There have been a few instances when I have collected my strength and attempted to explain the stress, fear, lack of self-esteem, and humiliation I went through when growing up, at the hands of short-tempered parents who ignored, judged and criticized me.
But every time, the outcome has been the same. I have found myself devastated with their utter lack of emotional maturity, understanding, patience and remorse. Then it has taken me a few days to pick up the shattered bits and pieces of myself, all over again.
And I know I am not alone. There are other people who have tried to do the same, no matter where in the world, but haven’t gotten anything out of a confrontation.
The only thing most people get when they try to talk about this stuff with their parents, is the unfortunate truth that their parents may never acknowledge or understand, which is pretty evident from what the parents say in response:
“What are you talking about? None of this every happened.”
“We understand. We also cried and grieved a lot over what we have done. But we are your parents. Now you should forgive us, forget and move on. Let’s live happily from now on.”
“Why do you always focus on the negative? We have made so many sacrifices and have done so much for you. No parents do a great job that we have done. Remember the good stuff.”
“Whatever happened was in the past. Let bygones be bygones. You should live in the present and think about the future.”
“We have seen so many hardships and we didn’t have the time to stop and think about how we were parenting you. We were more worried about putting food on the table and working hard to give you the good lifestyle that you’re enjoying now.”
“Okay, we admit we tried to control and dictate over your life. But that was thing of the past. Now we have changed. Now we just want you to do this and this and then we won’t ask of anything else.”
Now if you have never suffered any abuse in any form from your parents, chances are you won’t immediately see what is wrong all of these statements. In fact, you may want to side up with the parents a little bit for the things that they are saying.
So is there anything wrong with how they are perceiving and responding to the accusations? Let’s dissect some of these responses.
“We don’t do that anymore.”
So just because you decided to improve yourself, you should be excused for your past wrong-doings? Imagine a criminal saying to the judge that he injured someone but he doesn’t do that anymore so he should be freed from what he has done. Does that make any sense?
If they have really changed, then they should accept that there are consequences to what they have done so far and do everything they can to correct them, to the extent possible. Being a changed person doesn’t mean to ignore your past wrong-doings, even if you are not going to repeat them.
“We feel really bad and cried over what we did. Now forgive us and move on.”
You are not the wronged party. And you are not the one who suffered for those wrong-doings. How bad you feel about it can never match how bad you made someone else feel for so many years. Then who are you to recommend to your child that he should forgive and forget. It’s not up to you.
“Why do you always think too much and focus on the negative?”
Never tell your child that he is wrong to feel what he is feeling. People remember having barked at, terrorized, beaten, ignored or rejected over nothing in their childhood. Because all this shit isn’t normal.
At times, they also wished they were in some other family, or with no family. But they were kids, and therefore powerless and dependent on parents for survival. There’s not much they were able to do when a parent was being unfair to them.
So they suffered in secret, carrying hatred that accumulates over the years, and waited to grow up. By the time they are big and strong and independent and able to do something about it, the pain has accumulated to such an extent that cannot be pacified with a few wise-ass words.
“You are lucky. Our parents were even worse.”
Another line a lot of parents say to their children. “My father used to beat me left and right. At least, I didn’t do it that often to you.”
With standards like that in terms of raising children, that you just stop short on beating them up – you’re setting a really low bar, no matter what happened to you in the past. In fact, you’re making my point.
It’s not very likely that your parents would ever come across, click through or read this post. And even more unlikely that mine will ever do. But I am not counting on it, and neither should you.
If you are a parent, I hope this post helps you gain a better perspective on emotional abuse. If you are someone who had such a parent, and were reading this post for some kind of solution, I am afraid I don’t have any.
All I can say is the sooner we can stop waiting for them to understand, and accept that these feelings may never get resolved, it may get a little easier to live on. At least, that’s what I have been trying to do.