|Being in a codependent relationship with your adult child
Being in a Codependent Relationship with Your Adult Child...
This is something I've recently concluded is an issue for me: My 18-year-old daughter and I are codependent. Up to this point I wouldn't have cared but let's dig deep here for a bit...
Let's start by understanding what the term codependent actually means.
Codependence is a complex pattern of excessive selflessness and preoccupation with another person that does not serve both people optimally. Codependency (or codependence, co-narcissism or inverted narcissism) is a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one's relationships and quality of life. - Wikipedia.org
When you look at this definition you see that a codependent person is someone who is unable to function on their own. They depend on another person to help them think, process, and essentially live. In doing so they're essentially people pleasers - putting the other person's needs ahead of their own. This leads to problems with making decisions and acting interdependently in relationships.
Signs You Might be in a Codependent Relationship with Your Adult Child
Everyone is subject to becoming somewhat codependent on another person. However, being in a codependent relationship with your adult child is one of the worst types of codependency there is. This is because not only does the parent suffer, but the child also suffers right along side of them. This is because a parent has become unknowingly addicted to their child. Unfortunately, oftentimes this isn't something that parents have planned on doing. Instead, the parent may not even realize it's happening.
Take for instance my situation...
I was a single mother from the time my daughter turned 2-years-old. It was me and her against the world I told myself (since I faced a lot of struggles when she was growing up). She was homeschooled for numerous reasons and to this day is mostly thankful that I chose this path for her. However, that meant that since I was on disability and she was being homeschooled we were together 24/7. I didn't think anything of this until now.
|Signs you're in a codependent relationship with your adult child
Currently as I look at our situation I see many of the signs of codependency here. The typical signs showing that a parent is in a codependent relationship with their adult child include:
- Addictive personality disorder: Other addictions (e.g. alcohol, drugs, etc.) can easily cross over into other types of addiction. In the case of being codependent you're very likely to become extremely passionate about, obsessed with, or fixated on the person with whom you're in a codependent relationship.
- Dependency: Being afraid that your child will abandon or reject you is another sign. This is especially true if you allow your child to cross your boundaries, break your rules and become an alpha figure in the household instead of allowing yourself to maintain authority.
- Caretaking: When you find yourself doing more for your child than what's age appropriate or healthy (e.g. reminding your young adult about showering, brushing their teeth) you have a big red flag. Many times you'll even find yourself putting your child's care ahead of your own even though you know that your child is old enough to be independent.
- Painful emotions: You'll find yourself torn between doing that which feels right and placating your addiction to your child. The worst thing that you believe could happen is for your child to grow distant or angry with you so you don't exert healthy boundaries or rules.
- Low self-esteem: You may discover that you only feel happy about yourself when your child is happy with you. Otherwise you find yourself worrying and feeling like a failure.
- Denial: This happens when a person refuses to admit they're codependent on their child. It's probably the worst problem because it prevents you and your child from getting much needed help. Denial can take many forms but you'll notice it if anyone else has tried to point out the codependent relationship to you.
- Obsession: Codependency is being addicted to another person. It is just like any other addiction except for here you become obsessed or married to your child. When someone questions you in this regard you find yourself becoming offensive immediately.
- Poor Boundaries: Although you may choose to set rules, you also choose to allow these rules to be broken without any consequences. This is because you feel as though you're responsible for your child's feelings and any issues that are occurring in their life.
- People pleasing behavior: When you need to tell your child no you'll feel stressed by doing so. It's also a real struggle for you to be able to set boundaries and maintain consistent rules with your child.
- Control issues: You'll become both controlling and manipulative of other family members. This is because you're trying to change everyone else so they fit your dysfunction. Those who don't follow suit, you go out of your way to find fault with them.
- Reactivity: Your defenses are high and when anyone questions you they leave you feeling as though you've been attacked.
- Dysfunctional communication: Although you may think that you're protecting your child, you're manipulating others to cover up or hide the truth.
Are you still wondering if you might be a codependent parent? Take this quiz and discover for yourself.
Breaking Free From a Codependent Relationship with Your Adult Child
Now that I've realized what's happening in my own life and how it can't continue to be this way, I need to take a step back to stop this vicious cycle. I really want my daughter to be successful so this is yet another difficult journey I must take.
|How to stop being in a codependent relationship with your adult child
Truth be told: Knowing that you're in a codependent relationship with your adult child is only half the battle. You can't forget that there's still work to be done to correct the relationship. Some of the steps you must take include:
- Practice self-care: When you're in a codependent relationship you lose sight of yourself because you're spending most of your time and energy fixing the other person. Moving forward towards creating healthier relationships requires you to take time to explore yourself (e.g. your likes, dislikes, needs, thoughts, feelings). Take some time for Bible study so you can find true rest in God. When you don't take this time for yourself you'll easily slip back into the pattern of codependency.
- Learn to be independent: You need to start doing things alone without feeling like you always need to be around your child. This is important because most people who experience codependency will oftentimes find that it's difficult to be alone with themselves. They've grown dependent on others for self-fulfillment. Overcoming the fear of being alone plays a powerful role in breaking the cycle of codependency.
- Set realistic expectations: Nobody can fulfill you but Christ. Unless you're realistic here you'll be let down. This is why it's so important to learn how to be happy with yourself as a person. In doing so you won't be depending on anyone but Christ to be the sole provider of your happiness.
- Practice setting boundaries: Unfortunately codependency in relationships means there have been very few boundaries established. Instead you've invested a lot of your time and energy into worrying about the other person. Now it's time for you to learn how to say no instead of continuing to be a people pleaser. Remember, this doesn't mean that you're being selfish or disrespectful. It simply means that you're looking out for your own well being.
- Deal with your past: Oftentimes codependency results from past trauma (e.g. abuse, neglect). These traumas can make you feel uncomfortable with yourself, thus resulting in codependency. Remember, it doesn't have to be this way: God is our great physician and can heal any wound.
Hopefully you've learned something about yourself here. Please know that you're not alone. Christ is right there beside you to work it out because he wants you to learn to be codependent with Him, nobody else. Is this going to be easy? No. Will it take a lot of work? Yes, but you know what? It's worth it and you're strong enough to do it.
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