How To Break Up With Parental Baggage

By YourTango

How To Break Up With Parental Baggage
Five steps to making our parents' relationship residue work for us.

Breaking free of the relationship notions gathered from our parents seems about as easy as adding another six inches to one's height (sans heels, of course).

Licensed therapist and author Elisabeth Joy Lamotte tells us that healthy, happy relationships are attainable through five easy steps (no, one of them is not matricide), which she's outlined in her book Overcoming Your Parents' Divorce: 5 Steps To A Happy Relationship. Lamotte discusses with Tango the importance of recognizing the specific effects of our parents' relationship on our own love lives, whether it was troubled, divorced or even healthy. Read the Q&A to learn about the steps and how to make commitment phobia work to your advantage.


GL: How did you decide to write this book?

EJL: I had it in my mind for years. I've always been very interested in divorce; my parents divorced. Throughout my practice, I kept noticing a theme with my clients whose parents had divorced. The theme was struggling with relationships, but eventually coming out of it, doing really well, making good choices and eventually building very happy relationships. Children of that divorce boom of the '70s are coming of age now and there are a lot of great books out there that talk about how adults who were children of divorce fear commitment, and I would say that is absolutely a great insight. But you don't hear a lot about how sometimes their fear of commitment can work for them and help them grow from their parents mistakes.

GL: There is a causal relationship between parents divorcing and children struggling in relationships later in life?

EJL: That's what the literature says. Not having the chance to see a happy relationship does seem to sometimes—not always—cause someone trouble in the adult dating world.

GL: I've read that having divorced parents doesn't mean that offspring have higher chances of divorce themselves though, is that true?

EJL: I haven't found any evidence of this. I'm not a professional researcher, but I did spend a lot of time looking around.

GL: But you have seen a recurring fear of commitment where the common denominator is being the child of divorced parents?

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