Love My Parents, Don’t Like Them

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I grew up in a divorced home with its share of dysfunction. My parents bad-talked each other to me starting when I was as young as six or seven–about totally inappropriate things such as infidelity. I was an only child being shuttled back and forth between their houses several times a year. Neither physically abused me, though my mother would crack me upside the head and put me in my place if I was disrespectful. Both of them could be harsh and bordering on verbally abusive, but nothing that would have warranted a CPS intervention.

The real issue: While I love my parents as a relative and care about their well-being, especially as they’re getting older, on a personal level I just don’t like them very much as people. Their attitudes, views of the world, conversation topics, ways of dealing with people in general, even some of their mannerisms can just irritate the hell out of me whenever we get together.

They place the most importance on the most ridiculous, meaningless B.S. that does not matter at all in the big scheme of life–such as activities I participated in during high school, what I might have said I wanted to be when I grew up as a kid 20+ years ago, or even some random and meaningless comment I might have made as a grade-schooler. They perpetually live in the past and can’t let it go, they refuse to acknowledge anything relevant that’s going on in the present with me (career-wise and such), and I frankly hate that. If it didn’t happen 15-25 years ago, it’s not important to them. I feel we have absolutely nothing in common but the same DNA. Getting together with them is a chore for me, and I would like to have a healthy adult-to-adult relationship with them. I just don’t realistically see that happening.

I suppose I just want some assurance I’m not some kind of soulless monster because I feel this way. I have a wonderful fiancée I love more than anything, and I want to eventually start our own family and be the kind of parent to our future kids that I never had. I just feel better when I’m away from my parents; they can at times feel emotionally toxic to me. Am I a bad person for feeling like this? Thanks for reading; it feels better just to get it off my chest.

A: You are not a soulless monster! Your parents have become perfect role models of what you don’t want to become, and what not to do. Having learned firsthand the impact of their poor behaviors and attitude, you will be inspired to do things differently.

Limiting contact with your parents is self-protective self-care. Why put yourself though a miserable time with people who don’t make you feel good? Invest in the people who have reciprocal love for you.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Love My Parents, Don’t Like Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/11/love-my-parents-dont-like-them/

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