My Teenage Son’s Point of View ~ Unintentional Teachings from his Father


TJB Freedom

Carla’s last post “Unintentional but Destructive ~Belief  System Inheritance” caused a bit of a stir on Carla’s personal profile page on facebook last week. Someone on her friends list took offence to her post and accused Carla of devaluing her father and being hurtful. My son is good friends with Carla and he stood up for her and for the right to state the truth by writing the following comment on Carla’s wall. He has given me permission to post it in our blog to give our readers another perspective from someone who has been through what Carla is posting about. He shares about what it was like for him to have absorbed his own father’s belief system, and then what happened when his father got help. My son is 18 and is usually quiet when it comes to how he was raised before our family Emerged from Broken. ~ Here is the comment:

TJB wrote: “I agree with the person who wrote ‘If you don’t like it, don’t read it’. We live in a free country, we aren’t Communists; we can post and say whatever we want (as long as it doesn’t break the law, hate crimes and such). Carla is only stating her opinion, much the same as you are stating your opinion saying that she shouldn’t be writing such things. I don’t understand what is so horrible in stating the faults that one grew up with?

Off the top of my head I can list multiple things that my dad fell short in: he worked too hard and expected me to do the same, he put pressure on me to be better than him the first time I did something, he told me to do things without communicating where or how he wanted them done and then gave me heck for doing it different than the way he wanted it done, and he unintentionally made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him or as good as him.

I started working on the farm from a very very young age and because of this I picked up many of the bad qualities / feeling / opinions that my father possessed. He unintentionally transferred his opinions about himself on to me, he unintentionally transferred his opinions about certain types of people on to me, and he unintentionally gave me a false belief system about myself. Since he thought he wasn’t good enough I automatically thought I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t as good as him at anything, which is obviously understandable considering it’s hard for a 4-8 year old to do things better than or even as good as his father. The only thing I was good at that he wasn’t was crawling inside machinery to take apart and fix parts that he was too big to get at but that was only because of my size not because I was actually better than him.

Many of these beliefs and habits carried on into my teenage life until my father got help and realized that the things he was doing to me were so very wrong and he started to correct the shortfalls and teach me that what he had unintentionally taught me as a child was wrong. Now you may be sitting there thinking I just tore a strip off my Father, threw him out to dry, insulted him beyond belief, and that I devalued him. That couldn’t be farther from the truth- all I did was state the short falls that my father had, just like I could state the shortfalls of my favorite band, or my favorite movie. Everything has shortfalls and nothings perfect. Just because you state shortfalls doesn’t mean that you’re devaluing something.

Despite my father’s shortfalls I love him very much and I look up to him as he has the most respect from me than any other man in my life. Since this comment is public and my father is friends with Carla he could possibly read this (I guarantee he will not take anything I have written as insulting or devaluing) just the same as Carla’s father can read her public blog. I in no way insulted or devalued my dad, just like Carla didn’t insult her father. We both simply stated the things our fathers lacked in and how they were transferred to us. I don’t believe it’s hurtful to state things like these, it’s just stating the truth. It happened and we learned from it. No matter what, parents transfer things to their children; good, bad, funny, it doesn’t matter- it gets passed on.” TJB

My husband (Jimmy B) did read TJB’s comment and wrote one of his own on Carla’s facebook page in response, affirming all that TJ has said. Jimmy also commented on my last post “Anger at Parents~ A pathway on the journey to freedom” here in the blog where you can read a bit more from the father’s perspective.

As always, your comments are welcome,

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family



I’ve been going through this kind of stuff recently. It’s only in stepping back a litle that I can see belief systems that have been inherritted from my parents and were not helpful.

It’s only just this weekend that I realized how some things had been inherritted/transmitted and so were learnt by me as how to exist in the world. It was a bit of a shock to me and comes after doing lots of work to remove these unhelpful beliefs.

Now I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help my parents (who are still alive) to work on some of these destructive beliefs.


I love this post, it is very insightful, honest, respectful and full of love. Many lessons are embedded within your words, one of which is that we are impacted by the adults in our life and that we each have the ability to awaken and make changes that again impact us in profound ways. Thanks for sharing this as it is very important.


I was part of that discussion and read TJB’s comment and agreed with everything he said and then read his dad’s comment too. This is what the view of a family in recovery looks like. It is awesome to see the next generation speaking out about the healing of their issues.

The person that I and TJB responded to is a good example of someone in a dysfunctional family system being in denial and fighting for the family system to stay as it was rather than changing as Carla is doing with her own life. Change, even good change, is frightening to a person in a dysfunctional family system.

Carla, it is great that you have such a great support system of close friends in Darlene and her family. I sent out letters to all of my dad’s brothers and sisters,11 in all,telling them about the incest when I was in counseling and 12-Step programs for about 3-4 years. Only the 4 youngest members responded. Three of the four were supporting my right to not have my dad in my life and expressed sorrow that he would do should a thing to his own daughter. The fourth one wanted to know why my mother did nothing to prevent it. This aunt also expressed that my dad had made a pass at her when she was in high school and she and her mother discussed the possibility that my dad might be sexual abusing me and my sister. She or her mother never asked.

I sent this same letter to my younger brother and sister. My sister responded and we talk about the effects of incest on both of our lives openly. My brother has never mentioned the letter or its content.

My husband, my son, my daughter, my sister, my sister-in-law, one of my nieces, my mother-in-law, and two of my aunts from my dad’s family all read my blog. My mother-in-law doesn’t have a computer so I occasionally print out my blog articles and give them to her. She and I recently spent the day together and we talked about my incest experiences. All of the above people are very supportive of my recovery. All of them like the person that I have become through my recovery efforts much better than the sad, angry person that I used to be. Most of my dad’s family still lives in the dysfunctional family system that we all grew up in. Alcoholism is still also very active in much of that part of my family.


Hi Mike,
It is amazing when we realize that these beliefs helped us to survive, isn’t it? Like you say here, I too have found that I can work to remove them, and replace them with the truth, once I know they are there. There are a few steps to the process hey?
It is cool to see you thinking about helping your parents with it now. There are a lot of parents of adult children reading this blog and realizing how some of their beliefs formed and how they too passed them on to their children. Maybe you can use this blog as a starting point of conversation with them? Just a thought.
Thanks for coming over and leaving a comment!


Hi Mark!
Thanks for your kind comments. My son blushed when I asked if I could post his words on the blog here, it means a lot to have him affirmed as you have done. =) Also, for the reminder that we each have the ability to awake and make the changes that we need to make in ourselves. Yes!

~Patricia, Thank you as always for your contribution on EFB. It was not my intenetion to get into the family recovery stuff this quickly but it happened! Our family certainly had a big process to go through (and still go through) when I began to recover from DID and major depressions.


Patricia, your comment was a huge encouragment to me today. Thank you for all you have shared. I agree- I am very blessed to know Darlene and her family as my friends and support. TJ is pretty awesome and I’m proud to say he’s my friend. 🙂


These beliefs didn’t help me to survive; they were just one set that I picked up unknowingly thinking that this was ‘normal’.

As for ‘truth’ I don’t think such a thing exists in isolation from me or anyone else.

As for parents, maybe all I can do is live an alternative and show that it works. Their beliefs have roots and reasons and whilst they may not be ideal in my eyes they server a purpose and it’s not my job to tell them how to live their lives.


Mike, I like your last comment. Saying any one person’s way of doing something is “wrong” is no different then them telling you your way is “wrong”. People find different ways of doing things for different reasons. We can assume all we want but we really don’t know the ins and outs of others’ family dynamics and relationships. I can see why someone would think that things written on this blog put others down. It is a very public way to work through your issues and while I do agree that we need to be open and honest in our relationships I don’t know how I would feel analyzing my family members on such a public forum. If this person knew your father I can see why he or she would be defensive. As I said, to each their own.
For those of us not so well versed in the particular terms used by this way of thinking, what exactly is the “dysfunctional family system” and the alternative?


Hey Maryanna, I think it’s totally healthy and beneficial to examine someone’s actions and consider whether you think they were wrong or could have been done better (otherwise, we would all still be living in caves!:)) Especially when people’s mental health is at stake- I know it wouldn’t have helped me at all to just accept the belief system that was handed down to me from my family as okay. And though it may seem like I’m putting my Dad down in my posts, I’m actually just exposing the faulty beliefs that robbed both of us of a healthy self-esteem and full life (until now!…) I know that’s Darlene purpose too. We have found freedom and we are writing about the process we had to go through to find it.


Carla is telling her story and she has the right to do that. She isn’t trying to hurt her dad. She isn’t saying that he is wrong or that he is a bad person. She is saying that she was hurt by his beliefs about himself. As small children we learn to imitate our parents’ actions and we take on their belief systems and make them our own. That is what Carla is saying in these articles.

Carla isn’t judging her dad. She is stating that this is what she learned from her childhood. By watching her dad devalue himself, she learned to devalue herself. By giving herself value, she is teaching others (through example and through her sharing of these articles)to learn to value themselves. Maybe Carla’s dad can even learn from Carla that he also has value and that he deserves to be loved for who he is. When you believe in yourself, you teach others to believe in themselves. This was missing from Carla’s childhood.

Many of us, including me, are choosing to go “public” with our journey to recovery to help others who may not have the resources and the support that we do. I am choosing to talk about incest on my blog, not to blame anyone, but as an example to other survivors that there is hope and wellness in the world. When I started my journey through incest, I felt so alone and so much a victim of my circumstances. I want others to know that it not the case. Nobody has to take this journey alone or remain a helpless victim.

Carla, I applaud your courage in sharing your journey so that others may also heal. I am sad that some people don’t like what you have said. Usually that means they are in some form of denial about their own issues. Please don’t attack Carla for what I have said in this comment and the next comment that I am going to leave about dysfunctional family systems.


MaryAnna, This is just a small definition of dysfunctional family system. There are whole books written about this. I am not saying that all families have these dysfunctions. I am not saying this is all true of Carla’s family. I don’t know her family. These are generally true in most dysfunctional families.

In dysfunctional families, the individual members don’t talk about what’s wrong or missing from the family system. They don’t usually love themselves. There are secrets that everybody knows but nobody talks about. In my family that secret was alcoholism. Another secret that some of my family members either knew about or suspected was incest. Everybody knows not to talk to outsiders about what is really going on inside the family. (Carla broke this one big time by choosing to share her experiences on her blog. This is why some people are upset with her.) Everybody is afraid of change. Nobody feels supported by the other members of the family. There are sometimes unexpressed, unfelt emotions. There is usually underlying stress. There is sometimes loneliness even when the family is together in the same room because nobody feels connected to each other.

Each member is assigned a role to play in the family. Some of these roles are family hero (This was one of my many roles in my family.),scapegoat, family maintainer, peacemaker, the invisible child and others. Everyone is fearful without knowing why. Sometimes, as in my case, the fear is so deep that I didn’t even realize until I was 19 years old that I lived in daily fear for my life and my sanity. I didn’t recognize the fear because it was constantly, always there in the fabric of my life. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t fearful.

In my dysfunctional family, my dad was a dictator of what we did, what we thought, how we acted. He dictated through his rage. Not all dysfunctional families are this extreme. Some are. Some are not. Some families are so disconnected from their feelings that nothing seems to be wrong on the surface.

These are just a few of the symptoms of living in a dysfunctional family system. The family system is more important than any of its individual members. Nobody is supposed to become a separate individual as they are expected to do in a healthy family system. There is no separation in a dysfunctional family system. Everyone is so emeshed that there are no healthy boundaries. I used walls to keep you out and to keep me protected.

If you want to know anything else about dysfunctional family systems read any of the many books on Codependency that are on the market. MaryAnna, I hope that I have sufficiently answered your question. If you want to see how I have broken the “don’t talk” rule, follow me to my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com . I welcome your comments.


Thanks for this wonderful comment; this is just what I wanted to write but you said it better. I was actually considering writing a whole post about what you just wrote here! I really appreciate your comments and your understanding of the healing process.
Hugs, Darlene


Note to readers:

Patricia has expanded her comment about dysfunctional family systems on her own blog at Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2010/04/dysfunctional-family-systems.html and I encourage you to have a look. This is a very informative article, well worth the read.

I really appreciate you Patricia for all the work that you are doing in the world of healing.
Hugs, Darlene


Patricia, thank you for expanding on this so amazingly well. You said so many key things, but this one really hits the nail on the head: “The family system is more important than any of its individual members. Nobody is supposed to become a separate individual as they are expected to do in a healthy family system. There is no separation in a dysfunctional family system. Everyone is so enmeshed that there are no healthy boundaries.” We become so afraid to un-enmesh ourselves because we are afraid of being rejected or hurting people’s feelings- these are very real fears and I know them myself. But the real truth is that choosing to live outside of the unhealthy system is the beginning of freedom, the beginning of really living our lives to the full, as we fully deserve, as our true valuable, independent selves. I echo Darlene’s thanks and appreciation Patricia. Hugs to you!


Today we also received the following comment for this post. It was submitted by Kim, who is the sister of the person that TJ wrote his response to on my facebook page. Kim says:

“Patiricia writes: ‘The person that I and TJB responded to is a good example of someone in a dysfunctional family system being in denial and fighting for the family system to stay as it was rather than changing as Carla is doing with her own life. Change, even good change, is frightening to a person in a dysfunctional family system.’

Patricia don’t make comments when you know nothing about the family you are talking about! I will defend my family if you want to attack us like this! I have amazing parents and an amazing family and I am disgusted that you would say something about MY FAMILY when you have no idea who they are! So keep YOUR comments to YOURSELF when you don’t know who or what you are talking about! My brother was just trying to defend our wonderful uncle who has shown us nothing but patience, kindness and happiness everytime we have seen him. Sure were not raised by him, but even short some downfalls as carla would say he is still an amazing man! We realize that she is writing all this to Emerg From Broken and that is wonderful if this is what is helping her and what is helping you Patricia. But Patricia please keep your mouth shut about my family!!!!”


Hi Kim~ You may not realize this, but your brother’s comments on my facebook page were really trying to shut me down and shut me up. Just like Patricia has said in her other comments here, when someone starts talking about the painful “secrets” in a family system, some people freak out. He was attacking me and my plain honesty more than he was defending my Dad. He said I was calling my Dad a “nobody” when I wasn’t at all- if there is anything in the world I’d want for my Dad, it would be for him to know that he is NOT a nobody. And that’s my message to everyone who reads this blog (my Dad included!) I want the other millions of people out there to know that growing up in this kind of belief system is NOT okay, does not have to “normal”, and is a huge reason why people suffer so much with depression and low self-esteem like I used to.


Patricia. Thank you for your description of the dysfunctional family. I agree with it wholeheartedly. I think the term “dysfunctional family” generally brings up images of divorced parents with children being passed around between parents…step parents…physical abuse…sexual abuse…poverty, etc. I believe a dysfunctional family can look very good on the outside. It’s what goes on “unseen” between the individuals, or what does NOT go on between the individuals within that family that creates dysfunction.


Carla, Darlene, and Still Learning, you are all welcome. I appreciate the work that Carla and Darlene are both doing in their recovery process.


I’m Carla’s Dad and I just want to say that Carla has written the truth about me in her blog. I know that we still have issues to deal with but I think that, as a family, our relationships with each other are moving in the right direction.
Thank you Carla for speaking the truth. I am very proud of you for turning your life around and for helping and encouraging others as well.

Love from Dad.


Kim sent us this reply:

“Hey Carla! I know I have no idea what my brother had said as it is gone now! I was just put off by some lady that has no idea who I am or MY immediate family and that she can judge MY family. If this page is what helps you and all the people on here that is wonderful!”


Still Learning~ thanks so much for sharing these insights… They are so true. The “unseen” things hold a lot of importance in relationships. Hugs to you!

Dad… thank you. I am excited and grateful that as a family, we can move in the right direction, exactly like you say. The fact that you are on board is pretty awesome. Thank you for your encouragement Dad, and for sharing your comment! Big hug to you and I love you very much too.


Mr. Dippel, what a wonderful gift of support and understanding you have just given your daughter Carla. That never happened with my father. He died alone as an active alcoholic whose heart finally gave out from all of the self-inflicted abuse. I always wished for the healing relationship that you seem to have with Carla. Beautiful words of encouragement.


I am thrilled with the way that this post turned out, the comments, the questioning, the things that came out. And to think that I had considered NOT publishing it.

Thank you so much John; you have not only validated Carla, but you have also validated healing and hope and do you realize that you also validated my 18 year old son by writing your comment to Carla. He is not an outspoken young man at all, in fact he is very much like you, and it was hard for him to write that in defense of Carla. My asking him for permission to publish it on the blog was something I know that he didn’t expect to happen.

Thank you to everyone who responded!
Keep sharing! Darlene

Cindy Leigh Wilson
April 23rd, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Dear Darlene and Carla,
I started writing a comment yesterday and it kept growing and growing…I saved it and might post it at some point. I was trying to say too much at one time and what meant the most to me on this particular blog was lost in the ocean of all that I was trying to say! For now I want to simply state what an incredible blessing this particular blog and the comments were to me personally. Briefly, I want to share with you the reasons why.

Darlene, your son is awesome and so mature and insightful. His taking the time to join in and share his experience touched my heart. I have four sons and reading his thoughts were a big help to me.

Also Darlene, please tell Jimmy I wanted to stand up and give him a standing ovation for supporting his son and your blog. Mostly I wanted to shout out a kudos to him for sharing that he sought out counseling. So many men are too afraid to take this step. The more men that are vocal about doing this, the more courage it might give other men to do the same. Getting counseling does not mean you are crazy…on the contrary to me it says that you are healthy enough to know that you want to live the best life you can and are not afraid to ask for support.

I also was even blessed with the comments of disagreement and how they were allowed. Sometimes we need to disagree before we can open ourself up to other people’s ideas. Darlene and Carla, I appreciate your willingness to let the negative be heard along with the good. I know for various reasons this cannot always be allowed, but in this case your wisdom was right on. I believe God was at work on both sides of the discussion. Although the negative comments seemed mean spirited towards Carla and Patricia, a fellow reader, I saw the love in the family for Carla’s dad (their uncle) and was touched by that. Carla, you did great by responding in love as you supported your reasons for the need to speak the truth as you share your experiences. I also appreciated what Patricia shared and learned from what she said.

Lastly, my favorite comment came from your dad, Carla. It was like the climax to a movie when he spoke up. Tears flooded my eyes and my heart did a happy dance of joy. Not only was I so happy to see yet another man have courage to be open, but to have John lovingly validate his daughter was so powerful. His words brought everything together and gave support to Carla’s truthful sharing of her experiences to help others. Friends and family can put their fears aside thinking Carla is out to hurt her father. They can see that progress is being made and that he is proud of her for helping others. On a personal note, John’s comment gives me more hope to think that maybe my father would still love me if I open up to him. John, YOU ROCK!!!

I praise God for giving you guys the passion to reach out and share your journeys. God is blessing what you are doing and affirming the fact that there are so many of us who need the help and encouragement you have to share.

Praying for peace and healing to all of us,
Cindy Leigh

PS. Let me add one more thing: I think all of the men that are posting on this blog “rock” for opening up and sharing. My prayer is that it will encourage other men to feel the freedom and comfort to do the same!!! ~~

Cindy Leigh Wilson
April 23rd, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Wow…even after I edited myself look at the “ocean” I created! I know you have said you don’t mind…but I have got to do better! Urghhhh


Cindy, I love your ocean!!! It is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to articulate all of these things that were going on in your heart and all the good things you saw happening. It is always powerful when someone else sees the good and speaks about it in their own way. I really agree, good was at work on all sides and through everything that happened. Thank you for putting together such a celebratory note Cindy. Hugs to you!


Cindy Leigh!
You make me smile woman! Please feel free to write an ocean! You are marvelous. =) Everyone can benefit from all the comments and the purpose of the blog is for people to benefit!
I told TJB and Jimmy what you wrote, I read your comments out loud to them; thank you for all your wonderful words.
This has been a major record breaking post! 26 comments and several hundred views! Thanks to everyone!
Love Darlene

Renee-A Ressurected Spirit
March 22nd, 2011 at 8:19 am

Patricia and Darlene, I can only hope my familiy can get past the monster under the bed. I’m afraid that when that day happens they will continue to function only on the surface because that is the only way they can. My sister told me I hurt her feelings because I mentioned that she was broken (nothing more)to my brother. When will they ever see that we are capable of being more than the lies of our parents. We all have such hidden strenghts and creative talents that are crying to be revealed! I read your son’s post and cried. He is so brave and so right! Pat to have your family read your blog, amazing! Sadly as I was appologizing to my sister I realized that it was my parents that created the monster that abused us then sat back and watched. I am a gardener to I see what carla was saying and I can see my familiy in that garden. I just can’t beleive the magnitude of distruction those two people did to us. Eleven babies set up tp fail and break, shame, shame on them!


I read this again. The first time I saw it as all about uncovering and sharing and healing. This time I was getting that my son under-valued his self because I under-valued me. As we are very sensitive, I have to moniter my emotional storms, which only works if I’m caring for my needs. So as I was raising my son I would pick up cues from him,quite easily,as to what he needed. Unfortunately we ran into opposition everywhere,example-buildings are often over heated,many people had a problem with him dressed in shorts. So even with therapy,things between us got very bad when he was a teen. The advice and direction we got was lousy. I was baffled,then devastated as he grew angry and frustrated. So the insight that he is suffering from my devaluation is eye-opening. I can see him in that light. He is quite capable and amazingly so socially adept. I would be baffled again when he would make a negative comment about himself. Now looking with new eyes, I can stop twisting myself up over how I’m messing him up because of my illness. Continue to make value statements to him and his wife. Listening and giving praise, while I continue to work my healing. Hope received!


This is great Fai!
Thanks for sharing! My son is 20 now and I see more than ever that the biggest difference we can make is to learn self care; treat ourselves with respect and value and not let others push us around and use our power to empower instead of disempower. My kids had a really great example of what is possible when I took my life back from the blackness of depression and a family that treated me like nothing. My kids saw how hard it was for their father to give up his position on the throne in our home… but they also saw him succeed and now they have examples of equality based relationship. They have equal value ~ we affirm that they have equal value.
Thank you for sharing this!!!
Hugs, Darlene

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