The Good Parent


What are  the obligations of your parent who is  kind and caring and obviously loves you? 

One obligation is to keep you safe. When you have one horrid parent and a kinder one, the kind one should be able to help you if you are being emotionally attacked by your difficult parent.  This includes supporting and protecting you when you are under threat.  It means not being passive in the face of a tirade directed at you and giving excuses for their partner’s bullying rants. Unfortunately this is often not the case. 



It is important to remember that parenting is a joint venture between two adults.  While parents need and often want to present a united front, if one of them is being horrible then the other parent has an additional responsibility to be supportive of you.  If they find it too challenging to do so in the heat of a row, then they certainly should  as soon as possible afterwards.    

When a child is regularly under attack from their horrid parent, they will often be grateful that at least they have one parent who is kind to them.  But is this enough? It may be hard to criticise this kind parent, but if they don’t stick up for you, understand your plight and protect you, you are entitled to ask why not?

Sometimes young people in this situation feel intensely sorry for the gentle parent, particularly when the tables turn and the nasty parent shouts and behaves badly towards them.  The difference is that the parent is an adult and you are a child.   They may do nothing because they are scared, but that is their decision not yours.

If your love for your gentle parent is heavily mixed with feeling responsible for protecting them, they are probably failing in their parental duty towards you. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but it is important to be realistic and accept that although you love your kind parent they have let you down.

What do you think? Do add your thoughts on our forum.

Do You Feel Guilty?

It often happens that one parent is horrid while the other is not.  This can make your home life easier while you still live there.  But it’s very different once you leave for good,  particularly if you can no longer tolerate the horrid parent and cease all communication.

Cutting ties with your family is likely to make you feel guilty.   You may worry that if you are not present your horrid parent will harangue your gentle parent.   You also don’t know if your gentle parent will dare go behind their partner’s back to see you and keep up the relationship.   

You may miss your gentle parent horribly too and need their love more than ever.   This can make you feel more rejected and responsible for what you believe the good parent  now has to put up with day by day.  

Perhaps you feel you are between rock and a hard place.  This is why before you take a drastic step to cut one parent out of your life, you need to face the possibility that  your decision might affect both parents.  You also need to think through how to manage your guilt.  



Our advice is:

Work out exactly what you feel guilty about.  If its the thought of leaving the nice parent to the mercy of the horrid one remember that how your parents relate to each other is their business and responsibility.  Not yours.  You might never want a relationship like theirs but they might have come to terms with it for all sorts of reasons and even if they haven’t it’s their problem not yours. 

If you don’t think you can manage your guilt, think very carefully before you break away.  It’s easier to cool a relationship down and distance yourself from it, especially once you leave home, than break all connections with one parent.  There is little point to lead yourself into a worse frame of mind than the one you are already in.

If you do break away try to stay positive if your nice parent doesn’t see you immediately.  There may be lots of things for them to work through.  Ring them occasionally on their mobile not on the landline, and try to plan a way to get together.   

Try to talk to someone you know who has had the same problem.   See our resources page for a helpful website.   

If neither stay in touch, build your life as best you can and don’t blame yourself for what you have done.  

Do join the discussion on the forum.

Overpowering Mum

My mother’s behaviour is outrageous.  I’m eighteen but she treats me as if I was a day-dreaming five-year-old and clueless about life.

Over the last six months several of my T-shirts have gone missing.  I bought them with some money I earned working weekends in the local ice cream shop.  When I eventually asked her if she’d seen them, not an easy thing to do, because I knew I would open myself up to a stream of criticism, she had the cheek to say she’d thrown them out as they didn’t suit me. 

I was furious.  What I wear is nothing to do with her if I buy it with my own money.  I stormed out of the house even though it was pouring with rain I ended up walking around the local shopping centre until I calmed down.

She got her own back as soon as I came back. 

I’d left my mobile behind in my rush to get away.  It had rung while I was out and she’d answered it.  Harry, my new boyfriend, had phoned to check all was okay for tonight and she told him I had already gone out and must have forgotten about seeing him and as I’d left my mobile at home there was no point in him calling again. 

THANK YOU MUM!  When I tried to call him his phone rang out without going to the answerphone. 

Mum’s behaviour is overpowering and crushing.  She  makes me feel I have no  value as a human being and I can’t choose for myself what I like and dislike.  I just don’t know how to deal with her.  It’s too humiliating to ask my friends as their mothers seem to respect them and see them as proper people with their own views.  My mother’s disapproval rating of me is sky high,  even though my nature is quite conventional.  I can’t wait to be financially independent and leave home.  Then, hopefully I will have the courage to ignore her.


In this situation we recommend you try your hardest to manage your anger and not react or retaliate.  It won't help. Also rushing out in a hurry means you are likely to forget something essential like your phone, keys or money. See our Coping page on the website for lots of ways to deal with angry feelings.

Once you are 18 you could start making plans to move out. This sort of intrusive and overbearing parent will not let up so you need to protect yourself as well as your possessions.