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Sins Of The Parent


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Long-time lurker here. I’d like to share my situation, and see what advice, suggestions, etc. you all might have for me.


I don’t have a difficult deconverting xtian story like a lot of you. The last time I thought of myself as xtian was when I was 12. Growing up small town, Midwest, white, mainstream Methodist, going along with Sunday school and confirmation because that’s what you do. Church camp (Nazarene) because it was at a cool lake up north. One time I drank the kool aid and did an alter call (at camp), but that quickly faded when I got home and back to my routine. I was a doubter, and asked the typical “hard” questions of the youth pastor. They tried to engage me, draw me out, and get me to start coming to bible study at their house (oh by the way, we’re starting a new church!!! Going to be really great, not boring like this old Methodist thing!!! Non-denominational!!! You’ll LOVE it!!!) Luckily, skepticism helped me see through the fakey “love” and hormones gave me something else to think about. Which is another whole story! By the time I was 18, I was long gone from the small town, in college, voracious reader, seeker, and never gave the question of Christianity another thought. Except for one thing: my mother.


While I was busy being an idiot teenager, my mother was getting a divorce, losing her business, almost losing all her possessions, definitely losing all her friends, and leaning on her child like no parent should. A daily retelling of her life story, the whole narcissistic bundle. After 2 years of bed-ridden depression (yes, I withstood 2 years of this, and no, I couldn’t get her to get help), she emerged from the cocoon a full-fledged fundie, determined to right ALL THE WRONGS SHE AND EVERYONE ELSE IN HER LIFE HAD EVER MADE!!!!!! (caps and punctuation are all hers)


At this point, I had already exited stage right. And she started visiting me, trying to convert me with her brand of kool aid (Ah, those ex-Methodist idiots are to blame for this I begin to think). I don’t buy it. She sells the house (over mortgaged and she had to short sell) and moves on, eventually getting into RHEMA and finishes the full indoctrination there. Now she has a paper saying she’s the expert, so watch out! Pappa Hagin LOVES HER!!!! (again, this is literally the way she types). Did I know there’s a place in heaven on the throne, next to her, which is next to GOD!!! But I have to clean up my act to get in (fake smiles here). I eventually have to change my phone number, and drop out of my family to stop her from finding me. She becomes poisonous for me. Not that she was ever very good at the mother thing, but that’s another story.


She moves around the country every few years, trying to get a church all her own, but it’s hard for a divorced middle-aged woman to get any respect in these fundie organizations. I actually feel bad for her, and am secretly glad that (if she’s going to do this anyway) she’s pushing their boundaries to let her in. Serves them right, sexist ass-wipes.


Fast forward, she’s now in her 80s and mostly going strong. Her patter is much worse now that Faux news and all those radio show idiots have more of her attention. It’s become a weird blend of Hannity, Beck, etc. with old standards of Jesus!Jesus!Jesus!, rapture, judgment, etc., and god’s best children: anyone lucky enough to be born Jewish. Now that she has her own church, she actually uses Jewish symbols in her services: blowing the shofar, using symbols on stoles, celebrating Jewish holy days. Whatever floats your boat. Needless to say, small town Midwest doesn’t really get her. She has a very small congregation.


My problem: guilt and some shame. That awful voice says, “you could have done something to stop this mess.” I know that’s not true, and it’s not crippling at all. But it hits me hard when I hear her talk about all her “outreach” work. She goes to the local treatment facility, and because they have to by law, she gets a couple of hours a week to spout her crap at these very vulnerable people. Then, like all (not) good helping professionals, she gets on the phone to her friends and family, and discusses these people’s problems. It makes me livid. Just shaking, rage, to think about it, and how disgusting her behavior is.


She writes for the local newspaper (more awful stuff); she used to have a radio show (ugh); for years she has done “teaching” at grade and high schools using puppets and talking about how “condoms don’t really work” and abstinence is the only way, etc. She advocates for school vouchers, saying that people should be able to “choose” what their school curriculum and student population is (racism, ignorance of science, etc). She’s very political at the pulpit, and she thinks that’s a good thing.


All this while complaining about the stupid decisions her congregants make, and how come they don’t LISTEN to her, give her more money, etc. I FEEL SICK, YUCK!!! (to borrow a writing style)


She’s my mother. I’ve learned how to create boundaries, cut her off on the phone after 40 minutes, change the subject, respect the good things and forgive the bad. Celebrate where I can. But I just can’t stop feeling awful about all those other people, the ones who aren’t as lucky as me, with all my counseling and self-reflection and privilege. Intellectually, I completely understand that my feelings really are about me; I can see my own vulnerable self, maybe as a child, maybe not, trying to withstand the force of her personality. I see myself in these other people, I understand that. But my heart breaks. I feel powerless, and sad.


Sometimes, when I’m down, I imagine my whole life, my essence, as just a balance on the scales, with her horrible mess on the other side. Is that my purpose; just to balance her out? Does the child pay for the parent’s sins?


Thanks for listening. And to all you fellow lurkers out there, it feels good to talk about it.smile.png

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You summed it up when you said she was "leaning on her child like no mother should."  


She was and is the parent.  She was the adult and should have acted like that around you (even if she was falling apart with the divorce and all).  She didn't.  It's not your fault or your responsibility.


When my kids were about the age you were when your mom got divorced, I got divorced, too, and tried as hard as I could to still be their mom and not make them into my friends or confidants.  I was still the adult in charge.  I had to get my life together (and am still working on it 11 years later!), but it was never up to my kids to help me sort out my own business.  They're now young adults and we all get along.  We are more like "friends" now, but in the end I am still their mom and they are still my kids.  


It sounds like she is dealing with some type or types of mental illness and that is most definitely NOT your responsibility.


Good luck to you!  And glad you're not just lurking any more -- it does feel good to get on here and get things out, doesn't it?  I'm a former lurker, too!

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Hi RoyBatty. Good to see you back on the board again. I completely understand your situation. It sounds to me that you are doing all the right things in this situation. Its very important to have strong boundaries to protect yourself. You already know that you cant change her. We are completely powerless over others. It is sooo frustrating but true. Its such a hard lesson to learn. So when someones behavior is affecting you, its important to remove yourself. I think our lessons in all of this is to balance ourselves out. Your dear mom sounds like an addict to me. A religious addict. She knows how to get her hits. There is nothing you can do about it. You are handling this in a great mature way as far as I can see. 


The 3 C of Al-Anon...You didn't cause it, you cant cure it and you can't control it. You are not the problem. You are the solution unto yourself!! Just keep on showing a little love like you are trying to do. I think your doing real good.



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I have divorced narcissistic, religious parents too. I can relate a lot to what you said. People like that use religion as a coping mechanism. Well they probably use anything and everything as a coping mechanism including their children. It seems like you're doing all the right things. My parents made me feel guilty for a lot of things and it's taken me a long time to start getting over it. What helped me the most was cutting them off (one permanently and the other just for a year) and learning boundaries. Now it's easier for me to separate myself from their craziness and not be as affected. Keep taking care of you :)

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Thanks so much for the support. You're right, it does feel good to just spout off and let stuff go.


When I was a kid I was always in her shadow, and she did her best to keep me there. It's weird when, after all these years, I still feel responsible in some way. But you're both right, not my problem, but hers, and her life.

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