Unfortunately, the Norman Rockwell vision of a functional, loving family isn't true for all families. Parents are human too, and some of them are toxic people who are unhealthy to be around. Dealing with or extricating yourself from a relationship with a bad parent comes with its own special complications. While it won't be possible for you to change your parent, it is possible for you to alter the way in which you interact with her, resulting in a happier, healthier you.
Evaluate The Situation Calmly
Give yourself an adult time out, particularly if the thought of your parent gets you very upset. Do this before you make any decisions about how you'd like to handle your parent. In an article for Psychology Today, Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., suggests making a list of everything that's happened between the two of you, then taking some time to work through all of your feelings. Once you feel calmer, it will be much easier for you to return to the list and constructively decide how you'd like to proceed. It will also be simpler for you to gain perspective on your parent and her actions without a lot of negative feelings clouding your thinking.
Consider Your Own Role
Take a few moments to consider your current relationship with your parent. Ask yourself honestly if there's anything you're doing that's contributing to its poor quality. As difficult as it might be to admit it to yourself, there may be some negativity attached to the way you're ehaving or responding to your parent that are contributing to the toxicity of the relationship, says Fulbright. Once you've can identify any enabling or contributing behaviors coming from you, make an effort to change them, and see if the negativity between you and your parent diminshes.
Set Boundaries and Rules
When dealing with a bad parent, it's in your best interests to set some boundaries and limitations on when and where you see or talk to her, as well as how much time you spend with her. Psychologies magazine suggests that, rather than spending the weekend at your mother's house, where it's easier for her to attack you and may be harder for you to end the visit, only meet your toxic mother for lunch in public. Make it a policy to leave or hang up the phone if she becomes nasty. You can say something simple, like, "I'd rather talk to you when you're in a nicer mood."
Let Go Of The Relationship
In some cases, a parent may be extremely cruel and, consequently, psychologically harmful to his son or daughter. If you have a parent like this, your healthiest option is to extricate yourself from the relationship entirely, counsels psychiatry professor Richard A. Friedman, Ph.D., in an article for The New York Times. This can be incredibly difficult, especially since it's human nature to bond with one's parent, even if his behavior is abominable. A highly toxic parent actually has a negative effect on your brain, says Friedman, and, in extreme cases, getting away from him for good is literally the healthiest thing you can do.
- Photo Credit Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images
How to Deal With a Bad Supervisor
Nobody likes a bad supervisor. They can ruin your life. They completely have the upper hand, and are typically oblivious of how...
How to Explain Bad Grades to Parents
Feeling poorly about getting a bad grade is one thing, but having to tell your parents about it can make it a...
How to Cope With Elderly Parents Moving In
There may come a time when you invite your aging parents or in-laws to move in with you. Although this arrangement can...
How to Deal With an Annoying Student
It never fails that each year you have at least one student who pushes your buttons and gets on your last nerve....
Dealing With a Bitter Aging Parent
Millions of people deal with this every year: an aging parent, cynical, negative, berating and bitter because of the onset of old...
How to Deal with a Dysfunctional Family
People who come from a dysfunctional family experience trauma and emotional pain, which affect their ability to live happy, fulfilling lives. They...
How to Deal with Emotionally Abusive Parents
Dealing with parents who are emotionally abusive is very stressful and can be damaging to your self esteem and your relationship. As...