Punishing Parent Petulant Child - Relationship Pattern

Scene 1: Dad is angry at mom again. "Why do you need to buy this bag this month? You have no idea how hard I work, and you go wasting money like water !"

Mom is upset. She cries. "My life is so hard, I get controlled for everything," she says.

Scene 2: Mom returns home from a trip. The kitchen is somewhat disorganized. Mom gets angry. " Do you know how much effort it takes to run a kitchen? You are so incompetent, look what you have done ?" Dad shrinks and shuts down.

What is common in both scenarios?

Communication from a place of the trigger. In some households, this is near-constant. There is no functioning emotional adult in the house. The only roles the adults play are the "petulant child" and the "punishing parent".One is shaming, the other is rebelling or shutting down. And they take turns.

Were there no “emotional adults” in the house growing up? Is your adult relationship filled with blame-guilt-shame-shutdown-rage cycles?

When you were the “parentified child” it can make you, as an adult feel disconnected and distant from your children, unable to connect with them outside of structured tasks. Spontaneity and play may feel alien.

Scene 1 (with emotional adults) "Hey I see you want this bag. Do you mind if we sit down and revisit our budget this month? I would like to find a way to accommodate this, if possible"

"Yes, I would appreciate that. Thank you for taking care of the household budgeting. Let's figure this out together, I have some ideas."

Scene 2: (with adults) " Hey, thanks for taking care of the house while I was away. I appreciate it. Could we sit together ahead of time next time and figure out some organizational ideas so it is quicker when we hand over the kitchen to each other?

”I appreciate you running the kitchen so well. Yes, that sounds good.”

What do you think was different?

There is a focus on "us" in functional families.

Dysfunctional families are like islands, where everyone is operating from defensive, survival-based communication patterns, almost near constantly.

If you are having to learn this, from scratch, I see you. It is like learning a new language. You are re-parenting yourself, learning a new way of relating to your partner as well as trying to parent your kids differently, all while being called a traitor by your dysfunctional family for drawing healthy boundaries. I see you and I am sending lots of respect and empathy your way.

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