When your family of origin sucks

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by wegs, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I’ve known this since I was a kid, that my family of origin is a very unloving one. I’d go to friends’ houses as a kid, and see their parents act in ways that my family didn’t. Kinder, gentler ways. I grew up with great wealth, money thrown at me and nannies raising me. I don’t want to get into details, but I find that my coworkers, friends, dates, etc treat me better than my family of origin. I try to take the higher road but they’re truly unkind people.

    I wish we could “divorce” our families from childhood, because I just don’t associate or feel connected to them in any way.

    Not sure why I’m sharing this here, but it’s cathartic in a strange kind of way.
    billvon and RainbowSingularity like this.
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  3. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Honestly, I've always been a bit perplexed by the closeness of some families--especially when it's not borne of necessity (or it's well beyond that stage) and when the family relations, frankly, suck.

    My immediate family moved across the country when I was a child, and my dad pretty much abandoned us soon after. My mother, with a chronic debilitating illness, raised my sister and I on an income just slightly above the minimum wage. My sister and I could not be more different, and I haven't talked to her in more than a decade--there's no animosity there, we've just got nothing to talk about. I talk to my mom every couple of weeks and see her every few years--I'm typically a few thousand miles away and I no longer fly within the U.S. (I'll fly to other continents, though).

    Oddly, my dad is now back, and while he was a fucking abusive prick when I was young, I try to keep that in the past. While I find now, after decades, that I've actually got some things in common with them, we don't--and never have--done any of that warm, sentimental crap. They're just people I know, and kind of get along with--in limited doses.

    The primacy and import of the biological family is an outmoded concept that really needs to die.
    wegs likes this.
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  5. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    The Y-donor tried to kill me several times. Good thing for me he was rather stupid. We literally never had a conversation, ever. Mom had raised her siblings during the Depression while both parents worked as sharecroppers. She really didn't want to raise another one. I was eighteen the first time I heard her say "I love you." I was calling from boot camp.

    Still, my first wife approved me to be around her two kids. "With some practice you'll make a good dad." Never got to find out.

    Wife #4 likes me.
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Could have been worse. My father was a violent alcoholic - but when he was sober, he was smart, resourceful, independent and innovative. He was always able to provide an adequate material standard, though nothing fancy and sometimes insecure. He taught us how to use tools and machines and adapt materials to new applications. He was brave enough to set out into the unknown with a wife and two children and what we could could carry. Otherwise, I might still be there - and there is not desirable! You learn to get 'round that kind of person: know when to lie, know when to defy, know when to hold your tongue, know when to run.
    OTOH, we had a terrific mother; my brother and I never felt unloved, undervalued or unheard. She taught us to appreciate books and nature, do our own cooking and basic needle-craft. And laugh - when my father wasn't around, we were always laughing.

    No, children can't divorce their parents. And the children who are forcibly taken away from failing parents usually don't end up very much happier. Unless, of course they were overtly abused. A foster family is unlikely to be an improvement over emotionally cool parents who provide and otherwise secure environment.
    wegs likes this.
  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I should post a disclaimer that by “liking” your posts, it’s really more to show support. I don’t “like” that any of you have suffered.

    Wow, I appreciate you sharing and will be back later to comment.
    RainbowSingularity likes this.
  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    As they say "you are born with your family but get to pick your friends". I had a great family but I was an only child brought up by a single mom (my dad died when I was 3).

    You watch the "perfect" families on TV and think that your's doesn't measure up but that's just reality. My friends that did have those larger more traditional families didn't have "perfect" families either. They still complained sometimes and sometimes envied me.

    My toys survived Christmas Day, most of theirs didn't.

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  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    The best thing about a dysfunctional family is that, if you survive to adulthood (or near enough - my brother was 17; I was 18) you get to leave it. Then you are free to pick which of your relatives you want to keep knowing, which you might want to revisit someday for a confrontation or reconciliation, and which to leave behind forever. There is some satisfaction in leaving.
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  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Even when you have a "good" family many still effectively leave. I moved 3,000 miles away and visited just once a year with a once weekly call to my mom in her latter years.

    I had a friend from Nicaragua (he now lives here) who came from a wealthy family, servants and all that. He still complains that his father (a very successful civil engineer) didn't push him hard enough during his formative years and now he feels it's his father's fault that he has only just had meager office cubicle jobs.

    His father paid for him to come to the U.S. to a private college but...he didn't push hard enough.

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  12. Bells Staff Member

    Even what look like perfect families or perfect parents, have their own dysfunctions..

    Every person I knew in my childhood, who were in a family I had assumed was "perfect" in that they were more loving and kinder than my parents had been (mine kind of stopped showing me affection once I hit around 6 years of age and they were the kind who believed being strict, providing me with what I needed was how they showed love - I do not recall their ever telling me they loved me, they rarely ever hugged me and the only "affection" I received from my father (who was a functioning alcoholic) was on my birthday when he kissed me on the cheek with a "happy birthday"... I never doubted my parents loved me. But they never said it. Ever. They were not "kind" in how I would see my friend's parents call their kids 'sweetheart', etc, and my parents were not affectionate to me (my kids on the other hand, got the full gamut of emotional and physical displays of affection from my parents that I never got - they are now in their teens and my parents still tell them "I love you" every day.. go figure..)...

    But what I perceived as perfection was more often than not, hiding something much darker at my the homes of my various friends. It was often violent, or other forms of abuse happening in those households when they did not have visitors. In one family, the constant displays of affection masked a household that was full of an abusive man who beat their mother for any perceived transgression and their beloved daughters were controlled so strictly, that even their personal hygiene items was controlled by their father and paternal grandmother who lived with them. That's what went on behind closed doors. In another household, the kinder parents masked a level of strictness towards their own children, that it would be classified as abuse and was so after one of my friends came to school and was discovered to have welts across her back from being whipped with a belt to study. In yet another, the cool and loving parents were actually tyrants, that as we got older, they threw out their son because he was gay.

    In hindsight, I think I was pretty lucky to have the parents that I had. I now know that their push was to see me succeed and be better than they were.

    Your parents may have felt that throwing money at you and giving you what you wanted may have been their way of showing love and kindness to you. A lot of people have issues with showing direct affection. A lot of people have issues with being "kind". Your family may have also had issues that they hid from you as well and then that pattern of behaviour becomes easier to follow than change.

    I used to think that, but I don't anymore.

    My parents helped me be who I am.

    But having said that, no one is forced to be with their family. You are an adult, who is free to make your own choices and way in life. If you don't want to be around them, then don't be around them.
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  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Have you any idea why they were like this? Are you referring to just your parents, or to brothers and sisters too? Can you discuss it with anyone else in the family? Sometimes there are hidden reasons, if not necessarily excuses, that can help get you into a stronger position in which you can feel some understanding - and avoid the (common) risk of feeling guilty at disliking your family.

    P.S. It is a classic for such issues to come to the fore at Christmas, when we are all expected to rejoin our families with happy, smiling faces, but in fact all sorts of murky currents often swirl beneath the surface! Family politics can be the most exhausting of all, I find. (Christmas is the only time of year that has actually got easier since my wife died.

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  14. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    Donna Fucking Reed and Psycho Father Knows Best, TV shows when I was a kid. (Sotto voce to avoid another ass kicking.)
  15. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Yes, Father Knows Best is a good example of what I was talking about. Bud didn't get into a lot of trouble but Father was always calm and understanding. Betty was a pretty good girl as well. Mom knew a lot but Father always knew best.

    Gosh darn, I hope I'm not being too controversial because I'd really like to get a puppy for Christmas. Betty just wants there to be peace on Earth and I'm feeling a little selfish.
  16. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    I remember complaints that "Bewitched" was satanic, same with "I Cream on Genie." I have to admit that traditional stories about djinn weren't all that cute.
  17. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I’m not looking for perfect and realize that doesn’t exist. We are all perfectly imperfect, as they say. I’m looking for (if wishes upon stars came true) for a more loving, nurturing family. A kinder family.

    My main issue now is with my sister who never reaches out to me, I’m always the one reaching out and when we connect and spend time together, it’s great but it always takes me to call, text etc.

    I didn’t have the worst childhood but love was not my family’s strong suit. And money doesn’t equal love, to me. It’s lazy.

    Anyway, I’m feeling better today than when I initially posted this but...I wish I may, I wish I might...I wish upon a star tonight...
  18. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    A friend of mine recently said, "Every couple I know is dysfunctional." She didn't hear the irony of her own statement, so i asked, "What does a functional domestic arrangement look like?" She pulled a repub: said I was being defensive, shooting the messenger.
    In fact, I'm quite happy in my relationship and was simply curious to know what standard she was comparing it to. I suspect it's the television model, because it sure wasn't her parents or any of her own romantic involvements!

    As it happens, I do have a real live model of a happy, functional Canadian family.
    (Other cultures have different mores.)
  19. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    people can change/evolve, if they get the therapy, time, tools & support.

    additionally, some cant function inside certain paradigms
    they may not feel strong enough to deal with the issues they carried while younger and may now be functionally processing that behaviorally as their ideal through your kids.
    thats ok
    thats great actually.

    just remember expect to be scratched if you poke the old bear.
    1 day the old bear wont mind
    the other day it will swing at you and almost take your head off

    some of the cruelest most evil people appear to be card board cut-out model Christians to outsiders.
    some of the most psychologically abusive people appear to be generic normal almost picturesque partners/parents/school teachers/civil role models.

    look at larry nassar and all those who supported him and continue to normalise the power & authority around him to be not accountable to clean-house and lead as role models.

    supposed pillar of community and organizations

    imagine how many people thought larry was an ideal role model.

    save a bit of room for yourself to be thankful to only yourself, for being yourself.
  20. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    you want to unpack that in here ?
    maybe not, depends...
    point is love can be different things to different people.

    thats actually quite normal as a functional relationship inside most peoples sphere of contacts.
    when it is a sibling, parent, close family member boss or work colleague, it takes on various other values inside the self.

    if you want to see a tree grow, 1st you have to dig a hole to plant it in.
    be happy to be capable of watching the tree grow
    do you want the tree to keep thanking you for planting it ?

    love is no different

    what we need is not always what we feel we want
    that is part of the rub with the whole material show of affections.
    its complex but many think its simple.

    attachment ...
    it is attached to everything we do, either by attachment, or by not having any attachment.

    sober thoughts...
    Christmas is the highest time of domestic abuse and relationship problems
    keep that in mind.
    The vast majority of people are either running toward something or running away from something at Christmas
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Remember, too, that caring parents give their children what they believe is best for the children.
    That varies widely. Affection, material goods, approval, discipline, exposure to different interests, comfort, wisdom, time spent together, tradition, skills, travel, endurance, social graces, music lessons, summer camp, their own favourite possessions - whatever they value in life and think will help the child be the most successful adult they can be.
    One reason there is so much strife, miscommunication and disappointment in immigrant families is that the older generation is trying to retain the values and customs of the old country, while the younger adults are busy adapting to new circumstances, trying to improve their lot, and the children take the new country for granted and just want to be like their peers.
    (That's been treated exhaustively in fiction, but not everyone reads novels.)
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    You wish that your sister reached out to you more but when you are together it's great. Therefore it's a great relationship. You wish your sister was different but she's not. You need to accept her the way she is if you want her to do the same for you.

    Maybe she thinks that you are too sensitive and wishes that you weren't so sensitive...but that's who you are. She accepts you and you accept her. That's the way it works.

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    If it helps I can though the word paradigm in there a few times.

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    Don't forget, "attachment is attached to everything we do, either by attachment, or by not having any attachment".

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  23. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    implicit bias

    and the rich children take their money and privilege for granted

    on a similar note

    i have lots of love
    so much love i am throwing a lot of it away
    can you help me with that ?
    i hear you have lots of money that you are throwing away...
    are we perfectly suited, soul mates ... pyramid self help gurus ?

    what type of feelings are the rich and powerful throwing their money away on ?
    McDonalds Relationships & East-Ender family attainment ?

    implicit bias
    it is a dish best served to someone else and dont send me the bill

    "its nothing personal, its just implicit-biasness(business)"

    children are forced by their school, parents, community, and if they want to have any friends and not be beaten up & bullied...
    to adapt, adjust, conform and change...

    the immigrant child must obey
    the immigrant adult-parent must compile and collect and profit

    the immigrant child must be a socialist and a communist at all costs.
    this is demanded by the capitalist society

    let them eat implicit bias ...
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019

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