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Is this normal?

(13 Posts)
kickassangel Sun 12-May-13 02:50:32

I've recently noticed that quite often when going about my normal daily routines, I imagine justifying myself to my mother, or how my father would criticize me.

I am in my 40s, not lived with my parents at all since age 21, and live no-where nar them. So is it normal to still imagine their comments - and they are negative ones - or is this weird & being too emotionally controlled by them?

As a teen I thought they massively over controlled me, and had big teen rows & flounces. So, is this a sign that they were too controlling, and they are still inside my head somehow, or does everyone do this, and we all go round with our parents' voices telling us that we're late, look scruffy etc.?

CookieLady Sun 12-May-13 03:06:45

I kinda have the same thing. I don't think it's normal based on my therapist liken it to having my mother's ghost around. My childhood and early part of adulthood was very much controlled by parents.

lottiegarbanzo Sun 12-May-13 03:19:23

Doesn't sound normal to me but I bet you're far from being the only one.

lottiegarbanzo Sun 12-May-13 03:20:54

Have you formed an adult relationship with them in reality? Is this just a throwback to earlier times?

kickassangel Sun 12-May-13 05:08:51

I now live thousands of miles from them. We have a fairly consistent relationship, but even when I visit now I feel like they just treat me like the naughty child. In fact, I am very much the family scapegoat, apparently I was awkward so I guess this is my fault. wink

I'm also aware that when we buy a house, I look at it through their eyes, whether they would approve. When we were in the UK they would visit so it made some sense to have a house they would find comfortable, but even in the US I had the same perspective, even though they will never visit.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I do wonder if this is a reflection of how controlling I found them, and how healthy or unhealthy it is. It is only as I have had less contact with them that I am thinking about how much I felt controlled and belittled by them. They are also getting older and more set in their ways, to the point that I find staying with them close to intolerable.

But I know that they love me, and if I was ever in trouble I wouldn't hesitate to turn to them as they would help me (and did when I was younger). My mum would love that, though. She's never happier than when she's right in the middle of my life. As a result, I deliberately conceal things from her.

nerofiend Sun 12-May-13 12:42:12

OP, I don't think normal relationships should function like that. It seems that your parents are indeed overpowering and too controlling.

My mum has the same thing about her mother. Even though my grandmother has died, my mum could still hear her voice in her mind criticising her, belittling her when making a decision, even when buying clothes!

If you know they will not change and you love each other, probably the best thing to do is first identifying the problem and trying to look for strategies to fight the mental grip they've got on you.

Our parents' view of ourselves is very important as the parent/child relationship is the first relationship we build up in life and it will shape our relationships in the future, even our relationship with ourselves.

When parents are negative towards us, we incorporate that view into our view of our own selves and that's why it's so important to be aware of this and detatch ourselves from the situation as much as we can, if their view is unhealthy or detrimental to your mental health.

Parents are not perfect, but you should talk to them candidly about what they're doing and the influence it has had on you.

Give them a chance to change if you think that's the best thing to do, if they don't, keep yourself to yourself, and talk about the weather only.

Good luck!

kickassangel Sun 12-May-13 14:10:25

I just this moment realized that the reason I think of myself as a scruffy dresser is because of my mum. As a teen I did dress as a mess, deliberately, think the whole Nirvana thing. But it has been so ingrained in me that I am messy, that for the last 20 years at work I have been astounded when people told me that I dress well (I'm a teacher, so try to balance comfortable with professional).

It has just now occurred to me that they are right. In fact, I have hardly any scruffy clothes for weekends.

Both my parents went to boarding school for many years and are great rule followers. Having dd has made me rethink a lot of things, and now that she is hitting pre teens I am terrified. I was so unhappy as a teen, and I don't want to do that to dd, but the only parenting model I have is one of control.

I need to get my mother's voice out of my head, but how do. Do that?

FlatsInDagenham Sun 12-May-13 14:13:11

I don't think it's normal when you've had a healthy relationship with your parents. I was a scruffy teen but my parents never put me down. I don't hear their voices criticising me now either.

Counselling?

kickassangel Sun 12-May-13 14:35:11

I don't have time for counseling, and when I have had some, I realized that I am actually pretty good at thinking things through for myself, and tbh, I would rather spend the money on other things, like my MA, which is really boosting my confidence.

I haven't told my parents that I am doing an MA! Partly cos every time we talk they will ask about it, but also because one time when I got a new thing to do at work, my mum asked if my grey cells were up to it.

Actually, that's another thing- I find academic learning much easier than my sister did, but somehow I got the impression that I shouldn't as she was the older child, so I should take second place. At the same time, I had to get top grades or I was told off. I shall have to think about this more, it really is messed up.

There are positives in our relationship, though, but I am wondering if it's worth it. Last time I was home it was New Year and I went to bed early to have a cry cos I couldn't take any more from them. sad

tribpot Sun 12-May-13 14:46:14

one time when I got a new thing to do at work, my mum asked if my grey cells were up to it.

Blimey, that's cold.

Last time I was home it was New Year and I went to bed early to have a cry cos I couldn't take any more from them.

And that's definitely not right.

I would urge you to reconsider counselling. It's one thing to try and process stuff on your own but I get the impression there is something taboo about your relationship with your parents and long years of conditioning will be hard to break safely on your own.

This, for example: I'm also aware that when we buy a house, I look at it through their eyes, whether they would approve. When we were in the UK they would visit so it made some sense to have a house they would find comfortable

Er, no, not really. They weren't going to live in it, it really had nothing to do with them. You fell into the trap of being 'too reasonable'.

You've fortunately got some physical and emotional distance from them now but I would invest a bit in your self-esteem. Your MA is a great achievement but you need a more effective way to neutralise their power to diminish it, rather than just not telling them about it.

kickassangel Sun 12-May-13 14:58:45

I think my self esteem is pretty OK when not around them, and I have quite a bit of control over how, when, where I see them. Dsis is helping by trying to find places I could stay for a few weeks that is NOT their house, so hopefully I can have even more control. When we sit round to chat in the evening, we get on fine,but the moment anything needs to be organized, I have to shut up and do as I'm told.

Really, I don't have time for counseling. I have 4 jobs, dd, and dh is about to start working away for the next 8 months. I will have lots of quiet evenings alone at home to reflect on things and read any helpful books, though.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 12-May-13 15:30:14

What the others have written.

No, it was and is not normal at all. It was not you at fault either, it was them. They tried to use the divide and conquer strategy on you and your sibling. Your parents sound both self absorbed and narcissistic in nature.

I would suggest you read both Toxic Parents by Susan Forward and "If you had controlling parents" written by Dr Dan Neuharth. Both may help you further. I would also suggest you give counselling another go when you can; however, counsellors are likes shoes - you need to find someone who fits.

Good luck to you as well re your MA.

kickassangel Sun 12-May-13 15:58:14

Thanks, Attila.

Moving so far away has certainly given me some perspective, which is why I think about it now.

I'm not adverse to counseling, but it just isn't practical atm so trying to think out loud.

And I don't think about them all the time, just certain situations make me aware of it.

They were brought up in post war Britain when a stiff upper lip was expected, and they aren't good at dealing with emotions, theirs or anyone else's.

Does anyone know of a parenting book about how not to follow your parents' example? I. Think I have the perfect model for not interacting with a teen, but don't have any good ones to learn from. Dh's parents were even worse than mine!

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