Personality disordered parents control their children through manipulation, with little concern for how their parenting behavior will later influence the children's life. Although the parent had little concern, the adult-children of abusive parents often agonize about the obligation to the people who ruined their childhoods and left them with emotional and physical scars. Why should these adult-children have such deep concern and loyalty even at the expense of failing to protect themselves from further harm, especially to a person who had little concern for them in the first place?
Children look to their parents to to nurture them and keep them safe. When a parent abuses a child, the impact is life-long.
Anyone with the proper parts can birth a baby. Being a parent who earns respect, love, and kindness is an entirely different thing. Parents who choose to have a child are choosing to accept the responsibility for raising the child with love, safety, and security. Many parents, however, don't fulfill that responsibility, and just because this person is a parent doesn't give them license to manipulate, control, or abuse their child. The child has no choice in the matter and is basically stuck with their parents until they come of age or until society deems her parents abusive and decides that they are not fit as parents. Should this adult-child have an obligation to their abusive parent?
Are Emotionally Healthy Interactions Possible?
Sometimes completely severing relations seems to be too difficult or cause too much guilt; therefore, the adult-child attempts to have interactions that feel emotionally healthy. But how can one determine or distinguish how much is *emotionally healthy* before unknowingly getting tangled in the toxic web? Deciding what is *emotionally healthy* requires constant reassessment.
Abusers are often brilliant manipulators. It's no secret that adult-children often feel manipulated and lied to by their BDP parent. In other words, they feel controlled or taken advantage of through means such as threats, no-win situations, silent treatments, rages, and other unfair methods. In a relationship with BPD, adult-children are constantly faced with a collection of schemes, situations, manipulations, and interactions that have a hidden agenda... their agenda.
Pressure to Reconcile
If you are estranged from your abusive parent and you are feeling pressured to reconcile by family members or others, you're being asked to psychologically dig up the past for the benefit of whom? You've made a fulfilling life for yourself which required a great deal of healing and soul-searching about the brutality you experienced. Why should you feel obligated to re-establish contact that could be very emotionally costly?
Memories of traumas can that you have long left behind can resurface. Further, reestablishing contact could be destructive to your personal relationships and affect your spouse, children, and others. Your perceived obligation could tear apart and affect more than just you.
Harm to the Brain
Having a toxic parent is harmful to your brain, biochemically and emotionally. The damage may not be permanent if the stress and abuse are removed. Sometimes, as drastic as it sounds, that means letting go of a toxic parent. Feeling obligated to an abusive parent and, therefore, continually subjecting yourself to this damage is self destruction and self deprecation.
Adults retain the ability to rewire their brains by new experiences, including exercise, introspection, therapy, and medication. History can not be undone with therapy, but brains can be mended by removing or reducing stress. Feel an obligation to yourself rather than an obligation to the one who is causing this harm to your mind, body, and soul.
No Further Obligation
No matter if you maintain contact or become estranged, you don't have any further obligation to your abuser. No formula exists for defining the adult-child's obligations to the parents who didn’t fulfill their own, however:
- You do not owe your parents love if they treat you like dirt.
- You do not owe your parents respect if they fail to respect you.
- You do not owe your parents obedience if their demands are actively harmful to you.
- You do not owe your parents gratitude for "having given you life" if they then went on to make that life a Hell on Earth.
- You do not owe your parents gratitude for "having kept you fed and clothed" and / or other physical care because that's their parental job!
- You do not owe your parents gratitude for "having sacrificed XYZ for you" and then reminding you of it every day thereafter or whenever they want to guilt you into doing something.
- You do not, absolutely NOT, owe your parents grandchildren.
Adult-children do not owe their abusive parents anything. Respect, love, and kindness are all things that are earned.