Adult Children and the Skewed Definition of Respect

control freak parents

Let go of the Reins

Why do adult children find it so hard to ignore the opinion of a parent?

When I was pregnant with my third child, my husband and I went over to his parents to tell them our exciting news but my father in law was not excited for us. He was angry. He didn’t say anything positive; in fact he stayed strangely quiet. My mother in law didn’t say too much either but I got the feeling that it had something to do with her husband’s reaction.

The next day, my father in law dropped by to see us and said that his wife had told him that his reaction to our news was not fair to us and that he should apologize. He launched into his “I’m sorry but it’s just that …” and then he proceeded to tell us all his judgements about us having a third child, and why this was such a terrible idea. He didn’t bother to hide his opinion that it was my fault and entirely my decision; as though my husband was a victim of a surprise pregnancy or as though he was not a participant in the event that got me pregnant!  Even though I was 36 years old at the time and both my husband and I were excited about this new child coming and we had never made the decision to stop at two children, we didn’t stand up to my father in law. We pretty much both just sat there and took it. We didn’t say that it was none of his business. It didn’t occur to us that he was actually insinuating that we were not smart enough, mature enough or responsible enough to decide on our own how many children we could or should have and that as always, he was reminding my husband that he should never make a decision without his father’s approval.

The bottom line is that it was not his decision, nor was it his place to give his opinion of why we should stop having children, but at some level we thought it would be disrespectful to go against him. The thing is though, what was our alternative? I was pregnant. We were in a no win situation. We were having a baby with or without his approval. The whole thing just hurt.

So again, why do adult children find it so hard to ignore the opinion of a parent? Why didn’t my husband tell his father to mind his own business about how many babies we were going to have? Why did we just sit there and listen to him go on and on? Why did we let him communicate to us that we were not smart enough to decide on our own how many kids we could or should have? Well for one thing our definition of respect was skewed.

The only reason he didn’t want us to have any more kids was because it interfered with his plans for my husband. My husband was his father’s hired man even though we had our own farm. Having children interfered with my husband’s work hours. So who was it really “best” for if we didn’t have any more kids? It had nothing to do with my husband and I. Growing up, our parents had not empowered us to transition from child to independent adult.  We had rarely been validated in our decisions. We were never approved of and were caught in the spin of always seeking approval; always trying to please. Therefore when we got a lecture about why we should not have another baby, we were well conditioned to accept judgement and reprimand. We have a different definition of respect today and we strive not to pass the old family systems on to our children.

Just another truth I discovered along the journey.

Darlene Ouimet

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Categories : Family



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It is only recently that I have been able to speak up for myself to my father. I do not think it was respect before, more like fear. But because of that I think I was always afraid of speaking up for myself to almost anyone in a position of authority over me. Great post. Thanks.


Yes, Colleen,
you are right, it was fear.. absolutely, and today I know that fear isn’t related to respect at all! Thanks for your Comment.
p.s. I love your blog!


Wow great topic one I have been dealing with, but not necessarily with just my parents but other older adults. In the recent past months I have had to stand up to some of my “Elders” and they didn’t like it to much their idea or philosophy is that they are older and much wiser. Which I agree they are older and they may have more wisdom than I do, but at the same time they don’t have the right to tell me how to think, how to feel, or what to believe.

To me for the older generation to assume that they have a right to walk on top of us just because they are older shows a lack of wisdom all together and often it is for a selfish reason.

I am reminded of King David in the bible. The whole army of Israel feared Goliath but here was this scrawny teenager who stood up to Goliath. Of course not in his own strength. His faith never wavered when he faced Goliath. He knew God on a personal level. David was a shepherd boy and had fought many predators to keep the sheep safe so he knew what God could do.

This just goes to show that wisdom is not hampered by youth or by age. We don’t gain the right to embark our opinions on other people because we are “older” we never gain that right. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes to mind quiet often.

Even Jesus faced riducule of the “religious elders” of his time. Truth is we do have to set boundaries and we do have a right to stand up to people no matter who they are or what age they are. In order for us to properly respect others they have to respect us and the opposite is true ..

We cant demand respect we have to earn it no matter what age we are. One of the things that I often heard as a child is “Do as I say not as I do” this use to rub me wrong. I mean if I had to do as I was told isn’t only right that the one who is commanding or ordering me to do whatever do it as well?

I have had to overcome my fear of disrespecting my parents (yes I feared of being not loyal or being disrespectful, because I do love them and didn’t want to hurt them) but in order for me to live in the truth and in reality sometimes we do have to take a stand.

One of the most ground breaking realizations that I had was when the Lord showed me that it wasn’t my place to die on a cross for my parents sins or for any other older person. In other words I needed to move out of the way and quit taking the blame for what they did or did not do. I needed to let God deal with them whereas I needed to be focused on what I needed to be doing.

It is my actions that I will have to answer for not the actions of my parents or any other person. By not allowing myself to stand up to the wrong I was indeed guilty of it myself.. Any time we don’t stand to what is right what is the truth then we aid and abide the lie/s and the wrongs..

It is easier to be a coward and keep our mouth shut, but in the end it doesn’t change a thing and we don’t live our lives to the fullest when we are walking in the shadows of others.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” My therapist pointed this verse out to me last week. What Paul is saying is with all that we can do try to live as peaceful as we can with others. Meaning we are only responsible for ourselves and our own actions or reactions. Whereas what someone else does or dont do is not for us to take upon ourselves to be responsible for.

Sometimes parents don’t know how to respect their adult children simply because their adult children is still living in a child-like manner. Meaning they don’t realize they have a right to tell mom and dad “I love you but you can butt out now” … this isn’t being rude our parents raise us to be adults then when we act as an adult if they choose not to respect that then that is their decision their choice .. whereas my response to my Mom when she says “I didn’t raise you to be like that” I tell her “Mom I am not a plant that you by miracle grow for I am a human being with my own choices”

Unconditional love includes respect even if we don’t agree .. one thing I have often said to those who oppose my choices is “We can agree to disagree” and I let it be at that.

You see I have faced a lot of fears and intimidation in my life matter of fact me and the cowardly lion have a lot in common LOL but there comes a point that we have to take a stand in order to be who God created us to be not what Mom and Dad thinks we should be. Parents tend to forget that children are a gift on loan from God not property or not an extension to one’s self.. don’t get me wrong I am not coming down on parents though it may sound like I am .. I am just stating truths and no I don’t have the intentions in my heart to hurt my parents but at the same time they can’t walk on top of me ..

There comes a time that the door mat has to become a door ..

Thank you so much for pointing this out and for writing about it. I have been really having to deal with this issue so much in my life like I said though not just from my parents but others as well.. (((HUGS))))


Thank you for this heart warming post!
I love what you have said here, and I laughed out loud a few times too which is always a bonus!

One thing you said, about learning to get over the fear of standing up to your parents (you said you were afraid to disrespect them) because you love them and didn’t want to hurt them, I felt that way too, but I think that as you also said, when we live in truth with our parents (and everyone) that we are showing the greatest love for them and for ourselves. (the key word you use is “truth”.) I love that!
Thanks so much and I am so grateful for your voice on our blog!


Yep, you nailed it. We were never taught that our opinions mattered or that we deserved respect. Without it, we immediately revert back to “bad-child” mode and take their nonsense. We have to teach ourselves, as you have now done, that our decisions are our own, are not subject to ridicule when they conflict with a narcissist’s agenda and to tell such people, especially our parents, that it is, in fact, their behavior that is unacceptable to us and we aren’t going to take it anymore. It’s hard to learn but oh so liberating, isn’t it? Great post!


Healthy parents raise their children to grow up and separate and become individuals with their own ideas and opinions which sometimes will be different from the parents. That is healthy. I did not have healthy parents. If I had not run away from home at 19 (which isn’t healthy either but was the only way that I could get out), I would never have gotten out from under my dad’s rule. He would never have allowed it. He did not want his children to grow up. He was so afraid himself that he had to always be in control of his family members, even my mother. He was a terrified little boy living in a man’s body. He did not know how to let go. Once I was away, he knew he no longer had any control. My younger sister also ran away from home a few years later.

I did a little better in the letting go department with my children. My husband still has problems with trying to tell our grown children what to do. He also grew up in a dysfunctional family. Just yesterday, he was trying to tell our 33-year-old son what to wear. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I tell him that our son is an adult.

When my daughter got pregnant with her first three children (They have 4 children.), I would find myself getting furious. I couldn’t figure out why. Then one day with the 3rd pregnancy, a voice (a very loud voice) in my head said, “You lost her in childbirth in a past lifetime.” The fury was immediately gone. My fury was coming from my fear of losing her to death in childbirth. I shared this with her and she understood too. With the fourth and last pregnancy, I was not furious with her. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. I could fully appreciate the whole experience with her. I had to make amends to her for my unreasonable behavior. If you don’t believe in past lives, that is okay. It works for me.


Cyndi ~
Yes! “hard but oh so liberating!” Thanks for your comment!

Patricia ~
Yes, as you say, “healthy parents raise their children to grow up and become individuals with their own ideas and opinions”, ~ because healthy parents have the self esteem to want that for their kids. My father in law for one thing, didn’t want Jimmy to ever know that he might be smart or independent. That would lesson his ability to control. That is certainly not displaying “health”.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Patricia, and as always I love to have your voice on our blog!

Hugs, Darlene


Actually, since His father was also his boss, his father was already flexible with his son’s time. If he had another boss that wouldn’t happen, when children (adult or not), take advatange of their parents, financially, materially or whatever, it gets old real fast, it shows lack of respect and when people show lack of respect, it’s a sign of immaturity, so having another child, when there is no maturity, is what the father was upset about, and rightfully so. All of you above with these opinions about telling your parents, stay out and all this stuff is a sign of disrespect and immaturity, why don’t you be an adult and try to listen and understand where they are coming from, then remember you will be in their shoes someday.


I am in “thier shoes” now and I don’t do what they did at all.
You have flipped this to the (adult) child being the one who is wrong which is half the problem in the world today. Society always blames the child. Without knowing anyone in this situation, you have covicted and condemed my husband and defended his abusive father. My husband never got paid for the work he did for his father. He was promissed land in payment, but never got it. My husband NEVER took advantage of his parents; it was always the other way around. I find your comments very disrespectful and I am not sure why on earth you would be reading my website if you have this opinion of the way things should be.


I recieved this comment from Suaznne through an email reply so I am posting it here because I think it shows more of the way that society thinks and because I think that thinking and belief system is at the root of the whole problem. I may write a whole blog post about the comments from Suzanne;

Here is what she said.

Suzanne wrote:
“Darlene, According to your previous post, your children were not adults, so
then your not in their shoes yet, there is no perfect parent, but children
of all ages should be respectful to their parents, whether they think they
deserve it or not, that is the best way for everyone to live. If a parent is
abusive to dependent children, we have laws for that. As an adult verbal
abuse can be handled 3 ways, let it go in one ear and out the other or he
can try to talk to them about it, and/or then avoid them, until things
change. If you do not want people responding to your posts, then do not put
your issues out there for the world to see, there is noone out there that is
going to know the whole story of your situation, you just need to do a self
evaluation and figure out what positive things you can do to make your
situation better. Remember your children learn from you on how you handle
things. I was not looking for your site, it popped up, when I was looking
for something else and it was the 3rd one. I wish you and your family the
best, Suzanne”


2 of my children are adults now. All of our children are respected as individuals who are able to make choices for their own lives. We don’t OWN them.

Why “should” children respect abusive paretns? That makes no sense to me. Why on earth is that “the best way to live”??

I have a choice about publishing comments and I chose to publish yours becasue it shows the problem (with the way we have been brainwashed to think) that I am highlighting in my site.

I did a very positive thing to make my situation better: I no longer accept devaluing and disrespectful treatment from ANYONE no matter what title they hold in my life.

My children are respected and loved by my husband and I. They are regarded and treated as equally vaulable as we are.

I suspect that this post touched a nerve with you. Are you perhaps having trouble with your adult children?

Hugs, Darlene


I, too, struggle(d) with wanting to please my parents and other older family members and being unwilling to “go against” them even as an adult. I realize now, that I am an adult too…we are peers now. Not only do I respect their opinion…I keep in mind it is THEIRS. I can’t tell them not to offer it, but I do not have to do what they want. I can limit my contact with them and what I share with them that they may feel inclined to offer advice. My children are not adults yet…but I do have adult step children. I see them doing some of the same things I did in young adulthood that I view as mistakes in my own life…I also realize their issues may not turn out like mine, and regardless I will answer their questions offer my support, but I will allow them to live their own life…if I offer an opinion I make sure I am clear to them that it is my opinion but that they must make their own choices, which they will be doing whether they choose to follow someone’s advice or not. I do not want my children to think that I am angry at them or will not love them no matter the choices they make as adults. I hope I am giving them the kind of support as dependent children, and the empowerment to make choices that I allow as a dependent child, so that they will not be afraid to make choices as an adult…realize they may make some they are not proud of and wish they didn’t make…but also know, I will always love them and that every choice, good or bad, is a learning experience…that is how we grow even in adulthood. I try to make points of all the choices my children can make even now as young children so they get into the habit of evaluating choices…everything we do involves making a choice, awareness of that process helps us better evaluate choices. Even when we follow someone else’s advice or demands (as an adult)…that is a choice we are making…until I saw it that way I was stuck believing people were controlling me…when in fact, I was just doing whatever they wanted because I wasn’t willing to do otherwise (plus it always makes it easy to blame someone else when you simply did what they said…but it still doesn’t change the result just because I blame someone else for “forcing” me to do it their way, when in reality I chose to do it their way).


Wow…okay. You really nailed it with pointing out how a lot of people see fear of parents as respecting them. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything it shows that the parent(s) have some deep rooted problems with insecurity. It’s not right.

Then there’s the fallacious concept of manhood and acceptance of male dominance. Like the whole “father knows best” thing. As a father I can be the first to tell you I don’t know best. I don’t have all the answers. I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry” and not the “I’m sorry but…” false apology. I’m not sure what all this manhood thing is supposed to be about but I do know what it’s not. It’s not about being in control, the strongest force or being the law. It’s not about being a bully when you feel like things aren’t going your way. So to me it seems like your father in law completely missed this mark as well as anybody else who thinks his behaviour was acceptable.

As a parent I feel it is my job to teach my children that they can trust me with anything from fun stuff to serious stuff. I don’t want them to be afraid of me. I want them to be independent. I want them to be able to share news with me without feeling like they need my approval. When they make not so great decisions I want them to be able to talk to me about it an not feel judgement. Every time they progress it’s bitter-sweet because I have a little proof that I did something right but can’t help but feel left behind because they don’t need me like they did before. But that’s okay. Their life needs to be for them and that’s what I want more than anything. Nothing more. Definitely nothing less.



CHildren of all age should respect their parents.. I disagree. . .Respect cannot be given to someone who demonstrates awfulness, abuse and lack of respect for the child. Children are innocent beings and so often

How awful that you judge our good blogger Darlene and say that she is not mature enough to have children.. remember you are a guest; there is no need to insult or talk about things you are ignorant of.

Talking out ones problems is a very healthy way to handle problems and sharing with friends on a blog is healthy as well. .Just because you happen to fall on the blog and be able to post here doesn’t make you qualified to start judging people who have been sharing here as a means of healing and support.

I think Suzanne, maybe you have some issues. how can say “why don’t you be an adult ” when in fact.. Darlene has always been very mature and quite the adult in all her situations she has been in.

You must be looking for something if you have landed here? Why don’t you just admit you are hurting and longing for the support we have here. and you will feel so much better. Nothing we are doing here is wrong. we are being support for one another.

Sometimes being defensive and biting is really just covering up what one wants so much to be relieved of. .Am sure you if you want . you can share your story here and you will feel so much better. but don’t insult Darlene or anyone here..

We know abuse. .we don’t have to take any more . .we are here for you but only if you let go of those abusive words




I personally think that Suzanne has forgotten that respect is earned! Just because someone is a parent, doesn’t automatically entitle them to respect. I’ve been on my own recovery journey for many years, and the one thing that people had a hard time getting me to understand was that my mother was wrong for demanding respect when she didn’t respect me, or even see me as a person, and she didn’t lead a respectful life. My mother firmly believed that children should be seen and not heard, but didn’t even want us seen. If other adults came to the house, we had to disappear. She could then pretend that we weren’t even alive and do her drugs and drinking. My own church leaders have continuously pointed out that while the bible says “Honor thy Mother and thy Father” they have to earn respect. We honor them because they brought us in this world, but that ends there.

Suzanne is dead wrong.



We also have to evaluate our meaning of the word respect…to me it means to treat kindly…but it does not mean to be obedient. We can respect people and their opinions without following their demands! Someone can tell me “you should do x” and I can say “thank you for thinking of me, I respect your opinion” but that doesn’t mean I have to do it 🙂


Suzanne is wrong. We worked for my husband’s father for 5 years, and it sucked. We worked long hours for low pay and no benefits. Our private life and descisions were directed all the time, according to whatever would be best for his business. We respected him and listened to everything he said, and we felt like our relationship was crummy. Only when we started respecting ourselves enough to put up boundaries and refuse to let him control our lives, (and quit working for him and got a much better job elsewhere) were we able to have a decent relationship with him. Family business’s are bad for relationship.


I guess because I have a temper. (: when my in-laws tried that, I actually confronted her. I told her that she was making it sound like the only way to live life was the way they did it. (She had said to me that we were too young…and they did it “such and such” way and we should’ve done it that way as well)…that didn’t go over too well. She cried all the way home about how I verbally attacked her (although I remained very calm and never raised my voice.) I just called her on what she had said, and pointed out that she was out of line. I told her she had no right to say we should do things as they did. This was our life, and these were our decisions… She didn’t live our life. Well…she didn’t like that. She twisted it and said she had to walk on eggshells around me, couldn’t give her opinion…I was mis-reading her…etc. etc. Finally, the entire FAMILY began having a discussion about “what was wrong with Amy” and why “I had issues with the MIL” with me sitting right there. I told my husband later…”IF THAT EVER HAPPENS AGAIN I AM WALKING OUT!! I WILL NOT BE TREATED THAT WAY AGAIN, AND WATCH YOU SIT THERE AND LISTEN TO EVERYONE ATTACK ME FOR NOTHING!!” And the next time it happened, I walked out. I respect MYSELF enough to know…I do not deserve to be treated that way.


I completely disagree with Suzanne. According to her definition of respect, adult children are supposed to just bite their tongue and take the continued verbal abuse. Living that way is living a lie. It is not respect. It is a lie to your parents to allow them to believe you are okay with the continued abuse and it is a lie to yourself that you are doing so out of a sense of love. the only reason an adult will “take it” is out of fear like a previous poster commented. Therefore, calling it respect is a lie.

Furthermore, there are NO LAWS to protect against verbal abuse. Anyone who has suffered from verbal abuse will tell you it is just as damaging as physical but takes many more years to heal.

In any case, to show respect is to speak TRUTH in love and to allow adults their space to make their own decisions. If the father was to show respect, he would say, “I respect your decision, but we need to talk about your work hours and how you will balance your obligations of work.” This would have been giving his opinion in a respectful manner that validated his son as an adult worker. He did not do this. Instead, he attacked our author as the wife… who was no employee of his or under his authority in any way, shape, or form. It was demeaning, insulting, disrespectful, and immature.

The fact that the author and her husband did NOT retaliate shows considerable restraint. However, a self respectful attitude as well as respect for truth to the father would be to say, “Thank you for your opinion dad, but in the future please direct your opinions to business matters and trust that I have thought my family life through.”

Boundaries are important for every person to set. I am teaching my daughter that she has boundaries even at the age of 4 years old. She is respected as a child to tell me if I cross her boundaries when joking. She tells me when certain teasing hurts her feelings. For instance, I called her “silly” the other day. She told me I should not say that. When I asked her why, she said it hurt her feelings and that “she’s smart”. In other words, she thought I was demeaning her and set her boundaries. As a mature parent who is secure in myself, I respect those boundaries. As a result, I have a child that is very mature for her age. She is still a kid and plays like a kid, but she has a healthy sense of self esteem and respect for the feelings of others. I am proud of that and proud that she can tell me the truth of how she feels. It’s a shame that grown adults with adult children are not secure enough in themselves to do the same.


I am a great fan of blog, mainly because I am in total agreement that a lot of problems that handicap people in their adult lives have their roots in upbringing issues.

The ideal situation is where parents nurture their children to maturity, such that their children are prepared for the world when their parents are no longer there for them. Where parents hold on too long, wanting to decide who their son or daughter marries, where they should live, how many children they should have and so on, then the parents have boundary problems. Nobody deserves to be disrespected, whether by people who are older or younger than themselves. Being parents or older does not necessarily mean being ‘all knowing’. We have very many people whose lives have been destroyed by people who were their elders and in many cases even parents. And the fact that a grown up son works in the parents’ farm or business does not mean that he is immature and irresponsible; sometimes it may be that the parents are the ones who never grew up and are dependent on their children. We see that all the time, a good example being seen with parents who are addicted to substances and their children act as ‘parents’ to them.

The role of parenting is a very important role, but because it does not always happen as it ought to, we end up with a lot of abused and damaged adults. By the time grown up children are having their own families, parents can only offer their opinion which can either be accepted or rejected; not impose their own values and choices in life, which could be very different from those of their children and their families.

How can a marriage be successful when a husband and wife make a certain decision and the parents on either side impose a totally different decision on the couple? Such parents are clearly out of order and need to be corrected with love. It is crucial to establish boundaries in this sort of scenario if abuse is not to take place.

Keep up the great work you are doing Darlene, giving all who were abused in their childhood permission to recognize that the abuse was wrong and to break free from the cycle of abuse. By sharing your story, you are helping lots of other people who can identify with your experiences. Thank you.


OMGOSSH that purely takes things to a different planet. the planet where everybody has respect and loves everyone else, unfortunately i have never lived in that world.
i hear from my mother and step father that i owe her respect BECAUSE SHE IS MY MOTHER. I DIDNT CHOOSE to be BORN my mother made the decision to keep her baby and that was my lot in life sealed. even as an adult i wasnt allowed to live my own life and find my own standards and beliefs. ooooh no i had to live to their expectations and it was killing me with the arguements between my husband and her about how each treated the other. i chose him not her, i live with him not her, my life not hers.
now i choose not to speak unless i have to to be polite or behind the veil of technology. has cut alot 0of stress out of my life and i can continue to do as i see fit with what has happened to me and not have to listen to them deny or dismiss what i feel, cos thats why i stopped feeling in the 1st place. my mother and fathers abusive natures, one physical the other emotional. then sexual by both grandfathers and the babysitter. wow i really should respect these people. mmm dont think so


Welcome to EFB!
Hi Japheth
Well said! Thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts!! You make very good points.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Shannon
Also very well said! We have such misconceptions about the word “respect”. Thank you for sharing this!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Wendi
Great comments! Wow, I love the contributions being made here. So true also about the false definition of respect. False definitions and getting them sorted out and changed to the truth has been a big thing for me on this journey.
Thank you so much for adding your thoughts.
Hugs, Darlene

Well said Joy. Thank you for your comments and insights. No one person owns another person. The type of “respect” that Suzanne writes about here is under that false belief that parents have rights just because they are parents even regardless of the age of the children. My father in law had no right to decide if we should have another child or not. His motive was selfish.

By the way Suzanne, my husband owned his own business but was still under the control of his father at that time and worked his butt off for his Dad (for nothing but a promise) sometimes even letting his own business come second. This blog post is about the misuse of power and control my father in law exerted and how today we don’t allow that in our lives anymore.

Thanks again Joy for your contribution!
Hugs, Darlene


OMG!!!! Even though I hear and see that way of thinking and the result of that opinion all the time, Suzanne was sure blatant about supporting an abuser! Her statement, “…but children of all ages should be respectful to their parents, whether they think they deserve it or not, that is the best way for everyone to live.” THAT’S the BEST way to live??? Sure, if you’re an abuser who wants to get away with it!

Darlene, I’m glad you stand for the truth and expose lies like this. Thank you for all the light bulb moments inspired by you.
Hugs, Christina


Hi Been There
Ya, it can be messy alright. I could write a book about this whole thing. I have written little about my father in law in this blog but there is a lot of misuse of power and funky “parent entitlement stuff” going on in this situation. In the case of my husbands family, when we would not conform to their wishes any longer, they withdrew relationship. It proved how much control was of the utmost importace to Jim’s father. We were in our 40’s by then. It is kind of sad but we are free now!
Thank you for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

I have been there too! All my life I heard discussions about “what was wrong with Darlene!” I did some major work to find out that what was wrong with me was about what they did to me and how they regarded me. Nothing is wrong with me now!
I am glad you are here!
Thank you for sharing!
p.s. the baby that I am talking about, the one that my father in law was against us having, is in highschool now and she is named Amy!
Hugs, Darlene


Placing boundaries with family, is necessary when they become rude and nasty toward you. One can speak their own and opinion is a respectful matter, even when they disagree with you. I place boundaries with my family all the time, I will not be disrespected, I have had to confront my own father many times, for being verbally abusive toward me! Abuse is wrong! I will not be abused! That includes my own father! He is the one who disrespects me, even when I confront him, I do it in a respectful matter. I am an adult over 50 years old and my father is an adult over 80 years old, regardless of one’s age, respect is a two way thing!


Hi Carol
I love your opening line! LOL I don’t live on that planet either! These people teach things they themselves are not willing to practice!
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Thank you for your support and for your great contribution! I could use some of these responses for a post all on it’s own! (and I think I will)
I believe that when this false definition of love and respect is exposed enough, the world will change for the better. Abuse is a big word and most people think it is only about beating or raping. We don’t have to live UNDER anyone!
Great comments Susan!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene..

I see what you say about where Suzanne’s beliefs are coming from. Poor soul was probably brought up under those same beliefs. .hoping if she visits here enough and read all your words and others .. that she will see how wrong those beliefs are..

I know I was so mislead before too. I was so wrong. so scared to say anything of what parents did ..or abusers did .. because of the belief system I had been schooled in. hope Suzanne can come to have courage to let go of that stuff. .. it’s not an easy thing to do. .

I am still trying to get rid of all the false ideas..its so hard.. so many times am catching myself thinking in that old wrong way that put me down and made it ok what people did to me.

How I feared ssaying my mom was wrong.. that beating me till I couldnt stand anymore was ok since she was mom and saying anything bad about her treatment was breaking the 4th Religion was used to justify the wrongs done to me . so much so I feared God and was afraid of God.. if God liked little kds to be hurt..

You are Great Darlene..don’t stop tellng your story and reaching out. you are speaking the truth we all need to it gives us courage to speak our truth! thank you thank you!~!! <3




This sounds so much like a typical ” isolated religous rural community” thinking… They seem to think we are thier property and must play by the family “rules”…. I think that they are actually prisoners of this type of system and the “community group-think”. In many ways ive excused it as plain ignorance. How ever in this day and age there is no longer an excuse!!! They hide behind the facudes…protect the secrets… because the are afraid of what will happen if the truth is known. Farms are held over childrens heads… they are bought by those who are loyal…those who don’t measure up are tolerated as long as they play the game… Then there are those who call the bluff !!! Family systems are messy and we are all imoacted by them… for better or worse… These systems can look so good on the outside, esp by those raise in more urban areas, but things aint always what they appear. What you have shared gives a glimps to the abuse we endured. The control and emotional abuse and neglet have taken it’s toll on so many of us ‘Farm kids”… ( are we nothing more than a product to them? )


Darlene, you are a wonderful role model and inspiration for so many of us survivors of abuse. Do not let someone, who has no clue what it is like to survive these things, bring you down when you are helping so many people. God has given you a gift to help others. Keep using that gift and ignore the ignorances of those who have no clue what we have been through. ((((((hugs)))))


Hi Christina
Thanks for being here and for your support and encouragement and you are exactly right. It is best only for the controller/abuser.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Heather
I love your comments! You are so right!
And abuse is abuse no matter what kinds of abuse. All abuse has its roots in emotional abuse and there are no laws to protect against that either.

My father in law thinks he owned all of us. ~ Everyone ~ it is even worse then you think ~ my husband owned his own business too! He didn’t just work with / for his father at all. He was doing his father a favour and promised that he would inherit the land for his work. That never happened.

Great comments Heather and love your last paragraph about your own parenting methods! Thanks so much for being here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lela
YES. Respect is a two way thing!
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Calvin,
OUCH… about the last line! (are we nothing more then a product to them) I often wonder. My father in law often said that my husband was the best hired man he ever had until he got his frivers licence.
Thank you for your insites and support Calvin. Love your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Vicki,
Welcome. Don’t worry, I am not offended or discouraged by the comments from S. at all. I chose to publish them becasue of how they highlight the problem we have in this world. This skewed thinking about how “we should be” with our parents or elders. Abuse is allowed to continue becasuse of this false teaching. Children learn never to stand up for themselves and then they never do. It never ends and we are “owned” by people like my father in law.
Thank you for your support!
Hugs, Darlene


it is Suzanne’s kind of thinking which allows abuse to happen in families and remain unchallenged – and sadly, many people believe that rubbish and have not logically thought it through, blind to the consequences and to the reality of dysfunctional family relationships – I was brought up to believe that you had to respect your parents no matter what because they are your families and the 4th commandment tells you that you have to, but respect is earned, never automatic, where respect is irrelevant and not deserved then there is no reason to respect


You bring up a good point in talking about how this thinking has not been thought through and leaves everyone blind to the consequences. The consequences are great because in my case as a child raised that way, I did not know HOW to stand up for myself or that I had any right to. I only became the adult when it came to my own kids, excpet that in the case of this blog, even then my inlaws felt they had rights about how we raised them. So even as a parent I questioned my rights and my choices through the grid of what “they” the controlling parents wanted. Nasty system that never ends.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, first off so very sorry you and your husband were abused by your father-in-law. He definitely has boundary problems and has no respect for you or his son.
Suzanne is very wrong. A sexually abusing parent not only has no respect for life they DO NOT deserve respect. My abusive mother showed up on my door step one afternoon after she had been totally angry with me for having confronted them about how they were abusing my nephew so I took him home with me. In my living room sat a caseworker from the state as my therapist had reported incest by my father involing my child and it turned how he abused All his children and All his grandchildren and was trying for a great granddaughter when my child decided to tell even though the threats were awful. The caseworker made the point thawt his was my home and you do NOT let anyone come over and treat you like that especially in front of the kids.

Looking back my parents thought it their right to walk in any time and take anything they wanted. Their church and neighbors lied for them, but the children of the witnesses told of their own sexual abuse and incest.

My abusive father when I was about 36 quoted the Scripture about train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it!!! I looked at him and said, “You had better hope to God none of us turn out the way we were raised!” He got as white as a sheet! My child brought 6 generations of incest that I know about to a screeching halt. Unfortunately my parents ashes were scattered at the Burton Baptist Camp on Vashon Island, WA right next to the house they had lived in there and where my child was sexaully abused a number ot times. Thinking the Baptists were clueless even though they had been sent court documents they said it was to show respect for people who had done much to help the camp by volunteering and donating a lot of money! A child molestors at a youth camp is like a pig going to an all you can eat joint ad not leaving!!!!
As survivors we need to tell it like it really was and not what some know it all thinks it ought to be. Also, I am extremely insulted and disgusted when someone out of the blue comes to me and says I should have kept my mouth shut and had more respect for my parents. Those people NEVER ask how the children are. You can be forgiving but it does not heal the wounds or covers the hundreds of thousands some of us have spent in recovery. I have had severe medical problems and the fear of males have hurt me getting the best care until I got the best surgeon. He treats me with kindness and respect and he is an honorable man and a blessing as a doctor. When I had bi-lateral breast cancer I was asked if I had been sexually abused as a child, that raises your risk of cancer!!!
I claim Romans 8:28 everyday and NO I am not going to be quiet. I live in Poulsbo, WA which is picture postcard perfect but turn the card over and INCEST and child sexual abuse screams at you! The town icon was also the town child molestor!
Do not back down, Darlene, you are a blessing and a voice!


Hi Kathi
Excellent points; thank you for your contribution today!I love what you shared and YES YEs… exactly!

We must take a stand against this funky mess. The more it is talked about, the more it is exposed, the more others will come forward and think about it and the more “the fog” will lift.

Abuse is abuse and it is wrong. If we accept it, it only gets worse.
Hugs, Darlene


Skewed definitions of respect … oh, how much I am familiar with this!!!! Growing up, respect meant to be compliant, it meant to ‘shut-up & put-up’; respecting parents meant to not ever challenge them when we felt wronged, respecting parents meant holding the same opinions as the parents. To respectfully challenge our parents’ parenting was construed as ‘disrespect.’ Having a difference of opinion was construed as ‘disrespect.’ What a toxic and skewed lie it was!!

It took me a long time to really know what real respect was, and I am so glad I had it pretty much figured out when my kids were really little. Every human being deserves respect, and yet not be controlled in not only what they do, but also how one thinks!! I had no freedom to think for myself.

Healthy is being able to confront or challenge or have a difference of opinion when DONE RESPECTFULLY, as ‘respectfully’ is rightly defined. The way my parents defined respect was to do as we were told, no asking questions, conformity was required – and to them this was respect.

Being a mother of three kids – two of which are now teenagers … I have kids who have freedom of thinking, they are allowed to challenge their parents, to question our motives – which must be done in a truly respectful manner mind you. But they are allowed that. Children deserve respect as much as an adult. Children are not ‘owned’ by the parent – they are individuals with rights.

As a result, my children are probably a little more opinionated than most … and I love that about them. They are awesome users of common sense. Abusive parents have no common sense – and when they abuse their kids, it destroys our sense of common sense as well.

Abuse really does destroy in so many ways … it takes quite some time to heal and reprogram one’s brain … but its so worth it!!


My late NMother thought that because she was my mother, that I should find every single thing she did o.k. and even back her up unconditionally.

However, her “love” for me had many conditions. The very fact I existed seemed to bother her. She was downright malicious to me when I became disabled. She’d bring up the 4th Commandment to me all the time. I finally told her “Honor your Father & Mother – IF THEY ARE HONORABLE.” She was appalled that I called her out.

As I always say, DNA is no excuse to abuse someone.


Hi Rise
Great comments! Thanks for being here and for sharing the differences between the way you were raised and the way you are raising your own kids.
I often think that abusive parents demanding respect in this way don’t realize that children are PEOPLE but rather wish they were puppies, begging for some love no matter how they have been treated and accepting anything that the “master” dishes out.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Barbara
Exactly! Thanks for sharing this!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Rise,

I just read your comment and wanted to say how much I respect you for raising your kids that way! I wish more people would raise their kids to trust in themselves and value themselves… such a shame that parents have such power to harm their children AND to train them that it’s normal / their own fault / (insert whatever other blatant lies they use here)

I’m so scared of ever having kids because there’s so much of my mother in me, but I guess for now I’ll hold on to the fact that other people have broken generational cycles with their kids, so if I ever do have kids, maybe I’ll be able to do it too. And at least I’m AWARE of the problem — that gives me some hope! My mother’s too invested in her fantasy world; I really can’t see her ever admitting there’s a problem. I don’t even know if she is completely oblivious, or if her fantasy world is her way of consciously refusing to face things. But the end results are the same for me, so it doesn’t even matter really.

Thanks again for sharing & for being strong and brave enough to raise your kids that way! 🙂

Kathi, I also read your post quickly – I’m getting tired now but wanted to say quickly how sorry I am for what you went through. I was raised in the Baptist church too, and while I was never physically or sexually molested (I had a recent memory come back which made me think my sister was – still not sure what to do about that) the mental & emotional s**t both my parents and the church put me through were brutal.

I especially sympathize how hard it must be to have the abusers still held up as heroes or role models by the church despite knowing of their actions. That is as wrong as it gets.

Wishing love and light for us all!


I vowed that I would never have kids because of all this stuff. I had my first baby when I was 30 and it has been a major process not to repeat things that I learned. Especially emotionally abusive and manipulative things that were done to me. That was how I learned relationship! But it is possible to unlearn that stuff and that is what I did and that is why I write!


Hello to all: My name is Susan and I could use some help. All make it short. I was verbally abused from my Mother. She was controlling, negative and acts childish at times, She told me when i was very young, that I see black and she see s white – meaning i never agree with her. Which she should have said is, I will never agree or believe anything you say. For that s the way it was. My sister being six years older felt the same way when we were small. She was the quiet one, I was the one that fought back. My daughter and my self were verbally abused by my I thought if i say as many good positive things, to her she wont get affected. In some ways that was true, but not really. But what i didn’t know, was that by him being, a Mr. Know it all and would tell her how to do everything, just to build his self esteem. He was brain washing her and controlling her also. He made it hard for her to feel comfortable making her own decision in life. She listens to others and doesn’t stand up for what see knows and feels. I love her so much, when i had her i promised my self that i wouldn’t do to her what my mom did to me. I kept that promise. But he worked her against me by saying i had no common sense. Little put downs in front of her. My mother because she didn’t want to look like the bad one. would tell my daughter things like i think your mom is bio polor. come to find out, she was. I remember one time she put the pills in her hand and shook them under my chin, yelling take them take them. looking crazy. My daughter has pulled away and i have tryed everything. Wrote her letter sent her flower, Asking what i did. She wont say. I believe she is mental abusing me which she learned from her father. She is hot tempered and has no patients. To make it worse her new boyfriend is a mother hater. He has a rotten relationship with his mom. So i guess he thinks all moms are that way. My daughter is the only child and I told my husbands mother not to spoiler, but she did, I told my husband to stop cutting her down, he only told me to shut up. I really think i was a good mom to her. I love her so much and it hurt so bad. She just had a birthday turned 24. told someone to tell me she didn’t want a present from me. I never see her, even if i go over there she stands behind them. So i can’t see or talk to her. She is 24 years old and a beautiful women. The people she is staying with is said to be in a cult. I know the one person messed with tarot cards. I asked my mom 15 years ago to help me by being closer to me and her and be there mentally on my side for my daughters and mine. She did nothing. I told my mom if i don’t do something fast she will be like this in 10 years. She has turned out to be very cold quiet. She told me once if it wasn’t for you mom i wouldn’t have turn out half this good. She also has told me that he brain washed her and she got what she wanted by playing both sides of the fence. Then time goes by and she slips again. Reverts back two her distant cruel ways. She knows how bad she is hurting me and she doesn’t care. She told me one time that if she never saw me again it wouldn’t bother her. She sees my ex once in a while. It has been 7 months since she has talked to me. I have a lot of anger towards my mother for making things worse and being so cruel. My sisters answer was she didn’t want to get involved. Is it me or is it them.? What do i need to tell my self. Is it to late? Hope keeps me hurting and coldness numbs it. I cry a lot over how people can interferes just to get something out of it selves. Or they don’t want to get involved. My d aught is very stubborn. I hear of these horrible stores on how some child got hurt by there mother or there mother didn’t love them and i wish i had them for a daughter. Sincerely Susan


Hi Susan
I hope that you read more of the articles in this site ~ you may get more clarity as you read more. I am sorry that you are having so much pain and struggle. I know that this is very hard. This is a huge issue and not one easily discussed in a quick comment. One thing I will say is that in this site I try to encourage others to stick to dealing with our own damage instead of working on the damage of loved ones. It has been through working on my own pain and history that has given me such a deeper understanding of others.
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Darlene,
I think you misunderstood me. I don’t think children should respect there parents when there parents are calling them dumb and stupid. I understand it was out of fear. What i don’t get is i was the non abuser. In some ways, i guess i did abuser her, because i stayed in the marriage to long. All those time i was telling him to stop, saying mean thinks i should have taken her and left. She still always favors him. I just don’t get it. Why would you be nice to someone that was mean to you. Also mean to someone nice? All never understand it.


Thanks you guys.
What i did learn later was. It was my fault. Because I didn’t walk away from him. ” Ouch that really hurt” I think that s when i had, my first anxiety attack. If you aren’t raised with self esteem, and positiveness. Its harder to value that your decisions are correct and you deserve better. I still doubt if i make the right decisions today.
You guys are great. Susan


I am so sorry if I misunderstood. Your comment number 46 is what I was getting at, it is just such a touchy subject.
I was nice to the mean people because I had to survive. It was about protection. I was mean to the nice people because I was a very sad and bitter girl and I wasn’t afraid of the nice people. I love your comments in 47!

Hugs, Darlene


Emerging from Broken has been having technical difficulties this past 18 hours and no comments have been allowed through. This problem has been resolved now; please try to post comments again. (I got notices about the posts people were trying to comment on)


I thank you for the many thoughts presented here. I come from a slightly different angle on this. I am an adult child (knocking on the door of 40) who has had to return home to live with her parents due to economics and finances. I am the oldest of four children and as of yet the last remaining to not marry, yet having been engaged three times in my early adult years.

The argument in the house this morning was punctuated with the “you don’t respect us” statement. It struck me later, as I was driving and crying over the argument, that apparently there is something demonstrative my parents are searching for from me to clearly make my respect for them obvious.

It has been for months now that I have been trying to exert my own individuality. Only recently did I realize how much my family, parents and siblings, had controlled my decisions – everything from work choices to cities in which to live to who to be in a relationship with. With that revelation, I am trying to stand up for my choices, my ideas, my desires.

Maybe that conflict of plans is what is creating the “disrespect”? I truly do not understand how I have failed to show my respect. I love and cherish my parents. There are many things that I do not like that my parents do, but I try very hard to refrain from mentioning those to them. It is not my place or right to control their actions.

What saddens me more than anything is that what my parents are not aware of are the developing plans to “elope” and move to a foreign country. I know if my parents were aware every day would be as precious to them as those days are to me. Knowing this is the last Christmas for a few years … knowing this is the last anything, it changes it for me.

I whole-heartedly wish to show my parents the respect they desire. I want to be respectful of them. Frankly, though, I am at a loss how to actively do that without being a doormat, without giving up the little independence I have carved out for myself. Any suggestions, advice, ideas, most welcome and needed. And thank you for providing me a place to “vent” and read of others’ experiences.


Welcome to emerging from broken.
I have written a lot on this subject. It may be helpful to you to read the other articles and comments under the categories “mother/daughter”, and “family” tabs at the top under the header graphic. You will certainly find that you are not alone in this particular struggle.
Hugs, Darlene


It just amazes me how some parents think they can treat their adult children as though they were still eight-year-olds. The scolding, the lectures, the disapproval, the shaming, the commands… This was my mother, even through her dementia she retained this attitude. And I kick myself everyday for letting her get away with it for so long. Though it angered me so much, on another level, I believed she was entitled. That is messed up. So much turmoil going on in the mind due to these conflicting beliefs and emotions. No wonder I’m exhausted.


Oh how I know that exhausted. But you know there is hope for that too! One day I felt an energy that I had never had in my life. The fog and the lies all dragged me down before. Freedom comes with amazing energy! It IS no wonder why we became exhausted. It takes a lot of energy to live in that fog and deal with being devalued all the time.
Hugs, Darlene


I am so glad there are finally people who feel the same way I do. It makes me really mad that some people have the attitude that parents have a free pass and placed on a pedestal and then call us disrespectful when
we fight back or defend ourselves. These same people think it’s OK for parents to hit or yell at their adult children when we refuse to do what they say. Whenever someone complains about their parents being overbearing or giving them a hard time, people on forums side with the parents. They think just because you live at home you don’t have any rights and that’s far from the truth.


Hi Cori
Welcome to EFB
Yes, the truth is that all people have equal rights and equal value. When someone hits someone else, that offender is charged with assault. That is the law and by law parents are not exempt from that law. It helped me so much to realize that my parents didn’t ‘own’ me and that I was a person and not an object.
Hugs, Darlene


WOW Nikki is there a love button for your comment !!


SKEWED DEFINITION OF RESPECT is right on the nose! If you disagree, you are “disrespecting” them. Oh, my favorite: “Have consideration for my feelings.” Why does that statement always equate to “DO WHAT I SAY”? The “literal” translation of “have consideration for my feelings” is just that CONSIDER them. It’s possible to “consider” the feelings of another person, yet still go a different way. But NO, “have consideration for my feelings” is euphemism for “DO WHAT I SAY.” But NOOOOOOOO I’m not trying to CONTROL you dear….. More denial…..

RESPECT in my family is spelled: S U C K U P.

This goes back to, “When you grow up, you can make your OWN choices.” Found out what the real meaning of that was: “And those choices had better be what Dad and Mom would have done……”


On the parent’s side……. if something you do will end up costing your parents money (they KNOW you will get yourself in a jam and then come beg them for money….), then, I agree it IS their business.

But if you are financially independent from them and paying for your own whatever, then it is NOT their business. Now, in the case of Darlene’s husband working for his father, that gets STICKY! I’m childfree by choice, and I have always believed that employers do NOT owe anyone the right to have kids. (Translation: I’m against employer subsidies like giving extra time off in addition to paid vacation for parents, there is no matching benefit for childfree workers) Maybe there is a reason Darlene’s husband works for his own father, can’t judge that. Just saying….. when you work with family THINGS GET STICKY!

But on Darlene’s side….. if said father had said “plans” for said son, and having the third kid interfered with said plans, father should have discussed these plans with the son! But, it could have been a situation where “it was assumed by father that it was known to both parties” whether it was or not, and the father didn’t realize it was an issue until the pregnancy was announced. This is something I have learned. Sometimes you don’t know you have an “issue” until a situation is put in your face. To illustrate: Strip bars. Never thought about them, had no opinion on them, until I dated a guy who went to those places. Then I realized I had an issue. Kind of like that.

On Darlene’s situation, I see both sides. This is just a sticky situation. Is this what the British call a “sticky wicket?” (I never know what that phrase meant…..)


Skewed definition of Respect……. I get “yelled at” for “raising my voice.” I’m not allowed to “raise my voice” to mom. So, I try to tell her in a calm way how I feel, only to get either:

A. Put down and told it’s my fault
B. Not taken seriously since I’m not obviously that mad (since I didn’t raise my voice……)


When do I get to be treated like an adult? I’m in my freaking 50’s!


This was such a huge thing for me. It finally dawned on me that I didn’t have to go along with her anymore. It dawned on me that she treated me as if my needs/feelings were less important than hers and that I didn’t actually have to accept that treatment. When I refused to accept it any longer, she chose not to have a relationship with me, which was my biggest fear until that moment. BUT I soon realized that she had always refused to have a relationship with me by the way she treated me as less than her so in reality, I had nothing to lose by standing up to her. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


My sisters who also have had their issues, have basically just “capitulated.” I get from them the “mom lived in a different time…. blah blah blah….”

I remember as a child I was constantly challenging the “logic” of how Mom acted. “Mom, that’s not logical….” Only to get the exasperated sigh from my mom. She didn’t like being challenged. I think my Mom got treated a certain way and that is all she knew so it’s what I got. But to me her actions and things she said just weren’t “logical.”

I’m reading a book called “Healing From Family Rifts.” Interesting…. three of the issues I had with her were IN THE BOOK, so someone else had those issues, too! The book is aimed toward if you have been cut off. In my case, I did the “cutting off” but I feel is if I have been cut off emotionally.

I still struggle with, “am I being a bad person because I am doing this to my 85 year old mom” especially since I grew up in a small town and a lot of people in that small town know my Mom. In a letter I wrote to my Mom, I told her that I felt no love from her and thus I feel no love TO her. My sister told me that Mom was really hurt by that and do I know how much that hurts? Yes, I do, Mom does not love me, as she is choosing to abandon me emotionally. In the last letter I wrote to her before N/C, I told her, “it’s up to you.”


Sometimes I think of my grandmother (Mom’s mom). She was a great grandma, she knitted beautiful clothes for my Barbie dolls. She also was a great cake maker, she could make these cakes had dolls, and the cake was the dolls dress. She also had artistic talent, she could take the stupidest things and make something beautiful. She made a poodle dog out of wire coat hangers and plastic dry cleaning bags.

Grandma loved to take her grandkids down to the “local gossip place” and buy us sodas. It was a riot as a kid listening to Grandma gossip about the locals. But I just can’t help but think that if B/C had been more widely available, Grandma may have not had children. Of course, Mom gives me the “then you wouldn’t have been born and how would you have liked that?” (Another one of her ILLOGICAL statements, if I had not been born I wouldn’t know the difference!!!) Just like Darlene’s “How would you feel if they died” postings. Um…… no different than I feel now except frustrated because I didn’t get resolution of the issues but I guess that’s not the answer you were expecting to hear……. All my life I struggled between LOGIC and “what they wanted to hear.”


I’m so frustrated with myself and my parents. Why on earth do I let them get to me? I’m 45 years old, married and raising 4 children of my own. When I confronted my father about giving my oldest alcohol with out my consent, he became very upset with me and is refusing to get together for Father’s Day or Family reunion that is coming up.
Granted my son is 20, but the legal drinking age in our state is 21 and I feel like before contributing to a minor, especially his grandson, that he should have ran it by me first. My son lives at home and commutes to college. He is home every night by before midnight and doesn’t go out partying or drinking with pals. He’s kind of a quiet kid and just isn’t socially mature/immature in this kind of way. It isn’t that I don’t trust my father, it’s just that I truly think that I deserved to know about this before hand and not after the fact. My husband and I also didn’t like the idea that our niece who is only 16 was over there at the same time and witnessed my father giving our underage son beer. I don’t think that it set a good example from my father or my son’s standpoint.
When my son came home from visiting with my parents, I’m not sure what made me ask him about the drinking, because my son has never come home with alcohol on his breath or anything to give reason to think that today might have been any different. But I did ask him and he was honest with me. I was mad, but I didn’t yell at him because I was truly more mad at my father. I didn’t go speak to my father directly because I was angry and didn’t want to face him.
Like a child, I sent him an email asking him point blank how many beers he decided that it would be okay to give his grandson without funning it by me. That’s it, that is all I asked. When he responded with a couple, and that he wasn’t sure because he hadn’t counted it really ticked me off. He went on to explain that he didn’t see a problem with it, Bla bla blah…
I emailed him back and explained that I didn’t approve of my underage son drinking alcohol with out my consent and that it really bothered me that he offered it to him with out my consent. I followed that up with that it didn’t feel like he was respecting me as an adult or a mother. He told me that he didn’t like my tone and was not going to discuss this with me anymore. End of discussion!
What? End of discussion, why-? Because I stood up to him, let him know that I was mad and told him that he was wrong to give his underage grandson alcohol! The problem is that now I have to pay the price and I guess that means accepting the fact that he doesn’t want to be around me or my family now. It’s just so frustrating for me because as angry as I am with him, I was still willing to just be heard, have it addressed and be over with. I wasn’t truly prepared to have him walk away and not come around anymore. why do I feel like I still my father’s acceptance and approval of my decisions as a parent and an adult? RRRRR….


Hi Belle
Welcome to EFB ~ I totally understand what you are sharing here. The whole thing about him saying “end of discussion” is exactly how this typically goes. You are within your rights but he is turning it around as if to say “how dare you question me” and now the punishment comes out. The punishment in my exp. is meant to remind us of what will happen if you dare to stand up to them again. When I started to realize that these things were punishments, (consequence) I started to see a pattern of them. And I had a lot of decisions to make once I realized the way this was.
p.s. Legally, you could have your father charged since he broke the law. There is a drinking age for a reason.
Hugs, Darlene


Belle, yes, END OF DISCUSSION, like your parents won’t recognize you are an EQUAL adult and are still trying to control you.


Darlene’s blog touches on an issue that is hard to see. It’s not black and white, it’s not “concrete” it’s hard to describe. So, I have come up with a way to describe what it feels like to be invalidated.

When you are a child (and don’t know any better), and you see someone with a grotesque birth defect, you suddenly react, at the top of your lungs, with a “Mommy mommy, what happened to that person?” Then, you are taken aside and told that it’s not polite to point and stare and all that. Basically, you have to “pretend you didn’t notice” and you have to squelch the emotional reaction. We do this in polite society because the person with the grotesque birth defect wants a sense of normal and doesn’t want to be made to be a freak; and no one has offered a better alternative to this “pretending we didn’t notice” polite society option. Not good or bad, just the “current norm.”

The invalidation we feel is somewhat like the above, except it’s WRONG! We are, through actions, words, and voice tone, sent a message that we must “pretend we didn’t notice” and if we continue to notice, it’s our fault.



Thank you for this post about your family. It does change things when you’re no longer alone.

I have a new man in my life and my first conversation about him with my mother was like a miracle: for the first time in my life she sounded happy for me and said nothing negative! It seemed too good to be true, and sure enough a week later she fell back on her old ways of being very critical – the reasons don’t really matter; she has always found a reason where there’s none. The only real reason is that she’s afraid he’ll take me away from her completely and brainwash me against her, since I obviously have no spine and no ideas of my own. Under all that controlling bravado of hers there’s huge insecurity. Now that it’s not just my sanity at stake but our future together, I have to make a decision about drawing boundaries, which may mean not talking to her for months or however long it takes to get the message across. I’ve never “pulled” anything like this before, but getting older and meeting a person whose life I want to share does change things.


Veronica, good luck with your new relationship and stay strong, because your NM is going to make it a bumpy ride. You are so right about the NM’s controlling bravado masking huge insecurity underneath.

When my husband and I first started seeing each other, my mother resented him and gave me h*ll for it. In fact, she refused to meet him or ‘allow’ me to talk about him for the first 2 1/2 years we dated. Yes, there was a huge age difference (20 years) but that’s not the main reason she rejected our relationship, it was the fact she was now a widow and getting old and expected me to devote my life to her. In other words, I was not ‘allowed’ to have any other outside interests other than her because that was my ‘duty’.

Well, 13 years later, my husband and I are still together. It was tough, but I didn’t let her ruin the relationship with the first guy I ever wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It sickens me how she put herself over my happiness and she certainly pulled out all the tricks in the book to ruin things. Stay strong and true to your convictions and don’t crumble despite all the bullying and guilt tactics she will use.


Veronica and Dmgo: This is the part where I get confused and feel like a tightrope. No, not from either of your posts. I understand both your posts. I’m just confused in general. Where is the line where a parent can expect a child to….. and a child is obligated to…… or NOT?

I’m the only “unmarried” sibling in my family. However, I heard thru the grapevine of my siblings that if my mom needed care, mom does not want ME providing that care. I feel awful for this, but in my mind I’m thinking…. “Whew.” Maybe I’ll go have that Hawaiian Pizza that someone mentioned on another part of this blog…..


I had to respond to your mother not wanting YOU to be the one to care for her and in my view that is a ‘truth leak’ ~ if you are the one that is standing up to her and drawing boundaries, if you are a truth seeker, then no wonder she doesn’t want you to be the one who is caring for her! She won’t be able to pull the wool over your eyes!
I had pizza for my birthday this past sunday! Love it!
hugs, Darlene


DXS, as long as your mother’s basic needs are met, do no more. Remember, no matter how much you do, it will not be enough or done correctly to suit her and you will stress yourself to the limit both physically and mentally. And since she does not want you providing her care, you are definitely off the hook. Yes, it hurts to realize that, but remember what you’re dealing with here. A selfish person who is not empathic to others, especially the scapegoat child.


It bothers me when people say “respect your parents” because to me it comes off as being one-sided. Whenever I try to confide in my mother about how my father treats me, all she says to me is “he’s your father” as if that gives him the right to verbally abuse me. No one should have to put with mistreatment just because they are your parents. If parents want respect, they have to treat me like a human being.


Hi Cori
Yes and when it is ‘one-sided’ it isn’t respect. And it isn’t love. Being told “he is your father” is dismissive and invalidates YOU and the problem you are having. That isn’t love. Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


DXSmax and Dmgo
Dmgo ~ Why is it the responsibility of the adult child to make sure the mothers basic needs are met?? re; your comment to DXS. In my view, that is compliant with the dysfunctional system and the belief system that hindered me so badly in the first place.
Hugs, Darlene


My reasoning for making sure my toxic mother’s basic needs are met is that, though she failed miserably with the psychological nurturing and stunted my emotional and mental health, I did have a roof over my head, and food, and medical doctor/dentist visits. I can’t let my mother walk the streets homeless and unable to feed herself due to her old age and dementia. I got her into an Assisted Living facility and then a nursing home where she is fed, clothed and has a warm bed to sleep in.

You’re saying I was wrong to do that?

Like I say, I felt responsible as a decent human being to make sure her basic needs were met. Beyond that, I have very little contact with her. And of course the staff at the nursing home and others think that’s terrible that I have so little contact. In their eyes I’m a bad daughter. But because I made sure she had her basic needs met, the Toxic Parent community thinks I was wrong. I can’t win!

I’ve learned to do what I feel is right, and nothing beyond that and ignore what others think because there’s always someone out there to find fault and condemn you at some point. Knowing she is being fed and cared for keeps my conscious clear. Not having contact with her is keeping my emotional state healthier.


I agree with Dmgo’s assessment of her situation. Basic needs. I don’t see an issue with that.


Dmgo ~
No I am not saying that is wrong at all, I am sorry my comment about this was unclear; I was asking because you told someone else as a direction for them; your comment was “DXS, as long as your mother’s basic needs are met, do no more.” and I was responding that each adult child has a choice about what they want to do as far as these kinds of parents are concerned. I would not judge someone for choosing not to take care of the basic needs of a parent that had been abusive.
DXS stated “I’m just confused in general. Where is the line where a parent can expect a child to….. and a child is obligated to…… or NOT?
I’m the only “unmarried” sibling in my family. However, I heard thru the grapevine of my siblings that if my mom needed care, mom does not want ME providing that care. I feel awful for this, but in my mind I’m thinking…. “Whew.” ”

So What I was trying to say is that it is solely up to the individual if they wish to see to basic needs or not. Hope that clarifies.
Hugs, Darlene


Parents do not have to like or agree with their adult child’s choices, but they still have to respect their decisions, in order for the adult child to WANT to be around his/her parents. Parents who are judgmental or verbally abusive are just asking for resentment and a distant relationship. I try to tell my parents this all the time but I can’t reason with them. For me, living at home as a young adult has been very stressful and rocky just because they don’t like where I work or my personality. Not because I can’t have a boyfriend over or I can’t smoke as a lot of people are too quick to say “their house, their rules” without knowing the whole story. After years of verbal and mental abuse I am strongly considering living out of my car but I know my family is judgmental and not sure how to go about it.


Hi Cori
Not sure what you mean about living out of your car but your family is judgemental?
hugs, Darlene


I mean living out of my car as an alternative living arrangement due to not getting along with my parents.


Even though times have changed and people are realizing that children (minor and adult) are people too and not the property of their parents. There are still many people who are brainwashed by the false, one-sided belief that parents have the right to treat and talk to their kids however they please and we still have to respect them. This is absurd! This kind of thinking is the reason why so many children and adult children keep everything bottled up inside and refuse to reach out to others and they are forced to remain victims instead of survivors. The ones that do choose to become survivors are harshly judged and criticized for not calling or visiting the abusive parent in the hospital or attending the funeral. Comments like “that’s still your mother/father” is invalidating the hurt and pain the parents put you through. We should not be obligated to our parents especially if they have mistreated us in some way. We should not be pressured to forgive if the parent(s) justify abuse or have no remorse. The only time we shoud be allowed to forgive is when the parents have found Jesus. Respect should only apply to loving, supportive parents who treated you like the human being you are and not an object.


I saw this article on Oprah, and I wanted to share it. It’s about “being judgemental.”–judgment-oprah_n_4005335.html?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl28|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D384681

Wow, this one hit me. I cannot ask for help, so apparently, I’m being judgemental if I offer help.


Just wanted to read this again…….

For me, it’s not so much that my mom had any specific “plans” for me…… just that… She wanted to conform to whatever was the norms of the small town I was from, so I had to be just like everyone else, and she had issues if I wasn’t….. despite telling me, “It’s ok to be different….” Didn’t mean what she said, didn’t say what she meant. Need a decoder book to talk to her…..


DXS, you needed a decoder book, and I needed the script to my Mom’s play. If I didn’t say the right thing ( the thing she expected me to say) I was in trouble. It usually involved having to agree with her or having her try to sucker me into whatever argument with whatever family member she was currently involved in. Now hen I opted out, I vibe came the family member she was arguing with. It was a no win situation!


Ugh, spellcheck mangled my last post! But I think the message is clear.


This is great stuff! I can’t thank you enough.
A year ago last month it was my mothers birthday. I called her to wish her a good one and as usual she was miserable. She proceeded to rant and tell me “how her kids are pieces if s*^ts”. For the first time I stood up to her. Telling her I didn’t need to be spoken to like that, and if she wanted to trash me and my siblings she could go else where.
We haven’t been right since. I called her offering help in April when she had knee surgery. The last 10 times we have talked have been me calling her. She says she gets no respect from me and she doesn’t have to call me. I’m supposed to call my mother. It’s been 3 weeks and neither one has called. Should I call or is this part if the boundaries that have been set? Everyone above has helped me immensely. I related 100%. Last night I cried for the first time and said out loud I miss my mom.
Thank again,


Hi Molly
Welcome to EFB ~ In my exp. this “holding out on her part” is about reinforcing her wishes and the way she insists on doing relationship. It might help you to make your decision about calling or not, if you read a bunch more of the articles here. Check the mother daughter category posts. Thanks for sharing! you are not alone here!
hugs, Darlene


This article really hit home. When we announced the pending arrival of our third no one and I mean no one in our families was happy for us. We are mid thirties and fully self sufficient and have been since our early twenties. I will never forget the look that was on my mil face when told her about our son. She looked god smacked and was momentarily speechless. When the words came they were “well there is nothing we can do about it now.” I think a grandparent’s job is to love their grandchildren and rejoice in the fact their family tree is growing. What in the hell would cause such a negative reaction to a child she does not have to support, only love. He is over a year old and she still has hardly made an effort to know him. It is heart breaking since this same relative will twist herself into knots for the other set of grandkids. It has divided the family. I want these cycles of hurtful family relationships to end. I know I can’t persuade or force anyone to love another. We have addressed it to her and she will not acknowledge any of it! I know in my head that I don’t need the approval of older family members but its so reassuring to know they are supportive and when it is clear that they are not supportive it can be difficult to understand. Thanks for the article, it was a good perspective check.


Hi PaulaL
Welcome to emerging from broken ~ When we drew our boundaries, my daughter (who was about 8 or 9 at the time I think) told us that they treated her differently. We had no idea that she KNEW they treated her differently than the other kids. Even her siblings had noticed it. I am so glad that we drew the lines before it was too late for the kids because this kind of thing causes so much self esteem damage to the child!
hugs, Darlene


I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m sick of people talking all this bullshit about how we should respect our parents. But no one talks about how parents should treat their children to get respect. It’s time for the double standards and hypocrisy to stop.


If more people realize that being a parent is a privilege and not a right, there wouldn’t be any bullshit statements like “but that’s still your mother or father” despite any abuse that was endured.

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