Grow Up Already: How To Fight With Your Parents As An Adult

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The New Yorker

Do you have a dysfunctional family?

Are you an adult who's fighting with your mom and dad? You're not alone. Honestly, I thought I could never get angrier than when my parents took away my Barbies when I was 6, or when they grounded me from going to my senior prom because they found pot in my bedroom. But it's proven that the older we get, the more aggravated we become with our families. And, more specifically, mothers feel a tension with their daughters. (Ladies, do you feel me?) As we all enter adulthood, why do we have trouble acting like adults?

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As we grow old, we become settled into our personalities. We're individuals. We have our own kids, and most likely, our parents want a say in how to raise them--when it's not really their business in the first place. Let me guess--this has probably caused a fight or two in your family.

So instead of focusing on the problem, let's try to think of a solution. How do we create a healthy relationship with our parents once we've all entered adulthood?

STOP TRYING TO WIN THEIR APPROVAL, YOU DON'T NEED IT

Change the power dynamic. You don't need your parents approval anymore. When we're growing up, we are constantly seeking our parent's love. Don't bring that into adulthood. If you're still trying to find the perfect spouse, job, car, and house just to impress your parents, you're never going to be happy, and you're probably never going to make them happy either. Start doing things for yourself. Most likely, that's how you'll end up earning your parent's respect.

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TALK TO THEM LIKE FELLOW ADULTS/FRIENDS

Treat your parents with respect (always) but don't treat them like your superior. Once you're an adult, you're a fully functioning human being with a set of responsibilities and an active role in this world. Most likely, you have your own family or at least a plant or cat that you take care of. If you act like an adult, and talk to them like an adult, they'll probably start treating you like one too.

SET BOUNDARIES

The sooner you set boundaries the better. Let your parents know they have to give notice before they come over. That you'll ask them for advice when you want it, otherwise you need to do your own learning in the world and they raised you perfectly well to do that. Let them know that one phone call a day is a great amount of talking. It might hurt their feelings at first, but it will give your parents their own free time and ultimately they'll realize they raised a cool, confident adult.

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YOU CAN'T CHANGE YOUR PARENTS, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR REACTIONS TO THEM

Bad news: your parents are most likely stuck in their ways emotionally. The only thing that you can control is yourself and your own actions. That goes for pretty much anything in this world, actually. So, when your parents are doing something you don't like or something that triggers you- keep your cool and figure out what the best way for you to react is that dissolves the situation. Part of being an adult now means being able to walk away from situations if you want to.

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DON'T ASK FOR ADVICE UNLESS YOU REALLY WANT IT

If you ask for advice, be prepared to hear something that you don't want to, well... hear. So proceed with caution. Be careful what you wish for.

WHEN FIGHTING, LEAD WITH THE POSITIVE

If a conversation or action does end up turning into a fight, remember this is family you're dealing with. You're stuck with them. So always lead with love and kindness. Remind them of all their positive attributes and your appreciation of them, and then segway into, "and, when this happened, it made me feel _____." Reminder: it's actions that are problematic, not necessarily people. So target specific things they are doing that need to be amended rather than their whole personality. The best thing about being a grown up is that temper tantrums aren't your only means of communication anymore.

Family can be a difficult thing to tackle. Especially during the holidays. Good luck!


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