I’ve decided to raise an issue that is rarely talked about, but has affected my life and the lives of countless other people. The issue of parents feeling additional guilt if they enter into relationships with their adult offspring. This is of course down to the way that society portrays and condemns incestuous parents as monsters, perverts and predators, and claims that power differentials mean that offspring can’t give meaningful consent. Now, I know from experience that this is complete horseshit, and so does every other person who has had a consenting relationship with a parent, however the outside world DOESN’T know, and so this idiotic myth persists.
Even more crucially… what if the parent believes the societal mantra? That even though they are enjoying a wonderful and otherwise happy relationship, they are plagued by the guilt that they must be coercing you in some way without even realizing that they’re doing it? This type of guilt, although misplaced, is very real from the parents point of view. Many mothers and fathers in these situations tend to put their sons and daughters in the driving seat of the relationship in order to redress the perceived power imbalance. In some cases they make themselves ridiculously vulnerable to being taken advantage of and have low self-esteem because of the guilt.
I find it heartbreaking that this happens so often when it need not. There are things that we as sons and daughters can do to ensure that our parent partner is happy and knows how much we want to be with them:
- Give lots of compliments
- Always let them know how happy we are to be with them
- You can never say ‘I love you’ too many times
- Be the one to initiate sexual intimacy… if they’re always the one doing that they will question if you really do want it or not
- Have lots of long conversations with cuddles
- Take him or her out someplace nice that you will both enjoy
Of course, this would be good advice for ANY relationship, but for parents this can be the critical assurance they need from you. Really, when dad broke up with me, I wondered if I did enough of these things… perhaps I second guessed myself too much because I was so heartbroken at the time. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder. In the end it was the taboo that got to him, as it does to many parents. Of course we can always add ‘show your mum or dad websites like this one’ to that list… it could make all the difference, especially if they can see that you feel strongly and see another example of how much love somebody can have for a parent.
It takes a lot for them to get over the societal taboo, even more so than for us as daughters and sons… we have to bear this in mind and make sure we’re doing all the right things and giving all the right signals for them. Lots of reassurance and lots of love.