J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: My Parents Gossiped and Drinked— and Didn't Grow at All

Dear Ms Peirano,</p>I (male, 32) have developed quite a bit over the last few years.

J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: My Parents Gossiped and Drinked— and Didn't Grow at All

Dear Ms Peirano,

I (male, 32) have developed quite a bit over the last few years. Triggered by a coaching training, I did my own professional and private coaching and then also a longer therapy. I have worked through many stressful events with my parents from the past.

But the more I developed myself, the less I had in common with my parents. I could no longer participate in the usual gossip and meetings with friends of my parents and extended family. It all seemed so superficial to me. And alcohol then covers everything up - I think that's terrible.

On the advice of my therapist, I brought my parents to therapy (I think it's great that he suggested it) and we talked about communication in our family. People don't talk about feelings, a lot is simply kept secret, and you talk about what bothers you behind the other person's back. That's why our family is quite divided, but on the surface it's all about a healthy family.

In my childhood there were also beatings and silence as punishment. I was afraid of my parents (especially my father), but my mother stuck by him and didn't protect me.

In the therapy session with my therapist we addressed this and the idea came up that we as a family do family therapy with my brother or at least my parents and I do more talks and some kind of mediation so that we can understand each other better and have some common ground Find. My girlfriend is expecting her first child and it would also be important for me that some things are cleaned up in the family so that my child doesn't get the old burdens.

My parents opened up something to the therapist (who is very good!) and my father even showed feelings himself and told about the experiences with his parents. He was beaten himself and his parents were very strict and cold with him. I had the feeling that it was good for my father to talk about himself and open up, because my parents only talk to each other about everyday things. That was the first time he talked about himself!

But as time passed after the session, everything fell into old patterns. My parents stonewall and only make small talk, and I bite my teeth when I ask them if they don't want to deal with their childhood and their issues. I have to say that my parents' marriage is also crass. My father often puts my mother down, stares at other women, and my mother nags and bitches a lot.

Are there any other ways I can encourage them to take care of themselves or will it go on like this forever? At the moment I'm trying to keep visits to my parents as short as possible.

Many greetings

Tom G.

Dear Tom G,

I can understand that you find it difficult to deal with your parents. You have obviously developed personally and also dealt with difficult issues in your history and the present. You have probably also learned something about feelings, appreciative and at the same time clear communication and how to deal with conflicts.

And it is precisely this knowledge that makes it so difficult for you to see when you contact your parents that everything is the same as ever: your parents argue with each other, talk bad about others. And when you meet, small talk is made and alcohol creates a good atmosphere. Maybe this feels to you like taking a step backwards in the development that you have created for yourself. You can no longer find any basis with your parents, and on the level on which the encounters take place, it is not possible for you to show your feelings, reflect or allow spiritual depth.

But it is the case that every person has their own way of dealing with problems and feelings. In your parents' generation, it was still very common not to talk about feelings, and given the environment your parents live in, it probably makes sense to keep it that way.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the relationship between relationship personality and happiness in love, and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.

Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.

If your parents started to set out to come to terms with their childhood or to deal with their own wishes and needs, there might not be a stone left unturned. I can imagine that your parents are very afraid of this!

I remember a memorable horrific moment in my life. Many years ago, my husband came out of the (residential!) basement, pale as a sheet, and said to me: "Look at that! The whole basement is damp. I just looked behind the closet and the plaster came towards me." At that moment I had only one impulse: to hole up (or better still: emigrate) and simply not worry about what was to come.

It took me an unbelievable amount of effort to look at the damage and then I felt nauseous. The months that followed were horrible. We were constantly receiving new bad news (there is no waterproofing, the whole foundation is wet, it has to be dug up around the house). After half a year, the unbelievably high bill came, our garden was destroyed - but the basement was intact again. At first we were completely exhausted. At the time I only confronted myself with the damage because I had to. Otherwise the house would have been severely damaged. But if I could have, I wouldn't have bothered with it.

Do you know what I'm getting at? It is similar with psychological problems and therapies. Many people are very afraid of turning the first stone in their soul and descending into their own basement and looking at the damage and mental injuries. You don't know what will come of it. People in your parents' generation often didn't learn that you can heal emotional wounds through talking, grieving and reflection. In the past, psychotherapy wasn't that advanced - and it used to be frowned upon to do therapy. So many people think: Maybe I should just let the old injuries rest. Can't I just use tried and tested methods like constant employment/work, distraction, media consumption, shopping and alcohol?

In any case, her parents seem to have decided that for themselves. They prefer to stay on the known path instead of trawling through the thicket of feelings and possibly not finding their way there. They don't know what they are getting themselves into and are afraid of the pain and tears that are often allowed in psychotherapy.

An important sentence I learned in my therapy training was: You can't carry the dog to hunt.

People also often have a sense of what they can mentally expect of themselves and when. Therapy also makes you more sensitive because you deal with yourself more carefully and also perceive more. And that's not just pleasant, it can also be stressful. In this respect, I think that everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to face the demons from the past, their own insecurities and mistakes.

I can imagine you have a hard time noticing the gap between you and your parents and wondering what kind of extended family your child will be part of. Are you afraid that your parents could negatively influence your child? But it could also be completely different. A lot is often relaxed and reconciled when the parents assume the role of grandparents. Perhaps your parents can lovingly care for the grandchild in their own way. Perhaps they are practical and build toys or bake for the child?

Give your parents the chance to try it out here. It may be that you experience a belated appreciation of your child as a result. Perhaps you can consciously practice acceptance and accept your parents as they are. And of course you can consciously set limits (how much time do I spend with you, what works well in our contact - what do I prefer to avoid?). In therapy, some of my patients keep balancing how many hours or days they spend with their parents and how they organize this time - and sometimes change the framework conditions so that it becomes more comfortable.

Sometimes acceptance is a very important key to not rebelling against things that you would like to have differently.

Best regards

Julia Peirano