Fei has a son that every Chinese parent envies: a Ivy league graduate at his late twenties whose job title as a professor with a prestigious university allows him to rake in a 6-digit salary. But Fei also faces a heart wrenching reality that would make anyone with an Asian cultural background devastated: Her son has been trying to sever any ties with her and her family. Despite her repeated phone calls, emails and personal visits, her efforts to repair a damaged relationship has failed in vain.
For Chinese parents who value family connections the most, nothing is more brutal than breaking up with the children that you’ve raised with your heart and soul. But some parents may have adopted abusive or toxic parenting styles that have inflicted deep emotional scars on their children. And worse yet, many Asian parents don’t realize what is happening. In a culture that parents hold ultimate authority over their children, child abuse is an unfamiliar concept, let alone emotional abuse.
情感虐待有多种情形和方式，从对孩子指鼻谩骂、大声训斥，到进行各种恐吓和侮辱等。有的父母认为孩子学习成绩不佳而令其大失所望，进而对他们吼叫，并将成绩单扔在孩子的脸上。有些父母们时常羞辱自己的子女，说什么他们钱和努力都白费了，并用一些极其伤害孩子自尊心的字眼极尽其羞辱之能事。一些父母不允许孩子发展个性，或持有自己的观点。在某种意义上，我也是个有缺点的母亲 - 我曾下意识地拿自己的女儿与事业有成成的儿子做过比较，期望以此鞭策女儿发奋向上。女儿说，我的这种做法在某种程度上对她心理造成伤害。
From name calling and screaming to bullying and insult hurling, emotional abuse takes various forms and shapes. There are parents who saw their children fall short of their academic expectations scream at them and slap their report cards on their face; there are parents who always humiliate their children by saying that they don’t worth their money and efforts, using derogertory terms that hurt their self-esteems; there are parents who don’t let the children be individuals or form their own opinions. In a sense, I am no innocent mother either – I’ve subconsciously tried to push my daughter work harder by comparing her with her career-successful brother. To some extent, it has caused psychological harm to her, she said.
阿尔泊塔省的一位老师Robyn Bambrick在2002年所著《 放弃恶行，重获新生》”一书中写道：毒害子女的父母是那些“打击你的尊严，你的自尊，你的信心，你的外表和你的智慧”的人。“所造成的结果是孩子们大都痛恨自我，并感到绝望。”
Toxic parents are those who “assault your dignity, your self-respect, your confidence, your appearance, and your intelligence. There’s so much self-loathing that comes out of that, and a sense of despair,” wrote Robyn Bambrick, a teacher in Alberta in her 2002 book, Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life.
While emotional abuse can result in anxiety, depression, and, often, risk-taking behaviours, but even the most abusive parent often refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing . “They don’t see this as bad,” said Gary Walters, a phychology professor at U of T. “They really think that this is the way to go.”
Emotionally abusive parenting could go to extremes and become so toxic to the point that when the abused children grow up, many see no choice but to end their relationships with their parents. It happens not only to Fei’s son, but also to Shawn Johnston, who was slightly overweight at 13. Johnston’s emotionally distant father would encourage Shawn’s two younger brothers to mock his appearance and laugh at him for fun, according to a Globe article. “The abuse has left me struggling with a sense of unworthiness,” says Johnston.
That drastic decision to cut off connections with the parents is rarely easy, but is often the healthiest choice to make, according to professor Walters. “I have taken hundreds of people through a cut-off, and with only one exception, they have not regretted it and it has empowered them and made their lives better,” says Walters.
But Fei still doesn’t understand what has led her son to make such a tragic decision. She, like many Asian parents in North America, has done the best she could and sacrificed a great deal. She just couldn’t figure out why he would not thank her for everything he did but choose to turn his back on her.
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