Over breakfast of pecan pancakes with Min.
Min: You should be more accepting of your parents. This is who they are.
Me: I'm not sure that I want that. My dad calls my mom stupid in every conversation. I don't think I want to change into someone who doesn't care when that happens. I'm a passionate person. If I stop caring when someone calls my mom stupid, what other parts of myself will I lose?
Min: He actually says that she's stupid?
Me: Many times a day. He drops it casually. "Your mom over-estimates her abilities." "Three of us in our family can compute the tip, but your mom can't." It's ridiculous, because she's very smart. My mom badmouths my dad too, but more subtly. "Your dad is a good person, but his temper is unbearable. The biggest mistake of my life was marrying him."
Min: You're focusing on the negative. Look at the positives. They've done so much for you.
Me: I know, and I feel like a horrible person. But this bothers me in a way that nothing else does. I can't deal with it the way a normal functioning adult can, because it started when I was eight. I have the same enormous emotional reaction that I did when I was a kid.
Min: But they still love each other, right?
Me: Yes, deep down they do.
Min: So what does it matter then?
Me: Because love is a verb, not a state of being. You of all people showed me that. You told me how much it meant to you that based on an idle comment, Joe came home and packed lunch for you. Love is in how you speak to the other person with respect, how you accomodate them and help them out. You don't get to just say you love someone and then treat them like shit and get away with it.
Min: They're still your parents.
Me: If you started telling me every day how my mother is stupid, I would cut you out of my life right away. It's not acceptable. Why should it be any different for my parents?