Let’s get something straight – it’s good to be compassionate and to help out family members. I am not referring to being completely self-centered and ignoring family members in need. The problem is that I have witnessed many clients in a state over the emotional back mail and pressure they feel from their parents.
Their parents play upon their children’s guilt in order to get their adult children to see them often, loo after them and run errands for them. This pressure often results in the exact opposite effect of what elderly parents want. No one likes to feel pushed into a situation out of obligation and this is why you don’t owe your parents.
So, this is the deal. You don’t owe your parents anything. If they try to make you feel that you do, that’s their issue. You did not ask to be born and your parents should have brought you up without any strings attached. I find it especially odd when parents who have suppressed and controlled their children all their lives expect love and respect when they are older from their children.
The thing is, they have spent most of their lifetime treating their children with disdain, teaching them how to be selfish (as many parents can be when their children and young and powerless) but then somehow expect their children to be selfless and compassionate when they were never afforded this courtesy.
Emotional blackmail is wrong and if your parents are using this as a way to manipulate you, don’t accept it. You are no longer that child who has to do as you are told. Help your parents out because you want to not because you feel a duty to. Your parents had a duty to care for you when you were young but it doesn’t necessarily follow that you have to return the favor when you are an adult and they are frail and vulnerable.
Your parents are responsible for themselves and any kind of considerate acts you wish to engage in should be out of the goodness of your own heart, not because the old family dynamic is at play. Parents who have brought their children up in a balanced way will tend to enjoy more from their adult children. Justice will be served in one way or another to parents who abused their position of power with their young children. A sad lesson that many parents do not learn until it is too late.
Photo by Aaron Jacobs