Parent-Child Relationship | 9.06.2021

Do you ever feel like your partner is acting like your parent? Do you communicate to your partner like they are a child? Or, perhaps, you feel like the child in your relationship. Do you feel rebellious or, maybe, you want to take “control” of your partner? If this sounds like it fits, you probably have a parent-child dynamic playing out in your relationship. This is not something we may consciously think about, but when we pause and answer the questions, it starts to become clearer whether we fall into this type of communication pattern.  

This is a common relational pattern that seems to happen over time and can be passed down over generations. People begin to feel criticized, distant or resentful of their partner and how they are being talked to and treated. It’s important to stop and think about your relationship and how this dynamic started. Below are a few steps to take in order to begin changing the “roles” that have been created.

It’s important to look at our past to create understanding, not to get stuck, blame or dwell. It helps us to understand current choices, behaviors and patterns. 

  1. Look at your family-of-origin. This is a key piece to really explore and become curious about. It opens the door to really making sense out of your current and past relationships. There are several important questions to answer such as how did your parents and grandparents communicate? Did one person seem more parental of the other one by telling them what to do or how to be? What did you learn from their interactions or lack of communication?
  2. Explore relationship patterns. How do you communicate with friends, co-workers, other family members or neighbors? Is the pattern different in these relationships or similar? What were the roles and patterns in previous relationships? Did they play out the same way or different?  
  3. Work on yourself. One of the essential pieces to any change is to take ownership about how you have contributed to the issues in the relationship. Begin to look at the fear underneath the patterns. Are you afraid of rejection, abandonment, loss of freedom, not feeling good enough and so on. 
  4. Begin to change the way you communicate. If you do what you always have done, you will get the same results. Try to step outside your comfort zone and put yourself in the other persons’ shoes. Start by using “I” statements. For example, “I feel scared when you leave during a disagreement.”  Ask yourself if what the other person is saying makes sense from their perspective. This doesn’t mean you agree.

These are a few steps to take to begin the change process. It’s never too late to create the relationship you want! 

-Kristen D Boice M.A., LMFT, EMDR Trained

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