Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
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For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
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AUGUST 2007 Newsletter

LUKE 17:3 Ministries

for adult daughters

of controlling or abusive birth-families

A sisterhood for those who seek support in developing self-esteem, setting boundaries and limits, forgiveness, Godly confrontation, recognizing and cutting ties with reprobates, healing, and rejoicing in the peace and love of

 the Lord, our Father

take heed to yourselves.  If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him……..Luke 17:3


VOLUME 5,  ISSUE 3                                                                                                                           AUGUST 2007

Luke 17: 3 is the scripture often misquoted, usually by an abuser or his enabler, when he tells you that the Bible says “Forgive and Forget”, or that you must forgive him because you  are a Christian.  However, Jesus is very specific when he tells us to rebuke the sinner, and if he repents, to forgive him.  Have you rebuked your abuser, and has he or she repented?


If you have ever experienced Adult Child Abuse by a parent, sibling, or other relative, We Welcome You!

Our newsletter is sent to you free-of-charge, as the Lord continually provides. Do you know someone who would like to be on our mailing list? 

If so, please contact:

Rev. Renee Pittelli

Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc.

P.O. Box 684

Chestertown, NY  12817

or E-mail us at:



Please ask about our Luke 17:3 Ministry in Tennessee, founded by Rev. Denise Rossignol.


Thank you Jesus!





By Sister Renee Pittelli


                WOE TO THOSE WHO CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD EVIL….Isaiah 5:20





          When I was a little girl of three years old, my mother taught me how to make coffee.  In a little four-cup perk pot.  On a gas stove.  With an open flame.  That had to be lit with a match.  Not a safety match, but the kind you strike on the back wall.  She made a game of teaching me how to measure the water and the coffee, how to put the pot together, how to turn on the gas and strike the match and hold it near the gas till the flame popped on, how to wait for the coffee to perk, then lower the flame, and set the timer for five minutes.  She smiled and told me what a big girl I was and how smart I was and how well I was doing.  And from then on, she had me make her coffee in the mornings, completely unsupervised, while she remained in bed, two stories above me.  By the way, childrens’ pajamas weren’t flame retardant in those days. (1950s).  Once in a while I would singe a sleeve, but mom had already taught me

(Cont’d on page 2….)

god’s word


     This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God….John 3:19-21 NIV.


     It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.  How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!  His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation…..Daniel 4:2-3NIV.


      He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.  And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us:  this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation…..Isaiah 25:  8-9KJV


The Wisdom Of Proverbs


He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise….Proverbs 11:29

how to put it out with water.  Thank God it never actually burst into flames.

                By the time I was five, I had been taught to make pancakes and eggs, scrambled or sunny-side-up, in hot melted butter, in a frying pan on the same gas stove, and also waffles in a waffle iron.  On the weekends, I made my parents breakfast-in-bed, and carefully carried it all up the two flights of stairs to their room.

                At six, I was standing on a stool to iron flat items such as handkerchiefs, scarves, and bed linens.  By age seven, I was ironing shirts, my mother having taught me how to very carefully do the sleeves and collars.  These items were made of cotton and linen, and the iron was on the hottest setting.

                At age seven I was also cooking dinner every night, and my younger sister and I were doing all the dishes and cleaning up.  This entailed using the stove and oven, as well as a “rotisserie” broiler that my mother liked meats cooked in, and various other kitchen items, such as knives, can and bottle openers, mixers, vegetable peelers, etc. 

                But my mother was really doing me a big favor!  She never tired of telling everyone how my grandmother had “never taught her to cook”, and “how hard it was for her to learn” after she got married.  So it was very important that she taught me (at age five!) so that I “wouldn’t have to go through the same problems she did” when I got married and had to cook for my family.

                By age six, she had also done me the favor of teaching me how to make beds, ( hers, of course, in addition to my own), wash and dry dishes, (standing on a chair to put them away), load the clothes dryer, fold and put away clothes, vacuum, dust, and clean the bathrooms.  I spent many hours of my early childhood scrubbing the black heel marks off the wood floors with steel wool, and then applying paste wax with a big waxing machine.  Lucky me- sounds almost like Cinderella! 

                My sister did some of these chores as well, but I did the lion’s share because I was 3 years older, and I guess a six-year old is a little more capable than a three-year old!  On weekends and during the summers, we were not allowed to leave the house unless everything was done, and often didn’t get to go out and play until mid-afternoon or later.   My mother would not take us to the beach or anywhere else unless the whole house was cleaned first.  We never got to the beach before 3 in the afternoon. 

                The only thing my mother didn’t let me do was load the washing machine, because she was afraid I would turn the dial the wrong way and break the machine, so that  was the one thing she actually did herself.  As a teenager, I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to see her do her own housework after I left home.  But of course, when I married and left home, my lazy mother hired a housekeeper.   She was always well-known as a fanatic about keeping a clean house, as long as she didn’t have to clean it herself.

                By age ten, I was given money and a list and sent to walk the several blocks to the supermarket for food shopping, carrying three or four bags home by myself. 

                From the age of six on, I was responsible for “watching” my younger sister.  I had to take her everywhere with me and had the full responsibility for her safety.  If she did anything naughty, I was yelled at and punished, because I was responsible for her.  I was not allowed to hit her or discipline her, but I wasn’t told what I could do to get her to listen to me.  My mother took afternoon naps for as long as I can remember.  We were put outside during the day and told not to come home till dinnertime (or more precisely, till it was time for me to cook dinner), because my mother didn’t want to be disturbed.  So I was responsible for keeping my birth-sister safe, entertained, and out of trouble for many hours at a time.

                Of course I was chastised and even punished if I failed to do any of these things well.  But mostly I was praised and complimented.  I was made to feel special.  My mother often bragged about me to others.  I remember her proudly telling my aunt how I made entire breakfasts all by myself when I was only five years old.  Obviously, my mother was certifiable, but it is also interesting that my aunt wasn’t even horrified by any of this.  Instead, she was suitably impressed.

                I was so happy and proud of myself.  Never mind that I burned myself on the stove, oven, and iron on a regular basis.  I still have the scars up and down my arms to prove it.  Never mind that I splattered hot grease on myself and spilled boiling liquids on myself from pots too heavy for me to lift properly.  I learned what Unguentine (burn salve) was at a very early age. I never cried, I just sucked it up.  None of that mattered.  I was pleasing my mommy.  She thought I was such a big girl!  I wouldn’t want her to think I was messing up and couldn’t do a good job.  I wouldn’t want her to be disappointed in me. Plus I was so lucky she cared enough about me to “teach” me all these skills for when I’d be a married woman- 20 years down the road!

                Naturally all of this early indoctrination morphed into me being the family “cook” who hosted all the holidays and family events for decades.  That is a whole other story (see My Holiday Deliverance in our Happier Holidays section.)  In my forties, I noticed something interesting while going through our family photographs.  Out of all my childhood pictures, there is not a single one in which I am smiling.  In every shot, my face is somber, serious, and sometimes sad, even in photos of my own birthday parties. And at age 11, I was hospitalized for chronic diarrhea due to nerves.  The solution was to put me on Valium for three years, and I was still expected to get straight As and keep up with my “responsibilities” even though I was now drugged on tranquilizers every day.  Hmmm…Maybe I wasn’t such a happy child after all.

                But not until I had my own children did I understand just what kids are capable of at certain ages.  Before that, I really didn’t know much about children and their development.  With this revelation I realized just how abusive, neglectful, and careless my mother was when I was a child.  Instead of protecting me and being vigilant about my safety, the fact was my own mother endangered me just about every day of my childhood! 

                What parent in their right mind would remain in bed sleeping while a three year old lit a gas stove with a match and made coffee, or while a five year old cooked scrambled eggs in a frying pan with melted butter on the same stove?  What kind of lunatic would let a child so young near an open flame, with the sleeves of her non-flame-retardant bedclothes dangling over the burners?

                What normal mother lets a seven year old cut up slippery tomatoes and fruit with a sharp knife?  No problem- she taught me how to paint iodine or mercurochrome on my cuts and put on my own band-aid.  Who lets a child try to lift heavy pots full of boiling water or hot grease?  Or maneuver a hot iron that is so heavy she can barely lift it?  Remember, in the old days, the irons were made of heavy metal, not lightweight plastic.  If I didn’t get burned from the iron, I usually got burned from the steam. 

                What sane parent would make a six-year old solely responsible for a four-year old, locking both of them out of the house all afternoon to ride their bikes many blocks away?  What sane parent would leave a six-year old unsupervised for that long, even without the younger child?

                After having my own children, I wondered what Child Protective Services would have to say these days about such things if a parent was reported. As an adult, I have read about the “parentification” of children- a type of abuse in which the parent switches roles with the child, and  forces the child to nurture or take care of the parent, or to take on adult physical, mental, or emotional responsibilities.  Five-year olds are not miniature adults. A child who is forced to accomplish things far beyond her capabilities is being abused and endangered.  It is the parent’s job to do her own housekeeping.  It is the parent’s job to feed the child and care for the child, not the other way around.

                But my mother did not hide what she was doing.  She wasn’t the least bit ashamed of herself.  Like I said, she made no secret of my “capabilities” and all the things she had managed to teach me.  She bragged about them.  She seemed to take great pride in me.  She made it seem perfectly fine, all good, even admirable- and the other adults she told seemed to agree.  So all those years, she managed to keep a clean house and raise her children, all the while taking her daily nap and hardly lifting a finger.   All that time her little trained slave did just about everything, happily being thrown a crumb of a compliment and given a hug for a good job.  To me, and to everyone else, my mother came off smelling like a rose.  She had succeeded in making my abuse sound like a good thing, and it served her well till I left home at age 19.




                My b.s. (birth-sister) was a flight attendant who had what some would consider a dangerous job, and a nice life-insurance policy through work.  My birth-father thought he was the beneficiary on this policy.  My b.s was a “mature” woman in her mid-forties, who had traveled the world and was already divorced once when she met her second  husband-to-be, a perfectly nice, respectable, responsible man.  After they moved in together, he and she began to combine their finances and make joint financial decisions. 

                At this point, my greedy 75-year old birth-father could practically feel that life insurance policy slipping through his fingers!  If my b.s. remarried, surely her new husband would be the beneficiary and not her father.  So dear old dad placed a phone call to new fiancé, to ask him “man-to-man” what his “intentions” were toward my divorced, 44-year old, fully-grown, perfectly capable sister.  He wanted to discuss my future brother-in-law’s influence over my sister’s finances, and pried into their joint financial business, which was none of his business. 

                He also told her husband-to-be not to tell anyone, to just “keep this between us”.  Now obviously, if his intentions were honorable, he wouldn’t have wanted to keep this call a secret.  My future brother-in-law refused to keep this secret and reported it to my b.s.  He was not doing anything underhanded and he wasn’t going to start sneaking around discussing their finances with his father-in-law. 

                A normal adult would have felt violated and mortified by this incident.  You would think my birth-sister would have been outraged by her father’s interference, and by his going behind her back as if she had no brains or judgment of her own.  His blatant distrust of her fiance’s motives, and butting into their lives, was insulting to both her fiancé and herself.  Lucky for her that her fiancé was not easily intimidated or angered.  After all, another man might have thought that this was the kind of garbage he was going to be dealing with for the next 20 years, said “I don’t need this”, and broken up with her.  My birth-father could have caused her to lose the man she loved, and most likely that was the intention.

                Yet her reaction when she discussed this episode with me?  “He was just trying to be a good father.  He was looking out for me.”  Oy!- What can you say to this?  Remember, this is coming from a middle-aged woman, not a twelve-year old.  Still wants a daddy to protect her, even if it means having a “man-to-man” talk  ABOUT her that DIDN’T INCLUDE her, because, of course, she’s “just a woman” and not competent to make these choices for herself.  She’s just a naïve little girl (of 44!) who has to be protected from all the big, bad men out there who would take advantage of her, by her elderly father interrogating them!  Ugh!-how disgusting!  Stuff like this sets women back 50 years!

                Usually it’s the abuser who justifies his behavior by pretending it’s for the victim’s “own good”.  This story is interesting because both the abuser and the victim are in complete agreement- that the abuse was necessary and acceptable, even admirable, because it was for the victim’s own good.  She doesn’t know what’s good for her, so her father has to check things out and take care of it for her. 

                This is a classic example of a victim who is an enabler.  My birth-father never had any boundaries, and had no concept of overstepping his bounds, and my b.s didn’t feel that her daddy had overstepped his bounds, either.  Normal people know that someone who is sneaking around and keeping secrets does not have good intentions.  If he truly had her best interests at heart, daddy dearest would have nothing to hide. A normal woman would have defended her fiance instead of her father.  She would have set boundaries on questioning an honorable man’s intentions, not trusting her judgment as a mature adult, prying into her personal business, and sneaking around behind her back for any reason. 

                But instead, my b.s now had the father she always wanted, a daddy to take care of her and have “man-to-man” talks with her boyfriends just like she was 15 again.  It’s a GOOD thing that daddy cares so much about her (“No, no-it’s not really my life insurance policy!-It’s me!”).  It’s a GOOD thing that he interferes in her life. He can interfere all he wants, as long as he’s “taking care of her”.        So both the abuser and the victim have managed to spin this abuse into a good thing.  And everybody’s happy.  Except possibly her fiancé- he didn’t seem too thrilled- but who cares?  As long as my daddy loves me!  For years, whenever my b.s. defended one of my birth-father’s outrageous and humiliating stunts, the rest of us would laughingly recall Bette Davis in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?  Anything daddy does is fine as long as he’s doing it for my own good!  Ick!




                Abusers who are really just trying to manipulate, control, degrade or demean their victims often claim “It’s for your own good” when discovered or challenged.  Nobody has the right to decide what is for someone else’s “own good”.  A variation on this, designed to make the victim feel guilty, is “I was only trying to help.”  But the truth is that their words or behavior did not accomplish anything helpful at all.  Adults do not need that kind of help from other adults.

                When the victim is an Adult Child, “constructive criticism” is often used to justify cruelty or control.  Many times, “helpful” comments concern something you CAN’T help- like my birth-father pointing out a new pimple on my face, or my birth-mother telling me I looked much better without my eyeglasses, even though I couldn’t walk across the room without them.  I have seen “helpful” relatives embarrass a victim by “pointing out” her shyness or introvertedness in front of others, or loudly and publicly announcing to their victim that she has gained a lot of weight and looks awful. 

                Remarks about someone’s appearance or harmless personality traits such as shyness are never called for, are not in reality the least bit helpful, and are just thinly disguised cruelty.  And according to the etiquette books, they are also very bad manners.  Most such abusers would never dream of making these kinds of comments to a coworker, neighbor, or stranger on line at the bank.  Why not, if they only have good intentions?  Part of the problem is that some people don’t think they need to treat their family members with the same courtesy, manners, and respect that they give total strangers.  Another factor is that many abusers have no boundaries whatsoever when it comes to family members.  They know their behavior is unacceptable, but they think they can get away with it with relatives, whereas a stranger or casual acquaintance might just let them have it!




                It is common for grandparents to ignore the wishes of the parents when dealing with their grandchildren.  Often, they will give unwanted “helpful suggestions” on child-rearing.  Many times they will not follow the parent’s instructions, perhaps giving the grandchildren snacks they are not normally allowed, or indulging them in other ways contrary to how their parents want them raised.  This confuses the kids and teaches them to sneak around.

                Some grandparents go so far as to tell the kids not to tell Mommy or Daddy.  Teaching children to disobey their parents, sneak, lie and hide things from their parents is certainly not doing the children or their parents any good- but it is doing the grandparent good.  By bribing their grandchildren these grandparents are blatantly trying to get the kids to prefer them to their rightful parents.  Again, the excuse is that this is done “out of love”.  But in reality, such grandparents are undermining their children’s authority as parents, and often end up causing the grandkids to challenge their parents’ rules.  Such grandparents are trying to compete with the parents for their grandchildren’s love.  They want the children to favor them.  This is not an unselfish motive, it is very selfish.  It is not a grandparent’s place to sabotage their children’s child-rearing efforts and interfere in their children’s families.




                My birth-parents were famous for giving unsolicited advice- and then demanding that you take it!  This always concerned some issue in my own adult life that was basically none of their business.  I rarely if ever asked their advice because I already knew their judgment was faulty.  I was a perfectly competent adult, capable of figuring out things like which house or furniture to buy, where to go on vacation, what to say on a job interview, or how to give my children a balanced diet, on my own.  If for some reason I felt I needed someone else’s opinion, the Lord had always blessed me with good friends, and other loving relatives of the older generation.  These other folks waited to be asked for advice, and then they gave it respectfully and lovingly.

                To my parents, on the other hand, “giving advice” was just an excuse to interfere where they weren’t welcome, and to undermine my self-confidence. THE PLANS OF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE JUST, BUT THE ADVICE OF THE WICKED IS DECEITFUL…Proverbs 12:5NIV. Their opinions were always given with disdain and a sneer.  My birth-father often called me “stupid” right to my face, and told me I “didn’t know what I was talking about”, “didn’t know what I was doing”, or “didn’t know what was good for me” constantly. 

                Know-it-alls crave attention.  Often the only way they can stay center-stage is to shut everyone else up.  My birth-father’s tactic for doing this was to demean the opinions of others, become insulting and nasty, and argue forcefully and rudely with anything they said.  This resulted in other people giving up, keeping silent,  and not expressing their thoughts in his presence, which was just what he wanted, because it allowed him to continue spouting off his own opinions uninterrupted.  He really loved doing this when he had a “captive audience” at holidays or family dinners.

                I always politely listened, and then did what I felt was best anyway.  But ignoring their advice was not something my parents let you get away with easily.  If I did not do what they “advised”, they would bring it up again and again.  They would pry and ask questions about what I had decided to do.  They would continually defend their opinion and become more and more demanding to know if I was going to follow it or not.

                 My mother turned this into an art form.  No matter what subject we were talking about, she would find a way to segue into whatever “advice” of hers I hadn’t acted on yet, sometimes days or weeks later.  It was amazing how the subject would always get turned back to her opinion of a personal issue that I thought was settled or forgotten.  But because I had not revealed my decision to her, discussed it with her, or taken her advice, it was never a closed issue in her mind.  Neither she nor my birth-father would be satisfied unless I did what they told me to.  Keep in mind that I was a grown woman and this was always UNASKED FOR and unwelcome advice.

                Under the guise of being “helpful”, my parents thought they had the right to force their opinions on me.  When someone DEMANDS that you take their “helpful suggestions”, they are not really trying to help you.  They are trying to CONTROL you.  You can be sure that anyone who takes offense when you fail to follow his “helpful” suggestions has an ulterior motive or a hidden agenda.




                Probably the worse type of manipulation and control is sneaking around behind someone’s back, like my birth-father did with my b.s.  Gathering information, interrogating and asking questions that are none of their business is not acceptable behavior.  Trying to intimidate, warn, or “put on notice” a prospective spouse, or anyone else in an adult child’s life, is out-of-line.  Adults do not need to have their choices “investigated” behind-the-scenes by their relatives. 

                Telling someone to keep a secret, keep this between us, or not tell the victim about this “little discussion” is also totally unacceptable.  HE WHO CONCEALS HIS SINS DOES NOT PROSPER, BUT WHOEVER CONFESSES AND RENOUNCES THEM FINDS MERCY….Proverbs 28:13NIV.  People with honorable motives don’t need to be secretive about them.  Interfering in someone’s life with the intent of influencing it without their knowledge is outrageous.  No one needs other people pulling the strings behind their back.

                Adults do not need other people to make their decisions for them, interfere in their lives, manipulate, or control them.  This cannot be justified by pretending it is an attempt to be helpful.  An adult does not need another person telling them something cruel or hurtful “for their own good”.  Adults can figure out what is “for their own good” all by themselves.  To suggest that they need help running their own lives is insulting, degrading, and demeaning.  It is an attempt to undermine the victim’s confidence and self-esteem, make her feel stupid and incompetent, and keep her in an “inferior” position and dependent upon the advice-giver.  Calling the shots in YOUR life makes your abuser feel powerful.




                Such abusers have not yet gotten with the program.  Often these parents still expect their grown children to run everything by them before they do it.  If they could, they would have you ask their permission to breathe!  They don’t want to see that you are all grown up now and don’t need or want them to run your life for you.  They do not see you as a mature adult.  And most importantly, they do not RESPECT you.

                A parent’s job is to raise their child to be independent and successful as a mature, responsible adult, not to stay tied to the parents’ apron strings forever.  Eventually the child will be on her own, and good parents prepare her for this.  It is not “for the child’s own good” to still need mommy or daddy’s interference and influence in her 30’s, 40’s and beyond. That is just not normal. It is to the child’s detriment not to be able to stand on her own two feet.   If she still needs her parents to make decisions for her at that stage, then they didn’t do a very good job raising her in the first place.  With that in mind, it would seem foolish to give them even more opportunities to mess up her life.

                So what to do if you have such a “helpful” control-freak in your life?  The common denominator in this type of abuse is a lack of boundaries and limits.   When you were a child, you were unable to set and enforce limits that your abusive parents would respect.  Many children, like me, accepted abuse because it was normal to us, and there was nothing we could do about it anyway.  As children we had little choice in the matter. And if abuse is presented as a “good thing”, seems to make our parents proud of us, and earns us their approval and love, we can actually feel good about it, while we are in reality being abused.

                However, this all changes when we become an adult.  Now we do have a choice.  If your parents have done a good job undermining your self-confidence, you may really believe you still need their advice before you make any decisions.  You may not believe you are capable of handling your own life.  You may only feel comfortable being dependent on them for their opinions. But that is not true.  With the Lord's help, you can overcome your birth-family's brainwashing and develop the self-confidence to take care of yourself.




                One key to understanding whether this is a healthy or unhealthy pattern for you is to ask yourself if relying on each other for advice is a two-way street.  After all, you are now a competent adult- does your parent ever ask for your opinions and take your advice before making a decision?  Do you feel free to speak your mind and offer your advice to your parent? Do you have mutually respectful conversations in which you genuinely try to help each other?  Or is your parent still the “I know what’s best for you” “parent” and you still the dependent “child”?

                One boundary that we learn as mature adults is what is appropriate to discuss with our relatives and what is not (see the article Off-Limits Subjects in the section Setting & Enforcing Limits & Boundaries on our site).  Many times, we are at fault for simply revealing too much personal information.  If you let your life be an open book, some people will take advantage of that.  They will view your candor as an invitation to butt in.  A good friend or therapist is usually a much better confidante, and will truly have your “best interests at heart”.

                As mature Christians, we need to rely on the Lord in all things, not other people.  The Holy Spirit is our Counselor and Comforter.  No man or woman should take the place of God in this function.  We need to earnestly pray about all decisions we are considering, and turn our lives over to our Father.  One thing I have learned is that no matter how much you THINK you can trust another person, even a close relative, the only one you can REALLY trust is The Lord !  God never has any ulterior motives or secret agendas. He is the only one who truly acts “for our own good”, and has absolutely no selfish motivations at all:




                For more specific advice on boundaries, please see the articles “Setting Limits- The Cure For Getting No Respect” and “Learning To Say No” in the section of our website called Setting And Enforcing Limits And Boundaries.  I also highly recommend the book “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.







Claiming the Victory


By Rev. Renee


                Ever notice how certain subjects always seem to be fair game for our relatives to criticize, dictate, pry into, make demands about, pressure us, use for comparisons, or try to exert control over?  When we feel our stomachs knotting up and our blood pressure rising, it’s often because the discussion just wandered into that aggravating territory, and trust me, it was no accident.  Usually it’s the same subject or subjects every time, or at least most of the time- except for professional control-freaks who have to have something to say about almost everything. 

                Although individual budinskis each have their own style, if we take the time to understand their nature, we can usually predict their “modus operandi”.

                A pushy, nervy relative will simply demand to know personal information, force his unwanted opinions on us, feel perfectly free to voice his disapproval and criticism of any aspect of our existence, and blatantly dictate his instructions for running our lives.

                Others are more subtle, yet with practice we can still see it coming.  Little by little, a perfectly innocent, pleasant conversation will start to take a turn toward a subject we’d rather not discuss.  My birth-mother was an expert at this sneaky segue- working whatever she really wanted to talk about into conversations that started out having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with her target topic.  She could spend an hour getting to her REAL point in the most convoluted way possible.  But eventually, I learned to recognize when this was happening and cut it off at the pass.

                When we find ourselves repeatedly dragged into unwelcome conversations, it’s time to introduce the concept of personal privacy called Off-Limits Subjects. Some people just don’t get the concept of minding their own business, and will need to be told. These topics are not open for discussion simply because they’re nobody’s business, and also because we don’t want to hear it.  Feel free to add to the list anything else you don’t wish to discuss.


                It is inappropriate to remark, pressure, interrogate, dictate, demand, criticize, or question ***mature adults on any of the following topics:


If we’re going to get married

When we’re going to get married

Who we’re marrying or dating (unless he’s an abuser, addict or criminal)

If we’re going to have kids

When we’re going to have kids

How many kids we’re going to have

How we’re raising our kids (unless they’re being abused, neglected, or endangered)

What career we choose

Our religion

Our political views

How much money we make, invest, save, spend, or have in the bank

Where we choose to live

Our sex lives

The clothes we wear

The friends we choose

Comparing us to our siblings or mom’s friend’s daughter

Comparing our kids to somebody else’s kids.

Whether we choose to keep or to end other relationships

The limits we choose to set on other’s behavior

How clean we keep our house

Whether we cook dinner every night or eat fast food

What we eat

The pets we have

Anything at all about our appearance or how we look, unless it’s complimentary

Our weight

Our medical conditions

The hours we keep

How we spend our money

Our taste in anything, including clothes, home decor, men, friends, etc.

Our abilities or intelligence, unless it’s complimentary

How we choose to spend our time

Foolish mistakes we’ve made

Our harmless personality traits, such as shyness

Anything we are sensitive about

Things that make us feel uncomfortable

Anything we find embarrassing, humiliating, or offensive

Any other personal preferences

Any other personal information

Anything else we wish to keep private

Our boundaries and limits


                As we’ve said before, once we become a***mature adult (as opposed to a chronological adult), we are EQUAL to every other adult.  We do not obey other adults, we do not allow them to pry into our business, and we do not allow them to criticize, demean, pressure, or control us.  And most of all, we do not answer to anyone but God about our personal lives.

                Is our relative overstepping her bounds?  A rule of thumb is to ask ourselves if we would be comfortable prying into her business or criticizing her on the same topic, and would she welcome our comments or be offended?  If she thinks it’s inappropriate for us to comment on or question her about a particular subject, then it is also inappropriate for her to comment on or question US about the same subject.  If she feels free to ask us how much money we make, then we should feel just as free to ask her how much money SHE makes.  If she thinks it’s her place to point out that we’ve gained weight, then we are just as entitled to make negative comments about HER appearance.  If she feels free to ask us about our sex lives, then we should feel just as free to ask her about HER sex life.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be EQUALS. 

                Telling a relative that she needs to mind her own business is never easy, but it’s a skill we need to learn.   People who have the nerve to pry, criticize our decisions, interfere in our personal lives or invade our privacy don’t care that they are making us uncomfortable.  They are too dense to get subtle hints that certain questions or remarks are inappropriate.  We will have no choice but to be firm and direct in setting our limits.

                So how to get the message across?  Simply state, “That’s personal and I’m not going to discuss it with you, so let’s change the subject”, and then REFUSE to talk about it.  Repeat if necessary, until she gives up.  For more stubborn cases, you may have no choice but to firmly state, “That’s none of your business.”

                ***For a discussion on what defines a mature adult, see the article “A Price To Pay For Independence” on our website.


                For more on this topic, see the articles “Setting Limits- The Cure For Getting No Respect” and “Learning To Say No” on our website.



Heal & Forgive

Forgiveness In The Face Of Abuse

By Nancy Richards


                Heal and Forgive is the best book I’ve read in a very long time.   I would be hard-pressed to come up with a more helpful book to recommend.  It is unique in its perspective in that it teaches the reader that sometimes it is okay, and even necessary, NOT to forgive.  It is a page turner right from the beginning, gripping you with Nancy Richards’ riveting and disturbing story of her sadistic stepfather’s violence and relentless abuse of herself and her brothers, and her mother’s complicity in the abuse and complete refusal to protect her children in the slightest way. 

                Even more distressing is the author’s account of her attempts to protect herself and her brothers, and to stand up and speak the truth about the abuse, which resulted in her treacherous mother convincing anyone who would listen that she was a liar and troublemaker with mental problems.  There is a twisted episode in which her stepfather was finally going to move out, but her mother told the then 12-year old author to ask him to stay.  He did stay, and  years later the mother blamed her daughter for controlling her marriage (at age 12!) and making her husband stay when she could have been rid of him sooner.

                Long after the evil stepfather was gone and the author was grown, her mother continued to expose the author’s younger brothers to repeated abuse from a string of other losers she became involved with.  Nancy Richards tells, in heart-wrenching detail, of her attempts to protect her younger siblings, to get anyone to listen to her or believe her, and to somehow maintain a relationship with the mother she still loved and the rest of her family. 

                But, in a scenario disturbingly familiar to many abuse survivors, her mother managed to convince most of the family that Richards was the problem, and to turn almost her entire family against her, including the brothers she had tried so hard and sacrificed so much to protect.  The denial, betrayals, and blatant lies as the family protected the abusers and scape-goated the author will ring true with so many of us.

                And then the author was left to embark on the path to forgiveness, with absolutely no remorse or repentance from those she was pressured to forgive, and not even any validation of her traumatic experiences.  At each stage of the process, she faced renewed pain with every new revelation, such as the realizations that her mother was the one who betrayed her the most,  and that her mother really never loved her.

                Throughout her long and difficult journey to forgiveness and recovery, the author has many valuable insights which she lovingly shares with us.  The most important insight, which is the main premise of the book, is that healing needs to come FIRST, BEFORE forgiveness.  We usually feel pressured to forgive prematurely, by family and friends, therapists, and society in general.  But forced forgiveness is not always possible, and is certainly not healthy.       

                The author teaches us that forgiveness is a process that begins with healing, and needs to include other elements as well, such as validation, anger, grief, and protection. In the process of her recovery, Nancy Richards read other author’s works, which helped her to understand these truths about forgiveness, and she quotes from them in her book.  When reading Heal & Forgive, one gets the sense that the author is not just writing about her own experiences, but is doing all she can to present a well-rounded and informed picture that will help other abuse victims as much as possible.  She opens her heart to us, and shares her innermost thoughts and every feeling she has that might validate our own feelings and help us on our road to recovery.

                The book is an easy read, and I was able to finish it in a few sittings.  It was a hard book to put down, and I hated to walk away from it in the middle of the story without finding out what was going to happen next.  It was a lot of food for thought.  Nancy Richards does all abuse victims a favor when she teaches us that sometimes no matter what we are willing to do and how hard we are willing to try, it is just not possible to have a relationship with some people.  We understand how important it is to stand up and tell the truth- to others and to ourselves. 

                When we realize that someone we love doesn’t love us, the truth can be so hard to bear, but it is still the truth, and denying it doesn’t change anything.   We learn that sometimes we need to make the choice to walk away from a toxic relationship.  We feel validated in learning that it is alright NOT TO FORGIVE evil people, and that releasing ourselves from the pressure to forgive gives us the freedom to heal.  Only after we have healed will we be able to come to a place of genuine forgiveness.

                After reading Heal & Forgive, I admire Nancy Richards for her courage and determination to heal and lead a life of peace and happiness despite her birth-family’s rejection, and I am appreciative of her sincere efforts to encourage the rest of us and validate our experiences by sharing her story.  Her triumph over the devastation and heartache inflicted by those she loved is an inspiration to anyone who thinks they can never get over the pain and be happy again.  I urge all those who have felt the knife of a loved one’s betrayal in their back, or who feel pressured to forgive before they are ready, to read this book.  It is a must-read for any survivor of birth-family abuse.



I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.  Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. 

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation will commend your works to another;  they will tell of your mighty acts.  They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.  They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.  All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you.  They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may  know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.  The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.  The Lord is near  to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;  he hears their cry and saves them.  The Lord watches over all who love  him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.  Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Glory to god!





Copyright 2002-2021.-All articles on this site are copyrighted. Permission to copy is granted for non-profit use only.Please help yourself to anything we write if you can use it to help others. A link back to this site is our only requirement. Please contact us for any commercial or other use. All e-mails, letters, and other correspondence become the property of Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc. Due to the large volume of e-mails, we're sorry that we are unable to personally answer every one, but we do lift everyone who writes to us in prayer to the Lord.
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.