Parents…What Can You Do?

When parents exit or enter your life

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Parents. We all have them or we wouldn’t be here. We love them. We hate them. We don’t know them. They don’t know us. They chose us. They were surprised by our conception. They define us. We define them. We try to live with them. Life goes on without them, for better or for worse.

My client’s parent reentered her life after fifteen years of absence. He left when she was very young, and returned now that she is a young adult. He returned like a baby left in a basket on the doorstep. His partner of many years chose to no longer care for him as he developed and sunk into Alzheimers. So my client took on the job of moving him closer to her and getting him into a facility.

Emotions overflow for both. She feels alternately guilty, sad, angry, glad to get a chance to know him, albeit in a diminished capacity, and somehow cheated of both her childhood relationship and now of her actual time and life as she becomes a caretaker. He feels confused, angry at her because he is in a strange place without his partner, frightened, and grateful to get to see and know his daughter. He often forgets he was the one who left her.

What can you do?

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I had an up and down relationship with my own mother. She was nurturing and caring when she and my father weren’t fighting, which was often. She saw us as an extension of herself and took pride in appearances. I went to therapy partly to learn how to separate from her, and to acknowledge the good I received from her. That took years. She became the near perfect grandmother to my son, even though she had to overcome her own prejudices to do so. When she died suddenly in a one car crash, my son and I were both devastated. We had to learn to live without her indelible presence and intense personality. She seemed immortal.

What can you do?

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A young client in college has a similar up and down relationship with her mother. She accuses mom of being a helicopter mom. She is. My client struggles with the support she receives from mom for the pursuit of her dream, and the intrusion that often comes with that. Mom tells her what to eat and not eat. She still has a curfew and has to say where she is when she comes home from college. Mom won’t let her grow up while insisting that she act more maturely

What can you do?

My sister took care of my father at the end of his life. I couldn’t help. He had damaged our family in so many ways that I simply could not find a way to be okay with being there . I had helped him when he needed me earlier, but had to betray my feelings and what I felt I owed to other members of the family to do so. I was done. My sister felt abandoned. We worked through that and are close again. My father couldn’t destroy everything after all.

What can you do?

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funny dude

My own son has an up and down relationship with me. He knows I support his dreams. Currently I support them financially as he lives rent free. He is an up and coming comedian, YouTube star, and videographer, editor, producer. He appreciates my support most of the time. We have an agreement that I support him now and he supports me in my old age. It might work. He is also still angry about people I dated when he was young. Therefore, he isn’t particularly accommodating when I date now. That’s why he has to take care of me when I am old.

What can you do?

Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist. Leans Left. Mindfulness practioner before it was cool. M.Ed., LPC. Carolsantafe93@gmail.com.

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