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

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

Arts

Artist Laurent La Gamba uses cars to create…

An artist managed to make his friends and family ‘disappear’ – by blending them in with their surroundings using paint.

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

At one university, college students get to study…

We all know that college students love coffee. Widener University is taking that love to a new level with its Cultivation to Cup program. Inside…

Travel

Top celebrity wedding spots from Cheapflights.com

Cheapflights.com picks the best places around the world to tie the knot like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. As George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wed…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…