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  • Fri, 3, Nov, 2017 - 5:00:AM

Should you dump your parents?

Aaaah .. parents. You can’t choose ‘em. You can’t blame them for everything. You can’t dump them.

Or can you?

If the relationship between you and your genetic creators has reached an unhealthy, toxic, and completely unproductive level, then I’m here to tell you that yes, you can ABSOLUTELY dump them.

I’m not talking about the occasional fractious moments that one can have with the people who share the same gene pool. Sure, there are times when your mother’s well meaning comments about your {insert weight/clothing/hair colour/partner/career here} wear very, very thin. Or your father’s attempts to {insert ‘advice’ about your ability to manage your money/study time/car repairs/life here} make you want to punch him in the face. Not that you ever would. But AARGH.

No, I’m talking about truly toxic, vile behaviour that quite simply, if a friend or work colleague ever treated you this way, would mean an immediate annihilation of the friendship, or a quick trip to the HR department of your workplace to get it sorted.

In an ideal world, parents should be there to love and support you, steer you in the right direction, provide boundaries for you to bump up against, set an example of how to conduct yourself in the world, and model healthy relationship behaviours that promote an environment of self-worth, honesty and authenticity.

However, when the abovementioned parameters are not provided, what then?

Having been put through a lifetime’s worth of emotional blackmail, gas-lighting, lies, manipulation, and endless disappointments, I decided to recently dump my parents. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. It meant having to acknowledge that the years of shit that I had tolerated from the two people that were supposed to be my biggest champions, had reached an impasse. It simply wasn’t working for me anymore.

I’m a pretty thick-skinned individual, who had largely managed to break away from their direct involvement for many years. I knew that our relationship was unhealthy, and it was creating massive amounts of mental distress for me by continuing to pretend to play happy families. So I moved away, but kept up the occasional phone call and sporadic visits home to tick the proverbial ‘familial duties’ box.

But having children a few years ago meant that I felt an obligation to involve my parents in my life. I wanted to give them the opportunity to try and make things right with the hindsight and delight of becoming grandparents. I really thought that my children could heal things between all of us.

I was wrong.

If anything, the positivity and truthfulness that my partner and I model for our kids, and the closeness that we have, seemed to trigger the opposite reaction. There was an increasing sense of belittling that started to happen in front of my children, and the same cycle of manipulation and lies started anew.

But the trigger point came for me when my daughter, after observing me with my parents on a recent visit said, ‘Your mum and dad don’t like you very much, do they?’

It was like a light-switch turned on inside me. Why was I subjecting my own close-knit, supportive loving family unit to people that were continuously negative, critical, and dismissive of me? It stopped there and then.

The social stigma of creating a zero-contact relationship with parents prevents many from doing so. The sense of guilt, abandonment, and judgement that can come from making such a massive decision can, and will, invite all sorts of comments from other people. It may put pressure on other siblings to deal with the fallout of your choice. Luckily for me, my siblings completely understood my reasons and are also looking at their own relationships with our parents.

But the most surprising thing for me, when I announced this decision to several close friends (who I consider my other ‘family’), was the almost unanimous response of being relieved for me. They had witnessed years of personal turmoil that I had suffered, and knew that creating separation from people that did not respect me, my decisions or my own family unit was the right call. Some have shared my story with other friends outside our immediate circle, and almost every single one of them has another friend who has done the same thing.

I guess there are more of us out there than I realised. Which makes me feel less alone, but bottom line, incredibly sad.

 

 

If you feel that you need support with your family situation, the following agencies could provide assistance:

Home and Family Counselling Auckland

Home and Family Counselling Christchurch

Family Works

Citizens Advice Bureau

TAGGED IN

  • Parents /
  • Family /
  • Toxic relationships /
Support Villainesse

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