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.

EJL: Lots of people fear commitment for lots of different reasons, so I don't think it's just people whose parents have divorced. What I do think isn't really out there is that fear of commitment can have an upside. What it can lead you to do is wait until you're more emotionally mature before you make a commitment, and have some more time where you're out there dating, having more experiences and getting to know who you are and who you would really want to be with long-term as you mature into adulthood.

GL: Almost a backlash to seeing parents get married young and put themselves aside for the marriage.

EJL: Exactly.

GL: What about children whose parents had very troubled relationships but didn't necessarily divorce?

EJL: There are stories in my book about people whose parents stayed together unhappily and how hard that can be on someone because most books about growing up with divorced parents don't look at that other possibility. I don't think it's as simple as advising people not to get divorced because you'll ruin your children's lives forever. You could grow up with people who slept in separate bedrooms and maintained separate lives, and subconsciously you might then find that kind of relationship more familiar and more comfortable.

GL: If I'm someone going through the dating process and my parents were divorced or had an unhappy marriage, what are signs that my current approach to dating might be damaged?

EJL: What I notice is divorce affecting people in so many different ways, that every single marriage is different. Every single divorce is different, and will impact someone in a different way.

Now, for example, if a mother is devastated by the divorce and maybe didn't have high self-esteem before the divorce and proceeds to make really bad choices in her romantic partners while raising kids, you might then find that that impacts the self-esteem of her daughters. It's never a guarantee because there are so many different factors that play into it, in terms of how involved are the grandparents, and what other resources are in place for the child. It's never that you can predict for sure. These are the things to look for in people whose parents divorced.

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