For those who were abused as children. How are you as a parent?


I grew up in a very unstable home. My mother was abusive but because most of her abuse was not physical it was hard for me as a child to describe what she was doing wrong.

My greatest fear has been that I will turn into my mom with my daughter.

Recently though, as my daughter started goign through the begininings of puberty, I am reminded how different my reaction to this process is then my mother’s was with me.

My mother’s talk about sex to me included the phrase, ‘If a boy scratches you, you can get pregnant.’ She didn’t believe this but she really had a paronia of me getting anywhere near guys my own age.

If I had male friends she would tell me that I was a slut and whore, even if I didn’t think about the particular boy beyond a friendly manner.

When I was 11 and started getting that funky smell that some preteens get, she refused to let me bathe daily. Which meant that I got made fun of horribly.

When I started making friends she would get angry and try to undermine these friends. She would point out every fault of the child. Or get the child to confind in her and then make fun of her to me. My mom would tell me repeatedly. THe only person who really loves you is me.

When I had my first period, she got angry and told me over and over that I wasn’t a woman. At 11 I didn’t think that I was a woman. I didn’t need for her to tell me that, especiallywith her being so angry.

Once when I was beginning to have some of the hormonal changes of puberty, I had a slight discharge. My mom pulled me into the laundry room and informed me that she knew that I was thiking about sex. She yelled and screamed at me and told me what a whore I was and then pulled out my used underwear to prove her point.

this of course does not begin to explain the deep shame and stupidity that I felt daily around her. She had a way of acting like I was a complete idiot that really effected me.



Recently I got proof that I won’t turn into my mom.

My daughter has been showing signs of puberty. I have informed her of cleanliness issues. We talk about her changing body and I don’t make her feel dirty.

We went out and bought her a little purse because I think that she might be about to get her period. I told her that she would need to keep a couple of feminine products in there when she does start. She was so excited about this little gesture and I felt very close to her.

I never dared get the giggles around my mom, she would have shouted at me to stop being immature and silly. When my daughter gets the giggles, I just laugh along or roll my eyes and leave the room.

I encourage my daughters to make friends and meet new people.

I don’t know why but I was terrified that once my daughter hit puberty, I would magically go from being a good mom to being my mother. BUt that isn’t happening. Thank God.

For those of you who were abused how have you prevented yourself from being your abusive parent?


I’m not married and I don’t have any children but a few years ago I went to counseling to ensure that when I do get married and have children I won’t be emotionally abusive to my husband or children like my father was to me. You should be so proud of yourself that you are an excellent parent by the sound of things and that you have not turned into your mother. You have broken the cycle.:slight_smile:


I wasn’t abused as a child, but I was very interested to hear what you wrote, as I worry about my own kids since they have grown up with it as my ex-husband, who was abused horribly by his mother, is an abuser. I was his primary target though, and I have managed to protect them from becoming direct targets. My older two are in counseling now, and my younger two might have been spared by me getting out of the marriage in time. They seem to be rebounding pretty well.

What you grew up with was definitely classic emotional abuse, and I am glad that you were able to see it for what it was and not pass this behvior on to your children. I’m also glad you didn’t end up in an abusive marriage. Did you receive counseling, or how would you say you were able to keep your perspective? Having read many of your posts over time, it’s clear that you are a straight thinker.


I think that my love of reading saved me. I am slightly obsessive and I tend to get really involved in whatever interest me. So, when I discovered that I was pregnant I read and read a lot of different information on parenting.

I also took some college courses on childhood development that helped me see what was normal behavior.

Because my oldest son was diagnosed as ADHD and dyslexic, my hubby and I sought some professional help with a wonderful psychiatrist who really was good.

The fact that my husband was also abused has helped because we keep tabs on each other and do not hesitate to tell the other-privately- when we are doing something wrong.

I pray a lot to be a good mother and wife. I think that helps.

But really what helped was that-I know this sounds crazy- developing a sense of humor. When ever my oldest son would do something wrong, I would envision myself as a comedian trying to make his actions funny. So, when he stuck his head in the toilet to see what was there -he was three-or ate a hole in the wall-he was two-, I was able not to get overly angry with him.:o


Do you know that even now, at forty years old, hearing that someone believes that I was abused is a comfort? When I was young, attempting to get grown ups to believe that something was wrong with my homelife was difficult. That is because my mom not only denied everything but I didn’t know how to describe what she was doing.

Plus oddly enough, my mom could be a good person. She did have compasion for others and often tried to help people. So, I was going against people’s perception of her as a sweet, loving widow who had loved her children and was a great mom when I tried to explain my situation.

When I turned 18 my mom became suicidal and started doing things like putting a gun to her head in front of my younger siblings and I. I had her commited and the dr informed me that she was completly normal and shouldn’t be in the hospital.:frowning: there are huge portions of my family who still think that I was a spoiled child who was trying to control her mom.

So, having someone say, yes, this was abuse is very, very comforting.


one thing we have found in our extended family, which is home to a lot of abuse, much of it related to alcoholism, is that of course we needed counselling, not just once, but at different crisis or transition periods in our lives, for instance, had PPD bad with second child, and until counselling did not relate it to childhood situation. When counsellor helped me, I made global progress in healing. we also learned to listen to each other and communicate so we got a better picture of the situation in which we were raised. Because talking and listening is not something that was encouraged in our family.

The other thing is forgiveness, guided by caring pastoral counsellors, through a several step process that, like grief, can take years. This has been essential. Those of us who learned to understand the roots of the abuse by the problem individuals, and to gradually at least move to the point where we could admit we would like to be able to forgive, function much better as parents and in life in general. Those who are still bitter are acting out a lot more, and have the most problems in parenting and other areas.

OP seems to have made good progress in healing, by her story, mainly because she can step back, look at what happened, make links, describe it honestly, and notice how she does it in terms of how the actions made the young girl feel, not in terms of epithets against the mother. She is honest, is not making excuses for her mother, is describing the situation as it was through adult eyes. She has confidence to know the validity of her own experience and hold it against what the “experts” told her.

The other thing we see in our family is there are still some making excuses for the abusers, in denial about what happened, and in denial about its effects on them personally. They are also ones having the most difficulties in adult life.


Puzzleannie, you are right about the need for counseling at different stages of life. It is amazing the amount of counseling that is going on in my family at the moment due to my divorce. Dealing with this divorce has not only had an effect on me and my children, but also on my relationship with my parents, their marriage, and problems from growing up that they had never fully dealt with. So, my parents are in counseling as are my children and I. It just seems like the issues related to this divorce have brought all kinds of deep, long-standing problems to the surface where we can finally all deal with them. It’s been a rough year here, but at the same time, we have all made incredible progress. I would also have to say it is amazing to have this new relationship with my mom, where we are being really honest with each other and dealing with our issues like adults. I think we’ve never been closer.


Your mom sounds very similar to my grandmother. While she was a very sweet woman with good intentions, she did have a lot of those abusive traits that wreaked havoc on her children. Fortunately three of her four children ended up overcoming the effects of the abuse, but the youngest of the four killed himself.


I’ve seen this play out in my own siblings’ life. My brother stopped talking to my mom and I can understand his decision. But despite being an educated, intelligent man he is locked into some very bad, self destructive behavior. My mother often told him that he was a looser and worthless.

He has many problems in his life that often make me so sad for him.

I think that if he could look at how mom influenced his current action, admit that he needs help in changing and forgive her, he would be much better off.


I am so sorry.:frowning: My brother is the youngest also, and I think that he has had the most difficulty with our upbringing.


I think that is probably true of most of these crises and life-changing events. I watch WNTW because of a discussion on another thread and had not seen it for a while, the very pretty girl with a lovely figure obviously had issues with her body appearance, and the couple that do the wardrobe makeovers tried to help her see that, in a slick made-for-TV way, but all could think of as she kept saying she wanted to hide her tummy, and got very teary and weepy about it, is: what is behind this feeling she has?

I had a relative who was the same way, just could not bring herself to wear anything other than overlarge T-shirts and sweats, even to work, and lost a couple of jobs for it. People would buy her nice clothes that stayed in the closet. During counselling following the suicide of another relative, and her own possible attempted suicide, she revealed that she had an abortion as a young teen. That pregnancy did not result from abuse, but from her own destructive behavior in response to the abuse. She has make huge progress and some healing, but still has a lot of issues, and by her own decision never married and had children because she is afraid of being a bad parent.


I know which thread you are talking about. While I don’t think outward appearances are terribly important for their own sake. I think wearing big, sloppy clothing is an indication about how one feels about themself. So, while there is nothing wrong with being sloppy in and of itself, it can be an indication of another problem that needs to be dealt with. Plus, I think the exercise of putting some thought and effort into yourself and your appearance is actually beneficial for you as a whole person. So, I do think sometimes those “makeovers” can have a much bigger effect than what you might think.

In fact, it was losing weight and putting an effort into my appearance that helped me really face the truth about my marriage and to finally do something about the abuse I had lived with for my entire adult life.


bingo, about the life-changing events. It was losing a lot of weight at one point that made me first discuss seriously our remembered childhood experiences with some relatives who went to weight watchers with me. what started out as a support group for diet ended up as a support group for survivors of our family. It is very interesting, going back to OP, to see how what was actually a 2nd & 3rd generation of dysfunction playing out in the lives of our children and now grandchildren, and what long tenacles these family situations can have.

two things that helped me immensely with parenting issues specifically (besides family counselling is a healed in the Spirit retreat, with monthly follow-up seminars and prayer groups for a couple of years, and a retreat on Family Healing through the Eucharist. These came at different points in my life, when I actually thought things were going pretty good, but helped uncover deeper layers of issues that needed to be addressed.


what was your mom’s mom like? that might explain much of it. I’m sorry you went through that, deb…you are in my prayers, and you are a powerful testimony to us all that God lifts us all up through His grace.


I definitely had an abusive childhood. My father was physically and mentally abusive, mostly to my mom, but then he began to beat me. She left him then, thank God. She had her own problems, having grown up in a very abusive home. She was too lenient with me, and let me get away with murder, because she did not want to act like her father, who was extremely physically and mentally abusive. So I was spoiled, smothered, and undisciplined, and I had a rough time of it when I had to take care of myself, and then when when I was first married.

I work hard to be a good parent. I have read a lot about it, taken classes, and discussed it often with my husband. We talk to each other a lot about how we are doing, if one of us gets angry at the kids or something we discuss how it could have been handled better and come up with alternatives. We know that children need discipline and love, and if you are consistent in giving both, they will probably turn out OK. Of course, it is always a work in progress, but so far, from the compliments we get from everyone on our kids’ behavior, I think we’re doing pretty good!


I suffered sexual abuse as a child and I believe that this has made me have a stronger desire to ensure my future childrens safety I do not want it to rule my life or my childrens but I believe that I will be relatively strict whilst not making them pay for the problems I have had!


My mother was abusive as well…in many of the same ways OP describes. After my parents got divorced ( was 7 at the split and 9 when divorce was final) it was worse. She used to tell my brother and me that we were fat and lazy…even though we weren’t really (at the time!) She used to monitor every bite of food that went in our mouths and would accompany her watch-dog behavior with comments about how we would all be fat or obese even if it weren’t for her constant monitoring. To this day I have some serious body-image issues. I’m healthy (now) but no matter how thin or fit I really am, I always see a fat woman in the mirror…I always focus on my flaws…I constantly pray about this and work on it.

It really bothers me because I am a mother to three beautiful little girls for whom I need to be a positive role model…so if I exhibit my own issues, what can I expect them to do? So I work on it constantly. I NEVER EVER say anything bad about my own body in front of them. I work hard to maintain health and fitness (I am now a distance runner). And I do whatever I can to ensure my daughters see beauty in people for things other than appearance.

Another thing I have always done is whenever my girls are dressed up for Mass (every Sunday) or any other special occasion, I send them in one-by-one for their Daddy to fuss over them. Of course, he has no trouble obliging. But I really believe that many of girls’ insecurities could be eliminated or at least partially healed if Dad’s are attentive to their daughters…and if my girls had brothers, when they got older, I’d have the brothers fussing over them, too!


Just curious…Do you believe that God gave you all girls instead of some boys to break the cycle? My dd’s dad and brothers have been and currently are told that they aren’t real men and their sisters have told their sons (sister’s sons) that they don’t want them to be like their uncles. To them, men are to never be trusted. I have heard the horrible comments, but they still believe that a woman must be hard on men and manipulate them to do what the women want. His sisters who talk this way only have boys, and the brothers with children only have girls. So, I was wondering if you thought that God sometimes sends children of one gender only to test the parents to see if they can break the cycle of abuse to that gender?


What you’re describing deb1 sounds like my mother. We can see how it has been passed down though, because her mother is just as abusive, if not much worse. I was about 13 when I realized that I was probably the only 13 year old in the world that absolutely did NOT trust a single word my mother said to me. She would lie about so many situations, would make any bad situation I was in out to ALWAYS be my fault (I was raped at 17, it was my first time with sex and she said it was my fault because I must have wanted it and I led the guy on), and the last thing she did was force me to have an abortion at 20 years old. Even now, I’m in my 30’s, happily married, pregnant with #4 and we just learned this baby will be our first boy and she (along with my father) are telling me “Oh good, you’re done now.” Um… ??? They are TELLING me I’m done having kids.

I recognize the abuse I’ve grown up in, I recognize the destruction it’s done to not only me, but my sister as well. But do any of you keep in contact with your parents? My father likes to call me crazy because he insists my sister and I are psycho freaks that think this stuff up. But my mother was the consumate mother when we were around other people and if she told her friends about us and our behavior, it was always our fault. NOTHING she did was wrong!

Unfortunately, I have moments where I fly into rages, just like my mother. I know there is nothing huge that makes me fly into these rages, it’s just stupid, it really is. Fortunately, I’ve never laid a hand on my children during these times and it has gotten better now that we are out of California. It seemed like being in close proximity to family members that are abusive towards me makes me stew until I explode because no matter what I say to them, they just don’t listen to me and they are condescending to me, like I’m some stupid idiot that doesn’t know any better. (my SIL lived near me and she’s like this to me as well). So I would say my piece but they’d totally ignore me and keep treating me like dirt. Just thinking of some of the things my mother and SIL has done/said to me makes me want to seriously harm someone.

Ok, I’m rambling now… but I know I need to forgive. I see my mother handling the Body of Christ at Communion as an EME yet she’s a staunch pro-choicer. I hear her tell people she’d NEVER let her daughters get an abortion, yet she’s forced myself and my sister to have one when we didn’t want one. I hear her talk about “mental illness” but it’s always in my father’s side of the family, yet her own father was instituted when she was 15, for two weeks for a mental breakdown and her own mother… hoboy… she’d make any psychologist’s dream come true as a case study.

I’ve got way too much that I could talk about. But the bottom line is that I honestly think I’m a much better parent because I’ve recognized my own faults and can identify them before they happen. I do have better control over my emotions and I certainly don’t emotionally beat my children down to make myself feel good. My children are each a child from and of God and how could I DARE make them feel unworthy? I remember how my mother would tear me apart, for nothing! And I just can’t do that to my children. And God gave me a man for a husband that is 1000 times better than my father, who recognizes that he’s not around much due to his job but he bends over backwards to make his girls feel special. I am so honored and so blessed that God gave me a husband like him, because there is no telling if I would have ever had the courage, integrity or fortitude to break the cycle of abuse. And in the mean time, he’s helping me to heal by showing me that I’m worthy.

Sorry this is so long… :blush:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit