As you grow up, you face new experiences such as a change in the dynamics of your relationship with your parents. As you get older, your parents' emotional need may be a new issue to overcome, or even one that you may have faced many times over the course of your life. They can put pressure on you to compromise your current responsibilities. However, if you reflect on each person's responsibilities, interact and communicate with them, you will be prepared to deal with their lack of affection.
Part 1 of 3: Assessing Your Responsibilities and Capabilities
Step 1. Find out if you are still playing the role of parent
Do you often have the impression that you are the only person to behave like an adult when you interact with your parents? Do they only think about their needs, asking you to meet them instead of taking care of themselves? Has it been that way for a very long time now? If so, it is possible that your parents are emotionally immature and you should no longer expect them to change, but set strict limits and work on your own reactions.
However, you will need a different approach if your mom or dad seems to need more attention due to their deteriorating health and needs support. You will need to be much more sensitive, and you may need your siblings and any other family member for support, as well as outside help
Step 2. Think about their health
If this need is new, it will be necessary to consider their state of health as a whole. Many behaviors can indicate a change in their life. Basically, your parents' deteriorating health may cause them to ask for or want even more emotional support. As you think about it, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do they have a health problem? Your dad may appear hungry after being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. At the end of the day, he may just need you to support him more or spend more time with him.
- Have they been diagnosed with a psychological or cognitive disorder? Parents who suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other cognitive disorders may feel lacking in affection or want extra help.
- Do they have trouble moving around? For example, are they in a wheelchair or do they have a mobility problem? When one of your parents is unable to move around on their own, it can frustrate them and cause them to have greater emotional need.
Step 3. Consider the logistics
You need to consider basic logistical issues when thinking about how to deal with your emotionally dependent parents. The bulk of your decisions will fundamentally depend on this aspect. Consider the following.
- The proximity to your home. You will likely need to contact your parents by email or phone if you live far away from them. Let them know that it's just not possible for you to visit them as often as they would like. Tell them like this: “Mom, there is a great distance between our houses and given my responsibilities, I will not be able to come and see you as often as you want. "
- If they are able to travel on their own. If they can't (even though you live far away), tell them frankly that you will only be able to visit them a few times. You can say, “Dad, I want to visit you more often, but I can't. "
- If you have sisters and brothers or other family members who can assist you. Set up a schedule with them to make sure your parents have everything they need without leaving all the work to one person and wearing them out.
Step 4. Think about your responsibilities
Apart from logistics, the level of attention your parents receive will depend on your personal responsibilities. At the end of the day, you may simply be unable to give them all the attention they want from you.
- Do you have dependent children? If so, there may be a limit to the amount of time and care you can give your mom and dad. Let them know that you have parenting responsibilities that don't allow you to spend a lot of time with them.
- Are you financially constrained? If you are short of financial means, you may not be able to visit your parents as much as you want and you should tell them.
- Do you have significant professional obligations? You may not be able to devote all the time to them if you are very busy, travel often, or have several different jobs. You must inform your parents.
Step 5. Ask yourself if you've put in a lot of effort
After assessing the situation, allow yourself some time to consider whether your behavior has been that of a caring and responsible child. You can then determine if your parents are really paying attention or if you are to blame in part. Before doing so, ask yourself these questions.
- Do you contact or visit your parents as often as your sisters and brothers or other people? If not, you may be overlooking them.
- Is there caring and love in the way you respond to them? For example, they may feel like they are being overlooked if you talk to them in a rushed and annoyed tone on the phone.
- Is there a certain reciprocity of contact between you and your parents? For example, if you don't call them on your own when they always do, they may think you take them for granted.
Part 2 of 3: set limits
Step 1. Don't allow them to manage or control your life
It may seem insensitive or mean to limit the amount of information you share with your parents about yourself, but it may be necessary to prevent them from becoming overbearing and ubiquitous characters in your daily life. If you rule out the possibility that their growing “need” is due to a medical cause or that it is a recurring problem, you will probably need to set very clear lines between you and your parents.
- All your contacts must be made by mutual agreement. So don't allow them to tell you what to do.
- Don't let them know every detail of your daily schedule. If you do, chances are they'll show up a lot more often than you want them to.
- If you are of legal age, make it clear to them that you don't want them interfering in your life.
- Let them know that it is not right for them to come to your home, residence or apartment by chance. For example, you can say this: “Mom, I like you, but I have my own responsibilities, my own life and I am independent. It would be nice if you gave me some personal space. "
Step 2. Accept that they are emotionally immature
If your parents have been intruding into your life for a long time or have always wanted more attention in the past, you will just have to accept that it is their nature. It is better to focus on how to protect them rather than wanting to change them. Determine what you will find acceptable or not and let them know that there will be consequences for violating these limits.
- For example, you can say this: “Mom, it makes me happy to go shopping with you once a month, but it won't be possible every weekend. Or, "Daddy, I love seeing you, but you can't keep coming to my house all the time." Call me first and we can decide together a place and a date to meet. Do not do it again otherwise I will have to recover my emergency key. "
- If they try to start an argument with you, set a limit by walking away. You can say this, “I don't want to discuss this any further. "
Step 3. Discuss with them the challenges of their needs
There may be times when you need to sit down with your parents to have a long, serious conversation about the attention they crave and your life. If so, explain to them how their lack of affection and actions interfere with the independence you need.
- Schedule a time to chat with them, such as over a meal or coffee.
- Let them know that despite your love and care, their behavior and the emotional deprivation they express embarrass you. For example, say something like this: “Mom, I love you, but the fact that you want me to spend a lot of time with you is preventing me from fulfilling my professional and parenting responsibilities. "
- Let them express their feelings. For example, say this: “Mom, am I misinterpreting your needs? "
- Ask your parents if there is a fundamental problem they want to talk to you about. You may find that their behavior was influenced by a factor such as a recently diagnosed health problem.
- Be sure to make them understand the importance of the personal boundaries you have set.
Step 4. Reduce your contacts if necessary
At some point, you will need to limit your contact with them. All in all, this is an extreme and final step when communication and other means of interacting with them are going to prove ineffective.
- You may have to do this if they are suffering from a mental illness or emotional abuse.
- If your father and mother are unwell, an initial period of increased contact may be necessary. For example, as you take care of them (hire a nurse, divide the work among family members or find other outside help or transfer them to a retirement home). You want to make sure they are given the necessary medical attention and that their basic needs (including that they have human and companionship contact) are met.
- If your parents are just domineering people and oppose your limits, you may need to invite them in to explain to them that a rift is created between them and you because of their actions. For example, you can say this: “Mom, I explained to you the negative impact your actions have on my life. It might be better for us to take a step back. "
- The process of limiting your contact with them must be one-sided, you decide without their advice. Don't allow them to negotiate with you.
- Let them know that this limitation will last for a while or until they have changed their behavior permanently. For example, say this, “Dad, I will be very busy for the next month or so. If you are able to respect my independence, I would like us to see each other in this period. "
- One way to limit your contact with your parents may be to ask them to see a psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist for help.
Part 3 of 3: interact with them
Step 1. Be polite
You need to be considerate and polite in every discussion. While you may be frustrated with their actions and their emotional need, remember that they care and love you. Take this opportunity and return the favor by showing them respect and being polite.
- Don't cut short your conversations or rudely answer their emails and calls. Instead of, "Mom, I don't have time for this now," you can say, "Hi Mom, I'd love to chat with you right now, but that's not possible." Can I call you back later? "
- Avoid talking to them in a dry tone. Although their lack of affection may frustrate you, try not to speak badly to them. Never say something like, "Mom, I can't take your needs anymore!" "
- Remember that you cannot take back wicked words after you say them.
Step 2. Tell them how much they mean to you
Use almost any situation to let your parents know about your feelings for them. Ultimately, knowing that you care about them too can, in part, relieve the anxiety and stress that are causing their emotional addiction.
- Tell them how much you love and care for them when you talk to them. For example, say this often when you call, “Mom, I was thinking of you and wanted to hear from you. "
- When your parents tell you, "I love you" at the end of a conversation, you should do the same. This is undoubtedly of great value to them.
Step 3. Maintain a productive and lively conversation with them
You can solve your parents' emotional problem just by having good conversations with them. You are a testament to the importance you place on them when you have good, productive discussions together.
- Ask them questions about their life. For example, ask them to tell you about their experiences when they were children or tell you about their own parents.
- Show that their point of view matters to you. For example, ask for advice on how to budget, improve your home, or take on your role as a parent.
- Let the conversation flow naturally. For example, don't interrupt a discussion or try to end it abruptly. Your mom may just enjoy talking to you about a lot of seemingly insignificant things.
- Find time to discuss calmly and unhurriedly. For example, set aside an hour to chat with your parents every Sunday afternoon, and don't call them if you're busy with other things like driving the kids to an activity.
Step 4. Get in touch with them regularly
When children come into contact with emotionally dependent parents it is reflected very well in their relationship. If you call them yourself regularly, they will know you are worried about them. This way you will take control of the situation and establish a routine on your own.
- Call them once a week at about the same time. During the conversation, tell them you will call on Friday at 5 p.m. You thus establish regular contacts by telephone. They will now know when to expect your call and feel better.
- Sometimes send them greeting cards, especially if they don't use a computer. Even if you only write a few lines, it will be an important gesture that can mean a lot in just a few words. They can always have them in front of their eyes and read them again when they want to be reassured or feel the need.
- If they have an email address, send them emails. You shouldn't underestimate the impact an email can have on your parents, if it's written well.
- If they have a cell phone and know how to use it, text them. Text messages are easy and straightforward, but for your parents, they can mean a lot.
- Try to organize your schedule so that you can visit your parents regularly. For example, if you live in the same city, try to visit them every Sunday or more often, if you like.
- Try to pay attention to major changes in their words, thoughts, or attitudes towards you. This can indicate serious changes in their mental or physical health. Don't conclude too quickly that they are annoying or too demanding. Try to hear what they really mean.
Step 5. Make the most of your visits
If you want to enjoy each of your visits, spending quality time with them will be the best way to make them feel that they care about you. If you give them the maximum amount of attention during your visits, they may become less intrusive.
- In all likelihood, face-to-face visits are the most effective way to show your love for your parents. If you don't visit them regularly, they'll start to think you don't care.
- When you visit them, remember to give them your undivided attention and take an interest in their life. For example, you can ask them this question: "What's new in the neighborhood?" "
- Ask questions about their interests, friends, and health.