When one has always lived a certain way, they assumed that's the way the world is. You can hope for better things, better environment, but until you've had experienced some goodness, you won't really know how bad things are.
A child growing up in an abusive environment thinks parents are the same every where, until the day he gets exposed to a nurturing parent. Usually, parents divide their roles: one is the good parent and the other is the bad one, or rather the disciplinary one. Sometimes some parents assume the submissive or the dominant role. Being talked down to is a common thing in an abusive family. The father screams, hits, degrades. The mother endures, doesn't talk back and supports her husband's behavior and decisions, because that is what wives do. The kids see, feel and live violence on a daily base. They don't really know any better and live in fear of being hit. They have to follow the rules, oblige by them and never question them. If they do, it can not be said, especially not to the father. Observe and remain quiet.
The kids become adults, fairly adjusted despite everything. They realize how things were and that there are other options out there. They choose to apply and live with these less abusive ways. The mother chooses to stand by her man. It might be due to her lack of courage, her habits, or because that's where a wife is supposed to be? The father (may) also sees, as he's getting older, that his ways were not always the best. He reproduced what he had received and knew rather than improving or changing. It could be based on his lack of education, his inability to open up and, or simply fear?
One day the father takes his life. The mother is at a loss. The one person who controlled her every moves, her life, is now gone. She could, if she wants, take this as an opportunity to grow, to better herself, to become the person she didn't have a chance (or didn't let) to be. She has too much anger to work on herself. She hangs on to that anger, to those years of frustration. He fucked her up big time, and it's all his fault.
The kids want change. They work on themselves, seek professional help, they want to understand and move on. They don't blame it all on their father. Their mother had her share of responsibilities. There is anger there. There is also hurt. They think things can only get better from there, they will help their mother and it will get better, they will heal together.
Time does go by. The mother says and acts as if she's trying to better herself, but her actions at times show her children her true color. Having been exposed to abuse and lack of respect for so many years, one could argue it makes it hard for one to know better. Maybe it is the children's expectations of their mother that is too high? Maybe it is a simple generation gap? In her times, a parent was meant to provide a roof, food and clothes to their children. For a child to feel loved by his parents after the essentials were supplied was almost a luxury. Maybe it is a recent thing this "feeling the love" thing?
The children are adults. Mature adults. The mother is elderly. They visit each other, they talk, but (of course) not as much as the mother would expect. There are still some unspoken issues between them. The father's suicide, even if talked about openly, has never been really accepted by the mother. She feels abandon. She has lots of anger. Her anger isn't always directed at the right person. Despite being seen as a victim by many who were exposed to the family when the father was around, the mother is not.
A parent who says they would do anything for their children, would protect them in case of danger. Shouldn't a parent whose spouse is abusive protect them as well? Why would a parent stay in a house where one is being put down, screamed at, and at times hit chose to remain there? Why would a mother choose to stay with a man who would hit their children, take pride in saying that her husband never hit her, because if he had she would have left him? Should the children think of this statement as how little value they represented for their mother? Why would a parent who knows are much words can hurt, would choose to say such words to their children? How can a mother tell her own children, that she says to love more than life itself, to go fuck themselves? As adults, shouldn't the parent and kids respect each other, or at least respect the fact they are related to one another?
I'm not a parent, but those of you who are, what do you think? Besides not being a healthy relationship, do, like I do, still see abuse in the mother-children relationship?