What can you do to cope with difficult parents

You don’t have to be a terrible parent, or even a mean parent for your children to be angry at you on occasion, or during certain periods of your life. Part of growing up is pushing boundaries and seeing what you can get away with. If your parents have high standards, they may seem awfully repressive and difficult. And it may hurt not to live up to their expectations. On the other hand, they may actually be difficult, mean, narcissistic, and destructive. Often children and teens can’t tell.

How do you know when your parents are hurtful? The article below shows what functional families look like.

What do happy families look like

Difficult parents are more than just controlling

How do dysfunctional families create unhappiness

If your parents are not supportive, are abusive or have a history of substance or alcohol use disorder, you need strategies to heal.

Here are 5 strategies to feel better and empowered when dealing with difficult parents

1. Put Things in Perspective

Learn to see your difficult parent as just human. Learn to see their emotional immaturity as a type of disability.

2. Keep Expectations Low

You need to let go of your expectations and accept your parent(s) for who they are. You can’t expect someone with, say, a narcissistic personality disorder to act with empathy and kindness. No more than you can expect a scorpion not to sting.

Difficult parents are easier to deal with when you accept that they won’t change. So don’t expect of them more than they are capable of, and you won’t be disappointed or hurt.

3. Don’t Fall Into the Guilt Trap

Difficult parents love making you feel like you’ve hurt them. Or, in a different scenario, you’re a bad person if you don’t do something they ask.

Don’t fall for it. If they’re setting a guilt trap, calmly tell them that you don’t appreciate being emotionally manipulated, and you won’t tolerate it anymore. Manipulators don’t like being called out on their dirty tricks.

4. Be Direct And Assertive When Confronting A Difficult Parent

When confronting a difficult parent, be direct and calm without expecting a specific response. That’s the part you can’t control. The part that is up to you is letting your thoughts and feelings known, which is empowering.

Stick to the facts and use “I” statements (i.e., “I feel like my words don’t matter to you when you constantly interrupt me” or “We appreciate your concern and all your help but we won’t be needing you to move in with us after the baby is born”).

Remember that manipulative parents are not known for their empathy. They will try to confuse you, go on the offensive, or assume the role of a victim – something they do a lot. Make it clear that you won’t tolerate certain behaviors.

5. Consider foregoing any relationship that’s too harmful and painful

Sometimes you have to limit your time with hurtful people because setting boundaries just doesn’t work. You may have to just let go altogether. If you need to detach for your emotional survival, that’s ok, too.


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