Today we’re talking about parents who can’t let go of their children, and adult children who are struggling to have their own lives, independent of a parent. This dynamic doesn’t exist because kids are having addiction or learning problems. This more complex relationship is created due to the emotional needs of the parent.  We’ll touch on what’s termed helicopter parenting, and quote an expert from Stanford University about some of the signs that you’re identifying way too much with your child, seeing them as an extension of yourself.

But we’ll go deeper — into the family dynamic of enmeshment. We’ll quote Dr. Pat Love, an expert on enmeshment, and how in this kind of relationship, a child (whether young or adult) is forced to detach from vital aspects of themselves in order to meet the needs or expectations of a parent. It can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and an abiding sense of guilt for never accomplishing  the task you’ve been given — to make a parent happy and fulfilled. Because it’s not a task that can be accomplished — by anyone but the parent.

The email from a listener this week is from a teenager who is asking the difference between “being a teenager” and depression, as well as wondering about Perfectly Hidden Depression. There are definitely teenagers out there who don’t feel that they can talk about being depressed, and tragically, suicide is increasing.

Important links:

Article on helicopter parenting

Dr. Pat Love: “The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What To Do When A Parent’s Love Rules Your Life.”

Dr. Margaret’s gift book for honoring your relationship, available on Amazon! “Marriage Is Not For Chickens.” 


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