Relationship Advice Tips By Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Shirley wanted to strangle her controlling parent

The demanding voice of her mother telling Shirley that she was expected to be at an impromptu family lunch an hour before the event made her grit her teeth in anger. A big sigh of protest blew out of her mouth as she strangled the words that wanted to tear a strip off her inconsiderate and controlling parent.

Shirley’s anger leaked out all over her husband, children and cat.

The frown on her face and the sting in her voice as she pushed her way through their activities, hurt them as much as she had been hurt by her mother. After a few mild cries of shock that went unnoticed her family cowered in silence. The cat hid under the bed and Shirley was left feeling alone, micro managed and deprived of making choices about her life. If she had to suffer and go to her parent’s lunch, so would her own family. Shirley shouted out orders to her husband and children in a furious tone that left no room for any discussion.

What if Shirley could stop being controlled and be her own person?

  • If she had the courage Shirley would have used her angry energy to  refuse her mother’s demand and asked for more notice next time around.

  • If she had enough self-esteem Shirley would have used her anger as an opportunity to make it known that she wasn’t going to allow herself to be treated like a wind-up toy.


  • If she had faith in herself as a lovable person Shirley would have used her anger to tell her mother that she has a right to make choices about her life without fear of jeopardizing their relationship.


  • If Shirley didn’t expect to be severely disapproved of and shunned by her family for being her own person and having a mind of her own, she would have used her anger as a backbone, and told her mother that her family had other plans for the day, but that they could all meet for lunch the following day.

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But Shirley was scared of stepping out of line and thinking for herself.

She didn’t feel strong enough, worthy enough or lovable for any length of time to create respectful connections between herself and her parents. All she had was anger to protest the way she felt forced to work at relationships in order to keep them.

Shirley’s anger at being controlled in order to remain in her family’s orbit made her view all relationships in the same way.

If she couldn’t have a choice then she certainly wasn’t going to allow her husband and kids to have one either. So she took out her anger on her husband and kids, making her new family just like the one she had been born into.

Relationships were hard work and Shirley was angry about it.

There was no end to it. That made her even more angry. The angrier Shirley became the less her husband and children wanted to be near  her. They too felt that they had to please her in order to be loved and accepted. Proving love through obedience rather than through a genuine joy of sharing herself with her family became the name of the game.

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Shirley was judged by her obedience to the will of family and she expected the same of her husband and children.

That put them all in strait jackets, unable to think and feel authentically or spontaneously.  Constricted within this rigid relationship rule, anger was the only outlet. Anger spoiled their ability to empathize and connect. Anger almost ruined Shirley’s marriage and her experience of motherhood.

How can Shirley get out of her strait jacket?

Just one thought will do the trick. But she has to believe it with all her heart.

The belief is: my parents need me just as much if not more than I need them.

Once Shirley realizes that they need her to make them feel worthy, and lovable, she no longer has to play the game.  She won’t have to be afraid of losing them. She will find that they come running to connect with her rather than ignore her when she doesn’t do their bidding.

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No one is angry and all members of the family enjoy each other for the people they are rather than whether they are obedient ‘yes’ men!

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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the information in this article is for educational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Jeanette Raymond for any reaction you may have when interacting with the material.