to me.
They probably really think they loved me, but their actions spoke louder than words and were the exact opposite of love. I lived much of my childhood like a fearful animal always looking out for danger. Don’t you think it is so ironic?
“Learn how to give yourself the nurturing love you never received as a child. Allow yourself to make mistakes and grow and learn at whatever pace you are comfortable with. Its going to be hard, but you can’t truly love another if you don’t love yourself and you need to trust yourself in order to trust another so you can be truly vulnerable in love.”
Oh, I could care less of myself and to hell with recovery which never came even AFTER I made the decision to forgive. I’m going to spend the rest of my life venting my hatred and anger and condemning a wicked society that wink an eye at evil and turn away from helping the innocent. I’m going to expose their shame and guilt in refusing to speak up against violence and only caring about themselves. I’m going to let them see the extent of pain all child abuse survivors go through so they will stop justifying abusive parenting. I’m going to help victims sue their parents for the evil they have received. I will do this till the day I die.
MagOctober 26th, 2014 at 4:27 PM
Good for you!!! That was such a great comment. I am so sorry about how you were treated by your parents, but I think that’s it’s wonderful you want to turn that anger and angry energy into something that will be conducive to helping others.
Leslie M.October 23rd, 2014 at 1:37 PM
I don’t see why therapy has to take so long. Still, it sounds like your client has made terrific progress! But her success or failure doesn’t impinge on her parents. She should make herself awesome and then have nothing to do with them. She’s not helping them if she succeeds, she’s only helping herself in spite of that tragic childhood.
Leslie M.October 23rd, 2014 at 1:46 PM
Wasn’t able to complete comment: I hope you are showing her that there IS no tradeoff: her SUCCESS can be her revenge! It’s simple. I hope you are empathizing with what she has to overcome: I wish this woman the best and i hope she doesn’t wait too long to enjoy her life after that sad childhood!
PinarOctober 23rd, 2014 at 4:46 PM
I was abused mentally as a child and even untill i was in my mid twenties.
Untill one day i just moved out with 1 suitcase where i packed my 25 years of my life into.
I feel unhappy, easily brake down, dont trust anyone and have no friends. This trauma has impacted greatly on my working life as small things stress me easily. People at work see me as uncaring which hurts as im so caring but i just hide it because i cant express it easily.
What i have learnt is the parents wont admit what they have done. We then are left trying to piece scenarios in our heads as to why things have happened.
Unfortunately life moves on and although i dont do a lot of things due to lack of self asteem and confidence, i notice how lucky i am to be out of that house.
To all those that are hurting..
1 remember you are now free
2 think deep about what makes you
3 keep busy at work give your 100% and make those bad people annoyed that you got through
4 take your time to come back to your senses. Dont rush it.
5 always do what makes you happy.
There are many of us out there hiding. Many of us who need someone who understands our pain. We want to lead a life everyone else has but cant!
One day i hope things will get better, thats all i can wish for and battle through the constant ups and downs hoping ill get there…
Never carry on punishing yourself for those who were inhumane enough to stop doing it to you. You are a strong person who got through it and the futures looking bright no matter how hard it has been….
LaraOctober 24th, 2014 at 9:58 AM
Your response made me so sad I am crying for someone who I don’t even know! Please know that, while it may seem hopeless now, it does get better, if you let it. I can’t relate to your experience of Asian culture, which seems to have such a disregard for the individual human spirit. There are better ways to form a society. I believe your culture is a massive mental health issue. I’m so sorry this is your reality.
Your anger is a gift, if used productively. You’re very well-spoken (written). Have you thought about creative writing? Maybe starting a blog? That could be a very useful outlet to vent your anger. A lot better than harming defenseless animals (I pray that has stopped) or bottling it up.
Your clarity and awareness, combined with your intelligence and articulation, can be channeled in creative and productive ways. You are fundamentally a good person who has been dealt a bad hand. Your story and outlook is interesting and educational and could very well inspire others to take a good look at the way your culture crushes the human spirit and start a movement to change for the better. Call me an optimist, but I have faith in you!
EstherOctober 24th, 2014 at 5:45 PM
Thank you for crying for me and for your kind words. I too want to do something for those who suffer, it makes me feel wholler. Just want to say I am grateful for the things you say to encourage me.
WilliamOctober 26th, 2014 at 5:02 PM
I’m not totally sure this is the best advice in all cases. Some people really have narcissistic and very abusive parents. While you shouldn’t blame the parents obsessively, blaming the victim is what every classic sociopath does.
FritzNovember 1st, 2014 at 2:48 PM
I don’t think it needs to be about blame. Knowing how they fell short is extremely important when it comes to identifying and fixing the problems we have as a result of it.
FritzNovember 1st, 2014 at 3:08 PM
After attempting suicide I spent 2 weeks in the hospital. I was asked about my family and the relationships between my parents and I and without realizing it I lied and said how all of this was just fine. It was only after a ridiculous phone call with my mother that I suddenly broke down at my next therapy session. So, yes, I blame my parents but in a funny way I think I have earned the right to.
I also was told by many mental health professionals to break off all ties with these people. It took me another ten years to heed that advice.
As a teacher, I have identified many areas in which better parenting would have helped me immensely. Boundaries and guidelines that were virtually absent in my youth. You only knew you had crossed the line when you were getting smacked for it. Knowing when a behavior IS unacceptable enough to act on. I am constantly over and under reacting. Avoiding sarcasm. What else is there? That’s the language I grew up on.
Most of all, an appreciation for myself as a person worthy of respect and even love. you cannot just read a book or study a course and have all of these things be right in your world. These things take years and years to develop and other adults will NOT stand patiently by waiting for you to figure it out. Trust me.
AbNovember 4th, 2014 at 11:22 PM
Ihave graduated right nw in Aug, 2014 and I am looking for a job. My mom is like constantly pestering me abt this that I don’t try wholeheartedly to find a Job . But i try my level best, and I just keep getting angry abt this. She always tells bad things abt me that I don’t try and all that stuff and it really gets me mad.
What do i do.
JulieNovember 8th, 2014 at 6:54 AM
I’m so down because I avoid the deep emotions within when talking to my psychologist. I have bottled up so much anger, sadness, tears. I feel like I’ve ler Her down. I’m not sure if things will get worse because I take thins to heart. She’s not convinced I have moved on from my past and says we need to work better together. I don’t want her to feel like that. It’s my fault not hers. What do I do?
Hugh M.November 16th, 2014 at 1:02 PM
my daughter discovered that I was on a dating site ,I was in the process of deleting most of the contacts when she discovered it on my iPad. She then informed her mum and as you can imagine my wife was shattered, as we were not wealthy enough to separate we could only agree to stay in the same house and cohabitate ,unfortunately my daughter is of the opinion that her mother should have thrown me out of the house ,so although my wife and I are at least talking to each other having dinner together life is almost back to speaking civilly to each other,one of our daughters refuses to speak to me and the other still feels her mum should have thrown me out,.I should explain I had absolutely no intention of dating any contact I made with anyone ,it was as far as I was concerned old man infatuation ,attention from the opposite sex.can any one offer any advice.
sophieNovember 21st, 2014 at 7:46 PM
I would like to comment on a couple of things;
First as a parent: we are human beings and struggle with our own problems. I have noticed that society expects parents to somehow be superhuman but we are not.
we have are own struggles, and yet children, schools, and in general society wants to blame us for not being perfect. Is anyone perfect?
My daughter has anxiety / depression/ ADD. she is stubborn, selfish, lazy. Yet she wants to blame me for all her problems (she is nearly 19). I believe that her issues are her responsibility and if she wants to get better she needs to own her problems.
the truth is our lives are our own responsibility and if want to make it better we have to work for it.
We all live in an imperfect world, and well come from imperfect parents/ imperfect families. Some of us have had to deal with very difficult/ abusive homes/ lives and yet we still have to function in society, hold down jobs, support our families.
I look around me and think that people expect too much. We are not perfect, we are most of us damaged and yet still we get up every day and keep going.
Norman Rockwell did not have a happy family life. He just presented the pictures of the way he wished it to be.
LanaMarch 1st, 2015 at 11:33 PM
I am glad you said that because my oldest child continues to claim that she was abused and that I was never there and did not push her when in fact she was rebelling against anything good that I tried to instill in her. She is now 23 and has a child and they both are living with me. I am tired of hearing her place blame because she chose to be the wat she was and is. My mother had a lot to do with my oldest selfish way of thinking because my mom wasn’t there for me she tried to correct her mistake an through my child causing a great deal of animosity between me and my child and me and my mom. Yes we are human and no we are not perfect and at this point I have told her that we can go to counseling and hopefully they can help her realize that she was not abused or neglected. Its called discipline. I hope everything works out for you and hope these young adults get it together and take responsibility for their own actions and life.
JLNovember 24th, 2014 at 3:12 PM
I don’t blame my mother for my childhood, even though there were some pretty bad things like her son moving in and molesting me when I was ages 7-9 as an example (I’m totally over it), but for what she has done to me as an adult. She has never liked me. I am too fat and not pretty enough. There is a complete disinterest in me, I must be terribly boring, she’s uncaring to the extreme, doesn’t want a relationship at all. I am 37 and all these years we could have been friends! I would have loved to have a mother who wanted to participate in life with me a little, or even just visit me, just once, not me visiting her and being ignored the entire time. Go see a movie, have a lunch, have tea and talk.
I am learning how to get over this hurt, but it isn’t easy. Sometimes I feel like I’m not worthy enough to have a relationship with her. I just can’t figure out how to make her happy, unless she is telling lies about me and gossiping to anyone who will listen. So I stopped participating. I gave up two years ago. She didn’t even notice until this week.
I’ll keep working on how I feel. It’s all I can control in this particular situation. I would like to heal now. I have many role models and friends who have taught me along the way what a healthy mother-daughter relationship looks like and I hope every day I am providing that for my own sweet daughter. I am grateful for all of these wonderful friends, but still you always hope your mom will love you. It’s a core need somehow.
jessicaNovember 28th, 2014 at 12:19 PM
I always. Try my best to impress. My mom but as much as i try i can’t. She gets mad at me and sometimes. I think se doesn’t. Love me cuz she never was like this to my older and smaller brothers
Everytime i do something. That. I see right she coms and every little. Thing that. You can hardly. See she gets mad and i em willing to the point when she hits me i em going to fight. Back!!!!
FranciscaDecember 4th, 2014 at 3:09 PM
I hope for the day I can finally move out but it’s hard when suicide is an option. I’ll acknowledge that my parents tried and that I haven’t tried enough but really, I have no trust in them. They used to ignore and make me feel like shit and now that I’m a teenager who can take care of herself, they suddenly care. I wish I did have a better relationship with them but I do blame them for how messed up I feel. All they do now is act nice and make me feel guilty for being depressed, as if I’m purposely not happy. They haven’t changed, they treat my younger siblings the same way they treated me and I don’t want them to grow up suicidal. I get that peoe are not perfect, but if you’re having kids do realize that they can’t be the person you wanted them to be.
Beverly Amsel, PhDDecember 5th, 2014 at 3:48 PM
This is a message for Francisca. I am concerned when I hear you say that suicide is an option. You have clearly had a hard time with your parents. Now that they are acting nice, perhaps you can enlist their help in getting you to a therapist. If that is not possible, I hope you will talk with a guidance counselor or someone who you trust and see if you can find someone to talk with. You will be moving out in a few years, but until then, if you could get some help, it will increase your options for your future.
ShellyJanuary 15th, 2015 at 2:02 AM
I can relate to you freakishly well. You’re not alone. I’m also in my 20s and still working on my degree due to emotional issues from my upbringing. I had to make a huge, major life change and am dealing with the resulting PTSD and trauma. Also without friends because they already graduated. I share your anger. I too feel that the anger handicaps me, and try very hard to fix my mindset by researching my thoughts and trying new activities/distractions. It’s been rough.
Mr. XFebruary 21st, 2015 at 4:18 PM
I feel like I’m in some Matrix-like environment and was purposefully given this life. I didn’t ask for it but it was given to me. Everything was meticulously planned and calculated and everything was predetermined. I have the illusion of free will and free thought. Whoever created me decided it would be hilarious to give me the parents that I have. I love them but almost always feel they could have done a better job with me. EVERYTHING starts with parents and how you were raised + genes, predisposition, etc. I’m not going to get into all the details as that can get boring and quite frankly, most of you will simply not care, I understand. The experiences I had as a child have molded me into who I am now. I was sexualized from a very early age and so I was desensitized to and intrigued by sex and the human form. It became an obsession which spiraled out of control. My parents had numerous opportunities to sit down with me and explain to me that what I was thinking and doing was inappropriate but they never did. I was depressed for most of my teenage years and well into my 20’s. My parents did absolutely nothing to help me, nothing. I acted out as a teenager and even in my 20’s and they always told me that there’s something wrong with me but never got me any help. I am now 30 years old and feel like I have this insurmountable task of healing myself. I somewhat believe in religion and the doctrine that if you do not forgive others, they will not forgive you. I forgive my parents but I still blame them. I look at it like this, everyone is God except me. Thus if I don’t forgive, God will not forgive me. I am perfectly fine living life the way I am now but I don’t think that’s what God wants for me. I don’t really know what he wants for me to be honest. I have schizophrenia and I heard voices. I’m not sure if these are just voices or if it was indeed God himself. I don’t even know why I’m writing this, it won’t change anything, just venting I guess.
Beverly Amsel, PhDFebruary 22nd, 2015 at 9:39 AM
This is a response to Mr X
You have clearly done a great deal of thinking about yourself and your life. You have conveyed well how painful it was for you to grow up in your family. You write that you have schizophrenia. That is a very difficult situation to live with. I hope that you are getting help to make your circumstances more tolerable. Writing your thoughts may not seem so helpful, but anything you can do to vent or express yourself constructively is a good thing. I strongly recommend you seek out a mental health professional to talk with. I believe you are probably a good talker and I also believe that talking will be helpful.
Beverly Amsel, PhD
Lana SMarch 1st, 2015 at 11:51 PM
All I can say is there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Mines was far from it and denies it all or just avoids it all together. I am 40 and have raised 4 children all in the same house with the same guidelines and yet they all turned out differently. My mom tried to correct her mistakes through my oldest which caused more harm than good. She damaged me in my childhood and then used my oldest child to try to continue to damage my adulthood. I’m to the point where I realize that my mom was messed up and so was my grandmother which caused a trickle down effect, which I tried to change that with my children, however my mom always went against me. My oldest continues to make excuses and place blame because I really believe that she just wants to be sorry because its easier. I was abused sexually mentally and emotionally but when I stood up for myself I progressed. Children and people have to be responsible for their ownselves and their own lives.
JenApril 8th, 2015 at 7:00 PM
I was abandoned by my “real” father at the hospital, when he found out I was born with a vagina instead of a penis he wanted nothing more to do with me. My mother was only 17 when she had me, I’ve always felt like more of a mother to her than the other way around. Anyway, fast forward to mom’s husband number two, I’m about seven years old. He mentally, physically and sexually abused me for years. I kept the sexual abuse hidden because he threatened to kill all of us if I told anyone, I was young and scared so I didn’t say anything. Eventually, I was stuck alone with him and my baby sister one night and he had been drinking and I was too terrified to let it happen again so I called my grandma and she came and picked us up in the middle of the night. I went to therapy for a couple of sessions and my mom let him move back in the house. I figured either she didn’t believe me or didn’t care so I never said anything again. I used to think of ways to kill myself or him, because I was so miserable I just wanted it to stop. I don’t really know how to get past the feeling of abandonment from my real father or how to truly forgive my mother and ex step father. I just feel so worthless sometimes. I just don’t know what to do.
April 9th, 2015 at
You describe many traumas that you have had to endure since very early in your life. The terrible feelings and helplessness you describe make a lot of sense given your very painful history. I don’t know how old you are now or what your living circumstances are now, but I strongly urge you to find someone to talk with.
Ideally you could contact your local mental health association, or find someone through goodtherapy.org. If that isn’t possible it is very important that you seek out a teacher, a member of the clergy, or any adult who you trust.
You have come this far and that tells me you are resilient. Trust that with some help, you can begin to overcome these traumas and develop positive feelings about yourself.
alanApril 11th, 2015 at 11:47 PM
Although it is not helpful to blame parents it is also not helpful to say they are not to blame. Many people do not have idyllic childhoods and may have parents who neglect them, are over-critical and just plain bad role models. Take a child from a home where the parents are positive and loving and then contrast that with a child who comes from a home where parents are negative and negligent to the child’s needs. Nobody is ever going to convince me that the latter child will be a happier adult. Of course your family life affects you! What nonsense the article is.
AlyssaJune 26th, 2015 at 6:31 PM
THIS. A million times this. This article is a bunch of crap. Parents and home life heavily influence who we become and our perception of the world. Yes, at some point as adults we must take some responsibility for our actions. But at the same time, for example, if parents never fight fairly or fight and scream in front of their children, that’s how the child learns to deal with conflict. Sometimes that even carries over into adulthood.
GrayzMay 1st, 2015 at 9:53 PM
I don’t blame my parents totally the opposite. My supervisor told me that I should be more calm as far work related. My response was I can’t that’s how my parents made me. She responded with “stop being a victim”. Redicoulous I’m exactly like my parents. Does that make me a victim and what does that mean. Please someone explain
KimMay 10th, 2015 at 5:55 PM
I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic and blamed my issues on my childhood too, I had resentments against my Mom for not leaving the bad Drunk Step Dad, as a child I thought she must love him more because she isn’t making the bad man leave. My Mom passed away 2 years ago and in putting her life story together for her funeral I realized so much. I never really knew my Mom, I was seeing her from a child’s perspective that was not at all the reality of what was really going on back then. Today I know that she put up with an alcoholic in order to keep all us kids together, have a roof over our heads, have food on the table every night, have clothes and shoes when ever we needed them and live in a good neighborhood. She never graduated high school, never had a job back then she wasn’t allowed to work she had to stay at home and take care of the house and the man. When I was in high school my Mom went back to school and got her diploma and when my step Dad had a stroke from drinking she went to work and took care of the house and us kids while he stayed in the house half paralyzed and angry. I was not kind to my Mom because of a child’s stupid idea of how it was back then and I lost my opportunity to get to really know my Mom and love her the way she deserved to be loved. Don’t hold on to a child’s resentments against any Parent because before long they will be gone and you will never heal.
M.StubbsMay 17th, 2015 at 5:57 AM
Oh my, I am glad I found this site. Well I am and was not a great mother either, neither was my mom. And I have apologized I don’t know how many times to my daughters. But am I responsible for my daughters “Unhappiness”?? No I am not. Happiness is a choice. I was happy and content until I allowed my daughter (28 years) old to move back in with me.
She had a nice place and they raised the rent and she could not afford to live there anymore. I was hesitant to let her move in with me in the beginning and realized just yesterday I made a huge mistake. For years I had to hear what king of a bad mother I was or still am, mainly because I have not had the finances to support my daughter. My life style is totally different from that my daughters. As long I can pay my bills and have food in my fridge I am fine.
My daughter has her own perceptions on how she wants to live her life, which is totally understandable. For her it is about not having to worry about money, and now she experiences a time where she doesn’t have what she wants. Living from paycheck to paycheck isn’t easy. Making the right choices in life isn’t easy either.
Bottom line when something goes wrong in her life, it is moms fault, she cannot let go of the past. I was not born into the role of a mother and we all have to grow into the role of a parent. Especially those who have suffered abuse themselves. I am so insecure in the presence of my daughter, nothing is ever good enough, she humiliates me in public, yells at me, and treats me very poorly. She has no respect for my work, and yesterday I blew up on her and feel bad about it. How can someone be nice if you are constantly being called rude, a jerk etc. She is projecting a lot of her issues on me. She makes a decent income, doesn’t have to pay rent, the only thing I asked her to do is paying a part of the utilities ($50) a month. That is all I asked for. I feel like she is emotionally and mentally abusing me, especially when I am hesitant to or want to say no to something I am the bad mother again.
With that said, in comparison to me she is way better of financially than I am. As a mom I have told her she will always have a home with me. I am to the point where I want to say please leave, because I cannot deal with her being so moody and unhappy anymore. It is sad to get ill over this. I am so stressed at times I get chest pains and and have headaches for days in a row. My daughter is being resentful and I have forgiven my mom. One last thing, this will be the very last time I have done this. I am not putting myself ever again in a position where my daughter can treat me like this. She needs to find her own way in life. I cannot advice her on anything, cause she knows everything better anyways. But I am done with this kind of abuse and I want to live the rest of my life in peace, without being humiliated, yelled at, or being told I have psychological issues, being rude, a jerk, having an attitude, and being immature. I am almost 52 years old and want peace, nothing but peace.
CsmithJanuary 8th, 2016 at 7:40 PM
I know how you feel. My daughter moved in with me after an accident which crippled her and totaled her car. I’m almost 70 and disabled from an accident at 59. I spent all I had left helping and gave all my love and even was so upset I forgot to pay my bills, lost a house and had to file bankruptcy. My daughter swears her friends paid her bills and has gotten worse calling me bad names and screaming. I can say nothing right, I now stay in my room I can’t control my blood pressure and as the Dmv wants 50 yrs of marriage and divorce records I can’t get my drivers license back until I can come up with the documents I’ve been working 6 months now to get, so I can’t even get away. She and I were best friends before doing a lot together. Now I’m the scum of the earth to her. She can’t work and got into drugs but is better with that now I think. I can’t do this anymore and the other kids are angry I don’t just kick her out. I don’t know what she’d do or where she’d go. Her boyfriend is here too; at first it helped with her Abuse but now she has him convinced I’m the bad person as he did drugs here too I just found out, and I can tell when he gets mad at everything too and maybe that’s what’s wrong with her but he is both of our only transportation to doctors and all. I never saw a drug or policeman before. My cat is even stressed badly. My blood pressure of 260/145 is not going to let me live long. I think she is packing my good things to take but when I ask where something is, things have begun to disappear, she says I’m nuts and she’s going to commit me. My other kids don’t even want to talk to me anymore because I can’t bring myself to throw her out and I have no outlet. There’s no ride to doctor, physical therapy or the other kind I’ve been thinking of, nothing but taxi costing hundreds a trip. I love my daughter so much and I’m helpless to help anymore. I’m on social security and she has no income whatsoever. How can I throw her out? That’s the only advice anyone has.
hurting momMay 25th, 2015 at 2:16 PM
Im a hurtng mom of a 17yr girl whos graduating high school this week. This is suppose to be the beginning of a new chapter and its actually the closing of first 17yrs. Im hurting so bad from many things as well as her and unfortunately people who didnt shouldnt have interfered did which was my mom and we never had a great relationship because at 40 she still wants to control my. I miss my baby girl she left my house today and i now have no contact with her. I was the mom who did all taosed her,abused by husband,sick with cancer,put her needs alwaya before my own and still would.a piece of my heart is missing and i just want it back.
M.StubbsMay 25th, 2015 at 9:54 PM
I understand your hurt Hurtingmom. When we first have our bundle of joy in our arms we don’t think about the challenges, that could come our way. And we go into motherhood with the best intentions to raise our children to love,protect,and to provide for our children. So far so good. We always do the best we can, with what we have available to us.
Our children only learn to understand this when they become parents themselves. My own post here gave me time to think about a lot of things. What happened in the past, I cannot take back, I acknowledged my mistakes. Today is today, and tomorrow is a new day dawning.
See, I believe we are growing in to the role of motherhood. We don’t know how to master challenging situation unless we experience them and learn from them and do our best to handle the situation with or without outside help.
Even though my daughter blames me a lot, I gave her life, love and did the best I could to provide for her and her older sister without having a support system. I believe you too have done the best you could and that’s all you can do. Your daughter will understand one day, that being a mom is not something you can learn like reading a book, because a lot of totally unexpected stuff can can and will happen when we raise children. We would have to have the superpower of being psychic to see everything, and to prevent.
Your daughter will eventually call you when she is in the situation of needing her mom. Hope this helps a little.
anonJune 12th, 2015 at 1:36 PM
What about if you get angry with your parents after therapy? I was never particularly angry with my parents. I could see that the way they were was not ideal, but it wasn’t like I’d been abused. Therapy helped me to realise that some of the ways I thought and felt were learned from childhood and that even if it wasn’t my parents’ ‘fault’, it still had an effect. It helped me be more compassionate towards myself.
But now I find myself getting so angry at them – particularly my mother. She often talks about how terrible her life was and is (she has fibromyalgia and was abused as a child) and I find myself feeling furious because when I’ve been feeling very ill she’s told me it’s all in my head and that I’m just trying to get attention. I guess there’s that feeling of double standards when I didn’t even say I had an illness, all I had said was that I was feeling really unwell. Now I have to have buckets of sympathy for an illness that (conveniently) is not going to get better any time soon. I know I shouldn’t be cynical about that, I’m sure it’s horrible and I know it ruins people’s lives, but with my mother…it just seems so convenient…
Anyway, I want to stop feeling angry because I feel like it wastes my time and I never used to be angry like this. I think I feel angry because I feel that it would have been easier for me when I was having a rough time relatively recently if I had had more support when bad things have happened to me, rather than it all being about her, but I can’t see how being angry about that is going to help me in any way.
Will this just go away by itself? It’s easy to forgive her for stuff that happened in my childhood because it was so long ago, but I seem to find it difficult to forgive her for things that have happened more recently. I just don’t want to get hung up on it.
TheRenegadeJune 21st, 2015 at 6:27 PM
I also have a hard time figuring out what to do with my parents. They divorced when I was just under a year old. My mother immediately went back to my stepdad and had my little brother. She then tried to change my identity and tell me that my stepdad was my real father while my stepdad abused me and molested me until i was well into my teens. I was always the scapegoat around the house being in the middle kid and the only stepchild. My dad went and had another family when i was 11. I considered going to a foster home but was too scared to, so i went 50/50 with my parents every week as a kid. I’ve tried to create a relationship in which i can trust the both of them and I do know that they have taught me many valuable lessons on how to live, but I always feel angry or depressed that they either never wanted me or that i will never be good enough for either of them. It is something that makes me feel i’m not in control of my own life and am stuck in one place. I really want to move on but don’t know how because everytime i try to let go of them i feel so guilty.
RaddSeptember 13th, 2015 at 4:36 PM
There are parents out there who are truly abusive to their children in a sick, cold, calculating way. And they keep trying to drag their kids back because they use them for their own sick, demented reasons. And these children grow up into adults having missed essential developmental stages in life, with warped minds, and distorted perceptions that cause all sorts of awful problems for them in their life.
So why not blame the parents for doing this? If somebody broke your leg, should you not blame them for it? I agree it’s important to move on and take care of yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t blame your parents for the actual damage they did to you.
So I think it’s good to blame your parents, because it’s important to understand the origin of where problems come from. Because if you don’t understand the origin, then you can’t truly make sense of your life. But blaming doesn’t have to become a life’s occupation: blaming is the first step, moving on and living life comes after. If you don’t accept where your problems came from, then you can’t ever really move on.
To say otherwise is the opposite of Good Therapy — it’s Bad Therapy. Encouraging people to ignore the origins of their problems in life is like encouraging someone to deny their own lives. How is that healthy?
AnnieOctober 16th, 2015 at 9:03 AM
I agree with Alan. Saying parents are not to blame isn’t particularly helpful. Nor is the attitude that you can just ‘let go’ of anger, like it’s a mug you can put down on a kitchen counter. We do not choose our feelings, and if we are consumed with anger then being told to let go of it isn’t going to help – people who are troubled by their childhoods need to process what happened, to understand, to grieve, to work through whatever they are feeling. Your job is not to remove their anger, but to help them process it. I think the therapist who wrote this article sounds incredibly defensive and may well be avoiding feelings of blame they have towards their own parents.
My parents were abusive. OF COURSE I blame them for my relational difficulties, PTSD etc. I am RESPONSIBLE FOR MYSELF, for healing myself and learning new ways to be in the world, but the blame lies with them, not with me, and any therapist who told me to ‘let go’ of my anger would not see me again. This article has really upset me. What business does a therapist have policing people’s feelings? Because that is what you are doing. Telling people their anger isn’t helpful and they shouldn’t have it is not useful – people need compassionate help and support to process their feelings.
SamNovember 24th, 2015 at 10:53 AM
I have a son and a daughter that I have raised by myself they had a good life. Their father was never in their life and they had no problems with it because he was a very bad man. They are adults now with children of their own now. They are accusing me of ruining their life and lying to them. They have disowned me and I am no longer allowed to see my grandchildren. They had a good life I encouraged them in everything they got involved in.They had good jobs did good in school well known in town as good kids when they were young. I don’t understand.
RsharNovember 26th, 2015 at 9:10 AM
It is not easy to just Not Feel in a certain way. The damage caused in childhood actually affects the physical and emotional state in adulthood. Please read my story.
I am a Single male 42 year old and find it very difficult to let go.
I witnessed domestic violence in my home since I was 4 Year Old, I was physically beaten starting when I was 10-11 till I was 22. I got beaten so bad that I used to pee in my pants during the beatings. In most cases those not my faults but a slightest mistake got me in beatings. I was afraid all the time all my childhood. I didnt want to invite any friends home as I was afraid. If I played out for little longer then I would get beaten up. If I scored 100% in all subjects but 80% in one, I would get eaten up. Once when I was in 11th grade (abt 16 year old) I was stuck out at a friend place due to heavy rain, when I came home, my dad beat me bad in front of other neighbors (one of the girl was in my school). Anyway the beatings continued till I was 22 (Final year of college). In school and College I was an Ideal Student. I was the topper in almost every class, I led many extra curricular activities, I even gave a 30 in interview on National TV (in India when there was only 1 channel) on a subject. It was viewed by the whole nation (as there was only one channel). I was a star in the neighborhood and in all my schools. Everyone knew me by name. But at home I used to get beaten up. I worked very hard to make me successful. I did full time jobs and two schools at same time to make a career. I was afraid of talking to girls as I was always beaten up if a girl spoke to me or wrote me something. Infact by the age of 25, I became manager in a Multinational Company and still at my home I was verbally abused to be of loose character. My mom and elder sister always abused me for talking to any girl. Mind you I never had a girl friend as (1) I was afraid (2) I had no time for it as I was always studying or working hard.
At the age of 28 I left home to go to USA. But I think I lost the ability to date or fall in love with anyone. I dont know what it is to be loved and to love someone. I never received any gifts or attended any Bday or other parties (My parents never celebrated bdays) . I find it very difficult to feel the love for anyone. BTW lots of girls approached me in y young days to date them but I refused all of them due to my issues of fear and time. I was told that I was(in my young days) very Handsome & good looking, Tall , & Smart and could have got any girl I wanted. I was not allowed to marry as per my wish but was almost talked into to marry someone (when I was 34). My mom insisted to marry an average looking girl (even if I am not attracted to her). Her view was that no one will say she is beautiful but no one will says that she is ugly . My marriage didnt last even a year. It has been 7 years since then and I find it difficult to trust and love anyone. My parents have NEVER done anything as per my desire. Even when they bought home after my dad’s retirement, they got in a place and home which I HATE but still I had to pay all the money for it (That was all my savings at the age of 35). Even now my parents try to arrange someone for me saying that she is Average (even though I have taken control of my life and told them To Not bother me anymore). But I feel inability to love and be loved. I am very very upset with my parents and blame them for total failure of my life. I struggle at work also to manage a team. I find it difficult to disagree with my seniors. I dont know how to resolve conflicts. I dont know how to handle someone stronger than me (physically or verbally). I have so many deep issues, I cant tell.
So now tell me, how do I move on and not think about this at all? How to forget and forgive.
SharlaineFebruary 13th, 2016 at 1:19 PM
I have a daughter that is 17 years old that was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 10. I went through hell trying to get anyone to listen to me something was wrong with her from the day she was born with her odd behaviors. She was masturbating constantly even as an toddler, pulling out big chunks of her hair and wanted nothing to do with me. I tried my hardest to bond with her and she wanted nothing to do with me. The doctors said with her odd behavior she will out grow it nothing to worry about blah, blah, blah. I knew something was wrong I have another child its not like I was a new mother. I finally got help when she was 10 she would jump out of windows in our house to walk the highway to go town that is dangerous behavior. She even went as far as telling CPS that I was abusing her. They showed up at my house with cops and everything I was pissed I told them you have no idea what I go through with this child so if you think she is being abused by all means put her in a foster home which is what she wanted anyway. They got her records from the counselor and Psychiatrist I did not hear from them again that was in the state of Idaho. She was placed in and out of a behavioral health center 6 times with in a year they finally diagnosed her and got her on medications. However she kept telling them at the hospital is was all my fault and how I mistreat her. They seen through her manipulation and told her “it’s not your mom’s fault you are the way you are so stop blaming her. I could go on an on about this story, but we moved to a new state in September 2015 and she pulled the same crap and instead of them getting her records she told the state she was unsafe at home blah, blah, blah. So she got her way they placed her in a foster home and she is 17 years old because they thought I was the problem. I was like finally I have some peace because let me tell you my own mental and physical state is fracture from all the hell I have gone through. She had told the counselor’s here in this state its because of me she is the way she is she literally hates me. They placed her back in the home because they had no grounds found that she was unsafe. I was not thrilled because the doctor here found that she is just depressed and has anger issues because of Me! I am like seriously I have been the only that has given a crap about what happens to her. She came back this morning which is Feb. 13th and immediately started dictating what she was going do and I told her “no your not going to tell me what your doing you ask my permission” she got rude with me thus causing me to be in tears because God forbid I say anything she can use against me. I don’t want to give up, but I have too because she will always blame me no matter what I do damn if I do damn if I don’t not to mention she rubs in my face she was misdiagnosed and blames me. I do not wish this on anyone to have to go through. I am an educated 43 year old women that has a Bachelor in Psychology and Applied Behavioral Science, but according to this state I have no idea what I am talking about its frustrating.
The GoodTherapy.org TeamFebruary 13th, 2016 at 6:24 PM
It sounds like you have been through a lot. Perhaps you would like to contact a mental health professional. You can do so by visiting our homepage, http://www.goodtherapy.org/, and entering your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.
Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.
The GoodTherapy.org Team
SharlaineFebruary 14th, 2016 at 10:25 AM
@good therapy team she is in counseling and continues to tell them it’s my fault she is depressed and has anger issues. She had to come spend the weekend with us and it’s the same thing her saying I can’t sleep here I am too nervous and stresesed. I have done nothing wrong I am nice to her, but yet she continues to talk down to me. I don’t say much to engage in conversation because I am trying to avoid conflict. Then she says I ignore her. It’s damn if I do damn if I don’t.
Hurt momApril 20th, 2016 at 7:05 PM
I can understand having feelings to blame your parents for your life if they were abusive or just never cared. I have a 20 year old that is constantly telling everyone she meets at college that she is depressed because of me. I have encouraged her to go after her dreams forever. She moved home after her first year of college after breaking up with a young man she dated for 3 years and had given her a promise ring. She still attends college but has been upset with us since she moved home. She doesn’t think she should have to come home at night if she doesn’t want to nor have a curfew. All she wants to do is her own thing and be home for an occasional meal, a place to shower and sleep. She doesn’t put any effort into helping around the house and her excuse is she goes to college and has a part time job. We have been very giving which I regret on not making her buy her own car, pay her insurance nor phone bill. She is always comparing our parenting of how she was raised compared to her teenage brother. I think she thinks she promotes having “depression” as an attention getting device because she likes being the center of attention. She received a lot of attention through out high school with being smart, pretty and very athletic. When she started college she wasn’t the star and when her boyfriends brother got engaged she wasn’t in the spotlight there either. She tells us that she is supposed to have fun while in college. But I tell her that college is supposed to be fun but fun also has to be safe. I am also a nurse and have encouraged to not be like a lot of students and young people that don’t look for relationships of the heart anymore but just jump into bed with the flavor of the day. I seriously don’t think I will suffer from empty nest syndrome and this child when she leaves will not have a return policy to come home if needed. Decided being a supportive parent wanting the best for them was a wrong move. Never put your kids needs always first because they become self centered hateful young adults.
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