What do young people say about their parents in therapy with psychologists?
Unlike several generations before them, young people today are not afraid to put their heads on a therapist's couch.
What's on their mind besides an uncertain job market, marriage worries and student debt? "For many, the problem is their parents," said Deborah Duley, a psychotherapist and founder of Empowered Connections.
“We went from a parent-centered society to a child-centered society, and this generation is the product of that flux in our parenting focus,” Duley told HuffPost. 'As a result, I hear constant complaints that their parents are managing their lives to the point of being suffocating.'
Duley and other therapists have shared some of the complaints they hear from clients in their 20s and 30s.
1. I grew up with helicopter parents and now I can't function like a real adult.
Problem no. 1 that I see with millennials and their parents is that they complain about being overprotective. You know it's a problem when the mother of a 28-year-old calls and makes an appointment for a session for her daughter. The girl can leave the schedule herself.
2. I feel like a failure by my parents' standards.
One theme I hear about the parent-child relationship is not feeling good enough. Young people grow up with parents who have high expectations, and failure is not only discouraged, but not allowed in some cases. Women from this generation in particular struggle with this as they also have to deal with society, social media and public opinion telling them they are not good enough.
3. My parents don't think I need therapy.
A number of my clients have complained that their parents don't 'believe' in therapy or see it as a sign of weakness. There is a stigma associated with therapy for parents. This often makes grown children feel worthless or misunderstood, or they may believe they are not 'good enough' to deal with their problems. Some clients express frustration because they cannot talk openly with their parents about mental health struggles. Consequently, they are unable to seek support from some of the most important people in their lives.
4. My parents have become helicopter grandparents.
After having children, young people are pressured by their parents who have strong opinions about their parenting styles and decisions. It can become a problem when people feel compelled to prioritize their parents' opinions over their partners'. Parenting is a very individual journey and everyone chooses the style that suits them best.
5. My parents are too involved in my financial life.
One of the biggest issues that arises is parents not respecting boundaries or getting too involved in their children's lives, especially with finances. Parents feel they have a right to information because they often provide financial assistance. For example, when parents pay for a child's psychotherapy, they often ask about the content of the sessions without respecting privacy. They contact me to explain their child's difficulties when there is no need for this information. Sometimes, when a patient sets a boundary with a parent, the parent blames or misattributes the child's autonomy to the therapist interfering with the relationship. It's as if the therapy they're paying for is seen as a threat to the parent-child relationship.
6. My parents didn't teach me how to navigate negative emotions.
Another constant thing I hear is the lack of guidance on how to deal with negative emotions and experiences. Time and time again, I see women who struggle mightily with managing their negative emotions. They are taught that negative emotions must be avoided at all costs; that anxiety is a normal part of a woman's everyday life and she should deal with it simply by taking a pill or avoiding emotions altogether through unhealthy methods. This, I think, is the most damaging message a child can receive. Understanding that negative emotions are normal, to be expected, and may actually be intentional is a game changer for these women.