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I found a great book on unhealthy parental boundaries

AlwaysSmiling's picture

The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to Do When a Parent's Love Rules Your Life by Dr. Patricia Love

It was copyrighted 1990, so was pretty cheap off Ebay. 

I wanted to share that I found this great book dealing with unhealthy parental boundaries (not sexual incest, just unhealthy boundaries). Written by a therapist who provides lots of examples from her own counseling sessions and is written in easy to understand, commen sense language. 

I couldn't believe how well written and how much I identified my own situation with others that she identifyed as the 'left-out spouse' and how much 'the chosen child' resembled my SO's situation with his young daughter. 

I would encourage anyone dealing with enmeshment, mini-wife syndrome, covert & emotional incest to check this book out!

There are examples of adults seeking therapy trying to figure out what is wrong with them, and discover the way they were treated in childhood plays a major role in their unhappiness. Things like a woman who was treated like a princess by her father when she younger, now has 3 failed marriages- through therapy discovers that she has some narcisistic views of the world because of how she was the center of the universe growing up (a chosen child). The author writes how chosen children often are unaware of anyone's needs because their own wants and needs were all that were important growing up, and continues to shed light by saying when a chosen child marries, they may feel this is a demotion from their previous spotlight- You know how marriages are supposed to be an equal partnership, and all? But not with the chosen child, because they were always treated as if they were better and more important than anyone else. 



Journey0601's picture

I am totally going to check this out!

AlwaysSmiling's picture

I've been highlighting and using post-its to mark pages. Good stuff, really good!

strugglingSM's picture

BM is totally enmeshed with one of my SSs. 

She even takes pictures with him where they both have their arms around one another or are gazing at one another like a couple. 

She is remarried, so it's not as if she's a lonely single mom. 

When SS is feeling bad or is angry with DH, he'll call BM because he knows he'll get a big, dramatic response from her, even if whatever DH supposedly did is not worth getting angry over (as a previous example, SS wanted a bandaid for a bruised finger. DH told him - "a bandaid won't help that." SS called mom to say, "dad won't give me a bandaid", leading to a flurry of angry texts from BM about DH's neglect and how SS never wants to be at our house because of DH's neglect). 

elkclan's picture

This happened to me after my parents split (and even before). My mom treated me as her 'best friend', her date to events, her confidant, she told me things that were not really for a child's shoulders. 

When she started dating my future stepfather (when I was 17/18), she dropped me like a hot potato. In one way this was completely appropriate, but because we were so enmeshed it felt like getting dumped. It didn't start off our relationship very well - he was jealous of me and I was jealous of him - and frankly that's probably exactly how my mom wanted it. He was, of course, in love so couldn't see clearly and I was a teen and couldn't see clearly. We had a good relationship when the scales fell from his eyes and when I grew up a little. He even protected me (or tried to!) from my crazy mother a few times. 

Unfortunately the BM in my life really reminds me of my mother... my SO won't quite admit it, but he has said that he knows how to deal with my mother because BM's mother is EXACTLY like mine. She is favouriting younger son and treating her older son like a mini-husband. As my SO well knows, she doesn't know how to treat a husband, so it's not a fun, adoring relationship. It's a relationship where she expects him - a 12yo boy - to emotionally support her and do things a partner would, like bring her hot drinks in bed - and when he balks or is unable to support her emotionally (who could?) she berates him and emotionally abuses him. SS12 told me recently he was glad it was still Saturday (we have them EOWE) because it meant he didn't have to go back home yet. 

AlwaysSmiling's picture

What an emeshment nighmare!