Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

bcol01
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Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by bcol01 » Sun May 06, 2018 5:45 pm

So my mother has just never really been there for me throughout my life in the way that I needed her to be. She has always been indifferent and distant and also abusive and/or allowed my step father to abuse me. Yet, she wonders why I haven't seen her in over 15 years. She doesn't want to talk about the past and because of that we cannot be close. Should I reach out to her on Mother's Day? I feel guilty if I don't but I also feel like she doesn't deserve it. If anyone sees this question, please, I would really like your advice. Thank you.

markatex
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by markatex » Sun May 06, 2018 6:39 pm

I have issues with my family of origin and have not seen most of them in about the same length of time as you mentioned. My mother’s health these days is not good, so we’ve been communicating a little bit by text and the very occasional phone call. It’s been fine.

Buddhism, especially East Asian traditions, are big on filial piety and honestly, I just tend to ignore it. If your family is toxic, you have to preserve your mental and emotional well-being. If you haven’t and if it’s at all possible, I’d say put some physical distance between you and them. And talk to a therapist. It sounds like it would be very beneficial to you.

Chant the daimoku and dedicate the merit to your mother and other family members. It sounds like you might be (understandably) harboring some animosity toward her, and that is a practice that could help both of you.

And definitely see a therapist.

markatex
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by markatex » Sun May 06, 2018 6:47 pm

bcol01 wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 5:45 pm
So my mother has just never really been there for me throughout my life in the way that I needed her to be. She has always been indifferent and distant and also abusive and/or allowed my step father to abuse me.
With regards to this, specifically...

Not all of us get the parents we want, need, or should’ve had. It sucks, and it messes a lot of us up, and we have issues that take decades to work out just so we can be functional adults.

It’s understandable to be angry and want/need to distance yourself. Even in North America, we have a culture that tells us we have to love our families and keep them in our lives no matter what. It’s hard to go against that conditioning, and when we do, people are very judgmental about it.

You have to make peace with the fact that your mother is never going to be the mother you want or need her to be.
That doesn’t make it okay, and it doesn’t mean you have to have any kind of relationship with her if you feel it would be detrimental to your well-being.

But over time, it might help you be less angry about it. Go easy on yourself. You’re not a bad person because you need to distance yourself.

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Minobu
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Minobu » Sun May 06, 2018 7:08 pm

i live in the most dysfunctional families on the planet...

my parents did some weird wrongs to me but i never did anything to them in retaliation..
i always let them abuse me for i know it's my karma. abuse was never physical...just way too complicated to post here....

even before i was officially a buddhist and learned about this stuff.....i never sought revenge on anyone who messed me over.and there has been a lot of them...

i have never...never messed anyone over ever in my life....
my father taught me cause and effect and showed it to me at a young age.

if not them someone else....reach out if at all possible....15 years is a long time.

i get not being able to reach out though so no worries....just realize you will expirence this again and again and again....

have a listen....the most effective buddhist song to the bible belt country people ever....read the lyrics as you go...amazing ...


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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by The Cicada » Sun May 06, 2018 8:14 pm

bcol01 wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 5:45 pm
So my mother has just never really been there for me throughout my life in the way that I needed her to be. She has always been indifferent and distant and also abusive and/or allowed my step father to abuse me. Yet, she wonders why I haven't seen her in over 15 years. She doesn't want to talk about the past and because of that we cannot be close. Should I reach out to her on Mother's Day? I feel guilty if I don't but I also feel like she doesn't deserve it. If anyone sees this question, please, I would really like your advice. Thank you.
I have an uncle who moved to the other side of the country longitudinally and who has not, in my memory, ever visited my grandmother. My late mother and grandmother did not get along either. At some point even the uncle who was grandmother's favorite stopped visiting. I thought this must have been some misunderstanding and tried to get to know the woman, and I eventually realized that it was not.

No one can hurt us like family. Honor her in your prayers, maybe call if you feel you have been unfilial, but I would never recommend putting yourself in a positions where your emotional strings can be pulled to your detriment. You had the karma to be able to be raised by your mother and not be an orphan or worse, but don't compound your problems by trying to pull from an empty well.

Your ordeal is over. Honor your ancestors with daimoku but do not think you will not be separated from them as family when this life is gone. Live your life and use your time wisely.

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Mantrik » Sun May 06, 2018 8:53 pm

I can empathise, believe me, but we have to recognise that however unwillingly, however uncaring, a mother gives birth and keeps a child alive. The rest is very variable.

It is really hard for a person to look beyond what they suffer, and to examine the causes and conditions which led their mother to behave in a harmful way........but we need to do that. From that comes compassion and forgiveness. That is far more important than some artificial commercial celebration of motherhood. You don't need to be grateful, but you do need to be compassionate in order to heal.
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Sun May 06, 2018 9:40 pm

bcol01 wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 5:45 pm
So my mother has just never really been there for me throughout my life in the way that I needed her to be. She has always been indifferent and distant and also abusive and/or allowed my step father to abuse me. Yet, she wonders why I haven't seen her in over 15 years. She doesn't want to talk about the past and because of that we cannot be close. Should I reach out to her on Mother's Day? I feel guilty if I don't but I also feel like she doesn't deserve it. If anyone sees this question, please, I would really like your advice. Thank you.
just say hi, no need for else. one can't be at peace if is not at peace with one parents

after all, with a difficult childhood, you have a human body and do study dharma. this question of your is the perfect example of it's consequences... most people just feel rancor. so good for you!!! you are flourishing
what are you doing

shaunc
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by shaunc » Sun May 06, 2018 11:01 pm

Most families have a few problems. I come from a family where drug addiction and alcoholism as well as their secondary problems of domestic violence and jail were seen as the norm.
To break this cycle I had to realize that the only person whose behavior I could change was mine.
My advice is to honour your mother on mother's day.. you can't change her behavior but you can be responsible for your own.
Good luck and best wishes.
Namu Amida Butsu.
Shaun.

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Queequeg » Mon May 07, 2018 4:36 pm

I can't really add much here. Obviously it is imperative that you protect yourself from aggravating past injuries and suffering new ones. There are a variety of strategies for reaching out while mitigating chances of getting hurt, or it may simply be better to not do so. As Mark suggests, seeing a therapist is probably a good place to start to work out the best path for you.

Keep in mind that your mother is a fellow being stumbling through samsara. Even if she acted with malice toward you, remember that was first and foremost the manifestation of her own lack of skill in dealing with the reality of her life, her own lack of skill in being a mother to her own children. To the extent that she inflicted harm, in a sense she was like a drowning person who in a desperate attempt to save herself seizes and drags the people closest to her down with her. All beings in samsara are like this to a degree until they enter the path to liberation, and even then they may harm others due to residual conditioning.

Whether you resolve the issues with your mother in this life or not, it would probably be helpful for your own spiritual health and growth to look on your mother's suffering with compassion and equanimity and pray for her well being and happiness - pray that she quickly achieves her own liberation, just as we strive to develop that disposition toward all beings. In a way, its easier to cultivate that state of mind for theoretical others, and an even greater training if that practice involves unresolved pain from our lived memory.

"May all beings be happy."
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue May 08, 2018 12:29 pm

A quote-on-quote "traditional" Buddhist answer would be: yes absolutely. How much moreso should an emotionally neglectful mother be honoured than an emotionally attentive one?

I don't think that's good advice, but IMO its "Buddhist" advice.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Queequeg » Tue May 08, 2018 3:15 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 12:29 pm
A quote-on-quote "traditional" Buddhist answer would be: yes absolutely. How much moreso should an emotionally neglectful mother be honoured than an emotionally attentive one?
Could you elaborate on that? I can guess the explanation but curious how you approach and come to that conclusion.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by emaho » Tue May 08, 2018 3:31 pm

Hi,

I'm not a Nichiren practitioner, but I have a similar problem, I hope you don't mind if I give my 2 cents...

When you say you feel like she doesn't deserve it, it sounds like you still carry a lot of anger within you. It would be very good for yourself if you could find a way to overcome this anger. For instance you could reflect on the fact that she is only acting out of confusion and, most likely, because as a child she herself has also experienced abuse. And I, personally, find it important to understand that forgiveness does not imply denial of the facts. It doesn't mean that you put on pink glasses and act as if nothing ever happened. For me it helps to make wishes for her like "may she overcome her negativity" or "I hope she'll be able to forgive herself".

Secondly, should you reach out to her: my 2 cents are it depends on if you have the strength to do it, or if it would harm yourself. In the case of my mother, I've decided not to see her anymore because she's still so toxic and aggressive and verbally abusive towards me that every time after I visited her I felt sick and depressed for almost a week. However I don't know if on a deeper level cutting the bonds to a parent will still leave a negative karmic imprint, even if you do it only to protect yourself. The only thing I can say about myself is: yes, I think It would be better if I could still visit her and even though I only cut her out of my life in order to protect my own sanity it still feels kinda wrong, but honestly I feel like I just don't have it in me. Maybe I'm just guilt trippin', maybe it really is wrong, I don't know. But in any way I would not advise not to visit her because of a desire to punish her. Taking revenge is not a good motive from a Buddhist point of view. Other than that, like I said, I think it mainly depends on the question if you have the strength or if you need a safe space to recover.
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

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Minobu
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Minobu » Tue May 08, 2018 4:50 pm

As a Nichiren Practitioner I like to keep in mind we all are mired in our own Karma and we are mingling and living with other infected beings.
someone has to pick up the ball and cause true change and true new direction...if you do it ..it rubs off on the infected people...

always look at the long game and not short term endless events of horror.

here is 16 secounds of me every night before i fall asleep....


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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by markatex » Tue May 08, 2018 5:52 pm

I find the view that people should allow themselves to be abused because "it's their karma," to be extremely odious. I'm also not a fan of the "You have to forgive and have compassion OR ELSE" mindset, or of the notion that you have to be grateful to your parents because they gave birth to you. Children don't ask to be born, and there are quite a few of us who would've said "no, thanks" if given the choice.

OP doesn't have to do anything. He's not a terrible person if he never speaks to his mother again, and it's entirely possible for him to have a happy life, regardless of the status of his relationship with his family. He does seem to harbor some resentment toward her, which is completely understandable, which is why I suggested therapy. But I object to any idea that a victim of abuse has some kind of obligation to make nicey-nice with the abuser.

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Queequeg » Tue May 08, 2018 6:20 pm

Minobu wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 4:50 pm
As a Nichiren Practitioner I like to keep in mind we all are mired in our own Karma and we are mingling and living with other infected beings.
someone has to pick up the ball and cause true change and true new direction...if you do it ..it rubs off on the infected people...

always look at the long game and not short term endless events of horror.
We are all inextricably connected to each other and all other beings. We can't escape each other.

I suppose the negative way to view things is we all infect each other. By the same token, when, through Buddhist practice, we purify ourselves, that purity is just as contagious.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Minobu » Tue May 08, 2018 6:35 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 6:20 pm
Minobu wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 4:50 pm
As a Nichiren Practitioner I like to keep in mind we all are mired in our own Karma and we are mingling and living with other infected beings.
someone has to pick up the ball and cause true change and true new direction...if you do it ..it rubs off on the infected people...

always look at the long game and not short term endless events of horror.
We are all inextricably connected to each other and all other beings. We can't escape each other.

I suppose the negative way to view things is we all infect each other. By the same token, when, through Buddhist practice, we purify ourselves, that purity is just as contagious.
it's more than contagious though...it becomes.

when we purify ourselves the whole Shiva net thing happens and all are affected.

we are all part of the one thing...any piece that gets more infected effects everything...any piece that gets it right effects everything..it heals and is shinning brighter and clearer..

we have to take and own our role in it..

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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by Queequeg » Tue May 08, 2018 7:13 pm

Mark, I'm going to poke you a little.
markatex wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 5:52 pm
"You have to forgive and have compassion OR ELSE"
Forgiveness is not a feature of Buddhist practice as far as I know. I've never heard of forgiveness as a practice.

Compassion definitely is. There is an aspect of compassion that does involve coming to an understanding about people's behavior. Its not that they are forgiven or excused, but we strive to loosen attachment and look on with equanimity. We see their suffering and understand that their behavior is a function of their delusion and suffering.

The "OR ELSE" is that whatever we don't deal with doesn't go away. That is karma. Cause and effect. We can try and smother a situation, but causes and effects are not avoidable. Sooner or later, effects invariably follow causes.
Children don't ask to be born, and there are quite a few of us who would've said "no, thanks" if given the choice.
This is non-sensical from a Buddhist perspective. What is the alternative to being born? If one says, "no, thanks", what then? Oblivion? Nothing?

The Buddhist explanation is that we are born because we grasp at being, because we crave being.

There is something of a sense of surrender of agency in thinking that our being is the consequence of someone else's choice. Life is seen as an imposition, a burden heaved upon us, and we are stuck, living a curse.

I don't think this changes the hurt and damage a bad parent inflicts on their children. But it does cast ourselves and others in a different light.
OP doesn't have to do anything. He's not a terrible person if he never speaks to his mother again, and it's entirely possible for him to have a happy life, regardless of the status of his relationship with his family. He does seem to harbor some resentment toward her, which is completely understandable, which is why I suggested therapy. But I object to any idea that a victim of abuse has some kind of obligation to make nicey-nice with the abuser.
Notwithstanding the above, I don't disagree with any of this.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

emaho
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by emaho » Tue May 08, 2018 8:00 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 7:13 pm
Forgiveness is not a feature of Buddhist practice as far as I know. I've never heard of forgiveness as a practice.

Compassion definitely is.
Hmmm, maybe the word "forgiveness" isn't typically used in Buddhism and is traditionally more associated with Christianity, but de re I'd say even if the Buddha spoke more about patience and compassion, his teachings do imply forgiveness. Just take a look at the wikipedia definition of forgiveness:
wikipedia.com wrote:Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness)

This is exactly what as a Buddhist you're supposed to do: let go of your negative feelings and instead of responding with hatred, react with compassion and wish the offender well.
wikipedia.com wrote:Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), pardoning (granted for an acknowledged offense by a representative of society, such as a judge), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).[1]
Just take a look at this passage:
“Monks, even if bandits were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a two-handled saw, he who gave rise to a mind of hate toward them would not be carrying out my teaching. Herein, monks, you should train thus: ‘Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner hate. We shall abide pervading them with a mind imbued with loving-kindness; and starting with them, we shall abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.’ That is how you should train, monks.”
(from MN 21, MLDB 221)
(quoted from Bikkhu Bodhi's book "The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony")
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

emaho
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by emaho » Tue May 08, 2018 8:08 pm

And to avoid a misunderstanding: like I said, sometimes you need a safe space to recover, and sometimes it takes time to heal. When you feel it's too difficult for you to visit your mother, I'm the last person to judge. After all, I'm in the same position.
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

markatex
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Re: Should a mother who is emotionally neglectful and indifferent be honored on Mother's day?

Post by markatex » Tue May 08, 2018 8:11 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 7:13 pm
Mark, I'm going to poke you a little.

Forgiveness is not a feature of Buddhist practice as far as I know. I've never heard of forgiveness as a practice.
No, but it was mentioned upthread, and it's a feature of Western psychotherapy culture, and it never fails to seep into discussions like this, Buddhist or not.
Compassion definitely is. There is an aspect of compassion that does involve coming to an understanding about people's behavior. Its not that they are forgiven or excused, but we strive to loosen attachment and look on with equanimity. We see their suffering and understand that their behavior is a function of their delusion and suffering.
Yes, and I don't have an intellectual disagreement with that. On an emotional level, I feel like I have to stick up for the OP, otherwise he'll get trampled by a mob of "But she's your mother," "You'll miss her when she's gone," "You have to forgive her or you'll never find peace," platitudes from people who came from relatively functional families and can't understand those of us who didn't.
This is non-sensical from a Buddhist perspective. What is the alternative to being born? If one says, "no, thanks", what then? Oblivion? Nothing?

The Buddhist explanation is that we are born because we grasp at being, because we crave being.
This is a place where my feelings/intuition/experience don't line up with Buddhism. I wish they did, and maybe they will someday, but right now, they don't. Yes, the alternative to being born is nothingness and oblivion. For me, my life has been mostly a Sisyphean struggle with occasional glimmers of happiness that evaporated entirely too soon. I have not experienced anything that comes remotely close to balancing out the near-constant stress and unhappiness. Now, staring down the barrel of 40, I don't have a lot of hope that I will, to be quite frank.
There is something of a sense of surrender of agency in thinking that our being is the consequence of someone else's choice. Life is seen as an imposition, a burden heaved upon us, and we are stuck, living a curse.
That is exactly what life feels like to me. Years of therapy and antidepressants haven't changed that.

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