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My Parents Only Communicate Through Me

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From a teen in the U.S.: My parents have been divorced since I was 2 years old. I moved away from home this past fall for college. Since then my parents have been communicating through me. They constantly call me and rant about the other as well as tell me to relay messages.

I want to focus on school, but it is becoming difficult. My mother is very manipulative and my dad is very easily irritated. They are always wanting me to pick sides and bashing the other. I gave GAD and OCD so even when I should know my mom is lying, I still question it because of my GAD.

It’s causing major issues in my day to day well being and the extra stress and pressure is extremely hard to cope with. The issues they want me to communicate about are things like my FASFA, or my sister’s health, she has diabetes. They are things, that without me, would never be done or settled. It’s hard to focus on myself when I have such big issues to worry about.

I have to tell them to do things all the time. I feel like the parent. What should I say to them to get them to communicate?

My Parents Only Communicate Through Me

Answered by on -

A.

I understand why you feel trapped in this pattern. Your parents would rather make you responsible than accept responsibility for themselves. Being a responsible person, you can’t let things drop. However, it is part of growing up to set boundaries with parents and to separate from destructive family patterns.

Regardless of other issues, it is your right to refuse to talk to your parents about their complaints with each other. Remind them that they got a divorce for good reasons and there is no point in continuing their fight with each other through you. Then change the subject. If they won’t change the subject, tell them a polite “good bye” with the comment that you’ll be glad to hear from them when they want to talk about something else.

I am aware that some of the things your parents want you to deal with are too important to abandon without putting something in place. For example: You didn’t mention how old your sister is. If she is a teen, it’s time for her to take responsibility for managing her disease since her parents can’t or won’t. Talk with her about how she is coping with the self-discipline that is required for good diabetes management. Encourage her to have a talk with her endocrinologist and perhaps to seek out a support group for young people who are dealing with diabetes. If necessary, remind her that refusing to take care of herself is not at all likely to get her parents to change. It really is up to her to do what she needs to do to have a long and happy life.

As for things like your financial aid: Do talk with the Financial Aid office at your school to see if there is any way they can get you out of the middle by dealing with your parents directly.

If you find that you just can’t extricate yourself, please do consider seeing a therapist for support.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Parents Only Communicate Through Me

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Parents Only Communicate Through Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 25, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/04/01/my-parents-only-communicate-through-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.