Dr. Pat Love wrote a book about this phenomenon, called “The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What To Do When A Parent’s Love Rules Your Life.” She describes the cost to the child: “If the parent represses the girl’s (or boy’s) anger not just once but over and over again, a deeper injury occurs: the girl will eventually dismantle her anger response. Ultimately, it’s safer for her to cut off a part of her being than to battle the person on whom her life depends.”
It can feel following these rules has to happen, like a job you can’t quit. So you swallow your anger.
If you’re one of these adult children, many people may have told you how lucky you were — to have a parent that sang your praises and adored you so much. It’s difficult to question this bond, because you may feel extreme guilt, as if you’re being disloyal for not being there for your mother or father. The slightest bit of separation can be interpreted by the parent as disrespect, disloyalty or even abandonment. You can never emotionally leave nor can you express anger about how trapped you feel. You may look like adults on the outside, but inwardly, you may doubt your own reasoning and capabilities.
“I never realized that I don’t make a decision without talking to my mom about it first.”
“I just assumed that I would help with my dad’s business. I never gave one thought to doing something on my own. So, what now?”