How to Stop Being Responsible for Your Parents
A parent’s role is naturally seen as the caregiver and provider for their children. They are the ones guiding us through life and providing us with a clear role-model. Unfortunately, sometimes our parents fail us in this regard and flip the tables, asking us to ‘parent’ them and be responsible for their actions. This can happen at any time, from when we are young and still living in their house to when we have our own family to care for and bills to pay. Parents that act in this way often don’t want the responsibilities that come with adulthood like bills, jobs and looking after themselves. They forget their job and leave it to us as children to clean up after them, pay for their lifestyle choices and be at their beck and call. But, there is a way out of this, and the first step is understanding that it isn’t your job to care for your parents like this.
If you want to learn more about how you can escape this lifestyle, then read on for advice and tips. As an experienced therapist, I have worked with many people in this situation and have composed a list of the best ways to start distancing yourself from selfish parents.
Cut Contact With Them
The quickest and easiest way to stop letting your parents take advantage of you is to prevent them from contacting you. Block numbers, social media and even change your number if you have to. If you feel responsible for your parents because of their immature behaviour, you might think that you have to look after them even when you have moved out and have your own family. Doing this can have negative implications on your mental health and your own family who really are dependent on you. You might be lending them money you never see again or sacrificing time to pick them up off the ground (perhaps sometimes literally). For some people, they find they are stuck in a cycle of doing this again and again and are faced with broken promises that things will change.
Rather than letting your parents rule your life, create your path away from them by stopping all contact. This could be the move that shows them you are serious and will not be a part of their life unless they change, or the reality check for yourself to see that they don’t care about you and only want or need you for your help and money to fund their lifestyle.
Set Some Rules
If you don’t want to cut contact with your parents or you are still living with them, setting some rules can be the best first step to pulling away from the responsibility they have placed on you. Perhaps they call you at all hours of the night for lifts or borrow money off you they never return. By telling them you are turning your phone off at a particular time, it makes them have some responsibility for their travel and allows you the sleep you deserve. Also, by telling them that you won’t loan them any more money till they start paying you back, it can help make them more responsible with their finances or even get a job if they don’t have one. Sometimes it really is better to be cruel to be kind and forcing them into better choices can be the only option left.
Don’t Let Yourself Be Manipulated
When you start setting some rules, your parents might try and manipulate you into feeling guilty for ‘abandoning’ them. If you let them do this, then you will fall back into the trap they have laid and find yourself looking after them again. You need to feel confident that what you are doing is being kind to yourself and finding time to discover what life has to offer you. Remember that whatever they say to you or names they call you is designed to get you to support them unnecessarily. If you find yourself upset or angered by what they are saying and doing, it is working, and you will give up and give
them what they want. If their manipulations are becoming too strong or painful to endure, then consider finding somewhere else to stay, with other family members or even your own place. If this isn’t an option, then seeking therapy to help you through this time could be beneficial.
Just like setting new rules, you need to establish some clear boundaries if you want to stop being responsible for your parents. Don’t reveal any private information to your parents as this should only be reserved to people you trust and can turn out to be more ammunition for them. They may violate your privacy with this information and use it against you to make you feel more responsible for them. You also need to understand whether or not your parents can be taught how to act or if this is a waste of your time and energy. If they are not ready, then try and keep your interactions to a minimum to avoid wasting any more effort on them. Keep all meetings and communications with your parents short, and to the point, as this also provides them less time to try and manipulate you.
Get Outside Help
Sometimes the effort you are putting into being responsible for your parents can be emotionally and physically draining. You may feel that there is no way out and give in to them, making you their ‘parent’ for the rest of your life. But this isn’t true. Therapy can be the tool you need to retake hold of your life and realise that looking after your parents isn’t something you should be responsible for. As the grown adults, their money, jobs, bills and welfare are up to them, and they shouldn’t place any of this on you. By attending therapy, your counsellor will provide the outside and expert advice and tips you need to start distancing yourself from their demands.
You might try and get your parents to attend group therapy as well so they can see the consequences of their actions. This might not always work as they may be reluctant to participate, or when they do, they are so ingrained in their ways, they are unwilling to listen. Cases like this would only serve to help emphasise the points your therapist makes about the manipulation and control of your parents.
Don’t let irresponsible parents waste your life for you and take everything from you, including your money, happiness and social life. Start taking control of your life now and distance yourself from parents who put themselves first. If you need therapy to help you get through this time, then feel free to contact me today for more information about my services.