Explaining Parental Entitlement Beliefs in Dysfunctional Families

Looks like Love but Is It?
Looks like Love but Is It?

“In the minds of my parents, they are the victims; I am the abuser.” Christina Enevoldsen

I began writing this blog post a few years ago inspired by the blog post on the Overcoming Sexual Abuse website “Exposing the Incest Family Secrets”. In this article Christina Enevoldsen shares about how her mother’s dismissive treatment of her makes it clear that the message is “you are nothing”. She quotes her mother’s statements about her and the fact that her parents sued her for writing her blog, “Overcoming Sexual Abuse” exposing her father for sexually abusing her and her mother for disregarding it. Christina’s parents sued her for defamation of character and emotional distress. Through their case, they wanted to shut down OSA and silence her voice.

Christina and I have become close personal friends through the passion we share for advocacy work. The fact that her parents sued her had a dramatic effect on me. An anger and frustration came up in me that caused me to lose sleep; I could NOT get my head around how a sexually abusive parent could SUE the child that was sexually abused. Christina’s parents were suing for ‘emotional damages’. In Christina’s article she shares about the way she was convinced that she was ‘nothing’ and how she went on to regard herself as nothing just as they taught her her value.

In her Article, Christina writes about her struggle and breakthrough in dealing with the deeply implanted childhood belief that she really was the bad person that her parents accused her of. She makes a statement in her article that just jumped out at me and hit me ‘differently’ and at a deeper level than usual. She wrote “Abuse is about powering over someone else. I’m not taking away my dad’s power; I’m claiming my own power. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.”

I have known for a long time now that abuse IS about powering over someone else but what struck me differently is the way abusers, manipulators and controllers see this statement; the way that parents with entitlement beliefs UNDERSTAND this statement is what struck me as shocking. 

I always talk about the fact that in the dysfunctional family system it is believed that the one with the most power wins. And it is believed by those ‘in power’ that “having power’ is the only safe place to be. They believe that power is respected and respect is love. They believe that when a person with less power jumps through their hoops ~ that “proves” that the person with less power (and therefore less value) loves them. In this grossly dysfunctional family system, it somehow “restores their order” when abusive, controlling or manipulative people can prove that they are right about the fact that they are ‘more valuable’ by defining someone else as LESS valuable.

Abusive, controlling, manipulative and narcissistic people presenting themselves as victims, even as victims of their own children, is a huge part of the dysfunctional family system problem.

That sentence in Christina’s blog post; ““Abuse is about powering over someone else. I’m not taking away my dad’s power; I’m claiming my own power. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.” jumped out at me because it sheds light on a different way of seeing the motive of the abusive or controlling person in the equation. I know that the abusive person sees standing up for ourselves as trying to power over them ~ that is the pecking order family system that they believe in and that is the dysfunctional way that they see “respect” ~ That is their ‘entitlement’ and their “rights as parents”; how dare you (or we) put a crack in their fragile existence and understanding of “the truth”! I realized through that quote that these entitled parents actually believe that the truth when coming from us, is disrespectful to them and that respect and compliance and agreement with them means that WE agree that we are less valuable than they are. And their entitlement as parents (in their minds) TRUMPS the actual truth.

Their entitlement issue is so large that when their entitlement as parents is challenged, they believe that they are being victimized! They believe this so much that they will even SUE the child that they sexually abused and list all sorts of stories to back up their claims and to “prove” that they are the actual victims because they have never given the child any “rights” or “value” in the first place. It’s so pathetic ~ they are so pathetic.

I know that I write prolifically about how there is no solution in understanding abusive mothers, controllers, manipulators or narcissistic parents, but sometimes there is comfort and validation in realizing the sick ways that they think! This is one of those cases.

The only path to healing and freedom is to hold up your head long enough to SEE the truth about you.

When I first considered creating and authoring Emerging from Broken using my real name I was terrified to expose my parents or the dysfunctional family dynamics I grew up with in any way. I tried for a long time to focus exclusively topics about recovery from depression and trauma by writing about more superficial things, and writing about how healing came through realizing the things I believed about myself that were not true without saying HOW those false beliefs actually arrived in my belief system.

I quickly overcame my fear about writing the facts about how those false truths became what I believed about me in the first place because understanding how I came to believe I was insignificant is what set me free from the oppression of other peoples entitlement beliefs in the first place. 

My motive was never for revenge; my motive was because when I looked at the facts and the truth about my life, the trauma, my actions and reactions vs. the actions perpetrated upon me, I felt validated for the first time. I overcame my terror because I finally realized it was a misplaced fear.

Psychologist Alice Miller puts it this way: “I have never known a patient to portray his parents more negatively than he actually experienced them in childhood but always more positively—because idealization of his parents was essential for his survival.” Alice Miller ~

The important thing for me was realizing that idealization of my parents WAS essential for my survival when I was a child. It is not essential for my survival anymore.

The fear was in fact a belief that I had to cover for them. The fear was based in the belief that I was LESS valuable than them and in the consequences of challenging that lie. My belief in my lesser value actually assisted them in believing in their greater value, which of course IS the way dysfunctional family systems work.

Just because some parents have entitlement issues, doesn’t mean that they are entitled. Just because over half the world believes and goes along with parents who act in and through their ‘entitlement’ beliefs doesn’t make entitlement truth either. Just because some parents believe and act as though they are above the law, doesn’t mean that they are actually above the law. Just because these parents say that you have no rights and that they have all the rights doesn’t make those false statements the truth.

Christina’s parents did not win their case against her.

Please share your thoughts about entitlement, the content in this post, or about anything that you wish to share with us in the comments.

Exposing Truth, One Snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book “The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Darlene Ouimet is a professional life transitions coach with a busy private practice working with clients all over the world. In 2010, this emotional healing expert launched Emerging from Broken and today is one of the most popular blogs on the topic of healing. Her candid, heartfelt message of hope empowers people to create a life of freedom and wholeness. 

79 response to "Explaining Parental Entitlement Beliefs in Dysfunctional Families"

  1. By: Andria Posted: 4th August


    I am glad that you found EFB. Darlene’s writing started me on my healing journey 6 years ago. I don’t talk to my family anymore. There is no positive for me to do so. It is a very hard thing to break away from your family, but that was the only option for me. When there is nothing positive in having a relationship with someone whether it is family or not I believe it is time to go. I have done lots of healing work. I am in psychotherapy now with a great fit of a therapist for me. I am not saying you should break with your family. You make your own choices. For me, I truly cannot say that I love my family. They certainly never showed me that they loved me. Good luck on your journey.

  2. By: Jane Posted: 10th July

    Oh My Goodness!!! So, I’m not crazy!!! Darlene, it’s like you’ve been poking around inside my brain. I just found your website through one article, and I am so grateful to you for having the courage to speak up and share your experiences. I’ve been trying for so long to find the courage to do the same with my family, but it’s difficult for me. I think one of my core fears is that by finally, publicly, speaking the truth, my mom and the rest of the family will finally carryout on the threats to completely disown me. Which hurts me to my core. But yet, the silence, pain, and anger of not being allowed to speak, has been increasing depression and anxiety, and holding me back from enjoying and moving forward with my life.

    I hope to find the courage to speak the truth in compassionate ways, but not from a place of revenge or vindictiveness. I still love my family, but I really don’t like their behaviour.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles and blog, etc. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!

  3. By: Vera Posted: 2nd July

    So true. Once I started looking at truth in the eye about my dysfunctional family I noticed how entitled the ones who inflicted the most damage were. It was always about them, how they sacrificed so much for us to be where we are (and they’d make sure me and my sisters knew about this virtually every time we disagreed with them, God forbid we have our own opinions). And they wouldn’t talk to us “kids” respectfully, they would order us around in a harsh tone (I put kids in quotations because even as adults they will always see us as ‘less than’, as ‘mere kids’–in their words, as if kids are half-human, ugh).

    They are demanding and very needy. They are like unhealthy overgrown children, and they have the audacity to blame their children for something they are responsible with, they project a lot and instill a sense of shame and guilt, for no reason other than the limitations and hurt they carried over from their own upbringing. It’s disgusting.

    I still live with them and I’m in my mid 20’s. Can you guess why? I used to think it was practically impossible to move out and had zero confidence in my own ability to survive. I used to think I was nothing, that I was highly incompetent and not equipped to handle life (thanks to my “father” [ew] saying this to me over and over growing up when making small/normal mistakes, it was a crime for anyone to make a mistake, no matter how trivial or non-issue they were… he’d create them and find things wrong with so much of what I did… I could go on).

    Now that I have enough self-respect and esteem, I call them out on their BS and speak my truth. The difference between now and then, although I still ‘depend’ on them (not for much longer!), is that back then I would aggressively rebel and explode in anger/emotion against them from bottling things up so much. Now I say it like I mean it, right when I feel they’re being unreasonable and dysfunctional. They actually shut up. And it is great. I cannot change them, nor do I care to because I am not responsible for their behavior, but I don’t have to take their shit any longer EVEN while still living with them. When I get out, I imagine it’s going to be so much better than now still, and I’m excited at the prospect.

    P.S. Thank you for all your work on this blog Darlene–you along with many others who have the courage to share their stories and lessons openly like this.

  4. By: Kris Posted: 17th February

    When I confronted my father (regarding his constant seduction throughout my childhood, scary touch and body obsession)many years ago he said things like: “Just look at your eyes…” It stopped me because he made me feel that I am the crazy one and because I felt so dirty (and crazy) anyway, I had nothing to say anymore.
    I keep thinking how to expose the truth that it really makes him powerless.
    I have to talk from my experiences in a way that does not give him the chance to question my experiences and feelings with him.
    I cannot state the truth in a way that leaves me open to his disrespect and discredit. I mean, if I say “You did this and that..” and he says “No, I didn´t…you are hysterical” then what did I win but feeling like a crazy liar again.
    I don´t want to confront to get his agreement or validation of me, but to finally validate myself no matter HOW he reacts to what I say.
    So I feel there is a way of telling the truth that takes away his weapons of humiliation and gives back “my power of knowing”. I have to present a fact as a fact not as an option. And the damage it did as a fact,too.
    Just can´t grab it yet.

  5. By: Marquis Posted: 16th February

    Glad her parents didn’t win and so glad the courts saw right through her parents. I am surprised the courts didn’t go along with the parents because they are “parents” who pay tax dollars – have seen that used a lot. Abusive parents suing their child? My mom said she was gonna sue me for stupid shit even though everything was a gift and nothing in writing.

    They got the nerve to say they were emotionally damaged by their own daughter? OMG, what are they afraid of? Who said the dirty secrets weren’t gonna stay hidden in the closet forever? My very first therapist pretty much sided with my parents yet agreed I was treated horribly I said wow you are giving me mixed messages.

  6. By: Sherilynn Posted: 8th February

    I just found this page – accidentally – and it has really made me stop and think – and hope for a better life through placing the blame where it belongs. However, I am still fearful of telling my half-sister the things her father did to me. I think she loved him very much and I hate to be the one to tell her he was just sick. How do you tell someone the father they idolized was actually a child sexual abuser?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th February

      Hi Sherilynn
      Welcome to EFB
      Only you can decide on the timing of telling your half-sister. That is not an easy thing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Karen Tinnes Posted: 11th December

    It’s hard to explain how awesome this blog is for me. Finally, I feel validated. I am so sick of everyone telling me to be grateful, be positive, stop talking about it, get over it, etc… Thank you so much for this site

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th December

      Hi Karen
      Yay! That is great! Thanks you for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  8. By: Seeker Posted: 1st April

    Do you ever just want to go home? I want a place where I belong, and now that I’m exercising courage and becoming more like me, I can’t feel belonging in my family. They don’t care about my interests or values. They don’t respect me or respond to me. Where do I go? Where did you go?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st April

      Hi Seeker
      I came home to me. It’s hard to explain in a brief comment but I have tried to articulate though the pages in this website and in my book. I learned to re-parent myself and to fill the longings and needs that I had which really were about being heard, being validated, being loved.
      Hugs, Darlene

    • By: mary Posted: 9th June

      Yes, I totally get what you are saying. I longed for a family who accepted me and valued me. Darlene response rings true. I focused on me & creating the physical space, the people I choose to surround myself with & mentally how I talked to myself (among other things) But essentially I placed myself as the most valuable & worked (and am working ) on creating my own life.

      • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th June

        Hi Mary
        Welcome to EFB ~ Yay for taking your value back and for creating your own life!
        Thanks for sharing,
        hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Pinky Posted: 28th March

    This is an amazing post! I did not see that suggestion on the FB page to let it go it would have been interesting to me how people responded most likely it is some kind of abuser!
    It goes on in the church ,the body of Christ, and in all relationships.Those people must hate you Darlene you are an amazing truth teller getting right to the root of the abusers lies! You are amazing and doing a great job!
    When people dont listen and tell me to let it go I know they dont have my best interest in mind! But they try to get the entire world in on their denial!

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