We have all heard the saying “Save the drama for your mama.” But what do you do if your mama IS the drama? Relationships with our parents as adults can be hard just by themselves, but what happens when your relationship is more than hard? You start to recognize that it is unhealthy or worse. How do you navigate the waters of doing what is right for you in choosing ways to proceed (or not) with your parents.
I have noticed a recent increase in clients coming in to process their own childhood experiences as they are realizing how these early relationships shape how they view the world, their intimate relationships and their relationships with their own children.
I think this can be especially hard for women who have difficulty with their mothers. We are expected (by society) to love our parents unconditionally and see past their flaws. There are times when asked about these relationships where woman are shamed for having difficult or even severed relationships with their mothers. The fact is that we do not owe mothers who are abusive (in any form) unconditional love and respect.
One of the questions that comes up is: “Can I still have a relationship with my mom?” The short answer is yes. You can learn how to create boundaries and healing with your mother, even when she is not participating on improving the relationship. The other thing is, you absolutely do not have to have relationships with your toxic parent if you choose not to.
So what do you do? You have options!
Seek out therapy. You can use PsychologyToday.com as a resource and filter specialty, gender and insurance to help narrow down the search. Or check with your insurance provider, they often times have a directory of people in network.
There are some great books out there to help learn more about how to heal this relationship. Remembering that healing doesn’t (always) mean reunification or repair. Healing and forgiveness are for you, not them.
Here are a few books I frequently recommended to clients going through just these difficulties.
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents and Recovering From Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gordon
- It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn
As Mother’s Day approaches I know this can be a difficult time. Trying to navigate between doing the right thing and doing what is right for you can be daunting. Lean into doing what is right for you; other people don’t have to understand your reason why.