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How to Mindfully Cope With Difficult Parents

How to Mindfully Cope With Difficult Parents

Whether we like it or not, our relationship with our parents while growing up affects our future relationships with not only ourselves but others as well. This can be from friends to loved ones to other family members and even the future relationships with our parents themselves. If you struggled with difficult or even destructive behaviors from a parent when growing up, it might be a challenge to have a healthy relationship with them into adulthood. This can lead to feelings of guilt, because we live in a society where it’s frowned upon to have a negative relationship with our parents. Although we can’t change how our parents behave, we can change or adjust how we respond to their behavior. Here are some tips on how to mindfully cope with difficult or toxic parents.

Stop Trying to Please Them:
Wanting your parents approval as a child is completely normal, but it becomes toxic when your best never seems to be good enough for mom or dad. Allowing your parents to determine your self-worth and life goals will leave you feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. Allow yourself to live your life by your own accord.

  • Ask yourself: “What do I do in order to please my parents even though it doesn’t work well for me? What do I need to do for myself, even if my parents disapprove?”

Set and Enforce Boundaries:
Setting boundaries can help set clear expectations and limits for how we allow others to treat us. It might be weird or difficult setting boundaries with your parents because that isn’t something you had as a kid. It’s important to remind yourself that boundaries are necessary, especially when dealing with toxic people. Remember that it’s okay to limit contact, leave early, come late or tell them no if that’s how you need to honor your boundaries.

  • Ask yourself: What boundaries do I NEED with my parents? What’s one step I can take toward setting those boundaries?

Don’t try to Change Them:
If you spend your time trying to change people who don’t want to change, it’s only going to leave you feeling drained and defeated. Instead, focus on things you CAN control and change like how you respond to their behavior or interact with them.

  • Ask yourself: How do I try to “fix” my parents? How do I feel when I am unable to change then? What is in my control within the relationship I have with my parents?

You Don’t Have to, If You Don’t Want to:
This goes for anything but specifically, holidays. As a society we’re under pressure to be with our family during the holidays or maintain certain traditions with family members. But here’s a secret, if you don’t want to you don’t have to! That’s right! You are under no obligation to spend holidays with people who make you feel unhappy. This is a great time to start new traditions or completely change the way you spend the holidays!

  • Ask yourselfWhat holiday traditions would I like to change or omit because they cause me stress? How can I create holidays that reflect what’s important to me?

Put Yourself First:
Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, you are under absolutely no obligation to spend time with people who stress you out or create drama in your life. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and putting your needs before the needs of your parents. It will be easier to set boundaries, communicate effectively, or even detach when you’re at your best physically and emotionally.

  • Ask yourself: What do I need right now? How can I focus more of my energy on my own needs instead of the needs of my parents?

It may be scary or uncomfortable to change the way you interact or deal with your parents, but it’s important to remember that your needs come first. If you have difficulty dealing with toxic or difficult parents, request an appointment with one of our therapists today!