Psychological Self-Help

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(Brans, 1987), and for young adults who are emotionally tied to a
parent (Engel, 1991) in what is called "emotional incest" (Love, 1992). 
In chapter 7, there is a description of how anger can make it easier
for dependent 18-year-olds to leave home when the parent-child
bonds have been too tight, too confining, too uncomfortable. For the
one third of us who leave home under a cloud of stress and conflict,
the strained relationship with Mom and Dad often continues to be a
problem. Howard Halpern (1976) and Harold Bloomfield (1983) have
discussed ways to cut loose from and make peace with our parents,
not as angry teenagers (as discussed in chapter 7) but when we are
adults. What an important thing to do! Here are some of suggestions,
mostly from Halpern. 
Many people in their 20's and 30's still get sucked into emotional
traps and/or need their parents' approval, so much so that they can't
be themselves. How does this happen? Inside us all, no matter our
age, is an inner child, a left-over from childhood. The inner child
contains many needs and wants--many of them primitive, self-serving,
and even self-destructive. Parents still have an inner child too. While
parents want their children to be capable and happy, there is another
part of them that continues to see their children (even when they are
20 or 30) as weak, naive, and needing guidance. The inner child inside
mom or dad may be saying "don't grow up, don't leave me." Some of
these parents may resent a strong, independent child who is
successful or chooses a different life-style or religion or politics or
spouse than they would have preferred. To keep such parents from
being upset, hurt, or angry, the little child within us may keep secrets
from them or respond with "I need you too" or be overly nice and
accommodating to them while harboring resentment. The best way to
respond to such parents is to bypass their child and address their adult
part which wants you to be mature and independent: "It's time for me
to live alone" or "Instead of coming home, I've decided to do
something else for Christmas this year." Make the interaction adult to
adult by giving your reasons in a straight forward manner. Part of your
parents may be very pleased you have "grown up" (in spite of their
inner child's needs). They may object; consider their reasoning and
make your decision. 
Halpern helps us recognize these parent-child "song and dance"
routines we utilize as long as the child within (us or the parents) is in
charge rather than the inner adult. It is a safe bet that you are overly
attached to a parent if after 20 you react with anger, guilt, fear of their
reaction, or self-pity when you think of a parent. One of the toughest
parent roles for a child to handle is the sacrificing martyr. The classic
is a mother who says, "If it weren't for you children, I wouldn't have
suffered so. You forget all I've done for you. And now everyone forgets
their dear old mother." Often such a mother felt unloved and unlovable
as a child. The mother's inner child is angry, frightened, and
demanding. Now she thinks she can get love from her children only by
force, primarily guilt. Her message to the son or daughter is, "If you
don't do what I want, I'll feel terrible, all because you are so selfish
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