As a parent, we want to protect our children from harm. We want to guide them through the perils of life by giving them our version of insight and wisdom. We want to help them to avoid the pitfalls that we have experienced, and most of all we want to love them.
My experiences in relationships taught me to become codependent. I came to accept responsibilities that were not mine. I want to fix problems for my loved ones. I judge myself harshly and came to believe my life was worthless. I obsessed over little issues or perceived problems.
Codependency and my mental disorders have posed a challenge to my son. I didn’t realize that until I began working on recovery from codependency. Because of the severity of my illness, my husband divorced me and was given physical custody of my two-year-old son. I was devastated but was unable to take care of myself and was repeatedly hospitalized. For me, my son has continued to be my two-year-old child in many ways.
He is now twenty-eight, married, and has two small children. Because of my situation, I didn’t live with him. He was raised by my narcissist alcoholic husband and passed around to his paternal grandparents. His grandfather was also an alcoholic. I felt responsible for the suffering of my son’s parenting. Since I was not allowed to see him often and eventually moved far away, I didn’t know him as the grown man he became.
In codependency, I wanted to fix his problems. I interfered in his relationships. I gave him money to help him out of financial issues (money that I could not afford that sacrificed my well-being). Was that helping him? He has not asked for much, and I have gone way overboard in my attempts to “fix” problems. He is a grown man and is capable of taking care of himself and his family in the midst of difficulties. I have to see him as the intelligent young man he became. I have to learn to stop feeling responsible for him and give him his right to be a man. He will find his own way of handling difficulties. As his parent, I will be here if he wants my advice as a responsible grown man. I can’t be his safety net. A two-year-old will get a scraped knee and learn that he has to accept that pain. Mom can’t stop that and would not want to interfere with the child learning that life is going to have some scraped knees. Letting him handle his challenges is healthy parenting.