I’m grateful for my parents because they challenge me. They don’t always tell me what I want to hear. My father, in particular, knows when to push me and when to comfort.
He didn’t always. For a long time, I wouldn’t characterize either of my parents as at all effective in facilitating my treatment. In fact, it’s well known to my treatment trajectory and its overseers that some elements of my childhood were traumatizing and follow me scarringly to this day. That being said, things are vastly different now.
I called my dad the other day after receiving my first bad grade of college. I was sobbing and curled into a ball on the front steps of the liberal arts building, the autumn breeze tangling my tear-strewn hair as those same tears stuck my phone to my cheek like glue.
“DAD! Dad, I’m never going to Harvard.”
He slowed me down. It wasn’t the end of the world, or even close. One less-than-ideal grade will mean nothing in the long term, especially considering the rest of my grades, he said. He was proud of me and loved me even with one silly bad grade. I felt so much better when I hung up.
I look back, now, on the hard times I’ve given my parents. When I was being abused by him, I had been told by him that my parents were abusive. It’s taken a long time to de-program that line of thinking from my head, what he implanted to try to install pity and same-ness over his supposedly “abusive” parents.
My parents loved me no matter how many times I screamed at them for trying to make me eat, hollered “HE WAS RIGHT ABOUT YOU!” as I hurled myself up my apartment stairs and sought solace in my locked bedroom and his abusive, pseudo-comforting texts. My parents coddled his during his abuse rather than sticking up for me, and we all regret that now. But my parents were always trying to do what’s best for me.
I am tempted to say “that’s more than I can say about his parents.” But the point of this article is that that’s not really fair. He is a manipulative, disordered, frightening boy who has his parents wrapped around his thumb.
The parent child relationship is reciprocal. The parent must love and care for the child, and the child must not manipulate or abuse the parent, in return for the same from the parent. I give my parents the truth, almost always, and they give me all that they can in return.
His parents are being abused by him, too. It’s helpful to think of them this way because it disarms their culpability in attempting to shatter my well-being and the well-being of my family with callous disregard. They are being lied to, manipulated, and it’s easier for them to think of their son as poor, simpering, and abused than it is to face that he is a danger to others. Who would want to face that about their child? I sympathize.
But they know he lies. He lies to everyone, including his parents, over and over and over again.
I’m nothing but honest with my parents at every chance I get, excruciatingly so, soul-baringly so. This is necessary in order to get better. When lying and manipulation is present, conditions will never get better.
Be honest with your parents. At the very least, it lets everyone operate on the same playing field. If your parents are abusive after honesty, neglectful after honesty, fine. But it’s only fair to everyone that reciprocal contracts of love and behavior be adhered to. The parent must look past the surface to do what’s best for the child and those around them, and the child should give the best that they can, no matter how good or bad that is, to the parent.
He doesn’t have that, but I do. I’m so lucky. Thanks mom and dad.