Is Your Relationship With Your Parents Normal?

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By now you know your parents aren’t normal. And you accept that. What you aren’t sure is normal is your relationship with those who brought you into the world—especially when you compare your situation to your friends’ dynamics with their ‘rents.

It’s a common concern, explains family therapist Judye Hess, Ph.D. The transition to adulthood reconfigures what it means to be attached to the people who raised you—especially when you’re no longer living under their roof. The evolving shift in how dependent you are on mom and dad, how much you’d like them involved in your adult life, and how great of a burden their needs become as they age can pave the way for unanticipated tensions, Hess says. And because so many of us are reluctant to voice our unease—either talking directly to our parents or venting to our friends—we end up feeling far more alone than we actually are.

The irony is, there are plenty of others out there who feel the same way you do about your family. Check out five common sources of conflict between adult kids and their parents, plus expert guidance for how to deal with all those tricky situations so you no longer have to feel like a freak (or put up with nagging).

1. I’m ThisClose With Them

If you can relate, know that when a parent is too up in your business, you may not adjust well to the real world, be less than great with following through on goals, and encounter trouble making friends. (Hence why people tend to freak about the so-called helicopter mom or pop.)

When a parent’s support becomes unwanted or over-the-top, communicate your needs for automony, Hess says. Simply saying, “Mom, I love you. But when you keep asking me whether I can afford my rent, it makes me feel incompetent, not empowered,” or “Thanks so much for your interest in advising me on my career, dad, but now that I’ve got a decent job, I would appreciate if you could let me handle this particular situation with my boss” can do the trick. Or if you feel the need, enlist a family therapist to help ensure your message gets across.

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