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I Am Unsure What Kind of Relationship I Should Have with My Parents

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I grew up in a upper middle class family. I was given most things I wanted and all the essential things a child would need. I have a brother who is 25, he has borderline personality disorder. He acted out as a child/teenager, was constantly arguing with my parents and soaked up much of my parents attention. I was given attention in a different way, but rejected any emotionally connection because I saw emotions as negative because my brother/parents were arguing because of my brothers intense emotions.

I have depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. I have had these problems since high school. I now just realize that I have these because of how I was raised. I want to try to maintain a relationship with my parents, but my fiancé does not think I should and believes I should process the emotional neglect away from my family. I believe limited contact with them (seeing them on birthday’s and holidays) is the best way to process the emotional neglect and maintain a relationship with my parents.

My fiancé has a problem with them. She has Complex PTSD from her abusive family growing up. She is obviously sensitive towards a parental figure criticizing her. My father and her have gotten into arguments about how he talks to her and how his lack of emotional understand hurts her.

I am unsure what kind of relationship I should have with my parents because of the emotional neglect they display towards my fiancé and I. I want a relationship with at least my mother and brother, but my girlfriend does not believe I should be seeing them so I can better process the whole situation with them.

I Am Unsure What Kind of Relationship I Should Have with My Parents

Answered by on -


I’d encourage you to seek couple counseling together to work on a resolution. I don’t think the decision you make jointly matter so much as the fact that you’ll need to be on the same page.

You future is with your fiancé and while cutting off from your family might be the right answer for you as a couple, you may want to explore in therapy the alternative of you seeing your mother and brother on occasions by yourself.

There isn’t a ready-made answer for this sort of situation. But each of you have chosen each other because of conditions that prevailed in your families of origin that you didn’t have control over. The two of you working together to experiment with a solution is already a step toward healing the dynamics inflicted by your families.

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

I Am Unsure What Kind of Relationship I Should Have with My Parents

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). I Am Unsure What Kind of Relationship I Should Have with My Parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 20 Mar 2019 (Originally: 22 Mar 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 20 Mar 2019
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