When Parents Still Parent Their Adult Children


Are you over the age of thirty with parents who still judge/criticize/berate you? Has the low self-esteem you had as a child continued into adulthood because this negative behavior is still occurring? Do you seethe inside each time this happens, or carry sadness and resentment ?

Then it is time to do something. Sometimes parents think it is their job to continue parenting their adult children. They may feel that because you are their child, that gives them the right to take you to task for all variety of things.

Often, if one was raised with this kind of feedback, it is accepted as normal and inevitable. In essence, the parent/child relationship of one’s youth has continued into adulthood. This creates no end of problems. I have seen many adults who are devastated each time a parent as said or done something negative. I have seen others running on the treadmill of acceptance, feverishly trying to please parents who will never be pleased.

If you recognize yourself here, it is time to set some boundaries. As a child, you could not tell your parents to stop talking to you that way. That would have been considered disrespectful. As an adult, you now have the right to decide how you wish to be treated.

You can calmly tell your parents that their criticisms and judgments are hurtful, and you are requesting that they refrain from these types of comments. If they have any consciousness at all, they will likely agree, even if they defend themselves first. Let them do this, as no one likes to accept feedback that they have been nasty. Just make sure that you remind them that whatever the reason, you will not accept being treated like a child anymore.

If they are so wrapped up in their own perspective that they take your request as a criticism or insult, you are doomed. Just kidding, but you will feel that way, for they have just done again what you asked them not to do. They are not respecting you or your wishes. Stay calm, and tell them that you are not criticizing them, but simply need them to stop criticizing you. Explain that you are an adult, and have every right to be who you are, and do things your way, even if it is not the way they would do them.

The next time it happens, gently remind them they are treating you like a child, and change the subject. If they do not get the message, you may have to get up and leave each time the criticism starts. They are who they are, but it is up to you to set and maintain clear boundaries.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.

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