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Dishonorable Parents

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Image of dishonorable parents woman and man arguing

Honoring Dishonorable Parents

Written by Randi Fine,Narcissistic Abuse Expert

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

How and whether to honor dishonorable parents is a dilemma for those of us who have suffered childhood abuse.

Society and religion teach us that we must obey and respect our parents, no matter the circumstance. That expectation is a source of tremendous conflict and guilt, especially for childhood emotional abuse survivors who have no visible scars.

Emotional abuse is subtle. As children we do not understand what is happening to us while it is happening. Our parents' treatment of us is the only treatment we know. We find ways, mostly unhealthy ones, to adapt to it. It isn't until adulthood, when our lives do not function in healthy ways, when our happiness and relationships are impeded, that the awareness of what we endured in childhood becomes heightened. The realization that our parents failed us may make honoring them a confusing, difficult, sometimes impossible thing to do.

When parents fail to take responsibility for what they did, seek help, and/or make amends; when they continue to manipulate or be abusive, the moral dilemma of honoring dishonorable parents is compounded even more. It is even more difficult when they have abandoned us, live amoral lives, have substance abuse issues, or do evil things.

The word honor is not synonymous with the word obedience. To honor our parents does not mean being subordinate to them or submitting to any form of abuse from them. We do not have to listen to put downs, insults, or guilt trips. We do not have to stay in a relationship with anyone who hurts us, violates our trust and dignity, or steals our hopes, dreams, and potential.