Freelance writer, blogger and social media manager. Read her blog katysaidwhat.com.
We all have difficult people in our lives, but if faced with challenging behaviour from parents, it can be particularly damaging to our mental wellbeing. We live in a society where it's frowned upon to have a negative relationship with our parents, and that can lead to a huge amount of guilt.
A struggle for power is often present between parents and adult children and can, if not addressed correctly, result in a hostile and stressful environment. So how can you turn the relationship with your parents around, while looking after your own wellbeing? Below are some tips for improving the situation more mindfully.
Accept they have their reasons
Most of the time, difficult people are that way for a reason. Perhaps they are angry at their lot in life and take it out on you. Of course, this isn't fair, but it is the way they feel, so for your own peace of mind, you have to accept that before you can move on. Treat them with compassion and learn to understand how they got there in the first place. It might take many long, uncomfortable conversations before you start to see progress, but time invested in learning the cause will be time well spent further down the line.
Learn to be objective
Easy for me to say, right? Most of us grew-up thinking that our parents were probably right. But for some, there comes a point when you realise that is no longer the case. If you struggle with difficult parents, you must try to remain objective. Yes, it's tough but once you learn to be objective, you can see that the problem isn't in fact with you, it’s with them. By practising mindfulness, you can recognise your true feelings. Acknowledge them and then let them go – it won't be easy at first, but it is the first hurdle to get over when dealing with difficult parents.
Make yourself the priority
If keeping your parents at arms length is the only way you can manage the relationship without damaging your wellbeing, then that's okay. You must make yourself the priority. As parents get older, we can feel guilted into looking after them, but if those relationships have been toxic in the past, it's not always the best option (for all parties involved).
By making yourself the priority, you will be stronger to take on their challenging behaviour in times ahead.
Decide what is right for you
Mindfulness enables you to be in control; this is vital when dealing with difficult parents. We are so used to communicating with our parents in a particular way, and often they have the power in the relationship. Mindfulness, however, allows you to make clear decisions about what is and what isn't right for you.
Being more mindful when dealing with difficult parents can limit any emotional abuse and stop unwanted heated discussions. Mindfulness allows you to act with self-compassion and to put yourself first – give it a try.
Do you have a difficult relationship with your parents? If so, how do you manage it? We'd love to hear from you.