Dealing with an Emotionally Dependent Parent


emotionally-dependant-parentQ: I’m worried about my relationship with my mother. She depends on me emotionally and doesn’t have any friends. My mother treats me like I’m her friend, but sometimes I feel more like her parent.

She depends on me completely for emotional support.

My mother is also manipulative and controlling. She’s a master of guilt trips and getting her way.

I’m finally starting to build my own life at the age of 40 and have a new boyfriend, Eric. However, my mother doesn’t approve of him and is trying to destroy our relationship. She’s making me feel guilty, saying that I’m abandoning her because I have a boyfriend.

What can I do save my new relationship with my boyfriend while dealing with my mother?

A: Relationships between children and parents can be complicated, and dependence is a common issue.

Your mother has spent years being emotionally dependent on you, so it won’t be easy for her to change. However, for the sake of your new relationship and future, it’s crucial that you take the first steps to building a healthier relationship with your mom.

Emotionally dependent parents often use guilt trips to manipulate their children.

Your mother may be living vicariously through you, and you may have built a pattern of no resistance. It’s important to establish guidelines with your mother about your relationship with your boyfriend. Make it clear that you won’t tolerate her interference in your dating life.

Additionally, you may want to help your mother find new friends, so she can focus on her own life. Does she have hobbies, or does she enjoy volunteer opportunities that will help her build new friendships?

Your mother needs friends her own age that will understand her. This will help reduce the emotional dependence she has on you.

Q: My mother doesn’t get along well with new people. She has trouble making friends, and she hates going out. She’s divorced, but she refuses to date or even consider it.

My mother has always depended on me emotionally and refuses to change. She also has issues with other family members, so she doesn’t communicate with anyone except me. She says I’m obligated to spend time with her and take care of her because she raised me.

I’ve tried to help her find new friends in the past, but she refuses. If I don’t call or visit her every day, she says I’ve abandoned her. She cries, screams, and threatens me.

My mother shares that I’m the only one that’s keeping her going, and she doesn’t know how to live without me. She wants to be involved in every detail of my life and doesn’t want to build her own life.

What can I do to help my mother understand that I need to build my own life and focus on this new relationship?

A: It’s common for emotionally dependent parents to use intimidation and manipulation. They also usually refuse changes as they try to maintain this type of relationship with their children.

Your mother is using scare tactics such as threats and anger to control you.

She accuses you of abandonment to make you feel guilty and to ensure you don’t leave her. It’s important to realize that this is a type of emotional manipulation. The survival of your relationship with Eric depends on your ability to stand up to your mother. You must remain strong and not allow her scare tactics to destroy your new relationship.

Also, you can’t force your mother to find new friends.

If she continues to refuse to seek out new friendships, then you may want to find other ways to help her. Does she have a hobby or other activity she can enjoy on her own? Does she like to travel or explore new places around her hometown? Would she benefit from a new pet?

The important factor is to help your mother find new interests in life, so she doesn’t depend on you to be her entire emotional support network.

Q: I can try to help her find new interests and friends. However, there’s something else that is bothering me about

my relationship with my mother. She’s very intrusive and wants to know every tiny detail of my life. She will go through my things and demand to know what I’m doing.

She wants to know everything about my boyfriend and our relationship. My mother has even resorted to asking others about me.

My mother claims she’s just worried about me and wants to keep me safe. She belittles me and tells me I’m too young to know what is good for me. But I’m 40 years old!

What can I do to help my mother understand I need privacy as an adult?

A: Your mother is also using these invasive tactics to control you. She’s keeping track of everything you do to satisfy her own emotional needs and desire for control.

Emotionally dependent and manipulative parents will often explain their unhealthy need for control as a way to keep you safe. Your mother may actually believe that she’s helping you or saving you by being involved in your life. On the other hand, she may simply be using control to satisfy her own needs.

Your mother needs clear boundaries that allow you to maintain privacy.

She will continue to meddle in your personal life and relationship as long as you allow her to do it. It’s difficult to reason with an emotionally dependent parent, so you have to use other methods.

You must discuss the issue of privacy with your mother and ask her to stop going through your things. She must understand that you’re serious and won’t back down or change your mind.

In addition, you may have built a pattern of sharing things with your mother over the years. If you want privacy, then you have to learn to handle your own issues and stop sharing details with your mother.

If your mother continues to question others about you or your boyfriend, you may want to talk to these people and ask them to stop sharing details about you with your mother.

Q: I understand I have to talk to her about the privacy issues, but it’s difficult to get her to listen.

If she doesn’t like the direction of the conversation, then she resorts to screaming and fighting with me. She gets angry easily and won’t calm down for days. Sometimes she uses another tactic and pretends to be sick or frail.

She claims my conversations with her are making her sick and tries to blame me for her health.

I’m just trying to make her understand that I need to have my own life.

What can I do to make my mother listen to my needs?

How can I make her listen to me if she starts yelling and gets angry?

A: If your mother resorts to anger, yelling, or fighting during a conversation, then you still have to maintain your calm. You can’t allow your mother’s emotions to change your mind.

It’s important to establish boundaries and guidelines, so she understands your commitment to living an independent life. Your mother will need time to accept this. Just continue emphasizing your boundaries and guidelines. She has to learn that you’re serious about making changes.

You have to be prepared for her reaction and accept that she’ll respond with the usual intimidation and manipulation.

However, if you want your dating life to stay private, then you have to take control. You can’t allow your mother to rule your life and invade your privacy.

Emotionally dependent and manipulative parents have a tendency to resist changes, so it’s important to stay strong. You can make your relationship with your mother healthier, but it will take time and effort from both sides.

Both you and your mother may also benefit from therapy. You may want to consider individual or group therapy that can help you handle the relationship. A professional therapist may be able to help both of you establish healthier lives without emotional dependence.

Best of luck to you as you work to build healthy relationships with your mother and Eric.

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