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My Mom Is Abusive

I've tried praying about it, ignoring her, and striking back, but nothing has worked. What should I do?

Editor's Note: A year ago, in the March/April 2005 issue, Christin answered a question from Hillari, who asked how to follow the biblical admonition to honor your parents when they really don't deserve it. We heard back from many readers, including Hillari, who found the answer helpful. Others—like Connie below—wished we'd been able to address the issue in more detail.

My mother is verbally abusive to me and at times very threatening. It's like a constant roller coaster. Some days she's fine; then she'll get drunk and high and curse me out and belittle me. She recently started doing this to my children. I've tried everything—praying about it, ignoring her, striking back—nothing has worked. Several counselors and pastors have told me that it's okay to cut off contact with her. Do you think that's the right thing to do? I'm really hurting. I wish things could be different.

—Connie, via e-mail

Connie, you've really been through a lot. I'm so glad to hear that there are people in your life you can go to for godly counsel. I think your pastors and counselors have given you sound, biblical advice. For the safety and well-being of your own family, it's probably best for you to put distance between you and your mother.

It would be wonderful if someday the two of you could be reconciled. But for that to happen, it sounds as though your mom would need treatment for her addictions. She would need to take responsibility for her actions and be willing to admit her mistakes.

You're not responsible for the choices your mom makes. You are responsible, however, for the choices you make. You can choose to honor God by showing your mom love and respect, by praying for her and forgiving her. And you can do these things from a distance, whether she knows you're doing them or not, whether you have contact with her again or not. It's all in the attitude of your heart.

Choose not to dwell on the past, not to rehearse your grievances against your mom, not to speak ill of her unnecessarily, not to harbor bitterness toward her. Whenever she comes to mind, ask God to help you love her and forgive her. Pray that He will draw her to Himself, that she'll come to know Him as you have. Then release the situation to God. Leave your mom in His hands.

Please continue to receive Christian counseling for yourself and your children. God will show you how to let go of the hurt and experience His healing power in your life—one day at a time. Know that you're in our thoughts and prayers.

Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It to Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).

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