It took years of therapy to finally understand what my mother endured: Ask Ellie

Reader’s comment on the topic of parenting that hurts rather than helps:

“Toxic Parenting by Dr. Susan Forward is one of the best books and manuals I have ever come across. I have passed on many copies throughout my own years of therapy, to so many tortured souls.

“I’m the only one of four children my mother claimed she wanted, and unfortunately I’m also the only one with over 30 years of continuous counseling, including needing anxiety medication.

“Luckily, my own children are not too affected by my history and my mental health problems.

“One important thing I would like to stress about this is that although many mothers are blamed for poor and abusive parents, many women had no choice but to become mothers because there were no laws and no birth control protecting them.

“My own mother confessed that she started hating my father for the hell he put her through during the 10 years he forced her to have sex shortly after giving birth and mistreated her.

“I didn’t understand his plight until many years after having my own children and moving for a better life. And I didn’t realize how bad things were until my brother’s abuse became evident. in a historic lawsuit that my sisters and I fought on his behalf.

Q: Nine years ago I was unexpectedly widowed. Raising two young boys was, and still is, a challenge with my own progressive neurological health issues. To compensate for the loss of their father, I spoiled the boys with toys and electronics; but I still thought I had done a good job raising them myself.

Now that my health issues are more serious, they have both become verbally abusive. I’m very depressed because I thought I raised them better than that. The eldest has a full-time job and still lives at home. He still refuses to even clean his own bathroom or help bring groceries inside of the car. He also does not contribute financially to living here.

My younger son pretty much copies his brother, refusing to help him because since his brother doesn’t, why should he? I asked my 25 year old son to move out, but he refused. Most likely, I will need a caregiver to look after me in a few years.

But how can I trust any of them to take care of me in the future when they have no compassion or empathy now? In fact, they tell me that I’m lazy and useless, even though I clean, cook, do their laundry and do the shopping.

Advise me, please.

Spoiled adult son, worried mother

A: It’s time to take care of yourself in several important ways. Start with your health care:

1. Ask your doctor about the medications and care you need and about other regimens (fitness? diet change?) that may help.

2. Talk to your banker/lawyer about your current living expenses and financial moves that can make your life easier…for example, selling your house to move to a more affordable location.

3. Talk to a counselor about preparing for an easier future, such as living alone without the demands of two spoiled adult men who can take care of themselves.

These three major moves can relieve you of more than your share of immediate household needs and hopefully lead your sons to recognize that they need to help out or move somewhere else. Period.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Relationship problems affect entire lives.

Ellie Tesher is a Toronto-based Star advice columnist. Email your relationship questions to:


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