parents mental abuse physical abuse bad parents home life how to live with parents

parents mental abuse physical abuse bad parents home life how to live with parents

Parents. Can’t live with them . . . .

By Donnie McKinney  c 2006


When I asked a group of teens at the Juvenile Detention Center what they thought the only thing in their lives that they had absolutely no choice in might be, one of the boys said, “When you die.”  I hadn’t thought of that, and it might be true on occasion, but the only thing that NO ONE has any choice about is what kind of family you’re born into.

Some babies are born into loving, supportive families in which the parents devote their lives to making sure the child feels good about himself and has everything he needs to live a wonderful life. Unfortunately, that’s a lot rarer than it should be. More often than not, parents are just imperfect human beings. Sometimes they simply don’t love their children, though more often they just don’t know how to express love. Sometimes they get divorced. Sometimes they have serious mental problems or addictions. The list is endless.

What’s important for a teenager who has grown up in an unsupportive or even abusive family is that he has a “paradigm shift” in his thinking.

What's a pair 'o dimes? A paradigm shift is simply learning to look at something in a totally different way. That's exactly what you need to do in your life.

The three basic truths relating to operating a human being provide the basis for a new viewpoint that will change your life. For this discussion we’re taking the three basic laws in reverse order because it is easier to understand how they apply to this situation. 


Basic Truth #3 – You cannot change other people. You can only control your reaction to them.


This is really important to understand if you happened to be dropped into a “less-than-perfect” home. No one else can affect “who” you become in your life, unless you let them. The problem with young children with “less-than-perfect” parents is that their minds translate the actions of parents into personal feelings, and the end result in them not feeling “O.K” about themselves.


To avoid letting one’s situation damage his or her self-esteem, along with the resulting confusion and depression, it is vital that you learn to simply accept your parents as they are and at least "try" to love them unconditionally. You only have two choices where other people are involved. You can either accept them as they are, or you can drive yourself crazy wishing they were different. That’s it. The former sounds like a better plan than the latter.


In a situation in which you are miserable, it often makes more sense to “endure” than to become argumentative and rebellious. The only result of rebelliousness is more problems and more strained relationships. Life isn’t always fair. You should be a happy, carefree teenager instead of being miserable because of other people in your life. But, in many cases it’s best to just recognize that your situation is something that just “is.” It’s temporary. As long as it takes to “exist” through the rough times, it is still temporary and you still have 80% of your life ahead of you when you get free of your current situation. Don’t make it worse. Make it better. This temporary situation will be just a blip on the radar screen of your life in the overall scheme of things.


I’ve met a lot of teens whose situations were really bad, whose parents are even abusive. All you can do in that situation is to think through all the alternatives. Most teens fear involving authorities and taking a chance on ending up in foster care, but that’s one option. Sometimes grandparents are possibilities. Another possibility might be thinking about your good friends and seeing if one of their families will just let you come and live with them for a year or two. One of my daughter’s friends came to spend the night when they were juniors in high school. She just never went back home. She lived with us until she got ready to move off to go to college. She was gone so long that her parents made her bedroom into a den.

It may be that you just need to think of yourself as the chimney that remains standing as the house burns down around it. The house is gone, but the chimney stands strong. Sometimes, the best plan is to just “exist” in the home situation that you think is unbearable, but work on your goals for your life and start doing the things necessary to get where you want to be. You still have 80% of your life ahead of you to be in total control of your own situation, and you can design your life the way you want it to be.

This picture is an illustration of a chimney standing strong as the house burns down around it. A local television reporter took it right behind my house. I heard a series of explosions and looked out my den windows. It looked like our whole woods was going to burn down, including our house.

Mark Owen, WPSD-TV


Truth #2.  You cannot change anything that has happened in the past. All you can do is learn from it, fix what you can, and then start right where you are this instant, and move forward with your life.


The only time you can live is in the present moment. No matter what has happened in the past, none of it determines who you are or where you go in your life. You are in total control of who you are becoming. No one can stop you from beginning right this instant to start becoming the person you want to be. You may have had no control over what happened in the past, but you have all the control over where you go from here.


No one has ever figured out how to change something that has happened in the past. You can’t do that, either. So, think about the past as Carl Sandburg wrote in his poem, Prairie, “The past is a bucket of ashes.” That’s all it is. Leave the bucket of ashes behind. All you have is the present moment, which is the only time you are ever alive, and the future which you can design any way you want it. Don’t let “things” that happened in the past bog you down. Whining about things that have already happened is a total waste of time, energy and brain cells. Move on.


Basic Truth #1.  Most of the attitudes, emotions and thought processes we have adopted - our own self-concepts - are fictitious and erroneous.


I saved the “biggie” for last. The most dangerous aspect of a bad home environment is the effect it can have on your own thoughts. It’s likely that your self-esteem has been damaged by “stuff” related to your home situation. It’s also likely that you have “absorbed” some fictitious and erroneous thought patterns, emotions, your own self-concept and your outlook on life. Try to understand very clearly that almost everything you think right now is false. None of it is the “real you.”

As a child you craved the love and approval you should have received from parents. If you didn’t get it, then that’s sad. But, it’s still something that just “is.” Whether they did or didn’t provide that love and acceptance, it was “them” not “you.” It’s up to you whether you allow “their” human conditioning to affect your subconscious thought patterns and control your life. The best way to understand what has happened to you is to study the article, “Human Conditioning,” in The Real Me study series  Click Here to go the The Real Me


The best way you can invest in your life right now is to go through the entire study series and use the tools and principles outlined to design your life the way you want it to be. There is no more beneficial way to spend your time right now. Dwelling on the past, fretting about your situation and becoming depressed are all unprofitable exercises in futility. Spend your time, while you’re being the chimney that remains strong after the house burns down around it, figuring out who the “real” you is and deciding what you are going to do in your life.


Once you get a crystal-clear image in your mind of the person you are becoming, no one can stop you. The only thing that can prevent you from becoming that person is if you “quit” before you get there. Keep in mind what Norman Vincent Peale told me, when I wrote him a letter asking what was the most important thing I should be teaching teenagers,


“Tell your young people to use the ‘as if’ principle. Tell them to decide who it is they want to be and what they want to do in their lives, and then act ‘as if” they are already that person. They will slowly and imperceptibly become that person.”


There, I’ve told you. What are you going to do about it?


I'm sorry you have to face all this.  But, the simple fact is you can be anything you want to be in life. All you can do is start right where you are and go from there.  As long as you keep your eye on the goal and visualize yourself in good surroundings and being happy and productive and working on your natural, God-given talents, you'll eventually be doing exactly that.  In the meantime, you have to figure out your plan. 


So, that means that if living with your parents is the only thing you can do at the moment, then just make it work as well as you can until you can do something else.  Just grin and bear it. I suggest using the "smile & wave" technique. Don't react. Don't make it worse. No one can argue by themselves. It takes two people to argue and fight, and you're in charge of one of those people.

Instead of being angry or feeling sorry for yourself, spend your time sitting down and working out a specific plan to get where you want to be.  Then, one step at a time, work your way out of your current situation and into one of your own design.  You have to figure out what your natural talents are and what you want to do with your life.  Then, start your plan to do it. You are the only person on this earth who has the power to change your life into what you want it to be. Do whatever is necessary. Don’t give up until you get there.


You might need different education.  Start getting it.  You might need to work some extra hours and sock some money away into savings to use to get out on your own.  Work extra if necessary.  You might need to be working at an entry level in some company to get started on your path to the career you want.  Whatever it is, just start doing it and don't even slow down to think about the “horrible” position you've been thrown into.  Just survive it until you get what you want. 


Get a picture in your mind of yourself being like the small tree I watched during a storm when I was a child, being bent over to the ground by the wind. I thought surely it would break. But, when the wind calmed down, it just straightened back up. The bad forces around you may blow you around and bend you down to the ground, but you just straighten back up and keep growing when it stops.  You are a survivor.  You're that tree that bends with the wind, but then straightens back up and grows big and strong.  That's exactly what you have to be now.


Well, that's a lot to absorb in one session.  Anytime you need help, you can give me insights into what's going on and maybe I can help you formulate your plant to get started on your life.  

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