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To have a relationship with my parents: to be always disappointed

(13 Posts)
chalkandchocolate Mon 13-Feb-17 22:27:26

How can you protect yourself from being disappointed by your parents and maintain a civil relationship with them? I've been working on this for years. Professionals have always advised me to lower my expectations of them, but it's not enough somehow.
My inlaws offer childcare when we need it, help with decorating, DIY, maintenance. They are there for us.
My parents seem to need us to be there for them. I could never return home if I wanted to after they sold the family home, separated and each live in run down rented accommodation, any inheritance is probably gone. They drink too much, smoke, seem unstable mentally, are never available for childcare unless it suits them when DM will turn up out of the blue and declare she's free and would like to babysit.... well no, we don't need childcare and have a family outing planned, however we needed some last weekend!! She refuses to give us times when she visits and says "I don't revolve around times, I'll arrive when I arrive" then she will turn up with gifts galore and homemade cakes and I'll feel guilty for cursing her. Or we will make plans anyway and we will arrive to find her waiting for us in our driveway looking disappointed we're not home. Then she will stay for a couple of hours before she's bored and she'll swan off back to her new home town, a couple of hours drive away, until she decides to spring another visit on us.
I just feel like DH'S parents are there for us and happy to help and support, whilst with my parents, it's the other way around and are completely unreliable. I feel I've dropped my expectations, but it doesn't stop the hurt and disappointment. They take very little interest in our lives. my inlaws will happily take a look at our new sofa or curtains, my parents couldn't be less interested. I don't want to cut them out of my life but don't want to continue feeling disappointed either.

Blossomdeary Mon 13-Feb-17 22:33:25

Your parents are who they are; often parents are not always what we want them to be.

I really think you should stop hoping for anything from them - they are not going to change and it is a total waste of your emotional energy. You could be enjoying your family and the kindness of your in-laws. Please do not waste your life on things that really are "in your dreams." Honestly, you must accept them as they are. Folk do not always live up to our hopes or expectations.

KramerVSKramer Mon 13-Feb-17 23:43:12

I have in laws who simply cannot commit to anything without a conference with each other and then they think nothing of leaving you hanging until it's nearly too late.

They watched us struggle redecorating a whole house whilst helping another sibling and then wouldn't commit to one request for DIY assistance when my wife was 7 months pregnant.

They can't even arrange to visit their rapidly ageing parents more than once a quarter.

Your parents sound very frustrating. No matter how many people say it's up to them what they do with their time. Of course, it is, but then fair's fair!

christmaswreaths Tue 14-Feb-17 06:58:09

I have been there with the disappointment times two, eg from.both sides. Both sets of parents very demanding but little interest in our lives really and zero.support.

We have zero expectation now but it still hurts. I have vowed I will always be there for my kids unless I am.severely ill.

ovenchips Tue 14-Feb-17 07:18:29

I'm sorry to hear your parents are disappointing you.

They do not sound as if they know how to 'parent' a child - albeit a grown-up one. I imagine some similar behaviour when you were a child too?

I think having wonderful sounding in-laws who are everything you'd hope parents/ grandparents to be - supportive, helpful and interested really magnifies your parents' failings as parents/ grandparents.

I'd say psychotherapy would be the most effective tool in dealing with your feelings of disappointment with your parents. I think you'd need to acknowledge and work through layers of anger, hurt and negative feelings about them first, in order to come to that accepting 'oh well, they are what they are' feeling about about them at the end.

At the moment you are feeling disappointed (and I imagine at times wounded, frustrated, furious and bitter) so those are the things you need to focus on. I don't think you can just will yourself to the benign acceptance state unfortunately, without doing the 'work' before it, but you can get there in the end. flowers

Lottapianos Tue 14-Feb-17 07:23:38

'I really think you should stop hoping for anything from them - they are not going to change'

All of this is true. Not that simple though is it? You can't just decide to not care anymore, feelings don't work that way. You have every right to feel disappointed and let down. Some of us don't get the parents we need and that hurts, really hurts.

The way to acceptance for me has been to lean in to the feelings, not try to deny them. It's ok to feel the way you do. It gets much easier with time, but it's tough

Lottapianos Tue 14-Feb-17 07:25:00

And a huge 'yes' to ovenchips suggestion about psychotherapy. It was the path to freedom for me too

twoblueskies Tue 14-Feb-17 07:52:42

True acceptence is the only freedom .
my parents were and are abusive until we have nothing to do with them.
my in-laws have longstanding mental health issue's
so no babysitting , help with diy ,or emotional support.
yes i have at times missed it , looked at others and wished i had what they had ( and my children had what other children have)
but we are what we are , any wishing will not change anything . we make what we have work ............ and yes psychotherapy .

pallasathena Tue 14-Feb-17 10:35:42

People, back in the day, used to live by the mantra 'Live and let live'. It was accepted that we are all individuals who have good points, bad points, odd idiosyncrasies even eccentricities sometimes.
And that was accepted without judgement.
Now, we have the opposite with people judging everything and everybody. To be 'Disappointed', is unthinkable, dreadful, horrible, hugely unfair these days.
When did we become so bloody precious?

chalkandchocolate Tue 14-Feb-17 11:18:33

Is psychotherapy the same as counselling? And if not, how do I access it?

Lottapianos Tue 14-Feb-17 13:32:27

OP, google BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) - the website will allow you to find therapists in your area.

Dayna1 Tue 14-Feb-17 13:44:25

Some things are just beyond your control. You cannot change this, nor should you try. In the case of parents, I have learned that any attempts to change are not going to lead to anything good.

chalkandchocolate Tue 14-Feb-17 14:12:28

I think the disappointment comes as a result of the half hearted niceness from them and my own guilt for not being available as and when they decide to arrive. And the not giving in to their childcare offers regardless of inappropriate timings. I feel like I'm being controlled/manipulated at times. I think this is where the feelings of disappointment stems from, just not knowing where on earth I stand.
One minute they're playing doting grand-parents and the next, I haven't heard from them, they're unavailable and uncontactable after a phase of being more reliable. Theyre just so inconsistent.

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