Caught between adult children and aging parents

WELL_StressWoman_5c_04

The question
I’m 45 and I’m going through a difficult period in my life now. I’m having trouble controlling my adult daughter and dealing with aging parents, and I feel like I’m making my husband unhappy. I’m so stressed out.Whatever I do seems wrong. Any suggestions?

There’s a name for people who are excessively preoccupied with the needs of others at the expense of their own. It’s called “codependent.” Codependency is often characterized by low self-esteem, people-pleasing tendencies, emotional reactivity, excessive guilt, feelings of over-responsibility and a desire to fix and control others.

If you are codependent, you’re in good company — many people demonstrate some degree of codependency, especially if you grew up in a dysfunctional family, which many people do. The good news is that codependency need not be a chronic condition. With a little awareness, you can start to develop new habits and breathe a bit easier.

Let’s start with your daughter. Unless she has substantial disabilities that prevent her from taking care of herself, she is an adult and, by definition, responsible for her own life. Whether or not you approve of her life choices, they are hers to make and learn from, even if she falls. Letting go and setting boundaries can be one of the most difficult but important acts of love a parent can do. It communicates a subtle, often unspoken trust in the adult child’s abilities to make decisions.

Regarding your parents: While it may not be easy, you’re not alone. According to recent statistics, more than 48 million Americans are currently caring for aging parents (and spending a fortune in the process). And yes, it is stressful. If you are feeling overly responsible, try to share responsibilities with other family members and utilize community resources whenever possible. I suggest visiting the Administration on Aging’s website (www.aoa.gov) for information about services in your area.

Relationships with significant others (like your husband) is where codependency can be most insidious. There isn’t enough space in my column to do this justice so I’ll try to summarize. We are responsible for our own feelings. No one can strong-arm you into feeling joy. Yes, our actions have consequences on our relationships. But how others respond to and interpret our behavior is their choice, just as how we respond to their behavior is ours.

Finally, and most importantly, is the relationship with yourself. Take time to nurture yourself and reflect on how excessive people-pleasing and care-taking deplete you. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I want?” and “How do you I feel (about such and such)?” Since self-neglecting behaviors are often rooted in our families, consulting a therapist or attending a free Codependents Anonymous (www.coda.org) meeting may be helpful.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…