Parent Child Relationships in Recovery


With my Children ~ THEN and NOW

“If we are going to raise happy emotionally healthy, self reliant children with high self esteem and independence, who know their own value and the real definition of LOVE ~ then we have to be an example of those things and we have to know it for ourselves too”. ~ Darlene Ouimet

I used to feel a huge panic about the time it was taking to go through the process of recovery; like every moment that I struggled was going to damage my kids. On top of that I thought that every moment that I took to figure myself out was taking away from the time I needed to take care of all their needs. Mixed in with that was the thought that the depression and other mental health related struggles “should” just “go away” because I believed that depression was selfish too.  All of those beliefs, all at the same time, adds up to what I call “the spin” and it is a huge waste of time. Time that I learned I could spend on my recovery!

In some ways it is a good thing that I was desperate for some help and I was pretty much forced to deal with life as it was. There are two ways to look at everything, and looking back I see that there was a major upside to my having such a huge breakdown followed by recovery resulting in major changes; my kids also got to witness me dealing with life.  They got to see me FACE depression, tackle it and overcome it. They know now that it is possible that when life gets too hard, it isn’t hopeless. I was the example that they watched, and they watched me overcome. This makes sense to me now when I watch the way that they face the things that come up in their own lives verses the ways that they dealt with things in the past. The past was the way that my husband and I taught them to handle it. (and most of our examples were  “just don’t handle it!”)

In facing my depression and where it came from, I faced my parents too. I told my mother that she could not treat me like “nothing” any more. And eventually, my mother did what she always did ~ she didn’t bother with me anymore, but my kids got to see that I was stronger than the abusers. My kids learned that they don’t have to be treated like “nothing” they can say “no, I don’t think so” ~ and just like me they said it first to themselves and then to others.  In facing my depressions and dissociative issues, I stood up and declared that I was worth it; I stood up and declared my value, when up until that point my kids had witnessed their entire lives that my value was mostly in what I could do for them, how I could serve my family and my husband’s family. I thought that by putting my needs on the back burner, that I was modeling something GOOD for them. Did I want them to grow up thinking that a “good person” puts their own needs aside in favour of taking care of others, or did I want to be an example of independence, competence and individuality? Was I raising door mats or strong individuals with high self esteem? I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

In the old days, I modeled subservience to my children. I lived as though my only value was to serve others, to cook, clean and take care of everyone else. I was exhausted and believed that I was lazy. My husband (and I) have a big cattle and haying/grain operation. I was just his back up program though. I did the things he didn’t have time for, and I made sure that he and all the hired men were fed and taken care of every day. I didn’t have any life as an individual. I was just a wife and mother and I was dying. Instead of seeing that my life was way out of balance, I thought I was lazy, incompetent and selfish because I secretly wanted something else ~ something more.

Looking back I am not sure why I thought that I was going to raise happy self reliant children who took care of themselves, when I didn’t model that for them. That was part of the fog that I was in. My husband and I were still emotional slaves to our own parents, and I was really just a servant in my marriage and in our home. I just didn’t see the truth of it then.

No longer in that fog, I believe that everyone has equal value and I model that to my children. My children know that no matter what anyone says or how anyone acts towards them, THEY have equal value to every other human being and I live like I believe that I have equal value.

Love is not sacrificing oneself for others. Love is taking the very best care of me so that I can take the very best care of them and model real self esteem for them. it is never too late for parent child relationship recovery! My wishes for my 3 children make much more sense to me now that I pursue the same things for myself.

I welcome you to share your thoughts or your struggles and fears.

Exposing truth one snapshot at a time!

Darlene Ouimet

Please join me on the Emerging from Broken facebook page.

12 response to "Parent Child Relationships in Recovery"

  1. By: Jenny Posted: 17th September


    Thank you so much for this post!!! I can completely relate to this. I was raised as a doormat so, how could I possibly raise a child with self esteem when I don’t have much myself. This concept is HUGE and sometimes really difficult to grasp when you are the captain of your own ship. My sister, brother and I kind of raised ourselves and had to learn some brutal lessons along the way. One of the things I vowed to myself was to NEVER EVER chose a man over my child because our mother did that to us. I have been tested on this….my daughter’s father molested her when she was about 2yrs. old and I had to face one of the toughest times ever in my life. She is now 5 and I still have not gotten “over” it. I don’t think that is something you ever quite get over. However, I hope one day she will be proud of me for believing in what I saw even though I didn’t have enough “evidence” to prosecute. I advocated for her and took him to mediation. Long story short, I could supervise visits that she had with her father and we agreed to NO overnights. It happened on only the 2nd time she began spending the night at his house. That was a huge eye opener for me to begin to believe in my voice and how important it is to hear that. I will not carry on the circle of abuse and victimization to her. I have to do better than my mom did for me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September

      Hi Jenny
      This is so excellent! I made that vow to myself too that no one would come before my children and it was the only area of my life that I actually took a stand before I found healing for my other issues. I can’t imagine what you went through finding out that your child’s father was molesting her, but reading that you took the necessary action causes a reaction in me that I am having trouble putting into words. I feel this swell of hope, this feeling of gratitude that there are people out there that actually will DO something and will protect their kids. It is so great that you did this for your daughter and even though a lot of people would say “well of course you did something ~ you have to!” the truth is (which we all know all too well) is that millions of parents do not advocate for their kids in any way at all ~ they do nothing and they justify it in many ways,, often just saying that it didn’t happen or refusing to hear or see the signs. This is so devastating to a child.
      Thanks for sharing Jenny ~ Oh and also, I can relate to beginning to believe that inner voice.. That was huge for me too! Learning to trust myself let to all sorts of recovery!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Cyndi Posted: 14th September

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I’ve been wondering lately how my own recovery has affected my kids. When I look back to where I was when I started I know for sure than I am a much better mother now than when I was a people pleasing doormat. I also know I’m in a better place now than when I was seriously depressed. But I’m not done and still become quite anxious at times. But you’re right. I’m not pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m not allowing anyone to abuse or take advantage of me. I’m showing my boys that mothers and wives are people with their own interests and not to be used or abused. I feel better already! Thank you Darlene.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th September

      I hear you loud and clear. I was really worried when I realized that the way I was modeling relationship was that Mom’s are slaves with no interests of thier own, boys grow up and become the king of the castle, girls grow up, marry the king of the castle and its all over after that. In that system I can understand empty next syndrome. If my only purpose in life was to raised kids, THEN WHAT? I asked that question far too often about far too many situations.. but things are so much better today. I am not done yet either.. maybe we never are, but I am sure that I am a much better and healthier example then I ever used to be and my kids really are doing so much better too.
      Thanks Cyndi for your contribution! I think that I felt better about this whole thing when I suddenly realized that my recovery could have a hugely positive effect on everyone instead of the way i used to think ~ that it (the changes in me) might cause further harm.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th September

    I think that so many people just tell us to forgive because they truly don’t have a clue what else to do or say. Even other survivors will tell each other to just forgive. I tried and I tried to “just forgive” but the depression didn’t budge. I really had to do some other healing work in order to be set free and THEN forgiveness actually came!
    Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Tonya Dalton Posted: 11th September

    Thanks so much for responding and sharing a little more about your experience. I will probably ask Penny or Marie to help me explain it to my kids and probably my husband, too. I really want to be well and be a more healed and whole person, and know that God wants that for me too, cuz Jesus paid the price so that He could bind up my broken heart. Still struggling to see/know any local christians who really “get” this, beyond just telling me to forgive.

    I will definitely keep you and others updated with how things go with the counseling ministry and how it affects me and my family. I am thankful to have an online support system of others who can relate and understand. Because I don’t have anyone locally that I can share things with, yet. I hope I can; it would be nice to have someone to talk to face to face. But for now, you guys are it! Thanks!! 🙂

  5. By: Tonya Dalton Posted: 11th September

    That is what I am struggling with right now. Penny and Marie from the Beauty for Ashes ministry are coming to see me soon, and I am having a lot of the same anxieties about how the healing process will affect me and my family. Worrying about how my pain and stuff was going to affect my family. One thing that I really worry a lot about is the times when I don’t want to be touched. I want to be left alone, physically. My skin crawls at times when my kids get all grabby and touchy all over me, cuz it is 4 of them, and they all are very physical, and sometimes it is just too much and I have to tell them, “Give me my space!” and go away. I am worried this will be magnified when Penny and Marie come to do the deep healing. I don’t want to be “mean” and tell the kids to go away and leave me alone. I also worry about other stuff, like feeling like screaming. But I am trying not to let the fears and anxieties keep me from continuing to seek healing. I want healing, cuz the status quo is not working! Thanks for sharing this, your message is very encouraging! Just what I needed to hear. 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th September

      Hi Tonya,

      I can totally relate to this comment! I felt exactly like this; all of it including the wanting to scream. There was a rough time involved with my healing and what my kids went through over it, I am not saying there wasn’t (and they were 7, 11 and 12 at the beginning) and I was so worried that my healing process would actually be abuseive to them, but sometimes I explained to them that I was going through a tough time, sometimes I told them that I just needed some space and that I was not rejecting them, that it was not their fault that I needed some space. I remember my one daughter screaming for me to PLEASE stop going to “that guy” ( my therapist ) and yelling ” I HATE HIM” ~ but change is hard for everyone not just for the one who is doing healing work. I also remember the day that she said “I love that guy” because she knew that things were so much better. In a way they got their mom back, pretty much for the first time, I was their real mom.
      My kids got to see right up close and personal, that change can be the best choice. They got to see that there might be something better than what is familiar. They got to see how relationship should be mutual and not one sided. The learned that facing the tough stuff isn’t going to kill you and things are better then ever after the pain subsides. Isn’t this what raising kids is all about.

      Life isn’t easy ~ it is hard and it takes guts. When our children see us model that kind of courage, it can be a very positive thing!
      Hang in there Tonya! I am really encouraged by your comment today and I look forward to updates on your journey!

      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Nicole Posted: 9th September

    This is a really good blog for me. I have had issues of pleasing everyone in my extended family but not taking into consideration my own needs. Before reading this blog I had recently realized this problem on my own and have made the necessary adjustments in my life to put my self first and others second. wow what a drastic change it has been. Having 3 very small children I am very excited to have a chance at raising them to be self reliant confident loving and independent people. Instead of being trampled on by everyone and always feeling second. I must say I am with Carol on the husband thing. Before I ever had children my husband and i sat down and i told him if we had kids it was a 50/50 job. I can honestly say that he has kept his part of the deal up and for that I am blessed. But like you Darlene i always felt I wanted more and felt guilty for wanting more out of life than being a wife and a stay at home mom. It has taken me a lot of work to see that I have needs and wants and that I need to change things. It is a slow process but I am changing and my husband and kids are likeing the new me 🙂 I think I like it too 🙂 It is so hard to change and so hurtful to be hurt by family. I really had no idea they were walking all over me and still abusing me. It was devastating to have to walk away from all of them but I am so looking forward to the new me and so happy my children will not have to make some of the mistakes I have made or live through so many hurts. Thanks Darlene for this post it was just what I needed to keep going. Very encouraging. God bless!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th September

      Hi Nicole,
      Thanks for this contribution! It is great to hear that your husband shares the responsibility of sharing the raising of the kids! My husband was a workaholic; just one of the things that I accepted becuase I was so used to being put last anyway. I had to do most of the cooking etc. in my family growing up, so in an effort to being a better mother then the one that I had.. I did everything for my kids. I mistook the BEING for the DOING. but that is another post.. LOL
      It is also great to hear about the changes that you have and are implementing in your own life and in the lives of your children! And it is great that everyone loves the new you!
      Thanks so much for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th September

    Hi Carol,

    Isn’t it amazing when we see the truth and realize what is really going on? I thought that it was going to shatter me, but in reality it set me free. When we set our boundaries, our families have a choice about how they are going to react. They have the option to listen to us like you would think someone who loves us would want to. Sometimes the power and control factor is so out of whack that they can’t fathom doing that though. I got to the point too, where I stopped trying to understand her and stopped trying to change how SHE SAW ME ~ and I saw her for once. And I deserve better. I deserve to be treated better so I drew a boundary. She didn’t like it because she likes me better when I am a puppet but that isn’t love.

    Thanks for sharing your story today!
    Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: carol Posted: 9th September

    i am going through this issue with my mother at the moment, to her i shouldnt keep harping back to how it was and live for today. she really does not want to see that the past will always have a hold over me, may not always control my actions, but it will affect me. me i have always been strong about equal rights within the home, n have made my husband take turns at everything from household chores to baby care etc. it has been the source of many rows tho, yet i always stood my ground. yet with my birth family, they walked all over my life doin and saying as their deem fit but never allowing me to respond. now i don tput up with the mind games, i dont get angry with my mother, i feel hurt and pain for the mother i wish i could of had if things had been differnet, and her inability to treat me with the same respect as she does total strangers. i was always the peace maker between her and my brothers and then i stopped doin that, stopped doing what pleased her n my stepfather and got on with my own life by not telling them anything but what they wanted to hear. how sad is that. not any more though. and i suppose that is why the mother daughter relationship is hangin by a thread with a dead weight holding on,mmm.
    the upside of all this is that if i hadnt found here and OSA i would be in peices now. yet i am surprisingly calm, i see her right to believe what she wants and act how she wants but when her friends verbally attack me for being a bad daughter and person, and she doesnt protect me n not correct the bad impression; well that takes the biscuit

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