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Setting Boundaries in Toxic Relationships

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One thing that can help is to realize that the little kid inside of us most likely still wants our parents’ approval. When we can’t get that, even as adult caregivers, it hurts. To cope with those needs, it often helps to learn the techniques of detachment.

People detach by learning to understand that they can’t control their parents (or spouse), so they stop trying. Sometimes, just this step makes a difference, as the person who has been pushing your buttons – making you angry because he or she knows your triggers starts to see it doesn’t work. Detaching with love means that you affirm that you love the person, but will no longer tolerate being treated with meanness or disrespect.

You set boundaries and make them clear. If the parent continues to complain just to see your reaction or to manipulate you, criticize your every move and generally abuse you verbally, you tell them you will get someone else to take care of them until you both cool off.

This takes some planning, especially if the parent is truly in need of constant care. You may need to set up an in-home service for few hours a week, then see what you can do to call them on an as-needed basis. This can be tough, but if you call around you may find a service available.

If your situation is truly intolerable, Social Services may have to step in. The main thing is, don’t waver. If you tell your abusive elder you are setting boundaries and you will call for help and then leave them for a time, do it. It may only take one or two times before the cycle is broken, though if the dynamics are life-long, it could take much longer.

How to Deal With Someone Who Complains Too Much
How to Handle an Elder’s Controlling Behavior
How to Handle an Elderly Parent’s Bad Behavior

Detaching With Love: Setting Boundaries in Toxic Relationships originally appeared on

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11:55PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

Thanks for Sharing.

12:45AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

thanks for sharing

12:25PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012


10:51AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012


11:56PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

Good article, thanks!

11:17PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

That is what I am doing--detaching with love,

7:51PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012


3:31PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

Good article and comments. We all need to learn about setting boundaries of all kinds.

1:53PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

So true, without boundaries we are setting ourself up for complete draining of our energy.

3:15AM PDT on Apr 2, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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