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Aster's avatar

Is there an unpardonable "sin" of a mother that a child shouldn't have to forgive?

Asked by Aster (15339 points ) September 23rd, 2012

Is there any one parental (maternal) activity that rational people should not expect a child to get over and forgive ? Something so vile that other family members should understand why a child cannot overlook-ever- as they cannot forgive and forget either?

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29 Answers

janbb's avatar

Physical or emotional abuse and/or not protecting the child from abuse by another family member if known..

DWW25921's avatar

Not really. Kids do some pretty nasty things you know. I did a paper years ago and I’m sorry for not having the reference available but I believe 50% of children that get molested are imposed upon by other children. Both kids need help in circumstances like that. I don’t believe a child should be given up on in any circumstance. It’s a rough road and a tough call when it happens. It does happen a lot.

Humans are inherently sexual beings. Experimentation, although we don’t like to think about it, does begin early. Statistically speaking it’s close friends and family that engage in the overwhelming number of abuse cases. I don’t believe that a child should ever be in a position where they are cut off. That could make them act our their inappropriate behavior even worse. They need help.

Very interesting question. Thanks for sharing.

Aster's avatar

@DWW25921 I meant sins by THE MOTHER that shouldn’t be forgiven.

Sunny2's avatar

No one should expect other family members to understand how you felt or feel. The family is denying what the experience meant to you. Don’t expect it. And if they are asking you do what you can’t, stand up to them or simply leave the room when they start. You don’t have to forgive any offense of anybody if you don’t feel the forgiveness.

Aster's avatar

@janbb how about abuse by the teen towards the mother when the mother was being physically violent towards the teen?

gailcalled's avatar

^^^You just said, quite vehemently, that you meant sins by THE MOTHER (sic). How does that then reconcile with your last statement about abuse by the teen towards a violent mother?

I do not understand the scenario that you are describing, and I do not understand whether “sin” is different from sin.

The person who decides what he or she can or cannot get over or can or cannot forgive is the receiver. The onlookers may have opinions but they are less valid.

This question is too abstract for any helpful discussion. For that, you have to provide concrete details.

linguaphile's avatar

The worst abuse I’ve ever heard of was about a mother who forced her 14 year old daughter to have sex with random men she brought home. The daughter still forgave her.

I know of a parent who disowned a child because the new spouse didn’t want the “past interfering with their new relationship.” The child forgave the parent when they reconciled 33 years later.

Only the child can decide what’s forgivable and what’s not, and if they forgive, it’s for their own reasons.

The same goes for what injuries the parents will forgive from their own children.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Really, an kind of abuse or neglect.

Though, honestly, there’s not really anything that anyone has to forgive.

ucme's avatar

Making you wear purple shoes, flared jeans & a lemon cardigan at your first school xmas party.
The mental scars linger on.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@ucme the lady had taste and wanted you to stand out and be merry!

ucme's avatar

No i’m afraid alcohol was forbidden at 5yr old’s parties, just as well.

Pazza's avatar

@gailcalled – Please forgive my ignorance, but what does the ’(sic)’ signify in your answer above?
(many thanks in advance)

chyna's avatar

Sic to quote as written even with errors.

zenvelo's avatar

There are lots of them. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Abandonment. Prostituting the children. And not intervening in abuse by others to protect the child.

YARNLADY's avatar

Not observing proper nutritional needs while pregnant, resulting in physical or mental damage to the child.

DWW25921's avatar

@Aster I’m sorry I read it quickly, assumed and went on a tangent. Although, who is to say that a sin of the mother wouldn’t follow the same guidelines? I don’t think there’s anything my parents could do to make me disloyal or reject them. I’m going to stick with my initial response and say it applies across the board. Mom needs reconciliation and forgiveness.

Judi's avatar

It depends on your definition of forgiveness. For the sake of the child, I would hope that they could find a way to forgive anything in order to purge themselves of the cancer of hate and resentment. That doesn’t mean that they put themselves in a position of being hurt again or that they ever become vulnerable to the offending parent again, it just means that they let the parent off the hook. They don’t even have to communicate the forgiveness, they just have to give up their right to seek or see revenge. When you forgive you stop allowing the offender to occupy space in a painful way in your heart.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Forgiveness is not universal for all people and all “sins” (as you put it). What one person may be willing and able to forgive, another may not. Sometimes it may take the person a long time to be able to forgive the person that hurt them. As far as what the rest of the family thinks, it’s not their place to say what another person should or should not be able to forgive.

augustlan's avatar

It’s all up to the child(ren) of the parent. Some may be willing to forgive far more than others, and it’s not for anyone else to judge whether they should or not. I also want to echo @Judi‘s answer… just because a ‘sin’ is forgiven, that doesn’t mean that the relationship will ever return to happy-happy good times. I forgive my mother, but I don’t speak to her, either. I wish her no ill will, but she cannot be in my life.

You’ve asked several variations of this question over the time you’ve been here, @Aster, and it would really be helpful if you could be more specific about the situation you’re referencing. We might be able to offer you some concrete advice if you were.

Shippy's avatar

I don’t think we can say what is unforgivable or not. I wish it were that easy. Like a rule book of life. My own mother was physically violent and neglectful to me. I loved her, I do suffer from it though. She apologized to me when I was 25 years old. I respected that. I accepted, but whether I moved on or not, I am not sure. I did forgive her, but how did it effect me as a person? I cannot say. I do know though, mothers are put on a pedestal, hence your question. In a way the question says more than it reads. Mothers are human too. They have difficult times too. Mothers are people, so the forgiving has little to do with being a mother but as to being a human?

Seek's avatar

I, personally, don’t buy into the belief that forgiveness is an inherently good thing. Some people have suggested to me that if I don’t “forgive” my own mother, that I will in some way continue to be negatively affected by my own lack of forgiveness. I don’t have to be happy with her, I don’t have to say what she did is okay, I just need to “forgive” for my own good.

I’m not exactly sure what that means.

Forgiving someone is saying that what they did is, ultimately, okay. “This didn’t hurt too bad, so it’s okay”, or “I got better, so it’s okay” or “It’s not happening anymore, so it’s okay”. No. It’s not okay.

So why should I forgive? What does it mean to forgive?

Shippy's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr It is said that forgiveness sets one free. I am also not sure how it works, as I do of course remember the bad things my mom did, but her asking for forgiveness kind of turned the “sound” down on the acts I recall. I agree though, forgiveness should never mean, I accepted that behavior, or I am over what happened. To do so is more damaging in the long term. I have spent a life trying to rebuild the little of me that was left. Which includes, not accepting bad behavior.

janbb's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I’m with you.

linguaphile's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I think the forgiveness that’s supposed to set one free is where you emotionally let go of the anger and resentment towards the person who hurt you. Holding on to the bitterness “cooks” in someone’s mind and reduces the space in their psyche for more positive things. That’s the idea behind forgiving others—letting go of that negative real estate in your mind.

BUT….... there’s nothing in there that says the hurtful behavior has to be condoned. Big difference.

I’ve been deeply hurt and betrayed too many times in my life and carrying all that hurt brought me close to suicide. That’s when I realized the difference between letting go and condoning— nobody told me this, I had to figure it out. Forgiving/letting go, to me, is something you do for yourself and your own psyche to release that negativity and heaviness.

Some people think forgiving means to accept and understand the hurtful action… I disagree- that’s condoning. Condoning is for the other person—and I will never say, “That was okay,” when it was not.

gailcalled's avatar

@linguaphile: Very well said.

Aster's avatar

@augustlan Should family members, including sons, daughters, siblings and parents of a mother, be expected to forgive that mother who prostituted herself for drugs a dozen times and once told her fourteen year old son to deliver them? Or should they forgive and forget if she has not done it for a year? In other words, is it unpardonable to expose her child to that sort of behavior to the point that the child has fits of crying and sobbing and feels he “needs weed” to deal with the memories?

linguaphile's avatar

@Aster Umm… I’d like to offer a different perspective. Maybe it’s not forgiveness that this mom needs from around her, but support? The person’s healing can be supported without approving of the old behavior—these two things can be separated. Forgiveness/non-forgiveness isn’t going to solve the problem. During the healing process, the mom and child need concrete steps to get through, like information, help, support, groups, programs and direction, not something as intangible and external as others’ forgivenesses.

I feel for people who have destroyed their lives on drugs… it’s such a dark, dark, dark place to be—they make the worst possible decisions, destroy all their relationships, put themselves and others in so much danger, lose so much money, dignity and health, and like in the case you presented, hurt their own kids, too.

I can not begin to understand what goes on in their minds—I only know from watching my loved ones spiral into that black hole that it’s like a monster’s gotten into them, and it is a long, long journey back to health. It takes decades, and sometimes never, to physically, emotionally and financially rebuild oneself from addictions. All the while, they have to deal with the fact that they and nobody else made all those horrible decisions. There’s very little empathy for them.

Someone I love very much told me that when he was in the middle of his addiction hell, nobody every asked, “Are you okay?” or “What [support] do you need?” He was treated with disgust, and after 13 years of being clean, he is still treated with disgust by many people. He hasn’t been forgiven by these people- he has long accepted that and lives with it.

Their forgiveness is outside of his control—it’s a very individual decision. Each person you named individually needs to decide what they’re willing to put aside to maintain the relationship with the mother. Should it be a collective decision, or is this something between the mother and each person she hurt?

It’s also hard to empathize when you’re one of those that got hurt. I’ve been on that end too—but I had to, for myself, distinguish the difference between non-forgiveness and condescending judgment—there’s a fine, fine line between those two.

Non-forgiveness, to me, means that I have set my boundaries very far from my core self to protect myself from repeated harm, and I’m not emotionally invested in that person anymore. It’s an active decision—an action with real results. Condescending judgment means I see that person as a slimy loogie on the bottom of my shoe- immensely disgusting and worthless—that’s a passive, nonproductive view that has no real result, IMO.

I’ve been looked at with that type of judgment many times for various reasons—I always felt it was unfair because the judger didn’t take my story or my input into consideration. As a result, I really, really don’t feel it’s my place to look at anyone that way.

It was a horrible, horrible thing she did—it’s a hell she created and contributed to. No doubt, no question… I feel bad for the situation, and especially for the kid.

augustlan's avatar

@Aster She is clearly a drug addict, and people sometimes do terrible things when they are addicted. For me personally, if she is clean now and working hard to stay that way, I would be supportive of that effort. I would probably not trust her fully, for a long time probably, but I would not call it unforgivable. Again, though, each individual decides for themselves how much they are willing to forgive. There is no standard formula.

Shippy's avatar

This sounds like one huge pity party really. Who’s parents were perfect? both mine were drunks their entire lives. One even drank so much, wet brain was a result and subsequently I devoted half a lifetime of looking after a person who really didn’t look after me. I don’t smoke weed to forget, been there done that. I learned in life, today is all you have, sure you have pain, but to dwell in it is like saying, OK, your strange ways and habits are MY legacy. I am free, I don’t drink I don’t drug, I am taking life one day at a time. And who’s to say if my dear old mum and dad were great folks, that I would still be who I am today?

Prostitution for drugs? This person this human, needed help. Psychologically both for her own self and also for her addiction. Life is hard, nothing is perfect. Not sure where forgiveness comes in, but I do know that, we are allowed to say NO, to unacceptable behavior towards us. We have rights to not be a part of a mad life, or a bad life. But we do have responsibility to ourselves and to let go. And to stop blaming others for our own shit.

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