"Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you." —Kahlil Gibran
Symptoms of enmeshed parenting:
- Your children's good or difficult behavior and successful or unsuccessful achievements define your worth.
- Your children are the center of your life — your sole purpose in life.
- Your focus is on taking care of your children rather than taking care of yourself.
- Your happiness or pain is, mostly determined by your children.
- You are invasive — you need to know everything about what your children think and do.
If you identify with one or more of these symptoms, you might be enmeshed with your children.
The consequences of enmeshed parenting on your children:
- They may grow up feeling responsible for others' feelings while ignoring responsibility for their own. They might feel selfish if they take care of themselves and could become compliant and disconnected from themselves.
- They may use you as their role model — making others responsible for their feelings, rather than being self-responsible.
- They may feel invaded and controlled by you and as a result, withdraw, resist, or act out in anger. As adults, they may have a hard time taking responsibility for themselves.
- They will likely have problems in their adult relationships, both work and personal — being a taker, a caretaker, withdrawn, angry and/or resistant.
- They might feel lost and empty inside as a result of not learning how to take responsibility for their own feelings.
As a parent, it is vitally important to have a sense of passion and purpose in your life, separate from your children. And, it is essential that you learn to define your own sense of worth, rather than making your children's behavior responsible for this. It is too big a burden for children to, constantly, be the center of your life.
Enmeshed parenting places too big a pressure on them to act right, perform right, and/or look right, in order for you feel that you are okay. Defining your worth through your children only makes them feel trapped because they feel that they must please you and can't be themselves.
If you do not have work, hobbies or other interests that are important to you, then you might be making your children your sole purpose in life, and you might be making them responsible for your feelings of self-worth.
Healing Enmeshed Parenting
Your children look to you as a role model of taking loving care of yourself; of defining your own worth and taking responsibility for your own feelings of pain and joy. They need to see you as a productive member of society, whether it is through your work, volunteer work, or creative activities and hobbies. They need to feel free to, openly, be themselves and follow their own path in life, without feeling that they will hurt or disappoint you.
It's key that they know they can come to you with their fears, questions, doubts and dilemmas, and that you will be there to help them find their way. Rather than imposing your way upon them, they need to feel your love and support for who they are, rather than who you think they ought to resemble.
You will end up with a far better relationship with your children if you learn how to make yourself happy and define your own worth, rather than making your children responsible for you. As adults, they will continue to want to spend time with you if you are your own person. However, if they feel obligated to bond with you, they might resist.
If you are an enmeshed parent, do yourself and your children a huge favor and start learning to take responsibility for your own happiness and pain through your own inner bonding practice.
To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself, so that you can connect with your children and others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse and receive Free Help with your parenting. Connect with Margaret on Facebook.
This article was originally published at Inner Bonding
. Reprinted with permission from the author.