Thursday, March 11, 2010

The issue of honoring one's parents...

I've heard many a DoNM sister express their confusion and/or pain over the religious issue of honoring one's mother and father when faced with abuse from a narcissistic parent. Some were even fed this commandment by their NM's as justification for why the DoNM had no right to speak against them or their abuses. I, myself, have heard my own NM express to me many times, "I am your MOTHER!" as if that somehow excuses the years of emotional and verbal abuse perpetrated against me by her.

For it's part, society only serves to fuel this confusion and pain. How many of us have heard the words "But she's your MOTHER!" whenever one of us divulges our disapproval over some abuse our NM's have done toward us? Apparently, at least as far as many seem to be concerned, the fact that these women carried us in their wombs for nine months and gave birth to us means that they (our NM's) are to be given carte blanche to treat us however they want, even if said treatment crosses the line into outright abuse.

As if society doesn't put enough pressure on us, there's also numerous religious institutions who seem to back up the idea that one must honor one's parents always. The Holy Bible contains several verses about honoring one's parents:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Gal. 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Col. 3:20

With all this pressure, it's little wonder so many of us DoNM's see the option of going NC or "no contact" as so horrifying or feel like horrible people once we go the extra step and make the break.

I found a wonderful article while searching online recently titled "How Do I Honor An Abusive Parent?" In it, the author talks about what exactly it means to "honor" one's parent(s) by going back to the original Greek and Hebrew meanings of the word. Basically, according to the author, honoring is not:

  • Staying in relationship with someone who will hurt me or those for whom I am responsible.
  • Never saying anything to anyone about the other’s “faults.”
  • Enabling a sinner to remain in sin by my silence and inaction.
  • Thinking a person is “wonderful” when they are not.
  • Having feelings of love.

I agree with this summation completely. Though the naysayers may disagree and claim I'm a bad person or being "disrespectful" toward my NM, I can "honor" my NM as a human being while not having her in my life or being in a relationship with her. As the author of the article says, "Honoring a parent is about my attitude toward him – that is all that is required by the Word."


  1. Nice post DA, and a very important one. SO many of us confuse honoring osmeone with feeling that we are under obligation to accept and forgive abuse, or that honoring them emans glorifying their behaviour even when horrid.

    I read the following on someone elses blog and it fits I think

    Live the truth. Keeping family secrets and living family lies is not honoring. For me it is idolatry. At this moment I am not able to keep in contact with my parents and still live in the truth.

    Stand for justice. I honor my parents by writing on this blog and by speaking out against child abuse.

    The person writing it is a deeply christian person who is ransacking her mind to honor her parents according to her faith while validating her experience as a very abused child.

  2. I appreciate all these comments about honoring an emotionally abusive parent.

    My NM threatened to cut me out of her will because I refused to call my sister at night after I have repeatedly told my FOO that it is too hard with kids and my husband's work schedule. They called my husband "materialistic" for getting ahead and not helping me at night to make the phone calls. I should want the "simple life" like them!

    My Narcissist sister (the spokesperson for my FOO) said I ruined our "loving Catholic family", but she can't see her own selfishness or lack of understanding for me.