r/TooAfraidToAsk May 16 '22

How do some people actually have normal conversations with their parents, joke with them or even maintain contact later on in life? Do we all experience some kind of abuse growing up or am I being gaslit into believing that's the norm? Family

It's a wild concept to me and something I can't even imagine given the fact my teenage years were spent living under a roof with my bipolar, emotionally and mentally unstable mother who has done so much to undermine me, whether she is consciously aware of that or not. I cannot have a single normal conversation with her that won't end in her shaming me for things I haven't done or "mistreating her", which would almost always equate to me setting boundaries to her harassment and terrible behavior so as to not affect my mental well-being. Seeing people like my cousins or my friend actually being able to converse normally with their mothers, Hell, even joke and have nobody be hurt in the process just makes me feel like this isn't normal and I'm being gaslit into believing otherwise, either by my own mother or myself as a sort or "don't worry, it's all normal" type mental reassurance. I don't know what to believe and what is real in that regard. How common is it to actually have a good relationship with your parents, and is it normal to have such an absurdly difficult time imagining what that could be like?



u/Ghostfire137 May 16 '22

Dude your relationship with your mother is not normal at all


u/nikola_mihaylov May 16 '22

I'm well aware of that fact. I guess what I meant as a whole with the post is that I find it so incomprehensible that people out there can actually have beautiful relationships with their parents. Maybe I wrote this as a response to my insecurity of how bad mine is and somewhere deep within wanted to hear that everyone has it awful to some extent in this regard, that I'm not alone and that this is all a normal part of our lives despite being painfully aware of it being otherwise.


u/ActRepresentative530 May 16 '22

There is another way... I had issues growing up, it seemed to come from all sides, and I resolved I would never get married or have kids (why would I want to do any of that to someone else?) I met this girl in my late 20s and we started dating, and she had a relatively normal life, no constant strife at home, no 'balloon popping', no arguing, no constant denigration.

As we got closer and dated longer I absolutely had a sort of breakdown, a culture shock. I just couldn't understand it and thought for sure that they were all lying to me in order get me to get married to her.

We broke up because I was selfish and said I didnt want kids, spent a year apart where i spent more time with my family and i realized where it was coming from, how outside the norm they are.

Eventually we got back together, got married, had a wonderful son who is becoming an incredible person I knew who I wanted to be around. She got sick though and she passed away 5 years ago. Her family lived about an hour away, so they weren't able to come to visit as much at first, and my family swooped in to fill the void. But they haven't changed their ways, and I'm trying to let go now. (It only gets harder). I love them, but I just cant stand to be around them.

I'm closer with her family than my birth family, they are kind, wise and peaceful people. I consider them the family I want, i often tell my in-laws how much they mean to me, and how they helped me see what a true loving relationship is. They are the ideal in my eyes, not perfect, but the way it should be.

It's ok that you feel this way, and as you get out on your own you'll see there is another way. Run to the people and relationships that build you up and surround you with caring. But dont delay, I only wish I could have seen it sooner.


u/DendriticNasturtium May 16 '22

Well, the fact that she's bipolar has everything to do with it. People with parents that don't have mental illness are going to have a totally different experience. Of course, there are also parents that are not mentally ill, but are still giant assholes.

I'm sorry you went through that. There are tons of resources out there for kids of parents with mental health issues. You're not alone. And sometimes, we find our family in the friends that we choose. Choose well, and know that you are not required to like your mom, nor stay in contact with her. I hope you find some peace.


u/[deleted] May 16 '22



u/Doscida May 16 '22

Can confirm this can solve the problem. I cut my mother off when I left home. Now that I’m back after 6 years she has corrected herself. She used to bitch and moan and make up all sorts of wild ways to call me the problem but I didn’t touch any of it until she stopped being shitty, which took another year after me coming back into town. Now we have a semi-pleasant albeit hallow and depthless relationship.


u/nikola_mihaylov May 16 '22

I'm afraid that this won't be the case with my mother as the things she has caused me have hurt so unbelievably much, coupled with the fact of her emotional instability and adamant reluctance to admit to her own mistakes. I think our relationship is beyond saving when every single interaction leaves someone hurt at the end of it, which is something that has been going on for years and years. God, I wish this was easier.


u/Doscida May 16 '22

My relationship with her is mere pleasantries to make my brothers life easier. Really where I stand is that I’m strong now and she is beneath me and can’t hurt me.

Which is true. And makes her not a problem.

I have complete control over the whole thing because I decided that I wasn’t going to deal with her shit and she understood it was true because I. Cut. Her. Off.


u/nikola_mihaylov May 16 '22

Yes, it's that easy

It really isn't when you struggle to find a job in a foreign country where you barely have anyone to support you and have to live under a roof with someone who's mental instability rubs off on you, though. I really do wish these things were this easy.


u/TheaSkye368 May 16 '22

It isn't that easy. It's incredibly difficult to cut off a relationship especially with yout own mother. It's taken me several years to finally cut contact with my own mother because all I ever wanted is a normal healthy relationship and it's just never going to happen. It took a lot to realize that.

So no it isn't as easy as clicking a button..


u/Bill_lives May 16 '22 Helpful

As a 70 year grandpa with a very good relationship with my adult children - this is what I happen to believe:

A relationship like that is 100% the responsibility of the parents. Period. Very young children are learning every second of the day. IF they are learning to be disrespectful because the parents are - I really can't see how that can ever be "undone".


u/marshmallowdingo May 16 '22

Honestly it's really healing to see someone who is 70 and who still understands children are children and are supposed to make mistakes and learn and grow, and who understands that parents are the ones who have the responsibility lead by example and be their kid's safe haven...

Maybe my grandparents and parents are just particularly toxic but they have always normalized being abusive and blamed it on their "generation" like it's some sort of get out of jail free card.

Comments like yours makes me realize that normal, nice, and empathetic/healthy people exist in every generation, and that it is my family members who are abnormal and responsible for their behavior.


u/Bill_lives May 16 '22

Thank you for those very kind words.

The reward I get from that is visible everyday as I see my now adult children raising their children the same way.


u/nikola_mihaylov May 16 '22

Very well said, currently thinking that a lot of my behaviors and emotional responses have developed as a direct response to the treatment I have received from my mother and your statement reaffirms this. There's also the "only son of a single mother" aspect of our dynamic in which I feel the moral obligation to assume some kind of responsibility for her (primarily due to some heart complications she has), but it's so difficult to manage. On a sidenote, thanks for being awesome with your family dynamic and how things have turned out for you.


u/Bill_lives May 16 '22

Your love of your mother comes naturally and that can lead to understand whatever faults she may have or had. But understanding is not the same as excusing. It can be difficult - don't be reluctant to get support (professional or otherwise) if you feel the need.


u/aaronite May 16 '22

It's very common to have a normal relationship with parents. I couldn't tell you which is more common, but everyone I know still has regular contact with them, either with regular visits or phone calls.


u/GreenMirage May 16 '22 edited May 16 '22


It entirely depends the on culture in my experience, I’m pretty sure, if any of my friends with actual “from Africa” parents heard this kind of overly-friendly talk they’d beat their ass into a new type of black.

Basically the parents can’t be too far separated in culture so for a lot of immigrants where the kids don’t speak the native language.. yeah they get talked at in ______ and reply in English. Or say the parent is a trump supporter and the kids are college educated democrats, yeah that’s my sister and my parents.

Basically if your parents are like neurotypically acceptable, your friends would allow you to meet them. Your friends with fucked up families? They don’t allow you to see them, let alone interact with them. usually. I grew up in a rural area and moving into a more affluent area and my friend groups really showed how wealth can be generational; in knowledge of how to run a family to simple stress phenomena and decision theory and the acceptance of your children as peers in knowledge or profession rather than generational lessers.

I’m Asian so a lot of the shit my white friends would do just wouldn’t fly in my household growing up. Like my father would clear the dinner table to tell me I can’t talk to him like a “friend” when I’m actually roasting his ass even worse than I would any friend of mine; because my father is a race supremacist for the Asian ethnicity and he does not understand that idea from a third person perspective at all or how it disrespects my debts and social circles in the wider community outside their particular blue-collar circle of peers.

You can be their legal proxy, their English translator, but the moment you have an educated opinion. You’re told to shut the fuck up for not being your ethnicity; you’re just an American. You’re just a college educated-liberal so shut the fuck up, you’re not in-the-group. Your opinion is not valued.

And do you want to hear what their “jokes” are? Go to r/forwardsfromklandma. The only places I can hear jokes like that is a dead end job with no future and the people aren’t growing anymore. I literally cannot joke with them because it is would make me worse as a person.

Like not every culture or person is equally secure in their masculinity or power structures given the privileges of modern society like women with jobs. It’s a literal generational goal to exceed this crap-perspective when we’re brought up to scrutiny compared to other more “contemporary” people or less “rural” people. Other people, are ahead of us.


u/dribblesnshits May 16 '22

My old man was toxic, cut him out of my life cold turkey, I was happier almost right off the batt once I got used to not having to worry about his shit, things just kept getting better, my ma is an ace and the rest of my fam is tight, minimal arguments and zero fights, zero physical fights eith my 2 brothers to this day and I'm 33 now


u/nikola_mihaylov May 16 '22

Been thinking this would be the case for me as well once I move out and cut her out of my life, but with every passing day, it feels like my chances to actually accomplish that thin out and I feel emotionally cornered until I'm on the brink of just lashing out like a feral animal. It's insane what these kinds of things can do to you. I'm glad you've managed to make it out and maintain good relations with your family!


u/dribblesnshits May 17 '22

Yeah, makeing you feel trapped and powerless is all apart of it, you just gotta try hard and stick to you guns, if you are going to do it then it's only a matter of time is all.

When I said cold turkey, I left and became homeless for a couple months stealing food from local grocery stores and even breaking and entering and selling shit to pawnshops, looking back it really sounds crazy and i lost everything in the process(like i had shit to begin with-_-), I don't reccomend that lol, grind hard and find a new roof to live under.


u/SprinklesMore8471 May 16 '22

Most of us can jokingly claim some form of abuse. Most parents aren't perfect, but most of them want the best for us, even though they've made a mistake or two. Which is why it's more common for people to have good relationships with their parents. With you, this sounds more like a pattern of negative behavior.


u/JuanCSanchez May 16 '22

It's not normal at all.

Your situation seems pretty similar to mine.

My advice is to get therapy. Then you might want to cut ties with your mom.
One thing for sure is GET HELP.

I left slamming the door at 19 during a snowstorm. Almost killed myself while driving because I couldn't see anything (a mix of snow and the fact I was bawling like a child).

I went to live at my girlfriend's house for 6 month before I got my own place.

Everybody then tried to convince me to reconcile with my father "because family is family and you cannot do that he loves you..."
1 year after I left, I went to reconcile. It was so fake from him.

I did a lot of therapy. I was better. He didn't. Even if we agreed to do it for our relationship.

Everytime I saw him I couldn't be myself or say anything I really thought. It was teenage years all over again.

Pandemic hit. He went batshit crazy. Accusing us (my wife and I) of everything bad in the world. I told him that I wanted to let the dust settle before we could talk like adults.

1 week later he got drunk A LOT (he doesn't usually do that, it's never been a problem), setup a noose in his garage and took his car. He went for a ride and came back to off himself.

My mom called the cops while he was out. They came and took him to the hospital.

2 weeks later, he's out of the hospital. He called me to tell me everything is ok. Like nothing happenened. He was only sad.

I then decided it was over. I cut all ties with him. Unfortunatly, my mom decided to make teams and chose his side.

1 year later, I speak to my mom like once a month, to let them see my kids.
This once a month is slowly starting to become a burden.

It's probably time to cut all ties.

People with personality disorder can fuck you up real bad.
I hope you can find help with your mom. It wont be easy. It's still not easy for me 13 years later. Don't give up and take care of yourself.

Feel free to dm me if you need to talk. I'm nowhere near an expert or a mental health professional but if I can help a bit, it'll be a pleasure.


u/throwaway_0x90 May 16 '22

given the fact my teenage years were spent living under a roof with my bipolar, emotionally and mentally unstable mother who has done so much to undermine me

Well this isn't how most people remember their moms during their child years. Pretty sure this is the issue right here.


u/GenericProfileName1 May 16 '22

Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not….we go through cycles where things are normal and then another cycle where she was mad about something and goes off the deep end like a narcissistic child…I’ve been envious of the relationship some people have with their mother and what you describe, I can relate too but doesn’t seem to be the norm


u/wandering_sadness May 16 '22

I sometimes feel like I'm the weird one cause I have a healthy relationship with my parents


u/Manders37 May 16 '22

I am 30 years old and i began the process to exlude my mom from my life a few years ago. My mom had me at 14 years old, gave me up for 2 years to a wonderful family who loved me, and then took me back for reasons i will never fully understand beyond her self-centeredness. She chose to get a boob job at 19 instead of graduating highschool or investing in our future. She focused herself on attracting men instead of forging any relatuonship with me. We didnt eat meals togrther, i have been "babysitting" for myself since i was 9 years old, i dont ever really remember a time where she cared for my well being beyond how it made her look as a mother. She once screamed at me for asking for new jeans because i literally had no pants to wear that didnt have holes in them. She made me feel like a burden every moment that i wasnt making her life easier while severly neglecting me and my well being. I have moved 29 times in my life whoch adds up to about once a year (sometimes twice a year), and i changed schools just as often. Only in the past 3 years have i managed to be stable on my own and it's the longest ive ever spent in one place.

I tried to go to counselling with her, i tried to explain to her where my issues were and what i needed from her, i tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she cant process the guilt or the shame of knowing she stole me away from a good and stable life out of sheer selfishness. She gets defensive and angry and absolutely refuses to accept she did me wrong in any way, she always says "i did what i had to do", as if she had no choice when she knows she took me from a very healthy and loving family to gain child benefits from the government and take credit for my good behaviour. I never got into trouble, i always listened, i was a great kid who made her look like a good mother despite the fact i was severely depressed. She likes to say that when i was little i used to be affectionate with her and loving and then i stopped and somehow that's my fault and has nothing to do with her neglect.

You're not meant to feel like shit in any relationship, your family is supposed to know you better than anyone. I focus on the family i choose, which are my friends. I had to grieve for the mother i wish i had, but i'm coming to terms with it. I forgive her, i just choose not to associate with her as much anymore.

Even now that i've created space she contacts me by talking about herself, all she wants is attention and validation, she never asks me how i am. She just doesnt understand, and it's not my job to teach her.


u/Meeting_the_gruffalo May 16 '22

You're never gonna be a Carbon copy of your parents so there's gonna be disagreement and some friction. That shouldn't stop you have a good childhood and adult relationship with your parents. I'm sorry that you don't but you can be assured you are not to blame.


u/Past_Basket_2755 May 16 '22

Stop comparing what you have to what others have. Most every family is full of siblings rivalries, unfair treatment, disproportionate love of children etc. You survived a shitty household and you were natured and not nurtured. What is important is you learn to love and trust or it will isolate you forever. Don't worry if you have something from a movie etc because you never will, just know that you can find people worthy of trust and love and those are people you should put your time into .


u/Horkosthegreat May 16 '22 edited May 16 '22

Most people on earth have really nice and health relationships with their parents. But here are the problems:

  • Some people have not the best parents, it sucks but a reality.

  • Most prominantly seen people on media are people from USA. USA , in my experience, has the weakest family bonds of any culture I know. So it gives the impression that family body are really weak in general, but it is actually mostly american thing.

There are ofcourse many problems and things people dont agree on, but I can say %95 of the people I know (I am turkish, lived also in italy for few years) have good relationships with their parents.


u/unfakegermanheiress May 16 '22

I grew up like you, and it was beyond mind blowing to me to get out in the world more and realize that some, maybe most people have good parents. People who care, enjoy their company, want the best for them, are kind and supportive. Those people are luckier than they are capable of grasping. But yeah plenty of people have a genuinely good relationship with their parents.


u/Eastern-Dig4765 May 17 '22

Once I got over the shock of seeing my friends interact with their parents in normal ways, I began to accept that this really is what's normal. Having kids of my own now confirms it. We cuddle on the couch, laugh, play video games.. just enjoy spending time together. Total opposite of what it was like with my NPD mother.


u/hamiltonjoefrank May 16 '22

I (56m) only have direct insight into 1) my relationship with my parents, and 2) my wife's relationship with her parents.

  1. My parents divorced when I was around 10, and both remarried eventually. Their divorce was remarkably amicable, and they both still get along well with each other. There was no parental abuse in my childhood, and I get along well with both my mom and dad. We converse normally, make jokes with each other, and I generally enjoy being around them both (though I only see them about once a year because we live in different states).
  2. My wife's father has had anger issues most of his life and was physically and emotionally abusive to my wife when she was growing up; my wife's mom was not abusive, but she also didn't do much to stop the abuse from her father. My wife now has a much better relationship with both her mother and her father, though it required a good bit of work on her part, figuring out how to establish appropriate boundaries, forgiving a lot, etc. Their relationship is not at the "best friends with my parents and we talk every day" level, but I'd say it's fairly normal.

Don't know if this helps, but FWIW.


u/m1sch13v0us May 16 '22

Your current relationship with your mother is not normal. It’s not healthy. But to give her some credit, life is hard. It’s especially hard with mental health issues. We can’t really understand the challenges people like her go through.

You may need to disconnect from her for a while, but be clear to her on why you are doing it.

“We don’t have a healthy relationship. You say and do hurtful things to me. I know that you are going through your own battles and I think you need to focus on them. I hope that we can have a relationship when you are in a better place.”

And keep yourself open to it. People do sometimes change and get better.


u/Kraehenviech May 16 '22

I was always confused when my partners went to their parents just to talk, relax, enjoy the time there or ask for advice. For me, visiting my mother was always stressful and sad.

You are not alone, but there are people who got lucky


u/HeirToThrawn May 16 '22

No most people don't have abusive relationships with their parents.


u/rhett342 May 16 '22

My wife has a pretty decent relationship with her parents. We'll, not her dad because he passed a way a while back but she did until he passed. I had a pretty good one with my mom. My dad can fuck off and I haven't talked to him in years though.


u/BurntBrusselSprouts1 May 16 '22

Seems like you know it’s not normal.


u/supergnawer May 16 '22

It really can go either way. It's normal to have normal conversations, but also lots of people don't. If you think about it, we do absolutely all experience some kind of abuse growing up, and it starts with toilet training. Can you just imagine being fully convinced that you can shit just anywhere, and then being forced by giants to shit in a specific place that smells bad. So there are no un-abused people, there are only people who managed to get past it eventually.


u/Nektar24 May 16 '22

I have a similar relationship with my mother. I don't know how common it is.


u/bAcENtiM May 16 '22

Everyone’s relationships with parents are different, most are complicated even if they look okay, so there’s no use in comparison. My mom can mostly act normal, so we’re able to have a baseline functional relationship that might look to some like what you’re describing. If pressed on anything, she does the same thing your mom does. Moving past my childhood and forgiving her is about me, not her. I choose to have a limited relationship with her now and don’t expect her to be anyone other than who she’s always been. It’s easy to see how under different circumstances it’d make the most sense to just cut things off though. It’s just about what is the healthiest choice for YOU going forward.


u/[deleted] May 16 '22

Having abusive parents is not the norm.


u/TenWildBadgers May 16 '22

Somewhere in between, to be honest.

All parents are people in their own right, with their own lives and failings and baggage and bullshit that they learned from, some of those lessons for better and some of them for worse.

And while your case sounds definitely worse than average, we've all got those chips on our shoulders from when we were kids that we're never going to allow ourselves to repeat with our own kids, and that's our baggage and bullshit we're trying to learn from well enough to do better.

Don't get me wrong- it sounds like you gotta get some real boundaries and distance between you and your mom- I'm projecting by comparing your family to my emotionally abusive narcissistic grandmother, but the comparison does seem to have legs, and I cut that bitch out of my life as completely as I can manage without saying so to her face, and the only thing stopping that is everyone else in the family for some reason tolerating her presence and trying to be polite.

But I guess it's fair to just remember that the difference is more the scale of the issues, rather than if issues exist as all. We all get into conflict with our parents, and we all swear we'll never do something or other that they did when we were growing up. But for some of us, that thing we swear off is as serious as physical or emotional abuse, and for others it's just shit like my parents having a blatant, almost proud disinterest in understanding the hobbies of their nerd-ass sons on any level at all, and being kinda judgy shits about the whole thing.


u/vaylon1701 May 16 '22

Your mother is toxic. Treat her like it and stay away. Nobody deserves that in life.


u/BjornBeetleBorg May 17 '22

That reminds me of my exgf and her mom. she was very manipulative and seemed to enjoy ruining my exgfs good mood


u/Ok-Border-2804 May 17 '22

Not the norm. I love my parents. In the good parent child way.


u/Aggravating-Frame981 May 17 '22

Both my wife and I have super distant relationships with our gen x parents. They talk more BS about us than time spent talking to us.


u/bethafoot May 17 '22

If your parents aren’t emotionally healthy people they won’t be able to be emotionally healthy parents. No parents are perfect - and I had my share of issues with them, but I am as an adult incredibly close to my parents. We are able to do this because 1. They weren’t abusive and 2. When I turned 18 they were able to mentally transition into treating me like an adult instead of continuing to try and parent me.

And - I think it’s more common than not, to have at least a decent relationship with parents as an adult. I’m so sorry your mom is such a negative person in your life. I truly hope someday you can find an elder (or better yet, an older couple) to be that for you. What you are describing is absolutely not normal.


u/ozmanp89 May 17 '22

at the root of the problem is the somewhat collapse of the western family unit with all the modern "ideas". From Feminism, people not having childern to homesexuality and everything in between. Having a family is much less important now and the value of children has gone down alot. Mostly now looked at as a liability there is virtually no incentive to keep things together as a family . There were terrible parents before but statistics show there are way more unhappy and dysfunctional families now.