Grown-up children. How to reach an understanding with your parents
Communication and manipulation
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The closer a person is to you the more they can hurt you. It is a fact of life. Another fact is that complicated relationships between grown-up children and their parents can really poison the life of anyone within a mile radius.

Have you seen such family battles? When people, who are so close to each other, throw nasty words at each other as if they were rotten tomatoes? The others just try to hide so as not to get caught in the middle or get hit by a “stray bullet”.

“Mum simply doesn’t want to understand me! How can I explain to her that I’ve grown up and can take care of myself? I think she still sees me as a silly eight-year-old!"

“My own kid is in second grade, but mom gives me a lecture 17 times a day, as if I were a school kid. She watched a show about raising kids yesterday and went full steam lecturing me; and that’s with my daughter right there. ‘I don’t bring her up right, I expect the wrong things of her, and what do I know of life anyway.’

“And all that at my time of life! When I am 34! It’s beyond anything! How can I get a grip on myself when she’s like that? How can I not tell her where to go? I just have to grind my teeth and bear it.”

It is normal and even natural to be that angry with your parents when you’re a teenager. Even though the time of the fiercest battles with parents somehow falls at a more mature (at least biologically) age.

 A young and successful woman who has long ago overcome the period of teenage battles with parents, for some reason reacts to mom’s attacks as if she were still 15. Why? Why did the girl grow up, but her relationship with her mother stay the same?

Objects, subjects or “why doesn’t she listen to me?”

Complaints of grown-up children and their parents mirror each other. Here’s what it looks like. The daughter is incensed that mom calls her every 20 minutes, so she lashes out over the phone, “Mom, I know!”

Mom, in her turn, complains to the neighbor, “Can you imagine, I can’t sleep at night for worrying about her and the ungrateful child won’t even talk to me on the phone!”

Recriminations sound differently, but their roots are the same – a relationship of the “object – object” type. Let me give you an analogy to make it clearer.

“What do you do if something upsets or annoys you? If you feel uncomfortable at home, you move the furniture around. You wouldn’t dream of asking it for consent :). If you don’t like the host of a TV show, you switch the channel without asking the TV for advice. If the book you’re reading is boring, you get rid of it. It won’t cry asking you for attention! That is how you treat objects.

In other words, you affect objects to make your life more comfortable. That is normal if they are inanimate and dumb. The problems begin when we treat real people, our parents, for example, as objects. We build relationships with them as if they were objects that should be convenient for us

By the way, this is an attribute of an infantile person who psychologically has barely overcome the teenage level. It is natural for them to perceive the world and those around them as objects to be manipulated.

This is especially true for those who are close to them or for those on whom they depend. So the infantile picture of the world appears approximately like this, “Right now I will put pressure on your (with pity, hysterics or complaints), manipulate you somehow, tell you something and you will do what I want.”

It is difficult to perceive your parents as separate subjects. This is understandable. They’ve been right next to you ever since you were born. They fed you, clothed you, wiped your nose, put up with teenage hysterics and so on.

After living together so closely, the child (even if they turned 34) perceives mom as part of a setting of their own life and behaves accordingly. They try to incorporate the parents into their world view and make them convenient.

“Why do parents butt into my life?”

The parents are also human and keep riding over the same potholes. In the last thirty years they got used to the fact that you exist in their life. They birthed you and raised you and think that they have “molded something fine” :). If the parents themselves are not psychologically mature, they also treat a grown-up child as an object.

That is precisely why the fact that you have a different opinion or decide to live your life differently is not acceptable and is resisted. It is as if a house plant suddenly declared “I don’t like the view here, I’ll go sit in another window.” (Sorry for the mundane analogy :)).

So, there you have misunderstandings, rejection and a long list of complaints on both sides.

Thus, there are certain attributes of an object – object system of relationships. People:

  • Refuse to acknowledge the right of others to think, feel or act differently, unusually or unintelligibly.
  • Sincerely believe that they can change others and make them behave as they want.

So, what do we have as a result? On the one hand, parents try to manipulate their grown-up children. On the other, adult children expect parents to behave in a certain way. (They expect respect, acceptance, praise, setting them up on a pedestal :). Everyone has their own needs :)).

We are not used to perceiving our parents as independent individuals. They, in their turn, do not want to accept the fact that we have grown up and can build our own life. What we have is a vicious circle. Hence, numerous recriminations.

How can you build a relationship without grievances and complaints?

What’s the solution? Does it even exist? You can’t change your parents at their age. So, what can you do?

Most animals chase their young away when they believe them to be fully grown and ready to live on their own. Luckily (or maybe, not so luckily) people have more complicated relationships. The older generation cannot let go and the younger cannot stop clinging.

So, children and parents maintain their mutual dependence for decades. The only solution is to break it. How can you do it? Tune up some things in your mind.

Imagine that you’re sharing your home with roommates. Do they have to be as you like them? One of them may cook really smelly foods, another always keeps her window open, a third listens to loud music and the forth comes to visit you uninvited and demolish all your treats. 

You wouldn’t dream of trying to “fix” them, would you? Or lecture them on the right way to live? You wouldn’t get emotional when Jeff forgets to wash his dishes? Or go spastic when Tiffany tells you about her new boyfriend 11 times in a row?

Of course not; after all, these are adult people with a right to their private lives and their private (different from yours) opinions! They do not owe you anything.

What if you look at your parents from the same point of view? They also have the right to their own opinions about life. Even your most near and dear ones do not have to behave as you want them to. Your parents have as much right to their opinion as you do.

“Mom, I am all grown up!”

Do you want them to perceive you as an adult? Start treating them as equals:

  • Give your parents the right to have their own point of view, to love silly TV shows, to rowdily discuss politics that you are heartily sick of and to nurture their limitations, habits and obstinacy.
  • Stop giving them grades in your mind for acts and decisions made in the past. After all, parents do not have to be perfect.

It would seem to be obvious. Mom and dad are not higher beings possessed of universal wisdom. Nor are they your lifelong support, whose purpose is to ensure your comfort or to nurture your self-esteem. They are just as human flesh and blood as you are. They are also glad of little things, upset when gas and utility prices go up, make mistakes and (oh, Lord) have sex.

Do you want them to see you as an adult independent person and stop butting into your life with their advice? Become an adult! Get rid of the phrase “Parents should.” No, they should not. They nursed you and raised you – their duty is done.

You have to realize the main thing: they gave you a chance to become what you are today. Don’t expect anything else.

In return you will have the right to be yourself. Not tune yourself to their expectations, not follow their advice, but live as YOU think is right.


Date of publication: 26 October 2018
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