Four Old Sayings About Family That Are (Sometimes) B.S.

by John Cheese; from CRACKED

Everything you know and have comes from your family. Even if you could somehow forget that fact, society continually hammers you with the idea that there are no limits to how much shit you should have to put up with when it comes to your blood relatives.

I disagree.

Growing up, you are in the most frightening, vulnerable position of your life, and I’m not just talking about relying on mom to throw some corndogs in the oven, or dad to show you which porn sites won’t fuck up your computer. Because of my own abnormal upbringing, I believed for the longest time that my views on family were skewed — influenced in a negative direction as a result of a lifetime of fear. It wasn’t until I started writing for Cracked and collecting emails from readers expressing the same viewpoints that I realized I wasn’t unique in disagreeing with statements like …

4. “You Have to Help Him, He’s Your Father!” (or Mother, etc.)

Why We Say It:

You owe your parents everything. Without them, your entire existence would have been abbreviated to a latex reservoir tip swatting that shit out of the air like an NBA center. They put food on the table and a roof over your head, and by God, the least you can do is be there for them in return.

As adults, we expect the same from our own kids — a return on our investment. And that’s a perfectly logical, reasonable request, isn’t it? “I helped you, now you help me.” At some point, every parent does it, and we enforce that with one phrase that means two completely different things, depending on the recipient’s age: “I’m your father!”

As a child, it’s a demand. “You will mow the lawn because I’m your father, and you will damn well do what I tell you. Now you get out there before I clothe you with snakes!”

As an adult, that meaning loses its weight because they no longer make the rules. That’s when the phrase becomes a plea. “Can I borrow 20 bucks for some crack? Come on, man, I’m your father. You know how you made it to this age without dying? That was me who did that!”

When It’s Bullshit:

Right now, I have no fewer than two dozen messages in my inbox from readers asking me what to do in their seemingly unique situation. One or both of their parents are addicts, or habitual criminals, or general fuckups. The kids are taking care of themselves. They watch these grown-ass adults wrecking the entire family with stress about bills, borrowing money from anyone they can to keep the lights on while feeding hundreds of dollars per month into their vices. Every time the parents attempt to clean up their act, they fall right back into the same destructive cycle within weeks. The kids are essentially on their own. You know, normal family problems. We’ve all been there.

And here’s the thing — the whole “broken childhood” bit doesn’t end at childhood. There are people who will spend 40 consecutive years with this bullshit from their parents, knowing that their own kids won’t have the sitcom Grandma and Grandpa that’s always waiting with a hug and a turkey at Thanksgiving. These are the parents who are always borrowing, or begging, or making demands. They’re constantly needing to be bailed out like teenagers, or roping you into petty family disputes (“Your Uncle Steve has been talking shit about your mom again. Now be a good son and go slash his fucking tires”).

But … “I have to be there for them because they’re my parents, right?”

If you take nothing else from this article, please make it this: Childhood is not a bill that you have to pay for later. Parenting is not charity, or a loan — it is a requirement for those who took on the job, whether they meant to or not. When you become a parent yourself, you will be required to do it as well, without thanks or compensation. In fact, in the first year, you will often get shit on and stomped in the genitals.

Do you owe it to your own parents to be supportive? To try to help them break destructive habits? Of course. But not at the risk of your own health and emotional well being. For the first 20 years of your life, you are being trained to be a caregiver. At no point in that time should you be required to be one yourself. That’s not your job. Your job is to learn and grow.

Again, I’m not saying that if your mom is wheelchair-bound and needs help painting the house that you shove a finger in her face and say “I got my own problems, whore!” I’m talking about people who are outside your power to help unless you make it your full-time job. You can’t fix their addictions, or depression, or stupidity, or chronic need to constantly be in some kind of dramatic crisis. I think there’s a point where you’re allowed to let that shit go to voice mail.

3. “You Have to Stick Up for Them, No Matter What!”

Why We Say It:

You and your sister go out for a few drinks when her ex-boyfriend enters the bar. As soon as he sees her, he makes a beeline over to her and starts yelling right there in public for no reason. Everyone in the place is staring. She’s obviously getting upset and pretty damn embarrassed. So, being the logical protector that you are, you reach into your trench coat and pull out your morning star … it has “Conversation Ender” stenciled on the handle.

What their fight was about makes little difference because, of those two people, you are close to only one of them. Growing up with your sister, you know the intricacies of her personality … the personal trials and hardships she went through that dictate how she reacts to conflict and stress. You know why she’s crying, and you know how to make it stop because you know her.

The ex-boyfriend is just some walking penis with a popped collar and too much cologne.

When it comes to family members, we tend to throw out our sense of logic and impartial deduction because we’re personally connected to them. We judge the situation with no need of a trial, evidence or testimony because we know our sister and “she would never do anything to hurt anyone.” Well, aside from the time she tried to stab you, but to be fair, you did take her doll while standing in your knife display room.

When It’s Bullshit:

Later, you have an hour to kill while they clean off the chunks of hair and skin at the morning star cleaning shop. Your sister tells you that the reason her ex was so pissed is because she cheated on him. And he keeps asking for his CDs back, but she hasn’t gotten around to it. And every morning, she makes a special trip to his house to pack her shit into his dog’s fur.

OK, maybe that was just my family, but you see where I’m going with this. We still have a tribal urge to stand up for our own blood against the outsiders, and society makes it clear that a man who doesn’t stand up for mother/sister/siblings ain’t no man at all. So it’s easy to make the leap from the very noble idea of “You should be there for your family” to the very stupid idea that it’s your duty to pull them out of the shit every time they swan dive into it.

For instance, in school, it seemed like no matter where my brother went, some asshole bully would corner and beat the piss out of him without so much as a “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father … prepare to die.” When my dad would see his black eye, his first response would usually be to look at me and ask, “Where were you?” Not “What happened,” or “Did you deserve it?” It was just automatically expected of me to jump in and start throwing elbows when the drama of 8-year-olds got real.

And I did help out for a while. Until we got into high school and I found out that the reason he was getting his ass kicked so often was because he had a tendency to steal things and make passes at other guys’ girlfriends.

So at some point you have to give yourself permission to say “You got yourself into this. Good luck.” Hell, sometimes that’s what they need to hear anyway.

2. “You Have to Love Them!”

Why We Say It:

This one seems logical, doesn’t it? We have a physical, mental and bloodline connection with our relatives. As a sheer biological act of reproduction, we are a real-world branch of their genetic material, split off to form another version of themselves. We are literally a part of them … a continuation of the living meat that formed those before us. You have to love them because in many ways, you are them.

On an emotional scale, you’ve spent your entire life depending on them for survival. Not just mom and dad supplying the protection and sustenance, but brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles helping out with the emotional stability and companionship. How many people who have them are more open with their siblings than their parents? I’d say most. It’s much easier to ask your brother how he deals with getting a boner in class than to run that by your mom.

You have to love them because, aside from your own children, they are the closest emotional and physical connections you’re ever likely to have. You’re bound to your friends and spouse by choice. You’re bound to your relatives by life.

And if you feel nothing for them? If you don’t like talking to them or spending time with them? Well, that means you’re a selfish, feral dog-person. You’re the guy in the ’80s movie who’s destined for a midlife crisis and who’ll eventually find out that he’s wasted his life by neglecting his family.

When It’s Bullshit:

Part of the problem is that people don’t really know how to define “love” when it comes to family. They still think it’s about liking something a lot, and when they find they don’t like their family, they think they’ve failed somehow. But it is entirely possible to love someone without liking them. You can be there for your brother or uncle or whatever when they need you, even if you don’t enjoy their company at all. There’s no conflict there. You can fulfill your requirement to love your family without ever enjoying a single conversation you’ve had with them.

That’s because love isn’t just a feeling you get in your chest. It’s what you do that defines your love of another person. Calling your grandmother for no other reason than to find out how she’s doing. Putting your day on hold to fix a friend’s computer. Going on a double date with the ugly tag-along so your friend can get the hot one.

I have an entire group of uncles and cousins who annoy me to no end. I would rather punch myself in the face than do any of the things they enjoy, and they feel the same way about me. When a family reunion or a funeral rolls around, we still speak to each other. We’re not assholes, and we don’t hate each other. We just happen to not share a mutual love, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So many people feel guilty when they don’t connect with certain family members. They don’t enjoy doing the same things, or share political beliefs, or practice the same religion. It’s easy to feel like something has gone wrong, like they’re “the black sheep,” failing at the one human relationship that society says is the most important. All because they think society’s “You must love your family no matter what” somehow means they are required to look forward to their long discussions about NASCAR. I think it’s a fucking tragedy that people are made to feel bad because of that.

1. “Respect Your Elders!”

Why We Say It:

Older people have more experience in virtually every facet of life. We’re constantly evolving as a society, and it’s the older people who helped place the top step that you’ll be standing on when you build the next one for your own children. Yes, some of you younger readers will complain that it’s the older generation that created X that led to Y. Those are the things your generation will be fixing to make the world grow even more, just as we did with our own parents. That’s the point.

We see our elderly as having wisdom. They worked their asses off to provide for us, and now they’re getting to the age where they can’t physically do it anymore. All the things we look forward to doing, they’ve already mastered and filed away. It’s hard to imagine your grandmother mastering things like blowjobs, but make no mistake, she did. And you have to respect her for that.

When It’s Bullshit:

Because the ones saying it are the elders. Not many people have heard a 14-year-old say “You know, we should all really respect our elders. I think I’m going to go home right now and do some respecting.” No, this is a phrase that older people say when they want younger people to shut their stupid face holes. Whether there’s truth to the phrase or not, when an older person says it, they really mean “Don’t you talk to me like that, you arrogant little prick. You don’t know jack shit.”

And just like with any blanket statement, it’s simply not true to say that all elderly are wise. There are far more dumbasses than geniuses in the world, and the odds are that your drunken grandfather isn’t one of the elite few. Unfortunately, “experience” does not always translate to “wisdom.” You have to remember that in many cases, older people (me included) will say things to overcompensate for our own mistakes, and when someone younger calls us on it, it’s incredibly hard for us to admit that fault and move on. Instead, we resort to “Respect your elders!”

Yes, it’s true that most older people will be able to give you advice on the basics of life: “Don’t put your dick in that acid. It’ll acid your dick off.” But no, not all of them can give useful advice on complex, delicate issues: “Just follow your heart. Life’s too short!” Yeah, thanks — that’s great advice. Eat shit, Grandma.

Now, am I telling you to disrespect your elders? No, that’s silly. Stop being silly, you fruity silly-ass. What I’m saying is that the social rule demanding that you automatically give respect based simply on a person’s age is outdated and ironically unwise. It was the generations above me that taught “Respect is earned; not given.” I agree. We have to follow that rule — and so should they.


The joy of independence

This year marks my 10th year as a totally independent guy. Quite late, I know. I only got out of my comfort zone, which was my parents’ home back in the province, at age 26. This I did after a long day-to-day contemplation regarding the struggles I had in such a conventional, narrow-minded community and, worse, in an old-school home environment run by no less than my father.

I finished school at the age of 19 and started working plainly a month after graduation. Unfortunate as it was, my first employment was in that state university where my parents were key people. So instead of employment liberating me, it even required me to readjust to an environment where I had to see my Dad’s face everyday (I used to be half-independent during college; I was away from home).

The 6 years of stay in my parents’ home, I can say, was really more of pain than glory. I was with a father who thought he could control everything, even my thinking, and with a mother who was luckily in my line of thinking and in the same boat with me but, unfortunately, could not do anything, and who just gave her support (emotional, financial, etc) to me UNDER THE TABLE (literally).

But the fighter that I was, I still managed to survive in that house. Within those years, I let my Dad realize that having me at home as a “grown-up working professional” and having me before “as a kid” were two entirely different things. There was constant action and drama, PLUS ENDLESS ACCUSATIONS OF DISRESPECT, but I didn’t damn care, and at the time I left, I could say I had taught him half the lesson.

Still I left, because I got fed up trying to plant in an old-school mind even just the smallest seeds of RESPECT – for one’s existence, for one’s space, and worse, for letting live. Worst reason — the house all of us were staying in was actually company property; anybody who worked there was entitled to rent it. Simply put, the three of us had EQUAL RIGHTS to live in that house because we were all employed there. So what made my dad think it was HIS home? And what made him behave as if he was “KING” and my mom and I were his “SUBJECTS,” when all three of us were equally contributing to the household expenses and, left alone by himself, he could not even afford to sustain us? Just what gave him that stupid sense of ENTITLEMENT?

The ultimate solution: LEAVE! And so I did.

Going back, honestly, this thing about old-school mentality is very difficult to explain. Although it may be known to anybody, I am not also sure if everybody hates it. Oh well, I’m quite sure I hate it, and I curse it on top of my lungs. Yes, I am willing to shout out all curses I know when this topic comes up, as I really DESPISE such way of thinking.

In as much as I hated my dad for it, the same was also true with my aunt in the USA who considers me no less than her own child (that’s according to her). She is somebody who thinks even WORSE, and this is because of her fanaticism of that rotten catholic religion. She would impose a regimented life on anybody who stays in her house — fixed time for six meals a day, definite days and time for those stupid mass services, and worst of all, going to CONFESSION – WTF, DO NOT IMPOSE THAT ON ME OR HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE, idiot!. Call me names — evil, disrespectful, impolite, liberated, whore, bitch — the hell I care.

Where do these people get the nerve TO CONTROL MY LIFE WHENEVER I AM IN THEIR HOMES? Don’t they realize that it only pisses me off all the more and everything IS TO THEIR DISADVANTAGE? Is it really too difficult to realize (moreso, RESPECT) that this certain person is OLD ENOUGH, is LEADING A GOOD LIFE, has PROVEN HIS WORTH, and has FULL CAPACITY TO BE SUSTAINING HIMSELF? After all, I never lacked in concern for these people and in extending necessary help, need be! Why treat a grown-up professional, who has his own thinking, as a STUPID OR DUMB KID? Do THESE PEOPLE really ITCH TO EXERCISE FALSE AUTHORITY, and virtually DIE if they cannot? Is it really very difficult to differentiate between when you can be in control and when you should respect that this person HAS A LIFE?

Difficult as it is to burn ass everyday to sustain your daily needs and your “decent” lifestyle, the joy comes with seeing yourself NOT DEPENDING ON ANYBODY. Now that was why I chose to be independent and to live in the metropolis. The fulfillment is there; it is living my life without nobody watching — if i feel like going out, staying home, eating only twice a day, not having dinner, not having breakfast, eating six times a day, working graveyard shift today, working day shift tomorrow, going home in the morning today, going home in the evening the next day, not sleeping today, sleeping off my whole free day, sleeping at daytime, sleeping in someone else’s house, drinking at a friend’s house, fucking my guy in my house, or fucking anyone anywhere, I CAN DO IT.

After all (thanks to Mom), I am educated (and oh, thanks to that 6-year work experience back home, no matter how full of shit) and experienced enough to EARN MY OWN BREAD and to LIVE MY OWN LIFE. So why fuck’n subject myself to some OLD-SCHOOL WAY OF LIFE and to some FALSE AUTHORITY?

I HATE AUTHORITY. Especially FALSE AUTHORITY. I don’t need it, and I’m too SMART for it. The approach NEVER WORKS FOR ME, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. I can be completely independent and a nonconformist to EVERYTHING — religion, familism, politics, value systems, cultures, etc. Hence, I will do what i want to do, according to what I BELIEVE is right (i mean, it may not be right for those conventional, old-school, dumb and stupid fanatics and/or idiots, but who fuck’n cares?). I’m old enough to know what is right, and I believe I’m learned, exposed, and SMART enough to practice it and to manage my life to my comfort and taste. Lest I forget, I’m GAY and proud of it, so I always say, IF OLD-SCHOOL THINKING SPELLS MASCULINITY, then by all means, LET ME BE GAY!

I DON’T NEED ANYBODY TO FINANCE ME TO LIVE and, thus, be held in the neck and pulled by the tail. I can do it myself. I can pay for my own home, food, and luxury. Should I get in DEEP SHIT, these people DO NOT NEED TO KNOW. I can get out of that SHIT myself. I CAN LIVE. My life can be simple, but happy and FREE.





A grim reflection during one village drive

one beautiful Saturday, i took extra time to drive around my village to appreciate big, beautiful houses and to snoop around for some houses and lots for sale. out of nowhere, my eyes happened to spot on this newly renovated house [which was not for sale], made in today’s modern Mediterranean-inspired architecture, but the traces of an old structure still surfaced despite the renovation.

looking at the house, i also noticed some fully grown and aged ornamental flowering trees planted around the compound, which reminded me of the smell of the Kalachuchi trees planted all around our ancestral home [which today is reduced to ruins], where i grew up. i could not help but reminisce my pleasant childhood days spent in that house; but on the contrary, i was starting to shiver at the flash of an instant thought that old houses come with an old-school family that exercises false authority, with younger generations practically BOWING and KISSING THE ASSES of their silly elders.

Grrr!!! I HATE AUTHORITY! it is the number one thing i abhor, and people who exercise authority on me are number one in my criminal hitlist. to this day, i am constantly on guard against people who want to HOLD ME BY THE NECK and PULL ME BY THE TAIL. no matter who they are, I WILL NEVER LET THEM. should they force themselves into me, I WILL KILL THEM.

i don’t know why. must i be an old soul, who occupied some authoritative post in my past life? or was i too subservient and a victim of power trippers then?

i grew up in a conservatively catholic family [too bad], and as early as in my childhood days, i was already mindful of authoritarians — my father as well as all other elders: aunts, uncles [spare my mother and my grandparents for they did love me too much], teachers, etc. — who imposed their “power” upon me and my cousins. as a child with a mind limited to candy and toy issues, i let them be and accepted the fact that they were “big.” yes, powerless as i was, what could i do but just accept the beatups, hard hits, and physical injury coming from grown-up people and just wallow in pain with all the wounds and bruises?

physically abused i was, yes; but the good thing, as early as my toddler days, i already had this full tendency to fight for my rights and to pursue arguments to the bitter end, and that made me that “little bitch” who was condemned at school because i did talk back to my DUMB teachers and did not spare any of them and their stupidity. little as i was, i did not also spare my dad as well as the rest of my folks from those “talk-backs” because as early as then, i knew when i was on the right foot and when i was not [oh yeah, even as a child, i was VERY righteous and logical, and i knew i was thinking straight]. all this gives me reason to believe all the more that i am indeed an old soul.

as i grew up to be a teenager, little by little, i developed COMPLETE REPUGNANCE and hostility toward all these power trippers, my father topping the charts. my hatred for my dad was what drove me to do my best at school and to promise myself that someday, i will be a fully grown professional, and i will get back at all these people; after all, they say, “hate sustains man.” this, together with Edgar Allan Poe’s “the cask of amontillado,” motivated all my struggles to be the person i wanted to become.

and indeed, the days of glory came. i metamorphosed into a fully grown professional, developed a sane and reasonable intellectual mind, and got totally independent to the point of fully sustaining myself in a decent lifestyle. however, until now, a lot of questions regarding “authority” and “power tripping” still ring in my mind.

firstly, is all this a “king-subject” issue? my Mom used to tell me that “you have to be king of your own domain to be free,” as i did long for freedom at a very early point. i get to ask, WHY? why do i have to be king? can’t i just COEXIST with people who can respect my privacy and individuality? for hell’s sake, we’re NOT a flock of goats or sheep here where one bigger animal has to rule! we’re human beings with sane minds!

He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak. – Michel de Montaigne (French Philosopher and Writer. 1533–1592)

blame it on the NARROW-MINDEDNESS of the Filipino culture. this value of “paggalang” [respect a.k.a. kiss-ass] has been overemphasized, to the extent of allowing power trip. to what extent does it have to be practiced? is it to the extent of submitting to FALSE AUTHORITY? is it to the extent of submitting to FOOLISH IDEAS just because these came from some OLDER person or a person higher in rank? i think the word “respect” has to be utterly redefined. if you look up the meaning of this term in a deeper context, it never means “submission” to any false and senseless authority. it is just unfortunate that the definition of this term has gone to really ridiculous extents, as to how i hear it from the “old-school” people in my family [e.g., talking back, defying orders (no matter how stupid), and questioning the decision of some elderly even if it affects the welfare of the whole family ARE ALL A CRIME (hell no!)].

secondly, this fourth of the christian god’s 10 commandments to HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER. this commandment came from the old testament, which has been horrendously interpreted by thick-skulled church authorities over the decades. yes, respecting one’s parents may be noble. our parents labored to make us whole [oh well yes, for those responsible parents, Satan forsake those who entered parenthood but did not fulfill parental obligations]. however, in cases when our parents exercise glaring stupidity, it is also our responsibility as their children to call their attention and to tell them they are WRONG. whoever says that this DENSELY INTERPRETED commandment should encompass other members of the family (e.g., brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, older cousins), DUMB teachers and school authorities, and people at work who are higher in rank but showcase a gallery of jerky management practices? who says this all? it is the pathetic OLD-SCHOOL FILIPINO, who was influenced by selfish and cruel SPANISH FRIARS who colonized the Filipinos using that stupid cross.

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. – Albert Einstein

it is ultimately wrong to instill in a child’s mind that asserting himself, fighting for his rights, and protecting himself from cruelty and abuse ARE AGAINST THE LAWS OF GOD AND SOCIETY. it is wrong to make him feel “HE IS BAD” (moreso, disrespectful) just because he answers back in all rationality. most importantly, it is wrong to teach him that OLDER PEOPLE CAN SAY AND DO WHAT THEY WANT because this will make him join the cohort of a million stupid power trippers when he grows up and, thus, foster DAMAGE to the generation next to him.

it gives me the CREEPS to think about how the older generation thinks when it comes to authority and power. wondering about the ins and outs of that pathetic state of mind sends me shivers down my spine. gosh, HOW COULD THEY? and where has the real meaning of RESPECT gone? RESPECT IS EARNED. it is not something imposed, it is not something taught, and it is not something gained from physical assault or punishment. IT IS EARNED WHEN IT IS GIVEN. and once it is mutually given, PRODUCTIVITY and HARMONY, in all aspects, take good place, and there is no more need for false authority and power tripping.

And there i was, instead of feeling good about that drive, in an instant, i found myself heading straight home and telling myself, I’D RATHER NOT HAVE A BIG, BEAUTIFUL HOUSE for as long as i am free.

Born with a hatred for authority

I grew up in an environment of extreme, unreasonable authority. I grew up under an unjustifiably authoritarian rule. I grew up with an unreasonably authoritative father.

Contrary to the expectation that I would imbibe such stupid value and practice it myself, the exact opposite encompassed my personality. I HATE AUTHORITY. I learned to abhor it, I learned to curse it, I learned to despise it.

I HATE AUTHORITY. Be it in the office, in the home, in a relationship, and worst all in RELIGION.

I DO NOT BELIEVE IN AUTHORITY. First, I’m TOO SMART to subject myself to it. Secondly, it’s counter-productive [work] and counter-fruitive [love and relationships] if i exercise it. Thirdly, I don’t believe it is the right tool to achieve order and balance in a group or in society as a whole. Lastly, it’s plainly BULLSHIT. We’re done with patriarchal rule. We’ve bid goodbye to that, long ago.

So how do I maintain order? My home is a perfect example, a home on which I invested tears and blood just to establish. Right now, I have my Mother and my partner with me. Done with eliminating the authoritative swine dad. I pay for everything in that home, so apparently, it is but JUST that I should rule. There is a THRONE which everybody SET at will for me to SIT ON and rule.

However, I AM NOT DOING IT. I choose to ELIMINATE that THRONE. We all set rules, WE THREE AGREE ON THEM, and WE THREE follow them. When one ceases to follow any of these rules, that is when CHAOS will begin. Fortunately, there is peace, there is order, and there is BALANCE in this setup, so ANYBODY who we allow to set foot on my home SHOULD FOLLOW THE SET RULES to avoid chaos. I MYSELF FOLLOW THESE RULES.


The key to it all: RESPECT. Where one is happy, LET HIM be. SUBMISSION IS NOT RESPECT. With an authoritarian rule, there may be balance, there may be order, but there can’t be any form of happiness and peace — just PLAIN SILENCE but with DEEP unspoken RESENTMENT, PLAIN STILLNESS brought about by STUPID SUBMISSION to UNREASONABLE and FALSE AUTHORITY.