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Awesome Podcasts on What It’s Like to Be an Adult Child of a Difficult Parent

I love listening to podcasts. Especially podcasts that tell true stories. This American Life and The Moth are two of my favorites.

Which got me wondering: Are there many stories about adult children of difficult parents? I had heard one awhile ago (the first podcast I recommend below), but I wanted more. So I started sleuthing. I dug up a number and picked what I considered to be the absolute best podcasts on this sensitive topic.

If you are someone who considers yourself an adult child of a difficult parent and would like to feel less alone – and hear what others have experienced and done – I highly recommend you listen to these podcasts.

Warning: Some of the content in these podcasts could be experienced by some as triggering or upsetting. Please listen with care for yourself, and if you find you need to talk with someone about what you heard, please reach out to a friend, family member or therapist for support.

The Champs w/Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher: Wyatt Cenac episode

Those of you familiar with stand-up comedy may already know Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher, as well as Wyatt Cenac. Heads up: They’re all pretty funny. But even if you have never heard of these men, this interview is not to be missed in terms of raw humor, authenticity and a disarmingly honest story of what it was like to be raised by difficult parents. Although this story may not exactly match your story, the universal exists in the specific, which I found to be true in hearing Wyatt Cenac’s experience.

Mental Illness Happy Hour w/Paul Gilmartin: Episode 64

It was extremely difficult to pick a “winner” out of the episodes of this podcast, as there are naturally so many that involve adult children of difficult parents. Ultimately, I picked an episode that focused mostly on the host of the podcast himself, Paul Gilmartin, who shares details about his relationship with his mother with a therapist after coming to some painful realizations. It is extremely moving and a courageous act on his part.

Codependency No More Podcast: Episode 5, Turning Sensitivity Into Strength – Chelsea’s Story

At last, a woman’s perspective! I’m not sure if I just listen to too many comedy podcasts (which tend to be mostly men) or if women aren’t as open about talking about their difficult parents, but leave it to a podcast on codependency to dig up the good stuff! This is a great episode on an adult child who has gotten clear on her story and is working to recover from her codependency.

Mental Illness Happy Hour w/Paul Gilmartin: Episode 130

Okay, okay, I couldn’t pick just one episode from MIHH! It’s such a great show! Also, another woman! This one stars an interview with stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito, and includes such awesome family dynamics as being raised Catholic and coming out to your parents as lesbian. Good stuff!

That’s all for now. Please let me know if you catch a good podcast on this particular topic, as I’m always looking for more!

2020 UPDATE: I found another one and hallelujah, it’s about women and their moms and estrangement! So good! Listen here:

Unladylike: Mar 24, 2020, “Break up with Mom”

Parental estrangement is surprisingly common – and commonly misunderstood. This is a beautiful exploration of how you can love someone but not be in contact with them. (Also: What does love mean? Being a doormat? Putting everyone else’s needs before your own?) Interviews with two different women gives this episode a personal, affirming feel.

October 21, 2016