Explaining Parental Entitlement Beliefs in Dysfunctional FamiliesBy
“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;
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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.