My spouse and I both have EI parents. When we read your book, we saw our parents on every page. It was eye-opening. In order to protect ourselves and our children from their attacks and manipulation, we have had to cut them out of our lives completely. We truly could not see a way to keep our children safe and ourselves emotionally healthy while continuing to weather their abuse. It's difficult, but we hope that in doing so, we are enabling our children to grow up without guilt, shame, manipulation, and abuse. Any insight into recovering as a couple who have come from homes like this, and raising a family sheltered from the storm, would be greatly appreciated.
-- Trying to Do What’s Best
Dear Trying to Do What’s Best,
Your awareness of your issues with your parents means that you are well on your way. EI parents distort reality so frequently that it is a huge step forward to see what they are doing and their effects on your lives. Until you feel confident enough in yourselves to resist their takeovers, a break in contact is sometimes your best choice.
Research has shown that children with parents who are aware of their own childhood pain are much more likely to feel securely attached to those parents and better able to handle stress. Your realization about your parents’ impact on you will contribute directly to your own children’s psychological welfare.
Not sure which of my books you read, but Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents has additional insights and practical tips you could use. As for your recovery as a couple, keep in mind that old generational patterns may rear up when you are stressed or feeling unheard. To be aware and catch them early are huge steps forward. When old family relationship patterns have hurt your bond with each other, apologize and make amends. Practicing nondefensive, intimate communications (see chapter 10 of new book) can help immensely, especially since you are already so aware of your backgrounds. Also, the book, You Are the One You’ve Been Looking For, by Richard Schwartz is an excellent way to chart a new direction in couplehood after absorbing defensive patterns from EI parents. It will help you recognize the relationship defenses that are left over from a threatened childhood and learn how to calm them