Blaming Your Parents

I was reading this article on Lifehack the other day, and I thought the idea is a good one for abuse survivors, though the language might be a bt harsh for people who were truly abused by their parents, as opposed to just disappointed by their parents. Certainly, if your parents were your abusers, and continue to be detrimental to your healing, I wouldn’t recommend just “putting that behind you”, I might recommend literally putting them behind you in the form of cutting off contact though. 😉

Still, I thought there were some good ideas in terms of not letting being a survivor be the be all and end all of your existence.

Even though you may have a very good ‘reason’ to be eternally pissed at your folks, I’m saying let it go anyway. Move on. And it’s not about what they do or don’t deserve; it’s about what you deserve. If you want to destroy your potential, your enthusiasm, your optimism and your hope, then become a chronic Parent Blamer. Hang on to that hurt, no matter what!

There’s some truth to this. As abuse survivors, we all have our own “horrible parent” stories, and given those we have every right to be angry about what happened to us. But we’re adults now, they’re not in control of us any more. It’s time to take responsibility for ourselves, and learn to be the adults we weren’t taught to be as kids. We can do it!

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  1. I thought that post was absolutely horrid and not one I would want child abuse survivors to read. I understand the premise of it. I understand how healing it is to forgive and to take responsibility for one’s life. Certainly to be stuck in one’s past is not good for us. Read my last post about my witness talk.
    But this post was angry and rude and smacked of comments we have all heard – “Forgive and forget” OR “just get over it!” These kinds of comments minimize a survivor’s experience and pain.
    I suppressed the pain of my childhood for years. That only made things worse. By keeping quiet about my past and refusing to deal with it, made my ability to let go even harder. I live a happy life now, but every once in while the pain rises up from some hidden corner deep inside that hasn’t healed yet. And I have to deal with it all over again. Just how am I supposed to get over it?
    When the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church hit the news, I went through hell and back, in pain worse than ever. That is what motivated me to write a book of hope. But to get to that hope, I had to go thru some real painful times. I only whined about it to 2 people, but thank goodness I did. Thank goodness they listened and helped me find the hope I needed. Thank goodness they didn’t tell me not to whine!
    What bothered me most about the church crisis and sent me into the pit? The number of people who I heard say – why don’t they (the victims) just keep it in the past and get over it?
    I just want survivors to know that post was terrible.

  2. As I said in the first paragraph of my post, that post wasn’t written to abuse survivors, and I wouldn’t recommend taking it in it’s whole as advice for abuse survivors, but I think there is a nugget of truth in it for survivors. Namely, that no matter how horrible your childhood was, it’s not an excuse to simply blame all of your own shortcomings on that without ever seeking out ways to heal and better ourselves. In light of recent discussions here, and elsewhere, I thought it was important to point out that as adults we have some responsibility to do what we have to do to overcome our childhoods and make good lives for ourselves. Saying “I was abused”, as an explanation for behavior can be useful in some situations, but it never excuses that responsibility to find the resources that heal us.

  3. Hi,
    I do see the place for personal responsibility in healing. Indeed, I don’t think that it is possible to heal without accepting some level of responsibility for ourselves, our thoughts and actions, and our life. Finding and accessing resources is important. Learning boundaries and finding friends, support persons, and building up a new family as well. Though I don’t think that anyone should discount how backbreakingly hard any and all of these healing steps are.

    Personally I am trying to find the ever important balance between self-blame, shame and guilt to responsibility for my own healing. It is one of those heavy trigger points that opens a new wound each and every time. In the meantime I just try to acknowledge that I am working on it and continue to do the much needed actions to back up my intentions.

    Thanks for the post. Very thoughtful.


    1. Kate, it is definitely a fine line, between seeing your behavior as an adult and taking responsibility for it, and not blaming yourself for what are naturally reactions to childhood trauma. Like any fine line, it takes time and effort to find just where you need to be on it, and constant vigilance to stay on the right side of it!

    1. I’m so glad you’ve found courage Sherry, that’s awesome!! Your blog looks like it’s off to a good start, hope you will continue to share your story!

  4. Mike, I think the fine line that you are talking about is the difference between continuing to be a victim who thinks she/he is helpless to make any decisions or changes (Notice that I said “thinks”.) and a survivor who has to spend a certain amount of time blaming in order to allow theirselves to get angry, maybe for the very first time. We don’t have to stay stuck in the blaming. That harms us because it gives our power back to the abusers. The statement that “my parents did the best that they could” used to make me see red with fury. Then one day, someone added the words, “but it wasn’t good enough” to the sentence and I was ok with that. Healing from sexual abuse is the hardest and most rewarding work that I have ever done.

  5. i think this post brings up for me what has been a longtime struggle. that fine line between forgiveness and responsibility. between excuse and explanation. i’ve been blogging about this very thing lately. what is forgiveness? i have felt anger at people who have told me to forgive and forget. to look on the bright side. “i’m sure your dad wasn’t all bad.” “i’m not sure the story you are telling yourself is a good one.” as though if i just concentrate on the positive aspects of my childhood, then all will be well. i had to realize that sometimes other people really don’t want to hear it. and it’s ok to examine what you went through. and not to feel forced to “forgive” or “let it go” until you are ready. doing so beforehand, in my opinion, cheats you out of anger and other feelings and emotions that are completely valid and important to go through for true healing.

  6. Mike,

    I did not read the entire Lifehack post but what you quoted here I agree with. However, like others have noted, I did have to get to the place where I gave myself permission to feel the full extent of my anger, hurt, fear and other emotions before I could even begin to understand about personal responsibility. Once I had truly admitted all of my feelings about the abuse to myself, my therapist, other survivors and friends then I had more healing options available to me. I believe taking responsibility for my own life and understanding that continuing to blame my parents was giving away all of my power was one of the biggest steps I took towards healing. As you know, I know longer communicate with them because they continue to be abusive. Ironically it took my “taking back my power” and not blaming them any longer for me to stand strong with my decision to not allow them in my life if they were going to continue to behave the same way they always have.

    All my best,

  7. I agree with Colleen. That quote from Lifehack smacked of the ignorant, negating, invalidating, trivializing, anti-healing comments we’ve all been subjected, often from the abusers and their enablers.

    Sorry Mike, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I don’t find even one iota, kernel, grain, or nugget of truth in that quote that would apply to childhood survivors of parental abuse. I read your blog and have resonated on other posts, but not this one!

    I do however, fully agree with this statement “I might recommend literally putting them behind you in the form of cutting off contact though.” Without the wink.

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