Disengaging From Your Family of Origin


“Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.”

But what if your father and mother didn’t honor you? What if instead of loving and honoring you they physically, sexually and emotionally abused you? What if you were scared every day of your growing up years? And what if, when you finally grow up and start to face the fact that your family of origin abused you, and through some therapy finally gain the courage to confront them with the abuse, they completely deny it and tell you that you are crazy? Do you stay in that family system or leave it?

There is little cultural sympathy, support, information, or education for adult children who are starting to face the fact that their family of origin abused them, and often their abusive family is still trying to get them to stay in the family system and play their programmed role.

One of the members of our Inner Bonding website asked me to write an article about this topic. “I see so many adults suffering in family relationships they believe they’re supposed to maintain, regardless of the cost to their integrity and health. More than anything, they’re lacking alternative role models and supportive information.”

Most people can’t even conceive of how or why exiting a family of origin might be a very loving action.

If you come from a highly abusive family who has done no healing and is in denial of the abuse, this is a deeply crazy-making situation. Staying in this situation only perpetuates the abuse that you are trying to heal. As a child, you didn’t have a choice, but as an adult, you don’t have to stay in an abusive and crazy-making situation, regardless of the pressure being put upon you.

Who Are You Responsible For?

What is most important here is to understand that you are not responsible for how your family feels about and reacts to your decision to disengage from them. While you might have been brought up to play the role of caretaker for your family, or you have played the role of the identified patient, you are not obligated to continue to play that role. In fact, healing involves letting go of responsibility for them and giving yourself the right and privilege of taking responsibility for yourself.

For example, Tara had been physically, sexually and emotionally brutalized by her father and not at all protected by her mother. Her parents continue to expect her to visit them, and she continues to tolerate her father’s incredibly mean behavior.

“Why do you visit them?” I asked her in one of our phone sessions.


“Why are you obligated?”

“Because they say I am.”

“Tara, please open to your inner Guidance and ask if it is loving to you – to your inner child – to continue to put yourself in the line of abuse.”


“Are you willing to make taking loving care of yourself more important than obligation?”

“Yes! I didn’t know that it was okay to do that!”

“How do you feel?”

“So relieved!”

Honoring Your Father and Your Mother – From a Distance!

“Tara, you can still pray for your parents’ highest good without having to see them. You can still honor the deeply abandoned soul locked away within each of them, without dishonoring yourself by being around abusive behavior. Your responsibility is to take loving care of yourself and share your love with those who love you, rather than allowing yourself to continue to be abused.”

You do not owe your parents for having you, or for feeding and clothing you. You are not obligated to see them. You might choose to take care of them out of your caring for them, or even because it feels right to you to do that, but when being around them is deeply harmful to you, please consider disengaging from them.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Learn Inner Bonding now! Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at http://www.innerbonding.com. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at http://selfquest.com. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

1 Comment

  1. yes

    March 10, 2015 at 1:20 am

    This was published in 2009, around the time I was really beginning to feel and recognize that something was wrong with my abusive family’s dynamic. I was so confused at the time but it was the beginning of something.

    I was really young at the time (a teenager) and unfortunately extremely naive. I didn’t recognize potential sources I had that could’ve helped me identify the abuse and begin to grow from it while making steps to move on.

    It is now March 2015 and I have recently come to realize as a young adult that in order for me to thrive and be healthy, I need to leave the situation. I’ve lost a lot along the way but nothing compares to the relief of knowing that this isn’t my fault.

    Thank you so much for this article. I will be saving it and plan to visit it again in the future while I am rebuilding my life.

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