When confronted about her inability to respect her daughter’s boundaries, all hell would break loose. Tyler’s mom would recount every dollar spent, every stretch mark borne, every night spent sleepless, every sacrifice made to give her daughter a decent upbringing. How dare she be so ungrateful? Especially since she was the parent that stayed, unlike Tyler’s chronically absent father. Wasn’t she owed something for that?

“Most of us wouldn’t think twice about a child consoling their parent through a tough time, but when it becomes normal for consolation to flow from child to parent, children begin to understand that maintaining Mommy’s or Daddy’s well-being is a responsibility that falls heavily on them. Let’s be clear: Our emotions are not other people’s responsibility, and we learn that by watching our parents model healthy emotional expression and maturity. When our parents miss the mark, we struggle with emotional intelligence and accountability. Every time we dump our adult-sized baggage on our children or make them referees in an adult conflict, we teach them that other people are at the helm of our stability and happiness. As they navigate the dating pool, they’ll either seek out relationships with emotionally unavailable people or avoid intimacy altogether. They become adults who are more caregivers than self-lovers, or who use other people as their emotional asylums — a danger either way.”