Notes from here about “functional dependency” and “relational dependency”.
“Two kinds of dependency… Functional dependency relates to the child’s resistance to doing the tasks and jobs in life that are his responsibility. This means he wants others to take care of things he should… Don’t enable functional dependency.”
“Relational dependency is our need for connectedness to others… when we are loved by others in this state of need, we are filled up inside. Because they need so much, children are especially relationally dependent. Over time, as they internalize important nurturing relationships, they need less; the love they have internalized from Mom and Dad and others sustains them. Yet, to our dying day we will always need regular and deep connection with emotionally healthy people who care about us.
“You need to promote and encourage relational dependency in your child to teach him that mature, healthy people need other people; they don’t isolate themselves… Help him see that needing love isn’t being immature. Rather, it gives us the energy we need to go out and slay our dragons.
“Encourage him to express his wants, needs and opinions to those with whom he is close. This is true especially in his relationship with you. He didn’t choose to be in your family; that was your decision… don’t abandon him when he needs more intimacy…”
I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that my mother had functional dependency that was enabled by her use of her children, especially her oldest child, to take on her responsibilities.
“…resistance to doing the tasks and jobs in life that are his responsibility. This means he wants others to take care of things he should.”
I don’t know how her unhealthy functional dependency got started – maybe because she came from a large family of sisters and she didn’t have too much responsibility. But that’s just a guess.
I certainly didn’t choose to be born — no one does. My mom chose not to use birth control, instead putting faith in god and a lack of sex to prevent further children. That failed, and she got saddled with yet another burden, a workload that she had no interest in.
As a child, I had normal relational dependency. I didn’t get “filled up” by Mom. I got some of this love from Dad, but it didn’t completely fill up the hole left by my mother’s neglect and rejection.
So I probably looked for it from the other adults in my life: my older siblings. One more of my mother’s jobs for them to assume, in fact. No wonder my sister resents my very existence. But that resentment is misdirected.
It’s normal for me to want or miss the connection with the people who once filled this need. But they are no longer “emotionally healthy people who care about [me]”.