Though you may primarily associate the idea of codependency with romantic relationships, many parent-child relationships also have this toxic feature. Over time, having one or both parents regularly control or manipulate you can take an enormous toll on your emotional well-being. Learning to recognize the signs of codependency is the first step to ending these behavioral patterns.
What Is Codependency?
Though not every codependent relationship is identical, the defining characteristic is a power imbalance in which one person enables the other’s irresponsible behavior. Often, a relationship with a codependent mother begins in early childhood – especially if abuse and neglect are involved.
For example, perhaps your mother was emotionally unavailable or struggled with addiction or mental health. In response, you might have taken on adult responsibilities before you were ready or frequently made excuses for her behavior.
Recognizing a Codependent Mother
It can be challenging to identify the signs of a codependent mother, especially if you’ve been playing an enabling role most of your life. Take a step back and analyze your interactions with your mother. If you spot familiar patterns in the list below, your relationship might be toxic.
A codependent parent might:
- Frequently make unreasonable demands on your time or energy
- Try to control your life
- Disregard your needs and wants
- Be overly critical of decisions you make
- Unfairly compare you to others
- Manipulate you with emotional blackmail
Tips for Dealing With Codependent Parents
Healing from codependency is possible with time, patience and commitment. Here are some tips that can help you.
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
In some cases, the best way to deal with a codependent mother is to practice a technique known as “detaching with love” – in other words, showing her you care enough to let her take responsibility for her mistakes. Boundaries are valuable in any relationship, but especially with parents who have been manipulating you most of your life. When creating boundaries, be sure to define the consequences of ignoring them.
2. See a Therapist
Recovering from family dysfunction requires work from all parties involved. A counselor who specializes in family therapy can help you lay the groundwork for ending the cycle of toxic behavior, so you don’t pass it on to your children. If your codependent mother isn’t ready for treatment, you can start by seeing a therapist on your own. They can teach you how to set boundaries and equip you with the tools to shield yourself from your parents’ harmful behavior.
3. Stop Enabling
Unfortunately, many adult children of codependent mothers enable the toxicity to continue by not speaking up for themselves. Remember to stay true to your boundaries and say something whenever you feel your parent is breaking the ground rules you’ve set. Take an active role in repairing the damaged relationship.
Finding Your Supportive Community
It can be incredibly challenging when your parents aren’t unconditionally loving, helpful and respectful of your needs. Family dysfunction and childhood adversity are two of the strongest predictors of addiction in adulthood. If you are struggling with substance use and can’t break the cycle on your own, please reach out for help. Contact us at Vista Taos to learn more about our holistic treatment program.