My sister and niece were in from Seattle last week. They stayed with my parents. Apparently our parents were, let’s just say obsessing about something, so my sister sent me a text:

Was our family always this dysfunctional?

Of course the answer is yes and no. My parents have gotten more set in their ways as time has gone on. But, there was always lots of crazy going on in the house.

Whenever I’ve written about my family I get a variety of responses from readers.

  1. I shouldn’t talk badly about my parents
  2. I should get over my past
  3. I shouldn’t expect my parents to apologize
  4. What would I say if my daughter said things like that about me

Which leads me to my conclusions:

  1. those who have had a relatively functional childhood can’t understand those who didn’t
  2. just because someone turned out relatively OK doesn’t mean they don’t have demons
  3. Sometimes the person who never speaks ill of their childhood is far worse off than those who complain because they are pushing their feelings aside
  4. if your child tells you how your actions affected them, you should listen with an open mind

I think that people should learn to move on from the mistakes of their parents. I firmly believe at some point you have to stop blaming your parents for your failures.

However

It doesn’t mean that parents are blameless.

The actions of parents do affect the person you were, the person you are, and the person you will become. Your background matters.

I know that I have made some mistakes with my life because I was trying to get my parents approval. I tried to do the things they wanted me to do instead of what I wanted to do. Bottom line: This made me a very unhappy person.

In order to become a more content, more stable person, I needed to admit to myself that my parents were wrong about a lot of things. They made mistakes.

This does not mean I love them less. I just accepted that they are human and flawed. They thought life should be lived a certain way- they weren’t trying to hurt me. They were doing the best that they could.

But this doesn’t mean I won’t talk about what they did, especially to them. I don’t need an apology when I talk to them. I would like them to listen with an open mind. Listen to my point of view. I don’t expect them to like the criticism. I do expect them to love me enough to hear my out. I hope that they love me enough to listen.

Is there anything worse than someone you love not listening to you?

Lack of communication is one of the largest problems we face as humans.

If your kids are talking to you, you need to listen.

Which leads me to the next point:

What if my daughter said the same things to me.

First off: I know I have made parenting mistakes. I’ve probably made more mistakes than done things right. My daughter will tell me if I’m doing something that hurts her. I admit, it hurts to have your child be truthful with you about your parenting.

It really hurts.

Sometimes I want to cover my ears and not listen.

But I realize that if I am to have an adult child/parent relationship with her, I need to listen. I need to hear her out. I need to acknowledge that I have, at times, been a lousy parent. I need her to get things out so that we can move on to a better relationship. I want to have a good relationship with my daughter as time goes on. We can only have that relationship if we communicate.

We do need to accept our pasts and move on. But we also need to acknowledge the feelings that come along with it.

72 thoughts on “Put the Fun is Dysfunction

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with you. Parenting is a tricky game and some folks care enough to try and some don’t give a rats ass. I don’t dwell on my parents’ parenting flaws/mistakes, but I tried my best not to repeat them. I try to set boundaries and respect the ones my adult children have. Great post.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Good morning LA. I agree whole-heartedly with you in all of this. Speaking of daughters… one of mine, the one who was leaving for Colorado in 2 weeks… that’s on hold as she was rock climbing with friends and now has a broken ankle waiting on surgery. She, and her cat are now living with me (!) as she also had to be out of her apartment by the weekend and can’t do much for herself anyway. Only telling you all this (there will be a blog post) as I will be reading steadily but perhaps not commenting as much for awhile, until some of this chaos gets straightened out.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think it is healthier to talk about and deal with your parental issues. It’s unhealthy to pretend they don’t exist or to bury them. It’s also unhealthy to never see the fault in your parents and live your entire life trying to please them

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think that those of us that had difficult or toxic relationships with our parents are more willing to to want or even need that open communication with our own kids. I think we are also more likely to admit to and own our faults as well. I know I do everything I can to ensure that my kids are willing to talk to me or call me out when they feel the need. I’m endlessly grateful that they feel comfortable enough to do so as it means I managed to at least do that part right.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Some dysfunction is more damaging than others. But nothing good comes from suppressing or repressing pain. Get it out and if possible, discuss it with the person who did it, even if they didn’t mean to hurt you. Peel that scab off so the wound can heal, but don’t make new wounds. As far as the kids, boy can it hurt when they tell me how I’ve failed to love them as I should have, but I do love them so I want to apologize and do better. It’s an essential part of stopping the cycle.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I read a few blogs that talk about religion, pastors etc. One blog talked about this guy Abraham Piper who makes these snarky tiktok videos sometimes about religion. His dad is a well known pastor named John Piper who has some very odd views. I can only imagine it was dysfunctional to grow up in the Piper household.
    Abraham Piper, as far as I can tell doesn’t mention his dad in the videos. Some commenters say he has no right to express his opinion in these videos in a public way and that he is embarrassing his parents. I know nothing about Abraham Piper but I think it is interesting that people are uncomfortable with Abraham Piper telling his truth when they gave his dad an unlimited platform.
    I grew up in a very dysfunctional family–influenced by my parents interpretations of their faith. I had a lightbulb moment about some of what happened to me a while ago while reading some social media posts. Even when you don’t expect it that dysfunction is always lurking there.
    Feel free to talk about the dysfunction LA.
    I’ve tried to be more analytical when raising my kids and be open to their feedback and not become defensive.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think we become defensive but no one wants to feel attacked. But sometimes you need to listen to the criticism, especially if something is important to you, like your kids. It’s the only way we make things better

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Absolutely agree with everything you said. It took my daughter (the psych major of course) to show me that what I was saying and doing had been harmful to her and her siblings. Then II realized that I was doing/saying those things because of what my mom had told me. Fortunately, I was able to listen and understand. The adult child/parent relationship is very important to foster. Do I love my mom less, absolutely not. Do I tell her about the missteps she made? Sometimes, but she is 97 and pretty set in her ways. I do try to help her understand the changing times though.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. When I’m getting ready to ask my kids something they might think is none of my business I start with “I’m trying not be sound like Grandma but…”. I treat my mom the same way Janet does and get the same result except with two caveats from her that can drive me up a wall and in the long run don’t change anything: (1) “I know I was/am a terrible mother; (2) That’s what I learned from my mother.”

      Liked by 2 people

  8. it hurts to have your child be truthful with you about your parenting. Yes, it does. Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook and we all make mistakes. I see our oldest making parenting mistakes with her children and it’s hard to know how to address them without sounding critical and condescending. Open communication is best and when coupled with sincerity, can help diffuse tension. But, there will always be those situations where an explosion (of some sort) is simply unavoidable.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The most revealing remark and one I will remember today is those who will not talk of their childhoods. I think of people I have been close with and try to imagine what might have been experienced. To talk is to accept and move forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Seems to me you have the right idea. I’m glad you can listen to your daughter when she has an issue about your parenting. I wish there could have been some sort of mature dialogue with my mother, but it simply wasn’t possible.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A wonderful truth, LA. I agree wholeheartedly. The only way we can create the person we want to be, is by acknowledging the things (actions, feelings, etc.) from the past that we still hurt from today, so we can learn to accept it, and let it go. Inside of this work comes a clearing, so that we can take in more of all the awesomeness of being a human being. Great post, my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I tell my 20yr old son that his job is to take the best of his Dad’s qualities & parenting, the best of mine, & leave all our shit bits behind as he matures into his own life and his own ways. He seems to like that! And your blog post is very honest; my Mum was a bit of a nightmare as far as I was concerned, and not every childhood is idyllic nor blame-free. But we all learn, grow, adapt, & hopefully evolve… 🙏🏼❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Mostly it goes on, the same rough pattern. Most children especially adolescents feel hemmed in by parental controls etc and feel rebellious and alienated. However, those children later when they grow and have kids, mostly encounter the same problems! And their kids feel what they felt.. so on and on it goes

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No, most people don’t like to hear about family dysfunction, it makes them uncomfortable and they’d rather it was tidied up out of sight. I’ve challenged poor behaviour by family members in the past, but generally avoided doing so in front of non family members, to save them (the non family members) from feeling uncomfortable. More recently, when I’ve seen that reticence is being taken advantage of, I’ve put aside those feelings of discomfort and refuted the BS briefly but firmly.

    The key things – as many commenters have said – is to ensure that you don’t repeat the mistakes of past generations. You’re going to make enough mistakes of your own to regret and apologise for.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yup. I was asked by a friend to coach her adopted daughter as there was a difficult relationship between her & both parents. In the end, I withdrew from the task as I felt they all needed to go into family therapy, and I don’t coach friends. Both parents were repeating those behaviours of their own parents which had made them unhappy as children which, although baffling to me, is all too common.

        Liked by 2 people

  15. It doesn’t make sense unless you’re unaware. It was horribly obvious to me in one short visit to their home, but I guess the saying about wood & trees wouldn’t exist if there weren’t truth in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is such a potent and painful topic, our parenting, and the parenting we received. It matters, it’s difficult to face, especially when I screw up, and I’m being called out by one of my kids. Love your solution of listening, accepting, and moving on…C

    Liked by 2 people

  17. So agree about acknowledging our faults, NO ONE is a perfect parent and if you think you are , you definitely aren’t!
    Yes, it does hurt to know you messed up but like you said, it creates a stronger bond if your child knows tnat they can be honest with you and that you truly care about their feelings!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Coming from a dysfunctional family I am with you on these points. I was determined not to make the mistakes my parents did with my children and in turn I probably made different mistakes. You can’t be perfect because every situation requires a human to make decisions. As your parents get older some of the things that bother you the most are things you see in yourself to some degree. We just become more of what we are.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great read. Our upbringing is apart of us. We know that we must do better than our family, and hope our kids do better than us and so forth.
    Stay Safe&Smart

    Liked by 1 person

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