Dysfunctional Relationship; My Parents Treat Me Like a Child


recovery from depression

When someone says that they are sick of being treated like a child, what comes to your mind? One of the commenter’s on my blog post Mother Daughter Relationship Lies said that she was sick of being treated like a child, and caused me to think about the meaning behind that statement. Such a familiar expression. What is being treated like a child like? What do we adults mean when we say that? Is it how a parent wipes your chin when you are eating a soft ice cream cone? Is it holding your hand when you cross the street? Is it being told to brush your teeth and get ready for bed? It would be pretty weird if our parents did that stuff when we were adults. So when an adult says that he is sick of being treated like a child, I get a whole different idea about what this statement means.

I have teen agers. My youngest teen doesn’t like it when I suggest things off the menu to her. She likes to read it for herself and make her own choice. My older teen says that I am treating her like a child when she feels like I am not giving her enough choice or freedom. My oldest teenager (who is legally and adult in Canada) doesn’t use this expression.

In my experience, when adults use this expression it means that a parent is treating an adult in similar ways to the way that both my daughters express this dislike above.  Using voice infliction and innuendo, parents can make adult children feel like we are not capable or too stupid to make our own decisions ~ still having the mind of a child.

Consider some of the following statements; these are meant to make you wonder about your thoughts and decisions. They are meant to make you question yourself.

~ You are not really going to do that, are you?

~ You don’t really believe that, do you?

~ You aren’t really thinking that are you?

~ You are not really going to wear that, are you?

~What were you thinking when you bought that?

~What were you thinking when you said that?

What were you thinking when you DID that?

The unspoken message is “are you nuts” or “you must be stupid”.

These questions are not designed to get you to think about what you did or said, they are meant to make you feel stupid. They are meant to make you question yourself. When we were children we depended on our parents to help us decide, to make good choices. This is what I think some of us mean when we say they are sick of being treated like a child.

My mother in law had a different way of trying to get me to do things her way. She would say “Well, you will most likely be ready to buy that next year. Well you will most likely breastfeed (my son) for six months. She seemed to have an issue with how long I was intending to nurse, and finally I told her that I would MOST LIKELY NURSE HIM until he or I was ready to stop. But I was really conflicted about it, and her words echoed in my head for years because I just didn’t understand her motive for trying to make me stop and I didn’t realize that she was constantly insinuating that I couldn’t decide, like I wasn’t capable of deciding what would be best.

Other questions are designed to control but even these still indicate a suggestion that you couldn’t possibly know what is best. Here are a few:

~ You aren’t going to eat that are you?” (I am talking about when someone thinks they are helping you with your diet, or insinuating that you need to lose weight.)

~You aren’t going to go there are you?

~ You aren’t really interested in HIM or HER are you?

~ Why would you want to do that?

~ Why would you want to go there?

If our adult / child relationships were conducted like this when we were children, we become accustomed to this kind of innuendo and control. It becomes part of how we do relationship. It is so familiar that we don’t really think about it. We don’t realize how devaluing it is. It has become part of our belief system, our false definition of relationship, respect and love.

When we fight this without really understanding what we are fighting, is it any wonder why we end up struggling with depression and other mental health issues?

Please feel free to contribute to this post with comments or share how this post impacted you.

Breaking out of familiar;

Darlene Ouimet

40 response to "Dysfunctional Relationship; My Parents Treat Me Like a Child"

  1. By: Heidi Young Posted: 18th October

    My parents and younger sister have always treated me as a baby. I hate it, tried talking to them several times but they just don’t seem to be interested. Looking up information on the internet and think my family has become narcissistic people because they have a lot of traits of a narcissistic person. Please help as I have a little family and a child under 12 years.

  2. By: Amanda Posted: 21st June

    I’m a 34 single mother of a beautiful little girl. Being from Mexican descent you can guess how things unfolded when I got pregnant and decided that I was not gonna get married (let me give you a hint: not good). My mom wouldnt even look at me and practically almost begged me to get martied to the guy. When I finally explained that this guy had tricked me into getting pregnant (poke a hole on the condom) she wouldnt even hear it. She kept on telling me that children from single.mothers do not develop like every other kid (ugggggh) to try to manipulate me. After months of the same thing, I finally gave in and got back with the dad ( mix of pregnancy hormones, depression and my moms nagging). My daughter was born and almost immediately my mom changed her story. He would point at everything that he did bad and made me hate him. It has not stopped and my daughter is 5 years old!! Even when i have full custody, I still let her go with her dad, I think its important to keep him on her life, even when hes not the greatest. Every Sunday she leaves for around 5 hrs and every Sunday I have to either cry or yell out of frustration not because shes not with me (although it hirts) but because my mom, and sometimes dad, have to question everything I do. The worse thing is that I am still living with them, not because I need them but, because I help with the house payments and I honestly feel that moving out would be a very greedy thing to do, although I know I would be better off. So the constant mental and emotional abuse does not stop….ever!!! ” You didnt put eye cream before putting your makeup! Youll look wrinkly soon”, “Have common sense, taking your daughter on a daycation instead of saving the money”, ” Why would you paint your daughters room when its ok”, “I dont think its right for you to go visit your long distance boyfriend with whom youve had a relatioship for over a year with your daughter or without your daughter. You are her role model.” And my favorite, which its used at the end of each of the previous ones….”But do whatever you want” ugggggghhhhh

  3. By: Bett Posted: 7th March

    My narcissistic mother just told me to go to my bedroom in my own flat this morning as she’s invited herself to me receiving my new cooker – I am 35. I said No. It send me into a raging bad mood all morning. She then accused me of not appreciating her. I have to remember than she is trying to annoy me to fabricate a story to tell other people of how unreasonable I am…

  4. By: Meg Posted: 17th January

    I have had the same issue, though I’m not really all that far into adulthood. My parents don’t ask questions in that way, but they instead later it in a way that would make anyone feel stupid. For example, plans for the summer. My mom asked of Of be taking classes or of Id just be working, and said it was okay to have a tentative plan since it was several months away. I told her that I could probably take a history course and get a second or different job. She asks how I’m going to get to my job. Uh, with my car? She asked how much the class was, and I told her I had only looked to see if the registration was open yet with that information, and it wasn’t, so that is when she started “well you aren’t going to just have that kind of money laying around right? So you think you should be saving maybe?” yes, yes I have been. And it just goes on and on like that. Or she repeats the same freaking thing three times before “letting” me leave to go do the thing and gets mad when she thinks I don’t understand. She asks all the time if I’m “in la la land again” as of I dont pay attention and don’t know what I’m doing. But despite being 22 She still doesn’t really let me go do things and have relationships without butting in and telling me how to do things. It’s frusterating.

  5. By: Hope Posted: 23rd September

    Hi Darlene,
    I just read the chapter of this issue in your book and I wrote heaps of notes in my “thought” diary I started a year ago since discovering NPD. This has been probably my biggest issue with my FOO and I. I was so sick of it too and mostly sick of being pushed away and told to do everything on my own, yet treated like I had no brain at the same time. How can I be responsible for THEM, for ME…AND everyone else we knew?…YET, I was always treated like a stupid little kid (even now they still do it to me on the phone). I have lived on my own since I was 25 (not as young as most people, I was so enmeshed till then), I have been working since I was 17 and had a licence to drive since before that, have traveled on my own for years, even bought my own house and found my partner independently from everyone else, yet I am NOT seen as equal or even as an adult. At 40, I am disgusted at the treatment I accepted from everyone around me for 39 years due to my insecurities from being treated so small. I feel like I wasted so many years trying to prove how independent I was and how capable I really am, that the best years of my life went by trying to impress others. And the worst part is that they didn’t want me to be independent, and I had NO idea why they felt that way. It baffled me for so many years. I was so confused and so very hurt.
    I cannot believe how the fog has cleared so much and I see what I want to do for ME for the first time in my life. I feel so sad to be this old, to be so unhappy for the years that I lived in dysfunction. But, I am glad to be in this better position to live the rest of my life, not in it. I think it will take many years for me to forgive and forget my desperate actions of the past. And I am learning to be kinder to myself and more relaxed with others around me. I hated being a control freak and so OCD’d with many, many anger issues. There is a saying that says: “It takes a village to grow up a child”, my NM would never have let us near anyone, let alone have help from a village (the example I got of how controlling she is and how I became one too).
    I hated having needs and wants in my life and not achieving my goals due to all the noise in my head from all the abusive people telling me what I can and can’t do. I have been obedient (and a bit of a rebel) and still got the “BAD” label on me, which I believed for far too long. I saw a quote recently and loved it, that said:
    “Talent is an ability to do what nobody ever taught us”

    Cheers, Hope xx

  6. By: Etta Posted: 15th August

    My youngest son is married. But I remember one day during their engagement when he called. He wanted input from me concerning him and his fiancee. I was getting ready to give him my opinion but stopped and asked him “did you talk it over with A…”? After he said he did, I asked him what did she say. He told me. I then said to my son “then I think that’s what you should do.”
    Don’t get me wrong now. I so badly wanted to tell my son what I thought, but I figured that since those too are going to soon live together, they need to make their decisions independently of me…unless they both come to me together, and even then we’ll discuss things as a family group.
    That is how I think things should be done. I believe that once your children are grown, and especially when they begin a serious relationship, it’s time to back off!

  7. By: Etta Posted: 15th August

    I too sense such a relationship in a man I’m deeply interested in. He tells me all good things about his mother, yet when I see them together I sense a deep resentment on his part and I couldn’t understand. Finally it dawned on me!
    She herself told me one day that “he acts like a child sometimes.” Then I saw her in action. One day while there and he was leaving, she walked him to the door and told him, “and clean up your house.” Now while none of us are perfect housekeepers, he certainly did not need that. So I saw how he seemed to shrink when she said that. Then she came back in and said to me how, though his house isn’t dirty, it’s “messy.”
    I saw and heard, from her, so many episodes of her doing that to him it makes me sad.
    I really like him! I think he’s amazing. But I think he’s depressed and don’t know what to do. He loves his mother, don’t get me wrong. Whenever she needs something, he’s there for her. She told me about how other women, after meeting him, would come by under the guise of being interested in her, “but it’s really for my J…” They’re just using me.”
    When it was time for me to leave (I was on vacation), and he was going to take me to my departure she wanted to come “to see you off unless you don’t want me to be there.” (And I really didn’t but couldn’t find a pleasant enough way to tell her, and she probably knew that).
    Yet he managed to find a way to not have her around by suggesting she sit down while we waited on line. So when I boarded, with permission from the departure people he came on board, and once settled he turned and we just flew into each others arms!! Then he left.
    Yet I couldn’t help but wonder what she asked him once he was back with her.
    It’s so sad.

  8. By: periwinkle Posted: 6th June

    I know parents have to talk to their children a certain way because they are young, and we, as parents want to rear them a certain way. And I think kids will grow up to be fine, IF it ends at a certain point. I’m 49 and my mom still reprimands me, with an angry tone. Even in front of my daughter. She doesn’t see anything wrong with what she does. Her behaviors should have stopped when I was around 18 I would say. And I get that parents will sill treat their adult kids like children at times, but scolding?????? That shouldn’t happen. My mom also doesn’t trust my driving. She acts as if I’m a child behind the wheel, even though she knows that I drive to work, and to the city regularly. But if we go somewhere together, she invites my dad along so that he can drive. That is dysfunctional, and what is worse is that I’ve talked to her about it, but she tells me it’s nonsense.

  9. By: Sarah Posted: 8th February

    I am a 38 year old mom of 2 and my parents have treated me like a child my whole life. My mom just recently insisted I was too old to get pregnant again and tried to scare me out of it by saying “what if you have a downs or autistic baby” and she has been adamant that I get my tubes tied after my second. I have struggled with depression and mental illness but sadly that is just an excuse for my parents and the rest of the family to not talk to me anymore (black sheep). My parents are big on the whole Christian thing and I can see how that becomes a method to ignore boundaries and I’m sick of hearing her repeat “god is the answer for everything” every single time she talks to me because it makes me feel like I’m talking to a parrot or a broken record. The last thing my dad said to me is that sometime we’ll have to talk on the phone and he’ll have to preach to me different bible verses. I haven’t called them back since. Its sad because we’re all just getting older and they’re going to die and this is never going to change! It sucks that here I am almost too old to have kids and my mom is basically telling me I’m too stupid to have another one! They are never going to change. The only thing I know how to do is put physical and emotional distance between me and them all. I live a very solitary existence.

    • By: Sarah Mck Posted: 18th September

      Hi I am a Sarah too and also feel like I have no choice but to avoid my parents wherever possible. I left home young to get away from the negativity and have had a successful career, a solid loving marriage and raised 2 children since. However at 40 they still look at me and talk to me like I’m an irresponsible halfwit and literally turn their back when I speak. I’m sick of the contempt and disrespect. My older sister however can do no wrong and basks in their loving glow! She’s not spoken to me in 2 years because my husband apparently patronised her and my mum agrees with her.yet she has screamed abuse at me on more times than I can remember and this is perfectly acceptable to all my family. I tried to talk it through and was told it’s just all my head and there’s something wrong with me. It’s a no win situation so I am giving up and concentrating on people who actually care about me. I’ll fight depression and insecurity forever I’m sure but at least I will have some control now. I wish you well

      • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st September

        Hi Sarah Mck
        Of course you are sick of it! It is wrong that you are regarded and disregarded that way. When I looked at this through the grid of the truth about it, my depressions lifted. (which is what my original motivation for creating this website was in the first place!)
        Thank you for sharing,
        Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Lil Posted: 16th December

    I am right now visiting my parents (74 & 75) in another country. I am 42 and only child. I love them more than words can say, however they drive me up the wall instantly. Its like they have the skill to just push all my buttons. I sometimes ignore and stay quiet, others I tell them I am not a child and to relax. Either or they don’t seem to “get it”, or brush it off “oh don’t get upset”, “are you in a bad mood? you need to relax a little”.

    I lived here for 30 years. 30. Driving since I am 16. At 42 and they do not let me drive their car because “its too dangerous to drive here, you don’t how bad these people drive, you could get into an accident”. Even if I need to go to the pharmacy for a second, they drive me. I’ve lost my battle on that one.

    My mom follows me around the house with a pair of sandals (if Im barefoot) because I will get sick. While I’m eating, she would come behind me and spray my legs or back with mosquito repellent. She would drive me crazy if I decide to wash my hair, because “didn’t you wash your hair 2 days ago? your hair will get dry. Leave that for another day, takes you so long to dry your hair and I wanted to go to x or y soon”.

    If we are leaving to the mall, “you are not wearing those heels right? For the mall you wear flats, or something comfortable. Your feet are going to kill you” or “You need to bring a sweater, that shirt will get you cold”. If we go shopping she has to come inside the dresser room with me. I don’t mean the area, I mean INSIDE the small dressing room with me. Today I said “Mom, this room is really tight(I could barely move) she got offended and stormed out, then she makes me feel bad and guilty, so I ask her “I didn’t mean for you to leave, just to move” and its a lie, I needed the space alone. Would you like at 42 to try clothes on with someone inside the room with you? I’m I being unreasonable?

    I apologize for the venting, but this drains me. Same with clothes, or jewelry, there are things I don’t wear and she still buys them for me “because I need to try to wear new things”. She doesn’t LISTEN that I don’t like stripes, or patterned clothes. She keeps buying them and shipping them to me every month. I feel bad she’s spending money, but she doesn’t stop. She says I’m her only child and one day she wont be here anymore so I wont receive anything else. “I don’t have anyone else to give gifs to”. There goes the circle again. I feel bad I said anything and she keeps sending stuff.

    I know she adores me, and I adore her too. Her love for me is a great love. But why is this love so frustrating? I always end up stressed out, they don’t reason, I feel like a child, and there are NO boundaries at all. If I’m in the bathroom, and she needs to tell me something she will just walk in. I go “mom, sorry but you need to step out” and she goes “yeah, ok ok”.

    I meditate, I breathe, I have cried (in private), I have said something, I have said nothing. Nothing changes, and I get irritated every single time I come. 4x a year. Don’t know if I am just a selfless daughter that has no patience with her aging parents or If I am right on feeling this way.

  11. By: Monique Posted: 5th January

    This is why I never want to become a parent. The sad part is, it’s not even you’re parent’s sometimes who do it to you. They think you’ll push it off you’re shoulder and take it as them worrying, while in fact all they want to do is control you, because they think you can’t take care of yourself. I’m 15, not 5. I hear every day “Oh, you wouldn’t know that”, “You don’t know what you’re thinking/feeling”, “You’re not going to want that once you have it”. I’m the one who get’s left home to watch my 7 and 13 year old brother’s, because we’re home schooled, while my mom run’s off to do whatever all the time.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th January

      Hi Monique
      Welcome to emerging from broken
      Yes, it’s interesting how those two things don’t seem to fit together; the fact that you are always in charge of your two younger brothers, and at the same time they communicate that you can’t take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing; Hang in there!
      hugs, Darlene

  12. By: OwlJulie Posted: 16th December

    None of those statements rang true for me. In my case, I’m not asked to go out to dinner with them- I’m expected to. Im not asked to decorate the Christmas tree. Im expected to! And when I don’t, my brother asks me why “I have not done it”. Im also expected to take their pets to the vet for checkups and groom their dogs several times a year. I used to be expected to keep their house cleaned up, mopped, etc, but my counselor advised me that I was ‘enabling them’ and not to do it anymore. Now my father has become a hoarder, and piles of things are stacked everywhere, and my parent’s dishes are done only 2x times a month. It is because ‘I stopped enabling them’.

    • By: Maud Hamson Posted: 8th March

      My counselor never told me this I guess all counselors are different. Since I turned a teenager my relationship with my parents has been really bad. To even now and I’m 32.

  13. By: DXSMac Posted: 19th June

    In my case, Mom doesn’t really….. “treat” me like a child, but she continues to speak to me in “Mommy voice.” She won’t use her “adult” voice with me, the voice she uses with her friends. Her speaking to me in “mommy voice” makes me FEEL like I’m being treated as a child even if she isn’t really doing so. I wish my mom would use her “adult” voice, make me feel like an equal.

  14. By: Mechele Posted: 17th June

    Hi my name is Mechele, I just turned 49 years old. My 76 year old Mother just left after visiting me and my Sons for two weeks. I was looking forward to seeing her since we live so far apart and don’t get to see each other often. She lives in Texas I live in Virginia. But nervous at the same time due to that fact that she has a history of telling me what to do, how to do it and when to do it and if it was her in whatever the situation she would go on to tell me how she would do it. Which in her mind is the right way even still at this age. I try to ignore her but the initial feeling it gives me is hurtful, It makes feel like I can never do anything right or that Im good enough. I can’t seem to shake it so I respond with questioning her or giving a smart remark. I do this because I feel uncomfortable in confronting her about her behavior. I’ve tried before but it ends up being a very intense and stressful situation. she ususally tries to change the subject or say ok I don’t want to hear anymore. I then usually end up feeling bad for hurting her feelings even though she would state her feelings aren’t hurt but knowing my Mother I know I have. Or feeling guilty for pointing out such things about her at her age. Another reason is because She would either give me the silent treatment or retaliate by trying to use my words against me. It stresses me out to know end. I also realize that when my Mother comes to visit that’s exactly what that means that she is with me to visit however she has a tendency to hold me hostage in my own home. When I get ready to leave the house she has to know where Im going and when I will get back. When I’m in the house and I have had enough I go to another room to distress but before long she starts calling my name wanting to know where I am and what Im doing and why? I’m thinking REALLY!!! until I come around to where she is. But when we are in the same room and shes not doing something she wants to do she goes to sleep. I could really use emotional support and guidance espeacally since she is getting older and I am considering looking after her as she ages. I love my Mother dearly she says she loves me too but that’s only after it comes out of my mouth. We share a lot of common interest but I can’t take another day of her treating me like I’m a kid . I’m Divorced Mother of three boys ages 24, 19 and 18 I rasied on my own without any help from her or my family. held down a fulltime job with good benifits kept a nice house over our heads. And going back to school but it doesn’t seem to dawn on my Mother that I’m an adult I know what Im doing. What’s Ironic is that she never paid much attenition to me growing up. And after my father past I was pretty much left on my own with the unspoken notion of you know what to do stay out of trouble. So I would love to hear what you think of my situation.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th June

      Hi Mechele
      welcome to efb!
      I hope you read more of this site. You might find the answers to your own questions in the pages of this work.
      You are certainly not alone in this, there are thousands here who can relate to what you are sharing.
      hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Chrissy Posted: 21st January

    I’m 36 and single. My parents, sisters and I are very close. My sisters are married with children and are already onto their second husbands. I visit my parents and I have to make the drinks and prepare morning tea. I don’t mind that really. Sometimes I am visiting them and my sister arrives and my parents tell me to get up and make her a drink- I haven’t even been offered a drink myself. When I came inside with my sister, I wiped my shoes but she had dirty shoes and a mud trail followed her. My parents told me off and made me take my shoes off. When my sister left, I asked what that was all about. They said “Well, we can’t tell her off can we.” She is my little sister!!! It’s not like I’m the baby of the family. Same thing happens with our conversations- Dad disappoves of our conversation and he will shake his head and say “Oh Chrissy…” There are other people talking too but I’m the one getting told off because “They can” My parents have their say in everything I do. Dad chose my car even though I protested the whole way. I’m trying to sell it and get the kind I want but nothing is good enough. I bought a gym and they laughed at me and said I will never use it. I was so upset that I sold the gym to my big sister. Mum and Dad are very proud of her for doing something about her weight.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st January

      Hi Chrissy
      Welcome to emerging from broken!
      You have found the right website! There is lots of info here about the very thing you are expressing ~ and lots of sharing about drawing boundaries and taking our lives back. When you say that ‘they can’ one of the things that I learned was how to empower myself so that I decided that ‘they can’t’ ~ I took my life back!
      There is hope!!!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Dex Posted: 26th December

    True, but i think there is a lot more to it.
    im 21, i have a fiancee who i am preparing to move out with, i work ful time as a National Manager in a large company.
    howeve, i get treated like im 13 from my parents. so bad, that even my fiancees parents have commented on it.
    for instance, when asking my father help me to pick up a dining table the other day (i have a small corsa, he has a large people carrrier with folded seats) my mother wen of on her usual rant about nothing, helped by my older (23yr old) brother, with no reason. i ended with “please, im not an idiot, i just want help gettin a table” and they looked at me like i had said the most stupid thing. what had i done? nothing! i was polite in asking for some help, my father accepted, that was it. however, my mum likes to think im a child, talking to ma like i dnt know my ABC’s
    i believe some parents just dnt like to know their children have grown up, and dnt realise it until the children are gone.
    personally, i never got on with my family anyway “middle child syndrome” i believe it to be called, but atleast im adult enough to try and keep an on going relationship.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th December

      Hello Dex
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken. Sounds like you can relate to a lot of the stuff that I write about. This kind of thing was still happening to me when I was in my forties.
      Please feel welcome to share often,
      Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: bobi Posted: 26th December

    listen tell your parents that sooner or later they will go from this world and when they do tell them that you need to take care of your own tell them if they continue to treat you like a kid you will never grow up and when they die you will not be able to live good life tell them with who are you going outside where are you going to not get worried and they will start treating you like an adult if you get good work with great cash or not you will be able to feed your self with your money tell them that they cant feed you all their life and take care of you all life tell them that you respect them for who they are and if i live alone that you will come visit them or they will come visiting you if they yelled at you and they say what fool you are or something ealse then be mad and say ok treat me like a child your parents didnt treat you like a kids when they are older so why you treat me like a kid when i want to be treated like an adult sooner or later i need to take care of my own i cant stay like a kid forever people change into adults when they grow i wont die from my mistakes why i have a brain for to think what is good what is bad so i am not a fool and if they not yell at you and say ok if you only get good work and spend money then say that you are proud of them that think this way but if they yell again just stop it and get outside or hide some hidden place in your house or outside and they will start thinking about what you said and they will know how you feel and suffer and maybe then they will say that you are right and the only thing that you need to wait is to get your own place and they will be proud that you live like an adult and takecare of yourself and say to them to visit your house and to call you if they get worried too mutch to see if you are ok say them that you ok and they will relax that you are fine and enjoy your adult life

  18. By: survivorjen Posted: 17th December

    Oh, if you guys are interested in a good seminar, you can look up the Ancient Paths seminar. google it 😀 It helped me a lot.

  19. By: survivorjen Posted: 17th December

    Hi everyone. My name is Jen and I too am an emotional abuse survivor. I can relate very much to everything everyone said. And I also am a Christian (still am) and have a lot of times questioned how I have experienced times of “victory” and do know the Word of God (it really has saved me from a lot of harm when I was living under emotional abuse for about 25 years) that I still found myself in times of intense depression and emotional pain.Hey, you go through it for a long time and you can’t expect it to be healed right away. I feel sad that some christians (well meaning as they may be)lack the compassion or perhaps just the insight to see that it is not something you can easily put a “religious” band-aid on. It is something that is very deep, complicated and needs a lot of surgery and time for recovery and recuperation.

    For me, I was blessed to have Christian friends who understood where I was coming from, who also in their hearts wanted to love and honor their parents but also be free of the abuse. Until today I am still recovering but going through counseling, inner healing seminars and allowing God to work through my pains and stitch me up…Just the other day, I realized my biggest wound was always being made to feel that my mom did not trust me to make a good decision. She always questioned it. Even the time I decided to join a youth group at a different church to get more serious about my faith, she questioned it. She said am I sure I was not going there just because of boys
    (?!?) At this time boys were the last thing on my mind because I had just had a bad break up with my first boyfriend. She resented the fact that I wanted to move out on my own after college (which I didn’t even get to talk to her about she just made assumptions when she found a flyer on my table) and until being super happy to be engaged to my husband who is an awesome godly man she questioned. My engagement days up to the wedding were my most beautiful and also painful days because of this. I have to say though, eventually she came around (almost 2 years later when she came to visit us in another country!) Before leaving she said to me “He’s a good man”. FInally it kicked in …
    I’ve forgiven my mom. I love her. And I think the times she gets all controlling or condescending hurts the most because I love her. But I have also learned to take the space when I need it (the ground rules as you call it) and to not expect too much from her. And when she does come through in affirming me it becomes a surprise.

    On behalf of being a Christian, I apologize to those of you who have been manipulated and abused through “religious words” or “cliche” answers. As a fellow survivor, I encourage you to press on and know that our God is always compassionate, always suffering as you suffer and holds our tears so precious to him that He bottles them in heaven.
    Tight hugs to you all.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th December

      Hi Jen,
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken and thank you for sharing your story with us. =)
      Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Fi Nicholson Posted: 1st August

    Hi Darlene

    Found it – what made it harder for me to deal with my depression was that too many Christians blamed me for being depressed, which added to all my self blame and shame. So often I was told that if only I worshipped, read my bible and prayed enough the…n I would not be depressed and have joy. I went round and round in circles and got no better only got worse and felt more and more guilty and ashamed about being depressed. I seems very few Christians have read their bible and read about so many people in the bible who experienced depression.

    Oh and the classic one I heard so many times- in Christ you are a new creation so your past as gone including the abuse in your past, so get on with it and stop living in the past, all that stuff is gone, gone and dealt with on the cross.

    Another classic one – inner healing is a waste of time, you don’t need inner healing, you don’t need therapists what you need to do is to command those bad thoughts and bad feelings to go away, you are choosing to stay in this place, you are choosing to be a victim, you are choosing not to live in victory, get with it!

    The spiritual abuse and lies just made living with depression even harder. All the time I was desperately searching for solutions, desperately crying out for answers. And all the time I was blaming myself when the real core of my depression was in trauma of my childhood that was filled with horror.

    I have a pattern of reaching breaking point just before breakthrough happens. I keep going and keep going then break, no sooner do I break than the answer comes.

  21. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th July

    I don’t think you are rambling at all, I followed all of it right to the end. You highlight great points! Isn’t it cool when we suddenly realize how this works?
    Thanks for posting these new insights. I have seen everyone one of those statements “god has a plan and God is working towards… even God laid this on my heart for me to tell you OH and the list goes on and on.” They are all subtly corrupting and controlling! But it never occurred to me that someone could try to control me through such a means as telling me how they prayed for me.

    Thanks again Mike
    Hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Mike Haitch Posted: 30th July

    I had a conversation about this stuff with mum. She said something like “I was praying about you and …… because I wanted you to have what wouldn’t harm you”. My response was “Well, given the last x years that’s not working out so well. Are you sure you are praying to the right god?”

    The big issue is that it’s a no-win argument. When life is rough (and PTSD counts as rough) then her belief protects her “God has a plan yada yada yada” or “God is working towards something”. When things are going well “God is answering prayers”. It’s a totally closed belief system.

    On the plus side we keep having “I thought you were over [this stuff]” conversations with me responding “Yeah, well there’s still lots of things I need to work on” type replies with specifics. So clearly she keeps thinking prayers are being answered and then finding it’s not quite true.

    At least it’s all light-hearted now.

    It’s only in the last few days I’ve managed to intuit the dynamics of the whole situation and how I’ve been suckered in for so long.

    Today I turned it around and threw two conflicting things at her – one is not for here, another was “Will you pray about……. for me” and that’s when the confessions started and everything clicked into place esp. the viewpoint that fails to see other people as other people who are really indepdent and autonomous rather than fitting into God’s plan for me/my-family in some way.

    I think it’s subtly corrupting. The situation that started the conversation is that a woman I’d like to continue dating is not really ready for that. It’s simple. There’s no need for God to change the situation; the situation is not faulty. It is what it is. There’s nothing that needs to change. But if you put God into the picture you can start to believe that somehow the situation needs to change to be just-whatever-you-think-is-best and in one stroke God is written out of the picture since “Maybe everything is just as God wishes” doesn’t feature.

    Am I rambling?

  23. By: Mike Haitch Posted: 30th July

    Yep, dealing with this sort of stuff at the moment.

    My personal favourite is “I’ve been praying for you”. In one sudden swoop boundaries are transcended. All of a sudden with God in the picture it’s OK to decide what another person’s life should be like.

    I finally twigged that it’s this whole prayer thing that causes my mum to fail to recognize where the boundaries might be. In prayer she’s already crossing them so in real life it’s just a follow through.

    “Are you sure you want to do this?”

    “eerrrmmm Yes that’s why I’m doing it.” [I would have said]

    I’ve change the ground rules and am seeing them a lot less rather than every week amongst other things. Disconnecting them a little until I can work out what the ground rules will be. Amicable but I’m trying to take control of it rather than going with the underlying assumptions that this is not something I should be doing.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th July

      Hi Mike!
      Excellent points. I’ve been praying for you is a devastatingly powerful manipulation isn’t it! This one was used by my husbands extended family on us a TON. Don’t you want to say “So??” God spoke to everyone about ME except He didn’t speak to ME about me? Interesting. I think that MANY people do what you are saying here.. and I never thought about it that way, as in ” this whole prayer thing that causes my mum to fail to recognize where the boundaries might be. In prayer she’s already crossing them so in real life it’s just a follow through.” Absolutly!
      I changed the ground rules too to give myself some space in order to figure it out too. What I found was that a little distance helped me see my way through the “fog” a little easier.
      Thanks for your contribution to this post! I love it,

  24. By: Anja Posted: 30th July

    Yes, and so many who can’t see or understand the dynamic, side with the parent and tell you ‘to be nice’ when what they’re really doing is breaking every ounce of You in you, or never let it grow …in the first place. I remember the parish… and priests siding with my mother and telling me to obey and honor her. They couldn’t spot her being abusive to me even right in front of them. She was treating me like she was the devil herself more often than not. She may want to be a good person and I try to let her be in the ways that are ok with me, but I can never, never ever drop my guard. A couple of years ago, I tried to spend some time in my old room, just for a few nights, but no… turned out that I had to call a friend to stand in the door while I got my stuff together ASAP and make sure I could get out ok.

    People all the time tell me to keep in touch and just get along with my parent, (dad is dead), but they have no idea what they’re asking. And no forgiveness can ever be forced. Empathy I can feel and logically I can try to understand, but it’s not healthy to ask of anyone, especially not an adult who grew up with abuse, to stand next to their parents and say “we’re family”. The rest of the dynamic in a family is also often so strong, that it supports the abusive behaviour. If I had more strength, a job which meant I could support myself and stuff, I’d be able to be free. I cannot allow this kind of thing anymore and no – you can’t just turn away from it and still sit at the same table or celebrate Xmas or whatever. It’s there, and it’s like repeatedly stab someone with a knife in the heart, amputating their soul bit by bit, until there is nothing but panic and despair of an unloved child left.

    The thought of having kids of my own and have to deal with the situation with my family and people ‘forcing’ me to have a relationship with them and wanting me to understand that a possible child would need its grandparents, made me decide as a 7-8 yrs old to get sterilized at 25 (legal age for that in Swe). The thought of handing my child or trying to tell people NO to let them see them while growing up and not being able to protect them, because I know the abusive behaviour would carry on towards them, made me sick and feeling panicked. Still no children, and maybe I never will have… but I will try to do good… How could I ever protect a child, if I couldn’t or can’t protect myself?

    (PS. Didn’t get sterilized. The last appointment got set to my birthday and I didn’t want to spend that day doing this on the operating table. So I didn’t. So, even if I’m getting too old, I still can have the hope of “maybe”. 🙂 )

  25. By: Paulette Posted: 30th July

    So true, Darlene, I don’t think parents realize that when they use questions like this, that they don’t even realize how much they impress the opinion that we are indeed stupid or incapable of making our own decisions. It is almost like they are using a question to manipulate the results they want – and to manipulate someone is to control them. Controlling someone for any reason is unhealthy and damaging.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th July

      Hi Paulette,
      I think you may be right that they don’t even realize it… it was done to them too, but that is no excuse, is it? In my case I had to stop letting that be the exuse for why I put up with it. And first I had to even realize it was being done. My mother wasn’t as bad with this tactic (she had other ways) as my father in law. OH MAN. Not all controllers use this trick. Having said that ~ I think they DO use questions to manipulate the results they want.
      Thanks for sharing your comments!

      Wow. This could be a whole blog post on it’s own. You make so many points that I hardly know where to start to reply! The first part that struck me is “breaking every ounce of the YOU in YOU” and then “Or never letting it grow in the first place.” This is exactly what I am talking about. I sometimes wonder if people tell us to just forgive or just get over it and keep in touch, respect your parents is about their own fog. They had to do that, (or chose to do that) so you should too. Sometimes I think people don’t’ hear us because they CAN’T stand to look at it through the grid of truth ~it is too scary and painful for them. As far as priests and clergy, they have no clue what to say, and in my opinion many of them don’t see children as equal human beings. Well that goes for many adults too. Abusers are so often way more protected then victims are. I also made a decision when I was very young that I would NEVER have children, all because of my mother and the abusive world, but when I was 30 I had my first of three. I vowed to do things differently, and I did. (and then I fell apart and had to get help but that story is all over this blog!)
      I wanted to share one last thing with you ~ I found the strength; I finally found it and you can too and I no longer feel that stab of the knife in my heart. I had to change my world view; my belief system, but I did it.
      Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your hope. There is always hope.
      Love Darlene

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