I recently had a conversation with a friend who has a real distaste for his parents. When he was a child, they were neglectful, selfish and abusive. As an adult, they’re still quite annoying. They’re much better than before, but still oblivious to their actions. They’re not abusive in any way today, but the scars run deep.
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The funny thing is he’s not sure they even realize how their previous behaviour still impacts him decades later. Indeed, his parents are genuinely surprised he doesn’t gush over them 24/7. They rarely discuss his childhood, so he hasn’t made them aware.
Sometimes he feels like he wants to distance himself from his parents. Other times he thinks he should try to salvage what they still have.
He necessarily doesn’t enjoy time spent with them and finds it very stressful, so he wonders why he feels compelled to spend time with them. He questions his motives for maintaining a relationship with them. He knows his parents have money that he would eventually inherit, and wonders if this is the unconscious motive. Does he truly want to salvage the relationship or does he just want the payoff?
He doesn’t know the answer.
Is it morally OK to maintain a relationship with your parents for an inheritance? On one hand, I think it’s not fair to be dishonest with someone for personal gain. On the other hand, I think years of neglect and abuse deserve compensation.
Or maybe we all don’t measure abuse equally. Was what my friend experienced as a child perfectly normal? Maybe all parents are the same behind closed doors. It’s hard to get a baseline on the shitty parent quotient.
Below I have pasted a bunch of anecdotes from Reddit users who had crappy parents. These are probably the worst of the worst, because they all turned into physical fights.
I’m including these anecdotes because I think it helps set a level for what’s abnormal. Because it is honestly hard to know sometimes.
My father is verbally abusive. Has been my whole life. Earlier this year I was at my lowest, depressed, living unhealthy etc. Sought the help of my father, tried talking to him etc. He went off on me calling me a loser, a pussy etc and challenged me physically (ive always been too skinny or too weak in his eyes etc). This time I had had enough. Little did my father know I have been doing boxing and jiu jitsu for 4 years now. I beat the shit out of him in a very humiliating way, holding him in awkward submission and screaming at him whos the pussy now.
I have surely been removed from any wills (my dads loaded too lol) but I could not give two fucks. It was liberating. It crushed my depression on the spot and lit a fire lol. Totally worth the million bucks or so I lost down the line lol.
I duked it out with pops one time. And it was a long time coming. He reached across the table and grabbed a leftover porkchop my sister cooked for supper the night before. He chucked it in the dogs dish. I had one little bite on the end of my fork…
He had been drinking since 8 a.m. and his excuse was that he couldn’t pick my mom up from work because of it. I told him I had a major assignment due at school and couldn’t. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
His face turned red and he grabbed my food. I took the bite remaining and stared at my fork and.. I just boiled over. I launched the fork across the table like a ninja star. End over end. It hit him in the cheek and glanced off his glasses and it was on.
Up went the table and his chair fell over.
I felt horrible after all that shit. I didn’t want to fight him at all. But he was always bullying me somehow. I just.. had enough. The porkchop was the last fucking straw. He knocked everything over and cornered me so I couldn’t get out of the dining room.
He ended up like this guy. But.. fucking sad and drunk and sloppy and pitiful. I was disgusted it happened.
My mother used to beat the shit outta me my whole life. Would pull down my pants in front of my friends and spank me until I would cry in front of them to humiliate me. I was 17 years old and one day she tried to pin me to the side door by my neck, choking me. Something flipped a switch in my head. It was like when Darth Vader turned on the Emperor. I grabbed her face and pushed her back. Hard. She fell all the way down the stairs. I left and never returned.
I hated my real dad, because when I knew him he was a complete alcoholic asshole who ruined me and my brothers lives by never being there for us, false promises, and endangering both of us several times. I thought it was so objectively clear how fucked up he was because that’s the only side of him I really knew. Yet time and time again he would weasel his way back into our lives even after the divorce because my brother would fall for his charismatic charm and my mom would too. So I would play nice but every time be it a month or 6 months later it would always end in heart break for my brother and old wounds reopened for my mom. One day it occurred to me why it was so easy for them to want to believe he had changed, my brother was younger than me and when my dad lost his job I was already in school while my dad stayed home and bonded with my little brother while my mom went back to her old work from before she had kids. He had almost 2 years being my little brother’s main caretaker and source of fun, going to the zoo, eating dessert for breakfast you name it. Meanwhile i wouldn’t get him to the afternoon by then my brother was asleep taking a nap and he would pick me up from elementary school already a few beers drunk and not really take care of me. My mom on the other hand had years of him before he got like this that she remembers, literally almost a decade of him being a real stand up guy I wish I had gotten to know. So that’s why they would let him back in to break their hearts again and again, they both were hoping to see the guy they knew again.