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Caring for Parents Who Didn't Care for You


I cannot believe you ended that great article by telling people to find a way to be with the abusive parent.

"most families don't qualify for the pain these truly abusive environments like Nancy's left, either."

All pain is valid and your mileage may vary as the saying goes. But coming from such a sick family, I can attest to the psychological terrorism as H*LL --- I endured it through childhood and later adulthood though living away. I was last at home to get the brunt of the full fledged illness and was the target of insanity.

I think it is very difficult to care for a verbally, emotionally and physically abusive parent. Your brain is not even fully developed and they 'break' you before you have a chance to build yourself up. And now...you are expected to take care of them. Abuse victims are likely to suffer low self esteem, low morals and self respect, depression,anxiety, substance abuse, chronic diseases and even eating disorders. Know that you DID NOT deserve this abuse, you where a child...a young adult. And you are right to break the cycle. There are so many positive ways to raise and discipline a young adult. I am 60 years old and I am now expected to clean and cook for my abusive Father who refuses to hire out. And I am suffering all over again with guilt and feeling of obligation. I spent my whole life getting away from my Father and now he demands he die in his home and I take care of him? He just can't say " I am sorry for what I did, I know it was wrong." His apology last week consisted of "sorry, that was the way we did it back then. And can you pick up the dog s**t in the back yard before you leave."

You can see by the posts that you are not alone. We understand-

I so needed to read this. Ultimately I don't think I will ever be able to have a sane relationship with my mother but I'm trying to not lose my own sanity in the process of living with her. She is very underhanded and childish. I believe she is some sort of narcicist because everything must have her at the center. Even disagreements between other people. I just don't understand it or her but that is how she is. It is so painful to me because I want to do the right thing from here on and was hoping that be in close proximity would change our relationship but once again I fooled myself. I am definitely going to seek some counseling because I don't think I deserve to feel the way I do right now. I just feel defeated and sad and really sad for her. She has missed so much in life because of her attitude and there is nothing I can do about it. I have become very thankful for this website and knowing that there are others out there in the same boat. Thank goodness for support!

... this "thread was started 9 years ago? According to the dates of posts ... why do I find that strange

My father has informed me that he was moving back to my home state after living 3000 miles away from me for 15 years. He wants to be near me in case he needs some help. I have always a very close relationship with my father, but I have learned to accept that I will never have any type of relationship that I desire. We are not just capable of that kind of relationship. My father has requested that I become his POA to be prepared in case the need arises. Although I commend my father for wanting to take care of it BEFORE things happen, I have told my father that I just cannot do it because we have a very difficult relationship. I have set clear boundaries for my own health and well being, and I have communicated those boundaries very specifically. I told my dad that I have to do what I have done in order for me to maintain my own health. I encourage you to establish the boundaries that you need to have in order to continue a healthy relationship. I pray the best for you, and I also will encourage you to grieve the relationship that you WISHED you could have had....It truly is a loss.....

I don't actually care for my mother in a hands on way as she is physically handicapped and in a nursing home. Since my father died I have handled all my mother's financial affairs and buy various personal care items and some clothing. I visit her but not often and we talk on the phone at intervals. Even though I don't really do much in terms of hours, I still find myself being very resentful and revisiting all the hurts of childhood and even later in life. She managed to be unpleasant on so many occasions which otherwise could have been tolerable. I did go for counselling and gained some understanding of why my mother might be as she was. I was told that there would be no point in asking her to come to therapy with me as her personality type would never accept that she had any blame to bear for our estrangement for 5 years or for the pain I still feel whenever I remember all the times she let me down as a mother. Now that she needs me and her dementia has made her less critical I try to behave a little more kindly to her but I am very conscious that it is a duty rather than what a loving daughter would do. I also remember that the last thing my father said to me before he died was, "Take care of your mother for me." I feel a lot of guilt because of that as I loved my father very much.

I really do not think it's possible to properly care for an abusive parent. When they get dementia, it only gets worse. I'm trying very hard...VERY hard...to do the right thing and care for my mother. I've been in therapy for the past year. But she's getting SO nasty and down-right evil that it keeps sending me back to my childhood. Especially when she starts to sundown and gets aggressive. I just can't go into all of it now, but I think it's best to get them into a nursing home. I can no longer deal with this. It's best for both of us.

1. Elderly people are frightened, vulnerable, and facing death and, therefore, are more likely to be concerned about their own needs than your needs at this stage. There's no need to seek their validation anymore.

2. If the abusive parent(s) didn't recognize and admit their failures when you were younger, it is improbable that the parent(s) will blurt out an admission of guilt in the final years/months/days.

3. You have a choice as to whether to be involved with them in their final years. Weigh the pros and cons and commit to your decision.

4. Finally, if you post a 2,000+ word response to any of these articles, please make sure you are taking care of yourself and seeking professional counseling. It might be too late for parental love, but the opportunities for self-love are abundant.

Unshackle yourselves from this emotional bondage. Treat the care-giving as just a job and detach with love or without love, or just fake some love and get through it. If you are doing it for an inheritance, then suck it up. If you are doing it because you are a kind person, then, well, I hope the Universe rewards you. Just, above all else, take care of yourself.


I think it is difficult to really understand this situation unless you have been there. As children, my brother and i were abused by my father, who severely abused our mother. Eventually dad moved several thousand miles away. When the time came that he needed care, we painfully decided that it was best for all concerned to hire a legal guardian. This was a decision for which many people heaped guilt upon us. But, long after he died, I would still get physically ill whenever I saw an RV that looked like his. Through much prayer, I arrived at the place where I have forgiven him and even somewhat understand what drove him to do the things he did. After fifteen years I am at peace with his memories. I have no regrets about the legal guardianship, nor do I regret not having seen him for the last ten years of his life. I fear that had I been more involved at the end, I would still be carrying the burden. There are sometimes when it is best to just admit that a situation is beyond my expertise and accept that it is in the best interest of all to just hire someone to do what I know I am not capable of doing.