Home » Blogs » Strength Over Adversity » The Parent Blame Game

The Parent Blame Game

It would be so easy for me to blame my mother for all of the difficulties in my life. I hear it so much from my friends and peers, the parental blame game, every single time something goes wrong in their lives or they make a poor decision. “Well my Mom and Dad fought all of the time when I was growing up and it messed me up!” or, “My Mom and Dad never paid attention to me so that’s why I act out as an adult!”

I meet so many adults who, when faced with difficult challenges, feel angry and at a loss and blame their parents for their problems in many different ways. Some blame their parents for not preparing them adequately for the challenges of adult life. Some blame their parents for their lack of self-confidence and not being supportive enough. And others continue to blame their parents for trauma and pain they caused during their childhood, claiming that the trauma is crippling them from being a productive adult.

It would be so easy for me to blame Mom for everything that hasn’t gone perfectly in my life. Divorced? Oh, well I came from a broken home and I don’t know any better. Lost my job because I couldn’t work together as a team? Well, my mother beat me and kept me at home; I don’t do well in group situations because my childhood made me socially awkward. Yelled too loudly at my children? Well I was screamed at; that’s all I know!

I don’t play the parental blame game because I don’t make excuses for my behavior. That’s all I think when I hear adults still blaming their parents for problems; just excuses. Look, I’ve met so many people who seem absolutely bent on blaming their parents for every aspect of their lives it’s sickening. The anger, resentment, and absolute hatred some people still have towards their parents absolutely astounds me. I get it, you had a bad childhood. Your parents may have been alcoholics, they may have not paid enough attention to you, they may have beaten you and berated you and made you feel like garbage; whatever they did – you are the adult now and you are choosing to stay rooted in the past.

A lot of us had bad childhoods, because our parents were human and humans make mistakes. No one’s childhood was perfect and some were much worse than others. But why spend our adult lives holding on to emotional garbage from years ago? Why do thirty, forty, and fifty year old adults still act like teenagers who are mad at their parents? Reality check – you can’t change the past, but you can change how your past affects you now.

I understand refusing to let go and why so many hold onto that anger for so long. You feel righteous in doing so. Our parents didn’t give us what we wanted, they weren’t there for us in the way that we needed them; some abused us, manipulated us, or even abandoned us. And you are right to feel angry and no – your parents were not justified in what they did to you at all.

BUT – do you want to feel righteous or feel freedom? Is being righteous making you happy or changing your parents at all? Each moment you hold on to that resentment and that anger and that righteous feeling, you are stuck in victim mode. Living your life trying to prove how wrong your parents were won’t ever make your parent’s past mistakes right. Accept what they were and what they were not.

Your freedom from your parents, your anger, and your resentment comes in taking personal responsibility for your own actions as an adult. You cannot change the past, you cannot change who your parents were, but you can change the present. Have the courage to take responsibility for your own adult actions. Stop using your parents as excuses as to why your life isn’t working out so well right now and forgive them and yourself.

The Parent Blame Game

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

5 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
, . (2015). The Parent Blame Game. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 23 Sep 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.