Is this a Catholic solution (long-sorry)


I’m embarrassed to post this, but I need some advice. I am a 40-something year old married woman and my husband and I live in our own home and support ourselves. We converted to Catholicism a few years ago and we are very happy.

I have been in counseling because of the abuse I went through as a child at my mothers hands. I am ashamed at how this little woman still causes me to be paralyzed with fear. Today my counselor told me that Mom is toxic to me and I may need to put major distance in my relationship with her. Before anyone says to talk with her or stand up to her…Mom likes to fight, not listen and the only way to stand up to her is to knock her down…I won’t do that!!

How do I show honor and respect for the woman that did give birth to me, yet pull away from her? Is it spirtiually right to put distance or cut off a relationship with a parent? She is a protestant, but religion was always more of a tool for her to use to force her way on people.

I really am a fairly smart woman that otherwise handles her life pretty well, but I am stuck here. I know Mom was very hurt as a child so I feel compassion for that and I know I should honor her, but in her mind that means making all of my life choices to please her or being attacked verbally, mentally and sometimes physically.



No you are not obligated to maintain a relationship with an abusive parent.



I agree with 1ke…no obligation, and frankly, it might not be safe or healthy for you to maintain contact, until your mom gets help. Has anyone in your family sought out help for her? Do you have siblings who feel the same way?


I had a similar situation with my parents and also went through counseling. I have struggled for years over the “honor your parents” thing. One piece of very helpful advice was to honor my parents by becoming the person God wants me to become. Somehow, in my mind, I always equated honoring them with trying to cultivate this really close relationship that, quite frankly, was never going to occur. When I shifted my focus from trying to please/honor them to pleasing/honoring God, it really helped me escape from the pain and frustration. Part of that meant setting some pretty firm boundaries when my interaction with them was heading in the wrong direction…I would simply say a prayer, take a deep breath and LEAVE. No explanation or dialog…as I’d been around that track many times before to no avail.
You have already made great strides if you can recognize that your mother is acting out of her own painful past. I spent years wondering what was wrong with ME. It was only in her year long battle with throat cancer that I began to really understand HER deep pain. That was really a healing moment for me.
My prayers are with you!



1ke’s advice, as usual, is sound.

While we are always to honor our parents, parents are also morally obligated not to provoke their children. Based on your short description, your mother does not appear to be following through on her obligation to you.

When your mother is cruel and mean to you, she sins against you. Perhaps even a very grave sins as serious anger, provoking anger in others and fighting are grave sins.

With that in mind, consider looking at it this way, by distancing yourself from your mother, you are not tempting her into sin. In essence you **are **honoring your mother by keeping her from an occasion of sin by avoiding her. It sounds like backwards reasoning, but I think in this very narrow situation, it is correct.

While I refuse to give you life or medical advice, I will make this observation. Your counselor is a medical professional and knows your case. He (she) knows the issues and the situation far better than some anonymous people on an internet forum. Consider carefully the well-meaning advice your counselor is giving you.


I have not read your thread. Not at all, just your initial post.

I took a similar situation to my priest a few years ago with my own mother, and he said (I have posted this numerous times):

“God wants you to honor your parents, but Jesus doesn’t want you to be STUPID.”

That took care of that. I cut off contact for a long time. I also set up very strong boundaries. She knows them. If she didn’t, she’d be dismissed AGAIN. After all, Jesus doesn’t want me to be STUPID. Especially letting an abusive drama-queen in my life just because she gave birth to me, because that IS stupid. That’s not healthy to my DH or my children, much less myself. My SANITY reflects on the rest of the family, so if caught up in nonsense I am not really being ME. I am stressed, upset, troubled, etc. I can’t be a good mom or wife then.

So now I tell her to drop it or get on with herself.



You can honor her, and have the most real contact with her, through God, by PRAYING for her. You are not obliged to see an unrepentant abusive aprent in this life again. May God fully heal your whole family. :slight_smile:


You are a very brave person! If your therapist has not recommended it, perhaps you should read two books:
Boundaries by Henry Cloud, and God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts! by Greg Popcak. Dr. Popcak is Catholic, and has a radio show.

You don’t honor your mother by lining up to be abused. That doesn’t honor anybody.

First and foremost, you honor your mother by praying for her. Fortunately, you don’t have to have any type of contact to pray for her.

Secondly, if you know she is in a state where her basic physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) are not being met, if you have the means to help, you should do so- within those means. It does **not **mean you need to give her filet mignon when you are eating beans. It does **not **mean getting her a plush hotel room when you and your family live in mobile home. It certainly does not mean allowing her to live with you! It does **not **mean buying her designer clothes while you wear Goodwill. You take care of your own family first. You can offer to help through other people, and do not have to have contact with her at all.

So, see, you are well within the Catholic viewpoint.:slight_smile:


I am going through something similar with my mother. After MANY years of working through my anger at my father (he’s dead), I have only recently begun to address my mother’s physical abuse of me. I am very angry at her, and she is in total denial. Claims she never “layed a hand on me.” Hah!

My situation may be slightly different in that my mother is 82 and lives alone. She is pretty self-sufficient but she does need my assistance with some things. I call her 2-3 times a week and visit at least once. My husband now goes with me every time I visit her because she doesn’t say things in front of him that she will say to me when I am there alone with her. My calls to her are very short, less than 5 minutes usually.

Anway, my counselor has told me the same thing; to limit my time with her as much as possible.


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