Advice Please


I’m struggling, as a 35 yr old mother of 3 beautiful children.
A loving husband, I have many blessings to count.

But I have a terrible deep emptiness in my heart concerning my own parents. I am always approaching with love and kindness and find it difficult to accept constant rejection. As I get older I’m lifting the rose colored spectaclesand it’s getting harder for me to see the good all the time.

I’m stuck in my faith, I don’t understand why I seek the constant approval of parents who’ve abused me.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to be.

Thanks for listening


Obviously, you are supposed to honor your parents. However, if they are abusive, then it becomes perfectly legitimate to separate yourself from them and their abuse. If this is the type of cycle that you are in, it probably would be better to not be in contact with them. You can certainly pray for them (I have prayed for my father because he’s been pretty bad news over my life and he contacted me over Easter vacation to try to make amends after years of separation), but you’re not obligated to be in a situation that causes you mental/spiritual harm.

So, I think you need to consider separating yourself from the time being and in the meantime, there is a book called “The Language of Letting Go” which you may find useful. I’ll post again later when I find out who the author is.


My prayers are with you.

We can’t choose our parents, nor can we control them.

I suggest you pray for them everyday for a month. I have had to do this with people when my relationship with them was disordered. It helps you both, even if at first you can only muster up a prayer for God to “give them what they deserve.”

You only get one set of parents, but now that you are grown you can fill your life with people who you choose more intentionally. Spouse, In-laws, people from your parish. If your folks are such that it isn’t possible to have a healthy relationship, then you should have strive all the more to have healthy relationships with others.


It’s so tough.

I think that you have to keep your side of the street clean. But ultimately you can open the door, but the other person has to walk through it. Because it causes so much pain I would recommend concentrating on your husband and children and gently withdrawing from your parents. Perhaps they will begin to miss what they have been taking for granted all these years?

God bless you!


For once, I agree with you. God commands us to love and honor our parents. That does not mean you have to LIKE them. No one should have to be rejected by a parent. As Fighting Fat has suggested, make your husband and your children the focus of your attention. Get involved in your parish. If you can, do volunteer work for someone less fortunate than you. Pray for your parents. God bless you.


Your situation is very difficult and very hurtful. I agree with the others, you should not subject yourself to constant pain and rejection. Continue to be kind in your thoughts and deeds, but do not offer what they have repeatedly rejected. Concentrate on your husband and children, and reach out to others in your parish and community to find people who will respond with love. I have issues with my parents too, although I think my situation is not as bad as yours. My mother does not reject me, but she says extremely hurtful things to me. I too, am torn about my obligation to honor my parents as God expects me to do. I minimize the time I spend with her and I do not share my feelings with her, but I try to be respectful and available if she needs me. I don’t think a child ever gets over being rejected by a parent, even if we understand the psychological reasons for the parent’s behavior and know that it is not our fault. I will pray that you can move past this pain and find peace for yourself, regardless of the decisions your parents might make. God loves you! And you have a mother who loves you - Mary!


First God Bless you and we pray for healing and comfort for your emotional pain.

I agree with most of the other posters. Continue to be a loving child and do what’s right as they are your parents and grandparents to your children and be as respectful as you can. However, you can politely ask if you have done anything to offend since you are feeling they treat you harshly for reasons unknown to you. Sometimes its a matter of perception that is standing in the way of a real breakthrough.

Curious to know if you are the middle child of your siblings.

Good luck and God Bless.


Thank you Mary! Peace be with you!



I feel so much comfort from your replies…

I’m the youngest of 2 children, from a messy divorce.

“What have I done?” has been an ongoing question / struggle for me from as early as I can remember. Unfortunately it’s manifested into a “very hard on myself” type personality.

My brother found it easier to detach, I don’t know why I’ve felt like I can’t, I must forgive and maintain contact, and stay in the cycle.
I say I don’t know, but I really am seeking approval all the time. Still!

I really appreciate all your advise, I’m considering it’s OK now.
I struggle with what God wants me to do about this and
feel like my heart should be pure and open, loving and kind always.


Your heart can be all those things- sounds like it is. You have to be sure that you understand, nothing has changed for you, you still have all those good feelings and you still want all those good things from and for your parents. But you have come to the realisation that you are not able to make them feel that way. You understand now that it is not fair that it causes you pain. They have to realise what it is they want, they have to love you and they have to do that themselves. So maintain a loving attitude and give them some space to allow them to make their own decision and know that you still have the love you always have.

Be still and know that you are God’s precious loved child and he is with you through all of this.

Peace be with you!



Read Dr. Laura’s book Bad Childhood, Good Life for starters. Haven’t been able to do so yet myself, but it’s on my list of things I need to read. I have seen many letters and heard many comments from people who say it helped them a great deal to heal and move on from their past. And how to deal with destructive parents who are still around being destructive.

You are still trying to get your parents to be your parents. What you have to accept is that they can’t be, probably never were, and you can’t start over now. We get two chances to have a good parent-child relationship. Even if the first one fails or is destructive, we have that second chance with our own children.

My own mother and I have nearly no relationship. I call her at least once a month to see how things are going with her and to make sure she is OK. Sometimes I can’t get her and she won’t call me back. So it takes me a couple weeks to catch her near the phone. (She only has one at home.) She NEVER calls me. I tested it once and it went like 3 months and she never contacted me. So I realized I have to be the one to do that. It’s painful, but not so much since I learned to accept what is instead of pining away after what cannot be. My mother is a very selfish and emotionally damaged person. She is just not capable of normal relationships. Anything that infringes on her personal prerogative is anathema to her. When she thinks of relationships (and I mean any, not just dating), the only thing she thinks of is how they impinge her freedom. She sees no benefit to herself from them, only demands upon her. She is happiest when she is alone. So I have an extremely disjointed and shallow relationship with my mother, and that’s just how it is. And frankly, it’s better this way. She has such a capacity, almost a drive, to be destructive and intrusive and inappropriate, that I think my family is better off in that she wants little to do with us.

You need to allow yourself to stop seeking the approval of people who will never give it. You need to allow yourself to stop reaching out to hold hands only to get slapped. It’s OK to protect yourself from people who are destructive to you and your family. And if they are harming you this much, they are harming your family, because I am sure the pain damages your ability to be the wife and mother you want to be sometimes, like when you have had a really bad run-in with them.

You can honor your parents by making sure their needs are fulfilled. They need to have appropriate food, shelter, and medical care. It is your responsibility to make sure they have those things, and beyond that…well, the Bible also says that parents are supposed to live lives worthy of honor so their children will not scorn them. Have they lived up to that?


Thanks for the book recommendation, I ordered it promptly
because I can feel I’m ready to face and hopefully soon accept & contribute some positive changes to make my role in this easier to live with. I also ordered “The Language of Letting Go” by Melodie Beattie.

While I’m so restless about this matter, I think it’s best to seek as much advice as I can to help me, instead of struggle quietly, because that never lead me anywhere.

I’m getting a lot from everyone’s advice and feeling a sense of freedom as I’m beginning to understand I don’t HAVE to accept their behaviour and how destructive it is to me.
I want to please God and I’ve been so confused on what he asks of me in this situation.

DuskyJewel… the way you just described your mother sounds so familiar. I realise I can’t force her to care, I simply don’t understand how she cannot? I guess it’s not my job to try to understand, or accept anymore, they weight of that is much to heavy for me, and it does take away from my own family.
I feel the guilt of that, I feel a lot of guilt, and guilt is not from God, so I wrestle inside all the time.

I’m feeling a sense of sadness and loss, but I also understand, I’ve been feeling that already.


I’m glad I was able to help you a little. I realized my relationship with my mom was unhealthy during my teen years, and had been for most of my life. I started distancing then, but it wasn’t until I left for college (my Dad was SO glad I moved halfway across the country) that I really began to get some freedom from it. I had to forcefully remove myself from her orbit, because she was sucking me down and my life would have taken a very different course had I allowed that. I would have lost my DH, for one thing. I moved for our relationship, and man…was she MAD!

What you said…I can’t force her to care, but I don’t understand why she doesn’t. See, I supposedly have all this wisdom to offer, and yet your words caught me up short. That’s exactly what it is. It’s a puzzle, it’s totally sad and inexplicable, and it’s reality. Ug.:shrug: I know with my own kids that I will never be as distant as I am from my own mom. But I don’t plan on giving them reasons, either. :wink: Much of my parenting is based on not wanting to the stuff my parents did that I think was wrong and/or damaging.

Hope the books help! And tell your DH you need a nice, long, slow massage tonight to help relieve your stress from all this. It’ll be great for you, bonding for the two of you (showing him you are leaning on him for what you need), and hey…might lead somewhere! :smiley:


Have you spoken to a priest about this? Confession can be a great way to come to healing, especially with relatives. God’s grace can work wonders!


your lovely…

thank you & God bless.



Just wondering…if she has not sinned against her parents and damaged the relationship, how could this possibly help? Some people are just destructive. I mean, you are right that God’s grace can work wonders, but there are other ways to seek it. I think the OP has enough undeserved self-blame going on here already.


I have previously seeked counsel from my priest…

In all fairness to the wonderful priests advice.
My approach was different, I’d previously been seeking different advice, It was easier for me to live in denial rather than admit the reality of the pain I was feeling. While in denial, my concerns were more simplistic… “why don’t they accept me, what did I do?” and a lot of smaller unrelated issues that dealt with blaming myself that seemed to cloud the real issue.

In the past 4 years, I’ve been living remote country, and I’m finding myself a bit isolated, as well as maturing with my thoughts.


I would have to echo all the above advice in saying that you should “honor your father and mother” by praying for them. The only question that comes to mind is have you forgiven your parents for any pain or suffering that they have caused you?

“…forgive us our trepasses as we forgive those that trespass against us…”

Just a thought. I will pray for you and your beautiful family.


My wife comes from an extremely abusive family, both sexually and physical beatings. She has finally cut ties and stopped trying to seek their approval. She is 42. She/you have that right.

God wants us to forgive. But He also says those seeking forgiveness need to seek out and ask for it. Remember that when you feel you owe them something.

I recommend “Toxic Parents” by Dr. Susan Forward.


I think sometimes the concept of forgiveness gets misused, too. Someone has to ASK for forgiveness before we can give it! That’s the step so many people forget.

If we choose not to let the pain rule our lives any longer, to allow ourselves to heal and move on, that is valid and commendable. But that is not forgiveness, it is growing up and learning how to take responsibility for our own lives.

True forgiveness may not be possible in this lifetime, because the person who wronged us may never ask. And that is no fault of the person who has been wronged, because s/he was never given the chance to forgive. Human evil and weakness probably prevents a lot of forgiveness that might have been given, had it only been asked.

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