September 17, 2014Abusing an Adult Child
Posted by Staff at 10:59 AM
Dear Dr. Laura,
You're the best! I find it hilariously sad you became a controversial figure just for giving sound common sense advice. I want to thank you for explaining that parents who use their adult children as therapists are abusing them. That has helped me to understand myself so much better.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, my mother used me as a counselor over her marital woes with my father. We'd take long walks and car rides together and she'd unload on me about my dad's workaholism, his neglect of her, and her concerns he was having an affair. She always complimented me on my terrific listening skills and wise advice. This made me feel extremely special and important and I ate it up like a dog to kibble! My mom often would mention she would divorce my dad one day and she and I would live together. She never did.
Looking back now, I see how acting as my mom's therapist stunted my growth. It was easier for me to hear her problems than start an adult life of my own -- attending college, getting a job, developing peer relationships, dating. It also harmed my relationship with my father because I saw him as the bad guy and he saw me as my mother's confidant. We didn't trust or like one another. It was only much later in life I realized he was a good and honorable man who had to put up with so much crap from my mother.
When I was in my late thirties, my son was diagnosed with autism and then my entire life fell apart. You see, when I needed my mom to be a good listener, compassionate, and loving, she did a disappearing act that would have impressed the best magician! She made it abundantly clear she did not want to hear my story. Because I had always been overly close to her and hadn't developed many friendships, I was totally screwed! Thank God, I had the greatest of husbands!
Thank you so very much for enlightening me. I could have attended therapy sessions for years and this issue probably never would have been discussed. I love you.