How do I stop letting my parents thoughts and words affect my decisions and my relationship?

Why do I feel like it takes extra energy to connect with my parents? Why do parents say very hurtful things about people you love? Is it normal to doubt your parents love and care for you? What does that mean? What kinds of issues can be taken from a parental relationship into a romantic relationship with your partner? How can I start healing as an individual and what steps can I take to connect with my parents on a deeper level or should I just let that happen naturally?
Asked by Lei

Hi Lei,

Some people may feel a lack of connection or come to therapy blaming their parents for difficulties in their relationships and feel a negativity toward them for the problems they may have or the life they live. It is not uncommon to have anger toward parents for what they see as criticism or lack of encouragement and to also blame parents for any shortcomings in both personal and professional life. Holding onto this negativity toward a parent may cause a person to be stuck with feelings of anger and could also interfere with any potential to change or improve a current life situation. 

It may be difficult to separate yourself from what your parents think you should do or from the criticism they have toward people you chose to be in a relationship with. To build confidence in pleasing yourself, start reaffirming your opinion with a trusted friend or other relative, even if that means that you are not pleasing your parents. Practice saying positive things about your relationship to yourself and to those you trust.

To avoid conflict with your parents, you can utilize “l” statements to express yourself without causing confrontation. You can try saying, “I understand your opinion, but I feel differently”.  Utilizing this type of statement to express yourself is effective because it is not judgmental and does not cast blame. You can also set boundaries, not only physical boundaries, but emotional boundaries, and let your parents know which topics are off limits to them, such as your relationships, if that is an area that causes the conflict. 

One of the things that we are free to do as adults is pick the relationships we have and the way we want to have those relationships. This also includes relationships that we have with our parents. Although you may feel you have to do things the way your parents would want you to do them, the reality is that you can make your own choices and live your life based on what you decide is right for you.