Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Parents - What do we owe them?

“After all I’ve done for you…”. A popular sentence and I am sure some of us have heard this sentence from our parents. But what have they really done for us?

The reason for us existing in this world is that at some point of their lives our parents decided to have a baby. In some cases, it might not have been a planned child, however the decision was made to bring up the child. They raised and funded us for years.
Does that mean we owe them our lives? Do we have a debt to pay for the rest of our lives?
The common opinion is that we are in their debt because they raised and loved us regardless of what we did. Having such parents you should definitely be thankful.
But what if they didn’t?

Certainly, we should be grateful and respect them to a certain extent. But do we really have to accept all of their statements? Do we have to obey and love them unconditionally?

Let me tell a story of a little girl, just a small insight.
She’s sitting in her room, thinking of how she can make her mommy proud of her, but she can’t imagine anything else than she has already tried.
Christmas is coming and she’s writing a wish list. All she writes is this: I wish that my mommy loves me. Then she hides the note in a drawer, never showing it to anyone.
A few hours later, her mother tells her she hates her more than anything else and she wishes she would never have been born. She tells her she is a slut and the worst child one could imagine and that she doesn't even deserve to be alive. She’s yelling at her for about an hour and strangling her for a couple of seconds, getting caught up in her contempt.  The reason for this is that the girl told her it was cold in her room whereas her mother thought it to be very warm and she hates too much warmth.

The girl tries to be strong, as she always does, she hides her tears until she is back in her room. There, her brother is already waiting for her, naked, as if he wanted to proof her being a slut. She screams, but nobody would ever listen.
I can see no love or respect here. There are so many cases of domestic violence and they shouldn't be tolerated. Unfortunately, parents do not always know what is best for their children, despite this so often mentioned argument.

Can you imagine how long it takes these children to recover any self-esteem?

So why do we still keep in touch with them? Why do we not break off all contact after having been grown up? 
In spite of all that happened, we still feel a certain liability, a duty or a guilt towards our parents.
Society tells us we should be grateful. After all they have done for you, you don't want to come home for Christmas? How can you be so selfish?
Above all, we can't erase family ties. It's still our family, after all.

When our parents betray our trust, abuse us, intentionally hurt us, do we still have to be grateful?  Parents should love their children, they should show them their love, but what if they don’t? What do we owe them?
When they wrong us, we might be willing to forgive them more easily than others, but injustice stays injustice.  

Basically, we should respect all human beings. But I don’t think we owe them our unconditional respect and gratefulness.
Respect should be mutual.
Of course, it is a good thing to respect our parents, but shouldn’t they pay us some respect too? Once we are adults, we make our own decisions and naturally sometimes (or often) we disagree with other people, which also include our parents. We have a right to form our own opinions and our parents should respect this. They should accept us as autonomous individuals with possibly different views.

Most of all, they should love and support their children when they are little, providing a basis for the respect and appreciation to be mutual.

If our family bond hurts us more than it does anything else, it is maybe time to loosen the ties and forget about the predetermined obligations.
After all, blood relationship doesn’t necessarily heal everything, it doesn’t convert injustice into fairness.


  1. I have to agree with you, Kleopatra...blood isn't necessarily thicker than water. Thank you for sharing such an honest and introspective post.

    1. I think blood is often thicker than water, unfortunately, because that way we still love those persons and this hurts us even more.
      Thank you!!

  2. Just because people have children it does not automatically turn them into great parents. Like anything else parenting is a learn-as-you-go process. It is unusual for a parent to not love their child.

    1. I agree with you that it is a learn-as-you-go process.
      I don't know if it is unusual for a parent to not love their child, but I do know there are a lot of cases where people don't care about their children or abuse them and I don't think this is love.
      Thank you for commenting!

  3. Unfortunately I think it is more common than people who grew up with loving parents realized. Not all parents love their children, and not all "bad" parents are just learning mistakes. My father has never been a part of my life by choice. I saw him maybe once a twice a year, and the man has lived no more than 15 minutes from me since I was two. My boyfriend had super religious parents who abused him horribly. He is much happier now that they no longer have contact. But when he did visit them it effected him so strongly that he was literally sick to his stomach for days before and after visiting them for the stress.

    1. I'm sorry your father has never been a part of your life. I will never understand why parents leave their children or how they are even able to abuse them.
      I know what you are talking about and it is good for your boyfriend that they no longer have contact. I didn't succeed in that yet, but I'm trying to lessen the contact.
      I agree with you that this is more common than people realize and it's a horrible thing.
      Thank you for your comment!

  4. Anonymous26/9/12 04:00

    Ah! (M)eine kleine Nachtmusik!!

    It is impossible to speak about humankind and forget its flaws!

    Oh, I have seen desperate couples wearing off their feet looking for ways to get a little foot with five small toes to tickle and look how they wiggled, they will give their life for the sound of a child laugh!

    And I had seen those terrible chambers in hospital walls where mothers can leave their children if need be!

    And I still am seeing the in-between.

    Family is not our haven per se, it is easier to find a group that want and love their heirs, parents that will stop the spinning of the Earth for a child of them. This seems to be the rule.

    But rules never are absolute, there are hard souls that can make cry a small tot who does not understand yet why it is crying, and there is tough characters that can be ugly, just because it gives them joy. Also there are ill souls who can be detestable, but they never know why they are so.

    Sometimes knowing the reasons of those behaviours alleviate the pain of it, but that is not a certainty.

    The question that remains is: WHY? But is is not the only question we have about us, human, even if it touch our spirit with more pain.

    I sometimes think it is a lottery, maybe you can get the winning number, or maybe you not.

    I have no response to this question of yours. Maybe I owe more to my Grands than to my parents, but who know?

    What I can recognize you is that there are experiences that cannot be forgotten and mark the soul of anyone and forever.

    I am not a good support for anyone except to myself, and not always, but a long time ago, I learned, when things get hard, to tell me: C'mon dud! let's go ahead! there is no other direction to follow! :) Not much but it usually help!

    1. It is sad to see these extremes, mothers desperately wishing for children and others just leaving them.

      True, I often ask myself this question: Why? But I guess I will never find an answer.

      I tell myself something similar when things get hard and it helps a bit, because there is nothing else we can do. :) It's what I told myself a year ago when I finally moved out and things have become much better since.

      Thank you!!

  5. Domestic Violence is a serious issue and people ought to take great heed when it comes to continuing to have a relationships with people who commit such crimes against them. I believe that you can respect someone from afar.

    I have chosen not to have a relationship with my parent because of the physical and emotional abuse I received as a child. I have banned this parent from coming to my house as they have no respect and still feel they can physically attack me as an adult, and have no problems calling me vicious names privately and in public. This parent falsely accuses me on a regular basis, and speaks evil of me constantly to their friends. There is a point in life when you need to protect yourself, so I took control over my own life and said enough is enough. I cut the ties permanently.

    I no longer see them as a parent, I just see them as someone who gave birth to me. I then tried to keep in contact by phone on a random level but this is fast diminishing because I will not tolerate abuse in a verbal form. I don't owe my parent anything. It's ok to forgive but to continue to put yourself in harm's way is stupid.

    I say, try your best to get out of the situation otherwise it can end up destroying your entire life in more ways than you can imagine.

    I'll stop here now, as rambling again.... Nice Post Kleopatra.

    1. I agree with you that in your case it is better not to have a relationship with this parent. I can relate to this very much, I share most of those experiences.

      I am also trying to keep in contact by phone and it even works but due to complex financial reasons I have no other choice than living in my mother's house again about 3 months a year, in March and in August/September, that is during semester break and it makes me remember the old times very much. But I am trying to find another way.

      It is still difficult to cut the ties permanently.

      Thank you a lot for your comment!

  6. Agree with you!!! Not all parents understand their children. It takes a lot of risk and courage to openly discuss personal problems with your kids. And most parents either ignore this or pretend to understand their kid's problems. But, some deep scars lie beneath, which they fail to discover. Even though they are parents, that does not mean whatever they do or say, is always correct. It's important to make them realize of their mistakes

    1. You're right, often parents do not understand their children's problems. They might not discover the scars, but too often they are responsible for the wound that caused it. I am not sure whether they completely realize what they do to their children.
      Thank you for your comment!

  7. I really appreciate you for writing this article....somehow kind of makes me feel better in a way.

    Actually I am not able to see eye to eye with my parent's illogical decisions right now.....as much as they know it doesn't sound right but they shut me up by proclaiming the parent title...I do love them but I wish they see reason in what they are doing...I know it sounds vague but their deal is really a long story.

    Well all I am guess I am saying right now is thanks for the post!In my situation right now...trust me this really helps :3

    1. I am so happy that this article made you feel better, that's more than I could have hoped for!

      As mentioned in my post, sadly parents do not always know what is best for their children, although they often say so... And then proclaim their parent title, as you said... Don't let them get you down.

      Thank you a lot! I am really happy it helped!

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