Your Parents Suck (Maybe), and Here’s Why (Definitely)

parents suckThere isn’t a depressed or struggling person alive who doesn’t think some part of their problems – some part of why their life is as it is, and they are as they are – is the fault of those that raised them.  Cause in a world where so many struggle with esteem issues, and confidence issues, and love issues, the easiest to blame are also the most obvious to blame: their parents.

Because they “suck” they say.  And maybe they’re right…

Cause for many teens and children – and of course so many adults – the greatest obstacle to them just being a normal and happy person is their parents.

Things they said to them or still say to them.

Things they’ve done to them or still do to them.

The love they never showed.  Or – maybe – the love they’ll never show.

And so slowly they develop a quiet or pretty damn obvious resentment or hatred of those who raise them, and the way in which they do or do not do so according to the ways they think they should.

And in many ways, and in many cases, it’s deserved.

It’s well fucking deserved.

But I think that one of the greatest causes of our broken homes and broken minds; of the anger and sadness so many accept as their normal way of life, and the inadequacy and helplessness they learn so young, isn’t the conditions or circumstances of their childhood per se.

It isn’t necessarily what their parents do to them, or never do with them.  Nor is it entirely the restrictive rules they may establish (that traps kids or demeans them), or the discipline their parents might force (that hurts them or embarrasses them).

It isn’t always the cutting words their parents say, or the lack of love they show.  It isn’t just the times they go too far in disciplining them, or the occasions they fail to go far enough in supporting them.

In fact, it isn’t really their parents at all.

It’s their expectations.

It’s the expectations they place on the homes their parents provide, and on the quality of their parents in general that will – in many ways – ruin their lives.

It’s their refusal to accept that their parents might just be bad parents.

“I Hate My Parents”

It’s something no small amount of kids say every day amongst their friends, or quietly to themselves.  It’s what so many adults too will tell their therapists, or whisper in the back of their minds.

“And all this, and all of me, is their fault.”

Their parents.

They think that their problems are their mistakes, and that their lives are their doing.

They think that their lives suck because their parents were too rigid or too callous, too authoritative or too distant; that they never listened or understood; they never respected or connected.

They believe that they’ve made no effort to comprehend the world in which they live – the pressures they feel, and the fears they keep.

And perhaps worst of all, they never, ever seem to realize the effect that their actions have on them – their children, those they’re supposed to support and protect.  Not just on today, but on every day after.

Just bad parents.

And yet, parents like that aren’t even the worst of their kind.  They are, in many ways, simply the norm.  Because that leaves out those parents who truly don’t care – the alcoholic parents, the addict parents, the ones who beat the crap out of their kids, or abandon them to selfishly live their lives by their own desires.

Truly horrible parents.

But, the thing is…are they supposed to be better?

There are many broken homes like this, led by mothers and fathers who have no clue how to raise children, and no concern for the damage their actions cause and the tortured futures their children will surely endure as a result of the behaviors and beliefs they learn in that home, by their actions.

It’s so damaging to these children because they expect better.

They expect to be loved and cared for, praised and supported.  They expect their mothers to be Moms, and their fathers to be Dads; to be there for them and help them, to get along, to make it work, to be the parents they see in other homes – their friends’, the neighbors’, or on TV.

They expect their parents to provide a stable life, and the conditions for a promising future – whether it’s difficult or not, whether they can or not.  They expect a real home, where there is food on the table, and laughter in the air; where they aren’t yet burdened with the stresses and realities of adult life.

That they’re sheltered from it.

That they’re safe.

Cause kids just wanna be able to not care about such things; to be free to wake up every day with no concern about how they will eat or where they will stay, when their father will stumble home, or if he’ll come home at all.  They want to live as others live.  They want to be a kid while still a kid and a teen while still a teen.

They want a family.  They expect a family.

But, sometimes…that’s just not reality.

It’s not possible.

As horrible as that is.  As painful as that may be.

Cause the truth is…

…their bad parent or parents are not capable of providing such a sweet, innocent, and nurturing home in the condition they are in – with the addictions they feed, or the anger they hold; with the abilities they don’t have, or the misguided beliefs they’ve been given.

Because parents have problems like you have problems.  And the origins of their personal failings are the same as those of yours.

It was the company they kept, and the experiences they lived.  It was the influences they allowed, and the lessons they never learned.  It was the thoughts they let in, and the beliefs they came to hold as theirs.

It was the home they grew up in, they life they’ve lived.

Because we are our circumstances – when we know of nothing better.

And so the reality is, that the home you now live in is very likely the same as the home your parents grew up in.  Not much different.  Not much better.

The cycle’s continued.

Most parents, then, are simply broken people from broken homes, who now use their broken minds to make your broken home.

They are not that person you want.  They are not perfect.

They are not your ideal Mom or Dad, and cannot be so, as they are now.

And what’s so difficult to accept is that they will never become the person you would like them to be become simply because you would like them to become it.  Because no person can change for another, nor force that change, or will that change for another.

They themselves have to change themselves.  They have to want it.

And when someone doesn’t want to change, or isn’t even willing to admit that something needs to change, then nothing will change.

Cause it’s the messed up people they are that’s created your messed up home as it is now.  And they can’t create a more stable home until they create their more stable selves.

Your desires do nothing.  Your wants fix nothing.  And in that unrealistic hope that they will somehow wake up different tomorrow is the sadness you now feel about them, and the anger you still hold against them.

The sum of your pain is the difference between your reality and your expectations. (CLICK TO TWEET THIS)

Or, as I said in my previous post on birth parents, “If you expect more than one can give, you will surely receive less than what you hoped.”

And it will hurt.  And you will be bitter.  And you will be resentful.

As you are now.

Because you just wish they could be good to you, and loving to you.  You just wish they could be Mom and Dad.

But you have to realize…

…that though every child wants a perfect home, our paths in life are simply different.  They just are.  And your path has been as it’s been.  It is what it is.  And it wasn’t your choice to make.

Not all people are meant to be parents, just like not all people are meant to be mathematicians, or whatever else.

And though parenting is much harder than math, and way more complex than math – though it’s in fact the hardest job in the world – it is also (by some horrible reality) the easiest job to get.  Assuming you can get laid, that is.

Yet despite how hard it is, and difficult it is, and strenuous it is, nearly every person will accept that job at some point in their life.  No résumé necessary.  No qualifications needed.

No wonder, then, so many people are messed up, fucked up.

Cause does the fact that one’s able to make a child ever qualify them to raise one?

Could anything, really, suddenly qualify them?

The answer, of course, is no.

Yet for some reason we expect it of them anyway.  We expect them to provide a stable home and promising future; to care, and support, and love.  We expect them to suddenly and miraculously be better individuals – more responsible and mature, more deserving of admiration or love.

But why should it be like that?

Why – because they’re your parents?

No fucking way.

It’s stupid.

That a boy managed to talk or push his way into the pants of the girl who would become your mother, does not make him capable of being a Father.  That that girl was able to squeeze you out of her womb and survive, does not make her capable of being a Mother.

That a sperm finds an egg does not change who we are.

The people you call your parents – the ones you look up to and expect the world of, the ones you blame your problems on, and openly or secretly hate – are just two people who drunkenly, accidentally, or stupidly conceived a child when it was, likely, the last thing they should have ever done.

Because they weren’t ready.  Because likely they’d never be ready.

And from that momentary mistake, all your problems and theirs – all that suffering and pain have arisen.

They weren’t thinking about that, though, when they crawled under the sheets.

They weren’t thinking of the challenges they would face; of the difficulty in raising a troubled son or daughter, of how they would treat you when you did right or wrong, or how they would act when they let you down.

They weren’t thinking of how they would face the bad days, when they’ve worked all day, and slaved all day, and there’s a small spat to deal with when they walk through the door, or more bills to pay than they can manage, or decisions to be made under tremendous pressures and stress.

They weren’t thinking that that night would become a lifetime of challenges.

And they weren’t cut out for it.  Most aren’t cut out for it.

They do as they can, though, as best they can.  As best as they their messed up Selves are able and capable.

Or they do nothing at all.

And the broken homes become more numerous.  And the broken children become broken adults.  And the broken adults start more broken homes.

And the cycle continues.

But the unfortunate reality…

…is that these people are no more obligated to provide for you than the law requires.  It is not their duty to make you into the man or woman you want and need to become.  It was not then, is not now, and will never be.

That responsibility is yours and yours alone, and, because of that, their mistakes are not your handicap, their shortcomings not your excuses.

They will not become the parents you want them to be.

So if there are years left to endure in your broken home, then do so with this in mind, and work now to become the change you desire.  Your parents likely will not help.  But in their actions and behaviors, in their mindsets and their beliefs, is the example you need to become the person they never were.

And what was once a source of pain becomes a source of inspiration.

And your broken home becomes everything you need.

But overcoming that broken home means adjusting your expectations, and coming to terms with the parents you’ve grown to hate.

Because look what your expectations have given you.

You took these people who birthed you, and made into them false heroes to look up to.  They didn’t ask this, of course, and likely didn’t deserve it.  And when they couldn’t provide the life you expected, you transformed that disappointment and letdown into the anger and resentment you now feel.

But the world will feel it too, if you don’t realize your mistake.

Your future spouse will feel it.

Your future children will feel it.

And then You perpetuate the cycle.  You become the problem.  You become what you hated the most.

___

Share your thoughts below.  And share the article if you enjoyed it.

About Adam Austyn

Adam is the founder of, and principal contributor to, The Last Broken Home, a site dedicated to the journey from teen depression to self esteem, as well as the effect, nature, and problems of our youth. If you're cool too, follow him on TWITTER and FACEBOOK!

54 Responses to Your Parents Suck (Maybe), and Here’s Why (Definitely)

  1. Jasmine says:

    Iv’e never had another adult express the same feelings and thoughts about my parents before. This writing was eye-opening and at first made me so sick to my stomach with sadness because it is true. I do place responsibility upon my parents for raising me correctly and they way i wanted simply because they are parents. I realize now, that it is not truly all of their fault they fail at parenting but it was their parents as well. A continuous cycle I suppose. I know this is going to sound really depressing but sometimes they make me feels so angered and sad they I do wish I was never conceived. Is that selfish? I don’t want to become my parents and never achieve any goals in life. Then take out my anguish and bad experiences from my childhood on my future kids if I chose to have any. All because of their stupid mistake I’m here and miserable. I’m pretty optimistic, so I know I’m not suffering from depression to badly. It’s there. I choose to overcome it one day at a time though:0 Thanks to this, it helps that I am not alone on this subject. :D

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Damn, thanks so much, Jasmine. Glad you found it when you needed it. Its definitely common to just wish you hadn’t been born when you see the damage they’ve done, or feel like you’ve only ever been a burden to them. Screw that, though. Just keep working on yourself. Just keep working towards becoming the person they never were to you. Like the article says, use em as motivation, not an excuse. Good luck.

  2. Jaydene says:

    Wow. I never thought of it that way. I always just thought that they didn’t understand me because they had no interest to. I didn’t think that they could be this way because of their parents. However, even if I understand their problem my anger refuses to go away. Am i being unfair? I mean, I know that I expect them to be able to make us a family, like the ones we see on the television, and I know that when they don’t I just feel so resentful towards them. Thanks, though, Adam. This was a major eye opener.

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Jaydene, thanks a lot, and you’re totally right being angry. Cause no matter what the reason for them being they way they are or behaving the way they behave there’s still the fact that you’re their kid and they don’t care. But what’s the use of that anger though? If its just to complain and yell and treat them just as horribly and blame them for all your problems, then it has NO use – except to make your situation worse and your self worse. But if that anger with them, or dissatisfaction with them, is used to improve your self instead, and say “I won’t be like them. I won’t let how they’ve raised me be a hindrance to me,” then you’ve learned all you need – and in a strange way its the best lesson they could have given you. Take responsibility then. Use it all as motivation, not excuse.

  3. downfromtheledge says:

    It would be nice if they had all the magic answers and gave us the life we think we deserved, but you’re right: parents are just as lost and confused as the rest of us.

  4. dan santiago says:

    Dear Adam,
    Your post is a wonderful read, which will humble the youth and help them respect their parents more. After all, the youth will always owe its parents. I give thanks that there are people like you concerned about the issues of teen depression.

    But this post deals with only half the problem. It is great advice indeed for the youth to expect less from parents and more from themselves and motivate them to go forward. However, is it wrong to expect to at least not get punched in the face/beaten up everytime a. a child scores less than what parents expect of them in an exam? or b. when parents come home drunk and want something to vent out their anger to? I don’t mean to make a misunderstanding here, because my parents have never done that to me (i love them :D). But what i’m doing here is bringing up the issue of child abuse.

    It would be nice if you can distinguish the line between what is tolerable and what is not. Don’t get me wrong here, i’m not saying the contents of your post are wrong. In fact, it’s very useful to teens suffering depression. However, as much as the youth can lower it’s expectations and begin to slowly accept their parents’ shortcomings, there’s always this line which parents should never cross. If I ever came across a child who is physically/sexually/(whatever other form) abused, I wouldn’t tell him to lower his expectations and accept the fact that their parents are doing that to them. I’d tell them to phone authorities. Not to disrespect parents out there though, but seeing as we are dealing with teenage depression (and child abuse is a possible source of it) I feel the need to stress that there are times when protesting against these particular wrongdoings that “cross the line” are justifiable.

    Again, and I feel the need to clarify, I am absolutely happy with the advice your post gives the youth, and I would never in any way disrespect/demean you, your post, and your wonderful cause. My comments simply intend help whosoever it may be helpful to.

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Wow dude. This comment may be as long as the post, haha.

      No worries though. I’m obviously anti-letting-yourself-get-beat-up. The expectations stuff has to do with the idea that they will change or suddenly be the parent a kid wants. NOT that they should just accept whatever’s done to them, of course.

  5. Billy says:

    I Really Enjoyed this. Thanks.
    May I learn & use this wisdom,
    as fast as the speed of Light!

  6. Anirudh Ramesh says:

    My parents never stopped beating me until I was physically able to defend myself(not hit them back, but hold their hand while beating me – When I was 16). They continuously demoralize me for my achievement – which they call ‘underachievement’ but boast about it to the outsider so that their status is not tarnished.
    I’ve been beaten with a shoe in front of two other family in a tour for no apparent reason(they were angry with something ) and this had left a mark on me which will not heal. I was 4000th rank among 800,000 students and my parents still think I am muck.(within 5000, you can get whatever dept you want for college). Once my results came out , they even spit at my face and told me to go beg and study for college and my father still isn’t paying my tution but my mother is.
    They do understand blah blah is only true in some cases Mr.Adam. My whole childhood has many such incident although I am not even sure you will read more.(It will go for like 20 pages :D). But hey, I think to myself – This is life, and people judge you only by you and I try to achieve more success in the future.

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Wow, dude. Sounds like you have a pretty good attitude about some pretty shitty treatment of you. Keep killing it in school. And do it for You.

  7. Austin says:

    hell yeah! my parents are walking angery zombies with terrible anxiety issues, so i guess i just need to accept that they have no fucking idea either, hmm now im going to go live my life

  8. anon says:

    Real neat article, thanks! Also, do you always say dude?

  9. alex says:

    Nice article, i was shaken a lot as a child and hit in my sleep for not saying hello to my mother boyfriend, havn,t seen her for six years but she has flowen from nz to uk were im living , will see her tomrrow and tell her she was a bad parent , but will woek on myself , expecatations. Thanks

  10. Aziza says:

    If we are honest, most people are mentally limited, emotionally crippled, psychologically weak and have very little forthought. They just should not breed or parent – the only reason it’s accepted is because ‘everyone does it’. Would it really be so terrible if 90% of the people born to shitty, dull lives with no prospect of serious growth had never been born?

    I am not an anti-natalist in principle, but given the sheer amount of worthless toolbags in the human race I can see a good argument for it. Shitty people (i.e., most people) are not capable of raising good children, and they should be castigated when they do breed irresponsibly.

  11. gayathri says:

    really a very nice article.. :)

  12. Matt Jones says:

    Good stuff. The problem arises when parents really cross the line and it’s not bad parents, but abysmal parents. EVIL parents for lack of any better description – parents that unconsciously turn their children into THEIR OWN NEGLECTFUL PARENTS! Parents that openly show their children pornographic material, raise them in utter filth on all levels. Not clear how to recover from THIS. The thing is, You EXPECT some extremely minimal degree of caring. Not Donna Reed – Family Affair ridiculous, but SOMETHING! SOME KIND OF SHRED OF CARING! NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK, SOMETHING! To not even get THAT is a cold fucking shot. It really is. What it does is annihilate your sense of self, you think that you’re entitled to some minimal degree of comfort on planet Earth. Maybe not.

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Yeah definitely. But unfortunately that’s not the world we live in, and some aren’t even given that minimal degree of comfort. And when that’s the case – and so long as they weren’t pushed off the ledge into complete insanity – what else can they do but look towards themselves for that comfort? I dunno. It’s tough.

  13. Brett says:

    This is a wonderful article. I really hope to God that I will never become emotionally abusive like my parents. I’ve researched emotional abuse for a month resulting in hatred towards my parents and what they have done to me. With this article, I’m changing my attitude. I understand I need to use my parents so I can be a better person myself.

  14. Clarence Trebron says:

    A deeper problem of bad parenting is that you often aren’t allowed to fix it or are stigmatized for trying. Clearly, analysis and therapy are extremely helpful in unlearning the coping skills the survivors had to adopt to make it through. As so often happens, those coping skills don’t serve us as well and hold us back later in life. The catch 22 is that the business world holds a HUGE stigma against people who answer affirmatively on a job application, that they’ve ever undergone counseling, therapy, or coaching. You can lie about it, but if you claimed it on health insurance that secret will not be secret for long. One can argue that the toughness, resilience, and grit built up to survive bad parenting can serve some of these people well later in life, but others are going to need help. I wonder how much bad parenting explains the growing economic divide between the haves and the havenots?

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Yeah that’d be interesting to find out, but one of those things that just can’t be found out, as it’s just one very large variable in a very complex question. But there’s no doubt that the better home you come from, the more likely you are to have the tools to succeed.

  15. Johnny 2 says:

    I don’t really have anyone to talk to about my parents so I figured I’d post this here. I’m 16, closer to 17 then 16, and I’m fucking up. My grades are awful, I started some summer school program and was going strong for like a week before I said “fuck it”. The worst part about it is I cannot make myself care. Now, I know I’m smart or was smart, until the end of 7th grade I was getting straight A’s. Then my Dad left, he moved out to Mexico because he’s selfish I guess and couldn’t get along with my Mom. So I’ve been thinking about what happened around the time my Dad left and a little after coincides with my very first F ever, and my older brother’s start of drug use that he eventually got arrested for. After my Dad left my Mom became very depressed and for a little more than a year she would do nothing at home but lay in her bed and feed us dinner. She didn’t care at all about my dropping grades, and when she found out about my brother’s drug use she didn’t do anything. My Dad found out about all this shit that me and my brother had been doing and blamed my Mom, which only seemed to worsen her depression.

    I lost any respect I had for my Dad after he’d been gone for about a year, and the worst thing is is that he still pretends to love us, maybe he does. He’ll visit every two months for just a few days and then leave. He’ll call us every few days and have painfully awkward conversations with us. But he doesn’t care about us enough to live within a hundred miles of us, because apparently his job is more important then his kids.

    And then, recently, I lost all respect for my Mom. I found out a guy she started dating was still married and seeing her behind his wife’s back. She knew about this when she started seeing him and didn’t care. What’s worse though is she’ll go out all day with him, come home, feed us, and then leave again. She doesn’t seem to care about us, because as long as she’s happy her kids must be happy. And she tries so hard to be my friend. I don’t need a friend, I need some type of authority figure that I can respect. I don’t know what to do, my older brother didnt graduate high school and I seem to be on the same track, because every time I try to fix my school work my Mom doesn’t seem to want to help. If nobody cares if I succeed why should I? I know that’s a dumb question, I should want to succeed because it’s my future, but if everyone around me is so apathetic towards my school work and happiness that I lose any and all motivation to change anything.

    I’ve been trying to get a job, because I want to do something productive with my days, and my mom’s like “Go get one.” I’ve never had a job before, I wouldn’t even know how to go about getting one, and she won’t help like always. She doesn’t care either, she’s just as bad as my dad, maybe worse even, because she tells herself she does care.

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Dude I wanna respond but not here. If the email you used to post this is actually your email, then lemme know. If not then go to the contact page and paste this comment there with your actual email and we can talk there.

  16. Arlene Schag says:

    What does it mean when your mom tells you to just die and get it over with??

  17. Anon says:

    but what a bout all those people kicking my ass who had good parents? so now I’m forced to suck for the rest of my life because I’ll never be as A+ as they are (and of course they get to throw stones at me). What am I supposed to do about that?

    I already realized this growing up, its why I decided never to be a breeder. But that alone can’t get me to the top.

  18. obapplepie says:

    I like this article because I think that it’s important to understand and empathize that our parents are just as screwed up as any other person. also generally they make a ton of sacrifices for us that we may not recognize, and as screwed up imperfect humans nobody is ‘qualified’ to be parents. Empathizing with how they are who they are has really helped me. that doesn’t mean that i don’t see how who they were as parents shaped me, i just try and remind myself that i make my own choices and that it’s not THEIR fault i am who i am, i decide how i am influenced by their behavior. every body handles trauma differently. one of the big things that I don’t agree with though is that assholes shouldn’t have kids… we are all pretty much selfish assholes in one way or another… so stupid irresponsible people not having kids pretty much means that all the people I love wouldn’t exist. my sister had a horribly abusive husband, as much as in the past I may have wished he had never been born, that would also mean my nephews wouldn’t have been born and having them I’m my life kept me from suicide when my depression was at its worst. so I can thank that horrible person for his sperm and my life and if I wasn’t alive my inlaws would be dead… everything is so intertwined. I don’t see human beings as disposable. I’m sure someone out there is so freaking glad you are alive and thanks the irresponsible dicks that squished you into being for not using a condom.

  19. Gaz says:

    I have always had troubles with my parents, and honestly I think this article puts into perspective just what I need to do. They both came from broken homes and they tried their best to give me a better (but not ideal) childhood than theirs which I am grateful for.

    I now realize this is as good as it will get for them, that I need to carry the torch of progress and force myself to leave them behind. I have always done what I think would make them happy but now it is time to do what I needs to be done in order to make myself and future generations happy. Thank you for the eye opening article and inspiring me to get out of this rut in my life and move forward.

  20. Alex says:

    I wish every single teenager would read this. How do we make that happen.

  21. Meghan says:

    This is a great article, although a little uncomfortable to read, I must admit. I was emotionally and physically abused by my mother and older sister, and my dad went to prison when I was 3 years old for rape (not anybody I knew, I heard it was some 10 year old girl). I’ve never met him and he’s still in prison. I was depressed, abusing alcohol, and cutting myself all through my teens and wound up in a mental hospital for a botched suicide attempt before senior year of high school. During that time, I really hated myself a lot-but once I got into therapy and learned that no, everything that happened to me was NOT all my fault, my tendency to turn my anger inward turned into outward anger at my beyond shitty parents. I got too comfortable in the “victim” mentality. I’m still working on transforming out of it, and into a more responsible and productive mindset. I believe you truly grow up when you stop blaming your parents for everything, and accept that as an adult you have a choice to perpetuate the cycle or not. And even though I endured some really tough things, I know now that anger and resentment aren’t very useful emotions. For anyone reading this, it is OK to be upset about what happened to you. Just don’t let those feelings dictate how you live your life, or you’ll end up miserable.

  22. Dani says:

    I came across this post because I am an adult “child” with a 14 yr old and 18 yr old brother and sister. They are going through similar problems, and I try to explain to them all the time that our parents won’t just change because we want them to. Our parents will probably never admit to some of the things they’ve said or done that was basically not right; things like being discouragers instead of encouraging, the constant yelling and over-punishment. My brother is 18 and i do feel he is constantly picked on, however he doesn’t get the fact that saying things like “i wish this family was more like a normal family” or “my friends parents aren’t like this” does not fix his situation, nor does it address that he does even know what TRULY goes on in the homes of other families? We can only see what we are allowed to see. My parents don’t do half of the “bad” things in public as they do behind closed doors.

    It’s hard though to tell a young impressionable teenager that they need to change their reaction to things. Because to me being a teen is pretty much all ABOUT reacting. Various situations happen and the knee jerk reaction is usually not about what the mature or responsible thing to do is. Thank GOD for the internet. In 1996-99 when i needed this advice (I am 32 now) I didn’t have it. I ran away, tried to write THE LETTER OF ALL LETTERS to try to make my mom see just why I was insecure, anxious, showing signs of depression, falling in with the wrong crowd, etc. And instead of her responding favorably she turned it all on it’s head, saying things that showed she did NOT get what I was talking about at all, and wasn’t the least bit interested in changing her behavior. I wrote numerous of these LETTERS for the next 10 plus years until i realized, the one who had to change was ME. I also have adult siblings who are 36, 34 and 30, and we each ended up kind of damaged because of our upbringing, and yet I still sometimes have to make those sort of “you can’t make people be who you want them to be” conversations. The ones of us who finally figured it out, are a bit more at peace, the others, still repeating the cycle.

    I am a mom myself now, and I try all the time to be a better mom and a better parent so my little girl will grow up feeling like she had a mom who was demonstrating how a good person acts. It’s hard, I can not lie. But I am doing my best. I also wanted to add that I was just telling my daughter about how adults do not admit things, such as when they do things wrong. She’d committed some minor offense that would have earned me a wallop and a week of grounding (even though I barely could go anywhere as a kid anyway and wallops were child’s play in my mom’s home, in other words the punishments never ever fit the crimes) and I basically admitted, straight out that sometimes, even as a grown up mommy, I STILL do that thing that I was going to discipline her about, so instead it would be better to ADMIT this, and let her know that some things are hard to remember and put into practice. I mean its human nature. I am a bit messy. My daughter is a bit messy. So how can I yell at her for being something I STILL am??? Or lets say with my mom who is a neat freak NOW but wasn’t BEFORE, how can she berate me (or my younger siblings now) when she knows she forgets or forgot to clean the kitchen perfectly, or do laundry or whatever mundane human task (insert here)? It’s just a cycle of teaching kids things we don’t even adhere to that drives me to crazy town.

    I also want to say that there is this push for perfection. Be the perfect wife, husband, mom, dad, child, worker, etc. Perfection is very hard to achieve. Even when you try to do all the right things, something wrong pops up in its place. So it’s constant damage control because perfection is an illusion (just like my brother assumes these other “normal” families are perfect). Once we accept that our parents are not perfect, depending on the situation you can have a bit more peace with them, choose the appropriate reactions, and live a bit calmer. Even in the face of a supernova of parental yelling or dysfunction, you can know that THIS IS WHO THEY ARE, and keep your mind focused on doing what you can do to avoid as many issues as we can.

    So all that to say, this was an EXCELLENT and on time article. I started to share it with my 14 year old sister, and I am going to share it with my brother, but honestly as a parent myself, it helped ME. My parents were NOT the best, and I need to follow their lead on what NOT to do, and how NOT to be. Thank you :)

  23. nique says:

    Eventually I came to a point where I stopped having expectations. I Stopped thinking that maybe I would get a call just to say hello, or to remember my birthday. I stopped hoping for a change, a realization that they were abusive and damaging… a hope for a relationship that if not exactly healthy was at least not hurtful. Yet the young inner child would still feel hurt even though the expectations were gone.

    Letting go expectations eventually allowed me to see past my own hurts to see those they carried from their own childhoods. It didnt mean I suddenly ran to them with open arms but it did allow for me to let a lot go. It allowed me to drop my protective walls and form healthy relationships with others. Broken hearted inner child has begun to heal.

  24. Delilah says:

    I have found the book “Toxic Parents” by Dr. Susan Forward to be life-changing to say the very least. I very highly recommend it to everybody who was abused and abandoned like I was. In the book, it clearly helps you learn how to break the cycle in order to stop the destructive patterns of abuse along with learning how to let go and move on. It also teaches how to establish boundaries with those who abuse you. I just bought the book “Mothers, Who Can’t Love” also by Dr. Susan Forward and plan on reading that too. I realize that I am NOT the only one on this planet that went through this severe suffering and pain and grew up broken-hearted and broken spirited abandoned by both birth parents. Needless to say, I don’t much of a relationship with any of my “Association of DNA.”

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Cool recommendation, Delilah. I’ll add it to my to-read list, though the list is a book itself right now haha.

  25. Aly says:

    I was abused as a child. I think my mom found pleasure in beating my face, kicking my back, and throwing me down the stairs and banging my head against the walls. I hate her fucking guts. I care nothing for her. I don’t respect her. I felt guilty for not doing so simply because she is my mother. But fuck that. My life’s goal is to be better mother than she ever was to me.

    and let’s not talk about my dad who left when I was 2 years old and called me a sick whore when I was 24 years old because I tried to have an adult -adult conversation with him.

    My parents don’t think they are wrong. They think other people are crazy and liars but they are the righteous.

    fuck them.

  26. Brynda says:

    I was with you up until this point-
    “They do as they can, though, as best they can. As best as they their messed up Selves are able and capable.”
    Truth is they arent always capable. Sometime people just breed mindlessly, like animals and cockroaches.
    “…is that these people are no more obligated to provide for you than the law requires.”
    Some parents don’t provide even that, and if they do, resent it. I cant tell you how many times I was told “You’re lucky to have something to eat”. What, isnt feeding the children you brought into the world an obligation?

    This is why I decided not to have any children. I didnt want any kids of mine to live through what I had to and believe me, I am still plenty angry. I think I did the children I didnt have a big favor.

  27. Xepia says:

    Let’s face it. Lots of people have kids for selfish or stupid reasons–and then fail as parents. And instead of people calling them out on it, society just gives them a pat on the back for “stepping up to the plate” of parenthood and giving it a try.

    I came from an extremely emotionally and mentally abusive “home”. My mother is a manipulative, controlling sociopath and my father was an alcoholic with aspergers. She had me to manipulate him and keep him on the hook, and he resented every minute of my life. I never got so much as a hug as a kid. What I did get was constant criticism, belittling, and verbal abuse. Everything I did was monitored and controlled. The day after I graduated highschool I told them to fuck off. And I’ve never looked back.

  28. tabitha says:

    This was a major eye opener. I’ve resented by parents for a long time now, especially my mother who is the one I live with. The thing that got me is that she had a great life, and she even says how perfect her parents were. But my sister and I have always known her as an insane, and awful mother, for the most part. Funny thing is that she thinks she’s the best. Either way, this helped me in a lot of ways because I never did quite look at it this way, and this has inspired me a lot. Thank you.

  29. Mili says:

    I was touched by all the comments..some even made me cry. I know.everyone have problems but I strongly believe parents should never take it out on their offsprings. I pretty much am the smart one who cooks,cleans, wash and is told everyday to get out because I still talk to my abusive father who is allegedly trying to kill my mom. I would love to live wiith him bt his apartment is too small..My mom was gone for yeas and comes back to kick my dad who stayed us out. She plays favoritism..kicked me out because I went to caye with my dad-to
    he cops and run me over with her car. I tried the letters..the meetings but i realize ahe will never change. She tells people she will be sending me to law school then says to my face that will nevwr happen so i gave up on her support. My dad seems crazy but he takes his time out to talk to me and tries to pay for my school. My mother hasnt called for months only once because she thinks i stole something from her favorite offspring. I am the youngest yet treated like shit. Everyday I have outburst crying and wondering why my mother doeant love me.

  30. Ashlei says:

    This article was incredible. Exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for writing this.

  31. Torn to pieces says:

    Reading this brought several different emotions out for me. I felt sad and angry and validated as the child of truly screwed up parents. I also felt offended and saddened but mostly extreme guilt, as the mom of three. I search some random words in a desperate attempt to make sense of what I’m dealing with as a parent. For the past 7 years I’ve been dealing with challenging teen years. I am aware that the issues started years before my oldest reached age 15. I am aware of the endless mistakes I made, even as I made them, yet I seemed to always find ways to make more and more. By the time my oldest two were in the teen years, my back was against the wall trying to work and go to school (a tough decision I had to make knowing I would be less available while knowing I had to be able to support us) and protect my youngest child who was still in elementary school.

    I KNOW I didn’t show a lot of love to them in those years because I was an angry, bitter, overworked, tired, sad and guilt ridden zombie that rarely wanted to wake up the next day. I kept going with the hope of a better life as the result of getting an education, going to counseling (which ended up having little effect on anyone) and being there. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I could go back I would do so many things differently. But at the time, EVERY single decision I made was for my family. I realize how crazy that may seem knowing how things turned out and all that we went through, but in my heart were the best of intentions.

    I now have an almost 22 yr old brilliant son who is not functioning in society whatsoever, has addiction and depression issues, as well as legal issues; a 20 yr old daughter who is fairing much better now, but was in an abusive relationship for 2 yrs with a much older guy, and while she is doing better now, still struggles with the scars of childhood; and the baby… She is now 15. She is depressed, confused, anxious, and my heart is breaking every day because she hates me.
    Through all of the turmoil, my goal included a better life. It wasn’t fair to ask for them to sacrifice for all that I wanted to do. Boy did they sacrifice. She reminds me often about how she never had a childhood. How I expect too much of her. I make her do things she doesn’t want to. I don’t know how to let go of the dream of a better life. One where she is able to go to school and function. I don’t demand straight A’s. I will settle for decent attendance, and turn in your work. I would settle for having an interest, any interest. Anything other than skyping with a long distance boyfriend all hours of the day. Some balance. I don’t know how to nurture that without her feeling as if I’m forcing her to so something or expecting too much. If I let go and let her drop out and do nothing all day I will forever blame myself when she doesn’t function as an adult. I’m living this already. I look at what she has, what I provide and what is available to her. I cannot believe how much she hates me for what I do.
    I often just want to give up. I am lost. Confused. No idea what to do next. My instincts tell me to stay firm, my physically ill body and depressed mind tells me to let her go. Let her move in with the boyfriend. Let her make her own mistakes. Maybe I’ll be surprised and she will make good choices. Then reality comes back, then I know I cannot let that happen. I know now that no matter what I do, she will blame me for everything I ever did and how horrible I made life. And I will always blame myself for every mistake, failure and shortcoming until the day I die. But while I am still breathing I cannot just let go and watch my baby suffer the consequences of dropping out and giving up. Probably because that is what my mother did. And how I suffered. Or did I?
    I am supposed to be a grown up, and I can’t figure it out.
    If you read through this I thank you. And I apologize, I’m sure I wandered around a little. Maybe this will help someone out there, thinking that helps me feel like much less of a failure.
    Torn to pieces recently posted…You Won’t Be Proud of Who You Were

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