Skip to content

Announcements

Attention: The information provided in this forum is intended for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Must you love your parents to be a good person?
avatar
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
With Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought it might be helpful for people whose relationships with their mothers are strained to read, think, and share about this. As a psychologist, I have treated many people who are in this situation. It hurts; because all people crave a good relationship with their parents, and because not having one just feels wrong.

When people don't like being around their parents, they often feel guilty about it. They know that they want to do their part as a child and help out Mom or Dad. But they also harbor secret feelings of preferring to be doing something else.

The short response to this dilemma is, "relax." Satisfying your duty does not require that you like or love your parents. Even the Ten Commandments direct you to "honor" your father and mother; not to love them. So being a good person all about how you treat them, not how you feel about them.

If you're sweating out Mother's Day, there are innumerable ways for you to do your duty and honor her — on this day and year 'round. Listen patiently to her advice. Do not interfere in her affairs with others. Do not sit in her favorite chair. The list goes on.

Regardless of the Hallmark ads every spring, most parent-child relationships are far less than perfect. No matter your relationship with your mother, you can live your life—and through each Mother's Day —with your integrity intact.

These are my thoughts on the matter—what are your thoughts and experiences?

Read in more detail about this topic in my post on The Art of Relationships blog.
Reply
 
avatar
Chris_WebMD_Staff responded:
I love this topic Dr. Becker-Phelps!

Gosh, my relationship with my mother changed when my father died. He was 55 years old and died one night of a heart attack. I feel like I lost my Mom and my Dad that day.

Mom was never the same and neither was our relationship. I was there all the time when my Dad passed, and supported her in every way I could. I saw her friendships die with other couples and she herself changed and suddenly she was living her life through her children.

She wanted to know, what were we doing, where did we go. It got to always putting her first. Myself and my sister had children we were raising with our husbands, had our own families and it got so hard to be over supportive of my Mom and still be the Mom I wanted to be.

It was almost suffocating as I soon realized. I had to cut the cord. It was the hardest and healthiest thing I had done for myself and my family, beside quit smoking, ever.

To balance a relationship and still make her feel loved and supported by me was very difficult, but I did it. I'm in a good place now with her, took a long time for my Mom to understand and for me to get comfortable with what I had done, what I had needed to do.

I hope I'm a better person and Mom for that. I learned from her what I wanted to become to my children. I can't say I learned from her mistakes, she just dealt with things and unfortunate circumstances as she knew how. And I, well I had to do what I had to do.

Thank you for this Doctor! Great topic...great advice.
Chrissy~ Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly. Author Unknown
 
avatar
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to Chris_WebMD_Staff's response:
Thanks so much for sharing all of this. Despite saying that you HOPE you're a better person and mom for your experience, it sounds like you really feel that you are. And, I'm glad for you. Again, thanks for sharing.
 
avatar
An_216152 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
I do believe you can be a good person and not have a relationship with your mother. Ever since I was young I could tell my Mother was jealous of me, and treated me badly because of it. When I got into high school she refused to buy me bra's that fit me. (I had 1 bra and it was ratty and threadbare) while she had money to buy department store make up and get plastic surgery done, I had neighbors that bought me shoes when they saw the condition mine were in. I know that when I got older I should have known better than to turn to her for help when I got pregnant. It's funny that hindsight is 20/20 because, I can see all the clues I failed to notice at the time. The first thing she said when I told her the news that I gad gotten pregnant was that it was perfect because she and her husband (who is 11 years younger than her) were looking into adoption because they wanted a baby! She wanted the baby to call her Mimi becasue its easier to say than mama....so on. Well long story cut shorter, she kicked me out on my ass and petitioned the courts for gaurdianship of my baby, told them flat out bold faced lies and took her from me. I dont know a better way to say it but, the one person in the world that is supposed to love you uncondionally is your mother and she not only failed to do that, but also betrayed me. She did worse to me than I would have ever done to my arch-enemy. I have tried, trust me...I have tried to forgive her. I can't. and I can honestly say I do not love her.
 
avatar
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to An_216152's response:
It honestly breaks my heart to hear your story. Often, youngsters who are treated so poorly blame themselves for it, though sometimes on an unconscious level -- as a way to see their parents as good, enabling them to believe that that person is keeping them safe. They also often harbor anger against themselves, as well as their parents. Whether these are your struggles or you have others from this most painful past, I hope you have found a way to heal your pain enough to find some peace and happiness in your life.
 
avatar
Boyzmomee responded:
My mother treated me very badly and I will not go into details here.

She died in 1990, when my oldest son was 2 months old. I spent my first Mother's Day with her and her last. She was dying of cancer.

While I didn't wish her any suffering, her death left me without the burden of that relationship.
 
avatar
suraiya responded:
I had so much struggle loving my mother and forgiving her. Just from the time I could talk at my childhood, my mother spend 5/6/7 hours everyday explaining her life problems in ugly ways to me. I used to listen and counsell her, it may sound strange, but I had that capability and unerstanding from my early age. My mother never listen to me neither she stopped talking to me. I went to boarding school at age 14 just to avoid listening to her and from then I never turn back home. Now I am near 30, every time I talked with my mother either she wants money, or she tries to impose her ugly views about life on me through advise. She talks all by herself, she never stops,listen, and she keeps telling me rude. I felt like I raised my mother, instead of being raised by her. Each time she gave me anything, be it money or support in my childhood, she abused me by reminding me again again I am taking everything away from her life, she is investing on me so that I can give her morethings back when I grow up. Now I am ready to give her all the money back but I keep feeling guilty that I cant love her. Reading the article I understand I should stop trying and accept the fact that I wasnt loved by my mother and its ok not to love her.
 
avatar
rohvannyn replied to suraiya's response:
I had a long time where I had a rivalry with my mother. I really didn't love her much at all. She was a bigger child than I was. But she grew up, as I did, and after I'd moved out of the house we rebuilt our relationship because distance allowed us to interact much better. We have a good friendship now and I'm glad.

I have many relatives that I don't love at all because they have nothing in common with me and even undermine my purpose in life. They are virtual strangers and I am content to keep them that way. Some have said I should love them no matter what because they are family, but I reject that. I can't see how I could love someone I have nothing in common with. I give them a certain level of respect, but not if their actions are reprehensible, as they so often are.

The folk I accept as family are my grandmother (sole remaining grandparent) and my parents. Right now my mother's brothers and sisters are fighting over my grandmother as she nears the end of her life, their actions are reprehensible and they are no family of mine. Or that's how I see it, anyway. I don't feel I'm a bad person, I just feel that love can't be forced when the person you are supposed to love isn't behaving in a way that's worthy of it.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
 
avatar
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to suraiya's response:
Suraiya, I hope this helps set you on a more healing path. Once you find peace in your heart with yourself, then hopefully you will also be able to nurture love for yourself and others, who are good to you.

Someday, you might find that you have a greater capacity for love that; one that even includes your mother - not the kind of love that grows from being nurtured by her, but the love grows within you for others when you have self-acceptance, self-compassion and compassion for others. In this latter type of love, you care because you understand them in your head and your heart. It is a very difficult love to achieve, and one that - I believe- many religions encourage (effectively or not).
(Please note, though, that you must nurture love and acceptance in yourself before feeling this type of love.)
 
avatar
dfromspencer replied to suraiya's response:
I am sorry your mother treated you that way! If only I had a mother that would treat me any way? You see, I lost my mother when I was 17/18, and I miss her soooooooo much!!!

My step father murdered my mother, then killed himself. Be thankful you have a mother, some do not. I would take your mother over no mother. Any day!!!

Forgive yourself, then work on forgiving your mother. Who knows, maybe she'll come around some day?

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
avatar
dfromspencer replied to rohvannyn's response:
Hi Roh,

Well, my friend, I can agree with you on the relatives! I also have some pretty disgusting relatives. My last grandmother lived to be 101 years old, pretty awesome! From the time she was in her 80's on, most of her family, even the ones that lived a block away, never had the time to come visit, or even to stop in and say hello. Talk about reprehensible, yeah, that would be them!!!

Even when I lived in Colo. I visited her more than they. And I had to drive 1000 miles to see her, not walk down the block. I even went so far as to confront some of them, their answers were always the same, we have our own families to worry about. Really? I would tell them that, without that lady, you wouldn't be here to have that family. It never helped a bit. All she ever wanted from her children, and grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, was a little visit. They couldn't even do that. Reprehensible, yep that's them all right!!! I can no longer stand the sight of them. They all think they are better than everyone else, fact! Pittiful!!!

I get where you're coming from, I certainly do!

Take care, my friend!!!

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
avatar
suraiya replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
Thank you Leslie. This helps and I think this is the only way to deal with this and I can do it, I just never thought in this way before and I could never accept that it is ok not to have everything in life. How can we afford to forget that there are so much love and caring in people all around us and also in nature to breathe in and to take in.. and yes all I tried to prove myself that I accept myself and love myself, never actually admitting my true feelings to my self. ..yes I felt ignored, insecured, unloved, unwanted but it should never have the power to take away my compassion for myself and others.

( last day I posted my writing just after talking with my mother over phone being away from thousands of miles. I felt exhausted, disturbed, lost, alone, nobody to share. I am so much more better now sharing and getting response. Who knows, who will really care you when you desparately need it, I always believe there is definitely somebody for me somewhere, right at the moment I need her/him. THANK YOU so much. All you have responsed, you have no idea how much this means to me.)
 
avatar
suraiya replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
Thank you so much Leslie. This is so much helpful I just never thought in this way. You are rith Love and compassion can flourish into full exptent only when comes from within, indepentdent of anythingelse. You open up my eyes to the self acceptance instead of deniel and trying to prove. All I need is to cultivate true acceptance and compassion for self and all others. being born on earth, we are never alone and we never know who is going to care when we really need it. Thank you so much everybody who responded to my writing and cared me when I desparately need it. This help is priceless.


Featuring Experts

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a well-respected psychologist, who is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotio...More

Helpful Tips

Trust
Was this Helpful?
1 of 5 found this helpful

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.