A friend posted an article titled, “What Do Grown Children Owe Their Abusive Parents?” and it was so clear in analysis that I also wanted to share it more widely. This was a timely read, as I was recently contacted by a relative who communicates with my parents with an inquiry about what it would take for me to reach out to them. I am certain that the effort was for the purpose of bringing me back into my parent’s sphere so that I could support them in some way. They are not well and are getting on in years. Additionally, the hubby also periodically receives letters from his parents with much the same intent. We have not been too confident in how we’ve responded to the requests, but we do know that we don’t feel we could engage with either set of parents as the relationship existed before our individual separation from each.
As far as I am concerned, the notion of forgiveness is a mutual process whereby attrition byway of the perpetrator and benevolence byway of the victim, is a process for redefining and rebuilding toward a healthier relationship for each party. That idea was explained so clearly in this article as being necessary toward a true and positive change in the abusive parent/child relationship. As my parents have never asked for forgiveness, nor care to take responsibility for their abusive parenting, it has never made any kind of sense to me that I should be the one to approach them. As for the hubby, the various efforts from his parents have arrived to him with excuses and twisted logic rather than with any true effort toward accountability. We are part of the “many” referenced in the statement, “After all, many adult children of abusers have never heard a word of regret from their parent or parents. People who have the capacity to ruthlessly maltreat their children tend toward self-justification, not shame.”
On a personal level, I came to this conclusion a long time ago, but this piece is helpful in explaining to others who expect us to forgive and move on. This piece offers an outsider perspective about why our standing firm in a lacking relationship with our parents is actually a healthy alternative to normative parent-child relationships which would occasion more abuse. We are determined to break the cycle of abuse and move on toward a healthy future while letting them live as they wish without harm to us or our children.