October 23, 2021

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Mom’s Viral TikTok By Calls Out Manipulative Parenting

It’s not a stretch to say that millennial parents are likely the most self-aware generation of parents thus far. Many of us are committed to a more gentle style of parenting than our parents and grandparents were able to demonstrate—social media is full of parenting experts and just regular ol’ moms and dads sharing their thoughts, emotions, and strategies regularly.

One mom recently went viral on TikTok for calling out the manipulative parenting tactics of previous generations, and she absolutely nails it in the most thought-provoking, emotionally intelligent way.


South Carolina stay-at-home-mom Lisa Pontius often shares her parenting theories and strategies on TikTok, but one video in particular is striking a lot of chords. It’s titled “Kids Don’t Owe Their Parents Anything.” And it is absolutely a must-watch.

In the TikTok, Lisa addresses criticism she received because as an adult, she’s set boundaries with her own mother. The commenter said she should be “grateful” for everything her mother has done for her throughout her life.

It’s a common euphemism, isn’t it? That we “owe” our parents for giving us life and sustaining that life however they chose to do it? Well, Lisa argues, we absolutely don’t. And that goes for our kids, too.

“Children don’t owe their parents a certain kind of relationship, and depending on the parent, they might not owe them respect, either [once children grow up],” she says.

Why? Because children don’t have agency. They didn’t choose to come into this world. And parents sign up for parenting—and all that entails—the moment they choose to have children.

“It’s a parent’s job to provide for their children,” Lisa says. “It’s a responsibility. Not everyone rises to the occasion, but that’s like the bare minimum, taking care of your kid’s physical and financial needs. The level above that is their emotional needs, which good parents do, but all of that is not a contingent relationship. You’re not loving and providing for your children with the expectation that they will blindly obey and do whatever you say as adults.”

Basically, kids don’t owe their parents simply because their parents met their needs and took care of them. And also? Not every parent meets their children’s needs. My own parents didn’t. Sure, my basic needs were taken care of: food, shelter, water, clothes, etc. But my emotional and physical needs were non-existent to my mother and father. My mother was abusive, manipulative, narcissistic, histrionic, and cruel. My father was an enabling workaholic. When I became an adult (and especially after having children myself), I decided I don’t owe them any part of myself I’m not willing to give. In fact, my mother hasn’t been in my life since 2011. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You only get one mother” in an attempt to guilt me into removing my boundaries.

And you know what? That’s true. You only get one mother. And she blew it, time and time again. I deserved a better one. But my own children won’t ever have to endure what I did—and I’m thankful for that.

“You don’t get a participation trophy for housing your child or keeping your child clean,” Lisa explains. “The whole ‘roof over your head’ argument is manipulative, because in theory, wouldn’t you have had a place to live for yourself regardless of if you had children? A kid isn’t a freeloading roommate, they’re your dependent and your responsibility.”

Many people flooded her comments with words of support, and some others shared their disagreement. Regardless of how you feel about her video, it’s an undeniable fact that from the moment our children enter this world, we’re building a relationship with them. Hopefully, it’s the kind of relationship that motivates them to want to continue that special relationship as adults.