Abusive parents: What do grown children owe the mothers and fathers who made their childhood a living hell?
Illustration by Charlie Powell What do we owe our tormentors? It’s a question that haunts those who had childhoods marked by years of neglect and deprivation, or of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of one or both parents. Despite this terrible beginning, many people make it out successfully and go on to build satisfying lives. Now their mother or father is old, maybe ailing, possibly broke. With a sense of guilt and dread, these adults are grappling with whether and how to care for those who didn’t care for them. Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic. Rochelle, 37, wrote to me in my role as Slate’s Dear Prudence because of the pressure she was getting from friends to reach out to her mother. Rochelle started waitressing when she was 15. That was Rochelle’s breaking point—after that, she didn’t see her mother for the next 13 years. The visits took a toll. There is no formula for defining one’s obligations to the parents who didn’t fulfill their own.
Related: Journey through Psychopathic/Narcissistic abuse
• 13/2/7 - 00
• Addiction & Mental Health