Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Demanding parents and the effects on their children

My yesterday post "Woman with 10 grown children collects recyclable items to survive" created much attention. I'm overwhelmed with excitement because I had a record comment for more than 50 in number. Normally readers would read and very seldom they would take the trouble to add a few words under the comment column. Without me realising, this topic caught me with surprise, when worldwide readers spoke their view and thought. 

When I first read the early few comments, I was a bit upset with how the younger generation behaves. However when finally I read all of them, I began to understand and to appreciate their contribution which were frank and truthfully expressed in mind and heart. They were from all over the world and I'm sure these are factual and real. Perhaps they were never given a chance or a platform to speak their thoughts. By chance when this topic was posted, they were brave and courageous to show their frustration and dissatisfaction between parents and children.

In life, not all parents are right and not all children are perfect too. In most cases, parents always assume they are good parents and they expect their children to love them. And most children who might be unhappy toward their parents, also find it difficult to relate their problems to the ageing parents. Reading their comments today, I could understand them better now. They had helped me to be more of a likeable and lovable father from now onwards. I hope all parents or future parents would read all those comments written. I can assure you, they might change your entire mindset and eventually be more of an understanding parent.

To all my readers who had commented, I offer to you my most sincere appreciation. You really had taught me greatly in many ways. Thank you so much.

Confucius said... "He who keeps on reviewing his old knowledge and acquiring new knowledge may become a teacher of others." 


Anonymous said...


Parents who tell their children that they should be grateful because the parent fed, clothed, provided shelter, and sent them to school, is not the right approach, either.

Parents by LAW are required to do those things, when they choose to bear offspring. It is nothing special or anything that should be specially rewarded. It is the LAW.

Anonymous said...

Cheerio to anon 3:41,

and whereas for those still wearing the blinkers,

yunno I’ve seen way too much abuse of all kinds covered up and whitewashed later on by parents who, all of a sudden,

want to be involved again after all the damage they’ve done. Same goes for just plain routine poor parenting and behavior.

Adult children do not owe parents like that anything. We don’t OWE anyone a chance to reconcile. We have every right to live our lives with the relationships we choose, as does every capable adult in the world.

Just because you think you did something ‘out of love’ doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. It doesn’t make you a good person. It doesn’t make you someone your children want in their lives or their children’s lives, and I’m not going to feel sorry for you because you have to pay for what you did.

That’s how life works. Be happy if your children can be so forgiving – or can just get sucked back into the same abusive relationship with you – but don’t be shocked if they don’t.

Anonymous said...

Dear Robert,

Goodness!...someone is voicing again. Since morning it is so eerie.

I can guarantee that if my mother came to you for an evaluation, you would have thought she was the sweetest mother whose daughter broke her heart by walking away. Not because you’re incapable of seeing it, but because she was that good at convincing people of her position. Little would you know that behind her demeanor was a woman abusing her daughter on a level that should have landed her in prison. So tread lightly no matter where you stand on this issue. There could be a younger person whose reading this, feeling lost and more confused than ever. At this point it’s not about whose belief is right or wrong. It’s about protecting the next generation from feeling as lost and misunderstood as we did.

Are you people supporting Robert also like my mother insisting no anonymous? Get a life, sheeeeshhhhh!

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous for voicing.

I also was parentified (had to take care of my mother’s emotional and physical needs as well as care for a younger brother and the household). My mother also held me responsible for her drinking and her happiness or lack of it.

So I became an adult far before I left home to go to college. I was subjected to emotional abuse (screaming, ranting, berating, cursing) almost daily. As I mention one screaming, ranting, leaning into your face type of rage was caused because although our home was cleaned (by me) when she came home from work, some pillows on the couch were slightly out of alignment because my brother and his friend were playing on the couch.

Occasionally, when I dared to do anything, but appease her, I would get slapped and/or shoved and/or punched. And I’m not talking about phsycial discipline. We had that in my home as well. That was meted out in a calmer way with warning that if we didn’t stop, we would be hit. And the hitting was not done out of anger. It was a different time and generation, so I don’t consider the physical discipline abuse.

In contrast, the slapping, shoving and punching was done without warning and out of anger. Once I was walking out of the home to run an errand my mother had asked for. We had argued and the argument was over. I was going out as I was requested to do, when my mother ran up from behind me and punched me so hard in the back I staggered.

Interestingly enough, she cut that nonsense out when we were both big enough to hit back, not that we ever did hit her back. So she quite obviously knew what she was doing.

She continued the emotional abuse. I asked her to stop. That led to one estrangement when I was 24. She refused to speak to me because I refused to accept the verbal abuse (I had been living on my own since college graduation and even during college only came home for 2 summer breaks and Christmas breaks).

She got into AA, I gave her a 2nd chance. It was ok at first, but eventually, she started up again with the berating, belitting and screaming and ranting. I asked her to please stop. She refused. I opted for civil, but distant. I let it roll off me to keep peace with the rest of the family.

That wasn’t good enough for her, she played the mama martyr act for my sister in law when she joined the family. My brother and I had a good relationship up to that point. I guess the pressure from mama martyr and his fiancee was persuasive. They both starting pressuring me to be closer to my mother. I set some boundaries and they were dismissive. I got angry and we had a falling out.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have let her back in after the first estrangement.

Yet, if my mother went to you, she’d be swearing up & down to you about what a good mother she was, how hard she tried and what a cruel, ungrateful daughter she has.

I know because I’ve heard from other relatives this is what she’s told them during both estrangements. Fortunately, she’s pulled this crap on enough other people in the family on both sides that most of my relatives know better. But she’s a very good actress and manipulator, so if you were just going by what she said, it would be pretty convincing.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that today, in the 21st century, if parents want their children to love them, they need to earn that love. A parent can no longer demand love, or try to manipulate it through belittling, guilt and martyrdom or because of a shared genetic lineage. Those tactics are outdated attempts to control an adult child, and such tactics no longer work well in modern-day society.

A normally functioning adult child will not reject a parent for no reason. There is a reason, The parent likely does not want to confront the reason. If it is the parent who has cut off the children as a punitive one-last-ditch desperate effort to regain control, and with the misguided hope that withholding affection will make their children feel contrite enough to beg for their forgiveness…, then that parent will likely die alone.

Anonymous said...


I have known children who have cut off their parents. They are far better off. I can say, unequivocally, that they made a healthy decision to protect themselves from further suffering.

Anonymous said...

Dear Robert and friends of Robert,

Abused children are prisoners of dysfunctional people. Society needs to recognize this and liberate these children either literally or figuratively.

Doing so will benefit society at large.

The earlier the abuse is recognized and curtailed or addressed, the greater is the chance that the child will not become an abuser themselves…,or turn to crime.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon 447,

The reality is that an emotionally abusive parent, and a narcissistic parent, doesn’t spring from nowhere. He or she springs from a family that is hell-bent on looking good to the outsiders. When one person, in this case an adult child who says “Enough!” and refuses to play the game any more nor be the scapegoat any longer, everyone in that family system hammers him or her to get back in her place. Why? Because everyone is invested in pretending that everything looks okay and has, likely, invested their lives in that system.

Anonymous said...

I think to say that children have no choices and only parents do is hogwash. The fact is children actually have no choice about their parents’ divorce.

Anonymous said...

I don’t see why parent-child relationships should be any more unconditional than marital relationships. Heck, at least spouses took vows instead of being forced into the situation!

Actually, if they were analagous to marriage than the divorcing party would get to sue the ex for alimony. Seems many people are okay with divorce but not estrangement. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

I think one of the biggest problems here is the attitude of “You owe me a relationship” rather than trying to work on “What’s gone wrong between us?”. That’s really not a good way to approach ANY relationship on the verge of detrioration – whether friend, family, romantic, whatever. Unless both people want to interact with one another, there is no relationship.

Anonymous said...

Dear 4:47pm,

I think it mostly depends on the abuse, how long it went on, and so forth. I am just telling you from my point of view.

My mother was abusive in every way shape and form. Although, she did not sexually abuse me, my step father did, and she pretty much made me feel like it was my fault. Even as I grew older I held on to hope that she would change, and somehow love me.

Then at a certain point I realized she would never change, and that I honestly did not love her as a mother. How could anyone love someone that would do such horrible things to another human, let alone their own child! As she has other children, but was nowhere as abusive to them. Although, she was abusive if that makes sense.

If this is caused by years of (for lack of a better word) abuse, then I think it may be harder.

My best advice is to listen to what they have to say, and understand that both the memories will be different, and each will see things very different. For instance my memory of abuse is my mothers memory of misunderstandings.

I sincerely wish I had a different mother because it would have saved me years of self hatred and lack of respect for myself. Please keep an open mind when your adult child is telling their version, as this is how they see, but above all else do not make them feel like their feelings do not matter.

I have three children (2-step), and would never in my life treat them with anything but love and kindness, I think my abusive upbringing helped make me a better mother.

Anonymous said...


My parents are never gonna’ have to worry about me abusing them. I no longer have contact with them, and have no intention to ever again have contact with those blind rubes who insult the the concept of parenthood by calling themselves good parents.

Forgive my rudeness, but it is my understanding that abuse can only take place when there is one person who has dominion or control over another person who is in a position of weakness within the relationship.

In other words, in order to be able to abuse, the abuser has to hold a position of power over the person they abuse.

In a nutshiell is that a parent can’t be abused by their kid. The parent can walk away from the kid, a young kid cannot walk away from a parent. They need the parent to survive, when they are young.

I had no control over my parents. I had to live by their nonsensical rules, and no one believed that they were abusive. If I protested their emotional abuse, they would insist I was imagining things and they would punish me for speaking out. It was a vicious cycle, and it was impossible to talk to them about it.

Adult child learned how to abuse from the abusive parent. It is like Karma, Robert.

My parents will not have to worry about me reflecting back their own abusive mannerisms, if they ever get old and infirm. I will not be back to visit them.

I was in pain when I lived with my emotionally abusive parents. It was an intense emotional pain. It was caused by their emotional abuse, but a lot of the pain was caused by the fact that people like you and your friends don't understand and never listen from the heart.

Everyone thought they were model parents. They were pretty sneaky about the emotional and verbal abuse. They always told everyone how much they loved me and how concerned they were. Then when we got home, they would release their venom. They told me I was worthless, would never amount to anything, that they were sorry that they had children, and on and on and on, every day.

Since moving out, I have been pain free. Even if my parents changed I would prefer to remain cut off from them. The damage is already done.

The only pain I feel comes when i occasionally run into people who insist that I should reconnect with my parents because they are my parents.

How dumb is that?

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that parents need to work on maintaining a relationship with an adult child rather than believing it is the Child’s obligation to stay connected.

If the parent is not willing to work on the relationship, in a healthy way, then they risk losing that relationship.

Using guilt, illnesses, or projecting one’s own pain onto the other person, will not bring them back. It will only drive them further away.

It’s also healthy for people in general to recognize when a relationship is no longer salvageable, and for their own health move on.

In our society, people are taught to work on a marriage. If it does not work, divorce is encouraged and sanctioned.

I see nothing wrong with anyone who has encouraged people to divorce a parent in order to eliminate their own pain.

And if a person does choose to divorce a family member, there should be no moral obligations or judgments imposed on their choice.
Normal people tend to recognize an unhealthy relationship and accept its demise. Moving on makes them feel healthier.

Anonymous said...

Robert my dear,

In my opinion, society should realized that being born to dysfunctional parents should not be a life sentence for the innocent child. Women were once considered property of the husband. They had no personal rights. Now they have the same rights as the husband.

Divorce was once taboo, too. How silly that seems, now.

Church officials once invoked their personal God in a self-righteous attempt to shame others into feeling obligated to remain in a dysfunctional marriage. Such a command or attempt to control others, is in itself indicative of dysfunction. That is why It did not work.

Now the society has realized that divorcing a dysfunctional abusive spouse is the healthy thing to do….for society at large, as well as for all people involved in the dysfunctional situation.

I am willing to wager that any type of just God would agree, rather than preaching the insanity of asking an abused child to try to understand the abuser’s personal demons, and remain to tolerate the abuse simply because they share genes.

Choosing to leave a dysfunctional marriage is healthy for the children. It is healthy for the adults. It has prevented deaths due to domestic violence. And, most importantly, it breaks the cycle of abuse because people trapped in unhappy marriages often abuse the children and the spouse.

The same should apply to decisions to cut off an abusive parent or an entire dysfunctional clan.

Anyone who has dealt with abused children would realize that they need to be protected as well as given societal permission to break the cycle of abuse, by leaving the abusive parents.

Only an abuser would object to that.

Anonymous said...


If you raise a child fulfilling every possible need that the child has, the child grows up with a dependency on the parent. The child expects the parent to continue fulfilling needs, including material and emotional. Suddenly, child becomes an adult, but still expects, feels entitled to, continued material and/or emotional support. Parents want to see their adult child fend for herself, and they pull back. Adult child has an emotional tantrum, and if parents don’t or won’t or can’t fulfill adult childs’ needs, adult child has no need for parents any longer. This social phenomenon increases the risk of estrangement.

Anonymous said...

Robert my dear,

Moving on to what I had commented earlier, abuse is all about controlling the victim. The child’s dependency on the parent is an abusers greatest weapon of control.
Children are human beings, they are not property. They should have the right to choose to leave an abuser and still have food, shelter, and clothing provided by society.

I have empathy for emotionally abusive parents. I offer them kindness. Most were likely abused children. They need help.
Still the child of emotionally abusive parent needs to feel the kindness of society, too, by being removed by society from their psychologically disturbed abuser. They also deserve to be given permission to cut ties permanently so that the abuser does not continue to abuse them or eventually abuse their grandchildren in a similar insidious manner.

Society has been turning the other cheek regarding the problem of insidious covert emotional abuse for too long.

Shaming is a major component of emotional abuse as what you had published earlier. Shaming is a pathetically transparent attempt to control another person and shaming tactics need to be unmasked. By unmasking thus explain the sudden surge of commentators in your blog.

Shame is often used by abusive people who feel they alone are superior to the rest of society. ….that sense of superiority is a typical pathologically narcissistic delusion.

Serial killers often use religion and God and labeling other as sinners in order to justify their actions by self righteously casting themselves in a morally superior light to their victims.

Using the doctrines specified in a particular religion is a shaming tactic designed to attempt to control others. And it is condescending.

Not everyone shares the same religious beliefs. Not everyone is religious. It is narcissistic to think otherwise. That is why using one’s personal and often self righteous religious beliefs to try to control all of society has not worked for a very long time.

Anonymous said...


I think you need to address the issue of the abusive parents as wolves trying to hide in sheep’s (the parents who have been cut off for no or inconsequential reasons) clothing.

Anonymous said...

IMO, an adult child with emotionally abusive parents needs to protect their children from covertly abusive grandparents. That is another reason why some adult children disconnect from dysfunctional parents.

It is painfully clear, even to a blind man, why the children have cut off the parents.

The reality is emotional abusers are very clever and often cleverly abuse only behind closed doors, emotional abuse is difficult to prove.

In a healthy society parents should not be allowed to believe that they own Their children. Children are not a possessions like a large-screen TV.

Also, parents should not be bearing children as their old age insurance policy.

If a parent bears a child with the expectation that the child be their nurse maid in their dotage, then they had children for selfish reasons, and that is the wrong reason.

If child loves a parent, they will want to take care of the parent in the parent’s dotage.

If a child is unhappy with their parents, they need options. It should not matter why the child is unhappy. It should not matter if the child is 6 or 60.

Society recognizes a no-fault divorce because sometimes married people realize they are not a good fit.

IMO, it will benefit society at large to realize that sometimes parents and children are not a good fit. It will create healthier people and a healthier society.

Anonymous said...

Children don’t choose to be born, parents choose to have children. So parents should be capable of handling the irrationality and annoyance kids can bring without resorting to abuse of that child. Snapping at a child once in a rare while is human. No one is perfect. But berating that child on a frequent basis is abuse.

Anonymous said...

Dear Robert,

In my line of duty, I was asked to investigate cases of parents burning their kids with cigarettes, letting boyfriends sexually abuse their kids, making kids drink gasoline, leaving kids on the porch all night in the rain.

It was too awful to continue.

I was working in a hospital at this time. There was a child in the burn unit with third degree burns all over her body–her mother had set her on fire. And Robert, the child kept calling for her mother from her hospital bed!

Anonymous said...

So how do we address the issue of abusive parents doing the wolf in sheep’s clothing thing by denying their abuse and saying they are unfairly cut off?

Anonymous said...

The point, that some people appear to be conveniently missing, is that abuse is not always obvious.

Abusers are too often incredibly skilled at cleverly hiding their abuse.

Sometimes the child’s report is the only thing that authorities have to go on. It’s time these reports were taken seriously, despite a lack of bruises.

Just like a slave, a child, at this time, has no where to go if their parents are deceptive abusers.
Someday, as society becomes more enlightened to the societal ramifications of emotional abuse, that will change, I am sure.

As mentioned husbands once owned their wives. Wives were once deemed chattel. That has changed. And that change has forever improved the well being of countless women.

Anonymous said...

Robert darling,

A free human being should be free to choose with whom they wish to continue a relationship. Blood ties should not make a difference.

Court custody battle cases are plagued by an inability to discern which parent is an abuser. Habitual liars tend to be very skilled. The same applies ferreting out the abuser in a parent-child relationship. Even psychologists are fooled by skilled liars.

That is why the child’s choice and voice should be paramount.

There is a saying and it goes: If you love something set it free. If it comes back its yours, if not, it was never meant to be.

Unfortunately, too many parents have a sense of ownership regarding their children. And, have difficulty letting go of someone they feel they own.

Or worse, they abuse the child, when the child shows any signs of becoming independent because independence threatens the parent’s control and ownership of the child.
Then, when the child rightfully disconnects from such abuse, the parent blames and maligns the child.

Some people just have personalities that grate against each other.

Therefore, no one should be forced to put up with someone they dislike, for any reason.

Forcing a relationship can only create conflict and may end in homicide.

No one should be held responsible for someone else’s happiness. Doing so is considered one form of emotional abuse.

Parents who burden children with the task of ensuring the parent’s happiness are immature.

This parental immaturity is some times exhibited in “parentification” of the child. Or as “emotional incest” in which the parent is far too emotionally dependent on the child.

If a parent cannot find happiness without their child in their life, the parent should not blame the child. And,if the parent does lay blame on the child, then that will typically drive the child further away.


Because no one can make anyone else happy.

Expecting a child to make a parent happy is a cruel request and an impossible Sisyphean task.

Acting irresponsibly is one way for a child to “act out” against parents who abuse by trying to “parentify” the child or against parents who are emotionally incestuous.

After all, raising a self supporting independent child who is free to go off and make a life of their own, without recriminations, or resentments, is the parent’s primary job.

Anonymous said...

A normal parent with dysfunctional parenting skills shows a willingness to confront their flaws and to work on changing them.

The personality-disordered person will never have insight regarding their own negative behaviors, and thus they will never attempt to change them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Robert,

I’m 45 years old single mom working full time with a good job.

My Dad sold me his house five years ago because my life was basically about my mom & Dad. Not a good thing that I choose. I helped my Dad with my Mom after she got sick at 51 with early onset Alzheimer’s and later died after a 17 year long illness.

My father sold me the house at a reduced rate. My plan was to update it and make it a home for me and my little three year old daughter. With every change I’ve made my father has been upset. I was slow to make changes because it was my parent’s house for 40 years. I have walked on egg shells with my father all my life. He has had a bad temper his entire life and no one said, STOP.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, he hit me very badly. After I had my c-section the same deal. I finally got a restraining order and he moved to another house he owned. He came back into our lives after a few months before I set boundaries.

While there is no more hitting, I am subjected to verbal abuse and he tells me how stupid I am for making changes. My father lacks any kind of normal communication skill.

I have been very depressed because I can’t believe my father treats me so horrible. All I ever did was try and make my father happy. I made it my mission and that was my problem. I am not in control of how my father feels. I spent way too much of my adult life worried about him and my mother.

I recently cut ties and plan to until there is some change. I have a feeling there won’t be any change until he hits bottom. He loves my daughter very much and is good with her but he has exposed her to his temper when driving due to road rage. I need to protect my daughter at all costs so she doesn’t grow up depressed with low self-esteem too.

My father is almost 70 years old but still very much a scary big man. I really have struggled with the thought of losing my Dad during this estrangement but I need to survive and and take care of myself and my little girl.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon 6:46,

I’m sorry it came to that. But it sounds like you did the right thing for you and your daughter. It’s hard having a parent who can only find fault with us, isn’t it? And trying repeatedly to please them.

Robert my dear,

Perhaps you might defend by saying that there are estrangements out there that are not about abuse but about entitlement, money, marriage, divorced families…estrangement is just sad even if it is healthier in the end for some.

The root of all estrangements lies a dysfunctional family system.

An adult child will not have complaints about the above issues unless there is already dysfunction within their family.

Also, a normal Adult child will not be swayed by a spouse to abandon parents who make them feel loved and secure.

An adult child from a dysfunctional family may however be swayed to abandon parents who resort to guilt trips and manipulative abuses in order to maintain control of the children, if their spouse points this out to them, and their eyes are finally opened to the truth of the family dysfunction by the fresh eye of a non-related observer.

In a dysfunctional family children are not always treated equally.

Dysfunctional parents will often dedicate the most resources to a favored child. A favored child may be a compliant child, but not necessarily a healthy functional child.

Sometimes the most compliant child is continually rewarded for behaving in dysfunctional ways that mirror the parents dysfunction.

While the most functional children are punished in subtle ways for daring to be independent.

This favoritism will result in valid complaints from the other children regarding money or entitlements.

The non-favored adult child’s complaints about money may sound shallow to outsiders, but it is a valid complaint and a parent who favors one child is engaging in a poor parenting style.

Typically, too, a parent will deny granting more family resources to the favored child, or they will make excuses for why they did so.

This denying behavior invalidates the non-favored child’s own observations and further alienates them from the parents.

Favoring one child over another, for any reason, is emotional abuse and it is painful to the unfavored child.

In addition, and to add insult to injury, typically the most functional of the UN-favored children is the “parentified” child.

And, very often the “parentified” child s the child tapped to be the dysfunctional parents caretakers as the parents age, even though the parent or parents have done next to nothing to help the child achieve success in life.

This unrealistic expectation may be unspoken but obvious nonetheless.

The dysfunctional parents will tap the “parentified” child because typically the parentified child is the most dependable and most functional of all their children.

In the end, the parents set the tone for the family and are responsible for creating a dysfunctional family environment….Not the children or adult children.

Even a mentally ill child can NOT create family dysfunction.

It is the way the PARENTS respond to the mentally ill child that creates the familial dysfunction.

Anonymous said...

Robert my dear,

Sometimes, too, the dysfunctional parents have created co-dependencies among all of their children, except for one.

That one child, who is typically the most healthy, most independent and obviously not co-dependent will eventually attempt to point out the family dysfunction as a way to attempt to heal the family.

When the child does point out the dysfunction, the adult child is then ostracized by the dysfunctional parents who then encourage the co-dependent siblings to also ostracize the adult child who had the audacity to point out the secret of the family dysfunction.

Keeping a child co-dependent is one obvious way for a parent to retain control over the child on some level because a dependent child will need to stay within the parent’s orbit.

A non co-dependent child will not need the family.

Dysfunctional parents will often try to destroy the child who dares to point out dysfunctional familial behaviors.

The dysfunctional parents will do this in order to maintain dysfunctional control of the rest of the family.

Often to destroy the adult child who exposed the family dysfunction, the dysfunctional parents will attempt to isolate that child from all other family members.

To do this, often dysfunctional parents will go on a character assassination campaign against the child who exposes the family dysfunction.

The dysfunctional parents will do this as a way to turn other family members against the child who exposes the family dysfunction, in the misguided hope that this isolation will make the adult child more compliant to their unreasonable and unrealistic demands.

More and more, this type of ostracism backfires as adult children are enlightened to this fairly common emotionally abusive tactic used by manipulative, controlling, dysfunctional family members.

That is likely why more and more adult children are choosing to disconnect from abusive dysfunctional parents.

When an emotionally healthy adult child becomes estranged from an abusive dysfunctional parent, that is not sad.

What would be sad is if an adult child were pressured by outdated societal mores to stay in contact with emotionally harmful dysfunctional family members.

An abusive parent may have bore their own victim, but the child is a victim nonetheless. Therefore, like any victim, the child should be encouraged to escape the person responsible for the victimization regardless of genetic ties.

Lastly, although the favored child appears to be the lucky child, they too are being abused and often themselves suffer due to the family dysfunction.