How do you know when parents shouldn't be...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by ShakespeareMamaX, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. ShakespeareMamaX

    ShakespeareMamaX New Member

    ...parents? I know enough that I'll get good, honest advice here, so I'm spillin' about my own situation.

    I am 26.

    My son is 8. My daughter is a year and a half.

    My parents have seen my son, maybe 7 times in their lives. My daughter....once.

    They have never been to my house, nor do they know my address or home phone number (mom knows my cell). The last house I lived in, for 5 years, they had been to twice (once, being 2 weeks after having my daughter).

    My father was/is an abusive alcoholic (verbally and physically, only). My mother liked to hit the bottle, as well, and sometimes fell asleep in my bed, forcing me to sleep on the couch (this is around age 12 or so).

    My father liked to scream at everyone until he passed out. Then, would wake up at 3am and wake everyone up ranting all over, again. This was enough to give me panic attacks (oddly enough around 3-3:30) almost every night, which I am now getting treated for.

    I also have a sister. She is 25 with no children.

    My sister is able to pick up her mail from their house, sometimes.

    I am not able to use the bathroom at their house.

    My mother will give me money at times, but only lets my sister borrow.

    My sister and I both try to call our parents on random occasions, and always have to leave a message and cross our fingers for a call back as they screen their calls.

    Our parents don't feel like having "guests" which is why we can't go over to their house.

    I needed to prepare with a "backup dad" for my wedding, just in case...

    The dilemma:

    I yearn....cry....scream! be with them. I want my parents so badly. Oddly enough, it's my dad I want the most. I send cards with wishes that we'll go fishing soon. I stop by unannounced, so I can get that 5 minutes of seeing them before I'm pushed away. My father got into a car accident. Great! I can stop by with flowers! Cards! A hug! He wouldn't come out... (he's OK, by the way) Mom? I'll pick you up! We can do something we've never done before! Shopping! No? Oh...Papa doesn't feel good? You have to go get dogfood, instead? Oh, alright... Next time! Next time... Mom! Papa! husband's family is having their yearly BBQ! Some of his family is here from CA! They want you to come! It would be some great!'ll think about it... Really tired...sick...busy... Well, don't worry about it. It's...OK?

    No. I make myself sick thinking about this EVERYday. Why? Why can't my parents see what they do? How they make my sister and me feel? The long term CRAP they've done to our brains?! Do they know?

    My husband and I talked about it. The most I think I've ever talked about it. We planned a letter. Not a guilt trip, by any means (that's the LAST thing I want them to feel), but informational letter. Something to let them know...that my sis can't own anything for more than 2 months and I hoard everything in sight. Sis holds everything in and I cry at the cheesiest commercial. That we both...can't be alone. We need our parents.

    I praise the lord for my sister, for loving me, for me having the love I have for her, and sharing the same pain.

    I want this to end. I need my parents to know so I can stop the phonecalls, the visits, the hopefilled NOTHINGS I imagine of our family. I think if they know...I'll really know how they feel. I guess I figure that if they act more like parents after the letter...well, they had no idea what they were doing to us. And if they don't change...I guess I can be on my way...with closure (I hope).

    Please...if anyone can make any sense of this...
  2. ShakespeareMamaX

    ShakespeareMamaX New Member

    Oh...and if it means sister left at age 13 and I, 14. We stayed anywhere we could as to avoid going home (ironic now, huh?).

    I went back maybe 2 or 3 times (2 week spans, at the most), finally leaving for good at 17 while 7 months pregnant, having to literally run away, as my parents were going crazy on each other. My dad actually stopped to notice me getting my sweater on... he said "you better get out of here". So I ran...I ran until I got to the nearest payphone about 20 minutes away at the police station. My friend's dad picked me up. My english teacher who had been on the phone during the "craziness" called the police who, of course, dismissed everything as "nothing happened".

    My sis lived with our parents for a couple years when she was 18 or so. When the situation got too bad...when my father was laying out every weapon in the house (guns, knives, nunchucks, baseball bat, etc...) and asking my mother how she wanted to die...she left, again.
  3. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I do completely understand, and I have been through what you are going through. The only thing that made any difference was years, and years of counseling. I wish I could tell you the "magic answer" was X,Y, or Z.....but it takes years and years of work in order to not feel the feelings you have. Please, invest in a counselor..........if at all possible. If not, read lots and lots of books on abuse. Knowledge is power.......and it is the only answer in these kind of situations.

    Interesting that you and your difficult child have nightmares that son and I have that as well. Was your son around the "grandparents" at all?
  4. Sammie

    Sammie New Member


    You know to be quite honest.. after reading your post... my gut tells me that you should just copy this post and send it to them.. I think that would be very powerful... Are they clean now? Because my biggest fear for you is that you would some how reach out to them and they to you... only to continue the cycle of control and abuse... And that your children would then be subject to the same things that you mentioned.... I am scared for all of you.... I read your post and see a wonderful intelligent woman...who has had to overcome more than her share of neglect.... I am sure you will always yearn for them... but be very very careful.... You have a wonderful ability to write, you and your sister should consider writing a book about your childhood and all the things you have overcome.... even if you dont know how it will end this could be very cathartic... My thoughts and prayers are with you and I am sending you a great big hug..
  5. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I second seeing a counselor. This really sounds like one of those times you're going to have to find a way to let go. Some relationships are just toxic, even some between parents and child.

    My father died when I was in my early teens. As awful as it sounds, it was the best thing that could have happened. I would have hated him as an adult. He, too, was an alcoholic. I remember how much I loved him and how distant he was. Today, I can love the man but I know I would have walked away from the drunk.

    My mother and I are truly toxic. She hated that I adopted a child. She hated that my daughter wasn't perfect. For 6 years straight, I heard nothing but that I should send her back. I finally cut her off. I will see her on occasion for lunch or something. I will not go to her house and she is not invited to mine. I call her once a week to make sure she is okay but I won't chat with her or be friendly. In other words, I am a dutiful but not a loving daughter.

    It took four years of intensive counseling for me to understand that I had done the right thing to survive regarding my parents. It took me another year or so to forgive myself. Today, I am content with the relationship I have with my mother. It works for both of us. It is not what I wanted but it is what I needed. I've accepted that.

    You have to find your own way to accept your parents as they are. They are not going to become the loving, caring parents you want. It's not in them and it is their loss. They've tossed away two daughters and lost their grandchildren. Maybe one day they will see this but, until they do, you need to find a way to accept them as they are. Mourn the parents you dreamt of but didn't get. Get help to get through this. Find surrogate parents. You really can pick your friends but not your family.

  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It sounds similar to my relationship with my family, my father in particular. I haven't really seen them in 7 - 8 years. What I do see of my family is usually unhappy.

    I finally decided that they just don't like me, and that's their problem, because they are missing out. Believe me, it was hard at first. It's not so hard now. I feel embarrassed at Holidays that we have no one to celebrate with, but I don't really miss them much anymore. But to never have to go to those family functions and get the sneers and stares. The things where my dad interrupts anyone talking to me and takes them away from me to show them something - ANYTHING - that didn't have to do with me are not missed at all. And day to day life is just easier when I don't have to figure out what in the world it was that I could have done at age 6 that would have made my dad hate me for life. I'm pretty sure I didn't rape kill anyone, rob any banks or anything. My report cards were good, so what could it be? After having been away from it for a while, it dawned upon me. He actually didn't like any of us. That is, except for my middle sister the golden child rally girl. Sure she's been married three times, and her husband defrauded my parents and everyone they all knew. But she was the favorite, so it hardly matters.

    Whatever. I hope that they are happy together. But to this day all I still ever hear about is how one of the siblings is trying to get dad to hate one of the other ones worse than he hates the first. Makes my skin crawl.

    Don't be so hard on yourself. This is their flaw, not yours.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If your parents are still drinking then you can't have a relationship with them yet, at least not one that is healthy. I understand the longing....I've been there myself. It took years of counseling for me to give up the idea of a perfect family.

    My mom passed away about 12 years agoand dad is now 87, no longer drinking, and we have a good relationship. Don't give up because it can happen, but not until you get strong enough not to need them and they get strong enough to give up the insanity.

    You have a wonderful family and it sounds like your husband is supportive. Build your family around that. You can never go back and make things different, you will never have the kind of childhood you long for, but you can make sure your kids do, you have a second chance.

    Get support, go to alanon or if that isn't right for you find a support group on line for adult children of alcoholics. Go see a counselor who is experienced int his type of counseling.

    I'm so sorry for your pain, I've beeN there. It took many years of counseling for my stomach not to get into knots everytime I went home.

  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It seems to me that YOU really have a couple choices. You can remain a prisoner of their inability to parent and love or you can gather your children and your husband around your heart and make a difference in their lives; therefore moving on and ending the cycle of bad parenting.

    You can go ahead and send the letter, but know that it is more cathartic for you than life-changing for your parents. They could read it, but I can assure you that it won't change how they act or how they feel.

    You are in the position to change how you act and you feel. A warm fuzzy family with grandparents stopping over with hugs and fifty-cent pieces is the movies not real life. Your children will not miss what they not know or have ever had.

    If you hold your family close, love your children unconditionally, respect each other, and make time to enjoy each other's company, you will be fufilled by what you have; not full of sorrow for what you don't. But the best part of it is that your children will learn how to be loving and supportive parents by watching you. That is the gift you can give your children - change the cycle started by your parents.

    If you beleive you need to help get started on the road to letting go and forgetting by going to a therapist, please do so. You cannot continue to grieve and morn something that will never change and never go away. You have to make the change.

    Lots of hugs and understanding,
  9. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    I think you are confused with the word parents--

    I hate to be blunt, but you have no parents--just egg and sperm donors.....don't get caught up in the "blood" lines.....

    Parents are people who guide you in life and care about you (sometimes to the point of being overbearing)....

    I would talk to your counselor about finding an "older" person you could relate with---I am old enough to be your mother and would love the opportunity to show you what a real parent is, but I am sure there are people in your area of the country who would also step up to the plate.....

    Is there any kind of "grandparent" program in your community that you could get your child into?--it might drift into getting you a parental figure that would be much healthier for you to focus on....

    Once again, the accident of birth doesn't make parents or children tied to each other forever, cut off the anchor if you are drowning.....
  10. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    You can't change your parents, you can only change how you react to them.

    You left home at 14 and you've made it because you're a survivor. Your parents are never going to be who you want or need them to be. Once you can learn to accept that, it will become easier.

    I know how hard it is. I never wanted a "real" wedding because the bride's side would be empty, save my mom.

  11. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    I read your post and it made me think of how I was feeling about my bio dad 3 years ago.

    I'm 30, and all of my life all I have wanted is for bio dad to want to spend time with me. I wanted him to call me and see how I was doing. I wanted him to treat PCs and difficult children alike, that are not in the same bloodline, all as his grandkids. I wanted to walk into his house and see a picture of me up and not just my 2 brothers and their families everywhere. When I say everywhere, I really mean it. Mantel, walls, mini tables, coffe tables, end tables, kitchen counters, bathrooms, hallways, empty bedrooms, master bedrooms, everywhere, maybe 300 pictures in all, about 100 of bio bro and 200 of step bro and the only one in all that I found of myself was one when I was about 3 and each brother was on each side of me. I ached for this mans attention. Bio bro got a little more than me because he had lived with them for about 2 years as a teen. I grew up with my mom and step dad (my REAL dad).

    About 6 years ago my brother met the sweetest girl and her and I became best friends. When he finally proposed, her and I would talk constantly planning a wedding. My bio dad and step mom had just had my step brothers wedding and paid for two huge receptions, one in the state they got married in and one here, about $10,000. Well, my bio brother didn't want anything that fancy. He and his fiance wanted to get married at a whinery, surrounded by nature in a gazebo. They wanted to rent out the barn for dancing. They needed about $1000 to help with this and it was a huge fight between step mom/bio dad and soon to be wife/sister in law. It hit me, that all of our lives our bio dad raised our stepbrother, but not us. That in his heart, he was closer to step brother. That he honestly couldn't see what he was doing to us. (this doesn't change the story at all, but bio bro and sister in law divorced last year, this is another long story entirely)

    I've invited bio dad/step mom to go on family vacations with us before and not once have they gone, but they have with step bro/sister in law. I've tried to extend the olive branch to step mom and have her come over for girls things, never has she come. I've tried to be an aunt to my step brothers daughter, but they don't want me. I wasn't even invited to her 1st birthday. They said they didn't have one, but when I sent a gift, they sent me a thank you note that was a picture of her at her first birthday party. How sad/sick is that? They have their life and they are happy with it. I'm not part of it.

    When I had to stick up for sister in law and bio brothers wedding, I sat down and wrote a lengthy email. My email was about how they make me feel, how they make my difficult children feel and so on. I sent it. Then more bickering ensued. It hit me during all of this, we were the "step" kids and there wasn't anything I could do to change this. For my kids, the best I could do was to keep them away from this side of the family as much as possible. We visit for BBQ once a year, bio dads birthday and Christmas. Each visit is filled with a bunch of talking about things that aren't important, no one listening to eachother anyways and everyone politely smiling. This is all I will ever get from this part of the family.

    I've finally accepted this and come to realize that this is why it is so important that all of us are in the same house, all of my kids are being raised together, treated equally, loved unconditionally and accepted entirely good/bad/ugly included. My kids will never know this pain from me because I know how bad it feels to want this. Unfortunately, one day, when difficult children are old enough and they track down bio mom, they will probably feel this from her. I can't do anything to stop that either, but I can do what I can in our lives to make it easier to let go of the fantasy of her being the mom they want.

    It's similar to those who talk about detaching from grown kids. You have to let yourself detach from them. WhymeMom is right, parents aren't parents just because they had sex and made a baby. Parents are parents because they invest time in you, love you and want to be in a relationship with you. Maybe you can find a grandparents program for your kids and in turn a proxy parent for you. Maybe you just need to write a letter of how you feel to your parents and get some closure.

    I feel for you and your sister. My bio brother is still holding out hope for bio dad. I've finally realized I can be part of bio dads extended family, because they want me to be, but I can't change bio dad. I hope you both find closure in this and can move past it. Your parents are who they are and just like my difficult children bio mom isn't going to change for them, your parents aren't going to change for you. You need to decide what you can accept and what you can't.

    Great big ((((hugs)))) from me to you and your sister. I do know how badly you want this and I know how disappointing all of this is.
  12. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    I've never been close to my mom, but was very close to my dad. He unfortunately, died 21 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest. I'm an only kid. Talk about a basket case.

    I could go on and on about things my mom has or hasn't done, but the worst was when I remarried. Now, yes, she's a "strong" Catholic, but that's no excuse. She basically "disowned" me for 3 years, and only started to talk to me again because my oldest asked her to as a "Christmas present". But we only have a somewhat "in passing" relationship. She knows that is she starts in on the "you should do this" or "you shouldn't let the kids do this" stuff, I'm out of there.

    Do I wish I had a "close" mom? Sometimes. But I'm much more happy and HEALTHY when we just have a passing relationship.

    I have friends. I have family, and I have husband's family. She's the one that really doesn't have any family left (most have died). She has some friends, but they, too are up in years.

    It's her loss.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Just sending hugs. DDD
  14. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    I know you feel that you need to have a relationship with them. I'm sure the rejection is very hard to deal with. I can understand your pain somewhat. I don't claim to be or lived in a similar situation, but there are SOME similarities and I understand where you are coming from.

    Is gettng close to your husbands parents possible? Are you close to any of your elderly neigbors? Perhaps finding a surrogate family would help with your needs of needing that bond, but I doubt you'll get the bond with your parents.

    You should certainly entertain some counseling so that you can get past this and forgive. If you don't forgive, it will continue to eat at you. You have gone out of your way to get attention from your parents, but keep getting pushed away. Stop punishing yourself and stay away from them.

    I'm sorry this is causing you so much pain and turmoil in your life. To answer your question....there are many people out there that should not be parents. I know of quite a few, personally.
  15. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I agree with- the line of thought that you, for your own health and well being, need to make peace with- the people your parents are. I think it's highly unlikely you can promote change in them.

    In some ways, I think you're lucky to be facing this so young (relatively speaking :wink: - I've got about 20 years on you). It's just in the last 10 years or so that it really hit me that my mother especially is simply not the type of mother I want/need, nor in fact the type of mother she *thinks* she is. She's simply fabulous at revisionist family history - recalls all kinds of Rockwell moments that didn't happen. I have never felt valued by her, or successful in her eyes, or worthy.

    It hurt like heck, especially in the years when I was struggling with- my older boys' various issues and I really could have used a compassionate, empathetic shoulder to lean on. I was really deeply hurt and more than a little angry that she couldn't/wouldn't be there for me but... really, she *can't*. She's just not that kind of person. And I'm sure I'm a disappointment to her in many ways.

    In my mind, the positive of the situation is I am a far different kind of mom. I'm sure that my own kids will wish I did X, Y, or Z, that I'm not the mom *they* think they wanted, but... I tell my kids daily, literally, that I'm so glad to be their mom, that I love them, that they are great people. Maybe we become the parents we wish we had had, and it continues on down the line.

    We cannot change people, we can only change ourselves. When I let go of that fantasy mom that I really needed and made peace with- the kind of person my mom is, the hurt and anger lessened and over time disappeared. It wasn't easy to do, it took a while, and there were some impressive blowouts when I would slip and hope she would act "motherly", but now I treat her as I would treat any aquaintance - I'm polite and civil, but expect/want/need nothing from her. I would like my kids to know her but I also understand that her priorities are completely different. I can't change that.

    My true family is here with me now, in my home. Hopefully I have broken the tradition on both sides of my parents' families of incredibly nasty family dynamics - and that my kids will grow up knowing they can count on husband and me, and each other, for unconditional support.
  16. ML

    ML Guest

    I'm so sorry for your pain. Everyone has said such profound things that I can't even add anything that hasn't already been said.

    Accept that they probably won't change. I will pray that you find healing in your heart.


  17. ShakespeareMamaX

    ShakespeareMamaX New Member

    My mom called today.

    Weird, huh?

    I'm not sure of a lot she said...I couldn't focus on her words.

    I've sat...and read...and sobbed like a #@!%ing baby. I believe you. I believe all of you... I don't want to. God...GOD, I don't want to.

    I don't even know what to say. I hurt so bad. They hurt me so bad. I can't even imagine letting go. I can't! It's impossible! I....

    My husband's parents are the best set of parents I have ever met. As much of a sin as it is, I envy that entire family for the love they share, the lengths they go to...the encouraging words, the extended arms, the unforgotten birthdays, the love the love THE LOVE. The perfection of it all!

    God! Why can't I just appreciate it?! It's here for me. I embrace it, but still compare. Still wish, hope,'s still not good enough because they're not mine. They're not the people who were "supposed" to act this way.

    You know what really throws a rusty dagger into my heart? When my parents came to my house that one time to see my daughter. I was ripping things from shelves, walls, boxes. Things that I had made. See...I have a knack for drawing...a pretty good one, I suppose. I handed my dad a picture of Angelina Jolie I had drawn. He was completely floored with the expression, "Wow! You did THAT?!" God, it was the only time I actually felt like I meant I may have made him proud. I WAS proud... It sticks... It's like I added a few more bricks to the surrounding wall holding the "family" captive. A few steps back, I guess. And it echoes...echoes...echoes...

    I'm in therapy. I've been in therapy since I was 15. Unfortunately, for years, I was treated like I was the one that had all the issues and I needed to figure out a way to live with my family and not grab a razor or pills everytime a fight broke out.

    I just addressed this issue with my therapist a week ago. Yesterday, he told me to write the letter and we'd go over it.
    A (62 y/o) woman at work suggested I make a video letter so maybe they can see my emotion and have the chance for my dad to see it (if it's pure paper, in the mail, my mom would probably hide it).

    I need to know why. It's probably a pointless journey, but...I have to ask them. I have to ask why. Any answer is acceptable, as long as it's the true one.

    I've calmed down a lot since the beginning of this post... *sigh*

    Ya a way...this almost seems like I'm preparing to deal with a death (or two). I guess that's kind of what it is when you cut something out of your life completely.

    I can't do cordial... It's just not in me. It's all or nothing.

    I'll keep you updated on my therapy. Thanks, guys.
  18. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    The thing is, you're not going to get the truth. No matter what you're parents are going to become defensive and/or deny, deny, deny or place the blame on you and your sister. If they were ready to admit to the truth, they would come to you and work on repairing the relationship.

    If you send them that letter are you going to be ok with no response or the kind or response I just mentioned? Or is it going to be even more devastating? I understand the need to confront them. I do. I've learned - and not just with parents/family - that if I go to the trouble of pouring out my heart and soul and it's met with silence, or, worse, lies and blame then I just feel worse and wish I had never opened that can of worms.

    Most of the time when we open ourselves up and send that letter or make that appeal we are hoping for some kind of resolution or some answers...validation. I don't think you're going to get either. Can you deal with that?
  19. ShakespeareMamaX

    ShakespeareMamaX New Member

    *sigh* ... I don't know. Sometimes I think I am. I mean, the silence would sort of say all...sorta.

    My therapist has got his work cut out for him.

    I don't want to regret... I may regret never saying anything. Although, I may regret letting loose my feelings.

    I almost want to just flip a stupid coin.
  20. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: ShakespeareMamaX</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I mean, the silence would sort of say all...sorta. </div></div>

    You already have that. They aren't working to fix the relationship, they're not apologizing for your childhood and they're really not fixtures in your life.

    You need to do what you need to do. It's important, though, that you're prepared to deal with whatever kind of response - or lack of one - that you get should you decide to confront them.

    by the way, did your therapist say you were going to mail the letter? Often letter writing is used as a catharsis with no intention of delivering it to the addressee.