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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
My "Parents"
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3point14 posted:
Firstly, I know this isn't technically the appropriate venue, but I'm still really hoping I can get some insight on how best to deal with this.

So, today is my birthday. I'm old enough that it's not a huge deal, just turning 24. My plans for the day were to work for a few hours, go out to lunch with my parents, see a movie, then go dancing with my friends. My parents somewhat insisted upon us going out for lunch. I currently have braces and feel really self conscious about eating in public and told them both that. They were basically dismissive and insisted. Every time I've seen them for the past two weeks, they've been talking about how excited they are to eat at the Italian place we were going to go to.

The day before yesterday, my Mom texted me to say she wasn't feeling well and to ask if I or if M (my boyfriend) had some weed for her to borrow. I said No, because we didn't as we're both in the process of quitting. Yesterday, my Dad called my cell phone at work (a big no-no that he knows I hate) to ask for my pot dealer's number. I was annoyed with both of these things, but only mildly.

This sh**'s so predictable, right? My Mom texted me a Happy Birthday, and I asked if we were still hanging out this afternoon. Didn't even ask about lunch, but just if I'd be seeing them. She said she hasn't been feeling well all week and she doesn't want to get me sick. I said I was ok with that. She then texts me that she's at work right now, and because she knows the plan of my day knows by the time she's out, I'll be at the movie. Oh, and dancing tonight? Yeah, neither she nor my Dad can go.

I'm incredibly hurt. I've been going to therapy and taking an anti-depressant and in general, have just been trying to get past my whole life up 'til now, really. I'm trying to make a reasonably clean slate of mental health, and then something like this happens and I feel like garbage. Why insist that we have plans? Why not want to see your only daughter on her birthday? Why just use me as a middleman? I'm just really disappointed because I've been feeling especially close with them lately, and they honestly can't be bothered to do anything for me. I took the time off from work to see them, and now they're at work? Obviously they didn't intend to see me at all...so why not just let me know, I don't know, the day before?

I feel like I'm never going to have a functional relationship with them. My Dad makes fun of my braces, and my Mom won't even comment on them except to say that my care of them is "excessive". They only want to see me when it's convenient for them, and they have no qualms about blowing me off with no notice, but if I have to work when they want to see me, it's a huge issue. They're just never there for me, there's no consistency, and I feel like I can't say anything to them about it. They twist things so that I'm in the wrong or that they're not accountable.

Am I being stupid? I hate the thought that something so relatively minor might have huge reprecussions in my relationship with them, but like, really? On my birthday, no notice, after they knew I was inconveniencing myself for this lunch? I just don't see why I bother attempting to be close to them, because a lot of their love for me is really conditional. If my Dad's in a bad mood, I look chubby. If he's in a good mood, I could be a model. Know what I mean? How can I try to have a decent relationship with two people who change every three seconds and don't bother to make time for me?

Sigh. Thanks for reading. I just need some insight as to whether I'm overreacting, and how I should proceed with them. Thanks in advance.
Reply
 
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MissCaptainKirk responded:
Hi friend, I don't have a ton of time to write but I was just checking in and saw your post...

Ironically, I have been going through stupid crap with my parents as well, not exactly the same but still the overall feeling that they are using me as a middleman for something (money).

I know how you feel and I know it sucks. I'm never enough for my parents either, at times, and then sometimes they say they're proud of me for things. They are cuh-ray-zee!

I'm sorry that your parents screwed up your birthday a little. Even though you're an adult and your bday doesn't matter as much, it still matters, especially when it comes to people you care about who don't bother to acknowledge your special day.

I don't really have much advice for you. I think you're doing the right thing by trying to stay on good terms with them. But maybe distance yourself from them, bit by bit. They're obviously a source of negativity in your life.

The way I try to look at it is, there are people older than me in my life who give me the advice and support I need who are not my biological parents/family at all, but those people care enough to treat me like a parent ought to treat an adult child and those are the people I look to for support. It's sort of like the stork accidentally delivered me to the wrong house, haha. It hurts when your parents treat you badly because you see them as a part of yourself. You just got to realize you are an adult, an independent person, and they are not a part of you anymore.

It still hurts a lot when my parents mistreat me, even though I don't see them very often. But it hurts a lot less when I realize I don't need their love; it would just be nice to have it.

I think you're doing a great job and being really mature about it, and definitely not overreacting.

How was your birthday, was it still fun and stuff?
 
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BalconyBelle responded:
I don't think you're overreacting. Admittedly, my relationships with my parents isn't great either. I was needed, not wanted, growing up; and I'm still needed, not wanted, today. They have no qualms leaning on me whenever they need something, but they're very rarely if ever there in return. I try to limit my interaction with them because I know they'll never change, and it makes me too hurt and angry to endure being treated like that for long.

You might consider limiting the amount of time you spend with them or creating some distance. It sounds as though you're making some pretty big changes in your life, and your best hope for success lays in making sure that the people in your life are supportive of that. Unfortunately, right now your parents aren't. They may come around eventually, but for the immediate future, I'd recommend setting some healthy boundaries to limit the amount of damage they can cause by simply being themselves.
http://erynlockhart.wordpress.com
 
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fcl responded:
I'm afraid I have no advice to give other than to back up what the others have said. All I can add is that I hope you have a GREAT birthday regardless!
There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
 
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KittieBunnie responded:
3.14....You're not being stupid, you're being 24. And still far more mature than your parents! I am about to turn 42, so technically old enough to be your mother. I can SO relate to you. I also had a very strange relationship with my parents. (Most people can have children, but that doesn't mean they should!) I was about your age when I had an epiphany, and I think you're on the cusp of it yourself. For some reason, one day I woke up and saw my parents as people, not parents. I saw them for who they were and how they were, instead of the idealized versions of them that I'd grown up with....that all children grow up with.

I hope that you can do the same thing with your parents. They are clearly very selfish, and don't hold your feelings, wants, dreams and desires above their own. I think that's all we really want from our dysfunctional parents....to be put at the top of the list. If you can do what I did, I think you'll yourself free of most of the disappointment. Chances are, they're treating you in the same way that they do most of the people in their lives. Some people just don't know how to behave!

And I hope that you managed to have a happy birthday in spite of this!
 
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3point14 replied to KittieBunnie's response:
Thank you guys SO much. hahaha It helped me feel less crazy. I am trying to get to the point where I can separate from them a bit more. I can't have my self-esteem tied up in anyone, nevermind dysfunctional people.

My birthday was incredible. On my actual birthday, I saw "Ted" and then went out to a bar with a ton of my friends and danced 'til I puked. haahaha The next day, M and I went to the beach all day. He then took me to the surprise party he's been secretly plotting for a month. It was the absolute best night of my life, honestly. I was so surprised and it was literally all of my best friends and all of my family. We blew off fireworks and took Jell-o shots and swam and just had an incredible time.

My Mom didn't go, though. Shrug, I guess. I don't know what's up with her, and trying to figure it out would just taint the night I did have. She's sent me sweet texts and stuff, made a fruit basket for it....but then said she had to "work"...though she hasn't worked a Saturday in about a month and manages, so it's not like she couldn't have tried to make it there. Whatever. If she doesn't want to be there, I wouldn't want her there anyway. It makes me a little bitter, but it is what it is.
 
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tmlmtlrl replied to 3point14's response:
Happy Belated Birthday! Sounds like it was simply awesome

So I was thinking about all these great changes you've been making in your life and your mom seeming to back away. Maybe it's hard for her to see you do things at 24 that she's been unable to do at her age. Maybe that has her re-examining her life and, still being afraid of making changes, she feels she doesn't belong like she used to. You've surpassed your parents in maturity and it's probably become obvious. I guess that would make things awkward for awhile.

Of course you'll need to step away from them, but I think you have a strong relationship with them and it just needs to be tweaked and in time it will happen.

Congratulations on all the wonderful changes you've been making! I know you reap the benefits, but I also know it takes a lot of effort and devotion to stick with it. I guess what I'm saying is I'm proud of you and very happy for you
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
 
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3point14 replied to tmlmtlrl's response:
Thanks, TML. I actually just received my confirmation, too, that a lot of my financial aid stuff and application have gone through and I'll be attending college again in the fall. I've basically had to take a year off over money stuff, I'm so glad I'll be getting back into it.

I went and saw my parents last night after my Mom texted me and she was just super apologetic about missing the party. She seemed to really regret not going. I didn't really know what to say. She said "I'd been promising this bride I'd be at her wedding for a year, I couldn't just back out" and I said "Yeah, well if that's what the priority is, it is what it is" and she said "Well obviously you're my priority, I just had to do this for work". I just kinda nodded and let it drop. But like, if I was actually the priority, wouldn't she show it?

She once again said that I was being dumb because I'm eating really conservatively on account of my braces. She called me "neurotic" because I was telling her about my exercise regiment...but I guess as someone who takes medication for anxiety that's just factual, ha. I dunno. She seems determined to s**t all over me lately. I don't think she's jealous per se, I just feel like she sees the stuff I'm doing as superficial because a lot of it is career/money/appearance related. I guess some of it is, but I'm really hurt that I can't be supported really by either of my parents for not wanting to be poor, uneducated, fat and having messed-up teeth.

My ambition makes me feel like an a******e most of the time. It sucks that that feeling originates with my parents.
 
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queston replied to 3point14's response:
Sorry about all of this. Not really in their defense, but just for your information: parenting young adults is hard. (Mine are a little younger than you.)

You want to give them space to live their own lives and make their own decisions, but you don't want them to think you're just writing them off, either.

Sorry it's rough for you. When I was your age I was married and lived 2500 miles from my parents and my in-laws. In some ways, that made the relationships a lot easier.
 
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queston replied to 3point14's response:
Oh, and by the way--it is totally, 100% normal for a 24-year-old to be ambitious. Most parents complain about their young adult kids not being ambitious enough, if anything.
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on responded:
PI,

Sorry to hear about the 'rents issue...But happy belated birthday, glad to hear you had an amazing time.

You are not overeacting or being stupid. What i am currently finding out is that alot of what i am going thru emotional and mentally right now had a lot to do with my relationship with my parents. Which from the outside looking in was perfectly normal and fine, i have great parents, who love and care for me very much. But there were minor events throughout my life that had dire effects on my psyche and mental state. With that being said, you are completely lucid in your way of thinking and you are at an age now, where you can start to distance yourself from them...while trying to maintain an adult relationship instead of a adult/child relationship. It seems to me that even tho they tend to blow you off, they may be doing it to keep you close to them(weird logic i know) and they may not realize how much it is driving you away. taking that relationship to an adult level could be a good thing and one way of doing that is moving on and putting some distance between you all.

I hope everything works out well for you!

IC
 
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3point14 replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
Thanks, man.

I think you're exactly right, too, they'd been trying to use distancing methods to isolate me from the rest of my family to keep my just "their" kid. There have been a few other power plays from my Mom recently, but we had a huge breakthrough recently.

Basically, my Mom was trying to isolate herself and not go to a huge family BBQ because she's had a long-standing feud with my Aunt. I was still going to go. My Mom would get PISSED every time I brought it up, and basically called me a traitor for having a relationship with my Aunt. I flipped out on her (finally) and told her that she was being ridiculous,selfish and tiresome. That I wasn't about to miss out on my family because she didn't feel like fostering those bonds, and as much as I want her to be a part of it, I was going to continue to do what I do regardless of how she felt about it. I brought up her not going to my birthday party and asked "How am I supposed to feel when you don't WANT to celebrate things with me? Your priorities are (messed) up if you'd rather hold on to a grudge than spend time with your daughter".

So she went! And she was nice! And she has plans to hang out with M's family, whom I think she was a little intimidated by.

Looking at the whole situation more critically, I've had a ton of internal changes that she wasn't/isn't aware of. I shouldn't have expected her to respect me more, because I hadn't shown her more who I'm working on becoming. Now that she's had the opportunity to get to know who I AM, rather than dealing with who I WAS, we're both on the same page with way, way less mixed messages and hurt feelings.

IC, I'm kinda the same way as you, my parents are loving, kind people. But I've got some scars, ya know? I'm trying to be less critical and see them as just humans, and trying to be more open about who and how I am. There's a lot of things that we disagree on (my Dad called me "evil" the other day because I said I care a lot about money), but I'm trying to let their value judgements affect me. Their approval can't and shouldn't matter to me, I know that I'm a basically decent person regardless of what they think.

Ahhh the joys of family!
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on replied to 3point14's response:
PI,

Awesome job on the breakthrough! they can be very inspiring and if someone does know that you are working hard on becoming the person you want to be and one day you show them...THIS IS WHO I AM! They can be taken aback, but i am glad you stood up to your mom and got on the same page as her, hopefully that relationship will grow in the right direction. I agree i do have a few scars, but that is the journey that i am starting to deal with now, the more i think about it, the more scars i find. Its just a matter of finding ways to deal with the "damage" that left those scars. A huge breakthru for me, lead me to go down this path. I just got tired of running from my problems and i just need to stare them down and conquer them.

Your not evil because you care about money, we all do in someway. We all want nice things, they may be material, but you work hard so you can afford those things, they are rewards for your hard work and dedication. You are a good person and im sure there are a ton of people on these boards who would agree with me.

You are the only one who controls your happiness!

IC


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