How Can I Avoid My Parents
The way your parents treated you as a child doesn't mean you have to allow that to continue now that you are an adult. It’s important for you to separate out what belongs in the past and the present. You have much more power now than you did as a child. You’re not a compliant child any more and you don’t have to do as you are told by them.
Q I know it sounds mean but I’m ashamed of my parents. My girlfriend is pregnant and I haven’t told them yet because I know they’ll try and take over, giving her advice and telling us what to do and how to do it.
They’ve always been like this and I left home at 17 to get away from their control and bullying.
We are supposed to visit them at Christmas but I managed to get out of it, and they’re now expecting us to go for New Year. My girlfriend wants to meet them – she doesn’t know what she’s letting herself in for!
She comes from a very different type of family from me and thinks I must be over-reacting. I know I’m not and that they’ll ruin things for us if I let them.
A The answer is in your last comment… if you ‘let them’. So, what can you do that doesn’t exclude them entirely, yet sets adult boundaries around what is acceptable to you, and what isn’t?
It’s important for you to separate out what belongs in the past and the present. Maybe they were bullying to you, but you can change how you relate to that and how much you continue to allow that disrespectful behaviour.
You have much more power now than you did as a child, and the whole family needs to realise that. Things have changed, and you must be very clear about what is OK with you and what isn’t.
Be specific. Be clear. Be fair. Be consistent. Be strong. Be mature.
This is your girlfriend’s baby too and her wishes must be taken into consideration.
Have a chat with her and explain how it felt growing up with your parents and family. The difficulties you had, what you didn’t get that you needed; and the way this has affected how you see and relate to them now.
Hopefully she will empathise, even if she hasn’t had a similar experience herself.
Together you can decide what to tell them and what you allow them to do. Their advice is just their advice. You’re not a compliant child any more and you don’t have to do as you’re told by them.
By now they are older, and hopefully wiser too, and their response to your good news might surprise you. Perhaps becoming grandparents will create a shift in the way they behave towards you and your new family.
When you tap into your own power and wisdom you’ll know and feel what’s best for you, your relationship and your child’s future.
Be prepared to feel shaky as the scared and bullied little kid who still lives inside you stands up for himself – and as a back-up have an agreement with your girlfriend that you will get support from her if you need it.
That could be an agreed non-verbal signal, or she may speak up too if she feels willing and able to.
Stay in your calm confident ‘adult’ state of mind and things will probably go much better than the inner child/little kid inside you imagines they will.
You now have the power and opportunity to change the dynamics of your relationship with your parents - or at least how you respond and relate to them.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) - MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com - where you can find plenty of free resources to help you to both understand and deal with your unhappy childhood and toxic parents.