1. The Parent Disrespects the Adult Child’s Spouse
Like me, many consider their parents’ behavior normal until they marry. Looking at your parents from your significant other’s perspective can be eye-opening.
Not having grown up under your parents’ manipulations, as a new daughter- or son-in-law, your spouse may be unwilling to participate in the dysfunction that feels so natural to you. The parent who has always controlled you also expects to control your spouse, and when this fails to happen, it often results in contention, smear campaigns, and petty complaints designed to either force the new son- or daughter-in-law into compliance or get rid of them entirely via divorce.
Parents must respect their adult children and their spouses, regardless of whether they like them or not, even if you have differing expectations about family roles. You do not get to choose whom your children love. Respecting your son/daughter-in-law does not mean condoning or agreeing. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are not—nor can you ever be—the most important person in your adult child’s life at all times. He cares about other people just as much as he cares about you. The sooner you understand that, the better off you’ll be.
2. The Parent Refuses to Apologize
3. Overbearing and Undermining Grandparenting
A disordered parent sees their child as an extension of themselves, not as an individual, and grandchildren are but one more step on the ladder of “me.”
4. The Parent Plays Favorites Among Siblings
In early childhood, siblings in disordered families are assigned roles as either a scapegoat or a golden child. A golden child seldom suffers consequences for misbehavior and is often praised and applauded, while the scapegoat shoulders the blame for the family’s dysfunction and suffers the brunt of the consequences.
5. Ignored Boundaries
Last but not least is the refusal of the older generation to respect the boundaries of the child/parent relationship. Because disordered minds struggle to understand boundaries, I believe this reason is better explained with examples.