My parents love me

Broken contact: "Children are lenient with their parents for a long time"

The Relationship between child and parent is the first and closest relationship in life. And yet it sometimes breaks in adulthood: children leave their parents. What brings you to this step?

Text: Claudia Landolt
Picture: Polina Sirotina from Pexels

Often times, when people cut off contact with their parents quiet farewell. There are often no angry phone calls, no dishes flying through the apartment or slamming front doors. Instead: silence. No more responding to calls, SMS, emails or letters.

The reasons are versatile - but at least one thing is clear: "In families, a lot is endured so that they don't break up," says therapist Claudia Haarmann. “Children are extremely lenient with their parents until the pressure becomes too great for them. Breaking off contact is one possible way of dealing with a stressful family situation. "

In our magazine, issue 12/19, we gave an affected mother the chance to speak. She has not had any contact with her 16-year-old son for a long time and says how unbelievable that is for her.

In this article let us now give the floor to adult children - Daughters and sons who are now adults and between 20 and 35 years old. They confided in the therapist and book author Claudia Haarmann.


There is the 34-year-old woman who, as a child, could not find support and security in her family. It was only as an adult that she was able to understand the lack of contact in her family. She reports about the family visits:


“I always go to my mother's house with extreme reluctance. We have nothing to say to each other. She doesn't even look at me, but goes to do her laundry when I come. And at the same time there is such a longing in the family that it should be nice, but nobody knows how to do it. Christmas, for example, you have nothing to say, and then you sit with the candles, and all you have to do is keep saying: The cosiness is conjured up. You act like a perfect family, and my family thinks that if you act like that, that's how it is. But the atmosphere is terrible and unbearable and only now do I realize: it has never been! »

No good foundation often means: emotional imbalance

That is the feeling of not having been perceived and valued as a person in their entirety in childhood "Foundation of our house of life"says Claudia Haarmann. The base of this house should be stable and aligned so that everything else can stand securely on this well-anchored foundation. If this is not the case, the foundations are crooked, everything that builds on it will try to make up for the deficit or get into a lopsided position.

For Haarmann it is therefore clear: You have to take a good look at the foundation, the basement. According to Haarmann, there are almost always two themes in families with serious rifts: “Firstly, it has not been possible to create a constant bond experience of security, support and security, and secondly, in these families it has not been possible to essential basic emotional needs to breastfeed. "


For the child, family means first and foremost a secure hold. The safety-giving contact. If this framework is missing, if a child has not received adequate protection in the sense of reassurance, then he or she will lack support and trust in the world, the family. "Then the world is not experienced as a safe place where you can lean back like in a hammock", but the experience is tension and insecurity, which we also call stress. "Stress tightens and closes the soul, and a closed soul prevents contact - and loneliness takes its place," says Claudia Haarmann.

Another young woman describes this inner loneliness:

«For many years I always went to see my parents with the wish that it would be a nice, friendly, fun day. The first comment from my mother was like this: Or even more derogatory: . That was actually enough. Then came from my father: At the latest when my father commented on statements from me with: , I'm gone in a hurry, cried with heartache on the way back or raved with rage.

And after three months I went back anyway with the wish that it would finally be a nice, friendly, maybe even funny day. My longing for recognition - I don't even speak of love - always allowed me to go there, only to flee full of frustration. At some point it became clear to me: I don't feel loved by my parents and there was no way to talk to them about it. You wouldn't have understood. "

"Yes, my parents always mean well, but this is too much for me!"

Not only a lack of security, emotional coldness, lovelessness or neglect makes young adults doubt their original family and slam the common family door, but also the opposite. For a few years now, Claudia Haarmann has been observing a new family scenario in her practice: They are Families with great proximity, in which it comes to the ultimate test.


How does this extreme closeness come about? Most of them were Parents raised in an authoritarian manner, Discipline, conscientiousness and self-control were very important. In this command budget, children were not allowed to get dirty, had to submit, were often reprimanded and sometimes beaten.

This generation vowed as parents to do it differently, to raise their children without violence and discipline. The focus is on closeness, security, self-empowerment and a partnership with one another without hierarchies. You show the children unreservedly that you love them and how much you love them. And says: "We were like friends, told each other everything and went shopping together." or: "My child was closer to me than anyone else."


But for some children this love, this protection is too much. They experience them as “over-loving” and “overprotecting” that they are overwhelmed by. Certainly there is no doubt that when the children were small, living together was very harmonious, we were close. But now, as adults, these daughters and sons turn away.

The relationship is too close for them, they do not feel perceived as a person, they break contact to find themselves. They then express themselves as follows: “Yes, my parents always mean well, but this is too much for me! It's too close to me. Your long-term love is like constant observation and that wears me out. "


A 20 year old man says, “Your love and attention is too much. If there were a world-wide functioning . No price would be too high for my parents ... Total control! But they don't understand what I'm talking about when I explain to them that I need some distance, or when I tell them that they should just let me or listen to me. At my request, the objection promptly follows: 'But child, we only mean it well, we only do that out of care. We love you so much> You is too much for me, and your shows that they understand nothing. You always know what's good for me, like I'm a first grader in life. "

Proximity and autonomy must be of equal value

A 34-year-old says: “My mother and her partner have big wishes for me, and my mother is always talking about it our family happiness. But their idea of ​​happiness makes me unhappy. She has always protected me, and if she could she would to this day, even though I have a partner and lead my job and my own life. I don't know what to do anymore, I can only help myself brutal means solve it, because I not only experience it as an appropriation, I feel absorbed by them. "


What is missing here, what parents do not see, is, according to Haarmann, what ideally defines love: closeness and autonomy are equal to each other: «Proximity gives security and stability, autonomy strengthens independence and inner freedom. Human development takes place in alternation between the need for closeness and the need for autonomy. "

These children then interrupt contact with their parents, precisely because it is too close, because they do not feel that they are perceived as a person with all their needs. You have to break the contact to to breathe deeply and to find yourself. “The young adults avoid close contact with their mother and / or father because they want to be themselves. Which can be overwhelming for your parents, because they feel abandoned. "


Not only too little closeness and security play a role, but also too much closeness - too little self-experienced care leads to overprotection. The “healthy middle”, according to Haarmann, is missing. The tragic thing is: «In overprotection, giving everything, being very close, it is again not about the child. In this over-care, something essential of the child's needs is overlooked, rather, it is about the fear of the parents, about their fear of losing this love again. "

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