Dealing with Toxic Parents
How to Deal with Parents As a Young Adult
Learning to deal with your parents as a young adult requires careful boundary setting. Sometimes, parents struggle with the fact that you have transitioned to adulthood and are capable of caring for yourself. Other time, they may simply not have thought about your transition in the same way you do. Talk with your parents about your concerns and hopes for the future, and allow them to see that you are working to take care of yourself as a responsible young adult. If your parents continue to push, you may need to bring in some back-up, such as another relative or a family therapist.
Talking with Your Parents
Pick a good setting.Choose a time when your parents can sit down and talk with you without being distracted. Try to talk with your parents alone at first. If you live away from home, call and ask what time would work the best for them. Leave your significant other out of the initial conversation or your parents may feel ambushed and act defensively.
- You might also gauge your parents' mood and make sure it is okay prior to talking. You could say, “Did today go okay? I have something important I’d like to talk with you about tonight.”
- It’s best to avoid a public place for a conversation of this type.
Stay calm.As you tell your parents your concerns, maintain a level voice and try to keep your emotions in check, even when talking about actions that make you angry. Keep your mind focused on word choice and expressing yourself in the most accurate way possible. If you feel overwhelmed, take a break and stand or do a quick stretch.
- If you find yourself getting angry as your parents speak, focus on your breathing. Picture yourself breathing all of the anger out and taking positive energy in.
Be straightforward and honest.You are only as good as your word, so don’t lie or elaborate. Simply recount the events from your list and include your emotional reactions. If it is easier, you may ask your parents to remain silent until you finish with an initial ‘list’ of concerns.
- It’s not healthy to hold thoughts and feelings inside. They can fester and make you a bitter, angry person. Try to have constructive conversations about problematic feelings as they arise so that you don't create large-scale fights or blowouts.
- To avoid a defensive reaction, you might open with a positive statement, such as, "I love you" or "You know I appreciate what you do for me." Then, transition by emphasizing your feelings, "Lately, I feel..." When describing your feelings try to connect back to your parents by stating, "You know that one time..." or "Remember when I said..."
Listen and ask questions.When your parents get a chance to talk, respect them and listen carefully. This is your opportunity to try to understand where they are coming from. There is a possibility that the same event was viewed in two different ways. Listen to them now so that you can avoid miscommunication and misinterpretation in the future.
- Give them indications that you are listening. Nod your head or say “okay” as they are talking. If you disagree, reserve your response to “Hmmm” at the moment and wait until it’s your turn to talk.
- Wait until they are finished and ask some questions. It may be helpful to write down any questions on a notepad as they are talking. Avoid asking “yes/no” questions and instead choose open-ended ones.
- It may also be helpful to thank them for listening to your concerns and providing their feedback, even if there are areas where you disagree.
Ask for advice.Keep parts of the conversation positive by telling your parents about your goals for the future. Discuss your financial, romantic, or work-related plans and ask for their advice. This lets them know that you value their opinion, and will request it, but you still need boundaries.
- This does not mean that you need to disclose every detail of your financial situation, such as salary or debts. Nearly half of young adults don’t talk about finances with their parents.
- You could ask them for credit card advice. You might say, “Is it ever worth it to get a credit card with an annual fee? Why?”
Write a letter.If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your parents in person, write them a detailed letter expressing your feelings, or make a list of issues you would like to address. Be honest, calm, and direct in your language. You can even ask them questions that you hope will be answered. Tell them if you would like a response in letter form, or in person.
- Putting your feelings down on paper may be good for your mental health as well. It might help you work through your negative emotions.
Working Through Challenges
Enact a calming down period.If emotions get out of control during your talk, take a step away and agree to meet again in a day or two. Give yourself time to “sleep on it” and come back to the conversation refreshed both physically and mentally.
- It is possible that your parents may avoid having another conversation about these issues. If that is the case, give them some time but continue to enforce your boundaries. If they do something hurtful, tell them, “That is not okay.”
Be present.If you live with your parents, avoid retreating to your room permanently. If you live elsewhere, continue to make your regular visits over to your parents. Don’t respond to a negative reaction by completely disappearing. Show that you are invested in the relationship and want it to work, despite the challenges.
- If tension is high, you might give your parents a heads-up before coming over. You could say, “I think I may drop by for a bit tonight, will that work for you?”
Demonstrate your maturity and independence.Your parents may be smothering you because they are afraid that you can’t survive on your own. Use your actions to show them that you are a capable, independent young adult. Tell them about your recent accomplishments at work or at school. Discuss challenges that you’ve faced and how you’ve conquered them.
- Tell them about a task that was difficult but that you completed after some struggling. This shows your parents that you are thinking of the “long game.” You can thrive even in tough situations.
- Have these discussions regularly and let them see what you're doing with your life. They may be reassured that you continue to do well without their help.
Bring in a third party.If necessary, find a relative who is about your parents’ age who can talk to them about how you feel. This should be someone who you know very well and who you can trust. A family friend will also work, as long as they meet the trust test. Sometimes having an outside party come in can also calm everyone down.
- You can also suggest meeting with a family therapist. If they are concerned about the cost, think about ways that you can offer to help pay or tell them that insurance may cover part of the cost.Make the argument that your relationship is worth the investment.
Express your appreciation.With all of the negative emotions floating around, it is important to remember what your parents have done for you. Let them know that you are where you are now in part because of their help and guidance. This will make them feel more secure as your relationship heads into new territory.
- A simple “Thank you” can go a long way toward mending a relationship. If you start this process, odds are your parents will follow your lead.
- To find good moments, look to the past. Go back well into your childhood and remember when your parents were the best at parenting. For example, did they take you to the zoo? Get you the best gifts?
Discover your internal boundaries.Take out a pen and paper and write about significant times that you’ve felt negative emotions toward your parents. What boundaries did they cross in those situations? Once identified, you know that these are the boundaries that need to be protected in order for you to effectively deal with your parents.
- For example, you might ask yourself: Are my parents controlling? In what ways? Are they embarrassing? In what ways? Are they too anxious? When? Are they generally perfect but I would like them to treat me as an adult?
- It is important for you to consider how you would like to be treated. This varies by individuals. Some people see no problem with certain behaviors that might really frustrate other people. Make a note of what bothers you, but also why it bothers you.
Communicate those boundaries.Find a quiet time to sit down with your parents and discuss your concerns and your need for defined boundaries. Tell them that you would like to strengthen your relationship by understanding what actions (and words) are okay and not okay for both them and you.
- Don’t be too radical with the boundaries that you suggest early on. Take a more moderate position and see how your parents react.
- A moderate boundary is one which requires only a minimal change in behavior by your parents. A more radical boundary is one which changes the nature of your relationship with your parents and may prompt a severe response on their part.
Set consequences for crossed boundaries.Before you talk with your parents, think about what you plan to do if your boundaries are ignored. Your reaction needs to fit the degree of the negative action. Only establish consequences that you are willing to enact. Consequences should provide an immediate and consistent end to conversation or activity prompting their disrespect.
- For example, if your parents comment negatively about your friends or push for too much information, you say, “I know that you are concerned, but I need you to be nice to my friends. Now, I will have to take that time and spend it out with them instead of here.”
Enact consequences.It is important to establish that each action creates a reaction. If your parents decide to ignore your boundaries, you will want to warn them first. Then, if they continue to push your limits, you will need to let them know that you will take action to protect yourself.
- Don't be surprised if your parents enact consequences when you violate their boundaries as well.
Be prepared for a negative reaction.Your parents are probably trying their best to look out for you. This means that they may respond angrily and negatively to your attempts to set boundaries, or that they may try harder to impose them before giving up. Just remind them that is part of you becoming a successful, independent adult.
- Avoid getting into a series of arguments with your parents. If emotions are high, remove yourself from the situation and address the issues later.
- Don’t give in to their threats and refrain from making your own as well.
- Remember that most the time it does get better, all relationships go through rough patches.
- Be forgiving and patient. Remember that your parents are only human too and they will make mistakes. You have the choice as to how you react to those mistakes.
Video: How to Deal With Toxic Parents | Overcoming Toxic Parents | The Toxic Parent | 1-877-8BULLIEs
This Just in From the Palace: Kate Middleton and Prince William Are Expecting aBaby
Men’s Fashion Fall-Winter 2019
She even picked up a few Bónus shopping bags — which display the brands cute, squinting mascot —to take back to the States
The Best Men’s Fragrances Of All Time
How to Prevent Skin Irritation After Shaving
How to Make Loose Face Powder Into Compact at Home
Did Meghan Markle’s New Pink Manicure Break RoyalTradition
7 Caffeinated Energy Snacks for Productivity and Athletic Performance
How to Clean Driftwood
Skywin Wireless Battery Speaker
5 Ways to Cook Peas
Petzl TacTikka Plus LED Headlamp Review
How to Make Horchata Popsicles
5 Of The Best Dressed Men In Fashion