The childish parent is the one who constantly expects others to coddle him or her. This person is very devious and cunning, with the ability to get others, especially his or her children, to do just that. He or she is often married to someone who abused their children, and portrays him or herself as even more the victim than the children were. Those children often are very protective of this parent, claiming she or he is naive and innocent. They fail to see any of his or her faults, but instead see this parent as simply not knowing any better, even when it is clear to others that he or she most certainly does know better.
A woman like this also makes a very bad mother in-law. She sees her new son or daughter in-law as competition for her adult child’s attentions. She may even create things she needs her adult child to do for her on special days, such as his or her anniversary or Valentine’s day.
Simply put, this childish parent is extremely and unhealthily dependent, and also is often a covert narcissist .
If this describes your parent, it is obvious. You and your spouse no doubt have had many arguments over how much you do for your parent. You also frequently get frustrated by needing to do so many simple tasks for your parent. Or, you are angry for feeling he or she has used guilt to force you to take care of something you know that your parent is well able to take care of him or herself. Maybe you are embarrassed by how childish or silly your mother or father acts around other people, and then you feel guilty for feeling that way.
If this describes you, now is the time to make a change.
While you cannot force your parent to grow up, you can change your own reactions to him or her, which may make your parent act differently towards you.
First of all, remember – you are not the parent. It is not your job to indulge your parent’s childish behaviors! If others wish to do so, that is their choice, but you need not do that if you do not want to! Indulging those childish ways only encourages your parent to continue acting that way with you. If that behavior is not getting the desired result, most likely, your parent will act differently.
When dealing with your childish parent, always maintain a calm and pleasant demeanor. Do not show your parent that you are angry or frustrated. If you do, most likely your parent will act like the victim because you are “so mean” to him or her. Then you may end up apologizing and losing any progress you have made.
If your parent pouts because you will not do something his or her way, then let your parent pout. Ignore him or her. If your parent huffs and puffs, trying to get you to ask, “What’s wrong?” ignore him or her! Asking that question only will initiate an argument.
If your parent hints at wanting you to do something, ignore the hinting. Your parent is an adult, and therefore can use words to ask you to do something like any adult would do.
If your parent wants you to do something that you know he or she is well able to do, encourage your parent to do it. Remind your parent that he or she is perfectly capable to take care of this matter without your assistance.
On the road to healing, I personally found my relationship with God to be my greatest help. He helped me more than I can say. Prayer and meditating on His word, the Bible, helped so much. Learning who the Bible says I am as a child of God is not only inspiring and comforting, but helpful in the healing process. If you do not have a personal relationship with God, please read the page Salvation Through Jesus Christ for more information.