Hellish mother, hellish father: When parents attack
CHERYL LAVIN June 6, 2012 9:00PM
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:27AM
The Bible tells us to honor our mothers and fathers, but sometimes you have to wonder why.
SYLVIE: My family had something bad to say about every fellow I dated, no matter who he was. My dad would mock and mimic him, and my mother would assassinate his character. I came to the conclusion that they just wanted me to spend my life at home, as their unpaid housekeeper. My mother even called me Cinderella sometimes.
I never wanted my fiance to meet my parents, but he insisted and showed up at their house one day. Mom offered him a drink, and then called him a drunk when he accepted. Later my parents threatened to show up at the wedding just to shut it down. They didn’t actually do it, but I was unable to enjoy my own wedding because of their threats. I should not have allowed them to attend.
My mother’s opposition never did end. I’ve been married 25 years, and she still calls me and begs me to leave my husband and move in with her. This isn’t happening. I am not her Cinderella.
MITCH: My mother died of cancer when I was only a boy, and I grew up living in a children’s home, even though my father was still alive. I was never a good student because I had a great deal of unresolved grief, which simply got in the way of seeing the point of certain things, like schoolwork.
The children’s home, however, flat out refused to believe I was stupid and was extremely upset with me for even considering not going to college. They essentially forced me to attend. It took me 10 years to graduate. Even after realizing the value of a higher education, it was still difficult for me to do the work properly and get the job done.
While at college, I met the gal who would become my wife. Her parents looked down on me, like I was low class, even after they learned that all three of my mother’s brothers were doctors who received their undergraduate degrees from schools such as Princeton and William and Mary before going onto medical schools such as Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern University. In their minds, she should have married British royalty.
It didn’t seem to matter how hard I worked at my relationship with them. Nothing seemed to help. And their opinion of me influenced my wife. Things between us really headed south in 2004, after my father took his life. She used her job as an excuse to keep from going to his funeral, despite my begging her to be there for me. We’re now divorced.
SARI: After I was grown, whenever I mentioned a new man in my life, my parents’ questions were always the same:
1. What kind of name is that? Is it Anglo-Saxon?
2. What kind of family does he come from? Were his parents professionals?
3. Is he a professional? What university did he graduate from?
4. What church does he go to? (Only certain ones were acceptable to them.) Does he go weekly?
5. Does he drink or smoke? (To them, these were sins.)
6. He’s rich, isn’t he?
My parents were the very worst bigots.
Are your values different from your parents? Send your tale to firstname.lastname@example.org.