Tell Me About It: Should they ghost materialistic parents?

Published September 6 2018

Q: My parents (mom and stepdad) are in their 70s, retired, healthy, and doing well financially. They spend their money on traveling the globe and constantly remodeling their new Florida McMansion. Thatís fine.

My sister had joint-replacement surgery and has high medical bills. I am going through a legal fight with a previous employer, am unemployed for the first time in my life, and legal bills are eating my 401k. Our parents know the details. Weíre not asking for any help.

But I donít want to get on the phone with my mom and have to hear all the issues of remodeling rooms that looked perfectly fine when I visited a year ago. Plus they donít even ask how things are going with their children and grandchildren.

There are other old issues stemming from some childhood abuse and all the divorces, but my mom is in complete denial about that.

I donít want to talk to them anymore.

But we are made to feel guilty if we donít call often.

Do I just ghost my own parents?

Hate the Smile and Nod

A: Youíve presented this as a two-item menu: either endure your momís affluenza, or stop calling your parents.

Thereís a middle choice, though: truth. "Mom, [sister] and I are buried in legal and medical bills. I canít sympathize over expensive renovations."

She wonít respond well to that, right? So have this handy: "OK then. Letís talk another time." [click] This middle is where you set the agenda to your emotional limits, making time to converse with people ó but not to be anyoneís audience.

To back up: You mention "childhood abuse and all the divorces" as a tangent, but how is that not central?

Some therapists will charge on a sliding scale, so consider looking for a good one near you. Your parentsí legacy might run deeper than you know.