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  #1  
Old May 25, '11, 1:26 pm
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nickybr38 nickybr38 is offline
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Default Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

We are commanded to love and honor our parents... but sometimes that's not easy.

I need some advice I guess. I'm doing the best I can but I wonder if I can't do more...

Anyway. Here's the story.

1. My mother and father divorced when I as 9. He was sent off to prison and she spent the next few years just trying to get by. My mother is a VERY damaged human being. She was horribly abused and while she never abused us kids physically she did a lot of emotional and mental damage by impressing her fears and anxieties upon us. For example, I was not allowed to go to sleepovers except with a VERY FEW friends, whom she chose for me... I was not allowed to go to bible camp, I wasn't allowed to be out of her sight, basically, because the world was a scary place and I learned this concept very well. It's taken me YEARS to shake off her anxieties and to learn to be a functioning human being in the world.

2. My mother remarried when I was 12. My step-father was a very loving and patient man at first but my mother is a user and lazy to boot. He spoiled her at first, thinking, I suppose, that she would take care of him in return but instead she took all the spoiling with a real sense of entitlement and now, some 16 years later, she seems to think everyone should wait on her hand and foot. She REFUSES to work and does very little around the farm to assist my step-father. Recently he had to stop working due to extreme illness and instead of going out to get a job she pushed HIM into finding a new job. He SHOULDN'T be working, doctors orders, but she refuses to get up and do anything.

3. She's decided she regrets marrying my step-father and is laying the ground work to set things up so people will be sympathetic to her if she divorces him. She's basically making it seem as if he's a horrible, abusive person so that she becomes the victim and everyone will pity her. The only problem is I lived with them for YEARS and I know for a fact he is not an abusive person. He has a temper, he yells when he's upset (and BOY can she upset him... she can upset everyone really), but he is NOT physically violent.

It might sound like I'm bitter but I'm just stating the facts. This is how she is.

Now, knowing all this I can tell you what my issue is. I'm having a very hard time spending time with her, honoring her and just in general loving her. Whenever I'm with her all she does is bad mouth my step-father (who is more of a father to me then my biological father). I tell her straight up that I'd rather not hear it, and/or I give her the best advice I can but our visits (short as they are) wear me out physically and emotionally to the point that I'm stressed out for days after.

I don't mind that she doesn't listen, I don't mind that all she wants to do is brag about all her material things and stuff she's got and/or brag about how smart she is... but I can't handle the bitterness and anger that just oozes off of her. Sometimes I truly think she is surrounded by angry little spirits that are just egging her on...

How can I continue to honor her and love her without losing my own sanity and/or falling back into the anxieties that I inevitably experience when I'm with her? Is it wrong of me to limit my time with her to only one hour session once/twice a week? She's a very lonely, very unhappy person and I know if I spent time with her she'd appreciate it but I just can't bring myself to do so because being with her is so toxic...

Does anybody have any advice (besides that I should avoid her... part of loving her IS spending time with her, I just have to figure out how to DO that)?

On a side note, my step-father is a difficult person to deal with sometimes as well. He too has built up a great deal of hurt and anger towards my mother so he lashes out at her in very childish ways that drive me CRAZY and sometimes I lose my cool and am a bit rude to him. I haven't had a chance to ask my priest (he's been busy) but do step-parents fall under the category of 'honoring your parents' as well?

And if it helps. I do not live with them. I only see my mother once a week (i don't talk to her on the phone, which is something she points out to me ALL THE TIME. Every now and then she'll send me little emails basically telling me how much I neglect her but I just can't handle more then one hour visit a week!) and my step-father maybe once every two months.
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  #2  
Old May 25, '11, 3:01 pm
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

"Honor thy father and mother" does not mean letting yourself be manipulated into an unhealthy relationship. If your mother wants your company, it is a reasonable for you to make civility towards all on her part a condition of that. It is entirely OK for you to limit your contact with her far more than you intend to do. It is entirely OK for you to cut any meeting short because she has chosen to be manipulative or abusive towards anyone, present or absent. It is also entirely OK to say, "Phone calls? Mother, you complain constantly, and you have nothing nice to say about anyone. Phone calls would only encourage you. Really, you're going to eat yourself up." The truth is, these habits she has are far worse for both of you than a 2-pack a day cigarette habit. Cigarette smoke doesn't penetrate into the soul.

Having said that, if you decide that it is God's will for you to make your mother a labor of love because you hope to have some good influence on her present condition and perhaps even her eternal soul, then make it your practice to pray before and after you visit her. Find yourself a "de-briefer", someone you can arrange to talk with after each fall down the rabbit hole to visit your own personal Queen of Hearts. If you can't do that, you might want to journal.

So how to honor her? Don't disclose her faults to anyone except when it is necessary to disclose them to, at least not anyone who actually knows her--I am talking about the defense of the truth, addressing your own need for emotional healing, defense of your step-father (or anyone else accused wrongly) and so on. You may not sit silent while she passes off lies as the truth, including lies of self-pity. The demands of truth and justice come before "honor" for a parent. Besides, that "woe is me" stuff your mother dishes up is harmful to her. It is a cancer to her soul. It does her no honor to give it any credence.

"Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.'

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."
Matt. 10:32-40

As for your suffering, though, you do not need to disclose it except to those you need to help you through it. Protecting her reputation, as far as her conduct and justice allow, is a praiseworthy thing to do. God alone is her judge; the whole world doesn't need to know her sins.
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  #3  
Old May 25, '11, 3:55 pm
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nickybr38 nickybr38 is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

Quote:
Originally Posted by EasterJoy View Post
"Honor thy father and mother" does not mean letting yourself be manipulated into an unhealthy relationship. If your mother wants your company, it is a reasonable for you to make civility towards all on her part a condition of that. It is entirely OK for you to limit your contact with her far more than you intend to do. It is entirely OK for you to cut any meeting short because she has chosen to be manipulative or abusive towards anyone, present or absent. It is also entirely OK to say, "Phone calls? Mother, you complain constantly, and you have nothing nice to say about anyone. Phone calls would only encourage you. Really, you're going to eat yourself up." The truth is, these habits she has are far worse for both of you than a 2-pack a day cigarette habit. Cigarette smoke doesn't penetrate into the soul.

Having said that, if you decide that it is God's will for you to make your mother a labor of love because you hope to have some good influence on her present condition and perhaps even her eternal soul, then make it your practice to pray before and after you visit her. Find yourself a "de-briefer", someone you can arrange to talk with after each fall down the rabbit hole to visit your own personal Queen of Hearts. If you can't do that, you might want to journal.

So how to honor her? Don't disclose her faults to anyone except when it is necessary to disclose them to, at least not anyone who actually knows her--I am talking about the defense of the truth, addressing your own need for emotional healing, defense of your step-father (or anyone else accused wrongly) and so on. You may not sit silent while she passes off lies as the truth, including lies of self-pity. The demands of truth and justice come before "honor" for a parent. Besides, that "woe is me" stuff your mother dishes up is harmful to her. It is a cancer to her soul. It does her no honor to give it any credence.

"Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.'

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."
Matt. 10:32-40

As for your suffering, though, you do not need to disclose it except to those you need to help you through it. Protecting her reputation, as far as her conduct and justice allow, is a praiseworthy thing to do. God alone is her judge; the whole world doesn't need to know her sins.
Oh wow. What awesome advice. It's funny but I kind of knew a lot of this already but I just hadn't sorted it out properly. You sound like you've had some experience.

I have been struggling very much with the not sharing her faults with others thing and I know I need to stop that.

Thanks for the excellent advice. I know I'll read over this a few times as I try to internalize it. I really don't understand the honoring thing yet but I want to. No matter how toxic my mother can be, I love her dearly and I want to do whatever I can to help her in this life. I'm sure everyone can understand that sentiment.

Thank you.
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  #4  
Old May 25, '11, 5:05 pm
Kennywood Kennywood is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

Yes, Easter Joy, that was amazing!!!

Thank you!
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Old May 25, '11, 5:38 pm
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickybr38 View Post
You sound like you've had some experience.
Not parents, but relatives. Everyone learns the hard way (by experience), but it helps to have a map! I'm glad if I was able to pay that bit forward, because the advice isn't original to me.
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Old May 26, '11, 9:32 am
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nickybr38 nickybr38 is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

This happens every time I do this (post a problem on CA). Last night at our Bible Study this very issue was brought up. Honoring parents AND lying (I often lie by omission when conversing with my mother to avoid confrontations and/or inspiring her to freak out) was discussed. None of the info there was quite as helpful as what you shared Easter Joy BUT it gave me an opportunity to reflect even more on the issue. Needless to say it was a rough night (partly because I know honoring my mother will mean much more then just loving her, but also being truthful to her).

Honestly this is the biggest issue in my life that I face right now and the one that I am most conflicted about. But now I have some great advice to implement.

Thanks again!
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  #7  
Old May 26, '11, 5:43 pm
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odile53 odile53 is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

Sorry, but "honoring your parents" doesn't mean giving them information that they really have no need to know. Honesty is all well and good, but there is no sense in giving your mother information she can use as a club with which to beat you.
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Old May 26, '11, 8:56 pm
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nickybr38 nickybr38 is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

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Sorry, but "honoring your parents" doesn't mean giving them information that they really have no need to know. Honesty is all well and good, but there is no sense in giving your mother information she can use as a club with which to beat you.
That's actually not what I meant at all. More like when she's seeking attention and asking if she did something wrong, instead of humoring her so as to avoid her freaking out I will tell her as gently as possible that perhaps she could have acted differently...

You have no idea the emotional games my mother plays... and whenever push comes to shove I back down and lie to appease her rather then upset her but that really doesn't help our relationship at all since it's a relationship then built on lies just to avoid her temper tantrums.
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Old May 27, '11, 6:06 pm
Giannawannabe Giannawannabe is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

http://parrishmiller.com/narcissists.html

The link above may be helpful!

Praying for you. I've been struggling with much of the same for years.
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Old May 27, '11, 6:53 pm
TheRealJuliane TheRealJuliane is offline
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Default Re: Advice Dealing with Difficult Parents

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Originally Posted by nickybr38 View Post
That's actually not what I meant at all. More like when she's seeking attention and asking if she did something wrong, instead of humoring her so as to avoid her freaking out I will tell her as gently as possible that perhaps she could have acted differently...

You have no idea the emotional games my mother plays... and whenever push comes to shove I back down and lie to appease her rather then upset her but that really doesn't help our relationship at all since it's a relationship then built on lies just to avoid her temper tantrums.
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