“But They’re Still Your Parent”


Photo By: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Anyone with a strained relationship with a close family member has heard the dreaded words “They‘re still your...“


I wonder why I feel compelled to write this article. I think I want anyone reading it who has a strained relationship with their parent to know it’s not their fault. If I can ease the whirlwind of self-depreciation and doubt that lives inside someone as a result of an abusive/neglectful parent then I will be very happy indeed.


People who say “They’re still your parent“ or any other nonsense along these lines are unlikely to know what it’s like to grow up with a caregiver who is narcissistic, controlling, unreliable, abusive etc. They may also say things like “It’s so sad you don’t speak much to your mum much anymore“ and yes it is sad but not for your toxic family member. My sympathy lies solely with you...the victim.


It is perfectly reasonable to cut people out of your life who do not make it better. It’s sad that you were not nurtured and loved in the way you deserved. Furthermore, it’s sad your parent/family member felt the need to project their own trauma onto you and were not in a position to seek help. It’s true when they say you can’t pick your family, it truly is a lottery; some people are just luckier than others.


I hope someone has told you this before but if they haven’t, it wasn’t your fault. I know it may feel like it as childhood trauma and abuse shapes our life as an adult as it can take a long time to accept what has happened. You do not need to validate your decision to not speak to a certain family member. I think it’s incredibly brave to put your own mental well-being first.


Mental health charity, Mind express on their website that trauma is personal, and only you know how you feel about your own experience, it is also important to remember that trauma may lie dormant for many years and affect us in later life.


While healing and breaking away from an abusive relationship with a family member may be difficult, deeply personal and surprisingly painful it's important to remember you are not alone and support is available. Personally, whenever I feel down, I always find it really helpful to text SHOUT to 85258 and someone will talk you through how you’re feeling.


I’m not sure if a toxic relationship with a parent is something that someone can fully recover from, it seems to go against our very nature, but I’m sure with a little help we can learn to see we are deserving of the love we didn’t receive.

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© 2020 by Mental Magazine