Emotional incest: when children raise their parents

I’ve spoken extensively on here of the emotional incest that happened with my mother.
By her own accord, I raised her. The mother-daughter dynamic became reversed.
As she struggled with deep mental health issues, I grew up quickly.
Check out this video to learn more about emotional incest.
What I want to explore in this post is why some can only ever trust to their children.

“The only people he could relate with
intimately were his two children.
They were the only ones over whom he had control,

the only ones who had no authority over him,
the only ones he could trust in the whole world.”
– M. Scott Peck

I came across this paragraph a few days ago for this post and a lightbulb went off.
Peck is talking about a patient of his who was raised by distant neglectful parents.
He went on to distrust everyone in his life, from authority figures to his wife.
His children however posed no threat to him.

First, the child feels grateful to help.
Enmeshed, it feels pity for the guilt-free parent.

When we only know neglect, praise from our parents is everything.
Being responsible for them leads to growing up too quickly though.
The more my mother pushed me away, the more special I felt when she didn’t.
I would check on her when she locked herself in her room for days.
I would make sure she eats and speaks about her marital problems.
Being taken advantage of became my definition of love.

Because my parents had no boundaries,
I learned to have none.
But I am not a child anymore,
and I can make sure my children won’t raise me.

After ages of normalising my parents behaviour, I spent years resenting them.
Then, I slowly forgave them.
This paragraph by Peck humanises their struggle:
The relief my parents must have felt to not be threatened by their children!
Of course it’s not fair, but I deserve better than to carry anger within me.
Instead, I empathise with their pain, but take responsibilities for its consequences.

3 thoughts on “Emotional incest: when children raise their parents

Add yours

  1. Boy can I relate to this. I realized early on that my EQ was extremely high and much more than my own parents. Recently I read Bell Hooks,”All about love” and can agree my parents took care of me but didn’t love me. Not the way parents are intended to. I have forgiven them for years now but my upbringing was robbed of me because I was my mother’s emotional crutch. She has BPD, gas lighted me my entire life and as an intuitive empath that was highly draining and confusing for decades. I’ve done a ton of unraveling this in tbe past 10 years but most significantly in the last year after I experienced a deeply profound spiritual awakening. Thank you for sharing this. We are not alone. This 100% happen many. We can and do heal, that’s the beautiful part. Lots of love to you my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your reply. I am so sorry your journey involved so much pain, but I’m glad to hear you’ve done all this proactive healing. We are not alone as you said and we can all learn from each other! The cycle will end with us, lots of love to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

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