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I feel suffocated by my parents. What boundaries can I put in place?

(11 Posts)
Lizzie523 Fri 05-Jun-20 22:02:38

Hi everyone,

I'm 28 and an only child. My parents divorced when I was young and went on to find other relationships. In recent years they are both single again and increasingly look to me for companionship.

I recently returned home after living abroad for 4 years. I loved where I lived and only left because I didnt see a very good economic future myself. Financially I am much better off. While abroad I saw my parents 2 or 3 times a year and kept in touch during the week. My dad was much more distant and our relationship suffered.

Now I am back in the same city everything has changed. They each separately contact me every day and if I dont reply to a family whatsapp for a couple of days I am asked if everything is ok

I am struggling because I love my parents but am wondering if I should reconsider living closeby. I dont seek the type of close relationship they want with me.

What can I do without making them feeling unloved and like i dont care?

OP’s posts: |
poozel Fri 05-Jun-20 22:06:53

Difficult OP.

My parents have certainly increased this during lockdown so for that reason alone I am trying to be kind and not choke them.

I wake up every day to a message saying morning, and it is soon followed by ?? If I don't reply.

I'm 38 years old!,

I have changed whatsapp so my last seen is not visible. I have also told them I am having no phone days at the moment so will reply when I have phone and time.

That does seem to have helped a little, although my brother said he had seen an increase in messages. blush

Lizzie523 Fri 05-Jun-20 22:11:22

Lockdown aside (because I agree with has skewed a lot in terms of normal contactl):

What frequency if contact do people think is reasonable without seeming distant?

OP’s posts: |
Beamur Fri 05-Jun-20 22:13:01

I think a bit of honesty before you decide to move.
Tell each of your parents exactly what you have said here. You love them, you're glad to be nearer but daily contact is too much.
Or - don't feel obligated to respond. Turn off the notifications and remove their ability to see if you've seen a message. Tell them that you're disconnecting a bit from the relentless of social media and they shouldn't worry if you don't get straight back to them.
You need to gently train them back to a more reasonable level of interaction.

Beamur Fri 05-Jun-20 22:18:13

What's reasonable? Up to you really. I'd have thought a couple of times a week max.
I used to help care for my Mum, but she was well enough to live independently. I spoke to her or saw her maybe every other day but she had memory problems.
My DH had a more standard relationship with his parents and maybe spoke with his Dad once a fortnight but they would swap emails a couple of times during the week. Rarely spoke to his Mum in between visits every 3/4 months.

Lizzie523 Fri 05-Jun-20 22:27:34

The last time I stopped responding for a day my mother confronted me about it and we got into a fight. I am an adult and I simply dont want to talk 24/7

My relationship with my dad is marginally more normal because he has more active social life. I doubt my mum will meet anyone now (she says she isnt bothered about it) so I just see years stretched out in front of me as the pseudo partner. I just wont do it.

OP’s posts: |
TorkTorkBam Fri 05-Jun-20 22:29:13

I would move if there were good opportunities elsewhere.

Lizzie523 Fri 05-Jun-20 22:33:18

I have support networks in 2 places - the city I was born in, where I live now and where my friends are. I am also a part of different communities here.

I feel the city I lived in before was my true home but the economic situation in the country meant I couldn't see a good career for myself. In the 8 months since back to my home city I have got a good job and my own place.

But I was used to my independence and this big shift in dynamics with my parents has been stressful.

OP’s posts: |
veryvery Fri 05-Jun-20 22:51:46

But messaging is so easy. Less time consuming than a phone conversation or video call. I message my Dad everyday since my mum died. I like it. It makes us closer and you don't have to say much. What you did, what you ate/cooked, what you are reading / watching on tv. Stuff about family? Views on the news. Send recent photos. Takes all of 5 or 10 minutes. I'm 47! grin

Fairyliz Fri 05-Jun-20 23:32:41

I have DD’s aged 23 and 25 and they usually message me several times a day. If I don’t reply within a couple of hours they say I am ignoring them!
We have a family WhatsApp group and chat throughout the day just random stuff about our life’s. Helps us all feel connected.

TimeIhadaNameChange Sat 06-Jun-20 09:37:32

@Fairyliz - I assume you're all emotionally stable and that none of you are dependent on another's reply to validate yourself. That's a healthy relationship. What OP is describing is not.

@Lizzie523 - my mother sounds similar. Bland morning and evening messages which turn into worried 'is everything ok?' queries if I miss a reply. I have a young baby - replying to her is not a priority.

As my old counsellor said, no amount of contact would be enough. My mum found a house for us to move into when I was in my 20s (in an area far away from where either of us lived) and pointed out the fact I could have my own sitting room. I retorted that I'd never be allowed to spend time there as she'd expect me to spend all my time with her, and she agreed.

On paper she's shouldn't be reliant on me - I have a sibling, she has a close church community around her and plenty of friends, but she wants me. I can suggest things for her to do but she doesn't want solutions, only me. It is suffocating.

You need to take control. Decide how much you want to be in contact and stick to it. Don't reply to every message, and ignore the guilt trips. Keep your phone switched off if necessary. And move away, it makes things easier!

Oh, and look up entrenchment. It might help.

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