“If you stop to think about it, you’ll have to admit that all the stories in the world consist essentially of twenty-six letters. The letters are always the same, only the arrangement varies. From letters words are formed, from words sentences, from sentences chapters, and from chapters stories.” –Michael Ende
That’s a luck dragon over to the left, by the way. He’ll be helpful later in this post for getting you a free session. Read on, fearless reader!
All of my posts here on A Raleigh Therapist’s blog are directly related to topics I’m covering in sessions with clients. Sometimes, it seems like lots of folks come in with the exact same concern all at once. I’m not sure if that’s a phase of the moon thing, or perhaps this is simply the time of the year for it. But, lately the topic du jour has been this–how in the world do I get along with my parents as an adult child?
Despite all the colorful things I told my folks back when I was an angry Goth girl covered in black clothes and magenta hair, I think they did a pretty good job at shepherding me towards adulthood. And, to tell you the truth, my angry Goth days were sort of essential in shaping me into the person that I am now. That’s maybe a blog post for another day related to a comforting speech I often give parents of my teenage/young adult clients that goes something like, “I also wore black nail polish, had dark taste in music and nurtured a penchant for Sylvia Plath. Here I sit before you in boring, tasteful pumps with a Ph.D.–it’ll probably be fine.”
But, in all honesty, it’s not as simple as that sometimes, is it? Often your differences with your parents continue on long after the turbulence of those early years has settled. The waters are not always smooth sailing when trying to negotiate an adult identity with the people who will almost always look at you (fondly even) as though you were three.
The relationship with our parents, for most of us, is the first and most complex bond we’ll ever know until we have children ourselves. It’s rich in both love and conflict, and in so many ways is the template on which we base our adult relationships. So, what happens if the relationship with your parents is one in which you need to set loving boundaries?
1) You’re a Mean One, Mr./Ms. Grinch: You have a right, and even more importantly, a responsibility to behave in a fashion that is congruent with your own morals. When you allow people you love, your parents included, to push you to do things outside of those values (for instance, getting into screaming matches, sidestepping your spouse, or going into debt to offer financial assistance) you are not behaving in a loving way. The worst thing about capitulating to demands that aren’t in alignment with your sense of integrity is that it breeds a particularly vicious kind of resentment on your part. Then, it is impossible to behave in a manner that honors your parents, let alone allows you to enjoy that relationship. Let your parents know what your boundaries are and stick to them in a way that isn’t punitive.
2) Guilty as Charged: The main reason that most folks don’t want to have boundaries with their folks is because they don’t want to feel guilty. And, I think this is pretty freakin’ normal. Your parents may have sacrificed for you. Perhaps they had a difficult upbringing and have done their best to make sure you were raised differently. Denying some requests does not mean you don’t honor your parents’ contributions or that you stop making commentary on your gratitude for them. Rather, it means that the requests you extend yourself to offer you do with a joyful heart. Boundaries don’t mean you’re angry with anyone. If your family of origin translates boundaries as anger, you may need some help to sort out what to say.
3)Boundaries aren’t Walls: Sometimes it’s hard to imagine setting boundaries because we are concerned that the people with whom we set them will think we don’t love them any longer. It may be hard to believe this, but you can love more deeply and intensely when you know where you stand. Then, you don’t have to be angry at yourself and by extension, other people because you allowed yourself to be pushed into places you never wanted to go.
Could you use some help in figuring out how to set loving boundaries? Do you need a better sense of space in your relationships? I’m here to help. I’ll even give you a gimmie. If you’d like to win a free session with me, answer this question about one of my own very first acts of parenting:
My youngest son is named after one of the two lead characters in my favorite book by writer Michael Ende. I loved the idea of an underdog who could save the world with his big imagination. The luck dragon above is a hint. If you’re the first person to email me the name of that character I’ll offer you a free, hour-long session.
Your Partner in Healing,
Are you looking for compassionate individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:
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