"Maintaining a Relationship with Difficult Parents" by Libby Anne

  • Libby Anne's blog, "Love, Joy, Feminism" has been a go-to for me for awhile. She's one of those people who can take issues that I'm in chaos over, and give them clear definitions. I don't necessarily always agree with her, but she has a personal history that resembles my own in some ways. She often writes on subjects that are personally important to me, but that I've never actually thought about. He blog is a really useful asset, and I thought today's post was pretty interesting for those of us who have a complicated relationship with their parents.



    Maintaining a Relationship with Difficult Parents
    August 5, 2015 by Libby Anne

    Over the years, I have sometimes gotten emails from readers wanting advice on how to deal with controlling and manipulative (if not downright abusive) parents. As my regular readers will know, I have maintained my relationship with my parents in spite of the no good very bad treatment I received from them as I came of age. My parents’ actions—their efforts to control and manipulate and guilt me into being the daughter they wanted me to be—were emotionally abusive. Why did I decided to keep them in my life? How have I navigated my relationship with them over the years?

    The pain I suffered the last summer I spent at home was excruciating. When you are in a dangerous situation, your adrenaline spikes, giving you a fight or flight response. Children who live in abusive homes experience this daily—every time their abuser walks in the door. They have to be constantly on guard, constantly ready. My parents never hit me—and never threatened to hit me—but it didn’t matter, the effect was the same. The constant rush of adrenaline, that feeling of being imprisoned with your abuser—it was there. As a society, we have a much better understanding of physical abuse than of emotional abuse, but I would argue that the effects of emotional abuse can be worse and longer lasting.

    What made my situation so odd was that I had had a fairly good relationship with my parents up until this point—my mother was always up for baking cookies or working on a crafting project, and my father involved us children in his various carpentry projects around the home and was always happy to play a game of Risk—but things fell apart when I was in college as I exerted a will of my own and began making decisions they disagreed with. It’s not that things were perfect when I was a child—my parents expected immediate obedience, didn’t tolerate “backtalk” (and by that they meant any attempt to explain oneself), and practiced a heavy dose of corporal punishment—but they weren’t like this.

    When I left at the end of the summer, I told myself I wasn’t going back. But then, I still had ten younger siblings living at home, all under 18. I had been a second mother to many of them, and I loved them dearly. I went home for Thanksgiving, and home again for Christmas. I tried—so hard, I tried—but it was too much. That Christmas things reached a head when my father yelled at me in front of my siblings, calling me terrible things in an enraged voice that was so unlike my usually quiet father, and all I wanted to do was flee. I was 20 years old.

    (The rest is on Libby Anne's blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/l…th-difficult-parents.html)

  • This can actually be useful to me at this time, as I'm having issues with my dad and step-mom. They decided to leave me behind on a "FAMILY" vacation they took to South Carolina. Even my brother went. The reason for this is because I lost my temper and punched my step-brother. So they decide it's best to kick me out of the house. Keep in mind this happened in Feburary this year. Ever since they left me behind on vacation, I've had this anger inside of me because of their actions. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Geeze mang, that's rough. I mean, on the one hand, violence is pretty much never justified. So I'd wager you probably crossed a line there. But there's basically no good reason for a parent to ever kick a 14 year old out of the house.

    Libby Anne's blog in general is a pretty great resource. Though it's a blog written by an adult, who discusses things from an adult perspective. Her best writing is usually about how she's raising her children differently than the way her parents raised her. She might not be the best resource for someone who is still in the trenches dealing with their parents on a day-to-day basis.

    There's a subreddit called /r/RaisedByNarcissists that I have found useful. It's aimed at people whose parents probably have NPD. I've come to believe that my parents probably don't, but it has been a valuable resource to me none the less.

  • Odd. I thought I answer this thread but I guess it was the one where I ate the allocated bits for my trip's train wifi.
    Anyway it is an interesting read. She sounds down to earth.

    To a minor scale this thread kind of remidned me of the resistance my parents had to the Long Distance Relationship and our marriage decision. I guess it is difficult to know when your kids are ready as it is all a blurry process, it is not like an age magivally changes you into a amture human being.

    I think it is great that her parents actually did put some effort too and that is key. If someone is not wanting to, hen as much as you rather having that person part of your life it just becoems a wasted effort as they will be toxic and drag you down.

  • True. You never notice the small differences day-to-day, and when you finally realize those small differences have added up into a large change, you may have already ignored them for too long. But really, I think parents ought to be held to a much higher standard than they are with these things. There's a reason my parents have only ever known about 3 of my romantic relationships.

    My own relationship with my parents has been distant for years now. But, like Libby Anne, the fact that I love my siblings kept the lines of communication open. And after so long on my own, my parents and I have started to develop something like an amicable relationship. Not a close one, but an amicable one.

  • A quick update on my family situation: Me and my dad had a short talk at a Wendy's. Perfect place to have a serious conversation, am i rite? Anyways, he told me that I haven't apologized to my step-mom for what I did to my step-brother. I honestly forgot to apologize to her, but I did apologize to my step-brother. They are buying a new house and he says that once I apologize to my step-mom then they will let me back at their new house. He told me to wait until they finish moving to apologize to her. What kind of pisses me off is that he wants me to help them move their stuff from the first house to the next. If I wasn't allowed to be at the first house, why should I help move? So I was given a choice to help or just sit and let them do it themselves. I thought about it, and I didn't want to be that rude to my own dad, so I decided to help them move. They haven't started moving yet, but it'll probably start in 2 weeks.

  • I suppose having your parents separated at least gives you some mobility. You're not stuck in a single location. I'm terrible at this, though. My tactic was mostly to just keep my head down and wait until I grew up and could be a real person. Which is really no way to live.

    Offering to help them move was probably the right choice. As a general rule, I always like to be the nicer party. If someone's a jerk to you, and you're a jerk back, then you're both jerks. If you take a deep breath and treat the other person well, then you're still a good person. Them being a jerk is their problem.

  • How did the move go? Are you doing better with them now? It is okay to tell me not to be too nosy. :lengua:

    Actually, they changed the moving date to next weekend, so it hasn't happened yet. However, they said they have noticed a big change in me and how I've been acting and they're proud of me. I think it has to do with puberty/maturity, but I see my attitude changing too. They said I'd be allowed to come back by the end of December.

  • Actually, they changed the moving date to next weekend, so it hasn't happened yet. However, they said they have noticed a big change in me and how I've been acting and they're proud of me. I think it has to do with puberty/maturity, but I see my attitude changing too. They said I'd be allowed to come back by the end of December.

    That's very nice news. I am happy to hear that about your parents. Take it slowly.