The Old Age Excuses: He's Old- So He's Entitled /That's How They Get
THE OLD AGE EXCUSES-
SHE’S OLD- THAT’S HOW THEY GET
HE’S OLD- SO HE’S ENTITLED
By Rev. Renee
HE WHO BRINGS
One of our sisters was kind enough to remind me of the “Old Age Excuse” for abuse, so popular with abusers and their Silent Partners. Our sister mentioned the excuses “She’s old, they get that way” and “She’s old, so she’s entitled. You’d be that way too, if you were her age.”
The Lord has led me to write about these Old Age Excuses and I glorify him for his wisdom and guidance. Thank you also to our sister and God bless you for caring enough to contact me with the idea for this article.
THE ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY
Entitlement is a concept unique to narcissistic abusers and their Silent Partners. There is no such thing as being “entitled” to mistreat another person. NOTHING “entitles” you to walk all over a family member, or to cause pain for someone else. Nobody, by virtue of their age, or anything else, “deserves” to be allowed to hurt others.
I have a silly picture in my mind of me, surrounded by my loving family, blowing out the candles on my 60th birthday cake, and then turning around with a wicked grin on my face and saying, “Oh, goody, goody, now I can FINALLY start abusing you all, and there’s nothing you can do about it! You have to let me get away with it from now on, because I’m officially OLD!”. Seriously, what are the chances of our relatives accepting OUR advancing age as a valid excuse for US to abuse THEM? How come age doesn’t mean anything when it’s the VICTIM who’s getting older?
A narcissist’s typical mindset consists of “Me, me, me”, “Me first”, “Only Me”, “Pay attention to Me”, “It’s all about Me”, “My wishes are the only ones that count”, “You don’t matter unless you are giving Me what I want, or I can use you in some way”, “I have the right to do anything I like and behave however I want to”, and “I’m entitled to whatever I want.” And the answer the rest of us need to have to this outrageous arrogance is, “You wish!”
There is no difference between a young narcissist and an old one. They’re all the same, and they all think they’re “special”. But that doesn’t mean they really ARE special. Wishing doesn’t make it so! Their concept of being a “special person” is not in the least bit rooted in reality. Being old doesn’t make you special. We all get old. Being loving, caring and kind, being honorable and truthful, having integrity and righteousness- these are the things that make you special. Your CHARACTER is what makes you a special person, not your age, your looks, or any other physical trait.
Entitlement is a weird thing in some people’s minds. Recently I was involved in a conversation concerning a perfectly healthy, manipulative and abusive mother in her late 60s. I found it incredible, and more than a little creepy, when her “well-meaning” Silent Partner gave me a meaningful look and said, “She doesn’t have much time left, you know. You need to think about that”, as if we should all let her do anything she wants because she’s got one foot in the grave- which she most certainly does not!
My response to this was, “No, SHE needs to think about that.” If her time is really so limited, is she going to choose to waste it by continuing to hurt her children and causing them to avoid her? Or is she going to change her ways and make the most of the time she has left? The choice to improve her relationships is the abuser’s, and the best response to such a nonsensical statement is to throw it right back in her lap.
Nowhere in the Bible are we taught to make allowances for wickedness and evil behavior- and certainly not just because the abuser is old. In fact, FATHERS ( the “older” generation) are the ones who are admonished not to exasperate or provoke their children. “FATHERS, DO NOT EXASPERATE YOUR CHILDREN; INSTEAD, BRING THEM UP IN THE TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION OF THE LORD”…..Ephesians 6:4NIV, “FATHERS, PROVOKE NOT YOUR CHILDREN TO ANGER, LEST THEY BECOME DISCOURAGED”……Colossians 3:21KJV.
It doesn’t say that it’s okay for a father (or a mother) to start provoking his children after he reaches a certain age. It just says “DON’T DO IT.” Period. God makes no distinction based on age. Whether the parent is 30 or 80 doesn’t make any difference. The Bible does not teach us that age “entitles” a parent to abuse her children. The Bible does not teach us that ANYONE is “entitled” to mistreat ANYONE ELSE for ANY reason! Entitlement is another preposterous excuse that exists only in the minds of the abuser and his Silent Partners. There is no such thing as being “entitled” to hurt other people.
SHE ONLY ABUSES YOU BECAUSE SHE’S OLD- OTHERWISE, SHE WOULD BE NICE!??
Age is often trotted out as an excuse for abuse by abusers and especially their Silent Partners. When I was a child, and because of my role models, I thought that it was a given that you would get mean as you got old. But later on in life, I learned that this was simply not true. In fact, what is true is that if you have always been a nice, kind, loving person, you will still be that way in your old age. And if you have always been nasty, intimidating, manipulative, rude, sneaky, hateful, abusive, obnoxious, or a user, you always will be. You might get a little worse as you age, becoming bitter and lonely as you realize that nobody is willing to put up with you anymore. But you’re not going to do a 360 and take on a whole new personality that you never had before, just because you are now a senior citizen.
In my late 40s, I worked as a church secretary, and learned the truth about “nasty” old people. The congregation had a great many senior citizens, and working with them was my first real eye-opener. The cheerfulness, kindness, and love in their hearts was an inspiration. I knew people in their 80s who were visiting and helping shut-ins in their 60s. They were always ready to help someone else less fortunate, and treated other people with care, consideration, thoughtfulness, and concern. They had aged with grace, and taught me that I, too, could choose to age well. They were a joy to be around and I looked forward to my time with them every day. I did not meet one nasty old grouch the whole time I worked there. If getting old turns you into an abuser, then how do you explain all of them?
My two American Bulldogs are therapy dogs, and my husband and I have taken them to nursing homes for many years. We have logged over 150 visits to various facilities. Although there are a few cranky, irritable seniors in these places, which is understandable due to their health conditions, the vast majority are as sweet as sugar. They are welcoming and appreciative that we are visiting them, instead of ungrateful and belligerent like our relatives. They are polite and nice, never rude. They are adorable with the dogs. Even though they are living in a nursing home and dealing with a variety of illnesses and aches and pains, they are still pleasant and considerate of others. If getting old is a valid excuse for mistreating others, then how do you explain all of them?
On the other hand, my birth-father, for example, has been rude, belligerent, manipulative, insulting, belittling, treacherous, underhanded, and bullying for as long as I can remember. He was just as malicious, offensive, conniving, and hostile in his 40s and 50s as he is in his 80s. He has been hateful his whole life. He always has been, and always will be, an ugly, toxic, low-life. In fact, almost every abuser I know has always been an abuser. They didn’t magically turn into abusers just because they grew older. It doesn’t have to be that way. Abuse is still a choice, whether you’re 30 or 90.
Of course, if your relative has a specific medical condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can cause them to be rude or irritable. We need to ask ourselves if this is out of character for her, which would indicate the onset of some illness. We also need to make a distinction between occasional inappropriateness or grouchiness, and abuse. Abuse is ongoing and greater in scope than a rare show of bad temper. Yes, we should be patient with her behavior if it results from an ACTUAL illness (not some “personality disorder” that we could all claim to have), and the best way to tell this is to compare her current behavior with her past behavior. If she has never acted this way before, then it would be reasonable to blame a medical condition. Not just “old age” in general, but a specific illness. However, if she has ALWAYS been abusive and caused pain for others, then we can’t blame it on old age and its infirmities.
I have heard Dr. Phil say that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It is true that abusers do not mellow with age, and might get worse as they get older. But they were still abusers when they were younger. They were always abusers. And if they didn’t want to be alone in their old age, then they should have thought of that before they spent their lives alienating their families and driving everyone away. For an abuser, it is a Natural Consequence of his own decisions and behavior that he should spend his old age alone. If the fact that he will age alone because of the way he treats people is not of any concern to him while he’s busy having a field day tormenting his victims, then there is no reason for it to be of any concern to us, either.
After all, many of us qualify as senior citizens, too- and yet, instead of getting away with abusing others, we are still the ones being abused. WE can’t use OUR advancing age as an excuse to get away with murder, so to speak, or even to just be left in peace. How come nobody thinks WE should finally be treated well, with kindness, tolerance, and respect, no matter how old WE get? When is it our turn to have a loving family take care of us? Who makes allowances for us being “set in our ways”, or tolerates our increasing inability to take on all the family holidays with no help?
I know women in their 70s who are still being abused by their 90-year old mothers. I got my first AARP invitation 7 years ago, but my birth-father still thinks he can bully and threaten me- which is why I continue to refuse contact with him. We could be 100, and our families would still be abusing and exploiting us. Advancing age, aches and pains, moodiness, even serious illnesses don’t cut any ice when it comes to giving the victim a break. As usual, our problems don’t earn us any understanding, consideration, or thoughtfulness at all. Our problems are completely ignored, while more abuse is heaped on, and the Silent Partners keep on defending the abuser instead of standing up for her victims. If getting older entitles one to special treatment, then why doesn’t it apply to us? Where is OUR special treatment? (See the article When Is It Ever Going To Be My Turn?)
I believe that if WE can’t use “getting older” as an excuse, then neither can anybody else. There are just too many nice, kindly older people around for age to be a valid excuse. In reality, it is offensive and insulting to senior citizens everywhere to assume that they’re going to be abusive and hard to get along with just because of their age. No other demographic group would appreciate us painting them all with the same brush. It’s obnoxious to lump a whole group of people together based on a physical trait, and demeaning not to view them as individuals capable of being rational and controlling their own behavior. That is an unfair prejudice and a form of age discrimination.
Abusers do not mellow with age, and advancing age does not necessarily make an abuser any less treacherous or dangerous to be exposed to. In the article "Some Things Just Never Change" on our website, I have written the latest details of the never-ending story of my 89-year old birth-father, who managed to get my unlisted phone number after 10 years of no contact, and then took less than 5 minutes to resume the threats, blackmail, name-calling, bullying, and conniving he always used. Malicious, cunning, abusive old people were always malicious, cunning, and abusive. They didn’t suddenly turn into monsters when they got their first Social Security check.
So, before you accept another lame excuse for abuse, think back and ask yourself if your relative’s behavior has only recently changed and become a problem, or if in reality, he’s been that way pretty much as long as you can remember. If your abuser is a sibling, then you’ve known her all her life. Was she always a sweetie in the past, or was she always a problem? If your abuser is a parent, and you have reached your mid-30s, chances are you’ll have accurate and detailed memories of him when he was your age. What was he like back then? Do YOU now act the way he did at your age? How well did he treat you, and other people, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago? What are his other long-term relationships and friendships like now- or doesn’t he have any? In the past, was he well-loved and a joy to be around, or is the truth that nobody could ever stand him, even when he was much younger and “in his prime”?
There is no obligation or need for us to sacrifice our own happiness and expose ourselves and our families to more of our abuser’s mistreatment just because he burned all his bridges, is now elderly, and didn’t plan ahead for the time when he would be. I’ve always said that you tell the kind of life a person has led by the crowd, or lack of same, at the funeral parlor when he dies. Sometimes the only tiny shred of justice a victim is going to see in her own lifetime is the chickens coming home to roost in her abuser’s life.
God does not tell us to tolerate abuse under any circumstances. There is no Biblical precedent for allowing anyone to abuse another person, there is no Scriptural teaching to overlook abuse because the abuser is elderly, and there is no justification for rewarding abuse. There is no reason to reward a lifetime of causing pain for others by being “family” for abusers in their old age. That would be interfering with God’s Law of Sowing and Reaping (Galatians 6: 7-8). Having family and friends in your old age would be the reward of a life well-lived, but abusers choose not to live their lives well. A loving family and friends to care for them is what seniors like the nice old church folks and nursing home residents deserve. Abusers are not “entitled” to that privilege.
***For more on this subject, see the articles on our website, “She Can’t Help The Way She Acts, So You’ll Just Have To Accept It, Forgive Her Anyway, And Not Expect Her To Change” and “Reaping What They Sow- The Natural Consequences of Bad Behavior.”
DO NOT BE DECEIVED: GOD CANNOT BE MOCKED. A MAN REAPS WHAT HE SOWS. THE ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE HIS SINFUL NATURE, FROM THAT NATURE WILL REAP DESTRUCTION; THE ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE THE SPIRIT, FROM THE SPIRIT WILL REAP ETERNAL LIFE…..Galatians 6:7-8 NIV
AS I HAVE OBSERVED, THOSE WHO PLOW EVIL AND THOSE WHO SOW TROUBLE REAP IT. AT THE BREATH OF GOD THEY ARE DESTROYED; AT THE BLAST OF HIS ANGER THEY PERISH. THE LIONS MAY ROAR AND GROWL, YET THE TEETH OF THE GREAT LIONS ARE BROKEN. THE LION PERISHES FOR LACK OF PREY, AND THE CUBS OF THE LIONESS ARE SCATTERED…..Job 4:8-11 NIV
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