Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
But I'm A Mother, Too! The Mother's Day and Father's Day Dilemma
BUT I’M A MOTHER, TOO!
THE MOTHER’S DAY AND FATHER’S DAY DILEMMAS
By Reverend Renee
“THE SORROWS FOR THE APPOINTED FEASTS I WILL REMOVE FROM YOU; THEY ARE A BURDEN AND A REPROACH TO YOU. AT THAT TIME I WILL DEAL WITH ALL WHO OPPRESSED YOU; I WILL RESCUE THE LAME AND GATHER THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SCATTERED. I WILL GIVE THEM PRAISE AND HONOR IN EVERY LAND WHERE THEY WERE PUT TO SHAME. AT THAT TIME I WILL GATHER YOU; AT THAT TIME I WILL BRING YOU HOME. I WILL GIVE YOU HONOR AND PRAISE AMONG ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH WHEN I RESTORE YOUR FORTUNES BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES” ….Zephaniah 3:18-20 NIV.
What kind of Mother’s Day card can we buy for a mother who relentlessly criticizes everything we do? How about a mother who likes to pit all her children against each other, or one who has turned other family members against us? Do they make cards for demanding or manipulative mothers, or mothers who still scream at us, call us vile names, or lie and gossip about us? What kind of card will express a sentiment appropriate for a mother who beat us black and blue all throughout our childhoods? Or one who won’t give up control and still insists on trying to run our lives, even behind our backs if necessary? How about the mother who steals from us? Or the mother who ruins every nice family gathering by starting a fight? Or the mother who spent our entire childhood falling down drunk while we fended for ourselves and tried our best to take care of our younger siblings? Or the mother who screams at our kids, hurts their feelings, or calls them names?
Are there any cards out there for the mothers who refused to protect us from the fathers or stepfathers who abused us or sexually molested us? I don’t recall ever seeing a card thanking Mom for staying married to the man who raped us repeatedly when we were kids. Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing a Father’s Day card either, that we could give to our abusive fathers without choking on every sappy word.
I remember searching, often in vain, for a card that just said “Best Wishes Father” or “Happy Father’s Day to You Dad”, and nothing else, so that I wouldn’t feel like a complete hypocrite giving it to my abusive birth-father. I was tired of cringing as he made a big show of opening my cards in front of the rest of the family and reading them aloud (which he always did), smugly gloating over and seeming to actually believe every hypocritical word, as if I had written them myself. It took a while to dawn on me that he was using my cards as some kind of proof to his audience that he really was a kind and loving patriarch, despite what they might think.
My birth-father was getting narcissistic supply from these cards. Never mind that everything they said was a crock of baloney. Narcissists love to be the center of attention. They also strive to keep the family secrets and present the perfect little family picture to others, because they don’t want to embarrass themselves. Yes, they DO know that their behavior is unacceptable to most people and needs to be covered up. If they’re so sure that they’re always right, then why go to such lengths to hide what they do? Stand up and be proud! But presenting a false picture to others is the narcissist’s M.O. I felt tainted and dishonest when my birth-father did this because, willing or not, I had been a party to his deception and lies.
Narcissists, and especially sociopaths, are also very calculating. They know they might be able to benefit from looking good. Always scheming and alert for an opportunity to exploit, Daddy Darling frequently tried to use me to give himself credibility and legitimacy as a father and all around nice guy, often introducing himself as my father to people I associated with socially, professionally, and in the veteran’s community where I was fairly well-known after twenty years of advocacy, and then asking them for favors. Imagine having the nerve to put your grown child in this position? I always made sure to inform my friends and colleagues that we were NOT on good terms and they should NOT do him any special favors just because he claimed to be my father. I didn’t even want to be associated with him, much less have people I knew doing him favors as a favor to me.
So, what message was I sending my abuser with a syrupy, sentimental card? Was he going to think that no matter how wickedly he behaved, no matter what sadistic, malicious and evil things he did, he could get away with it, because I was a clueless idiot who still valued him and thought he was the best daddy ever?
And just in case the rest of the family didn’t quite appreciate how superior, all-knowing, and perfect he was, my cards were conveniently providing him with the means to flaunt it at them. They squirmed uncomfortably while, in a loud clear voice and with a smarmy smirk, he pompously read every ridiculous word about how we shared so many happy memories, how I could always come to him with my problems, and how I was so grateful for the loving way he raised me and the great influence he was in my life. I owed him everything! He molded my very character! He taught me kindness, courage, patience, honesty, and integrity! His loving guidance and strong moral example made me the person I am today! Just because a store-bought card said it, it must really be true! Yuck! His arrogance was mind-numbing. For years I gagged every time he did this, until it finally dawned on me to start buying generic cards (Happy Father’s Day to a Nice Person). Still not true, but at least it was an improvement over the cards meant for REAL fathers, which were the equivalent of giving MY father a gold medal for being an abuser.
During the Mother’s Day / Father’s Day months, we are bombarded with painful reminders of what we don’t have and never had. Reminders of wonderful, loving, supportive mother/daughter or son and father/daughter or son relationships that other people have, and that we have trouble comprehending could even exist. Store displays with rows of maudlin cards thanking mom and dad for all their love, caring, and sacrifices. I don’t know about you, but the only thing my mother ever sacrificed was ME. Malls full of sentimental tee-shirts, plaques, jewelry, candles, pillows, pictures, baseball caps, key rings, quilts, wall hangings and anything else merchandisers can possibly convince us to lavish on our loving parents. Specially wrapped boxes of chocolates. Bouquets of flowers in special Mother’s Day vases or planters, with special Mother’s Day ribbons.
Every time we turn on the TV or open a newspaper we are treated to advertisements urging us to express our love and gratitude to dear old mom and dad. Gifts certificates, coupons, restaurants inviting you to bring mom in for a special meal on her special day. Reservations suggested, of course, because Mother’s Day is the busiest restaurant day of the year. And we can’t help but think that the last thing we need is to suffer warily through a meal that is bound to go downhill at any minute and for no discernable reason, in the middle of a mobbed restaurant full of loving families who truly are having a great time and enjoying each other’s company.
If we do go out to dinner, as we observe the families at other tables, it becomes harder and harder to deny our reality. The glaring differences between our family and theirs will be driven home to us like a slap in the face. Any minute now it will start- the put-downs, the snide remarks, the false accusations, the complaints, the insults, the bossiness, the arguments. We feel tense and uncomfortable, surprised to realize that we’re not having a very good time, and irritated with ourselves for expecting anything else, when we should have learned by now. We force ourselves to smile, but we feel surprisingly close to tears.
Celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day presents many painful dilemmas to those of us who still have our abusers in our lives. For those of us who are no longer in contact with our abusers, there is the inevitable pang of sorrow for what we’re missing out on, and what we’ve always missed out on. No, it’s not fair. It’s sad, and it’s depressing. And there are millions of us out there, who are going through exactly the same heartache.
So, what now? How are we going to take these lemons and turn them into lemonade? The answer lies in creating our own new traditions. Some of us choose to ignore these holidays, stay away from the malls, and avoid situations that bring up painful thoughts or memories. Some of us distract ourselves, use the day to clean out our closets, or lock ourselves in our apartment with a good movie or a good book, and take the phone off the hook until tomorrow.
Those who still have contact with their abusive parents might “honor” them by sending flowers or calling a few days before, and then planning a weekend getaway on the actual holiday, by themselves or with friends. Some go to the movies for the day, treat themselves to a jumbo popcorn, and contentedly munch their way through two or three films. Some invite friends over for a Sunday dinner party, barbeque, or card game, with no mention of it being Mother’s or Father’s Day. Some roll up their sleeves and get their vegetable or flower gardens planted. One sister I know makes herself a nice pot of coffee and spends Mother’s Day writing out and addressing her Christmas cards, which she buys the year before during the after-Christmas sales.
Do you have a nice elderly lady or gentleman neighbor who will be spending these holidays alone? Why not invite her or him to join you for a meal and a movie? How about visiting your local hospital, nursing home, or veteran’s home and reading to a bedridden patient? Or volunteering to take a few dogs from your local animal shelter out for a walk? Why not share your lemonade and brighten someone else’s day?
Those of us with children of our own need to shift our mindset a bit- to where WE ARE THE MOTHER or WE ARE THE FATHER in the family. We are no longer the CHILD in our mother’s family. We are the MOTHER in our children’s family. We are no longer the CHILD in our father’s family. We are the FATHER in our children’s family. It is almost universal in abusive families that the older generation expects to be treated like beloved patriarchs and matriarchs, catered to, and lavished with attention on these holidays, while barely even acknowledging in passing that their children are now mothers and fathers too. THEY are not raising children anymore, WE are. But the idea that OUR parenthood should also be celebrated is a foreign concept to our narcissistic relatives. That needs to change, if not in their minds, at least in ours. After all, this isn’t the Royal Family, where we have to wait for the king and queen to pass the baton or drop dead before the next generation can step up and take the throne. We are the heads of our OWN families now, the new generation of matriarchs and patriarchs, the present-day Moms and Dads. Now it’s time for US to be treated nicely and appreciated. Time to let our children have fun trying to make Mother’s Day and Father’s Day special for us. Time for us to enjoy this day with our own families and make it OUR day. Time to claim it for ourselves.
The key to changing things is to plan ahead. Plan right now what we are going to do differently this year- either ignoring these days and treating them like any other, or celebrating in new and special ways. Decide not to do anything this year that you dread doing. Think of whatever would make you happy and do it, instead. Think of whatever would bring you peace and enjoyment, and then do it. If you can think of a way to share your lemonade with someone else, especially someone who might be sad or lonely, even better. Go out and share the love of God with them.
We can refuse to spend these holidays upset and depressed. We can put negative associations out of our heads and refuse to dwell on them. We can replace them with positives and make up our minds to have a nice day despite our birth-families or our past history. It’s a new day, and God has made everything new again. We have a choice, so let’s make those changes and declare that these are OUR holidays now, with gratitude and praise for our REAL Father.
THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE WICKED SAITH WITHIN MY HEART, THAT THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE HIS EYES. FOR HE FLATTERETH HIMSELF IN HIS OWN EYES, UNTIL HIS INIQUITY BE FOUND TO BE HATEFUL. THE WORDS OF HIS MOUTH ARE INIQUITY AND DECEIT: HE HATH LEFT OFF TO BE WISE, AND TO DO GOOD. HE DEVISETH MISCHIEF UPON HIS BED; HE SETTETH HIMSELF IN A WAY THAT IS NOT GOOD; HE ABHORRETH NOT EVIL….Psalms 36:1-4 KJV.
I HATE ALL YOUR SHOW AND PRETENSE- THE HYPOCRISY OF YOUR RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS AND SOLEMN ASSEMBLIES….Amos 5:21 NLT.
HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD, YOU RULERS OF SODOM; GIVE EAR TO THE LAW OF OUR GOD, YOU PEOPLE OF GOMORRAH: “TO WHAT PURPOSE IS THE MULTITUDE OF YOUR SACRIFICES TO ME?” SAYS THE LORD. “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF BURNT OFFERINGS OF RAMS AND THE FAT OF FED CATTLE. I DO NOT DELIGHT IN THE BLOOD OF BULLS, OR OF LAMBS OR GOATS. WHEN YOU COME TO APPEAR BEFORE ME, WHO HAS REQUIRED THIS FROM YOUR HAND, TO TRAMPLE MY COURTS? BRING NO MORE FUTILE SACRIFICES; INCENSE IS AN ABOMINATION TO ME. THE NEW MOONS, THE SABBATHS, AND THE CALLING OF ASSEMBLIES- I CANNOT ENDURE INIQUITY AND THE SACRED MEETING. YOUR NEW MOONS AND YOUR APPOINTED FEASTS MY SOUL HATES; THEY ARE A TROUBLE TO ME, I AM WEARY OF BEARING THEM. WHEN YOU SPREAD OUT YOUR HANDS, I WILL HIDE MY EYES FROM YOU; EVEN THOUGH YOU MAKE MANY PRAYERS, I WILL NOT HEAR. YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD. WASH YOURSELVES, MAKE YOURSELVES CLEAN; PUT AWAY THE EVIL OF YOUR DOINGS FROM BEFORE MY EYES. CEASE TO DO EVIL, LEARN TO DO GOOD; SEEK JUSTICE, REBUKE THE OPPRESSOR; DEFEND THE FATHERLESS, PLEAD FOR THE WIDOW”….Isaiah 1:10-17 NKJV.
NO ONE SEWS A PATCH OF UNSHRUNK CLOTH ON AN OLD GARMENT. IF HE DOES, THE NEW PIECE WILL PULL AWAY FROM THE OLD, MAKING THE TEAR WORSE. AND NO ONE POURS NEW WINE INTO OLD WINESKINS. IF HE DOES, THE WINE WILL BURST THE SKINS, AND BOTH THE WINE AND THE WINESKINS WILL BE RUINED. NO, HE POURS NEW WINE INTO NEW WINESKINS….Mark 2:21-22 NIV.
AND I HEARD A GREAT VOICE OUT OF HEAVEN SAYING, BEHOLD, THE TABERNACLE OF GOD IS WITH MEN, AND HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, AND THEY SHALL BE HIS PEOPLE, AND GOD HIMSELF SHALL BE WITH THEM, AND BE THEIR GOD. AND GOD SHALL WIPE AWAY ALL TEARS FROM THEIR EYES; AND THERE SHALL BE NO MORE DEATH, NEITHER SORROW, NOR CRYING, NEITHER SHALL THERE BE ANY MORE PAIN: FOR THE FORMER THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY. AND HE THAT SAT UPON THE THRONE SAID, BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW…..Revelation 21: 3-5 KJV.
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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.