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Examining the Relationship We Have with Our Parents: Embracing the Power of "And"

Father with his two children abstract

As we mature into our adulthood, many of us begin to notice how our relationship with our parent(s) differs from any of our other chosen relationships. We may find ourselves concealing parts of our identity that we freely express in other relationships, and we might observe that specific emotions and behaviors, such as anger, are more prominent when we are around our parents.

Many adult children hope to improve their relationship with their parent(s) by applying the self-awareness and communication skills they have worked so hard to develop in therapy.

Reflecting on our relationship with our parent(s), both past and present, can be both a meaningful and difficult endeavour. While we may appreciate our parents' efforts and sacrifices, we might also experience emotions such as anger, sadness, and disappointment. Additionally, feelings of guilt and shame may emerge, potentially causing a desire to avoid delving deeper into the introspection, at least for a while.

Experiencing "negative emotions" towards our parent(s) as we embark on exploring our relationship in an attempt to strengthen our bond with them can be quite unsettling. We might even believe that we are not entitled to these emotions due to the sacrifices our parent(s) have made for us, leading us to feel guilty for recognizing any potential unfulfilled needs from our upbringing.

Many of my clients have found solace and validation in understanding that as adult children, we can experience a range of emotions towards our parent(s) simultaneously. It is possible to feel gratitude for their efforts, compassionate towards their own struggles, and deeply hurt and frustrated by their disregard for our desires, needs, and efforts to connect. Acknowledging your sadness or anger does not negate your love for them.

If you would like to explore your relationship with your parent(s) in the safety of a therapeutic relationship, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.


Hannah Peirce

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