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Travelling and difficult parents?

Travel Forums General Talk Travelling and difficult parents?

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11. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 4y

ossuarium: I'd say basically the same talesbackpack said; try to sit down with them for an adult conversation. Just having such a conversation in the first place might help on its own, by making your parents realize you're no longer a child, and they should start letting go of you.

Wanting to go again next month is very short order. I wouldn't mention anything about that yet in such a first talk. Just bring up the previous trip, tell them that their behaviour doesn't make any sense to you, and that you'd like to really understand the underlying issues. Tell them you care about them, and don't want to hurt them, but that you also need to start living your own life, and make your own decisions.

Try to find out the balance between fears; how much of it is you travelling on your own at all (would they react the same if you'd say you want to go to Banff), how much of it is this specific location (maybe they've had bad experiences in California (despite travelling there together with you)), how much of it is you being alone with a (boy) friend for such a long time, and how much is it this specific person? Be prepared for any of those things being their main concern, and have possible solutions prepared. You could suggest to them "what if" scenarios, like what if you'd called them every day at a specific time to let them know you're still okay, or what if you'd only gone for a week? Those might feel like too smothering limitations, but assuming you don't want your parents to go through the same again as they did last time, the goal is to slowly let them adjust to the idea, and then keep pushing the boundaries.

Finally, consider suggesting psychological counseling for the three of you as a family. It sounds to me your parents really need it (though obviously, don't focus on that; take the tack of "I don't think we'll work this out on our own; let's get some outside help").

Posts 12 & 13 were removed by moderators
14. Posted by ossuarium (Budding Member 5 posts) 4y

Thank you for the kind words, everyone. I think I will try to sit my parents down for a reasonable, adult discussion. Does anyone have any advice on that, however? I've tried many times, and it generally goes like this: I'll sit down and tell my mother that I would like to talk about something. She'll immediately know and stand up, swearing at me and telling me that I'm a disappointment and not the daughter she dreamt of. I don't generally raise my voice or anything; I've fought with my parents for as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty good at being calm... By the time our 'conversation' is over, however, my mother is in a crying heap, saying she loves me so much. She'll hug me and then go off and do whatever, refusing to speak to me about it again. It's a bit frustrating. I've tried to approach her on good days, bad days, or when she's with my dad. My father just refuses to speak of it at all; all he says is 'to hell with you' and turns away. He's extremely stubborn about everything, and we're pretty distant, as, during my childhood, he would be working for 2 - 5 months at a time.

Anyway, though, the therapy route sounds best. I would really like to try and propose that, although my mother went to a therapist when I was ruining her relationships, apparently. He told her that she has every right to be hurt (by what???), and that it's like 'a lover cheated on her'. Frankly, I think this is insane. I've been seeing my own counsellor for a while now (secretly, I admit), looking for some kind of help, and she finds it pretty insane, too... True, though, my mother is friends with that therapist, so I feel that maybe he let that get in the way of being professional.

But, yeah. I suppose there really isn't much I can do aside from trying to sit them down and talk to them. I'm honestly scared, as I don't know how true these threats run or just what they might do. But I suppose there isn't really anything else.

One thing I do take the blame for is perhaps not calling my parents enough last time. It was only once a week or so. But it was stressful; the first time I called my mother, which was over Skype, she started saying I was incredibly ugly and sick looking and just disgusting. When I started crying, she immediately assumed it was because I missed her so much. It really doesn't make much sense... But yes. It was like that each and every time I phoned her, with her ending each conversation with 'I hope I die tonight so I never have to see you again' and hanging up on me. Because of that.. I admit, I did kind of avoid talking to her. And that's what she hangs on to; the fact that I didn't call her enough. She won't accept the fact that I can't go back in time and change that.

It's just a very manipulative situation. If we're having a 'conversation' about this, I'll get up to walk away and she'll call me a coward. If I stay, she tells me to get out of her face. There is really no happy middle. How do you think I can approach this?

15. Posted by Peter (Admin 5810 posts) 4y

Hey everyone, I just cleared up the flaming in this topic to keep things on track. Feel free to send me a PM if you want to discuss further. No need to clutter up this thread any more.

Post 16 was removed by a moderator
17. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 4y

ossuarium: :| That sounds very rough. Parents not wanting children to travel for various reasons is a fairly common situation, and we've had quite a few threads over the years on that. But your parents really sound a couple of steps beyond the norm. I don't think you'll find many people who have had experience with such situations and are able to advice you usefully.

So, having thereby disqualified all the advice I'm going to try to give you :), I think your best bet would be to focus on understanding, on really getting to the core fear they have; once you understand it, you might be able to defuse it or compensate for it. I know your goal is to travel again, but I'd personally steer the conversation away from that. Maybe something like, "The way you reacted doesn't make any sense to me, I'd really like to understand it so I can avoid hurting you like that again in the future." (Maybe bring up college if you'd move away for that?) If they do speak, do your very best to really listen to what they're trying to say, and try to see it from their point of view rather than (reflexively) trying to immediately defend yourself or argue against it. Ignore anything about being a bad daughter or otherwise designed to hurt you, but focus on the concrete; ask followup questions to make certain you really get how they feel (and to let them know you're considering what things must be like for them), and refrain (initially) from trying to explain your side of things. (Chances are they aren't ready to hear your side at first anyway; plus I expect that's a somewhat familiar conversational pattern to you already, which you have to break out of in order to get them to see you in a new light.) Hopefully you'll get somewhere that way!

But to be honest, if your characterization of your parents' reactions above is accurate, I have to say that I don't have much hope of you managing to actually work this out. Maybe if they end up being amenable to the counseling, but otherwise I think there's a very good chance that your best way forward will eventually be reduced to moving out; once you live on your own, your travels should be your own again, and then maybe you can build up a better relationship with your parents again from that point onward.

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