Psychologist Jennifer Garth answers your queries
PSYCHOLOGIST JENNIFER GARTH SHARES HOW TO HAVE ‘THE TALK’ WITH TEENS, MANAGE DIFFICULT PARENTS AND GAIN CONFIDENCE IN RELATIONSHIPS
My mother makes me feel guilty for living my life the way I want to. I’m 38 and tired of feeling manipulated. What should I do?
An emotionally manipulative parenting dynamic can start when you’re as young as five with parenting comments like, “You are my life. I would die without you.” You grow up feeling responsible for your parent’s happiness. If you don’t meet her needs, she makes you feel guilty and before you know it, you’re doing something you don’t want to do and feeling resentful. To break the pattern, remind her you are not responsible for her happiness. That doesn’t mean you don’t love and care for her. But her happiness is her responsibility, not yours.
Whenever I ask my partner ‘Do you love me?’, he gets frustrated and tells me to stop annoying him. Is he really telling me he wants to end the relationship?
No, he isn’t telling you he wants
to end the relationship. But he is letting you know your insecurities are frustrating him. An excessive need for reassurance can suffocate a relationship. When you look to your partner to make you feel good about yourself, you put yourself in a vulnerable position and when you don’t get the response you want, you become anxious. So you hold on tighter, and the relationship dynamic continues. Instead, you need to deal with your insecurities and focus on creating a healthy relationship. Start by practising unconditional self-acceptance – fully accepting yourself in spite of your perceived unworthiness. When you feel comfortable with yourself and your life, you won’t be constantly looking for your partner to make you feel complete.
‘You are not responsible for her happiness’
I know I need to talk to my teen about sex, but I feel uncomfortable. What’s the best approach?
Being honest and open is your A
best start. At first you will feel awkward and unsure, but you will become more confident with time and practise. It helps if you’re prepared. Start by deciding on what values and messages you want to communicate. Be informed about current sexual issues such as STIS, healthy relationships and sexting. And don’t be put off if your teen has different views to your own. Remember the goal is to be able to talk
openly about the topic.
What is emotionally-focused therapy?
Emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) A is an evidence-based approach that helps you accept, express and transform emotions that have been feared and avoided – and have been holding you back. In therapy, you begin to identify and access healthy emotions that can be trusted and use these as a guide to healthier relationships and responsible behaviour. It is a very effective form of therapy, especially for those who have experienced emotional and physical abandonment and childhood trauma.
you begin to identify and access healthy emotions that can be trusted