I Am Not My Parents

This post has been finished for weeks, but for some reason I haven’t felt brave enough to post it. I can’t find anything else to tweak, so here I am closing my eyes and hitting publish.

When I first started differentiating from my family, I was mostly angry with my dad, because I saw him as the enforcer of the ideas that promoted abuse in my home growing up. I remembered all the mind games and excesses, the hurtful statements and the spiritual manipulation. I felt like my mom was perhaps just an innocent bystander who was not strong enough to separate herself from his agenda.

As I worked through a lot of the pain from my dad, I started to see both of my parents as victims in a way, victims of their own past as well as victims of the theology they subscribed too. They wanted to raise us in love, but their past as well as their beliefs were crippling them, and I was afraid.
 I was afraid that the theology I was raised with would taint my own child rearing. Afraid that the abuse in my past would get passed on to my own children. That despite all of my efforts, I would hurt my own children the same way my parents hurt me.

Recently a few things have happened to change this. First I talked with a sister who shared a time that my Dad had completely lost it and treated her in a way that would be classified as abusive by pretty much anyone, even the people who followed the strict religious ideas we did. There was no way I could attempt to explain this abuse away as “discipline”, this was plainly and simply abusive. The sort of thing that my parents preached against, but perpetuated in their own home.

I was an extremely docile compliant submissive kid. I was to afraid of displeasing my parents to act out. I wanted to please them so badly, that I would do or say anything they wanted me too. Because of that I largely slid under the radar of the worst of my dads physical abuse and I tried to explain the abuse away as religious ideas of how to discipline. I always felt responsible for the ways my parents abused me, it was my own fault for not performing adequately. I also felt responsible when my siblings were abused. A good example of this is when one of my little sisters was being spanked for having potty training accidents again and again. Bruises started to collect on her legs, and I felt awful for her. I convinced my mom to let me take over her training and cleanup, and the whole project was handed over to me. Through parenting my sister I was able to protect her from further abuse. I felt so burdened for all of my siblings, and I still do.

After talking with my sister, I realized that I have still been trying to rationalize my parents’ abuses. Trying to find any excuse to explain it away, convince myself that they really were wonderful parents who were just misled by their beliefs. In actuality they were using classic techniques to cover their abuse. Their religious beliefs helped them to hide from their deficiencies. The abuse wasn’t exclusively because they subscribed to certain religious ideas, the religious ideas were an extension of their abuse! Through the religious ideas they could chalk up the abuse as the fault of their children. If the kids weren’t so sinful and disobedient, the house would be a calm and peaceful place.

The other big breakthrough happened the same week. A good friend mentioned that her abusive mother would always tell her that “someday when she was an adult and a parent, she would understand why she did what she did”. My friend had always believed that the only reason things seemed bad to her was her own lack of understanding. Now as a parent of several young children herself, she still cannot justify the ways her mother abused her.

Wow! I have been doing the same exact thing. My mom has been telling me since childhood that “I don’t understand” and that I would someday when I was a mother. After I became a mother, she changed it to “someday I would understand, when I had older children, or as many children as she did.”

Supposedly, there was no way I could grasp what really happened until I was “older”. I have been told over and over that everything I remember is seen through my own “filter” and therefore flawed. Or told “You were just a child, so you don’t really know what was going on, you can’t remember accurately”, they have even tried to tell me that being depressed or having food allergies has clouded my perception of things that happened in my teens, they protest that it was “never that bad.” In recent months my mom has gone down a new track of insisting that because she has “changed”, none of the stuff in the past really happened. If she supposedly wouldn’t do it today, there is no way she did it then.

I realized that I’ve been believing her,
living in fear of the day when I would suddenly “understand” and transform into an abusive parent, 
just like them.

I am a mom now. (Whether my mom wants to acknowledge that or not.) I would never stand by and allow my husband to “discipline” my children the way my mom supported my Dad’s behaviour. As a mom, I would never say to my daughter “I hope we never have another child as disobedient and rebellious as you”. I would never punish my child for being tired or sad. I would never have spanked my teenagers, and I no longer spank my children at all. I will never expect the level of compliance and perfection they expected from me at such a young age. My mom was very used to playing “Good Cop” to my dad’s “Bad Cop”, and she wants to roll all the blame onto my dad, but in reality she was just as much a part of it as he was.

All this time, I thought the abuse was really because I was such a “bad” child, and that I would understand the way they treated me when I had difficult children of my own. But now I realize that I was a pretty dang good kid, and even if I hadn’t been, I was just that, A KID. No matter how difficult the child or the circumstances, there was no justifiable reason for them to treat me and my siblings the way they did. I thought the abuse stemmed from their religious beliefs, but the abuse would have existed outside of religion. They used their beliefs to justify their abuse. As a parent myself, I would sooner reject my religious beliefs than abuse my children the way my parents abused me.

When I confronted my parents about the abuse of the past, they tried to cover it up and explain it away just like they always have. Once again assigning the blame to my faulty actions, assuring me that I remember it incorrectly, and reminding me that I don’t “understand”. They did not acknowledge that they were wrong, they did not promise to get counselling or anger management classes. They told me that they were sorry “I felt that way”, told me that I was closed-minded to anything that wasn’t “my opinion” and continued to try and justify their behaviour. My Dad will not talk about any of it, and my Mom (in shame over past behaviour) continues to try to change the past and get me to “move on” (which is code for pretend it never happened and never mention about anything like it again). They don’t understand the freedom that comes from admitting wrong and working through what caused the problem in the first place.

I have been living in fear of the day that I would gain the certain amount of children, or a child with a “difficult” temperament and then I would become an abusive parent who “understood” where my parents were coming from. For the first time I realize, I do not have to be afraid. What my parents did was abuse, nothing can excuse that. Not religious beliefs, not difficult children, not an older more experienced perspective.
I am not going to become my parents, because I have already recognized the abuse for what it is, and I am determined not to repeat it. I’m not afraid to apologize when I’ve hurt someone. I am doing the work to deal with my past and the issues it has caused me, so that I don’t pass that legacy on to my own children.
I don’t have the power to change the past,
but I can change the future.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04738076740941616678 Rebecca @ The Road Home

    I feel like I say the same thing here all the time – but it is true each and every time I say it. Beautiful. absolutely beautiful.

    And you are right – the past is the past, but the future is yours to shape.

    Your children are blessed to have you as a mom – don't ever for one single second doubt it!

  • http://www.comewearymoms.blogspot.com Virginia Knowles

    Just linked to this on my blog in a post called Friday Favorites #7 and Emerging from the Fog here: http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2011/05/friday-favorites-7-and-emerging-from.html

  • http://trinityofthought.wordpress.com/ trinityofthought

    Thanks so much for the beautiful post. I really appreciate your courage to be honest about your thoughts and feelings. I also tend to fear becoming like my parents (in some ways)and it's reassuring to know I'm not alone.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08863579550620358675 Jill

    You are very brave. Thank you for hitting publish.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08135229596877003069 Michelle

    I can tell how much pain you've had to overcome in writing about this. And, truth be told, it is experiences like yours that make me feel like the little bit of abuse I suffered mightn ot really have been abuse. It seems your situation was such a pervasively abusive atmosphere and that just makes me want to cry for you.

    But you are SO RIGHT in that YOU will not be your parents. YOU are YOU and your actions will be different because you are aware. I remember when I realized the biggest difference between my mother and me had become that I was comfortable admitting I was wrong and saying I am sorry………..even to my then-6-year-old.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome post. Congratulations on committing to break the chain.

    "Well, I'm sorry you feel that way" — aaaaaaaaaaargggghhhh!!! So many bells ringing.

    R.

  • http://www.quicksilverqueen.com Anne

    This is a wonderful post!! Very helpful to me too because I struggle with the same things, thought the same things, felt the same things. My dad held me responsible for a lot of what the other kids did…and after a while even of he didn't, I still felt responsible and horribly guilty for their spankings.

  • http://kieryking.com/ Kiery

    Wow. *Thank you* for writing that, I'm experiencing my own little breakthrough here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10963828903897449052 ~M~

    I just found your blog and this post got me to my core. I also was abused as a child by parents who thought themselves as 'good parents'…though they were both alcoholics….not religious zealots. I remember certain incidents of extreme abuse and for the life of me i never could understand why the parent perpetrating it would do it, and even now, as a mother of 11, I still can't. My mother is in the early stages of dementia and I and my sister are her chief caregivers, and I find my self struggling with forgiveness issues I thought I resolved ages ago. Not until recently (I'm in my mid forties) did I really differentiate myself from my mother…..and i am happy to say while i am quirky and neurotic…I am NOT my mother, I never was, and never will be….by Gods grace. I can say, while my mother can not, that none of my children are afraid of me, none of them ever heard me call them evil names, and none of my children ever feared for their life or sanity because of me..
    I still can't understand why I am as 'normal' as I am..maybe I'm not…who knows. I just know, I never could do to my children the things my parents did and I didn't. Thank you for your honest and heart felt blog entry. I still can't make my blog public…so I think you are a very brave young woman..and I will keep you in my prayers.
    M~

  • Alice

    This is beautiful. I was raised in an isolationist homeschool environment as well and my sister and I have to deal with these issues now that we have become mothers. It's hard to deal with parents who want you to forgive and forget, yet are more than willing to bring up every past offense when they're having a bad day and you happen to make the mistake of picking up the phone.

  • Emily

    Ah! Yes! I'm so happy for you! I've recently also become aware that I don't have to fear becoming like my parents. It's one thing to be determined not to become like them, it's quite another to be free and not fear. It feels so good to breathe and have confidence in my own parenting!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08129509609170344883 Leah

    I, too, was told that one day when I was a parent, then I would realize how hard it was and appreciate my parents. My reaction since becoming a parent has been one more of shock and disgust at what my parents thought was acceptable parenting. And anytime I try to talk to them about it, it's the same, "Sorry you feel that way."

    I think their religious beliefs had a lot to do with the choices they made, but I've also seen too many other Mormon families who seem like genuinely healthy, happy families to chalk it all up to their religion. I've wondered if having fewer kids would have made a difference. In conversations with one of my sisters, we've agreed that there may have been more money per capita, but the emotional structure of the family would have been more or less the same: Our parents were always more focused on themselves than us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16979912092987681396 Sandra

    [[[young mom]]]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    You are just wonderful. Your children are very blessed to have such a brave and loving mama.

  • http://www.flatheadmama.blogspot.com Rebecca

    POWERFUL. I think every child who has lived through abuse worries they will do the same. I think the only reason that worry arises is because that's what we've seen: dysfunction. And sometimes it's hard to envision a new future. But you are proof that it can be done.

  • Anonymous

    Please keep on writing and hitting publish so many of need your words. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for writing this. I am not a parent, but have had a fear that somehow, someday if I have kids, I'll end up treating them the way I was treated.

  • Edita

    This made me so sad somehow. Dear youngmom, I think everybody agrees with me here when I say that we all feel like we could sit together in a cafe talking about these things, that's how I connected feel to you reading this.

    I'm shocked that people advocate spankings for being tired, sad etc. I was particularly shocked by the Ludies. I never read any of their books but some articles about beauty and they seemed rather moderate to me. Recently Leslie has been writing a lot about child rearing in her magazine and I read one article where she supported "not giving the child what it wants". She talks about even newborns being sinful and selfish (!!!). as if a crying 1 month old was saying "Move your butt, inferior servant, and fulfill my needs!" instead of "mommy, I dont know what to do, please be there for me". I can't explain how shocked I was when I read how she recommended not feeding the child when it's hungry but when it fits into the mothers schedule. How it has to sleep when it's supposed to sleep. How new babies "terrorize the family with their selfish behaviour" and that "it needs to understand early on that it's not the center of the family".
    Though she didn't say it, that's major ATI training and I'm sure that not adhering to the parents schedule has some physical consequences.
    The Ludies are a kind of popstar couple for millions of young christian girls worldwide… just imagine how easily they can convince future mothers…
    You can read the article in her april or may issue on her page…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    " I am doing the work to deal with my past and the issues it has caused me, so that I don’t pass that legacy on to my own children."

    That's the cure. Work through your childhood traumas; be self-aware; and if you recognize
    yourself in a PTSD spiral later,go back to therapy.

    Also:
    "As a parent myself, I would sooner reject my religious beliefs than abuse my children the way my parents abused me."

    Love is the ultimate cure for what ails us all. Your children are very blessed to have you for a mom. If religion and love are calling in two different directions, definitely go with love. God is love. Love never fails. It's a great strategy for bringing healing to our planet.

    Peace and good will, SS

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05598890631695015818 Pippi

    Thankyou for posting this. It really hits home for me, but also makes me appreciate the fact that my Mom has actually acknowledged many of her mistakes and apologized for them. The conversations you had with your parents, I had with her friend June; and the responses were very similar. I no longer talk to her. And I often wonder what kind of parent my mother would have been without her. The very drastic change in her behavior since they split, makes me think that she really was very much a victim and often denied her own instincts out of fear that she couldn't be as right as the "prophet." Like you said, that doesn't make it okay; but it makes it easier to move on. Her stated beliefs haven't changed as much, but her performance has.

    I have come to realize in raising my own children, that I was a rather difficult child. Any outward sign of rebellion brought swift and harsh punishment, so I didn't show it often; but I became very bitter and hateful and withdrawn. Because of that, I try to find a balance with my own very difficult oldest son; and my mother still insists that I could fix most of his problems by giving him a sound thrashing every time until he gets the point. I simply don't believe it. She doesn't realize that it did NOT, in fact, solve any of my problems. It simply quelled them so that she didn't have to deal with them as much. And postponed their effects. I would rather teach my son how to deal with his anger and frustration, than bully him into hiding it.

    Still, I struggle with those early lessons. It is so much easier to grab a spatula than sit down and have a conversation; and I am such an impatient person. I try every day to remind myself that his rebellion doesn't justify my impatience. Both are equally sinful, and as the adult I am more responsible. This, of course, is the exact opposite of June's belief, which she hammered into all of us for so long. And pointing out to her that her theory of children being always the wrong party doesn't fit with her declaration that they are incapable of making any constructive, rational decisions until age 21, was fruitless. She simply refused to see it. My mom sees it, though.

    As for my Dad, I really don't know where he fit into all of this. June usurped his place in our home and he was hardly allowed a say in anything. My brothers have had several confrontations with him in the past over his role as father, and I decided to leave it to them. His influence on my life was minimal as a child, and I wish it had been greater. I would like to know what he really thinks. But he's the quiet one. And even today he will not openly stand against my mother's opinions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17871256362646081536 Amber

    Oh how brave you are. I wasn't abused as a child, but was spanked. My mother told me the same thing, "You'll change your mind when you get older," when I said I wouldn't spank my children. My father, on the other hand, expresses regret for using that as a punishment.

    No matter how angry I am with my children, the thought of hitting them makes me cringe and cuddle them instead. They are children, I'm the adult. I need to control myself.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing! It's always encouraging to me to hear from someone else that has faced a similar upbringing… not that I wish it on you, but for sanity's sake there's something to the pattern of behaviors that remind me it's not me, it's them. I definitely heard the "wait 'til you have kids" which actually had the opposite effect to make me all the more horrified at their behaviors.
    The same gas-lighting is done now whenever I've confronted them… "you only remember the bad.. I would never do that.. you've been brainwashed" And those should be called as they are… lies. I hope you find more healing and a deeper understanding of how gracious God is. A great verse for understanding how Jesus might be as a parent handling bad behavior is the woman caught in adultery.. John 8:2-11. I have a great daughter who garners me plentiful playdates because of her behavior and am very proud to be able to say to her "we don't hit in this family."

  • Anonymous

    hey….
    I'm sitting her shaking…literally
    I feel like my mind has been barraged with painful, hopeful,…. painful realities. I remember picking up my parent's book "how to train up a child" by mr. pearl… and after reading it… feeling despair, but reasoning that this was reality and i had to accept it… and… and… I feel like i'm about to panic now realizing that those feelings I had as a kid were probably more accurate than the reasoning I came to. I guess i need to seek help.
    Thank you guys for being so vulnerable and honest on here…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10329947206142706470 Peter and Nancy

    I heard many of the same lines you did. One difficulty for me is that my alcoholic father does not remember some incidents (because he was drunk at the time). So I think he feels guilty for things he remembers, but just tells me the other things never happened. It's endlessly frustrating, but calls to mind the words, "Father, forgive them — they know not what they do." I'm 41 now, and have found a measure of peace in not raising my kids the way I was raised, and in forgiving my dad (but not trusting him alone with my children). It's a complex road to travel, and I wish you grace as you navigate it.
    Nancy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement!

    Michelle- You have no idea how often I question the same thing. Questioning whether or not it was “really “abuse kept me from having to deal with it for a long time. Coming to grips with it and realizing that I am not going to do what my parents did, has actually freed me up to start a new relationship with my parents, one where I am in control.

    Anne- My parents held me responsible for my siblings actions too. But even when they didn’t I still felt like I could have saved them somehow.

    M- I had one of those moments myself recently, when my first son was born 11 days ago and I was overwhelmed with emotion when I realized that he will never be hit by his parents. It is a huge relief and joy to be set free from those old patterns.

    Alice- Yes! I have not brought up the past other than my initial confrontation, which they handled fairly well. But since then my mom has felt the need to bring it up over and over, phone calls on those bad days are so frustrating. I do forgive them, but forgiving does not mean that I have to pretend it never happened and form my relationship with them by their rules.

    Emily- There is a definite difference! I was determined from about age 12 on to not repeat some of my parents behaviour, but until I started dealing with my past, I was still dreading the day I would become them.

    Leah- It baffles me now when my mom still tries to tell me that I will understand someday. There is no way I will ever understand. And yes, I think they were heavily influenced by religion, but like you said that was not the only factor. I’ve also questioned whether or not it was family size, but I think it would have just increased the pressure on each child if there were less of them.

    Rebecca- It is hard to imagine a different reality than you’ve experienced. On bad days I often feel as though I should throw in the towel and give up trying to change anything, but in the end it is so worth it!

    Edita- What you are describing from the Ludies sounds very familiar. It is very sad, and that type of treatment towards children does have consequences.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Pippi- My mom has acknowledged that some actions were wrong, but she still tries to diminish their severity, and explain why they happened and get me to understand. I completely agree with your assessment of spanking, it doesn’t solve anything, just numbs it for a time. It is HARD (especially at first) to gain that patience, but be encouraged! It does get a bit easier over time. I’m pretty sure my Dad doesn’t think children ever reach an age when they are capable of making constructive rational decisions. I’m sorry about your dad being so uninvolved, that would be frustrating.

    Anonymous 2:44- I’m so happy to be able to say “we don’t hit” in our family as well. : ) It was very hard for me to stop believing them when they told me I was remembering wrong, I had let them tell me what and how to think for so long. It was scary to think other than what they told me to.

    Anonymous 5:41- Oh I can relate to your comment! I was determined that I would never spank after my childhood, and then I ended up reading the “Christian” books advocating it, and felt so helpless. Surely they knew what they were talking about, I felt as if there was no other way, and out of fear, I began spanking my kids, telling myself that my memories of childhood were skewed, of course I didn’t like spanking, kids never liked being spanked so I was just thinking like a child to eliminate it from my parenting, right? I never let myself feel all the anger I had about the abuse, and I found myself taking it out on my children, and that scared me. In desperation I banned spanking and began to research child development for the first time, and my life changed. I remember reading the chapter on child abuse in several different gentle discipline books, and feeling stunned as I let myself see for the first time that in so many ways they were describing my childhood. It was very scary to face the truth for the first time, but it has been worth it! I hope your journey is equally rewarding.

    Nancy- Yes, there is peace in learning to forgive, and to shape the relationship on my own terms. I have also wondered if it is possible for my mom to have a mood disorder that effects her perception, but I may never know.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate every word you write! I just wanted to say thank you for being willing to share your thoughts!
    Dawn
    ps – I am learning so much and gaining much needed support from your recommended book by Judy Arnall, Discipline Without Distress. It is a major paradigm shift but more truly "Christian" in perspective in my eyes than the books that advocate and sugar coat spanking.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14659411240699818388 rachel

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This totally resonated with me. I just had a conversation with my mom where she kept saying "Well, I'm sure you remember things differently than they actually were." :(

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12551344590306491778 HisRuthie

    Thank you, thank you for explaining that I will never have to understand what happened to me as a child. I was kinda waiting for "older" to hit & with it a whole bunch of wisdom about how to punish & deprive "disrespectful and disobedient" children, even into the teens, but today I understood that that will never happen. For one thing, because of this very thing I will probably never have children, but I will never be THAT parent. I will never deprive my children of confidence, security, and a happy & normal childhood in the name of "training up a child in the way he shall go" because guess what, sometimes children depart from that "way"! And I have never remembered things differently from how they happened, either, lol.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13290995561859770952 Vanessa

    Completely in tears here. You just wrote out exactly what happened to me growing up. I recently had to confront my parents and their response was similar to the ones you have experienced. I too have struggled with the fear of treating my girls the same way, and approaching my parents made that fear disappear as I spoke aloud the word abuse and renounced it from happening in our home.

    I just want to say thank you for hitting publish!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10275954333448290962 socialworkeratheart

    This is something I've worried about myself-passing on how I was disciplined/parenting styles of my parents-to my own children. Its gotten to the point though where my husband and I asked for help=and while the tables have been turned on us-we see us as being active, responsible, and playing a role in our family structure. It will take what's transpired for us to turn it around, that I can live with. Its not doing anything and having my kids feel as you do-and me seeing that we didn't change-that I want to avoid. Thank you for your honesty and courage for writing such a post.

  • http://www.becomingcrunchy.com Kelly

    This is a very powerful post – it is so good that you've come to the point of recognizing these things.

    I must say it has opened new thoughts and questions for me. My dad was incredibly angry and violent; we were not physically abused beyond spanking, but we were subjected to emotional abuse daily – and I know that my brother, sister and I are still affected by it.

    My mom was also a passive participant in all of this – she certainly didn't like it, but she did let it happen. Today, she does deny it – her memory has become selective. And we don't like to talk it over with her because we know it's hurtful to her.

    Over the years, I've tried to see forgiveness as my way out…but I think I've really just tried to forget. As I've now become a parent, there are new memories coming to light that I'm finding it more difficult to forgive; at the same time, I don't have a desire to 'blame' my life problems on anyone else.

    My relationship with my parents now is good in many ways, though I do keep my distance from my dad – I have determined not to allow him to hurt me anymore and so treat him as I would a friendly acquaintance when I see him. Ironically enough, he used to mock me for being a Christian; now that he has 'converted' himself he asks me to pray for him. But in honesty I find it difficult sometimes…

    The gist of all this babbling (I don't even feel I can share it on my own blog as my family are among its readers!) is that I have that same anger within me that my dad displayed to us every day my life. In many ways, I do not fear that I will be like my parents (I've already completely veered from their parenting philosophy) but that anger always scares me. It's something I fight against (often not successfully) every day….

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment. You've given me a lot to reflect on and I appreciate it.

  • honeybee

    Awesome post. It hit me like a heat-seeking missile.

    I came from a similarly abusive upbringing with rigidly dogmatic parents(Catholic, though).
    I moved 10,000 miles away and cut off all contact, and had my tubes tied when I was still single,because I was so deathly afraid I would become them as a parent.

    I admire your bravery and insight more than I can say.

    God bless you and your family!

  • http://www.peace4parents.com Amy

    Thank you for choosing to change the future. I am with you on that. Thank you also for sharing your story…

    I used to be really angry and attributed a lot of it to one specific event of child abuse. Regardless of its origin, I lashed out at my children as I stumbled to parent gently. The triggers for anger can run very deep and it is absolutely our responsibility as parents to clean up our emotional messes so we don't put them on our children.

    I am hoping that my children will be able to forgive me for parenting in ways that were not appropriate. I realize they have their own healing process – and I respect that.

    Much love to you and yours…

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this.

    Thank you for breaking the cycle.

    I mentioned Alice Miller's "For Your Own Good" in a prior comment, and you'd replied you'd been wanting to read her – in light of what you've just written, I think this book would have an even MORE powerful affect on you.

    I too am breaking the cycle of generations of abuse. Keeping my children away from my mother, who is still just as abusive at almost 70 as she was at 35, has cost me my entire family… and it's worth it. There is NOTHING more important we can do than STOP passing this crap on to each successive generation.

    PS – My mother also denied the house of horrors that was my childhood, even as she continued to be just as emotionally abusive and verbally horrid as she ever was. It's more important to her to try to present herself as that perfect Baptist woman to the outside world, than to have me or my children in her life.

  • http://houseofestrogen.typepad.com/ houseofestrogen

    Wow…what a powerful post. Good for you for hitting publish. From the comments, it looks like you touched a lot of lives with this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    I've always tried to minimize things too. I even had my parents tell me that I'm required to "forgive and forget" and that "things were not that bad" and "well how did you want to be treated instead?"

    They call the verbal abuse "just being honest", and the physical abuse "Biblical discipline" etc.

    However, I don't think it's people's religious beliefs that make them abusive. I actually think it's opposite. Abusive people are attracted to "religious beliefs" that let them abuse. They take their abusive personalities and attach them to screwed up reading of Scripture and then justify their abuse that way. They would abuse either way, it's just that their carefully chosen beliefs "allow" them to abuse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00616238682696645579 Erin

    Brave post Young Mom! And great comments here. I especially appreciate Pippi's words!

  • Marcia

    This is a difficult post for me to read, but I am glad I did. I don't want to have to revisit my parents' emotional abuse but I need to if I don't want to carry on the same patterns (as my mom did). I don't know where this anger comes from, but nothing makes me so enraged as my kids acting out. And I am usually a very calm and quiet person! I only feel this way towards my kids.

    My parents REFUSE to acknowledge there was anything imperfect about their parenting style and they seem to want to apply their "wisdom" to their relationship with their grandchildren, my children included. I don't know how to break that cycle, but I need to. For my sake, and my kids'.

    Thanks for a true and honest post.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. I have no other words for how much hope this has given me.

  • http://trishsouthard.com/ trishsouthard.com

    Thank you for your honesty. I cried when while reading your post. Helping all of us process the reality of abuse and the long term affects… well it really tore me up. I happened upon this on Good Friday.

  • Jillytoo

    My mom finally admitted to and apologized for “mistreating” me (her word for the childhood and teen years rollercoaster nightmare that was her undiagnosed bi-polar disorder), and it was like a heavy stone had been lifted off me that I didn’t even realize was weighing me down. I hope you get something similar someday! Kudos to you for realizing that you don’t have to follow her example of parenting to be a good parent.


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