SMA News Forums Forums Our Community Adults ​With​ ​SMA Enmeshment with Parents

  • Enmeshment with Parents

    Posted by micaela-macdougall on July 23, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    How do you all keep yourself from getting too enmeshed with your parents’ emotions, especially those of you who still rely on your parents as caregivers?

    A bit of background: my parents are currently my only caregivers.  (I had intended to start hiring PCAs in 2020, but you can guess how that got derailed.)  Overall, I’d say we have a pretty good relationship.  However, on the rare occasions when they are experiencing negative emotions or fighting, I find it very difficult not to feel the same negative emotions.  The effort of trying to control my own emotions causes so much fatigue that I often end up just watching TV until my parents have resolved things.  And I want to emphasize, these incidents are not unhealthy or dangerous, they’re just normal things that happen in relationships with imperfect people.

    So, the standard advice is to set boundaries, to create physical distance when you need emotional distance.  But how do you create emotional distance from a caregiver you have to be physically close to?  Do any of you have any coping strategies?  (Obviously, part of my goal is to grow my caregiving team, but that’s a very long process and can’t be my only strategy.)

    ari-anderson replied 1 year, 8 months ago 5 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • yvette-haas

    July 23, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    That might be one of the most interesting and “real” questions that has ever been posed here. Honestly, I don’t have a great answer for you, but I do have a lot of experience with the circumstances. You’re welcome to private message me if you’d like to talk more.


  • alyssa-silva

    July 23, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    I can definitely empathize with you here Micaela. Although I’m not sure I have the right answer for you. In the summer, I like to sit outside by myself to get some alone time. I stay on my phone if I have to call for help. Oftentimes, I’ll watch tv like you said, read, or listen to music. I’m one of those people that gets deeply affected by other people’s emotions, so I do my best to protect my own. But, like you said, it isn’t easy when you rely on others for your care.

  • deann-r

    July 25, 2022 at 10:06 am

    I feel ya. I just spent two weeks at my Mom’s. I don’t have a great solution for you either, just to say everyone has bad days. It’s not fair for us to expect happy go lucky all the time.
    Most of the time Mom & I get along great but we both can get on each others nerves, and do. One day she woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something. After I was up and situated I just had to ask where she was going to be so I could go the other direction. Giving them space is probably the best someone can do if their caregiver is in a funk. Obviously you still need cares done and they understand that. I’m learning to ignore some of the negativity and just go about my day.

    Not letting the sour attitude rub off on you is hard. It’s especially frustrating when you’re in a good mood to start with. A negative comment has ruined my day on more than one occasion. I’m trying not to internalize that stuff, but it isn’t easy.

    Surprisingly though even when you have outside caregivers you deal with similar issues. Humans are emotional beings.

  • micaela-macdougall

    July 31, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing, everyone.  Even if none of us have an easy solution, it’s comforting to know this is a normal problem with SMA!

  • ari-anderson

    August 2, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Micaela,

    This is totally a common problem, and something I deal with frequently. Whenever my home care nurses start calling  a lot out and my mom has to cover their shifts, along with working full time at the hospital, she understandably gets exhausted. She also gets very frustrated with them. This in turn makes me frustrated to see my mom worked to the bone so hard.

    What I do is tell her I love her, and how much I appreciate everything she does for me. This at least makes my mom feel somewhat better. Then I feel somewhat better.

Log in to reply.