When we hear the word “co-dependence”, first of all we imagine violence in the relationship between a young man and a girl. But the point is not always this. It’s hard to believe, but the strongest co-dependence is in the relationship between one of the parents and the child, and not between the guy and the girl. In the co-dependent relationship of parents and children, the line between protection and obsession, between normal and excessive involvement, is greatly blurred. It is very difficult to find co-dependence in the relationship between one of the parents and the child.
Consider several signs that will help determine co-dependence in the relationship between parents and children.
1. Co-dependent parents show victim thinking
We all face life’s difficulties, but the co-dependent parents believe that others (especially their children) are to blame. Often parents instill a sense of guilt in their children in order to get sympathy from the child for their negative experiences and, ultimately, to get the right behavior from him.
This is where the problem lies. Instead of coping with their emotional injuries in healthy ways (through self-reflection and psychotherapy), the co-dependent parent switches to the child and requires compensation.
This compensation may take various forms. For example, a mother who gave birth to a daughter early has high hopes for her in order to compensate through her what she herself could not achieve in life. A co-dependent father can demand achievements in sports from his son in order to compensate for the fact that in childhood he was not an athletic child. If the child decides to go his own life, the parent will manipulate using guilt to achieve his submission.
2. Co-dependent parents are never wrong
In normal relations, sometimes one is right, sometimes the other. In the co-dependent relationship of the child and the parent, the latter believes that he is always right. Even when the child has reached adulthood, the parent does not discuss his position and does not even admit that he may be wrong. Instead, he always seeks to impose his opinion and “correct” the child’s opinion. In co-dependent relations, an open discussion is not allowed, in which initially there are no right or guilty parties.
The co-dependent parent does not listen to the feelings and problems of the child and does not try to better know him as a person. He perceives every controversial situation as a threat to his authority.
Even if it becomes obvious that the parent is wrong, he will not apologize or will do it forcibly and insincerely. He needs absolute superiority over the child, and any recognition of his wrongness will be perceived by him as a sign of weakness and an occasion to challenge his primacy in relations.
3. Co-dependent parents are too emotional
People sometimes cry, shout or express their attitude to what is happening in silence, but with a co-dependent parent these actions are perfected. When parents feel that they are losing control of the situation or the right of the last word in the dispute, they begin to cry, scream or intimidate the child in another way, to turn the situation in their favor. Using this tactic of manipulation, the co-dependent parent often accuses the child of being heartless or insensitive, or pretending to not understand the situation.
If the child cries or expresses pain or anger, the co-dependent parent may show anger unusual to him and say that the child behaves this way to manipulate his parents. In fact, the parent is upset that his tactics turned against himself.
4. Co-dependent parents never listen to children
Many children of co-dependent parents claim that talking to their parents is like talking to a stone wall. No matter how convincing the child’s arguments are, the co-dependent parent will never change his mind, but will begin to refute the arguments or simply ignore them.
5. Co-dependent parents thoughtlessly repeat words and phrases
Instead of listening to the feelings of the child, the co-dependent parent thoughtlessly repeats, reflects or mimics his words and phrases. For example, if a child says that the parent offends his feelings, then in a few hours he may blame him for the same. Whatever the child complains, the co-dependent parent always turns this situation against him, moving from defense to attack. If you reveal such a parent’s strategy, he will ignore your words, get angry or embarrassed.
6. Co-dependent parents experience emotional swings
Sudden mood swings can occur over several minutes or several days. But a co-dependent parent can quickly move from one extreme to another. This often happens when, through manipulation, he was able to ensure that the child made concessions. A co-dependent parent can scream and get hysterical, but as soon as he achieves what he wants, he can immediately become cheerful.