The Definition of Respect ~ Do Disrespectful People deserve to be Respected?



psychological abuse

poster by Judy Baxter ~ quote by Darlene Ouimet

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………

A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.

Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.

When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives.  All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.

It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that they were right and I was wrong because I had never known anything different and I didn’t know what the real definition of respect was.

People are quick to tell us that we ‘should respect’ our parents. Our parents tell us that they should be respected. One time when I was in my thirties my mother referenced the bible to me saying “what happened to that bible verse that says ‘honour thy mother and thy father’?” This was her way of dictating to me that if I went against anything she wanted or whatever she said, that I was being disrespectful. But is that the truth? Is not doing what someone else wants or not agreeing with what they say the same as being disrespectful? Is standing up for yourself and your human rights a display of disrespect?

I get a lot of comments in this website about respect that communicate that most of us have accepted a false definition of the word respect when it comes to whoever we believe is in a position of authority or power oin our lives.

So what is respect?

Based on the following definition of respect, do you think that abusive controlling or manipulative parents should be automatically respected?

Do you think that parents who neglect their children or do not protect them from danger, or teach/communicate to them that whatever they are upset about or any wrong done to them, is something they brought on themselves?

  1. 1.    re·spect/ri?spekt/


A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.



Admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Have you ever used or do you use the above definition of respect as a guideline to understanding what you are being accused of when you were being called “disrespectful”?

I did a search on respect your parents and what I ran across made me angry. Here is one of the top search results for my query;

“One of the “golden rules” that is usually taught in society is to respect your parents (as well as your elders). Although you may not like them, or what they do, you should always have respect for them. Think about it: they have to put up with you too on a daily basis! Everyone knows that sometimes they are hard to be around, but your parents love you and just want to raise you to be the best that you can be. The least you can do for them is to show them respect, which means listening when they are talking, not talking down to them, and not raising you voice to them, among many other things.”  

This is the kind of teaching I run into all the time. What the heck does this even mean? There are no “unless they are abusing you” parts to this teaching. This teaching assumes that the parents have the best interests of the child in mind. But what about when they DON’T. In this website we are usually talking about when they don’t have the adult child or the young child’s best interests in mind at all.

And another thing to consider; by this definition of respect in the above quote, what about when parents don’t listen to their children? What about when parents talk down to their children? What about when parents raise their voices to their children? Parents always seem to be exempt from these directives!

Children learn what is modeled to them by the adults in their lives. They learn from the people who have power in their lives. Children learn by example and the only way to teach respect is to BE respectful.

In the case of most of the people who read Emerging from Broken, the people who have been in power and authority in our lives, have misused their power. Do they still deserve respect?

Unless they acknowledge their disrespect and stop misusing their power, I don’t think so. I think that people who ARE respectful deserve to be respected. Respect is not an automatic or a ‘given’. Respect is earned by actions based in the true definition of love.

Please share your thoughts! I made huge leaps forward when I saw these word definitions through the grid of the truth about them verses the false ways that I had been taught about them. As always you privacy is important. Please feel free to use any name you wish in the comment form. Only the name you use will be seen by others so if you don’t want your real name or your last name published, don’t use it. Your email address will always be private.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book 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


 For related posts please see the Mother Daughter Category, Father Daughter Category and the Family Category.

Categories : Survival



THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I love (and needed to read) this post.


What a great post. It’s so nice to find someone who will put the truth in writing. When I was a child, my abusive father once yelled at me that I don’t respect him. I replied that he doesn’t respect us (meaning the rest of the family), and without even pausing he said “That’s different.”


Hi Lisa,
You are welcome 🙂 Thanks for your comments!

Hi Cheryl
Welcome to emerging from broken! Glad that you like my work here! That is such a truth leak about what your fathers response was… I wonder what he thought was “different” about it??
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene, People are so quick to quote that Bible verse about honoring our parents but they ignore the verses in the NT that follow it that tell parents not to ‘provoke their children to wrath’. Newer translations use the word ‘frustrate’. I like both words. I think children want to respect their parents but when parents aren’t honorable that desire is frustrated and the result is an angry child. It’s like kids can take a lot but when they enter adolescence and begin to become their own person that’s when the bad parenting really begins to show up. If they’ve been forced to respect their parents when their parents have done nothing to deserve their respect, the child will be angry and rebellious as a teen. All teens are somewhat, rebellious (none of us are perfectly, honorable parents)but troubled teens are angry teens who have suffered some level of abuse from parents or those who were in authority over them as children. I was one of those wrathful teens. After I became a Christian, I was taught that I should honor my parents, no matter what they were like. I tried but in my heart, I could never give honor to what is dishonorable. I’ve decided that love is unconditional but respect has to be earned and without respect their can be no trust and without trust, there can be no relationship. I decided that the best way for me to honor my parents was by living the truth. I tried confronting them on the dishonorable things they did to me and others that I love with the truth. Because my love for them is unconditional, I pursued the avenue that gave them opportunity to earn my respect and allow me to honor them, as God wants children to do. They refused that opportunity and frustrated my efforts to honor them in the same way that they frustrated the natural desire I had to respect them as a child. This is when I knew that there would never be any trust in our relationship and though I let them back into my life as an adult, our relationship never improved because they don’t have enough respect for their children to try to live and behave in such a way as to derserve that honor. Then it became apparent to me that the most honorable, truth preserving thing I could do was walk away. I’ve seen many Christians struggle with carrying a pretense of honor for parents who are less than honorable, thinking they had to do so to honor God. We get so tangled up when we neglect the spirit of the Law and apply it by the letter only; or when we chop out a piece here and de-emphasize the portions of scripture that come before and after and give it proper context. It’s really important for people to read the Bible themselves and not allow teachers to misapply their interpretation to their personal situation. Often, just applying logic clears things up. Yes, God hates it when families break apart but He also, hates abuse. God never asks us to give honor to what is dishonorable but instead, to ‘give honor to whom honor is due’. Traditional teachings should always, always be questioned. It isn’t a sin to do so and I believe that God is pleased when we seek the truth rather than accept a lie because of peer preasure or fear of authority. The truth makes us free and it also, keeps us free.

A term I like and seldom hear anymore, is mutual respect. That equal, basic respect is important and even when someone is disrespectful to me, I try hard not to sink to their level. In that way, I preserve my own integrity. I may remove myself from their company and I may tell them what I think but I try to do so with that basic respect for all human beings.(I’m not always successful in this. I am human.) Truth is a fundamental aspect of respect. Lies and respect have nothing in common. There is nothing respectful about pretending to like what we hate but it is still possible to express how we feel with respect.

Anyway, that’s what R E S P E C T means to me. It’s something I’ve thought long and hard about because people have all kinds of screwy ideas about what respect means.



Pam…you beautifully put the words to how I feel about this subject! I appreciate how you see and view situations and people….and relationships. Respect is probably one of the most important foundations in my book…to my relationships, and as you said…MUTUAL RESPECT. Growing up in a dysfunctional family where the adults controlled everything that they wanted and could control about me and my older brother, and where they believed that 100% compliance meant “respect”, and if that didn’t happen we were “punished”, and having a husband who would take advantage of my willingness to give and do for him, and he would never listen to me when I talked about MY needs or wants….I am huge on mutual respect these days in my life. These last few months have been key in beginning to learn for the first time in my life how to deal with people who do not deserve MY respect because they disrespect me.
I also find that I have huge issues with people who call themselves Christians. I went from my parents to living alone …..this was years ago….and began going to what I believed was a wonderful church with such loving people. There were actually some genuine people who were tolerant and compassionate, but looking back, I was so damaged that I thought anything and anyone who wasn’t controlling me and hitting me and screaming at me and insulting and rejecting me…etc etc…were wonderful! I didn’t realize then that people are people! Just because someone has asked Jesus into their hearts and they read a Bible and go to church doesn’t make them any nicer! In fact, many times they are actually meaner because they judge more! I now am seeing all the many ways that ppl try to control others in order to get what they want , and I am learning to stop them in my world from controlling
me…and that word RESPECT plays a large part of being able to see. I think the most difficult thing is to learn self-respect. It goes hand in hand with self love! I am still learning how to walk this out daily, and it is wonderful, but hard too. I hadn’t realized how often I attracted ppl who would not respect me because I didn’t care enough about myself to not let them treat me badly….and set up healthy boundaries. This one word holds so much meaning to it! I decided as soon as I had my daughter that I would respect her….and that meant her feelings and words and space and personality differences and differences of opinions that we would have. I failed off and on, but overall, I respected her enough to treat her fairly and kindly and let her just be herself….and I am very thankful! She, in turn, has given me the same respect back….almost always! This is one reason I have been able to heal too. I have LIVED it….mutually…and know what it is and I can see better what it isn’t! I have to still work on this with myself….I still fall back into forgetting all about my needs and even wants and then something lime this blog reminds me that i need to respect myself and work again on self care! I get too busy or just forget! 🙂


Wow. My mother has used that one about a million times. And in the same conversation she said that she (my mother) was “inherently good” and that I (her daughter) was wicked. She actually said that when I die she hopes the crows pick my eyes out. It’s hard to respect a mother like that!


Whoops. I meant “peck”. 🙂


My mother pulled this trick on me when I was a child. She’d ignore me and make me do chores while she just sat and watched tv, and never once would have a conversation with me. She just directed me everywhere to do things she didnt want to, because she was lazy. She used me. She would never give me explanations as to why she could not do chores, but I had to do her biddings. We had many arguments in which I yelled at her very much because i felt disrespected. She would always tell me that I ‘had a big mouth’ and ‘disrespected her’ and i would say, ‘how can i respect you, if you dont respect me?’. Then she’d say ‘I can because I’m the parent.” I believe she had some sort of power trip on me. She treated me like her dog. I believed she didnt even know what respect was. I was a child at the time, about age 9, 10. Even I knew what respect was, at that age! Stuff like this is enough to make a child go crazy. When I cried about her mistreatment, she would say ‘you’re too old to have temper tantrums. you’re immature!’ Even though I was 9 years old and being misused.


hi Darlene,
I agree with you. You dont/cant respect people in authoritive positions who abuse there power. respect has to be earned. we can respect those in high places because of the posotion they hold. Respecting the position not the person. but no way if they are abusing that position do they deserve to be respected.


Diane, We have learned many of the same lessons. I looked up to people in church, thought they knew much more than I did, and they let me down because they were just people working through problems, like me. I learned a lot from those experiences and even though so many of us expect church to be perfect, I think the lessons I learned because it isn’t perfect are all the more valuable. To understand people, we have to rub shoulders, learn to love others warts and all and sometimes, that process actually wears some of those warts away.:0)It certainly, did teach me the value of respect.

Disrespect is part of everything these days, from entertainment to the presidential election. It seems that we are becoming more and more hostile and abusive of one another. Respect is being defined as holding ultimate power over someone through fear. Many seem to think respect is earned by stepping on throats to get what one wants. The world needs what we’ve learned, Dianne. Abuse isn’t uncommon. It’s is highly common. The things we analyze here are foundational and important to ourselves and everyone who is touched by our lives.



Elizabeth….what a horrible thing to say to a child about crows pecking eyes out! I am so sorry that she disrespected you so much.

Julie, I can relate about doing chores and being used. My mom used to always say ,”because I told you to!” if I ever questioned her, or “you better do it or you will be punished!”. I am so sad that you also went through that. I never got help or conversation either…in fact, it actually dawned on me recently that we rarely spoke at all. Only when necessary, and she was always too busy living HER life and making sure that she got things just the way she wanted from everyone . Of course she yelled and screamed nearly every day about things ,so we all were disrespected in one way or another I suppose. It sounds like you had an extremely immature parent too! It is interesting that even small children know what respect and fairness is all about!


I know I have gotten the “you must respect us” crap from my parents, too. Now I am beginning to understand how this whole question is affecting my present life in other ways.

My financial situation is not good, but I have found myself unable to make moves to get a better job. I was thinking about this last night and I set the intention to see if I could get any insights from my dreams. So, this morning I had a dream where some people came to me and they acted very polite and respectful. They told me that they wanted to consult with me and pay me for helping them to understand their problems because they had heard I was very insightful. Sounds good, right?

But I was feeling very needy myself. I was not in shape to help anyone. I was wanting someone to hold me and love me like a small child should be loved by her mother. One of the people did give me a hug, but he didn’t seem to really want to, and then they said, well, we really want to get our consultations, so just pull yourself together and come meet us at the table. I tried to gather the papers and stuff I needed to work with them, but my emotions were too strong about my needs not being met first.

Is there something to the idea that people can FAKE respect in order to get what they really want? That the idea of true respect should include wanting to make sure that my needs are taken care of? Am I just on strike from participating more fully in the working world because the child within is STILL not getting the love and attention she needs? How can I move forward with improving my material well-being while at the same time acknowledge the truth of the neglect and abuse so present in many working environments? At so many times in school and worked I have been rewarded for my talents and efforts, but never felt like anyone was really looking and seeing the true needs of a wounded child. I felt like the real me was invisible and unwanted. So there is a root to my fear of success.

Most of family are people who have been successful in business. They scoff at the idea of deeper needs and tell me to just get on with “fulfulling my potential.” But what they mean by potential is only the goal of making more money. I don’t want to be poor and all, but I hear the insistent voice of a very small child who missed out, and she holds me to account and wants me to take her seriously so she can grow and feel loved. Then I think I can progress.

I am taking things step by step and improved my work situation certainly over what it was even a few years ago by doing this process of emotional healing. I can deal with co-workers and clients much more successfully since I have started the healing process. Now it seems like another leap in self-awareness and re-parenting is due.

I really love the way dreams can bring up from the subconscious the issues we cannot consciously articulate. I love this group for being a place where these things can be said and understood.



After much soul searching I am saying good-bye to this website.


Julie and Dianne, I am sorry your Moms were so demanding, immature, and disrespectful to you. Children are very intuitive and smart. My mother did not “put me to work”, but she was passive aggressive and any little thing that bothered her would set her off, and when it did…watch out! I used to have nightmares about her. Sometimes I still do.

Diane and all, the bible says lots of things that people do not follow. Often those people that you respected the most are the biggest hippocrites. I think that I “honor my father and mother” as my parents. I still pray for them and I still love them in spite of their disregard for me as their daughter. It’s just hard to act “respectful” when they get nasty. It has now been over 3 months since my last conversation with my mother. my father acts like I do not exist. I think he has called me twice in my life since I have been an adult and i am almost 40 years old. I am sure they are saying what an ungrateful disrespectful daughter they have. They can quote the bible all they want. Lies and abuse are not Christian. My parents aren’t following God’s word. And they certainly have shown me no more respect as an adult than they did when I was a child! When I wanted respect from my mother…to have a relationship that was built on mutual respect, she walked away. It’s never been fair in my family. Not then. Not now. Not ever. Still I am grateful that my mother and father gave me my life, and I can respect them for that without being their friend and without letting them carry on the abuse.



Hi Darlene,

Reading those definitions was really enlightening. Society has twisted the definition of respect to the point where it essentially removes a person’s individual choice about who they respect. I remember telling my therapist a long time ago that I was ashamed for it, but that I don’t respect my father (CSA by him). At the time, I hadn’t fully recognized everything that’d happened in childhood, so all my therapist said was that he must have done something hurtful to lose my respect. And the way she phrased it kind of epitomizes those definitions – that a person chooses who they respect because the other person has to EARN it by being someone that I want to respect rather than “have” to respect.

I recently broke off contact with my father which has caused a tsunami of family crap, but the thing my father keeps going on about is that he gave me so much, what did he ever do to me, where is my respect for him? And having him asking me where my respect is seems like it totally invalidates my reality. He would never, ever put up with someone who was disrespectful to him (case in point: me), and yet he expects me to put up with it..and then some.

Anyway, on a slightly funnier note, I always remember this one time when I was little, maybe about 6. My father was really angry with me about something and he demanded, “Where is my respect?” And I quickly told him, “In my closet!” I need to muster that kind of strength now. 🙂


Hi Pam!
Great comments! The bible, like any other teaching, can be skewed to suit the abusive manipulative (disrespecful) person! And when it is twisted just enough, or when important things are left out of the teaching, it sounds true. (this is the grooming process behind ALL abuse) I decided that it was and is love to draw boundaries against abusive people. It isn’t love to let them treat me that way. Not love for me OR for them. When people control other people there is no actual relationship and relationship is a big part of the joy in life, so standing up to my parents IS love. It is the only chance they might have to see how wrong they are; not that that is my expectation but if I tolerate the way they treat me, then I am consenting to it.
Thanks so much for adding your voice to this! Your comments are excellent!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

Again, great points that I hadn’t thought of about respect. Truly a great exercise to look at the definition. I actually did the same Google search and found the same issues – what about when the parent doesn’t have the child’s best interest in mind? There doesn’t seem to be anything out there on that. What about when the child is expected to behave as the adult in the relationship? I can remember my mother leaving HUGE decisions up to us kids – like should she break up with a boyfriend, etc. I don’t mean having am open conversation with us about her decision – I mean, she left the decision up to us and followed through with that decision time and time again.

I was wondering how you feel about forgiveness. My mom constantly wants to be ‘forgiven’ for being such a bad mother – I can’t get inside her head but I think she thinks that if I forgive her, she will then get to be more a part of my life. I’ve recently become very comfortable in keeping her at arms length – I find that I ‘do better’ when I can control my contact with her. She doesn’t understand it and thinks that she should be forgiven, which translates to respect in her eyes. I think it’s more about what other people think than what she thinks. I think she gets embarrassed when people ask her how I am or when she hears something about me that she didn’t know. So, she cries to them that I don’t return her calls and she doesn’t know what she’s done to derserve that except to me she will apologize for being a bad mother.


P.S. Kristin, I loved your story about telling your dad where you put his respect!


Hi Daine
I know you are addressing Pam, but I wanted to comment on your middle paragraph. I can really relate to thinking that anyone not being mean to me was wonderful! I found that in church there was a similar grooming process to other grooming processes in that I was accepted and welcomed but I had to keep producing whatever they wanted (compliance, service etc) more and more in order to get that acceptance. That is not a mutual respect scene and it is not ‘love’ either. I did a lot of study about the life of Christ and most of his “followers” don’t follow him at all. Finding out what he really taught helped me in a huge way to see the manipulations of abusive/manipulative so called ‘christians’.
Love your comments about self respect / self love too! Self respect was one of the hardest things for me. (and I still have to work on it. I break agreements with myself even though I rarely break them with others) I also have mutual love/respect with my children (two of them are adults now and one still a teen) and it is so fulfulling to have that kind of relationship!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Elizabeth,
What a horrible thing for a parent to say to a child! (about the crows pecking out your eyes!) That certainly speaks about HER character!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Gaye,
Welcome to emerging from broken
Good point about respecting the position and not the person!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Julie
Welcome to emerging from broken
Yes, exactly. This stuff is very very damaging. That is what this entire site is about. How I overcame depression, low self esteem etc by finding out where it started and how I and my self esteem got so damaged in the first place.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sophia
Yes, the grooming process in all abuse is laced with manipulation. Getting the victim to believe that the abuse is actually love. Using ‘fake respect’ to get the victim to comply. That is why I talk about equal value in relationship so much. In real relationship each person has equal value.
It was through re-parenting that I made the biggest steps forward in recovery and emotional healing. I had to learn to fill all my needs, hug myself, love and accept myself and respect myself. Thank you for sharing you insights!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, Dianne, I just want to add that it was in observing and interacting with abusers in church that allowed me to develop a lot of the insight I have about abusive relationships. I agree that there are more people in church practicing churchianity than true Christianity. I do go to church but I look for those who are genuine and stay away from those who aren’t. I don’t allow anyone to come between me and God. I don’t need human mediation. People get hurt by thinking Christians are more than human but Christians often have more problems that nonbelievers as their brokeness is what brought them to faith in the first place. Anyway, I know exactly what your talking about when it comes to peer preasure to comply and I’m happy to say that no longer has an effect on me.



Hi Kristen
One of the things I was surprised to learn was the whole “there is no obligation when it comes to love” and what your father is saying is all about obligation. I call it the “after all I have done for you” lecture.
It is really shocking to me when parents who have sexually abused their children demand respect and say “after all I have done for you” crap. I wonder what kind of “respect” he would get in prison for the crimes he committed!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lisa
I have written several articles about forgiveness here in EFB. Forgiveness is a result of the healing process and not the goal in that process.
My mother has said she is sorry for a couple of vague things, but never without a ‘but’ to justify what she did. And she has found a way to justify everything too. (of the things I had a chance to actually confront her about and they were not many) That is not an apology. If my mother wants to repair our relationship, she has to actually admit what her part in the destruction of it is. Her motive will have to be “love’” and not the usual “selfish what will everybody think” motive. My mother stopped talking to me when I asked her for mutual respect. That is a pretty big “truth leak”.
Forgiveness attached to false respect, compliance and obligation means nothing and will not contribute to healing in anyway.
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


Respect is earned.

I can’t respect a person who treats others poorly. That includes parents who abuse their children; people who abuse animals; people who bully others; people who are unkind to the poor, the homeless, the disabled.

I also can’t respect a person who is narcissistic, because a narcissistic person habitually lies, blames others, refuses to take responsibility for his/her despicable deeds, and constantly devalues and invalidates others.

My parents would have earned my respect had they acted in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, there was not much for us to respect in either of them. They didn’t give us kids “much to work with,” if you know what I mean.

I guess it all depends upon what you value. I personally value people being good to one another, so I have no tolerance or patience (or respect) for people who abuse others–either physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually.

I can’t think of a single incident in my life in which I got pleasure out of hurting another human being. I never was a bully. I don’t hurt people on purpose. I never abused my children, or any other child. I treat people with dignity and respect, and I always have. My psychopathic father, though, seemed to HATE my being good to others. He was always laughing at me and sneering at me, making fun of my sensitive nature and my vulnerability, my softness and my caring. It really screwed up my head when I was a child. I still feel guilty for being a sensitive person.

Thanks, Darlene, for this great topic. I think it’s important that we survivors learn to NOT feel guilty if we do not respect our abusive parents.

(Is anyone here familiar with Luke 17 Ministries? Wow….it totally helped me to change my mind about what God thinks about abusive parents!! It’s a fantastic website written by two Christian women who have much to say about forgiveness and about abusers in general.)

Thanks, Darlene, and everyone else, for the fantastic insights!


Pam, as always, you have been able to put into words things that I have felt or thought about church and christians and people! I appreciate your comments so much! I wanted to comment on what you wrote specifically in comment your second paragraph. I have felt exactly the same thing about how ppl are becoming more and more hostile and abusive of each other….and stepping on each other’s throats to get what they want. Well said! I agree with you. I think I have been dealing with my feelings/thoughts about all of this because I WANT to go to church. I also have let noone and nothing interfere with my personal faith, but I stopped going to church after too many ridiculous things that went on and the way my husband and I were treated. It is almost a curse when you can see through people to whatever degree, because I have been able to see “motives” in people who are at church pretty easily over the years, and it distracts from my ability to fit in and worship. If I am isolated from christians, I feel “safe” , but that isnt necessarily happy because I genuinely love people and connecting and frienships, if that makes sense? I agree with you that it has been a great learning experience to have interacted and dealt with ppl who are abusers in church, but I dont seem to be able to have the confidence yet to try again, but I am wanting to. I figure if I can figure this self respect stuff out , then maybe I can feel the boldness to try AGAIN.

Darlene, thank you! You also said something that hit home..the issue that I do struggle with more than anything is breaking agreements with myself. I also rarely break them with others…which does become a problem since once again I am the “caretaker” of everyone! I am learning though…and one day I think it will begin to come naturally. It may only happen when my daughter leaves home and there is only myself and my husband. I think it is still difficult to give myself permission…but that depends on the situation. The great thing about all of this is that it is a process, so as I become more and more aware, it helps so much for the next situation!

Lisa, I dont know if this will help, but when I read your story, it made me think of how I feel about my parents and forgiveness. So much happened to me as a little girl..and even as an adult…that for me personally, no apology from my parents helped to heal me at all. It feels like the bridge was burned between us, and even though I still feel love and even understanding and some compassion for them, I no longer feel the BURDEN of being responsible for making them feel better . That isnt my responsibility as their daughter…to make them feel better about what they did to me, and quite honestly, there just wasnt any relationship between us. The dysfunctional ways of relating were not a relationship. I know that my parents feel terrible guilt…one reason they cannot hash out the past with me, but wanted me to forgive them by telling me that they were sorry…is that they would feel that they were monsters if they got into all of what it was that they did or did not do as parents…and they can never face that. I understood all of that,but that didnt help ME heal! I no longer have any contact with them and it is a huge relief to me. I sometimes have felt immense guilt that I cut them off since they did apologize…without going into any specific issues with me…a general apology…and they loaded me down with gifts, money and tried to be nicer to me. I think many ppl would feel that was enough and I should be grateful and forgive and patch things up. But they never really loved me, and that is the truth. Their definition of love is warped and it isnt mine or my reality….so we just never could bridge that huge gap. They wanted me to fix the issue …just like I had been responsible for complying in every other way as their daughter over the years. So….I guess what I am trying to say is that your mother always wanting you to forgive her and if she cries and feels badly about being a bad mother…well…maybe she did too much too long or not enough for you and now she is trying to make you responsible for making her feel better about how she let you down…and that just isnt YOUR responsibility. I say, let the burden be on her….and she needs to forgive herself and quit harrassing you about it. Her consequences of her actions or inactions are biting her today, but that is not YOUR fault or responsibility or burden to bear. I choose to forgive my parents…and I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem with them being in my life. It doesnt work for me, so I dont. That is the only way I have been able to heal and live a happy life. It is too bad, but that wasnt MY choice! I wish you the best with your mom!


Marone… It is because of our inner strength and things abusers lack that makes them insanely hateful of us. I had some similar experiences with my parents too. They really hate our cores…who we are. My mother once came to visit me when my child was very ill…she then started in on some very hateful comments while I was in a very low point in my life…thinking about it…those were the times she really sunk her nails in at me too. Anyhow she said…you should be happy! Really? My baby was in the hospital…why mom? Crying and unable to conse myself…well look at the wonderful life you have…look at all you have…meaning material things.oh ok whatever. Then another time I was ditched by a man who was much older than myself…7 years. I was 17 And he just wanted sex…again he said all the right things to get me into bed…and as soon as I had mentioned I thought I was pregnant…he dumped me!
My mom then said oh well when I got pregnant my boyfriend didn’t dump me! He married me! What kind of mother says that?


Respect: “A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

I LOVE it. The next time someone I don’t respect says something like that, I will turn it around by citing the definition of respect and then asking them which of their abilities, qualities, or achievements they think I am supposed to deeply admire!

“but your parents love you and just want to raise you to be the best that you can be”

What about when your parent doesn’t love you? Or want you to be the best you can be, unless of course it mirrors her? Then what?

I recently read a post you had on the definition of love and the poem/bible verse. Love is patient, love is kind, etc. In that whole poem absolutely NOTHING resonated. In fact, it was the first time I think I understood what love was supposed to be. (Note, I had read the poem before, I just never got it). So, I recognize that my mother never loved me. Now I’m in the process of trying to get to “My mother never loved me, BUT that was her loss”. 😉


I’m still thinking about that definition of respect due to someone because of their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Maybe I’m misunderstanding this, but when I was in college I received many honors, awards, and scholarships due to my abilities, qualities, and achievements, but I still felt very empty inside. This has also happened in workplaces. There is a lot of respect in this culture for people who can perform, but when your self-esteem is non-existent to begin with, it really doesn’t seem to help. Especially when you stop performing, you are ignored. So I think this is also fake respect because it’s based on being able to measure up to someone’s idea of value.

In a healthy society everyone is made to feel welcome and worthy from day one. Darlene, could we say that the fake respect shown by schools, employers, etc, is part of a grooming process? I remember one of my professors telling me once that I was the department’s “prize pig.” In other words, they were getting a lot of credit from having such a talented student, that they were happy because I was making them look good. All I know is no one ever seemed to want to know how I was doing in my soul. Now I am struggling with knowing that if I get a job, the goal is also to make the company look good. I guess it has to come down to my own self-care, because the culture is often just as unconscious and abusive as my family. All we have to do is look at the officials at Penn State! They cared more about their image than the boys who were being molested.


Hi Marore
Yes. The ways that I learned to let go of guilt and shame and the ways that I recovered from all this stuff is by seeing where it started in the first place and by seeing the TRUTH about the messages people give by thier actions. The truth about God/Christ is all in the bible but it is very twisted by man. I saw the truth there myself when I was still very broken and when I started to ask about it I was pretty heavily judged. (I might write a post about one such incident that really highlights how this whole cycle of abuse and control works)
Sister Renee from Luke 17 is one of the commenters in this site so I have checked out the website and it is wonderful as you say!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Michelle
I had to learn what love really was before I saw that I was not really loved. I had to learn what respect was before I saw that I was not respected and that the way I was taught love and respect were not a two way street. The rules didn’t apply to them. That knowledge set me on a whole new path. and yes, it was her loss.
Hugs, Darlene

It was important for me to keep in mind in all this that ‘getting respect’ will not be the answer either. Abusers believe that in getting respect that they are proven ‘worthy’ but they have to keep demanding more and more because it doesn’t really change anything about the way they feel about themselves.
Hugs, Darlene


It’s shocking to me how many sources want to not only make these demands of children and adult children, but insist on there being a “clean slate” after childhood as if the abusive parents still hold all the cards and get to make the decisions, define the terms of the relationship, and define all by themselves how our childhood was through their selective memories. That’s something my mother pulled on me, that because she was pretending to be nice for the day, I had no right to bring up the past.

Meanwhile in my childhood I remember her shouting a lot of things like, “don’t you raise your voice to me!” despite the fact that my parents gave me ptsd from constantly raising their voice and screaming at me every chance they got. My mother also once screamed, “how dare you raise your hand to your mother!” when I had grabbed her wrists to keep her from hitting my face yet again. She wrongly believed that she deserved rights and consideration that I did not.

In this world, disrespecting and abusing children is the rule, not the exception. So parents definitely have to earn the respect of their children, so do schools and all the other institutions in society that think they have a status which entitles them to oppress and put people down.


I used to think respect was not speaking when being spoken to, to never disagree or defend myself emotionally or physically, and follow their “rules” when I grew up in my families. I thought of it as an action. It was something in families you do. Respect elders, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The kids in category WRONG and the adults in category RIGHT. Becoming an adult and the category still attached to you.
The definition from the dictionary was foreign to me and if I followed the definition I wouldn’t find anything I admired about their qualities, abilities or accomplishments. I was never aware I had any of these features of my own and how wonderful I was the way I was.
I have had a low respect of myself for a long time that I am working towards building and healing. The definition is useful, Darlene, because people throw the word “respect” around so much we are stuck with hundreds of false meanings attached to them. I never knew enough about my parents to know things about them to be proud about. ‘Admiration of a person’s qualities, abilities, or accomplishments’ but I refuse to acknowledge mine. I am going to change that. Thank you for giving me strength to keep going over and over this area until I can be my friend, someone I respect and admire one day. Still working on your questions from previous blog and writing a lot.
Bless all of you for sharing and being a strong community,


Sophia, that’s so horrible and so telling that you were called a “prize pig” by your department. It certainly is devaluing when people only respect and validate you according to how well you perform in school or the workplace, not according to who you really are. My parents expected me to “earn” their love and respect by entertaining and sucking up to them, and getting good grades at school. Of course going home every day to be sexually, physically, and emotionally abused, to have dissociation and anxiety and trauma meant I could not possibly focus on schoolwork, so I was abused even more and looked down upon by the teachers and school administration. I eventually did well in college, but every time I heard praise it felt completely and utterly empty.

I was unable to really start anything and today my life is still in limbo. But I think things are starting to get better for me as I’ve been finding self-validation and working through the causes of things.

take care,


Hi Caden
Over and over again I am reminded exactly that; the good doesn’t cancel the bad. It is so horrible how there are laws in place to protect children but these laws are not helpful when it comes to the parents who will not respect them. (although sometimes parents get caught and do have to pay, it is not often when you look at the numbers of people that were not protected)
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Coffee79
Yes exactly! When I started looking up stuff like this in the dictionary I was shocked. I looked up stuff like child neglect and got actually government websites and I was even more shocked at what the governments in Canada, the USA and the UK have in place as LAWS attempting to protect childrens rights. And these children (us) are told to respect. And as you say, we learn a false definition of the word and the people who think they are entitled get away with it!
This practice of learning the real meaning of words has served me in a huge way.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


One of the “golden rules” that is usually taught in society is to respect your parents (as well as your elders). Although you may not like them, or what they do, you should always have respect for them. Think about it: they have to put up with you too on a daily basis! Everyone knows that sometimes they are hard to be around, but your parents love you and just want to raise you to be the best that you can be. The least you can do for them is to show them respect, which means listening when they are talking, not talking down to them, and not raising you voice to them, among many other things.”

These golden rules are always one sided. Im past the point of not ‘liking’ my mother or anyone in my family.

“They have to put up with you too on a daily basis” oh yes how horrible it must have been to have to put up with a child that you tried to murder more than once. Im so sorry. “The least..” as if giving up my right to be a child and to feel security and love wasn’t enough. If your father fucks you in the ass is that considered to be just a little bit disrespectful on his part ? Of course mothers with schizophrenia are hard to be around especially when they are trying to convince you to take a handfull of their pills. Raise me the best that I can be, eh ? There are two main assumptions that I cannot forgive : the assumption that without a doubt our parents loved us and that they did the best that they could ? says who ?

Yes parents are always exempt from the rules they expect children to follow. And why ? Parents are full of excuses that range from ‘Im drunk’ or ‘I had a bad day’ or anything that allows their fist or mouth to do the talking.

No one says and this is one of the many faults of the Bible, that respect has to go both ways and respect and fear are two totally different things, I think. I feared for my life. I feared my mother, had every reason to. Was that resepct ? Was she respectful ? For many reasons, no. Perhaps not by her own doing. I do have to acknowlege that she was mentally ill and was not treated as a human being by her family or by social services. I have to acknowledge that many people failed her as well.

As a society that continues to not regard children as human beings, it is still impossible for us to fathom that there are mothers and fathers and other family memebers that do not love their children.

I had a lot of fear towards a lot of people in my family. I feared angering them and I feared showing even a drop of my anger and that they would find it and rip me to shreads. What if I wasnt strong enough ? It wasnt until I left state and moved and did some SERIOUS work on my own and I am still doing it.

I didnt grow up with learning self respect and God forbid if I had any back then who knows what I could have done.


When all else fails, pull out a Bible quote! That’s not outdated! Lol! Great work, keep exposing the lies!!!


I have always taught my children, parents and work colleagues that RESPECT is something that you EARN but,… that EVERY PERSON is entitled to be TREATED with DIGNITY!


Hi Akusua Alto,

if I may comment on your comment please the bible does say to respect and obey your parents, i am sure God would not expect you to feel respect and love for a parent(s) that sexually abuse you it also says that sexual intercourse should be between only husband and wife it does not mention between wife, your children, others etc so a loving creator would not expect us to feel respect or love towards that parent/person especially if they have not asked for forgiveness from God or yourself. I can only guess at the way you must feel having never been in your situation so please correct me if i am wrong in my interpretations of the way you feel. Also if the person asks for forgiveness they have to show that they have truly changed and recognise the damage they have done but by the sound of the comments that I have read today it sounds as though not one of them wants to recognise the wrongs they have done so I would not expect that they deserve respect from you or anyone else that knows the situation.I can only imagine how God himself feels about all this disgusting behaviour by parents/ people who commit these atrocities (not sure if spelt correctly) and then claim to worship him. I used to be church of England and we had to go to church every week to confession but there was no encouragement to stop doing the wrong/sin (I was a child then so I wasn’t committing bad things) if I did the same thing again the next time well I was told that God would forgive me. I have since learnt that when I commit a sin I need to make every effort to stop so it would be with the parent/person who commits this terrible abuse.

thank you



“want to raise you to be the best that you can be.” This rings very false to me. I know for a fact I have to struggle very hard to be even near the best that I can be, because of my upbringing. They did not want me to be the best I can be. They wanted me to be someone or something, but not me. That doesn’t lead to excellence but to a constant war against who I really am.

Another thing I think is great that you bring up is the concept of “position of power”. Some people, like my parents, refuse to acknowledge the reality that they do have a position of power over their children, and that that puts a different set of responsibilities for them, morally and ethically. It’s completely absurd, but that concept of knowing that there is a power disparity is SO important, and they just completely ignore it, even deny that there is one! So there is this absurd idea in our family that the children in fact have all the power, the parents are helpless, and the children just naturally try to manipulate and control their poor parents. It’s ridiculous but that’s the headspace that they’re in, and it’s really dangerous. They can actually think that there is some sort of power struggle with their 3-year old that they have to win, when there’s not even close to fair game at all – the 3 year old can’t win. Ever. How blind do you have to be to not see that?


Hi Akusua
Great comments. Something that really bothered me about that line about “they had to put up with you on a daily basis” is that THEY wanted kids and kids are not born adults! My mother did things that caused me to have problems. My parents filled this “empty vessel”. They had to put up with the results of the way they devalued me.

Thanks for highlighting what happened when you showed even a drop of anger. There is no two way street in a dysfunctional family.

One of the things that I realized about the bible stuff is that it is so falsely taught for the purpose of control and manipulation. I was very surprised at how much there is in it on the side of the child. I believe that the NT is full of the message of equal value but that has been the age old problem; so few people value equal value because equal value means that the person ‘in power’ has to give up that power. Not appealing to a controller!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Ya, exactly. My mother didn’t know squat about the bible, but she knew I did. That is why she tried to use it against me.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lizzy
Welcome to EFB
Thanks for your comments.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Gaye
welcome to efb ~ I agree. God isn’t the one who is expecting us to put up with abuse. The abusers try to teach us that so they can get away with what they are doing.
Thanks for your comments.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Miranda
Welcome to efb!
YES these people believe their own b.s. Of course they have to deny it ~ if they didn’t deny it they would have to look at the truth. That it at the bottom of it.
One of the biggest things that helped me move forward was realizing that I was never going to convince them that they were in the wrong so I had to pull my focus back to me and my needs. I had been stuck in a cycle of proof for years. Proving that I was worthy, not crazy, and trying to get them to see their part.
There is a huge idea in all of society that the children are the problem! But we don’t have to accept that anymore.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene



Your words really do make sense to me. You are so right on – it is not MY fault and NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY to make her feel better. Funny, while I was reading your post, I had a memory of talking to my mom about a problem I was having at the time – I don’t know what it was but I do remember that I was an adult. She explained to me that I should put whatever it was back on that person – you should say this or that to turn it around, back on them. It occurred to me that this has been her modus operandi (method of operation) all along. I have come to realize that this is what she has been doing to me all along – never taking responsibility for anything.

I remember the second time I was forced to come out about one of the people (my uncle – her brother – long story in another post of mine on EFB) who sexually abused me as a child for many years. Not to give him any credit but he basically did the same thing. In letters to me and my mom, he took responsibility for what he did but also pointed out her part which she totally dismissed mostly because it came from him, even when I pointed out to her that he was right on some level. She still doesn’t take responsibility for any of it. Just wants forgiveness because she can’t stand not being a part of my life.

One thing that started me on this journey of detachment was that I noticed in the last few years how my mother’s eyes light up when other people are in pain. I watched her walk up to someone that she didn’t know that well at the woman’s husband’s funeral and ask her about a life insurance policy and giving her advice – things like that that I thought was inappropriate. She has always been a drama queen and never seems to have a positive outlook about anything. I don’t know if you watch Saturday Night Live but there was a skit about Wendy and Brad Winer, they always wined about everything bringing everyone around them down. My husband and I privately call her Wendy Winer. Putting space between us has helped to bring myself peace and is making it easier for me to address the issues I have as a result of all the abuse I’ve suffered.

Realizing that it is not my responsibility to make her feel better about the mother she was is empowering to me. Thank you for your insight.


I’m new here, but I have been reading for a few weeks now. There are so many phrases and paragraphs I’ve read that seem to have been written by me, and now here is the topic of respect at just the right time.

In a recent incident with my mother, in front of my children of course, my mother accused me of poisoning my daughter against church. She proceeded to scream at me about all the rotten things my kids had done that morning and that their behavior had nothing to do with church, etc. What actually WAS happening is that my kids had been misbehaving for my mother that morning, and I was trying to find out from my daughter WHY they were misbehaving (were they tired, were they mad about something, did they just not want to go to church, etc).

I normally keep my mouth shut and head bowed during these rampages, then leave as quickly as possible, but I am through being a punching bag, and I was surely not about to let my kids see it. So I did finally say to my mother that she’s MY daughter and how I choose to talk to MY daughter is none of her business. I went on to say that I know why my daughter acts up – it is normally when she’s upset about something – and I know how to discuss the issues with my daughter in order to give her a better way of dealing with being upset instead of acting out.
I feel it is important to point out here that a similar situation occurred a few months ago. The story, as I later pieced together: My mother took my kids to Sunday School/church. Apparently the classrooms had been rearranged, so my daughter who was in a classroom last year was now back down to the nursery. Not only was she demoted and therefore bored, she had expected to be in a class with her brother and the same teacher as before. She doesn’t deal well with changes to begin with – but to have it sprung upon her suddenly made it all the worse. She was then expected to sit quietly and obediently through church – instead she and her brother were fighting and arguing. Instead of my mother bringing the kids home after church as she was supposed to, she took them to her house where they continued to fight and argue. My dad, who has ZERO patience and ZERO tolerance for noise and/or fighting of any kind, got in on yelling at and punishing the kids. The kids love their pap, but are afraid of him and even more afraid to disappoint him – boy does that hit home! This all fed into the feelings my daughter was having to begin with – and the situation ended with my arrival to “handle” the situation only to find my dad continuing to bully my daughter because she peed her pants on the living room floor. And so the cycle continued. I had a long talk on the way home with my daughter about what had happened and helped her understand that there were better ways of dealing with being disappointed/angry. I also made it clear to her that she did not have to go to church – if she didn’t want to go, all she had to do was tell me so and that would be the end of it.
At some point during the most recent exchange with my mother, things took a turn as my mother walked away and screamed, “I get no respect!” To which I replied, “You can’t even treat me like a human being!” She shrugged at this and I went on, “You don’t treat me as a human being, more less respect the fact that I am an adult and a parent!” She said, “I will when you act like one.” To which I replied, “Right back atcha!”

So there I was being faced with my mother telling me that not only am I not an adult or a parent, but I’m not even a human being! Really!

Another part of this exchange had something to do with my mom repeating something my sister had said about me two days before: The entire family had been invited to a party and I didn’t want to go, although my kids did. My daughter had fallen asleep at about the time we should have been leaving for the party, so I figured we would skip it. When she woke, however, she was upset and wanted to go, so we did. On our way, I called my sister to find out if there was food at the party. It was past dinner time and I needed to know if we needed to pick something up on the way or if we could eat there…we were already an hour late. I guess I didn’t communicate this entire thought process -I didn’t think I needed to – but what I said was, “Is there food there? Good because the kids are hungry.” This, in turn, was taken by my sister and communicated to my mother as: The kids are hungry so they are coming to the party to feed them. This was validation for my mother’s assertion that I “treat my kids like trash.”

After this was repeated to me, I called my sister and asked about the conversation she and I had on the phone. I asked if it was a logical assumption to say that the only reason we were going to the party was to feed the kids and she said, “Well, I assumed that was the case.” We went on to have a brief conversation about what had transpired between me and my mother earlier in the day and my sister told me that I don’t respect my mother. When I asked why I should, she said because my mother buys clothes and shoes for my kids and watches them for us when we work, etc. And so it was made very clear that I am expected to buck up and take the abuse and maltreatment because I OWED that “respect” to my mother for all she’s done for us.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I majored in English writing in college, minored in psychology and maintained a 3.0 average…Yet the thought never occurred to me to look up the definition of “respect.” And so in this discussion, I have a valid argument – why should I admire someone who treats me this way? And what admirable abilities, qualities or achievements are demonstrated by telling your grown daughter that she is not a human being or telling her she treats her children like trash? Is it really an admirable ability, quality or achievement to help out watching the grandkids or to fulfill a deep-seeded compulsion to shop and spend money by buying things for her grandkids?

I feel like I owe huge explanations for everything I have said in this message, but I have read here long enough to realize and understand that I do not owe anyone an explanation. I’ve wasted too much of my life explaning and trying to convince others as it is. I know my heart. But it doesn’t make it any easier to stop here…


Hi Jerri
I’m on my way out the door, but wanted to say Welcome to EFB !
You don’t have to explain anything here and please feel free to share what is on your mind/heart. That is how we grow and that is how many of us see the truth; by writing about funky relationship stuff. The reason that we didn’t pick up on stuff like “the definition of respect” in the first place is because of the brainwashing that happens from so young. I long since accepted that respect was all about my actions towards them and never about theirs towards me. There seem to be two sets of rules for all these words! Realizing the truth about ‘love’ respect, and many more went a long way towards healing!
Thank you for sharing! Hugs, Darlene


Jerri, Hi! I also wanted to say that you dont have to explain yourself or convince anyone here about anything! 🙂 I thought you explained everything perfectly and your love for your children and the concern you have for their feelings and needs and wants really touched me as I read your story! I think you are in a tough spot since you do have a need to have someone help out watching the children…and in your situation it has been your parents, so I am sure there must be a lot of mixed signals going on and I can imagine your pain and frustration when your parents are so abusive with and not very compassionate with your children. I used to believe that if someone treated me a certain disrespectful way that I could “handle it”, but NEVER mess with my child! Now I am trying and learning how to demand the same respect that I try and usually give to others….and still they better not treat my daughter badly! 🙂 And you are so right…it isnt an admirable thing to call anyone trashy names or to try to hurt them by saying something mean or behaving coldly and arrogantly against them. That ISNT respect. I love how you told your mother that you discuss things with your daughter….that probably infuriated a mother like yours because she sounds like she LOVES the control and and being in a place of looking down on someone so that she …in her mind….comes across as “right” and “intelligent” and “more experienced”. I wonder if she cannot stand the thought that maybe you have done more with your life…maybe in education? And maybe you ARE doing such a great and loving job with your children, compared to how cold she was? I love it too how much you respect your children’s feelings! I find it very interesting how so many parents throw their authority around with their children and yell at them that they want and deserve to be respected! I think that it is a clear sign that they feel somehow out of control in the situation and do not have a clue how to cope or manage…and connect in a loving way.


Hi, Diane. You brought up an interesting point for me in saying she cannot stand that maybe I’ve done more with my life. I think it’s more than that, actually. I’m writing as I think, so I hope this makes sense. I think it’s that she thinks I should have done MORE with my life given the fact that my upbringing was so much better than her own. That is the truth. As it seems with most here, the abusive parents had horrendous childhoods themselves. I don’t deny this truth for my mom. The thing is I always got good grades and I was given the opportunity to go to college, but I quit with only a year remaining. This is just one example of the many mistakes/failures in my life. On one hand I can see where she is coming from on these points, on the other hand, I want her to see that evrything on her end wasn’t exactly perfect so maybe she’d cut me some slack. I own my mistakes. I feel enough guilt and remorse. I really don’t need my mother heaping more on my head. What’s worse is that I’m so very afraid of doing the same to my kids. I try. I know I make mistakes with them. I just hope that my relationship with them does not turn into the one I have (or don’t have) with my parents.


I hope you don’t mind Darlene, but I quoted some of your words in a comment on Facebook, Kids Without Voices, which is a page started by 4 young girls who were sent back to Italy after their mother brought them to Australia with the help of the embassy who saw their dire situation of poverty and abuse.

On another line, what about respect for abusive husbands? There is a very strong teaching, from Emerson’s popular book Respect and Love, that men need respect and women need love. Unconditional respect, and unconditional love.


Jerri…thank you for answering my questions! I think it is so great that you are here at EFB and have a voice for all of this! It does sound like you have the two sets of rules going on in your family dynamic about respect. I never had those exact words spoken to me from my parents although they disrespected me on many levels, so I am gaining a lot of insight from stories like yours! Thank you so much for sharing.


Everyone deserves to observe you respecting yourself which includes you expecting respect from others. When you respect yourself, you promote the most health among others.


Hi Caden,

Thanks for your supportive remarks (#32). To clarify, the professor who told me I was the department’s “prize pig” was being ironic, and she was trying to help me to understand that the school was using me as much as they were helping me. She was one of my favorite teachers. She was one of the few who tried to support and value all her students for their unique potential and didn’t just make a big deal of the so-called high achievers. She was sympathetic when I began to have anxiety issues.

I know exactly what you mean about the praise leaving you feeling empty. I felt like somehow the feeling of completion was always around the next corner. Like maybe if I was successful at the next level, then would I finally feel whole? Now I know where the feeling of wholeness comes from, and it’s from within, bu self-validation. Now that I’ve got that clear, I can go to work and achieve and feel ok about that, but know that I am good whether or not I get that external validation.



Hi Krissy
Please feel free to quote me anywhere you like.

About respect for abusive husbands (why would anyone try to respect abusive people? Just typing abusive and respect in the same sentence struck me as wrong) About Emmerson’s popular book ~ popularity does not mean “truth” so I would ask this question: Where would you have unconditional love without respect? How would that be possible? I would also ask what anyone considering trying to accomplish this type of relationship, what is yours or emmerson’s definition of respect IS in the first place.
Hugs, Darlene


To have a healthy connection with someone who refuses to connect in a healthy manner is not possible.

Like a lot of popular fantasies, having respect for someone who is not respectable doesn’t produce the fantasy that group speakers promise. Life is lived at the individual level.


Hi Kate
Good points!


Regarding this post, I have trouble with separating respect vs. love. There have been many times when the mother used the words “You should respect me.” She never used the words “I love you” that I remember. So her entire frame of reference with me was respect. To be honest I never did respect her since she was always so cold and mean to me. (Yet I would see her being sickening sweet to others.) My own cousins and siblings got MUCH better treatment than me over and over and I would see that. And she wondered why I was such a handful in highschool. A simple hug or kind word would have made such a difference for me! I was not a bad kid, I was created by the neglect and abuse. My sister says this thinking is a cop-out and blames me for not backing down with the mother this time. It’s still my fault. I do take responsibility for the things I did back then, but I am no longer 17. How long do I have to wait for love and respect? Having raised my kids with lots of love and respect I can see what I went through with them and their process of growing up, they need hugs and love on the way! The regret over being robbed of this in my childhood is still very hard. How can I respect mother when she never respected me? Peace all..


Hi Melody
I had trouble with this too; I was taught the false definition of both love and respect and one of the things I realized in my healing process was that I NEVER questioned the things I had been taught as a child. Love and respect were taught to me wrong but I learned to believe in those false definitions.
The truth is that we don’t ever ‘learn’ to respect someone (in the true def. of the word) who does not respect us. We learn to obey until we see how funky that is in the true def. of love.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
I have published a new post using a quote about narcissism and narcisists from the mayo clinic that sheds some light on why victims of abuse so often question if they are actually the problem (as we have all been told we are). I look forward to the discussion!
“Survival Mode and an Alternate view of Narcissism”
hugs, Darlene


I just found your website today. I come from a very dysfunctional family. I am in my 40’s and still to this day when my parents say jump I do. They make me feel like a child. They make me feel as if I don’t do what they say the abuse I survived as I was growing up would still happen today. I get no respect from them, yet I feel as if I have to “respect my parents” even though they didn’t respect me or my personal space at all. I was abused mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually as I was growing up. I have PTSD due to my childhood. I am in therapy for bipolar, PTSD, anxiety, OCD and depression. My past still haunts me. I don’t find that to be respect I find it to be manipulative. There were not boundaries as I was growing up and now as I work with my therapist to set boundaries, they are still trying to cross my boundaries. Thank you for explaining RESPECT. I wasn’t taught respect I was taught fear and pain.


Hi Tutti
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
The truth about all this is what set me free. What you are discribing isn’t respect. It IS manipulative. I think you are going to like it here!
Hugs, Darlene


I believe the bible damaged me and my life, I have a hard time thinking that I didnt deserve to be sent to hell cause I do not believe in god or I dont do a or b… I have a hard with so much of it, that I consider myself to be agnostic now…I really try not to see myself as a sinful person who has to be forgiven, I am so tired of seeking forgiveness for things I did not do and things that are not fault. I rather see me as a loving deserving person to just be loved with any conditions at all, i mean none at all, just because I am deserving to be loved.

I guess I could say that letting go of my faith set me free!


Welcome Tutti! I could of written that, omg that pretty much summed up my life! welcome! Kimberly


Every year one if us would end up being responsible for “ruining her holiday” and my mom would go off on tangents and stop ripping down all the curtains when I would come home from school…screaming and telling. I guess it seemed normal to me cause so much of my moms behavior was so bizarre and I used to sadly give my dad a free pass cause he was so silent and drank tea all day and just stared out the window…our house was falling apart but he just kept living in his own world…I literally had no one. I didn’t even know it was abnormal and unhealthy. My dad was just as abusuve by being silent as my mom was with her screaming rants.


This is INCREDIBLY timely.

I grew up with the word respect being bandied about, particularly when my narc mom wasn’t getting what she wanted from myself or others. I realized that respect from her perspective meant: You do what I say and you don’t question it. You bow and kowtow to whatever I say and whatever I want and if you don’t, well that’s disrespectful and will be rewarded with my wrath. I learned that EVERYTHING and ANYTHING contrary to what she wanted or what she thought was the right thing was disrepectful.

You don’t call me – that’s disrespectful.
You don’t visit when I say so – that’s disrespectful.
You have an opinion?!? – That’s disrespectful.

It took me YEARS to realize that respect to her was no more than me being a puppet to be moved at her whim. It took me MORE years to realize that I have never been respected – as a child or an adult – by her. Never. Not once has respect been mutual in that relationship. Not once in over 30 years. So much to the point that when I drew the line in the sand and told her we could discuss the issues at hand if she were willing to have a MUTUALLY civil and respectful conversation with me – I haven’t heard from her since.

And I’ve had to walk myself down the path of acceptance. Step by Step.
My mother does not respect me.
My mother does not CARE TO ATTEMPT TO respect me.
My mother does not love me.
My mother does not CARE TO LEARN HOW TO love me.
My mother does not know how to love anyone. She does not know what it even means.
I was and am unwanted. Persona non grata.
These are HER failings. Not mine.

… and no lie. It has been hard. Because these are hard truths. My daughter is one month old. When I look back at the ways I’ve been treated, the things my mother has said and done to me, I can’t IMAGINE doing them to her. Cannot. I’d rather die than look my daughter in the face and tell her I wish I’d had a son while she’s giving me a mother’s day gift. Look her in the face and tell her I should have left her with her grandmother to raise her. Look her in her face and tell her that she will need me before I need her because I’m the most important piece in this puzzle.

And despite the fact that I KNOW these things to be no fault of mine, the journey is still rough. But I press on. Because I am moving in the light of truth and love. I am shielding and protecting myself and my family from further insanity – from her and from the way I disintegrate after interactions WITH her.


Hi Guys,

Sometimes I feel so angry at my abusers. I bottle it in, afraid I will get angry and lose it. In the past if I held it in too long, it became misplaced anger, and I’d feel bad, like why couldn’t the person who dished out that anger gotten back what they gave? Right now, as I am beginning to realize all the hurts that have been caused, I am in what I’d call a ‘terrified rage’ where my anger becomes so unbearable, I go numb. This is almost foreign to me, why am I the angriest and most aware I’ve ever been, yet also the most numb and unable to emote? It’s like now that I’m not in denial, and know how mad I am, I’m too scared I can’t risk getting angry. But it doesn’t stay that way forever right? Where does it go, I wonder. This is odd, this numb-awareness. Not sure I like it…. 🙁

In your time healing, for those who consider themselves pretty far along in the healing process, or healed, or whole,
What was it like getting in touch with your anger?
Did you have to scream? Did you get out of control furious? Did you have to get angry AT your abuser to feel better, and reconciled with the past? I mean, getting angry alone feels….useless….strange….like there is no healing. Like I can’t be sad alone and feel better, I have to talk it out with someone who cares.

I am so scared of anger. In my house it wasn’t allowed. Any expression of it was severely punished. As such, I found out in an acting class, they asked me to scream with anger, I literally could NOT do it! I also have a very quiet mouse-like voice because I am scared often. I lose my voice sometimes.
I wonder, how will I find my voice, my anger, some substance?
How did you all?

Hope that made sense…


I went through times like this too. And sometimes (often) the clarity was ‘too painful’ and I wanted to escape it. I realized along the way that that is what coping methods are; a way to escape the pain. It was important for me to feel everything along the way. My anger was really shut down, but when I started to feel it, I poured it into my journal. I wrote angry almost violent letters to the people who had done this damage to me and discounted my life. Getting angry was very important in my healing. (In the archives for December 2010, there is a series of article on Anger. I think there are 6 of them! One by me and the rest guest writers. They are very good. I hope you will check them out.~ just use the archive button on the right side bar and go to dec. 2010)
Hugs, Darlene


I was JUST having this conversation (fight) with my dad for the umpteenth time. I asked him why it’s ok for him to disrespect me, talk down to me, verbally abuse me, etc…, but when I argue, he acts like I’ve hurt his feelings and been such a horrible person. He did this to my mother for 14 years of marriage, but with her it was physical as well. He never got physical with me, but I think it’s because he realizes I could kill him easily. (I’m a 33y/o woman who is over weight, but can leg press 1000 pounds easily. I’m a force to be reckoned with if need be) My dad is not a Christian except in the sense that he was saved and baptized in 1979. He’s never lived for God or read the Bible….or gone to church willingly. He has verbally abused every woman he’s ever been with and they have left. Now, he is in a relationship with a woman and he’s SO nice to her….he makes a point of telling me all he spends on her and what all they do….I live with him. So I dont really need told. My father never paid a dime of child support in 11 years, never let me live with him as a child, and barely came to see me. He moved 1200 miles away then moved back 4 years later, brought me to live with him, then 7 months later moved back down south to where he lived before and DIDN’T TELL ME. Left me home alone for a week. I was 14. Thank God for my mother. She has ignoring him down to a science, but she doesn’t live with him and deal with it every day. He makes fun of my church, my pastor, my husband…call me and my dog idiot or retard. I HAVE to get out of here asap….point of it all is, he thinks I should treat him higher than God and I will not do it. I would respect him if he respected me one iota, but he is cruel and being nice gets me hurt more. Thanks for listening!!


Hi Melanie
Welcome to EFB
Yes, your last sentence is a huge part of what we are talking about here in this site; these people believe they have some kind of specail rights; that they are somehow a ‘god’ in your life. As a child I believed it. I don’t have to anymore.
Gald you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi-I need to re-comment since I forgot to subscribe to follow-up comments!


[…] You can read the rest of her article here: Darlene Ouimet […]


Wow, this is really amazing.

I saw something like this, about a different subject. Responsibility.

It’s about causing something to happen. Like your job, you see a crumpled up piece of paper. You cause your place to look clean and there fore you are causing that to happen. You are responsible for cleaning your area.

Being cause in the issue, it’s because of you etc, etc.

If you look at the real definition of a word people tend to throw around. It’s amazing how easy it is to actually have it handled!

But I have always had trouble with 2 things along the lines with this word. Because I am a very symantical person (I take the word specifically and I have seen this one used in many situations but few with the proper meaning. So I tend to get back into the habit of the old fear based deffinition. Respect the bear type respect).

Some times children yell just because they are upset. Or I’ve seen children under 2 yell from being bored. So far I’ve only see parents match the volume by yelling something like “HEY!!!” or “WOAH! WOAH! WOAH!!! CALM DOWN!!!”.

That’s not really yelling at your child out of rage. But I am always thinking. Can’t that small conversation, be it a yelling match, turn into yelling matches into the teen years? And what is the proper skill to be admired in that case?



With gangsters and really intimidating ex marines or football jock guys who are just…intimidating and use that.

When someone who is in a sense, scary. They tend to handle a situation based off their use of “respect” which is really fear of them. They accomplish the goal of not getting into violent situations and also, negotiating business without the fear of escalating the consequences. In the same light they have a pretty secure feeling of no one actually escalating consequences against them.

Without actually being scary. How in the world do you accomplish that in an admirable way?

That’s what really confuses me. Because I’ve seen it done with people with money. But that’s in it self an intimidation tactic.

Just curious.



This still begs the question. Do people who act disrespectful. Or disadmirative. I guess it would be like minor defamative.

Do people who actively mess with you in a very unadmirative way. Deserve admiration? And if not how do you do that in an admirable way (handle that situation)


I am so sad to see the many people who feel they have been disrespected by their parents. My brother forwarded this email to me because we argue regularly about his disrespect towards our mother and his belief that she doesn’t deserve respect because she disrespects him. We argue about this because I totally disagree and I hope that none of you are in the same position as he, but I do appreciate that everyone has their own beliefs. I just take it personally when it comes to my parents. My brother is a 48 year old divorcee. His wife left him 8 years ago and he moved back into my parents house 7 years ago. He can’t afford to live on his own and I understand that. What I don’t respect is that he won’t get another job because he doesn’t want his ex-wife to get more money for the child support of their two sons. As I mentioned earlier, he lives with our parents. On his visitation days with his children, they stay there as well. Even though my mother allows him to stay there and allows his children to spend the night there on my brother’s days off from work, he is very angry and disrespectful towards our her because he thinks that she disrespects him by asking him not to track mud through the house or she calls him before he gets off work and asks him to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few items on his way home. He doesn’t believe me when I say that she is not being disrespectful by asking these things. I hope that everyone finds it in their hearts to say a little prayer for my brother. I know that many of you have dysfunctional relationships with your parents which makes it difficult for you to show respect to them, but I find it very hard to believe that you can find disrespect from my parents in this story that I’ve shared. My brother wasn’t always this way. This attitude just surfaced in the last four or five years.


Is it right for someone to confine one to the position that they are just prideful because they respect from others?

How about when a mother-in-law to acts carelessly by speaking rudely? Especially if the person was already offended by something SHE did, and she gets upset at the person as if she is incapable of hurting a single soul? And that person always has to apologize even when that person was not at fault? Is it wrong to expect respect in these lines?

I grew up being disrespected because I was small, unimportant, and not beneficial to their lives-parents, siblings, schoolmates, etc. Wouldn’t it make sense to desire balanced respect as an adult?

What about when people really do say or do things to you that are disrespectful, and your significant other does not defend you, so you have to defend yourself. Then you go on to explain how you were treated disrespectfully, how is that pride?

I don’t think it is. Maybe you can help me better understand how to relate to someone who feels you’re being prideful by desiring respect, especially if you are already a person who is well-mannered, soft spoken, and gentle.


Welcome to EFB
It isn’t right at all. No one has ‘the right’ to treat another with such disregard or disrespect. That isn’t love. It was when I realized that I didn’t “have to’ accept the way these kind of people treated me, that I began to change and my life got so much better. I don’t want to relate to those kinds of people. Understanding them doesn’t lead to any kind of solution. This whole site is about stuff like this. 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
The discussion page is up for the free guide (in the right hand side bar) to getting unstuck on the journey to emotional healing. (If you didn’t get one yet, please grab one!)
Here is the link to the discussion page:
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

Thank you very much for this post.
I read it while I was trying to find a topic about my thesis and your reflections treat the same thing I was looking into. The concept of respect was not so drastic in my ‘original’ family but when I got married I was shocked with how I was/am supposed to ‘respect’ my father in law!!! Respect means conformity, obedience, dependence and everything that connotes refrain from free will, not say even a constructive (and polite) personal idea about something because at some point the ‘conversation’ gets heated up and I come out to be the disrespectful one!!!
Can you imagine (the most banal case), I shall ask my father in law even when I want to go out with my husband because he feels we are disrespectful because we don’t sit and say ‘can we go out’?!!! And to avoid conflict once we did so and then he ironically says ‘why do you ask me, go’ and looks away.
I see that respect in my case means that me and my husband should just shut the f… up!And the biggest deal is that our culture ‘does not permit’ to leave and get another apartment because then again we are not respecting them!
There is no ‘I respect your idea but I think that…”. There is no ‘BUT’ if you wish to respect his idea! Awful:(


Hi Shadije
Welcome to EFB ~ I like how you put it ~ “and everything that connotes refrain from free will”
THAT is exactly what the false definition is!
Thanks for posting!
Hugs, Darlene


I hate it when people twist scriptures from the Bible and use them for their own purposes. God may want us to honor our parents but remember we also have free will, God is not forcing us to do this. And if you feel like your parents don’t deserve respect then don’t respect them. Don’t let others criticize you for that and move on with your life and be happy without them.


Wow, I missed this post. Thank you. I may print it off and send it to my mom. Once *I* become an adult, I deserve my parents respect. One time, my Mom called a certain chair in my home the “Queen Bee” chair and she proceeded to sit in it. This was a “tell” in my opinion.


Thank you. I came to this realization a while ago. I have really just started to internalize what it really means and how it plays out in real life.


I appreciate what you wrote, because I am a parent and I have been guilty of using the word “Respect” in the wrong way, or shall I say using it for my benefit, but not recipicating the action towards my children. I whole heartedly believe the scripture that states, “honor your parents” because it is from the Holy Bible. However, many of us parents do not follow the following scripture that states, (with emphasis)” do not exsaperate your children”. Ther is also a scripture that states, (with emphasis), “treat others the way you want to be treated”. Parents are not always conscious of their actions because we tend to forget that teaching respect and imitating it goes hand and hand. I am a working progress! Thank God for his grace


Hi Nzinga
Thank you for sharing from the side of the parent. I believe that if more parents looked at this whole issue from the standpoint of ‘equal value for all people’ that this issue would not be so prevalent in the world.
Hugs and welcome to EFB


That is how I emerged from the damage done to me due to this dysfunctional relationship style. :). thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I LOVE IT and i completelly agree with you!
Thank you,
You deserve my respect!


well my mother told me alot worse hings than “wish birds will take ypur eyes…” when she was angry with me she told me
-i can’t stand you
– wish your daughter is same as you
-threaghtened with cuting my fingers off if i dont stop biting my neils
– idiot, donckey, stupid and alot worse names

it was all on regular bases.

but whnever i tell someone (pastor, grandma, father) no one tell sme “what an awful thing to say of her” instead everyone comes up with the same excuse for her “she didnt mean it she just saiid it out of frustration”

Is frustration an excuse for the words she used to say??? Id no-WHY?!
she also told me she loved me more than anything, so how can i argue with people saying “she didnt mean it”? Can’t loving mother tell her child that sort of stuff when she is angry as long as she doesnt mean it?


I feel like (and whenever i forget about it others remind me) that any sh*t my mother used to say is OK because she loved me and didnt mean it.
Or because whenever she said it she was angry. it feels unfair but i cant disprove it


I dont understand it, the most i got when complaining “my mother told me I hate you” (for example) is convincing me not to believe it and explaining that she didnt mean it. But it wasnt really my point, i wasnt upset because I thought my mom hated me I was compianing about teh fact that it was normal to SAY it


Nara, whenever I told my mom MY feelings, I got: “That’s the [STUPIDEST, DUMBEST, CRAZIEST, MOST IDIOTIC, pick one] thing I ever heard.”

Trouble is….. lots of things I have felt or said have been proven true in “general public” later. I was a bit of a precocious child. I think my mom couldn’t handle “precocious” and put me down for it. I remember one time I told her the sun was a star (it is, it’s a yellow dwarf). That’s when I got “stupid, dumb, crazy, idiotic.” Hey, the encyclopedia said it was so! When my mom replied that way when I told her that, that’s when I knew. She liked me to get good grades in school. She just didn’t want me to actually LEARN anything.

And Nara, one time a few years ago, my mom actually admitted she “didn’t care one iota about my feelings.” Later she back pedaled and claimed it was “frustration.” Um……. people tend to speak the truth when they are backed into a corner…….


DXS, WOW thats horrible. I am glad she at least admited she didnt care… she lost her face hasnt she?

I wish my mom actually admited she didnt care about my feelings. because i know she didnt. I have heard exactly teh same words [STUPIDEST, DUMBEST, CRAZIEST, MOST IDIOTIC) every time she was angry. but WHY, WHY is it ok to say it only because she is angry?! Can I call someone those words and then say whats your problem i was a bit angry thats all. it drives me crazy


I am sorry that I didn’t see your comment when you first posted it. Welcome to EFB!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Nara
Welcome to EFB ~ I totally hear you. Saying that stuff is wrong and never justified. The hurt doesn’t go away that easy.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I greatly appreciate having found this post. I was called into my bosses office yesterday because she perceived a tone of disrespect my voice when I was trying to explain something to her. I realized after doing some intense soul-searching that I really don’t admire this woman. Instead of being a good leader and being concerned about the department and the well-being of the employees, she has been using us for her own personal gain and has been very demanding without giving any praise for anything. In the incident when I spoke to her with the tone she perceived I had become frustrated because she was demanding that I do her work first instead of finishing the work that I had been given by someone else. What frustrated me is that she would not accept my explanation for why her work would have to wait for a few days for me to get to it. It was her behavior as if she was the only person in the situation who mattered that really put me off and ended up making me angry. The funny thing is that I didn’t actually say anything rude but according to her there was a tone. I’ve been thinking about a lot, I compare it to how I felt about my parents my dad in particular. There are People who demand respect but don’t act like they really deserve respect Because they don’t consider other people as being important they just consider themselves as being important. I’m really struggling with how to deal with this issue with my boss because I know there will be another time the future when I happen to disagree with her on something and I find it hard to respect someone who is a self-centered she is. I define respect as a deserved thing you give it you get it. She defines respect as being in a position of authority that everyone must speak to her in a kind tone and so far it seems that she thinks that everyone that needs to agree with what she says. I feel really trapped.


Hi Sara
Welcome to EFB ~ the boss employee thing is a tricky one! I totally understand feeling trapped! For me everything began (all my answers came) when I started looking at where my belief system started and how or why I seemed to attract being treated like “less than”. It was through that part of my recovery that all my relationships changed and people started to respond to me differently.
Hope you will keep reading other posts and share your thoughts.
hugs, Darlene


I am so sick of parents thinking that respect is something that’s just handed to them. Even though times are changing and more and more people are educated and realizing that children are people too, there are still many people who are brainwashed by the false, one-sided belief system that parents have a free pass and respect means to sit there and take any kind of abuse they think they are entitled to do. And if we refuse to be a doormat or stand up for our rights we are the disrespectful ones, and that is just B.S. We don’t owe our parents anything and respect only applies to parents who are loving and supportive and treat like a human being that you are.


Thank-you for doing this site – emerging from broken, Darlene. A friend just sent me your link and I have gone through a bit of it… It brought back a lot of my own memories.

I don’t know if this might be too long, but I thought I would share some of my experience…

While I was growing up, I was wrongly used in a lot of ways… When I was in my 40’s I was blessed to go through a Christian Battered Women’s Shelter – and when I was asked what kind of abuse I had experienced: Physical, emotional,mental, spiritual, sexual… I said I remembered experiencing all of them… The women volunteers and counselors there helped me a lot.

My mind was fragmented and it has taken a lot of work and a lot of healing to bring me to the place I am now (and I don’t know that I am completely finished, but I have come a really long way)but sharing a few highlights of my experience might be a blessing… 😉

I wanted to be a Christian from the time I was very young, and I believe I was, as far as I understood. When I got to be a young teenager, I never seemed to be able to live up to the standard I knew to be right… And although I chose over and over to do what I knew was right, I didn’t have any security inside that I could be accepted by God for any length of time… I got very discouraged because I saw my faults very clearly – I had my mother’s faults and my father’s faults – and a few of my own, too. If my parents hadn’t overcome their faults, as old as they were and as much longer as they had been Christians, how could I ever hope to overcome my faults?

I remember how upset I was when I was yelled at as a teenager and threatened that if I didn’t treat my dad with proper respect, he would disown me… He had yelled at me and called me names and falsely accused me of things for years, but that threat scared me. My dad already treated me as though I wasn’t valuable enough for him to love – even though he said he loved me. I thought that a person had to earn respect, and he didn’t treat me with respect, so how could I treat him with respect? I got married soon after that.

When I was in my 20’s, after being divorced from my first husband, I knew that the Spirit was working with my heart… the only emotion I could label that I experienced was anger… besides the peace and love that I felt in the presence of God when I surrendered my life to Him and spent my quiet times with Him first thing in the morning. I felt bereft when I lost His presence, because I think it was the only time I ever really ‘felt loved.’

I went through a Battered Women’s Shelter in my late 20’s after leaving an abusive husband, and started working on some of the sexual abuse issues from my childhood, and some of the physical abuse issues from the marriage I had to leave and find a safe place for me and my son. I was a single parent for years after that…

When I was in my 30’s, I was in my quiet time with our Heavenly Father and He was bringing my heart to the 5th commandment – ‘Honor your father…’ I realized that I was violating it, so I asked our Heavenly Father how to do that. He gave me to understand in my spirit that I was to live in such a way that ‘good people’ (who knew God’s ways) would see the way I lived my life and assume that I was ‘raised right.’ In other words, honoring my Heavenly Father by obeying His commandment to honor my earthly father was a whole lot bigger than whether or not I believed my earthly dad deserved my respect.

During that time in my life, I was still trying to get my dad to acknowledge that he had treated me wrongly as a child. When I was a teenager, I had told someone about the abuse I experienced, and when they confronted him, he said that he didn’t understand why I would lie about him that way. My dad didn’t acknowledge what he did to me, and that he had lied about me to the one who confronted him until I was in my late 30’s. So my whole family thought I lied about him and I had no trust or credibility with them for years… I felt like an orphan, and I guess I was emotionally. For whatever reason, I thought that if I could get him to acknowledge his sin, everything would be ok.

My dad finally acknowledged that he did it, and then said it was because I wasn’t loving him the way a daughter ought to love her father! However, when he finally said he shouldn’t have done it, he blamed others for giving him the idea, and he blamed me for telling people who then thought less of him for it. However, if he would have simply acknowledged his sin and asked for forgiveness without blaming it on something or someone else, things would have gone easier for him…

When I was in my 30’s, I was challenged to put away all my preconceived ideas and everything I had ever been taught, and read the Bible from cover to cover, asking God to teach me. I was afraid to do this because my security was in the people in my church and what they taught about the Scriptures, but I prayed and asked God to teach me. His presence was with me, as it was in my quiet times when I was in my 20’s. While reading in the first 5 books of the Bible, I realized that God did not condone what was done to me in His name – by people in positions of authority – in fact, it was forbidden and the death penalty was attached to it if someone was actually found doing it! These men with ‘positions in the church’ that abused me would not have continued to abuse others… This made it a lot easier for me to trust His love… He didn’t want me to go through that! More healing came with that experience – although I was in a very dysfunctional marriage at the time…

When I was in my 40’s, almost two years before I went to a BWS mentioned above, I spent time with my dad’s extended family again at a funeral. It had been years since I had been with anyone on my dad’s side of the family for any length of time. One of my uncles complained about being treated like a child by others in the family (he was the youngest brother – but clearly an adult in his 50’s). Women weren’t valued very much in that family, or treated much better than children. A light went on for me at the time, because children in that family weren’t treated with respect as though they were valuable. To me, the realization was that children shouldn’t be treated the way our family treated children. And I grieved, because although I had changed some things in the way I had treated my son, I am sure that he felt the same sorts of things I did growing up in a dysfunctional family that had to pretend everything was ok when we might be hurting, and even lie about what was going on with them. I fully related to the idea of trying to figure out what someone might want to hear because what I thought or felt wasn’t safe to recognize or acknowledge – even to myself!

I remember one time during that visit when my dad decided to tell me all of the things that were wrong with me. He began recounting everything I had done in my whole lifetime that had caused him problems. This was the first time I had seen him in 5 years! – I told my dad that I cared about what he had to say, but I couldn’t listen to him talk to me that way. When he was ready to speak to me respectfully, I would be ready to listen to him… And I walked away!

In the last 10 years, after my dad had seen me go through several abusive marriages, he finally apologized for the way that he raised me. After my mom died a little more than 5 years ago, he softened quite a bit more. He has asked me to forgive him for not talking to me about my good points when I was younger – he said that they (his generation) were taught that it would spoil a child to tell them that! (I had overheard him bragging on me when I was a teenager, and thought he must be so ashamed of me that he made up stories to tell others about my positive points – because I had never heard him tell me about them. I didn’t believe I had any – and the one that I could manage – making pretty good grades – was never good enough if it wasn’t 100% at the top of the paper!)

My relationship with my dad now is primarily very loving and respectful. On rare occasions my dad might go into one of those unseemly communications, and he has mellowed enough that I could say to him, ‘Daddy, where do you think I might have learned to treat you with proper love and respect? I didn’t see you and mom treating each other that way.’ And he would acknowledge this was true. Then he might go on about my mom, and I would ask him, ‘Where do you think she would have learned to treat someone with proper love and respect? She saw her dad beat her mom bloody and they divorced when she was young…’ And he would acknowledge that was true. If he continues negative, I might put my arm up on his shoulder and tell him that I’d like us to start thinking about how much better time we will have treating each other with love and respect in the future, and bring the focus to something positive – like the way he provided so many good books for me to read while I was growing up.

I remember the first time I tried to reason with my dad on his complaints about me almost 5 years ago when I had worked things through in my heart, forgiven him as far as I understood how, and didn’t take his issues personally any more. I pointed out to him that if he expected me to treat him in a way I didn’t see modeled in our house, where could I have learned it? He said that I was an analytical thinker and he had never thought of that before and thanked me for pointing it out – and then he apologized that he didn’t treat me with the kind of love that children need… And he didn’t excuse himself for it or blame anyone else!

Now I am in my 50’s and live near my dad instead of across the country. On occasion he goes back into his unreasonable communication to try to put me on guilt trips for things I cannot change and be true to what our Heavenly Father has put in my heart to do. And every once in a while when I try to reason with him, he isn’t being reasonable… My husband [our Heavenly Father has brought me a precious husband now who treats me with Scriptural honor and love] might put his hand gently on my leg and let me know that my dad can’t hear me right now, so just wait until he is reasonable again… 😉 There are times when I need a bit of space and I talk with our Heavenly Father about the situation… By His grace, I have been talking to my dad respectfully and telling him the truth in love now for many years, and it seems that he has been talking to me much more respectfully on a more consistent basis.

I have come to the conclusion that the type of respect that the people who are so damaged demand is not the type of honor the Scriptures teach us to have toward them. What God gives me in my spirit – telling the truth in love – doesn’t fit the twisted type of respect my dad demanded while I was growing up… and there are times he slips back into the old definition in his mind… But much more often my dad treats me like I am special and valuable. Sometimes it seems that he looks for things to appreciate me for! Part of this may be because my dad sees the tender consideration with which my husband treats me, and everyone else – including him, and so now my dad has a living example of love in his own family… which he never saw growing up.

From my experience, when I have taken all my unseemly feelings toward my father and other abusers to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to help me see them through His eyes, He fills my heart with forgiveness and compassion for them and gives me wisdom and grace to know how to handle the situation. If I have to lovingly say, ‘You know, I would really prefer not to be spoken to this way,’ and vacate the premises, then I have the strength to do that.

It took me a long time more than a decade ago to ‘get’ that I was not doing my abusive ‘Christian’ husband any favors by letting him think that the Scriptures teach it is acceptable behavior for a husband to abuse his wife. I began to realize that if I do not rebuke it as sin, then he will have a wrong impression of our Heavenly Father’s loving ways that a husband. So I did – and when he didn’t change his way of relating, I went step by step until he realized that what he did was wrong and actually took responsibility for it and asked for forgiveness – and never laid a hand on me again. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a change of heart, so there were other types of abuse he manifested before we finally split up…

My mind was fragmented from the types of abuse I experienced while growing up, and I have experienced a lot of healing and the realization that we do what we can do. I do not excuse the sinful behavior in fragmented people, but I do recognize and have compassion that these people reap what they sow. I imagine that the minds of those who have abused me were also fragmented… Yes, adults should be held responsible to a higher standard than children. I think many adults do unconsciously what they saw modeled until they are awakened and realize how wrong they are. And then, many despise themselves because they don’t seem to have to tools to change their habitual thought and feeling patterns and the way they react when triggered. I pray for that awakening – for people to realize that they are really loved and so can love others instead of treat them the way they were treated.

I have concluded that I need to ask the Father for His peace and wisdom in my quiet place inside when I am feeling upset or off balance. Especially when I am feeling upset with my dad – because I believe that the only place I can get a true picture of ‘honor your father’ is from the One who gave the commandment.

I came across a book at the library called “Love Without Hurt – Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One” by Steven Stosny, Ph.D. He has a website called It might be worth checking out – I have found it to be very encouraging so far…

Again, thank-you Darlene for your work on this site and sharing your struggles and giving a lot of space for others to share theirs… I feel with you, and it brings back memories that are now much more healed than they were ten years ago… 😉 em


Hi Em
Welcome to EFB ~ thank you for sharing your story.
Hugs, Darlene


I am soo glad that i read this. It’s like taking a load out of my mind. It’s indeed inspiring and admirable. Thank you soo much for sharing your experience. I, would too like to share some of mine, no offense intended. This is just a small portion of my experience through out my child-teenage years. When i was young, i had a ROUGH childhood. My father, very strict and abusive(both physically and verbally) yet a highly respectable man; hot-headed and single-sided judgement(according to my experience) are the worst traits of his. He is very punctual and disciplined, yes a great quality for boy-scouts and eye-witness but a sucky quality for a dad. I,however, still love him deeply yet fear him terribly at the same time. He taught me RESPECT(more like he bought mine, never truly earned it). My mom, on the other hand, is the most wonderful woman i’ve ever known, very kind and a sweetheart. She helped me soo much through my rough years, always been there on my side, my best inspiration. My love and RESPECT for her is pure and sincere. My loyalty towards her sees no boundaries. OKAY! Enough of those mushy stuffs(LOL!). The thing was that i was abused both verbally and physically by my father to the point, i was terrorized with those sicken memories. It ruined a decade of my life and not to mention that my mother suffered the same fate but she somehow survived through it. My memories, especially the negative ones hurted me mentally, affected my daily life. Still does. Whenever, i tried to reason with my dad about something i didn’t do or didn’t understand or even too late to realize; he would shut me down or beat me black’n’blue. One word, PERFECTIONIST, Confirming his superiority and dominance to the point i was too terrified to even stand up for myself and my human rights as YOU mentioned before. It went for a decade, too scarred to even share it with someone,To the point i developed O.C.D with anxiety neurosis which sometimes relates to panic attacks according to my doctor. Until i can’t justify the negative action which was beheld upon me, i can’t forgive and forget; the point it that i can’t MOVE ON. Though i am very kind to my youngers but deep inside It still felt like empty(because of those memories) it made me a colder person… even though i desire soo much of social interaction without fear. I was stuck in the rules of society, pressurised critically and still had to compete all along with my disorders. Freedom felt like a distant memory back then. Living felt like a curse, Dying felt like being cleansed from those terrible memories and nightmares. I guess i was slowly loosing my mind, to be able to be reasoned with and the love of my mother; only kept me sane… barely. Sometimes I felt like there was a burst of outrageuos ANGER building inside of me, felt like i could just EXPLODE any moment but somehow held back each time… which in all honesty, SCARED ME too. Now as an Adult, People say that i am very smart and mysterious(few of them says they find it attractive by which i have no clue off {LOL!} ) and mostly keep to myself. My ex’es says to say that i am very intelligent and level-headed to the point i can even convince them that the sky is red(just an example), not that i take any pleasure in those traits. People judge me as a wonderful person, they say that i have soo much love to give because my kindness and generousity because my behaviour towards both my elders and youngers. I could achieve almost anything. But that is just a face i wear because sometimes i wonder those empty feelings someday could turn out to be be real. I desire it wholeheartedly. Now, nothing satisfies me, i am mostly depressed and would rather be alone( although i crave human interaction soo much). Because of those hurtful memories which still torments me to this very day. My mom doesn’t understand what O.C.D is like and i don’t try that hard to make her understand, because she suffured enough. I DID tried to enplain it to other people indirectly, but they simple say it was just ‘BAD LUCK’. Ignorant Idiots but it’s not their fault because they haven’t been through it and yes i am rationalizing myself and i do forgive them though. I love kids, it’s feels like i can be myself when i am with them. Now, It got worse lately, i even can’t speak normally to a person without having clonazapam in my system; which makes me feel so ashamed and depressed altogether…. and ANGRY. (sigh) I have a dream, a dream, to be FREE for REAL from all this terrible nightmares and memories, to have a LIFE. A REAL ONE. To be finally be able to MOVE ON. I sincerely, await for your reply and deeply apologize if i said anything offending. With best wishes and regards, Dean Rockford.


Hi Dean
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
I understand and you will find understanding here from others as well. I hope you will read some of the other posts, (there are over 400 articles all with discussions ~ you can use the category buttons to navigate the topics you are most interested in.) there is so much information here and clarity comes with a little time. There is hope! I have written in this site almost everything about what happened to me and how I overcame it.
Hugs, Darlene


[…]  First it was my mom, who sent me an email titled “The Elephant” in which she told me she had to let me go. Then there was my father, who is still in my life to some extent, but will continue to defend my mom’s actions and talk about how “sad” it is that I’m not talking to her anymore.  My father, a man who justifies his imprisonment by hiding behind spiritual quotes that were spoken by those who were, ironically, free and finally, my sister, with whom I still have a relationship albeit an inauthentic one.  “I would never do what you’re doing to mom,” she said.  You see, asking for kindness in a family of dysfunction is always met with an insane reaction.  What I’m DOING to them is asking them for respect.   […]


This is eveything my frusterated mind and heart has wanted to say but never could find the words. So right. God bless you and your writing gifts


I remember when I was around 16 yo, my dad and his wife made copies of Ann Landers “rules”
and left it on our beds. They had highlighted parts and were SO PROUD of themselves. Like AHA!, got you sorry, disrespectful kids. The thing is, none of us were. We were too afraid to be. We were good kids. I never snuck out, hung with a bad crowd, or did drugs or alcohol. I went to work and school and made good grades. We all did. But we were never good enough to them. They both acted like we OWED them our very breath. Sure, we wouldn’t exist without them, but the way they feel is the exact opposite of how I feel about my child. None of us ASKED to be here. Why were some of us expected to be grateful to our makers? I love being alive, and I would probably be thankful to them if I wasn’t actually expected to be.
#7 on that list really, really burned me then and it burns me now. “Your parents were interesting people until YOU came along”. How awful a sentence!! It’s their own dang fault if they became boring. My child ENRICHES my life!! I get to relive childhood because of him. I catch insects and lizards for him. We play games. We go to the parks. I go down waterslides again and rollercoasters and he’s only 3 FEET TALL! The future is bright!
Another set of “rules” that upset me as a child was “children learn what they live”
Reading this really hit me hard as a child, but I was determined not to let it define me. I had to hide my spirit and much of it was broken, but I kept enough of it to say NO to letting my abusers ruin me. I wouldn’t believe I wasn’t worthy of love and that I was a bad child. I always believed that they were unworthy and I could not WAIT to grow up and get out. I hope my son has the same power. He won’t ever need to use it against me, but life can be cruel even WITH a mother’s love.


I have been thinking a lot about respect and disrespect. I realized a pattern that has existed from my childhood. If someone disrespected me, I would feel desperate for their approval. I would end up GROVELING for their approval and respect. This involved giving up a lot of ME and trying to be what I thought the other person wanted me to be, all in the name of getting their approval and love. Sometimes the person would relent and give me what appeared to be scraps of approval, but when I look back at it, they gave me just enough to get me on the hook and usually would end up using me and taking advantage of me. And I accepted it!! I accepted their small doggie bones feeling it was better than outright rejection! There was no respect coming from the other people in these scenarios. All I got was what appeared to be less disapproval ( but really wasn’t) and it certainly didn’t gain me any respect. I am currently focusing on the aspect of respect and this is a layer I peeled away in the process today. I will not grovel for anyone’s approval anymore. It doesn’t work, and furthermore, these people don’t deserve my respect to begin with. Just wondering if others on here coped with people and disrespect in this way.


I think this is a common way that kind-hearted, loving people deal
with disrepect. It says alot about you AND them.


Hi Gee! I would consider myself a kind hearted and loving person, and as I said in my previous message, and have groveled for approval from people both as a child and adult. I am finally realizing asI go through this process that I can maintain being kindhearted and loving and also start setting boundaries. My thing always was that I would have to completely surrender myself and my needs in order to be liked by someone. This was the way I was trained by my mother, to mold myself exactly as she wanted me to be ( compliant, subservient, undemanding including not bothering her for my needs, quiet, agreeable etc.)she would only approve of me if I acted this way, reject me nastily if I didn’t, and I transferred this to the outside world as well. I found that I was giving myself up in exchange for having relationships with people. The was always that fear that if Zi didn’t give people all their wants and wishes that they would discard me. In the end, many used me and discarded me anyway. There was no respect. There was no love. And that is why, I will no longer grovel for love or approval.


Good for you;) Stay strong!!


You too, Gee! Reading your post #100, I see some similarities with ” rules” in our childhood homes. I’m glad you kept your spirits up and didn’t let them break you. Keep going! 🙂


NEW post published today on the home page of Emerging from Broken ~ in two hours this post has generated 500 “likes” and has been shared over 125 times in social media, just that I am aware of!
Please join the conversation there for my new post “Spiritual Abuse ~ When the name of God is used to Guilt and Shame”

Hugs, Darlene


Wow. I find it hard to believe that the search resulted in a definition of “respect your parents” that basically contradicted the meaning of “respect”. If respect means “Admire…as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements” and yet we are supposed to “respect” our parents “although [we] may not like them, or what they do” that makes no sense. You, by definition, can only respect someone who you admire for their “abilities, qualities, or achievements.”


WOW. This article – and the stories it’s brought out from so many – was a real eye-opener. This article could be describing people I know (but strangely enough, not my parents). It could be describing my in-laws, right down to a T.

My mother-in-law (who, unfortunately, we live with at my wife’s insistence) displays many of the behaviors that other posters and the article have outlined here. She is 89 years old but is one of the most condescending, rude, demanding elders I have ever met in my life. Her ex-husband, who is 91, is not much different although old age has mellowed him somewhat.

‘Grammy’ is a schoolyard bully, who believes she is ENTITLED to demand that R-word – RESPECT – but is exempt from giving it. She believes children are undeserving of it, and I have seen her call my 11-year-old stepdaughter rude names like ‘brat’, ‘imbecile’, and ‘deaf’. She will insult her with statements like ‘do you understand the English language?’, or ‘are you deaf?’. To her, this is ‘discipline’. How one equates this with discipline in any way, shape or form, is beyond me, and when this elder is called to account by my wife she defends her behavior, or, more likely, behaves like a brat herself & withdraws. One of her favorite threats was to ‘bring out the yardstick’, until I warned her that if she brought the yardstick near my stepdaughter, I would break that yardstick in half. My wife has frequently had it out with her mother over that, but mother DOES NOT LISTEN. She believes, like Darlene put it so well – Parent RIGHT, Child WRONG – ALWAYS, even once that child becomes an adult. Even I am undeserving of respect as far as she is concerned, as she routinely talks to me like I am the 4th child of the family & deserve to be spoken to like one (I’m 43!). I have no input in decision-making but am expected to help look after my wife’s elderly father (the ex) and look after this selfish woman’s junkyard cottage (which the ex, now referred to as ‘Papa’, used as a storage facility). She has an adult son living nearby, but he is her ‘golden child’ and she routinely makes excuses for him not to help, (eg. ‘he’s so busy’). Another adult son lives too far away to help.

This woman and my wife dictate what we are doing EVERY weekend – and most of it involves looking after this property and ‘Papa’, along with his house & garden (he wants to remain in it until he dies). I am not even asked what – or if – I have anything that I want to do, and even when I do, it’s routinely shot down. My wife, sadly, enables her mother’s behavior by refusing to stand up to her (she may view it as an obligation to her mother, or has been browbeaten into submission). My wife also appears to put her father first; I believe the family expects this of her to some extent but also I am beginning to think she just doesn’t want a date night with me; weekends are to be used almost solely for looking after elderly parents & their needs.

In helping my wife look after this 91-year-old man, I have been physically injured more than once – and the first time, I could not work for 2 months because of it. Yet, my wife & her parents continued to INSIST that I help with this old man, and they went so far as to deny that ‘Papa’ was the cause of my injuries. I injured myself pulling 2 huge lilies out of his yard & missed work (albeit for a shorter time) later that year, and the two of them said I was ‘just trying to get out of doing yard work’. Again, when I was expected to lift a massive cast-iron sink into a vehicle at that filthy cottage – with NO help, of course – I injured myself again for a short period and again, they denied that that had caused it. Most recently, I thought I had re-injured the same arm that I had looking after ‘Papa’ by lifting heavy rocks & pushing heavy machinery into a shed. Again, I am expected to do it without help, as ‘Grammy’ will not call her other son out to help, even with heavy labor.

These people are not even my parents, yet I am expected to look after them! I do not object to routine housework but ‘Grammy’ feels that ‘there is always something around the house that needs doing’. My friends have equated it to being used as a ‘rented mule’!

I am enormously relieved that I am not alone though, even as I struggle to determine what to do next. I am tired of living with & around elders who do not respect me and use me only for manual labor. In fact, the 2 of them seem to believe they do not have to respect me. I am disappointed in my wife as well, as I feel – right or wrong – that her parents come first, and her marriage to me a distant last. I certainly hope I am wrong at that count!


The power position also implies responsability.But some parents are abusers instead of being responsible adults.So what’s to respect here?Very good definitions of the word ‘respect’.But what about the definition of the word ‘parent’ compared to the word ‘abuser’?


As the holidays approach the issue of disrespect from my family members takes center stage as I have to interact with many of them that I am able to keep at arm’s length throughout the year.
You hit the nail on the head with this article. I have also gone through a period of healing and these truths, the learned false definitions of key words and relational tools, is at the center of much of the hurt and confusion I have endured. You are spot on. I would add that people have a false understanding of the purpose of the family and why God created the family for us. Many , who behave perfectly well to others in society, such as neighbors, friends and co- workers, behave with great disrespect and abuse toward family members. There is a belief that the purpose of family is to be your dumping ground for all the negative emotions and behaviors society will not accept from you. In my family the mantra was
“home is where you can express yourself however you want and your family still loves you”. That’s a nice concept but horribly misinterpreted by my parents. It actually does not mean that you can be disrespectful, rude , hurtful, vile, contemptuous, engage in name calling, and assault others because that’s what you’re feeling that day. And your family has to take it because we’re family. But that is what it meant in my family. As adults, the power struggles and disrespect continue, at least for my siblings, and the roles created and determined in childhood, are the expectation. My role was to shut up and do as I am told , defer to others and know that I have no value , no voice and no worth. My existence was to do for them. Even at 50 years old, living a separate life from them, they still revert back to these behaviors and interaction styles whenever we are together. They sometimes pick up the phone and attempt to engage these ” coping mechanisms” whenever they are stressed and looking for a way out of whatever problem they have created in their own lives. One of my roles to my family was to clean up their messes. They are too busy and their time too valuable. But mine, of course, is not. It was just understood that they would pass unpleasant problems they had on to me to deal with for them and it was a norm from childhood. As adults it continued. If they had a problem they don’t want to deal with they would try to “delegate it” to me. When I began , years ago, saying no to them and setting boundaries … let’s just say it did not go over well. I am not the most popular person in my family. And I am okay with that.
As an adult, a professional and parent of grown children, I am baffled each time my adult siblings ( and my parents before they passed) would continue to interact with such disrespect, disregard and inconsideration toward their adult siblings/ children/ family. My parents have passed but it’s as if my parent’s way of viewing the world was the only way and my siblings have not , can not and will not even entertain that there is a better way to behave and interact .They feel entitled to these “roles of power”.
In terms of respecting them, I continue to behave respectfully toward them as I would any person. I ignore and do not react to their behaviors any more. I speak respectfully , in a respectful tone. That may mean saying , in a respectful tone, ” I’m sorry but it’s not okay for you to speak to me like that. I’m not going to continue this conversation with you because you are being very disrespectful”. And then hang up. It does not mean never standing up for yourself or setting boundaries. Just do it respectfully. You can tell someone that something is none of their business in a respectful way. No name calling, no contempt, no accusation, no belittling, no devaluing. You can behave respectfully towards someone but not agree with them or condone their behavior. Name the behavior, state why it is not okay, state that you love them but this behavior/ interaction is not okay with you and state consequences. I have done this many times in my family. We have morphed to a “pleasant ” relationship. Not close as before , but “close as before” was actually “enmeshment”, which is a totally unhealthy dance. Better to replace it with cordial pleasantries and an uncomfortable hug at the family barbeque than the phone calls that involve name calling and demands of hoop jumping.
I mourn not having a close family but it is what it is. We’re all over 50. If someone hasn’t figured out respect by now, they likely never will.
Family is not just blood relatives. Family are people who truly love and care for you, treat you as though you have value to them and you matter.
Preserve your own mental health. Choose limited interaction with those you must interact with and choose to spend quality time with those who are reciprocal in respect , love, kindness and courtesy. We can’t pick our family…well, actually we can. We can pick friends who become like ( better than ) our family. Spend your time there and be cordial but at arm’s length to the one’s that choose to not see the truth.


In regards to respecting your parents, you can treat them with respect but set boundaries with them and not allow them to abuse you. Basic respect means to treat someone with human dignity , acknowledging their worth as a human being. You can respect someone for their work and admire them for their qualities. But one can also respect others, no matter who they are, as a human being and afford them their basic dignity. For example, a nurse may have to take care of a murderer wounded by police. She doesn’t like him, like his behavior or admire him in any way. But she still must display basic dignity and respect for him as a human being. She is not allowed to hit him, curse him, etc. When she speaks to him, she uses salutations such as Mr. SoandSo. She uses words like please and thank you when delivering his care. She is obligated to care for him as she would any other “worthy” patient even though she is repulsed by what he has done. It does not indicate you agree with them. You are not an animal. You respect and recognize the worth of all life but don’t like the behavior . You won’t have a deeper conversation. But you won’t be abusive just because they are abusive people.


Welcome to all the new people on this post!

Kate, I treat my parents with respect, but since they do not respect me, my boundary is no contact. There is no obligation in the act of love. A nurse is paid to do her job which is a whole different thing. It is love for me to refuse to let my mother treat me like crap. It is love for both her and I.
thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Anon24759
This article and this website is not specific to parents but rather to people who do not treat others with the respect and equal value that they expect to be treated with themselves.
Thank you for sharing your story!
hugs, Darlene


I am 47 years old and still being upset by my abusive parents. They leave every year for 6-8 months during the winter and returned Monday (we live only a few miles apart). I started shaking uncontrollably when they texted they were home. My husband told them we didn’t want them coming over. That I cannot keep being hurt.

I was physically, verbally and emotionally abused by my father as a child while my mother (who tells everyone else in the world how to run their lives) stood by and watched or got the same. I left home at 15 and have excluded them from my life at various times and then let them back in. 9 years ago, at 10 pm I was playing the piano, my husband and 4 sons were in bed, my parents as usual had come over and parked themselves at my house for hours-surfing the computer, reading and my mom was on her phone alot. My father left the house to go see my brother who was housesitting just down the street. My father came back screaming, You F#$%ING b(*&^h, you are so stupid, you told me the wrong house. Everyone hates you, no one knows why your husband stays with you, you’re such a blah blah blah, he came at me with a raised fist. I pulled a huge lamp out of the wall to defend myself – the whole time my mother is screaming for my father to calm down. I told them to get out. The next day they came back, my father apologized, I said no, I”m done. I said I am not going to be scared at my age, I had to be scared when I was a kid but my children are not going to be like I was and wake in the middle of the night to yelling. He said well you were being loud playing the piano. WHat a dumbass. I told him go get some anger management classes, go get on some medication. I’m not putting up with this or you anymore. BUT, BUT what about the wonderful vacations they took me on when I was a kid those were great times, right? (wonderful vacations? are you kidding me? – there was always a scene at a restaurant because he is the ultimate cheapskate, ALWAYS road rage, fights.) So this is where I’m supposed to forgive AGAIN? There have been so many incidents of abuse, intimidation. After this scene, friends of my mother’s came to my house and told me I had to forgive him. These people saw my mother with bruises from him before, knew he beat us kids and they think now that I’m an adult I need to keep this up? Oh what if he dies they said…oh well, I’m ok with that. I DON’T DESERVE TO BE ABUSED BY THEM ANYMORE. I kept them away for a few years. THen let them back in, my mother then goes to my restaurant and proceeds to tell my employees (dear friends) in front of customers what a bad daughter I am, she wishes we were closer, she can’t figure out what’s wrong with me..Last May, I went on my computer that my mother had been on the night before, on the screen was an emailing she had written to someone I barely know saying she felt so sorry for my 4 kids that they had to have me for a mother, I opened another email to someone else – my “wonderful” daughter called today to tell me about a cruise she went on. She liked it, I Couldn’t believe it she’s such a f*&^ing B&^%h, she doesn’t like anything, I read one email after another of what a terrible person I am. I went on my email and put in mom and searched. I found not one reference to me saying anything bad about her, I did find the letter I wrote her after she trashed me at my restaurant 5 years ago asking her to please stop badmouthing me, esp. at my business or I was going to have to cut her out of my life again. I guess that didn’t matter.

Just as an aside…My parents talking to me like I am such a loser is interesting because I do alot for people, I coach, I volunteer, My mother’s mother (My Gram)is 98 and lives on her own, I am the one who does the most for her – takes her to dr appts, make her food, clean, spend time with her and my mom’s 71 year old mentally retarded sister (my Aunt) lives in a group home – I am the ONLY one in our family that takes her out to eat, to the movies, has her stay with me and even though I do all this I’m no good – I own a successful business, sold another business last year that I started from the ground up and own several houses, I have never asked my parents for one thing. I started college after my junior year of hs because since I was 15 I lived with friends because of the abuse and put myself through college. I am so sick of trying to figure out why they hate me. It just hurts so bad that my own mother says she feels sorry that my children have me for a mother. WHy didn’t she feel sorry for me and my brothers? My children have never been punched, hit, kicked, dragged by their hair or constantly scared like we were. I feel like they have robbed me of being a happy person because I am so depressed and sad that my life has been this way.


I entirely agree with you. The problem is, my parents never will. 🙁


Hi Madison,
Yes, and it’s a good thing that my recovery doesn’t depend on my parents ever understanding this. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


In my twenties, may father pointed a gun at me..right on my forehead. I really don’t remember the circumstances but it was about some big argument between him and my mother. My father is a very complicated man. He provided us with and more. But he also makes us feel the we owe him for all that he’s given. He separated with my mother who is clinically blind and who now lives with me and my family. He doesn’t give her support for anything. Anyway, that’s another story to tell.

He did it again today, I’m on my forties now and he threatened to shoot me again. He was about to take our his gun but he didn’t. We argued over a small issue again. He just wants to be right all the time even when he is not. He cannot lose an argument as what he says all the time especially to us his children. Anyway, I don’t know how to deal with him anymore. He just wants to overpower us all the time..if that’s the right way to describe it. I just don’t think that it’s right. Do we really owe him for all that he has provided us? I really know that we don’t but where do we draw the line?


Hi Jack
Welcome to EFB ~ what your father is doing is illegal and very dangerous ~ how can you know that he won’t pull the trigger? I would advise you to seek assistance with this. You don’t own anyone anything. There is no obligation in love. I hope you will keep reading my website for insight.
Hugs, Darlene


It’s funny how we won’t put up with disrespect from a boss, co-worker, spouse or neighbor. But when it’s our parents being nasty to us, we act like slaves and hesitate to stand up to them. I blame tradition and culture because it condones parents and brainwash us into thinking they have the right to do what they want and we have no right to complain. The Devil has twisted the 5th commandment to keep people in bondage.


This posting is so helpful to me right now. My biological father has recently excused all acts of name-calling, claiming that they are justifiable because I did not give him due respect. I was simply standing up for myself. The definition in the dictionary is so different from the one I was given, where authoritative figures are supposed to automatically be respected. Something deep within me said that’s not right, but now I have the logic to back it up. Thank you.


Hi Laura,
Welcome to EFB ! ~ It’s mind blowing when we realize the actual meaning of certain words vs. the way we were taught the meaning of those words! There are not two separate definitions of respect. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


I love this article, specifically since I just got into an arguement with my aunt. She would always say negative things about my dad and when I defend myself she would mock me but my mom would never stand up for me as she would call me disrespectful. I feel so conflicted as to whether or not I should defend the people I care about or just let her get away with bad mouthing my dad.


Hi Jocelyn
Welcome to EF ~ thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
What a profound article. I needed to read this and not feel guilty. I’m honored to have stumbled onto your website.
My mom and I argue a lot. She’s one to use the quote….the bible says “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.” In her eyes I’m disrespectful even at my age. I’m reminded periodically what she’s done for me. She’s been very gracious.
My father is mentally ill and declining. Life revolved around his moods. To say he was mildly controlling is like saying it never rains in Florida. :/ I lived in fear growing up.
I was a strong-willed child, disobeyed and an only spoiled child with a stay at home mother who didn’t drive. I feel like an onion at times. Pick a layer and find the pain. Parenting…wishy-washy!!! My father quit work while I was in high school. My mom had only worked part-time my last year of high school. However, she started working pt and went full-time at the church we attended (just mom & me) My mom despises that I remember the bad….I remember good things, too.
But,I’ll never forget the day I got married. My father never said I looked pretty. Why? And you want me to respect my parents? How? Even if I didn’t it’s my day and he should have told me I looked beautiful.
However, he did tell me during the father/daughter dance “Don’t have any children.”(what kind of message does this send your daughter?) I did take his advice about children and I divorced very quickly. Respect? I’ve asked myself numerous times why? I do have compassion for him because he’s not stable. (It has taken me many years.) My mother adapted to this life-style. In my eyes she’s always been a doormat. Her church is her outlet. She’s much better mentally than him but he’s still in control of her life in other ways and areas.
Our mother-daughter relationship meanders. Fair and good in the present. I’ve always wished for it to be better but I accept what it has become the older I’ve gotten. I don’t live where I grew up and she often brings that to my attention. I ran away. I had to leave.
After my separation from my husband I had been living with my parents. I was a flight attendant and stayed away. I wasn’t in a good place because of the divorce. She wasn’t available to me. During this time my mother worked. Money and keeping my father at peace was her only focus. We never did anything and she was tired mentally, physically and emotionally. He drained her.
There was no us. She was under financial pressure and I hated him for what he was doing to my mother. But, she believed he would change. Still? I was 31 then. I cannot give respect just to give it. It reminds me how I grew up and every night before I went to bed we said with cheek kisses “Good night & I love you. Really? I didn’t feel love….just lost.
Respect. Just this morning I got from my mother that I don’t respect her. If she only knew.


Hi Angie
Welcome to EFB ~ glad you are here. The way that society talks about respect isn’t actually about respect, it’s about control and entitlement. I had to do a lot of work on finding out the real meaning of respect in the process of healing. I had been SO brainwashed to think respect was doing what they wanted. I think you are going to enjoy reading here.
Hugs, Darlene


I am a 35 year old woman who is about to become a mother in 2 months. My mother an I do not always see eye to eye on things. Growing up, my mom was verbally abusive to me. She would tell me that I am nothing, I’m a P.O.S. and will never be anything. I am not sure why she talks to me the way she does, but it is not right. What mother in their right mind tells their child that. Just earlier today while my mother and I were in the store shopping, she didn’t like the response I gave to her question. She automatically snapped and started to walk away. I left it alone because I didn’t want to get into it with her. A few mins later I asked her a question and she didn’t answer me. She just shrugged her shoulders with her back to me. Asked her to please not give me that response, and she lost it. She started yelling and cursing at me in the middle of the store like I was 2yrs old. I was embarrassed, so I had to walk away. When we got outside and in the car, I asked her to please not talk to me like that because I am not a child. She tells me that I’m a piece of sh** and a loser. I’m guessing she has a lot of things bottled up inside, but Me as an adult and a woman will not stand to be disrespected even by my mother. We both do not have any respect for one another and it only gets worse every day. She lives with me, so you can only imagine how it is on a daily basis. I don’t have the relationship I would like with my mother because it’s very hard. At times I think I’m wrong for being disrespectful and my family tells me that I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. Respect is earned not just given. I’m at a point where I don’t know what to do.


It really offended me to read this as a parent and a child. My 18 yr old stepdaughter quoted pieces of this article to me after I told her that as long as she’s living with me and I’m taking care of her as the sole provider in the family I expect her to treat me with respect. Now I have taken care of and supported her since she was 4! Me,not her bio mom who’s a drug addict who lost parental rights 10 years ago or even her father. I’ve always supported her, emotionally financially and ever other way there is while she has continually yelled at me, lied ABOUT me to anyone who will listen saying I starved her, beat her,threw her out when she was 13..and these are such RIDICULOUS allegations that have NO basis. We’ve actually had family services investigate due to the utter bullshit she’s made up which resulted in mandated counseling FOR HER! Now she’s 18 and actually told me it’s my Job to take care of her and she wont respect me as respect is earned. Like ALWAYS being there for her when she just needed a hug or advice or when she wanted a $600 prom dress I bought her when I was making $800 a month. And I have 2 other kids. 2 son’s who see everything she she does,one of which was 8 when she was 16 and she choked while I was at work because he interrupted a phone call! Despite everything she’s done I’ve never given up on her and jabbed always loved her. We argue and disagree but I have raised her and done my absolute best to be a good mom to her and sacrificed for her probably more than my biological sons. Only for her to now as an ADULT sit in my home,where I ALONE pay all the bills the groceries,everything she acts entitled to while telling me she’s not going to respect me or even TREAT me with respect because its earned. Well wtf have I been doing the last 14 yrs if not earning respect! I don’t think respect should automatically be given because of who you are but what you’ve done and continue took do. I continue to provide her with food shelter clothes etc. Etc. And I get told I don’t deserve her respect. She trashes the house nevermind helping out with anything she won’t even pick up after herself or flush a damn toilet! She compared me getting upset and raising my voice to her because she came in at 2am blasting music in her car on a school night while my boys were sleeping to abuse! And abusers don’t deserve respect. I get what you’re trying to day here but your giving young adults and teenagers an excuse to be disrespectful and a platform to go off of. Unless a parent is abusing you,if they have taken care of you and put your needs above their own your entire life and continue to once you become an adult….that not only deserves respect, it DEMANDS IT! It’s not ok for that child no matter how old (18 in this case) to tell you they won’t respect you as its earned and “you don’t respect them ” well do something worthy of respect and I will. In the meantime you have an obligation after ALL I’ve done your ENTIRE LIFE to at least TREAT ME WITH RESPECT. They’re are 2 sides you every coin. Taking care of your child their whole life id enough to earn respect,unless you do something to lose it. And you should at least Treat the person providing for you eith respect,whether you actually do respect them or not


Dear Mom3
Did you read this article? I hope you will read it again. Listen to what I am writing about. I am not giving ANYONE an excuse to be disrespectful.

Of course there are two sides to every story and there is only ONE truth. If what this girl is saying about you IS NOT the truth, then it is not the truth. I am not empowering people to make up stories. I certainly don’t agree that any person living in a household has the ‘right’ to wake everyone up blaring music in the middle of the night.

Where is her father? Why don’t you have any assistance with this situation?

You wrote some things that make me wonder ~ You say that you deserve respect because you took care of her? It doesn’t really work that way; again read my article. You are saying here that she should respect you simply because you have provided for her. (and you use the expression “after all I have done for you”… this is an obligation expression. Think about the actual definition of respect. Your example of buying her a 600.00 dress, when you only made 800.00 per month; why would you do that? You also said that you will respect her when she does something worthy of respect. Has anyone taught her what respect is because by what you have written there is a misunderstanding on both sides.

It sounds like you could both use some assistance with this situation. You mention that you have 2 other children; they ARE watching and they are learning how relationship works. (or doesn’t work) and is sounds like it isn’t working at all. I really hope that you can get some help with this for the sake of everyone involved including yourself.

Hugs, Darlene


No “disrespect” to the people here who’ve had traumatizing experiences with their parents throughout their life but if we’re REALLY going by the DEFINITION of respect I feel it is my responsibility to point out to kids (teens) looking for an excuse to disrespect their parents the word RESPECT has more than one definition:”TO ACT IN A WAY THAT SHOWS YOU ARE AWARE OF SOMEONES WISHES (RIGHTS;ETC)//
“TO TREAT OR DEAL WITH SOMETHING THAT IS GOOD OR VALUABLE IN THE PROPER WAY….These are also definitions of respect listed directly with the one listed above in the dictionary. Picking and choosing what you want out of what a word means is not the actual meaning of it. PARENT/RESPECT are synonyms in any car other than abuse…and raising your voice or taking privileges away does not equal abuse. I swear I somehow come across this site almost every day yet never see anyone who is a parent talk about how uplifting this is. Im blown away that ONE PERSON’s opinion is being used as a platform to be disrespectful to your parents…instead of villainizing your parents for all their faults think of all the ways they’ve been there for you, and that just because they’re people who make mistakes like EVERYONE else doesn’t make it acceptable for you to treat them in a disrespectful manner…again unless they have LEGITIMATELY abused you your whole life…


Honestly I think you are on the wrong website. Of course these definitions of respect are just as valid. I don’t see your point? We are talking about mutual respect here.

To answer the questions you asked me when you replied to the comment instead of coming to this blog to post it (so it didn’t get published because it wasn’t actually here it was in the admin email)

~ YES I am a parent. I have 3 grown children and have wonderful relationships with all three of them. I am also an award winning author, a very well known speaker on emotional healing and I have been interviewed all over the world on this subject. I don’t empower disrespect in any form. If my kids came home and disrespected me or my home I would not accept it. You have misunderstood the intention of everything that is going on here.

To answer your comment here today, at least 60% of this readership (Of hundreds of thousands of people) are parents. I wish you would read a bit more of what is actually going on in this website before you post your judgements in this way.

And if it makes you feel any better, this isn’t actually a popular blog for teenagers.



In my mothers home her counnselor say she dosent have to show me respect although she admits I go buy her rules she says this when she disrespects me “my house, my rules” and that I have to respect her because God says ” honour and obey your parent I told her God says do not provoke your children to anger and she says well yout no longer a child when a pastor said because we’re still Gods children and the bible period says do not provoke a person to anger that they might sin it dosent count other than having to leave I had her read about the part of mothers and families disrespect adult children prior to child hoid I have an 8 yr old and she over uses teach her by example to rwspect when by definition I do she says this when I disagree with what she wants?????? How should I handle this


It’s interesting reading everyone’s points of view on this hot topic. Lots of questions posed and ideas.

I feel I want to disagree Darlene, I feel parents, in fact everyone should be shown respect, most especially by us. When I read the defenitions, my interpretation isn’t so much the quality of the parents character, more the description of the actions comprising of respect. My interpretation is calm tone of voice, polite words, allowing the other person to speak without interrupting, allowing and acknowledgeing the other person and their point of view, avoiding rudeness.

The reason I feel we should show them respect is because if we fail to uphold the simplest of common courtesy we are at risk of behaving like the very monsters we are trying to break free from. We don’t have to agree with their demands/ideas or follow their instructions, but we can respectfully disagree and maintain our dignity. If they choose to act in a manner less than respectful, one day it will be habit for them and they will behave like that in other circles, making a less than appealing impression. We run that risk too, so to maintain our higher standards for how we behave, I feel we all need to treat everyone with those same respectful behaviours. It also makes it harder for our parents to portray us as crazy, the black sheep, dishonest, a disappointment or disrespectful if all the outside world ever sees of our behaviour is complete respect all the time. It would be hard for a parent to sell us as disrespectful when those they are trying to convince see us being respectful to those same parents trying to discredit us.

I’d love to know what everyone else thinks ?


Hi Amanda
I agree that everyone deserves respect.
And as for upholding the simplest of common courtesy, why do you think I am suggesting otherwise?

This article perhaps has the wrong title; It was not my intention to suggest that disrespectful people deserve to be disrespected. It is my intention to shed light on the truth about the relationship itself.

I was never disrespectful to my parents. I simply finally stopped consenting to the way that I was treated by drawing a boundary. They didn’t like it but I didn’t like the way that I was treated either. No matter what I did my mother portrayed me as “the problem” so that she could rest assured that she WASN’T perceived as the problem. She started discrediting me when I was a child.

I think you may have the definition of respect a little bit skewed.

Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene


Hi Stephanie,
Did your mothers counsellor say that to you?? (because that is bizarre; respect has to do with HOW you treat people and it goes both ways.)
As for honour your parents, take a look at what honour is. And then take a look at the mutuality of honour.

As for your own child and what your mother suggests ~ Did your mother teach you respect by example? Giving someone what they want isn’t respect, it is compliance. Compliance can be very unhealthy.

There are lots more articles here that discuss the actual definition of LOVE which is what we are actually talking about. 🙂 You might find more insights through those. 🙂
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Let’s be very clear: This is a site dealing with individuals who have been subject to abuse and neglect not only in childhood, but into adult life by the very people whose primary responsibility was the care and protection of their children, the most vulnerable of humans. Abusive parents do not cultivate respect, they DEMAND “respect.” However, their concept of “respect” is an Authoritarian blind acceptance of their behavior simply by virtue of their status as post-partum and/or donation of sperm. Giving birth does not make one a “mother;” it’s what occurs AFTER the birth that renders one a mother/father.
False Equivalencies are common rationalizations among abusive parents: “Think about it-they have to put up on a daily basis with you too.” A child engages in child behavior because they ARE children. An adolescent engages in adolescent behavior because they ARE adolescents. Same with young adults. A parent is *suppose to be* an adult. Suggesting their normal Age and Stage behavior isn’t “respectful” when in fact it IS simply normal kid behavior thereby justifies the demand for “respect” because they’re doing this behavior AT ME, not because they’re normal kids. Disproportionate responses, those in which the punishment does not fit the crime is a common response of all abusers to perceived threats to their position of Authority. It’s all about Power and Control for abusers, not “respect.” Would you suggest an adult in a domestic violence shelter “respect” their abuser? Hang around the abuser and “model” respectful behavior so their abuser will mimic the same? Would you be willing to stake your very life on that speculation? How is a domestic abuser partner entitled to an exemption by their title of “spouse” any different than another domestic abuser adult entitled to an exemption by virtue of their title “parent?” Or does DNA confer absolution of all behaviors by a parent? Is there a blanket exemption in any event because “family?” This is what a Diane Downs would assert. How is an abusive parent’s behavior any less criminal? Because they didn’t get caught? Because the child was bullied or terrified into silence or the parent was covering for the paycheck their partner contributes to the household?

Respect is earned. Kids don’t respect abusers any more than adults do. The decision to walk away from a parent(s) is not about “respect.” It’s about a consistent pattern of behavior in which the parent contines to engage that is anything but respectful, but rather a blatant demand for Control and Domination simply by their title. Their belief in their supremacy is eternal and unwavering regardless of the offspring’s age-30, 60 yrs. old-doesn’t matter to an abuser. Just because I say “I am a good parent” doesn’t make me one. As Mark Twain observed, “…the louder he professed his honesty, the faster we counted our spoons.” How successful have the efforts at rehabilitating life long adult abusers been even when attempted by Professionals? How successful have Professionals been at identifying abusive/neglectful parents? Not very. Why? Because abusers know if they abuse in public rather than in private, they might get caught. Anytime you have to hide what you’re doing behind closed doors, you KNOW what you’re doing is WRONG.

The statement “…we are at risk of behaving like the very monsters we are trying to break free from..” This is not about “respect,” it’s about a demand for surrendering one’s personal autonomy, a fear tactic and a rationalization for continued enabling. Further, if this assertion was valid, how is it that so many abused individuals do NOT abuse or neglect their own children? “Your parents love you and just want to raise you to be the best you can be.” No, they do not “love” their offspring; if they did, abuse and neglect would not occur. They are not raising their children “to be the best you can be.” To the extent they “raise” their children, abusive parents demand the child be what the PARENT demands, not who the children are as unique human beings in their own right. Once again, the child serves the needs of the parent instead of the other way around: Abusive/ Neglectful parents consistently engage in behavior that is exactly ass-backwards. They have no clue who their children are-despite their consistent assertions they know their children better than the children know themselves-nor are they interested in learning. Any attempt by the offspring to demonstrate autonomy is immediately reactively punished. A constant wail from these parents when the AC walks away/NC is “whhyyyyyyy?” Well, if you know your children oh so well, how is it you didn’t predict they would NC? Why did you not see that coming? After multiple efforts on the AC’s part to address the relationship with the parent-and getting spoken over, dismissed, cut off, flat out denying the parent’s own behavior etc.-in fact, engaging in all the behaviors you suggest (which are neither original nor productive) the only option left is NC.
Whether you stay or leave, you will be negatively portrayed. If you feel the need to demonstrate you’re not who they say you are, this fundamentally reflects a statement about you, your enmeshment and your own need to presume such inevitably will result in a positive assessment of your Presentation of Self. And frankly, hubris. You don’t control what other people think or believe. Doesn’t matter what you “model,” or what your accomplishments: They-and you-will consistently be spun negatively. However, if your concern is demonstrating some kind of Moral Transcendence towards abuse, something of a “Lady Bountiful” abuse/neglect style by continuing to subject yourself to such and de facto enabling the behavior, the cost and transparency of your behavior needs to be examined against the reality of how this meets YOUR needs particularly in fragile self concept, the inherent limits of behavioral “persuasion” to other enabling bystanders and denial of a painful and threatening Reality.
The issue is not “respect:” It is a rationalization of on-going abuse reconfigured as some bastardized definition of “I deserve it because I demand it.” Abusers do not identify themselves as such-ever-unless it may be used as a manipulation in sentencing for their criminal convictions. And like any other criminal, their greatest fear is not their behavior but “getting caught.” Equally as threatening to the abuser is the victim’s possessing the moral and ethical conviction to call the behavior what it is without rancor, excuse or minimization. Frankly, it is this behavior that demonstrates genuine Transcendence, Character and Respect-for reality and Truth despite all it’s ugliness.


Hi Everyone,

I think respect is earned by how you treat other people. You get what you give. I don’t respect either one of my parents because they did absolutely nothing to deserve it and in fact they did just the opposite. They abused me. I would be a fool to respect either one of them because it would mean that I am volunteering for more of their abuse.

Do I talk down to them… no. Do I do to them what they did to me… no but that doesn’t have anything to do with me being or not being respectful. It has to do with me valuing and respecting my self enough to know that they don’t deserve to get my respect because they choose not to do anything in order to get it because they do not value me.

This really does get confusing when you are someone that was abused. It takes a long time to sort through all of this junk to finally see the truth. I get what Amanda was talking about in her post but I think Tundra Woman hit the nail right on the head.


I have just found your site and I am so glad (and sad) that i am not alone. It seems so many people have had lives like mine and I am not some sort of alien. However, I am also having to realise that I have taken on the bullying, manipulative ways I suffered from, sometimes enjoy that power feeling and so feel completely defeated in my hopes of feeling better about myself and having a ‘me’ and a life worth living. What do I do now?


Another thing that really bothers me is that I do not feel things like liking, loving etc and do not understand why people want relationships although I am not able to look after myself and have always relied heavily on others to look after me. It really,really bothers me. Just realised, feelings were not allowed at home, we had to be ‘nice’. Could this have anything to do with my weirdness.

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