Walking the Line Between Respect and Self-Preservation

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From an early age, children are taught to honor and respect their parents. In many homes, this may be an easy task for children, as they are provided with the love, security and guidance that every child needs in order to mature into a healthy adult. Sadly, many children are not the recipients of unconditional love — but rather are subjected to indifference, neglect or outright abuse. So then the challenge comes from attempting to show parents or other adult guardians due respect while trying to place one’s self out of harm’s way.

As time passes, it becomes more difficult to try and balance a toxic relationship with parents while struggling to maintain a healthy distance from those who can cause the most harm. When religion is part of the mix, the situation can become even more conflicting. The adage to “Honor your mother and father” is touted as one of the 10 tenets of every dutiful Christian’s life. This often runs counterproductive for trying to achieve a balance in life. Indeed, placing yourself in the presence of those who seek to emotionally destroy you may be compounding the problem.

As a child, one is at the mercy of the wishes and choices that parents and other guardians make for them. In many families, these choices will be the ones that reflect the best opportunities for children to achieve success in life. In many homes, the adults in charge either are incapable of understanding how nurturing relationships work or take perverse delight in subjecting children to cruel behaviors. One of the worst forms of abuse is the emotional and mental harm that can be inflicted with words.

One of the most influential people in anyone’s life is their mother. A mother is portrayed as nurturing, loving, encouraging and self-sacrificing. Children often take their sense of identity from the ones who help shape and guide them. When a mother or other significant caregiver belittles and humiliates a child, those lessons tend to stick for a lifetime. The message that one is worthless or incapable or unwanted can leave lasting damage that may hamper every other relationship in life.

Though survivors of emotional or mental abuse are encouraged to forgive and seek counseling to overcome the negative wiring, there is the possibility that an adult child may have to distance him or herself from the source of the pain. No amount of professional counseling can overcome the constant reinforcement of a toxic relationship. Even though it may run counter to everything one has been told when it comes to respecting our elders, it is not selfish to seek to protect oneself from relationships that cause pain and self-doubt.

There is a difference between a parent who offers correction and advice against certain decisions and one who seeks to undermine a child’s ability to achieve and succeed. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to make healthy relationship choices in order to stop the cycle of abuse.

Writer Bio:  Angela Mose

I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years.  I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia.  A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.

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