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-What does codependency look like in the children of immigrant families?

-How can the immigrant experience lead to the development of narcissism in parents and codependency in children?

-How can adult children create healthier relationships with their families?

Welcome to Episode 124! This week, I sat down with Henry Au, therapist and son of an Asian immigrant family, to talk about the codependency that develops as a consequence of the immigrant experience. Harry opens up about codependency in his own life as the eldest son in his family. We then explore what codependency looks like in Asian immigrant children and the long-term consequences as they become adults. Harry highlights a narcisstic-codependent dynamic that can manifest and how he helps his clients navigate this. We conclude with the initial steps Harry takes with his clients to help them create healthier relationships with family. It’s a must-listen!

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More on this week’s guest:

Harry is a social worker and therapist who lives on the Indigenous territory of Dish with One Spoon, which is a Wampum Treaty of the Houdenosaunee and Anishinaabe. This is commonly referred to as the city of Toronto, Canada.

More deets on this week’s episode:

Harry defines codependency as: really good at knowing what others need, reading signs, honing in on the needs of others. He emphasizes how, in the beginning, this is a great pattern to have in relationships, however, in the end, it results in anger, resentment, and feeling uncared for.

Harry opens up about codependency in his own life, including how he took care of his family since he was the eldest, a son, and the son of immigrants in Canada. An interesting experience that Harry had was witnessing his mother’s evolution from being a codependent to a narcissist and he ended up taking care of her needs.

We explore what codependency looks like in Asian immigrant children: being the translator, protecting your parents, providing for the family’s needs, while also neglecting one’s needs in order to not be a burden. Harry then reflects on the narcissism that can develop where a parent becomes defensive, blames/shames children, is judgmental, passive-aggressive, and gets their needs taken care of through family members.

How does Harry address this narcissistic-codependent dynamic with his clients? He begins by helping them define their emotions, practice embodiment, and set boundaries with non-family members. His work may be focused on helping them cut-off family members, however, he helps them do it in a conscious and intentional manner.

Thanks for coming on Harry! And thank you for listening, my dear listener!
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