Do Parents Really Love Their Children?

Reader’s Question

Do parents really love their children? I am asking this because my father stopped talking to me a couple of years ago and I still don’t know why. I live with my mother, but we’re not close. She’s been having an affair with our married friend for years and she doesn’t want to talk to me about it, which really creates an awful atmosphere in our house because she talks about it with everyone else and she knows that I know that, but not with me. She even makes a sort of ‘conspiracy’ with her friends and him so I don’t have any information about it. Once I tried to confront her, but she made a terrible scene and blamed it all on me. I also discovered that she’s a great liar and very manipulative, so most of the time I really don’t know what is true and what not. It really made me disappointed. Sometimes she makes me believe that she wants to grow closer to me, and I believe her, but soon enough realize that it has all been a scam for her to get what she wants, and that is to get me out of the picture so she could pursue her affair. Also, I can’t show any signs of being sad or angry because she just attacks me either verbally or emotionally and provokes me into an argument so she could blame the shouting on me and so she could have a corpus delicti that I am a terrible person who fights with her mother. She also emotionally blackmails me. In her conversations with her friends she refers to herself as an ‘excellent mother’, which really struck me because we’re sooo not close and sometimes I really feel that she doesn’t love me at all and that I am a terrible burden to her. Sometimes I even overhear her gossiping about me with her mother. I don’t know how to handle this situation and stay sane — any advice? I am 25, by the way, and still can’t afford to leave home.

Psychologist’s Reply

Most parents do love their children — but others love their children at their convenience. About 15% of adults are considered to have a “personality disorder”. These are individuals who have a long history of personality, behavior, emotional, and relationship difficulties. A “personality disorder” is defined as “an enduring pattern of inner experience (mood, attitude, beliefs, values, etc.) and behavior (aggressiveness, instability, etc.) that is significantly different than those in their family or culture”. These dysfunctional patterns are inflexible and intrusive into almost every aspect of the individual’s life. These patterns create significant problems in personal and emotional functioning and are often so severe that they lead to distress or impairment in all areas of functioning.

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In my observation, Personality Disorders have core personalities of selfishness, insensitivity to others, narcissism, a refusal to accept personal responsibility, and a tremendous sense of entitlement that allows them to abuse/mistreat others when their selfish demands are not immediately met. Personality Disorders are extremely controlling and manipulative — often using obvious behaviors such as physical abuse/intimidation while at other times using subtle techniques such as manipulation, cons, and schemes.

Individuals with a Personality Disorder view everything in their environment as directly related to them. A child’s school play is viewed as an inconvenience to their schedule, even when they are the parent. They do not show normal attitudes and values when in traditional roles such as parent, spouse, employee, or friend. When their selfish behavior is brought to their attention, they are often explosive, blaming, and highly-dramatic — at the same time assuming a victim stance as though they are being harassed or incorrectly challenged.

Socially, individuals with Personality Disorders have shallow emotions, superficial loyalty, and tend to manipulate those around them. When we have a parent, or two parents, that have a personality disorder, the shallow emotional connections are most obvious. These parents have more emotional investment in their lives than the life of their child. The best way to think of shallow emotions is having a good $500.00 automobile. You like the vehicle as long as it runs well. If it develops problems, it’s easier to detach/dump it rather than try to have it fixed. If you move across the country, it’s easier to leave it rather than try to transport it. In short, your investment in the vehicle is shallow. Personality disorders, when parents, have the same level of emotional and social investment in their children. They can actually leave and not return — blaming the children for their behavior.

Personality Disorders are almost totally self-justifying and show little or no remorse, guilt, or regret for the manner in which they treat others.

In your situation, it’s quite likely that your parents are self-involved and may have personality disorder features. This tells you that you need to make yourself as independent as possible — as soon as possible. You’ll find there is very little to be gained by confronting Mom about her behavior. She doesn’t care about your opinion. Rather, I’d accept my current situation and work toward leaving. The longer you stay the more hostile and resentful your mother will become as from her standpoint, it’s her life that is important. In the future, your parents (including your father maybe) will come in and out of your life at their convenience. While most parents love their children, parents with personality disorders love children at their convenience.

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