11 Little Ways You’re Accidentally Ruining Your Relationship With Your Parents
The transition from "kid" to "adult kid" can be a weird one for you and your parents. Now that you're grown, you're likely ready to create some healthy boundaries, talk with your mom and/or dad like an adult, and be treated like one, too. But there are some habits that can make this difficult and awkward, as well as a few that can even ruin your relationship with your parents, if you aren't careful.
This article's going to focus on the things that can ruin your relationship. But first, let's talk about why things can be so rocky, as well as why this transition is so necessary. "It is very important for relationship dynamics to change with your parents as you get older," NYC-based psychotherapist Mia Rosenberg, LMSW tells Bustle. "As you start to develop your own family and have your own routines, it would be nearly impossible to continue to have the same relationship dynamic as you used to when you were younger. Carrying traditions, staying in touch, and meeting frequently will help keep your relationship strong."
Assuming you have and want a relationship with your parents — because it's totally OK if you don't, or if you've decided to cut them out of your life — there are definitely some ways to keep things healthy, and keep ya'll in touch through the years. To start, take a look at the list below. If anything sounds familiar, it could mean things are heading in the wrong direction.
1. You Don't Take Ownership Of Your Life
While your parents will likely be there to help, if need be, nothing's better for your relationship than taking responsibility for your own life. "Your parents should not, in general, be bailing you out of your life mishaps," clinical psychologist and The Web Radio Show host Dr. Joshua Klapow tells Bustle. "Crises, emergencies, etc. — a different story. That is what family is for. But as an adult, it is critical to take responsibility for the good and the bad." If you rely on your parents for everything — money, food, 24/7 advice — it can wear them out. And that can lead to resentment.
2. You Never Ask For Their Advice
That said, if you don't use them as a resource, it might leave your parents feeling somewhat rejected. Not to mention, that can be a loss for you, too. "As much as we want to separate and show our autonomy as adults, we often in the process lose very valuable information from people who have lived longer, know us intimately, and may have guidance to offer us," Klapow says. "Listening to your parents as an adult doesn’t make you any less of an adult. They become a resource, so use it. It might just help you."
3. You Turn Back Into A Kid Whenever You Visit
While it's tempting to crash on the couch, raid the fridge, and become totally complacent when visiting your parents, try not to revert back to your kid-like ways whenever you go home. And, while you're at it, keep in mind that teenage drama can and should remain in the past. "Know that when you are with your parent you are still an adult," Klapow says. This'll help you avoid fights, which can be damaging.
4. You Don't Show Them Any Respect
Do you yell at your parents? Or only call when you need something? We all have bad days and do things like this occasionally, but don't make it a habit. "Your parents deserve some level of respect," Klapow says. "That in no way means you must agree with their thoughts, feelings, or suggestions." But, as is true with anyone else, life's always nicer when you're kind.
5. You Haven't Established Healthy Boundaries
One of the best ways to create a successful parent/adult child relationship? Healthy boundaries. "Your parents are no longer allowed to control, manipulate, or dictate your life," Klapow says. "They must respect your privacy, your decisions, your actions — even if they don’t agree. You cannot allow them to drive and steer your life. If they are doing this, you must respectfully ask them to stop." Once they realize they no longer have control over your life, your relationship will likely to improve.
6. You Forget That They're People, Too
It can be tough for your parents to see you as an adult, instead of their little kid. But seeing them differently can be tough for you, too. "Relationship dynamics completely change with our parents when we become adults; it becomes a relationship of peers/equals instead of a parent/child relationship," says life coach Samantha Siffring. Do what you can to be on each other's level. "Ask your parents about their jobs, vacations, friends, how they are feeling, etc. Be there for them emotionally as you would a friend. It’s not only about you anymore."
7. You Blame Them For Everything
Remember what I said about taking ownership of your life? This applies to blaming your parents, too. "There is a place for blame — acknowledging your parents taught you what they taught you and did to you what they did to you — but with therapy and focused effort at claiming adult independence, there's also space for remembering that you are in control of your life and taking ownership of your identity," intuitive grief guide Shelby Forsythia tells Bustle. This'll not only help you, but it might also help heal a damaged relationship.
8. You Always Put Off Calling Them
While you're allowed to have a busy life, and to go about your day without feeling guilty about not calling your parents, you should call eventually. "Parents can feel left out and it can be a shock to the system, especially if they go from having a lot of interaction to almost zero," says life coach Krista Rizzo. "Make sure you're taking the time to check in with the 'rents — they will really appreciate it."
9. You Let Politics Get Between You
This is a obviously a major issue right now, since many younger people have wildly different opinions than their parents when it comes to the current political climate. And yet, the last thing you want to do is let it all tear you guys apart. "My views are very different from those of my parents and it's difficult to discuss," Rizzo says. "This can cause a huge issue in a relationship, especially if there is one major issue that you differ on." So either agree to disagree, or leave it be.
10. You Ask For Things 24/7
Nothing can damage your relationship with your parents quite like asking for things — whether it be money, groceries, rent, etc. While there's a time and a place to ask for help, Rizzo tells me you have to eventually learn how to stand on your own two feet. That can be tough nowadays, but as long as you're showing some level of effort, they'll feel less taken advantage of.
11. You Don't Make An Effort To Maintain Family Traditions
Of course you should do whatever's best for you. If you don't want to visit home, for example, or keep up a family tradition, then feel free to drop it. But if you don't have a problem with any of it, Rosenberg tells me keeping traditions alive can mean a lot to your parents. Maybe this means watching a movie together on Friday nights, or getting together for Thanksgiving. Whatever keeps you guys close, and makes you feel like a family.
This is how you can keep your relationship going with your parents, in a healthy way, even though those dynamics are shifting and changing.
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