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How to Handle Critical Parents

Group Therapy: Parental Troubles

This question comes from Group Therapy in our TrèsSugar Community. Feel free to add your advice in the comments!

I recently visited my parents and while I was there, I had a really terrible time.

My parents have always been pretty controlling and my dad in particular is ridiculous. He stopped paying for college because I started dating (I was 19), he said I was a disappointment because I wasn't sure this year if I wanted to apply to medical school or if I wanted to teach instead, etc... My mom is almost as bad. Anyway, when I got home the first thing they did was tell me I should exercise and give me funny looks while I ate a sandwich for dinner, apparently because I am so hugely fat. For the record, I'm pretty appalled at my current weight, but I am no blimp. I'm overweight, not obese, and I do exercise and watch what I eat consistently. However, I was diagnosed the day before with PCOS, hypothyroid, and an autoimmune disorder. My parents knew this and they also knew that I had been really concerned with my weight for the past year. For months I had been trying to lose weight and not really getting anywhere and I was freaking out that I was so tired and having other health problems too.

To see the rest,


So I was basically miserable the entire time I was there because of their remarks about my weight and about my general failure to apply to medical school this year. (I have a 3.88 gpa and I still plan on applying... but I plan to apply next year after I get my health back on track.) At this point I am SICK of dealing with my parents. I've put up with all of this for awhile now, mostly because I feel like I am being a bad daughter. But I am so depressed, like really depressed, every time I have to go visit them. I cry alot, I avoid my dad, I count down the days until I can go home (back to college).


So I was just wondering if anyone had advice for me. Do you think it is acceptable for me to just stop seeing them at this point? I have tried repeatedly to reconcile with them but it seems like they will not be happy until I do things exactly their way.

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soulsearcher83 soulsearcher83 6 years
I've been there. I spent a year not talking to my parents. They didn't know where I lived or had my phone number. We eventruelly roconsiled. Sometimes you just need to let them go. But that doesn't mean it has to be forever. Many campuses have summer housing for students who take summer classes and some students can stay where they are for breaks if they arrange it ahead of time. Or you can live off campus all year round. I would suggest living off campus at this point. That way you never have to put yourself through that again. Your parents will never change. Mine did but only to an extent. I still squabble with them because of their poor behavior and abusive language toward me. I've come to a point where i'm not afraid to let them have it if they are really out of line. And you will have to get to that point with your parents too. Just because they are your parents doesn't give them the right to nitpic about everything they perceive to be wrong with you or your decisions. When you do see them, put your foot down. Tell them that their behavior/comments are unwelcome and will not be tolerated and either hang up or walk out.
Janine22 Janine22 7 years
I really agree with karlotta's comment, especially about becoming your own person and making yourself happy. I forgot to add in my post one thing which I wanted to say because I think it is really important. Please get help for your depression, whether this involves medication, counseling or a combination of the two. I suffer from depression and I know that it can really get out of control if you don't get help. Do anything you can to increase your self esteem and sense of control over your own life. Be around people and make friends with people that love you and accept you exactly the way that you are. I think that this is especially important when you don't feel this from your parents. I think counseling could be a really great option for you, especially since right now you probably have access to some free counseling through your school. Take advantage of this while you can, don't be afraid to change counselors if you are not comfortable or clicking with one of them. I truly wish you the best. I think there is a lot of hope for you to learn through the bad experiences with your parents, turn things around for yourself and to change this abusive pattern when you have children. Please feel free to message me if you ever want to chat about your depression, I do not judge and I will not reveal your identity or anything like that. :)
Choco-cat Choco-cat 7 years
it is so hard to have crappy parents. i would suggest cutting ties at this point. i would also suggest seeing a professional therapist regarding dealing with these and your health issues. i wish you luck, they are difficult things you are dealing with.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 7 years
I like Sei & LoLaLu's answers. Be kind & respectful to them, but also keep in mind that you are the captain of your own ship. The added emotional stress from their "pressure" & controlling will only exacerbate your health problems. Let it go. But, still love them. :) Do your thing! ~ Best wishes ~
karlotta karlotta 7 years
My parents had very high expectations of me when I was your age, which didn't fit the person that I am. It was very hard on my self-esteem and on my life choices (I kept making the wrong ones, trying to please them and fit their pre-determined frame, not knowing how to trust myself). So I dropped everything and moved to the other side of the world. I didn't talk to my father for two years. And even after that, it was always touch and go - I knew somehow I was a disappointment, because my life wasn't the way he had envisioned it. I stayed away for 10 years, did what i wanted to do, and proved that I was independent and happy following my own way. It still wasn't enough, and I learned that I could love my parents and have a great time with them despite their constant questioning of my choices. There's a point at which you should just stop listening. This comes with maturity. Your decisions are your own, and you need to have the confidence that you are following YOUR needs, YOUR dreams, YOUR desires, and that no one has a say in that. Parents are fallible, and all they have is their own little vision of the world; so you can lean on that fact : no parent is always right! and trust that you're on the right path for yourself. As they see your self-confidence, they'll probably tone down the criticism. I really like Lolalu's advice, to kill them with kindness. It shows how much you care about them, but not about what they say. Work on achieving that! I think most parents are guilty of this. Projecting, pressuring, bringing down our confidence. To tell you the truth, and that's a really weird thing to admit, I only started feeling free of all this pressure when my Dad died last year. I adored him and I would give anything to have him back. He was totally the best Dad in the world. Yet, I can't help but finally feel like my own person, and being proud of my life. Even though I was happy before, now I feel free. Don't cut off ties with them, unless they're really nasty, abusive, and toxic. I would give anything to have those two years back with my Dad. Learning how to deal with them heads on will be much more positive and constructive - and will influence their respect for you. Work on your self-confidence, and asserting your decisions : "This is what I want. I'm happy with my choices. I'm sorry you don't see it that way, but I love you anyway. I hope you'll come around, but if you don't, it won't stop me from going ahead and doing what I want." Good luck :)
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
"...I guess they need someone to let their anger out at and with me not being a target anymore they attack each other." --> That is quite an analysis: short, painful, and right on the money.
eastcoastgirl eastcoastgirl 7 years
Sei hit it right on the head! What a wise soul!!
Janine22 Janine22 7 years
I think that it is ok to tell them exactly how you feel about the way that they treat you, I would recommend that you do this in person because when you write things down they can more easily be misinterpreted. Sometimes you need to confront people for your own sanity, the well being of the relationship and to clear the air. Perhaps they have no idea what big as*holes they are being. Don't talk to them about it in a mean way, just say this is how I feel when you make this comment, etc. Don't blame them and make sure that you own your feelings, like say I feel... NOT you make me feel... If you feel that they just do not get it and are not understanding what you are saying or respecting your feelings, then you can directly say "I need you to do this and act this way instead of the way you are currently acting. If you are unable to do this then I need to take a break from coming home for awhile because I feel really depressed and bad about myself when I am here. I do not want to feel this way anymore, so I really hope that things can change." Give them the benefit of the doubt even if they do not deserve it because it will make you look like the better, more mature person and also because they will see that you are a mature adult who has the capacity to deal with problems. If you do not feel supported or that they are making an effort to understand your perspective on things, then follow through and do not go to see them again for however long it needs to be. You are an adult now and you need to do things that make you feel good about yourself. Do NOT allow them to guilt trip you or talk down to you while this is going on, tell them that you have some things to say and you need them to just listen. Like some others have said, I would recommend that you also see a therapist just to get your issues out to a neutral person who can help you to see things differently or help you to deal with your parents and the emotions that they bring up for you. Also, after you have the talk with them have a good friend that you can hang out with and talk to about everything right away because you will probably need support afterwards. Good luck
kurniakasih kurniakasih 7 years
lolalu, that's pretty brilliant. I may want to use it when my parents (well, my mom) gets critical of me (which is very OFTEN)..yes..forget the fact that I'm over 30, a married woman with her own child and runs her own household independent of them in all aspects... :sigh:
lolalu lolalu 7 years
Here's my trick, kill them with kindness! Whenever they say something critical or complain, calmly say " i'm sorry your upset about that" give them a hug, and walk away. Don't say anything else. I know it sounds crazy but it works! The kindness confuses them (because they know they're being jerks and don't deserve kindness from you) and it forces them to think about their own behavior. After a while it'll change the way they treat you because they'll realize they want to be deserving of your kindness. My shrink gave me this tip to deal with negative family members, and it really does work. You just have to stick with it, which can be difficult at first, but it becomes fun to. I'll never forget the confused look on my father's face when I did it for the first time lol. A few months later our relationship was as good as new :)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I do agree with the idea that sometimes you just have to let go in order to keep your sanity and the joy in life. You are at a critical time developing the person you will be for the rest of your life. If your parents are going to hinder that process intentionally rather than assist in cultivating that process you are better off with out them, for now. It doesn't mean you have to estrange them for life and it doesn't mean that perhaps you couldn't come home for a holiday or two but that's your call to make depending on the atmosphere. Whatever hurtful things your parents say to you it seems by your examples that it is a reflection of their fears and or failures in life. Theirs do not have to be yours. My parents were quite the dichotomy when it came to parenting. I learned some amazingly great things from my parents. They worked their @sses off to bring up six kids and were excellent providers. Also from time to time imparting some very sage wisdom but at the same time in some respects they were horrible parents. I would tell my mother about things I was interested in and her loving response was "oh baby you can't do that" oh and then my fathers "why do you wanna do that?!" then listing all the negatives. Little did they know their prophesying of my abilities and gloomy look of my aspirations destroyed me as an adolescent. If it wasn't for a few key teachers in H.S. and my counselor Mrs. Pyatt who looked me in the eye and said I believe in you I would have been a complete failure IMO. I never shut my parents out but our relationship was strained from high school on. There were periods where I wouldn't speak to my father. I grew close again to my mother in my twenties though because I chose to forgive her. And unfortunately it was my mothers death when I was twenty nine that caused my father and I to look past our differences and become close again. I know in some cases it simply can't be done because of the personalities and past offenses involved but if you shut them out it is important to come around again some day and try to mend that fence. My eldest sister did not mend fences with my father and her grief when he passed was a very difficult burden to carry. Best Wishes
4evrfuzzy 4evrfuzzy 7 years
You will never be able to control your parents or anybody else for that matter. The only thing in the whole world that you can control is yourself and that includes the way you react to the way your parents treat you. You DON'T have to feel bad about yourself, they ARE NOT MAKING you feel bad, YOU CHOOSE to let their views upset you. It's not easy and therapy is a must, but only YOU can decide how you feel about anything.
mrsjeter mrsjeter 7 years
You deserve better than that. Families are not always biological. (That helped me when I left the church my family followed). There are going to be so many more people in your life that will not treat you that way. I stopped speaking with my father when I was 16 because he made fun of me for being over weight and wanted to go to college and do something with my life. (He had NO goals/motivation in life and felt everything was owed to him). I work hard to not behave that way. Staying with other people during visits or taking personal holiday vacations were things I also did to not have to be around the people that wanted to make me feel as bad as they did. Life isn't about finding yourself (or letting others dictate who you are), it's about creating yourself! You can create the life you want with all the love you can handle!!!!! Good luck and best wishes!!!!!
Sei Sei 7 years
Dude. Parents often transfer their own hopes and expectations to their children. Therefore, the more controlling the parent, the higher the feelings of guilt and stress to conform and attain these pre-determined goals. Most people criticise in others what they dislike about themselves or what they fear for themselves (i.e. weight gain, life choices, career paths, etc.) The degree to which you decide to let yourself be guided by them is your choice. Some people need someone else in charge. Others don't. If continued visits to this detrimental environment raise your feelings of depression, maybe it's time to cut some ties. Talk to them, if it seems right to you. Let them know that their constant emotional put-downs and blackmail isn't helping you and if they can't be more supportive, then you have no choice but to distance yourself from them. At least you're offering them a courtesy by letting them know ahead of time. Maybe they'll even think about "what they've done". You appear to be independent already and perhaps some time on your own will allow you to pursue your own interests, focus on yourself and your own goals. After some time apart, you can rebuild your self-esteem, your life, and once in control, maybe you'll be ready to reach out to them again. If they're still acting like bullies, then you'll be on your personal solid ground and can decide what to do. You might also decide to talk to someone, either a close friend with some insight or a professional. They can help you put everything into perspective. You're not a bad daughter, a bad person, or a failure. It's easy to throw blame around, I hope you don't let their negative words stop you from doing whatever it is YOU want to do. Good luck!
medenginer medenginer 7 years
I gather you have been finacially supporting yourself since 19 so your a grown adult that doesn't require your parents approval. It would be time for a discussion on what their parenting role now plays in your life. Any subject that you don't care for doesn't have to be responed to by you and if it happens hang up the phone or leave. I recommend counseling on how to deal with your issues with them or distance yourself from them. I left home at 18 because my alcoholic mom married an alcoholic who abused her and couldn't tolerate seeing that. They are still married and they are both sober but I choose not to talk to him. I cut them out of my life and their grand children's life for 4 years. I knew that was my best and only option. In other words you have to do what's best for you and live your life your way.
GregS GregS 7 years
Certainly sounds like they are controlling. Hate to say it, but to some extent you enable it to occur. You have feet. You could have walked out. You don't have to take that kind of crap. It isn't like you'd be losing a lot since they're not paying for your schooling now anyway, right? You need to stand up for yourself and tell them why you want to go into the noble profession of teaching for awhile. That your plans for med school haven't changed, just been pushed back some. One thing you will have to do, though is to follow through on your statements. Set a time-table for going to med school, then execute the plan. They'll find out about it eventually. Chin up! Chest out! Be proud of yourself.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
OP, I did not talk to my father for four years and I did not talk to my brother for nine years. After we all got back together again, things went a lot better. " seems like they will not be happy until I do things exactly their way." --> It is time for you to get ready to spend a couple of years not talking to them (if you think you can pull it off).
caitlin18 caitlin18 7 years
I think u should just leave ut parents alone for alil while and see wut happens
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