How do I know if it's best to cut off contact with emotionally Immature parents?
The question is: how do you know if it might be best to cut off contact with emotionally immature parents?
It’s best to cut contact with emotionally immature parents (EIPs) when you feel like you’ve had all you want to take. Not all you can take, but all you want to take. If you’ve been taught to question or be ashamed of your true feelings, it may be hard to know when you’ve had enough of somebody. Especially if that somebody thinks it’s your job to make them feel more secure and comfortable. But you do have the right to stop contact whenever you feel like you need a break. And it’s solely up to you when – if ever – you feel like attempting a connection again. (Check out the Bill of Rights at the end of Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents if you want help to get in a self-preserving mindset about this.)
You have the right to set a limit or disengage when someone is subtracting more energy than you want to give. Breaking off contact for a while (maybe much longer) is not a moral issue, and you can never be a bad person because you find someone too unpleasant, draining, or disturbing to be around. As an adult, you have the right to your preferences and your self-preservation. You are entitled to define your limits.
Some signs that a break might be needed are when:
1) the person is emotionally or physically harmful (rude, snide, argumentative, disdainful, disrespectful, defies your requests, critical, tells you what to do, hits your kids, etc.);
2) you have your own life challenges and the EIP is making your life harder, not easier;
3) you are going through a difficult life transition (new baby, divorce, moving, new job) and need to cocoon for a while;
4) you have a health issue and more stress will make you feel worse;
5) you are trying to understand yourself and need some private time to get perspective;
6) people you love (children, partners, friends) don’t want to be around the EIP and neither do you.
Sometimes, instead of a total cutoff, setting limits and asking for room are all that’s needed, But EIPs often make even small requests for space painfully guilt-inducing. They don’t seem to realize that giving up some of their control might make you want to be around them more. Ask for what you need and stick to your limits, but if they disregard your requests and you don’t like being around them, tell them you will be out of touch for a while because you need some time to yourself. You don’t have to explain. You just say what you need, what you’re going to do, and repeat as needed. Going forward, you decide when and if you want to resume contact, but you stay in charge of that. Always tune into yourself first and you will know when they’re dragging you down and you need to step away.