I have had enough.  I can’t take it any more.  I am well over  21 and will not be told what to do by my father.

He’s a lawyer and wanted me to follow in his footsteps.  Legal detail bores me rigid and I refused.  I wanted to go to art school and be a graphic designer instead.  He was furious.  His father and brother are also lawyers and he told me I was letting down the whole family.

In the end we sort of compromised by me choosing to do a degree neither of us was enthusiastic about. 

He asked his friends to give me work experience  too but I didn’t want to be in a situation where they could report back on how I was getting on.  So I found my own part-time job in a wine bar.  He didn’t like that.

After my degree I carried on working in the bar and went to art school in the evening.  By then my father barely spoke to me.  But when he heard I’d actually got a lowly job in an advertising agency, he went ballistic.  I  stood up to him  and still do, but it's not been easy.  

As a child I was intimidated by him but never dared argue.  When I was a teenager,  I listened to his orders and  then if I disagreed quietly did what  I wanted.  Now I am defying him out loud and getting the full wrath of his temper.  I feel it is the right thing to do, not least because I have since been promoted several times by the agency.  I’m also painting in my spare time,  which helps relieve my stress and gives me enormous pleasure.  Whenever we speak he always tells me that I am a huge disappointment.  So I barely see or speak to him now because I won’t listen to him  telling me how to live my life. 



Well done for sticking up for yourself and also for moving forward gradually with how you want to live your life. In principle we encourage compromise between offspring and parents, even when they are difficult, but no one should choose their life and career purely because it is what their parent has told them to do.  It  must be up to you.  Nor should parents try to get a second chance of living their lives through their children.    It is though worth thinking everything through carefully because  you should be certain f that your path isn't based on spiting  your bullying parent.  Once you feel confident in your choices go full steam ahead.  Also  make sure you believe in yourself.   

Well done for sticking up for yourself and also for moving forward gradually with how you want to live your life. In principle we encourage compromise between offspring and parents, even when they are difficult, but no one should choose their life and career purely because it is what their parent has told them to do.  It  must be up to you. 

Nor should parents try to get a second chance of living their lives through their children.   

It is though worth thinking everything through carefully because  you should be certain f that your path isn't based on spiting  your bullying parent. 

Once you feel confident in your choices go full steam ahead.  Also  make sure you believe in yourself. 


Will I Be Okay at College?

Since I got my A Level results and my college place secured, my mother has been more disparaging and critical of me than ever.  You’d think she’d be thrilled and really proud of my success.  But no.  Instead she’s telling me I won’t make friends or  manage to look after myself and will end up spending my time drinking alone.  I keep telling myself not to believe her and suspect she will miss not having me around to nag and bully.   


I feel lucky to have got into my first choice of university to do the subject I chose.   I was keen to get as far away from home as possible and I’m relieved I won’t be able to come back for a day trip.  It means I can start a new episode in my life where I don’t feel I am forever walking on eggshells. It’s something I’ve dreamed of and has made all my hard work worthwhile. 

I’m off soon but to be honest I do have concerns.   Money will be tight.  My mother has been blackmailing me that if I don’t do what I’m told, I can forget about any financial help coming from her.   I tell myself I have my grant and will try to get a part-time job.  

I'm also unsure how to deal with my mother while I am away.   I need to maintain some contact as I will be home during the holidays and want to avoid a endless criticism on how neglectful I was during term time.   Should I ring once a week, or once a month?  Also how should I react if she’s rude to me?  Should I try texting instead?   Or even invite her to come and see me, which, to be honest I would dread.

Although I have longed for my freedom for years and relish the chance to be responsible for myself and to hang out with new friends, I’d be grateful for any helpful hints.

Congratulations on doing so well and feeling positive about coping with your new life.  Here are a few suggestions. 

As your controlling mother has always bossed you around, it could  initially be difficult for you to make your own decisions.   You might unwittingly wonder what you mother wants you to do.  Push the thoughts away, be patient and perhaps talk things through with a new friend.   The more you make decisions the easier it will get.

It’s exciting to study a subject you choose, but if after a few weeks you realise that in fact you have signed up to something your mother pushed you into, you can of course switch courses.  Undergraduates make changes for a host of reasons.  Be prepared though for your mother’s criticism.  She sounds she could find fault  with anything.   

It’s good too that you want to stay in touch with her. You may even, to your surprise feel homesick and miss her a little, especially during your first few weeks away when everything is so new and different.   Keep yourself busy, join a few clubs and it shouldn’t last long.   Your mother is likely to miss you too, even if she doesn’t admit it.  This could make her even more difficult.  

We advise you to experiment with your phone calls.  Try taking the initiative and ring when it suits you so she doesn’t catch you off guard.  That way you can think about what to say in advance. Remember you don’t have to tell her everything you are doing. Instead try to confine yourself to neutral, unemotional subjects.  Don't talk for too long and if she is really unpleasant make excuses to end the call.

Do look on our website Coping page for some more practical help on this. 




Trust and Intimacy


I am in my mid thirties and very wary of trusting and getting close to anyone.  I am so used to bottling up my emotions that I find it hard to open up. 

I’ve always kept quiet about my troubled home life with my difficult parent.  Partly because I am ashamed of it, and partly because if friends get on with their parents, they will find it hard to understand and think it must be my fault.    

Until about ten years ago I was sort of comfortable about it.  I could be the life and soul of a party, but intimate confessions were out.  The most I ever said was “I am not that close to my parents” or “I couldn’t wait to leave home” but that was about it.

I was particularly wary about boyfriends.  There were plenty around, but most didn’t last for more than a few weeks, especially when they were obviously keen.  It made me feel under pressure to give more of myself in all sorts of ways and I couldn’t face being vulnerable. 

But now I have met someone who I believe understands me.  I feel relaxed in his company.  He makes me laugh, has a strong sense of self but is also very caring.   He’s broken one barrier in that we have been together for six months.  We have had sex too.   We are very compatible but I am still quite shy and find myself trying to stay in control, because I don’t dare let go.   Part of me wants to tell him more about my rotten childhood but I don’t want to give him something he could use against me – I am that untrusting – or that would put him off. 

But nor do I want to be trapped or haunted by my past and blocked from having a fulfilled life. 

It’s not easy to trust someone when your parents have let you down.  Staying in control is a form of self-protection that can help prevent you from getting hurt.  But it can also be a barrier to intimacy. 

If you genuinely want to get close to your boyfriend, you have to let go and surrender yourself to your emotions and feelings.  It doesn’t, though, have to happen all at once.  Try talking more intimately first.  You can test your boyfriend’s reaction by telling him selected stories of some of your experiences at home.    Choose your time carefully.  Avoid the subject even if you have geared yourself up if he has had a bad day, or not feeling well. 

If you feel relief rather than regret about what you have told him, this should help you let your guard down sexually.  Of course it’s scary and you are bound to feel anxious, but it sounds as if you at the gateway of having a contented happy life with someone who really cares about you and whom you can trust.  

Do take it one small step at a time so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.


Do come onto our forum via the website and share your experiences.






Empty Nest Syndrome

I don’t know how much my reaction to my 18-year-old daughter leaving home for a gap year is to do with my own upbringing, but I am dreading it.  Next will come university and I expect I will hardly see her outside of the holidays.  My 17-year-old son will no doubt want to do the same and I dread to think how I’ll cope once they have both flown the nest. 

I am an only child and my mother made me very unhappy with her endless criticisms and put downs.  As a result my childhood was both sad and lonely and I spend a lot of time longing for a loving family of my own. 


Fortunately I wasn’t entirely crushed by my mother and used her behaviour as a template on how to do things differently.  My husband, children and I are all very close and both kids at different times have asked me for advice even as teenagers.  It is something I feel very proud of. 

But I worry about letting them go.  I still feel attached to them by an invisible umbilical cord that tugs at my heart and I can’t help feel responsible for them.  I am so used to discussing everything together too, that it’s hard to think of them out in the world, making their own decisions without any input from me.

I also worry that they will not want to have much contact with me once they leave home.  They have been so vital to my happiness and I already feel abandoned as if my life as a mother is over.

My husband has been kind and tells me it’s lucky I have a job I enjoy and that now is the time to perhaps find a new hobby and think about my need more.

Of course I wouldn’t dream of telling my children any of this and certainly not that I have been crying my eyes out for weeks.  I want them to feel free, at least in theory but it’s so hard in practice.  


It's a landmark for any parent when a child leaves home and many find it traumatic and upsetting.  Mothers, in particular, can feel they have been cast on a rubbish heap.  Or that that their life is over.   It isn’t of course, but their relationship with their child will and should change, but it can be just as fulfilling and loving.  Just more adult.  When a child has time apart from their parents it gives them space to view their upbringing more objectively.  Many then realise what support they have had and often become more appreciative.  Especially if while they are away they find that the mess they leave in their bedroom is still there when they come back and its up to them to sort out what they eat and when.     

It is important for a parent to accept that one phase in their relationship with their children is over so another can begin.  This is the time when it is important not to be too possessive or involved in everything they do.  Take a step back, and give them privacy and freedom.  They shouldn't feel  guilty or responsible for you.  Good parenting means the young person you reared so lovingly, is  ready to go out into the world and make their own mistakes.  It can be painful for a parent when a child of any age is in trouble, but no one has a perfect life and all you have given them as children should  help them cope. 

Fortunately the pain and longing usually eases after a while. Your husband has given you good advice.  Think positively what you can do with your extra time.  Do more things together and  perhaps even plan a second honeymoon.   

Do come onto our forum via the website and offer any thoughts or experiences  you think might help.  








Being Ignored


My mother used to regularly ignore me.   It took all sorts of forms.  For example if we were travelling somewhere by train, I would be the only one not asked if I wanted anything when the trolley came through the carriage. 

Sometimes I could miss out on a meal altogether.  My younger brother and sister would get their full plate but not me.  I’d have to ask for something to eat several times as my mother seemed to go deaf when I spoke.   I felt acutely embarrassed, especially when my younger sister spoke up for me.  It was kind of her but sort of humiliating too.

Nor did my view ever count.  I was never consulted about anything, whether it was about what film we should watch or a choice of birthday present for our grandmother.    When I tried to offer an opinion, my mother would sneer, or tell  me mine was a ridiculous idea, and I hadn’t got a clue.  Sometimes when I felt strong  and wanted to check Iwas right about her behaviour I’d  support both sides of a discussion,  but she would mock me either way.

When I felt less confident, I would feel undermined. not least because she never let me justify myself. 

Now she is behaving the same way towards my second child.  He’s a gentle eight-year-old boy who wants to be liked.  But most of the time she pretends he is not there.  My supportive husband has noticed this too and a couple of times has tried to talk tactfully to my mother about it.  She’s vigorously denied saying what we both heard her say and instead told him he is imaging it.  We are now discussing whether we should cut our visits right down. 


Your mother is using a form of manipulation to wear you down.   Trying to reason with her won’t work as she seems to be the type of person who will then become illogical and irrational as she doesn't want a resolution.  It’s common too for this type to lie and deny what they have said in such a firm way that you could even doubt yourself.    

We suggest that when your mother behaves badly you stay calm, but leave as soon as you can.  Don’t offer an excuse as this is likely escalate the argument. Leave with dignity and follow our cooling off suggestions on our Coping Page.

Likes and Dislikes

It’s good to have a strong dad.  It makes him a role model and someone to look up to when you are small. 

It’s very different once you become a teenager.  My father loves rugby and American football.  He is always suggesting we go to the park ‘for a kick around,’ and talks to me endlessly about players whose names I barely recognise.  I have tried to look keen but it’s hard as I am not interested in sport.   It was no surprise to me that I wasn’t chosen for any school team but he has seen it as both a rejection of him and proof of my inadequacy as his only son. 

He also insisted that I play the guitar.  I had lessons from 8 – 13 but rarely practiced as it didn’t interest me.  I much prefer classical music and art,  but dad’s focus is purely on what reminds him of his youth and he told me countless times that .playing the guitar helped him pick up girlfriends at parties.

He also sent me off to boarding school when I was eleven.  This is strange as he complained regularly that his parents sent him away to board at eight to get rid of him.  He’s never forgiven them because he hated it so much.  Despite this I had to board, which never suited me and made me feel trapped.  Even though boarding schools are not as draconian as they were and Harry Potter has made them acceptable, for an academic non sporty kid like me it just didn’t work.    

I’ve tried to tell him politely that I have every right to choose what I like and dislike, but it always ends up with him shouting at him and saying how disappointed he is with me as his son. 


It is very difficult for children whose parents don’t see them as individuals in their own right and  instead want a second chance to live their lives through them.

 Now you have gone to university you will be able to have interests and hobbies that suit you. 

From Horrid Mum to Horrid Grandmother

I have a difficult dilemma and am not sure how to handle it.

I have a great marriage and two daughters I love to bits.  My problem is with my horrid mother, who has grown into an equally horrid grandmother.  When I had my first child my husband and I talked through how much, if any contact my child and I  would have with her.   I felt there should be some, not least because I didn’t want to deprive our child of a grandmother.  My husband agreed and also felt the change in status might encourage her to be a better person.  I felt quite skeptical about this. 

Sadly the relationship between my mother and I has become increasingly strained.  We live a three hour drive away from my parents’ home so tend to stay longer than we’d like to.  I start feeling tense as soon as we are on the way and remain so throughout the visit wondering what she is going to say next in front of my girls, either about me or how I bring them up.   It belittles me and is awful for them to hear.  

Instead of seeing our visit in a positive light, she tries to prove she is still in charge and is often spiteful and mean.  Last time she offered the children chocolate biscuits but walked past me saying in conspiratorial tones to them:  ‘We think mummy’s much too fat to eat biscuits, don’t we?’ which they didn’t know how to answer.    My husband moved to sit next to me, held my hand and said:  ‘We think mummy’s lovely,’ a comment my mother ignored.  Each visit is as bad or worse than the last.

Now our daughters are seven and five they’ve asked me on the way home why she is‘always’ so unkind to me and criticises everything I do.  It’s touching how they stand up for me, and I try not to show I’m upset.    

My problem is I don’t know how much to tell them about my mother’s behaviour  when I was their age.  I also don’t know whether to leave them at home except during the summer holidays and around Christmas and just go myself.  Or cut my mother out of our lives completely.  


It is a good idea to have a debriefing session in the car on your way home. 

But we don’t think you should tell them the details of how she treated you when you were young.  Let them form their own view of their grandmother and protect them when necessary. 

If your children get upset by the visits, cut them right down.  Try short phone calls or Skype instead.  But the number of times you go is up to you. We don’t recommend trying to explain the situation to your mother as she will only blame you.   


Please share your views on this difficult subject on our forum.  





Subtle Domination

I had always thought of myself as being relatively capable and confident once I had left home and moved away from my manipulative mother. I pushed ahead with my career, made my own friends and lived independently without her constant criticism and carping. And relished the chance of finding my feet, and life opening up for me. 

Then I met Charlie. He was handsome, clever and funny and I felt proud that he had chosen me as his girlfriend. He also took such an interest in me which l lovedas it was so different to my parents.  He even paid for me to go to a fancy hair salon, took me to buy dresses from smart shops, even though I usually preferred to wear jeans. 

When we first went out together he’d grin with pleasure at how I looked and seemed to like showing me off to his friends. As the relationship progressedit became harder to please him but I could never understand exactly what I was doing wrong. I tried to behave as I thought he wanted me to.  He started to criticise me over trivia and I felt the novelty of being with me had worn off.  Warning bells sounded.

Meanwhile at work I had come up with an idea for a great project that would draw on new skills. I knew the idea was a good one, and I could involve other people if I needed help. When I first mentioned my idea to Charlie he seemed happy to discuss it. It took a while for me to realise that although his comments were initially encouraging they were always followed by reasons why the idea wouldn’t work. I carried on developing the project.  When a colleague came up with a serious obstacle, I hoped Charlie would listen and help me find a solution. Instead he said dismissively ‘I knew this would never work as you don’t have the skills. I just humoured you as it seemed so important to you.”  It was then that I realised that my boyfriend was my mother reincarnated.

Be careful not to repeat the experience of being with another horrid person so watch out for controlling behaviour, including put-downs and criticism from a boyfriend or partner. Instead look for friends and relationships that are unconditional and where there is give as well as take. Hold on to your self-worth. If you are worried, try talking to a trusted friend or colleague.


Please share your relationship stories on our forum.  We'd love to hear from you.  

About Love

My Mum would fit nicely into many of the characteristics of being a horrid parent.  She continually told me I was useless that no one would want to be my friend and certainly not marry me.

Not surprisingly my confidence was rock bottom, except thata little voice regularly told me that Mum was wrong.   For much of my teenage years I kept myself to myself.  I had several acquaintances but no really close friends.

When I was sixteen most of my school mates were dating and they’d giggle in the playground about what they’d got up to.  At least that’s what I assumed. 

When boys started getting interested in me at about the same time I said to myself I couldn’t be that awful looking, But I was tongue tied when they spoke to me and didn’t know what to say.  I both did and didn’t want them to kiss me because I was scared how I would respond.  When they did it took a while before I felt anything at all as most of the time I was worried about what they might do next. 


I lost my virginity when I was 22 because you had to at some point but I was so tense and worried that it didn’t really work for me.  Instead I scrubbed myself all over when I got home. 

Most of my relationships ended within three months.  Looking back I think I chose guys who didn’t demand anything emotional from me.  That made me feel safe.  I couldn’t open up.  Nor did I want to.

Then it happened.  I fell for someone eight years older than me.  He was clever and funny and I fancied him like mad.  My head told me to be careful and not let myself go but my heart took no notice.  I was overwhelmed by my feelings which I couldn’t control.  I had had no experience of managing emotions and I became a bit possessive.

He broke off with me and for a while I was devastated.  But I gradually realised that opening myself up to love was something I really wanted and needed.  I just needed to take it more in my stride. It took a bit of practice because I was so fearful of getting hurt but I gradually realised that love fills you with hope, energy, drive and confidence so it was worth being vulnerable and shedding the occasional tears.    I lost a few nice guys on the way but I learnt a lot about how to manage a good relationship.  Something I hadn’t seen at home.

Luckily I found someone who loved me for me and to whom I could tell my story of how my mother put me down.  It was risky confiding in him but it brought us even closer together.  Ten years on I feel a different person.   My marriage is everything I wanted.  I feel relaxed, don’t have to worry about what I say and see that I have lots of good qualities that my mother chose to ignore.  It was certainly worth the risk.  


Please email us your own personal love story or share it on our forum.  We'd love to hear from you. 

Soothing Images

Unpleasant memories can be hard to handle.  They can creep into your mind as nasty images, often in the middle of the night, and won’t go away.  You may find yourself replaying over and over again an upsetting row with your horrid parent, or an argument or unpleasant encounter you experienced outside the family.

The positive news is that there is a way to try and reduce the power of these images.

It is called visualization and is a technique that uses imagery to soothe and manage painful memories.  It can work by itself or be combined with relaxation, mindfulness or meditation.

To try it out find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably, close your eyes and breathe slowly and regularly, easing your stress and tension each time you breathe out.  Do this a few times and then think of an image you find relaxing. It can be a place you have visited, or just somewhere that makes you feel safe. Maybe it’s a particular beach or a countryside view you love and relax in. 

Alternatively you can choose to visualize a painting or photograph that gives you pleasure.   Look at the details carefully or imagine yourself as part of the image.  Take you pick and see what  works for you.

If you try visualisation regularly it can help you in all sorts of ways.

Here are a couple of examples. 

Coping with a low mood.

If you feel particularly sad, choose images that help you relax and picture yourself feeling happy, perhaps with a particular friend. Alternatively think of a recent time when you felt cheerful and remind yourself that you can feel the same way again. 

Dealing with angry feelings

Think about the most relaxing and soothing image you can picture.  Perhaps travelling to a remote and peaceful beauty spot where you can unwind.

If the unpleasant images and thoughts continue, try thinking that they don’t belong to you but you are watching them on television and turn the volume down or change the channel.



I Was Adopted

I was five when I was told I was adopted.  I only got the gist of what it meant but as far back as I can remember I didn’t feel I belonged.  Nor did I look anything like my adoptive Mum and Dad.  They told me they brought me to their home when I was nine months old and I think the best thing I did was somehow enable my mum to get pregnant, twice in quick succession.  She and Dad had been trying for years to have a baby but it only worked once I arrived.  I suspect I must have been a last resort.

With three children under four life was hectic, tempers flared and I was usually the one to get blamed.  My parents became increasingly intolerant of me as I grew.  I wasn’t as clever as my sister, nor sporty like my brother.  Instead I was a bit dumpy and slow. 

Mum criticised me for things like my hair which was wiry and difficult to brush and told me I was too fat.  Things became much worse when I was a teenager.  I wasn’t allowed to be moody.   Whenever Dad caught me like that he would say I was being ungrateful and if they hadn’t adopted me I would be on the streets by now.  So I learnt to keep my feelings to myself. 

If I didn’t like something Mum had prepared for dinner she would then be the one to say I was ungrateful and that I could have been left to starve.   

I knew I didn’t count when they sent me to the local comprehensive while the other two went to a private school.  The budget for my clothes was far less than for them too.  Luckily my siblings weren’t actually too bad.  We were never close and didn’t talk much together but at least they weren’t spiteful to me. 

It saddens me to say that my adoptive parents made me feel they just didn’t need or want me in their life.  It is a terrible burden on top of being rejected by my birth mother.  Not surprisingly it has affected my self-confidence and made me feel unworthy or anyone’s love. 

On the other hand I was lucky to have had the experience of living in a family with a work ethic and that has done me some good.  I love cooking.  I managed to get a catering apprenticeship, which Dad helped me get, no doubt partly to get me working and out of their house sooner rather than later.  I am currently in a flat share, just about manage financially and don’t see them much.  But they left me determined to prove them wrong about me and I hope eventually get a job in a good restaurant.  I like the fact that the hours are long which will help stop me feeling lonely. 

Please join our forum to talk about this important family issue.

Father's Day

Dear Dad,

This year I wanted to send you something different on Father’s Day.  Instead of a gushing card telling you that you are the ‘best dad in the world’ I thought I would offer a list of questions that I’ve wanted to ask you for years. 

These are:

1.    Why do you regularly try to destroy my confidence?

2.    Why do you keep belittling me?  Even in front of my younger siblings.

3.    What is it about me that makes you so angry so often?

4.    How can I get you to believe in me?

5.    You have an enormous ego.  Why don’t you let me express myself in my own way?

6.    Are you the father you wanted to be and do you see yourself as a good role model for me?

It saddens me that I’ve never been able to ask you these questions face to face which I’d much rather do, but I know you wouldn’t listen. Instead you’d shout insults at me to put me down. 

I hope you can understand and respect my position and that you will carefully and calmly read my questions.

Your son

If you feel like this please see our Coping Page on the Website.

Ageing Parent


It’s difficult to know how to cope with a horrid parent once they become elderly and frail.  

Some people become more confused and scared as they age and more frustrated about losing their mobility, memory, and faculties like sight and hearing.  It’s a combination that is likely to make them to complain at length and react increasingly negatively.    

In addition the challenging characteristics they have are likely to become more pronounced and you may be the one they take it all out on.   

Also if they have lost their partner their grief can turn to anger against you. 

They might try to make you feel guilty that you are not devoting enough time looking after them and compare you unfavourably with others. 

So what can you do?

It’s painful to be talked down to by a parent who makes mountains out of mole hills, is constantly critical, irrational and illogical, but tell yourself it can help you develop a more logical and reasoned way of thinking. 

Try not to feel guilty.  Instead reassure yourself you're doing your best and that however much you do wouldn’t be enough.  

Not being available all the times doesn’t mean you are cruel and heartless.  Seek advice from your GP and local services for the elderly.

If your difficult parent is in a nursing home they may:

Insist they don’t need to be there and that you are getting rid of them.

They can also criticise you for choosing the nursing home.

In addition they can accuse you of stealing their money, especially if you have power of attorney.

They may call the bank or the police or/and tell the staff how hateful you are.

Take what your parent says with a spoonful of salt. 

Elderly people often make false accusations.  It can be a sign of dementia as well as how horrid they are. 

They may also complain about a member of staff and how they are being treated.  It is hard to know if this is a genuine complaint and whether or not this is justified.

Speak to a senior member of staffand perhaps ask if one of the staff could pop in during your visit so you can both see how your parent behaves. 

It might also be a good idea to keep a diary of your visits and anything you have discussed that might become significant.   

Two Types of Parental Neglect



There’s a significant difference between your parent’s benign neglect and their unkind neglect. The former is a way of giving you space to develop and grow at your own pace.  Your parent will, for example, have let you wander off to explore your environment, help yourself to something to eat and not ask too many questions about what you’ve been up to.

Your are unlikely to feel abandoned because when you’ve been with your parent you get lots of attention and feel loved. You also have the sort of relationship where you can suggest you do something together and they will happily agree. 

Unkind neglect, however, is when your parent is too distracted by their own life to give sufficient attention to your needs. 

Their job may involve long hours and regular travel and you have often been left at home on your own or with a minder, who may deal efficiently with the practical side of your life but not give you emotional support.  At one level this may suit you as you wouldn’t  want to confide in someone who is neither part of the family or a special friend.  

A good parent with a demanding job will ensure they carve out special time with you to keep the relationship close. Unfortunately some parents become so unused to making your needs come first that, even when they are home, their computer, iPad, mobile and their social life takes priority over you.  They are distracted when you talk to them and so busy with themselves that any affection they do show is likely to be fleeting and rather mechanical.   

This means you may not get that vital emotional support from your parent either.

Recognising that they are not very interested in you is difficult to manage and getting their attention for any length of time can be so difficult that you learn to keep your feelings to yourself and become quiet and inward.  .

It  can have a long-term affect. 

So what can you do?






  OUR SUGGESTIONS: Believe that you are lovable and that if your parent doesn’t appreciate you others will.  Try not to suppress your feelings too much.  Instead share them with someone you trust like a teacher or a close friend.  Enjoy yourself with friends, get involved with all sorts of activities like reading, dance, exercise and music. Try to learn new skills too. Reassure yourself you that you will have plenty of opportunities in the future to develop a more fulfilling life. 



Believe that you are lovable and that if your parent doesn’t appreciate you others will. 

Try not to suppress your feelings too much.  Instead share them with someone you trust like a teacher or a close friend. 

Enjoy yourself with friends, get involved with all sorts of activities like reading, dance, exercise and music. Try to learn new skills too.

Reassure yourself you that you will have plenty of opportunities in the future to develop a more fulfilling life. 



The day you get married is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. You have found a partner you love and who loves you and this is the day to celebrate with family and friends.

The reality is that the path from the proposal to the wedding can be fraught with difficulties and stress.  Even in happy, supportive families there can be issues over who is being invited, the venue and the overall cost.

If one of you has a horrid parent it can be far worse.  We have heard terrible tales that include one side making the other pay for some of their guests as well as their own.  Or one side insisting they make decisions and this includes choosing a future daughter in law’s dress.  It can get so heated and intense that you feel sidelined and overwhelmed.    

It is also possible that your horrid parent will seize the opportunity to control every detail of your special day.  In addition they may endlessly criticise your partner or/and you, insisting they can’t see what one of you sees in the other.

There is also the worry about how they will behave on the day itself.  One mother of the bride burst into tears when she saw her daughter walk down the stairs at home in her bridal dress.  Then promptly left the house.  Apparently she felt jealous and couldn’t cope.   During the celebrations they could also snub your partner’s family or cause trouble with a relative they didn’t want you to invite.  They can even tell you they may not come at all, offering the pretext that the event is taking place too far away, or so and so will be there and they don’t want to see them.  Then keep you in suspense about their final decision until the last moment.


We recommend

Well before the wedding you try to rise above any rows and distance yourself by taking some of the steps we recommend in our Coping page.

You confide in your spouse about the concerns you have about your horrid parent so they can support you.    

You keep telling yourself that your horrid parent is grabbing their last chance to control you, and that you have the support of someone special who is on your side. 

You focus on the fact that you can life your life as you choose and make your own home an oasis of peace and harmony.   One that will be very different to what  you endured as a child. 

On the day itself refuse to let any nasty remark or bad behaviour spoil things.    Let yourself float in that special bubble of happiness that belongs to brides and grooms and accumulate as many positive memories as you can.   

If there are a few small issues remember that however important your wedding day is, it is only one day and just the beginning of your life together. 

Do send us your story all about your wedding via our website or forum.