Tips for peacefully managing challenging family dynamics
Do you have a parent that flakes?
Does your mom or dad forget to pick you up from the movies? Say they will be cheering you on at your sporting event but is nowhere to be seen? Show late for your wedding? Does it feel like every time you put your faith in someone who should be your number one support you get let down? Often times parents or guardians struggle to follow through on promises due to their own mental health issue, past traumas, incarceration, drug abuse, or a simple personality flaw. Maybe they are overly stressed at work or feeling pressure in a relationship. Whatever the reason, the cost is the trust and closeness of their relationship with you.
This feels AWFUL!
How can I be close with a parent who flakes out on me when I need them most?
- Love them for who they are.
- Plan for who they are.
- Don’t forget who they are.
By accepting your flakey loved one as they are you are taking away the expectation and pressure for this person to magically become someone they have never been and the opportunity for them to let you down. Focus on the parts of this person you DO find endearing.
Plan for it.
Is your dad taking you for ice cream after the big wrestling meet? It IS okay to accept the invitation and even feel hopeful that your dad follows through. However, if dad has a pretty spotty record for actually showing up for promises…have a backup plan. Let your bestfriend know you might be joining him and his family after all, if your dad cancels or even worse, no shows.
*remember it is okay to say no thank you and skip the ice cream date with dad from the get go if that is the boundary you choose to set. That is also an effective option. These tips are an alternative way to cope not the only way*
Don’t forget who they are.
If you take this road and allow the flakey loved one to keep making plans and/or promises to you, it is crucial that you remember this trait. First, I said to love them and focus on their more desirable traits. Along with this, remember how we got here in the first place and keep healthy and strong boundaries with this individual. One promise kept does not mean this person has permanently changed to be a strong figure of connection and follow through in your life. If this happens, GREAT! If it doesn’t, we want our expectations to have been reasonable. Don’t ask your mom to be your sole plan for transportation to an important 8 am interview if she repeatedly has not woken up when you needed the ride before.
Be the best version of your role in the family as you can be
If you are the son; Be the best son you can be. Daughter? Knock it out of the park on being a strong and productive member of your family. Do this for yourself despite other family members not living up to their role in the family. This will give you the peace you need to set STRONG boundaries AND let love and opportunity for connection into your life.
Call (801) 450-5419 to schedule an appointment
*If someone is in danger call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room.
If the individual is in crisis but not imminent harm, providing anonymous hotlines can give a safe outlet to get help.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255
- TEEN LINE CALL 310-855-4673 TEXT TEEN to 839863
- Alternative House Hotline, 1-800-SAY-TEEN (1-800-729-8336). The Hotline is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by trained counselors and volunteers. In addition to serving young people in crisis, it is also a resource to parents who need advice or referrals.