How to deal with a toxic parent
Looking for those over 50 to please answer. The constant nitpicky criticism is emotionally draining & exhausting. Condescending, rude, hyper-critical means I can't have a normal conversation with Ma because she has no insight and just gets incredibly defensive.
She is still the only mother I have and I would like to have some relationship with her.
Well if that's how she is, then that's how she is ptosis....So accept the fact that she's nitpicky/critical etc, & see if you can control "your" feelings/emotions when talking with her....After all is said & done they are only words, & shouldn't bother you....So it's great practice for "you", & with practice it won't bother you what anyone says....Never be negative back, & see if she notices the change in you, then she might change herself....I mean unless she has good reason to treat you the way she does, then it's her problem & not yours.
Hi ptosis; Great image and SO true! Although I haven't reached 50 yet, I have had to deal with toxic family members. I'm going to guess that the things you long for in the relationship with your mom are, sadly, things you probably never had with her in the first place:
* a sense of trust built from being treated with respect;
* a sense of belonging originating from being with someone of like mind; and
* a sense of being important which comes from being taken seriously.
In my family, these were nice ideas, but never a reality. I also struggled with the whole, "Honour Thy Parents" thing and eventually learned that a) honouring doesn't mean subjecting yourself to their nasty behaviour; and b) you can still honour someone and keep them at arm's length.
There is so much that I'd like to share with you, but with the limited character count, I will say this: Sometimes the only thing that keeps us attached to toxic people is the memories of those brief happy moments with them and the desire to see if we can experience a similar moment again (forgetting or ignoring all the pain and misery between those moments). While we feel obligated to stay in contact with family members, but we're not. If your morals and values don't mesh, you are only making both of you unhappy by sticking around.
I have two hubs that discusses with what I went through and what I've learned to stay healthy, happy and sane. One is called, "Freeing Yourself From the Influences of Harmful Relatives," and the other is, "How to Honour Your Parents (or Spouse)". I hope they will help you ~*~
That's a tough situation because words and actions do hurt. That being said, it helps to come at this thing from a different angle. We all tend to have the expectation that parents should be "good" at nurturing their children. But the truth is that some parents totally suck at being parents, so the thing you have to do is release yourself from having any expectations from them.
In other words, accept that this false criticism they insist upon inflicting upon you has nothing to do with who you are and everything to do with who they are. The truth is that nothing is going to change. Your moms habits are ingrained for life. That being said, you can tell her gently that you do not agree with her and that if she wants to have a meaningful discussion, then you are more than available for that. Otherwise, you're not available.
But, I can pretty much guarantee you that nothing will change and that you will never have a meaningful relationship with your mom simply because she is not capable, or is lacking the needed empathy to formulate a loving relationship. But, at least you will no longer have to worry about it. You may have to distance yourself from her because... she really can affect your self-esteem if you're not careful. After a while, the constant propaganda can wear a person down.
Unfortunately, I speak from experience, but I'm at peace with the fact that I know the things I have been criticized for are false. I like myself very much even if my father hates the site of me--literally. Unfortunately, he is the one with the problem. You too will have to understand these things about your mother, (I'm sorry to say) even if you do honor her for giving you life, as I do my father. Best of luck to you!
Excellent words of insight and fabulous advice! ((Thank you for sharing)) I'm so glad (can I say proud without sounding weird/creepy?) that you not only saw the truth, but found a way to regain your sense of Self, respect and dignity.
Thank you, I Am Rosa. You are very kind and the word "proud" is not creepy at all. I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much.
I'm close enough to answer and more than qualified. *Gulp*
I have quite a few toxic members in my family, most of which I no longer have dealings with. I had a difficult childhood, which took a long time to work through. What I learned was to steer clear of "drama" and people who are "toxic." If I sense there's a problem, I simply walk away–no matter who it is.
Some people can't be helped, they don't want to, and they'll never change. But when you feel them sucking you dry of positive energy, it's best just to step away and not engage. Since it's your mom, and you still want to maintain a relationship with her, I'd recommend setting some ground rules with her (i.e., if you do "X," we'll have to end the call, etc.). And if she crosses the line, in person or on the phone, just end the call or leave.
Life is way too short for all that nonsense. Those who live to be right, often lose in the end... Just be the bigger man and walk away. ;-)
Yup! "If I want drama, I'll go to the theatre!" We call those "sucking" people emotional vampires.
Excellent advice about the ground rules. Assertiveness is sometimes hard for those who've had toxic parents.
That's it! I'm saving all the drama for my book. I just have to write it first! ;-)
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