I Have A Problem With Honouring My Father and Mother


#1

It would seem that even Easter doesn’t free us from conflict with parents.

What sparked discord on Easter was a conversation about our neighbor’s unwillingness to forgive his dying son-in-law. Both of my parents said they could understand why he would feel that way. My mother then admitted her “disappointment” in me as her offspring. When I asked why, she responded that she didn’t want to address specifics but that overall she was disatisfied with me, although I had some good qualities (and quantified it as a 60/40 split).

Needless to say, such a comment proved to be extremely hurtful. However, I did the best “grin and bear it” stance I could muster but I couldn’t stay long at my parents home because the inner turmoil was getting the better of me. Now, I’m at a crossroads as what to do. I do believe the main issue with them is the fact I’m unmarried and live alone. So, how do I continue to honour them when I feel so wounded. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened but it was certainly the most distressful encounter.

Any advice would be appreciated.


#2

As the mother of two grown sons, I haven’t nor can I think of ever telling either of my kids that they are a disappointment. IF your Mom has a problem with you not being married, than it is her problem. How old are you? How does she treat your siblings?
I sometimes think we reach maturity when we can see our parents as they are with faults of their own. It is at this time you go and look for validation from yourself and from others.
You might benefit by talking to a therapist. I always thought there was something askew with my Mom. I was a senior myself when a psychologist who was a family member witnessed her acting out and told me what was wrong with my Mom. Hope it doesn’t take you that long to find out it is not you. God bless and enjoy the rest of Easter and the rest of your life. :console::flowers:


#3

I struggle to honour my parents also. Well, my mother. I still love them both but me and my mother never got on while I was still living at home and I am glad that I moved out. She kicked me out of the house repeatedly and at one point I was being forced to and advised by my school to declare myself homeless and register for a youth hostel at the council. Even when my school phoned her to tell her that, I heard her say that she didn’t care. I ended up being taken in by my friend’s parents, the weekend before my final exams. One of the worst things was that it spread through my school like wildfire, I couldn’t even be “normal” while at school even though I was living at a friend’s house. That was the scariest time of my life ever. I also had to tell all of my school teachers so I could explain why any assignments would be late/not handed in at all.

Since then we’ve got on much better. The Catholic Church only requires that you honour them as your father and as your mother, you do not have to respect them or even like them (if my understanding is correct).

It sounds like what your mother said wasn’t really major, but that it’s something that keeps happening. If you do your best to make amends, then that’s all you can do. But there is never any need for insulting or arguing with your parents out of anger. I regret doing that myself but thankfully I have been forgiven by God through the Grace of Baptism.


#4

Unfortunately, my mother has a long history of committing verbal and physical abuse against me and my siblings. She even served jail time after a child abuse conviction. My sister is currently not on speaking terms with my parents. I’ve forgiven them for what happened because they were abused as children and they didn’t know any better.

Now, at age 43 they are still “concerned” that I’m not married and with children. It’s an issue because they desire grandchildren, both to interact with and to keep the relatives from speaking about my marital state. Many family members have speculated that I’m homosexual and this upsets my parents.

As for therapy, I have been in sessions for 5 years now (and on medication) trying to cope with depression. Despite the depression, I’ve maintained a wonderful career, have a great network of friends, interesting hobbies and accomplished most of the things I wanted to do in my life. Nonetheless, her statement today was particularly wounding to me. I want to honour my parents but I’m having great difficulty doing so at this point.

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. :slight_smile:


#5

My mother has always been hypercritical, as well as excessively emotional. That took its toll on me, and I was left with a spirit of perfectionism and a tendency of being hypercritical myself. It took me years of reflection, prayer, and self-discipline to emerge from that and become a person that other people might actually want to be around.

How do I treat her nowadays? I treat her as what she is–a frail elderly lady who lost her husband and whose health is declining. I don’t take too seriously her continued criticisms. I recall that this woman did give me life, and a good education, and am grateful for those times I spend with her where she finds something or someone else to criticize! I listen. I try to see Christ in her. Usually, I’m pretty successful, but I do realize that at this time I can’t take a steady diet of it. So I spend what time I can with her in a cheerful spirit, and realize that her words really can’t hurt me anymore. I’ve grown too much, and have far too much faith, for that ever to happen again.

And the other thing I realize is that I have another Mother, who is in heaven: Our Lady doesn’t vent about “disappointing her,” and wants what is truly best for us–union with her Divine Son.

I was able to take her to Mass this morning (no mean feat, with her wheelchair,) and take her out to brunch afterwards, then take her home and do some housework for her (weeding through her junk mail that she calls her “medical papers” might give me some time off from Purgatory–LOL!) It was a good thing. But I will say that I returned home a little exhausted, and indulged myself with a catnap! And that was a very good thing indeed!


#6

When you parents have spent most of your life in constant conflict like mine its hard not to be affected by it all . So yes I find myself in this quandry too. So I hope the Church and more particularly Christ is understanding; also I hope the Holy Spirit can help me be as best I can in the situation. I do know as I am now older I have a better understanding of the dynamics but the trauma is still there. Of couse some of it can be my pride too and i am my parents son too :frowning: :smiley: :confused:


#7

You are honoring them. And you are doing a good job. Note that the commandment doesn’t require us to love them, it says honor. (I think God must of known some of us were going to have problems). You are doing your duty and you are setting an example for everyone around you. But you are allowed to set up limits. When she gets personal, figure out how to handle it…leave shortly after,or give her a hug and say, " Don’t worry about me getting married. I haven’t yet found a girl like you I’d want to marry." or “Now if I get married, who’s going to take care of you in your old age.” Both should give her something to comtemplate if she thinks about it. :wink:
The majority of our sons’ friends did not marry until their late thirties early forties. One had his first child at 44. Our second son is 42, married two years. Many of my friends’ daughters haven’t married or getting married at 35 and up. Two are having their first kids at 40.


#8

[quote="Soldier_Of_God, post:1, topic:237439"]
It would seem that even Easter doesn't free us from conflict with parents.

What sparked discord on Easter was a conversation about our neighbor's unwillingness to forgive his dying son-in-law. Both of my parents said they could understand why he would feel that way. My mother then admitted her "disappointment" in me as her offspring. When I asked why, she responded that she didn't want to address specifics but that overall she was disatisfied with me, although I had some good qualities (and quantified it as a 60/40 split).

Needless to say, such a comment proved to be extremely hurtful. However, I did the best "grin and bear it" stance I could muster but I couldn't stay long at my parents home because the inner turmoil was getting the better of me. Now, I'm at a crossroads as what to do. I do believe the main issue with them is the fact I'm unmarried and live alone. So, how do I continue to honour them when I feel so wounded. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened but it was certainly the most distressful encounter.

Any advice would be appreciated.

[/quote]

I am so sorry for your Easter experience with your mother. What did your father do or say when your mother said her hurtful words to you? I think "Aicirt" gave you terrific advice about handling this. Also, I agree with "Aicirt" that you are, indeed, honoring your parents. Maybe you could also let your mother know, the next time she says such words to you, that all that you are now is the result of her guidance over the years (in other words she had a definite hand in shaping you, in how you turned out).

I, too, had abusive biologic parents. That's why I'm thankful for the love and support from our true parents: Mary and Jesus/God. Whenever you are smarting from a barb your biologic mom sends your way, turn to your "real parents" for comfort - Mary and Jesus will never let you down. Feel their great love for you, feel their acceptance, their joy in how you turned out. Know that when others inflict pain on us, it burns off some of our sins - so there is some benefit. Finally, when you visit your mom, expect barbs (I have found that it is when the barbs catch us off guard that they hurt the most). Pray for your mom. I find when I pray for someone who hurt me, it disables some of the sting. Continue honoring your parents in short intervals, but never move in with them!!


#9

[quote="Soldier_Of_God, post:4, topic:237439"]
Unfortunately, my mother has a long history of committing verbal and physical abuse against me and my siblings. She even served jail time after a child abuse conviction. My sister is currently not on speaking terms with my parents. I've forgiven them for what happened because they were abused as children and they didn't know any better.

Now, at age 43 they are still "concerned" that I'm not married and with children. It's an issue because they desire grandchildren, both to interact with and to keep the relatives from speaking about my marital state. Many family members have speculated that I'm homosexual and this upsets my parents.

As for therapy, I have been in sessions for 5 years now (and on medication) trying to cope with depression. Despite the depression, I've maintained a wonderful career, have a great network of friends, interesting hobbies and accomplished most of the things I wanted to do in my life. Nonetheless, her statement today was particularly wounding to me. I want to honour my parents but I'm having great difficulty doing so at this point.

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. :)

[/quote]

I doubt your parents understand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness, reconciliation, and making excuses for bad behavior are three entirely different things. It is possible to forgive someone and yet to not have contact with them. It is possible to forgive them without making excuses for them, too. Forgiving involves letting go of bad feelings, a desire for vengeance, and so on, not mental gymnastics that turn a sin into an accident, a bad break that was no one's fault.

It only takes one to forgive; it is a personal work for each person involved. Forgiveness is a freeing from sin, a freeing from attachment to the offense, as much a freeing of the victim as a freeing of the perpetrator. Reconciliation, on the other hand, is the rebuilding of trust. That is another work altogether. It takes two. Since one of those people is not in your control, reconciliation isn't something you can accomplish alone.

If you consider your mother's attitude towards life, I would make a wild guess that nothing she actually has (as opposed to people, things, or situations she imagines she would like to have) ever rates much better than 60/40, at least not in the long term. In real life, 60/40 is, from those looking through the glass of self-interest, a pretty favorable split to get from another human being. Some do better, yes, but with relatives, it is not the way to bet. We were made to please God, and that doesn't always mean pleasing the whims and self-interested presumptions of everyone else. The reason we don't say "you're 60/40" or "you're 20/80" or "you're 80/20" isn't because those we love can't disappoint us. It is because we have no right to believe they were put on to this earth to meet our selfish expectations in the first place. If our expectations were God's, we'd say "you're 100"...not because they can't fall short in actions, but because actions can't bring them short of unconditional love. Your mom's "60/40" speaks of her, not you.

I would not predict that you would free yourself of your mother's criticism by marrying and having children. You'd only shift the criticism to a different topic. You could easily go from the frying pan of being thought homosexual to the fire of being "known" as an incompetent parent who, while we're on the subject, could have done a little better in choosing a spouse, as well. I say that because a mother that would think of her children as people put on this earth to satisfy her is, generally speaking, the kind that lives in a fantasy world. Realistic moms realize that their children's lives are not about them. When their children have children, mothers who live in a fantasy world become grandmothers who live in a fantasy world. That is almost never an improvement.

Honor never requires lying. Jesus showed no disrespect of Pilate's authority, given by God, when he said Pilate was guilty of a sin, albeit a sin less than that of Judas. Pilate was given a place of honor and authority, yet he failed the God-given duty that came with the office. Jesus only spoke the truth. If your mother is abusive, it breaks no commandment to take note and act accordingly. It is only required that you be as respectful of her dignity as you can while you do so.

The type of relationship you have with your parents and whether or not you forgive and give them the respect due to parents are two different issues. You can cut off contact and the likelihood of future attacks without being disrespectful of them. You can choose to have contact without accepting the attacks as having any truth to them. The only thing you cannot do is change your mother or effect a reconcilation without her consent and cooperation. Because God chose to give us free will, even God cannot do that.


#10

We’re supposed to honour the parents, but I’m sure that we’re allowed to acknowledge their wrongs and our independence as adults matter a great deal as well


#11

I must admit, from an absolute standpoint, what was said wasn’t the worst thing she said to me (I won’t say exactly what she said in other encounters but suffice to say some of it was really bad). However, it was how it was said in this particular case. It was with a tone of clinical detachment, as if she was evaluating a wine and thought long and hard about it. I understand nasty things get said in the heat of the moment. However, this seemed deliberate, heart felt and intentionally spiteful. As for my father, he said nothing so I would imagine he didn’t disagree significantly with what was said, although I cannot be certain what his thoughts were.

I appreciate everyone’s comments and I will digest what was offered as advice. It is really indicative of the wondeful spirit on this board. Thank-you all. :slight_smile:


#12

I would agree my mother, in all likelihodd, would never be satisfied with me. I can only hope that someday she can overcome her personal issues and be at peace with herself and those around her.


#13

Some people are so damaged by their upbringing that they cannot hope to be normal, loving parents to their children; your mother is evidently one of them. You have gone above and beyond what is required of you as a son.

It sounds to me as if you are an honorable, good Christian man who has also succeeded in his work…despite the lack of affirmation from your parents. At some point, you must simply make the decision that they are not capable of providing unconditional love, and that it in no way reflects on you. It is, frankly, a testament to your character that you have become the person you are.

God bless you.


#14

That is a good thought. I hope you also have many people in your life who find delight in you. It isn’t necessary to be found “satisfactory”; I mean, we all have our faults to work on, after all. The thing we need, I think, is to be found delightful, delightful and loveable.

"The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.

When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,'
Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the sons of men." Prov. 8:22-31

Once, when I told one of my sons that I loved him, he asked me, “Why? Why do you love me, Mom?” and I told him “Because God gave me the very special gift of seeing how special you are.”

Your mom could not take that gift, she could not see it, but you are special to God, loveable and delightful without end. There is not a fault you have that worries him; there is nothing about you that makes God anxious. All God needs is for you to come to Him and let Him love you. The rest will come out in the wash. And as you say, God has that in store for your mother, too, and in that day, she’ll learn how to be truly delighted, as well!


#15

Brother, that was just WRONG of your mother.

Rememer - though I know its easier to say for someone who is not directly involved - that your worth and dignity comes from being a son of God. You Father in heaven wanted you and has great things planned with you.

Did you ever stand up to your mother? You are grown up now and you could put your foot down. Maybe if you demand respect she will tone her rudeness down a little bit.

Where is you father in all of this?

It might be healthy for your mother (and father) to realize that her treatment of you might have led to your depression, and possibly to the fact that you are unmarried (if this is no choice of your own).

Anyhow. There is nothing wrong with being unmarried. But if she is not careful she will neither have grandchildren nor have her son, is what I am thinking.
Maybe she needs some time in silence to think about things.


closed #16

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