Question: "Am I wrong for telling my parents I resent them for having more children when they couldn’t afford to take care of me? I'm 23 now, but when I was little, I was very aware of how little income my family had. When I was 4 or 5, I would never ask for toys because I knew my parents couldn’t afford it and I didn’t want to make them feel bad. My parents have always been loving and extremely hard working, and I owe everything to them. When I was 11, they told me they were having another baby. And then a year after that, they had another. I was enraged, furious and upset.
All my life, I would limit what I asked for. I wore my shoes until they had holes in them so I wouldn’t be a burden to my parents, but they decided to have two more kids when they couldn’t even provide me and my oldest sister with basic needs. This resulted in me having resentment toward my little sisters and parents, especially since I had gone through traumatic events at that young age and they didn’t notice.
Today, they are doing a lot better financially than when I was little. I have moved out and gotten a full ride to a university. However, even now I think about how much easier life would have been if they hadn’t had my sisters. I do love my little sisters and am glad they get the toys I never got, the money for book fairs, and trips to Disney, but my inner child thinks about how unfair it was to me.
Now that I am older, I have started expressing my feelings about this to my parents, and I think they are starting to realize how mad and hurt I’ve silently been all these years. I can see the sadness in their faces and it makes me regret saying anything. They are immigrants and came here with nothing, so they have literally built their life from zero in a new country without speaking the language, so I appreciate everything they have done for me. I just need them to understand my point of view. Am I wrong for admitting my feelings to my parents even though it just hurts them and they can’t change the past?"
Answer: You have such a complex dilemma that I’m sure so many can relate to. I don’t think you’re wrong for sharing your feelings with your parents. What can be construed as trauma by children can be just another day for parents. Telling your parents how you feel may be a good first step in processing your emotions and working on letting that resentment go. On a positive note, it sounds like their reaction wasn't negative or defensive, so they may be more than willing to participate on this journey of amends. I recommend working through your feelings more with a qualified therapist if you’re able to, as there may be a lot you can do to heal your inner child and move forward. Your feelings are completely valid, and you don't have to work through them alone.
I will say, I don't think anyone should be told what they can and can’t do with their body, and I’ve actually come across this issue of having children when struggling financially a lot, in write-ins and Reddit posts. Especially recently, with the COVID-19 pandemic and how the economy has been, some people criticize others for having children while living in poverty. But things happen.
It sounds like your parents were faced with a lot of adversities when you were young – being immigrants, not knowing the language, starting from nothing and more. It may take a lot to get to this point, but giving them grace and seeing it from that perspective may help you move forward in healing. It does sound like you recognize their struggles and sacrifice, credit them with a lot, and love them. So I would really try to hold on to that good.
You seem to be in a great place now with a full scholarship and living on your own, and I wish you continued success on your journey. As you said, you can't change the past, so I would try to make amends with your feelings and parents the best you can. You deserve happiness and peace of mind. I would try to arrange some of those experiences you missed out on as a child with them now, no matter how big or small. As a Disney lover myself, I don’t think it’s ever too late to go back and experience that with your parents. However insignificant these experiences may seem, sharing them now could make a big impact on your mental well-being.
Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, "Two Hot Takes" where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY's readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at Mabsher@gannett.com or you can click here to share your story with her.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: I resent my parents for having more children. Am I wrong to tell them?