326: Navigating a Complicated Relationship with your Parents // Nicole Walters


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Being a grown up is kind of weird for a lot of reasons, one of them being that you are still the child of your parents. And if your parents didn’t or couldn’t show up for you in the way that you needed when you were growing up, that can make your relationship with them now feel…complicated. 

You might see your friend’s social media posts gushing about their beautiful relationship with their mom or talk to them about their seemingly perfect family reunion and wonder, “Am I the only one who has a complicated or even traumatic relationship with my parents?”  If you feel this, you’re not alone, and today’s podcast guest will be speaking directly to you.

Nicole Walters is a former top-selling corporate executive who quit her six-figure sales job to pursue her passion and build a multi-million-dollar business, coaching fellow dreamers and entrepreneurs. She is the host of a popular podcast, a TV personality, and an in-demand motivational speaker.

When you hear that bio, you may think she was raised with all the privilege and emotional support of educated and loving parents, but Nicole was raised in poverty, and in her new memoir that released this past month, she talks about her childhood and her complicated relationship with her father, whose very hurtful words and actions stayed with her until adulthood. The memoir also goes into how she never graduated from college but still managed to build a multi-million dollar business, and how she eventually adopted three girls who were in a very difficult situation and is working to give them the parent-child relationship she always wanted with her own parents. I know Nicole’s takeaways and wisdom will give you hope if you find your family relationships feeling a bit messy as we head into the holiday season


3 Takeaways on Navigating Complicated Relationships with your Parents:

  1. It’s normal to have angst around your parents. It is developmentally appropriate to separate and differentiate from our caregivers as we get older, and sometimes there will be growing pains with that. You may have felt it as a teen trying to figure out your place in the world, and you may be surprised to feel it again as an adult, still trying to figure out your place in the world. And obviously those who have gone through trauma, abuse, or neglect with their parents, will feel this angst in bigger and more difficult ways, so be patient with yourself as you learn how to process and move through it.
  2. It’s normal to grieve if your parents couldn’t be everything that you needed as a child. A therapist can help you work through some of those feelings, and one exercise that my therapist has recommended to me over the years is to write letters directly to people who I needed to say something to, letters I would never send but that helped me to release some of my heavier emotions. It’s also normal to grieve for the relationship you will never have with your parents that you wish you could’ve had. Sometimes we have to grieve for the past, present, and future, and that’s okay. Seek support from loved ones and professional counselors as you navigate your feelings.
  3. You are allowed to dictate what your relationship with your parents will look like moving forward. You don’t have to listen to what society or your culture or your family and friends say is the “right” way to honor your parents…if your parents hurt you in the past or currently hurt you, maybe the boundaries that will be most honoring for everyone in the relationship will look different and unique to what is expected. Nicole reminded us in the episode that we have lots of options for how to maintain relationships with family and the level of emotional or physical closeness we can handle, and she encourages us to consider what will help you “retain your agency, protect your mental health and wellbeing, and hopefully restructure and change the relationship, so it can be sustained with more ease in the future.” 


>>>Are these tips from Nicole helpful? How is your relationship with your parents?  Are there any complicated relationships you’re trying to navigate right now? Tell us in the comments below.


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