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Adult Child and Parent Conflict
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happy_annie posted:
A little background- I'm 20 years old, I go to school full time and I'll be a junior in college majoring in dietetics. I have a part-time job and a full tuition scholarship. I am attending a university located about 20 minutes away from where I grew up. I spent the first two years of college living at my parents house under fairly strict rules.

My parents are the definition of strict. While living at home, even past the age of 18, I have had a curfew (ten o'clock most nights). I have to tell my mom where I am every second of the day and tell her who I'm with. My parents have access to my bank statements on my checking and savings and will review my purchases and question me about them. My mother calls me several times a day. While I spent the first two years just dying to move out I never did until this past summer. Even though I was able to support myself financially, my parents strongly disapproved of my efforts to live on my own.

Moving out made my life so much happier and less stressful. However, my contract ended and I've been back at home for a week while I am trying to find a new apartment. But now my parents are very upset at my decision to remain away from "home". They say that I only like being on my own so that I can do whatever I want without anyone knowing. They think I'm out doing bad things every night. They also think it is a very bad financial decision. I am honestly a good, responsible, adult woman. I can support myself financially, I'm attending college, I get 4.0's, I don't smoke, drink, or have sex, I'm religious, my boyfriend has the same values as I do, and I've never done anything to make them not trust me. And yet my parents still think I'm out making terrible decisions and being a bad person.

So, I'm super anxious to move back out but I realize that it doesn't fix my relationship with my parents. As an adult, I don't feel like I need parenting (strict rules, criticism for my own opinion, parent rules over child, etc). I just honestly feel like that stage of my life has past. I would just like to have an adult to adult relationship with my parents- that I could turn to them for advice but not receive unwanted advice or guidance constantly. I want to make my own decisions and live my life according to what I believe is right for me without strong disapproval or arguments. I don't want to feel guilty for being who I really am.

So I have a lot of questions. Am I wrong for feeling this way? I don't know what it's like to be a parent so am I just being the rebel child that just thinks her parents are out to get her? Are my parents actions justifiable? How do I build an adult relationship with my parents and help them realize that I'm not a child anymore? And how do I get them to accept me and my decisions without getting a whole lecture on their opinion and what they think is right for me?

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Are my parents actions justifiable and I'm just overreacting?
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  • No
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GuardSquealer responded:
Sounds like you have become a responsible young adult. Your parents should be proud of you and let you do as you please. I know though as a parent it is hard to let go. And they are probably just worried about you. But you are right in your desire to go out on your own. And you should do so.
 
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SUPdude responded:
Just continue to use this as a catalyst for your eventual freedom.

BTW, your parents are WAY too overbearing, IMO.
 
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fcl responded:
You're an only child, aren't you?

Your parents need to realize that their work is finished and that they have done a great job. You're a mature, responsible, ondependent young woman who can take care of herself (do you ANY idea how many parents would LOVE to be able to say that about their child?). They have possibly invested all of their time in you over the last 20 years (hence their going too far in some domains, notably your bank account) and never thought that they should also be working on their marriage. In short, they are turning their empty nest syndrome full beam on you.

They need to realize that you are no longer a child (and goodness knows, you have shown them that) and that they now need to build up a relationship that they have perhaps let slide, their relationship as a couple. There isn't very much you can do about this other than suggest family counselling...

I left home at 18 and, if my parents had any misgivings they never showed them. My mother always said she was proud of me doing that because it showed she had done a good job on me (lol). My MIL never accepted that version - for her, if you left home for any reason other than to get married it meant you were unhappy and hated your parents (sigh) - just pointing out how a good situation can be viewed in a bad light.

To answer your questions:

Am I wrong for feeling this way?

No, you are not wrong.

I don't know what it's like to be a parent so am I just being the rebel child that just thinks her parents are out to get her?

You are several light years away from being a "rebel child"

Are my parents actions justifiable?

No. They need to accept that you are an adult now. It is time for them to grow up

How do I build an adult relationship with my parents and help them realize that I'm not a child anymore?

This is almost impossible. It will take time. Just keep showing them how dependable and self-sufficient you are.

And how do I get them to accept me and my decisions without getting a whole lecture on their opinion and what they think is right for me?

I suggest that every time they try to give you their opinion you gently remind them that they have already given it to you and that to keep on repeating it will be considered nagging. Also gently point out that by nagging at you they are pushing you away that you don't want to see them only to be nagged at ... As I said above, family counselling might be in order (you might get them to go if they think that this will get you to come "home" ...)

Just remember that they may never accept what you're doing... Good luck. You're on the right track.

 
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happy_annie replied to fcl's response:
I'm not an only child- I have an older brother who is 24 and still lives with them. He's kind of a loner and feels comfortable at home. He is more submissive than I am so he just does what my parents want him to do. It makes it hard because they tend to think that because my brother never made an attempt of independence that I'm being rebellious and foolish. I would love to convince him to move out and be independent but he's pretty set on staying with my parents.

You brought up a very interesting point that my parents need to focus on their marriage now instead of raising their "children". My parents don't ever go out with other couples/friends or go on dates. They never take vacations together. They never have anyone over to the house. I recall a few months ago they had tickets to a concert that they have always wanted to go to and they stayed home because my brother was feeling a little sick. I think I'll suggest to them to start focusing on their relationship instead of on me. I hate seeing them be so... boring? Maybe I'll take them on a double date with myself and my lovely boyfriend (that they hate- of course ha ha).
 
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Schmaylan replied to happy_annie's response:
Girl have I been there! My parents were very religous and overbearing! I still had a curfew at 18, they snooped through everything I owned constanlty, accused me of sex and drugs constantly (wasnt having sex at the time and have never done drugs) They tried to make me feel like I was heading for eternal damnation if I so much as disagreed with them. I had to get out of there!

I live on my own and I love it. I work full time and pay for everything. I have never asked them for a dime yet they still act like Im such a failure. I tried so hard to be "perfect" and apease them, I wanted their respect and wanted them to be proud of me. But now that I live on my own, I realize how destructive they were to me. I was a pushover and so unsure of myself. I had low self esteem from spending my whole childhood chasing unrealistic standards.

So I understand wanting to fix your relationship but for me it came down to simply telling them I loved them but this was MY life and if they couldnt stop being so negative about my choices I couldnt contact them. So after a few weeks of not talking and a few instances of me walking out due to their disrespect for me, they have gotten to the point where they dont harrass me. Its a tough situation. Good luck
 
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Headline responded:
I have two words for you: Healthy Boundaries. Regardless of whether your parents' actions are justified, your relationship is affecting your mental (and I would bet physical) health. When you find a new place, start setting those healthy boundaries to protect your sanity: Give your parents the address, but not the keys, and make it clear that they are not welcome at your place unless you specifically invite them. Give them the phone number, but get caller ID so that you have the power to decide whether or not you answer the phone. And when you do talk to them, make it clear that you'll hang up and walk away at the first sign of disrespect or verbal abuse - and stick to it. Those sorts of boundaries will do one of two things - both of them good: either you'll have a clearly defined, healthier relationship with your parents as an adult (not to mention you'll have some control in the relationship); or you'll have a consistent framework you can use to protect yourself against unnecessary pain and stress.

I'm curious, by the way, to hear the rationale of the one person who's said yes in the poll so far... because I strongly disagree with them, and I think your parents might feel they're being "good concerned parents" but are taking "concerned" a few thousand miles too far!
 
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Spankyrae responded:
Healthy boundaries is right! Wow... I agree you need to assert yourself as an adult and let your parents know you are making your own decisions and will not accept their meddling in your life. (And even if you weren't responsible, they should not be meddling in your life.) Thing is though, you can say this to them, but it won't mean squat if you don't back it up with action.

Your story reminds me of one of my great friends. We've been friends since we were 12. She is my age (almost 33) and was raised by her grandmother, since her mother was not fit to be a parent. She still lives with her grandmother, and they have a very codependent relationship. She has never lived out on her own, and I don't imagine she will ever live alone until her grandmother passes.

She has also never been married. She has been in a handful of relationships, most with men who treated her badly and were controlling (which makes complete sense given the controlling nature of her grandma). My friend is also a very responsible adult. She owns her own business, doesn't party and doesn't get into trouble.

Her & I will get together for things like shopping, dinner, etc. While out (and it's been like this forever), her grandmother will call her to check up on her, see when she'll be coming home (for no reason), etc. And my friend allows it. She will sometimes get frustrated with her and tell her this, but it doesn't matter because she still lets her grandma control her.

Her grandma has never liked any of her dates/boyfriends (even the good ones) and often meddles in their relationship as well. I suspect a lot of men feel they cannot deal with her being such a part of her life. Right now, my friend has pretty much given up on dating or the possibility of even being married.

My friend's grandmother also maintains a codependent relationship with several of her other children. She is quite the negative person and also quite manipulative. I don't doubt your parents love you, but the hold they have on you is manipulative also. Don't feel bad for wanting to live your own life and break the cycle.
 
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alaska_mommy replied to happy_annie's response:
Yikes. My mom always told us her goal in life was to raise two self-sufficient daughters who could live productive lives, and everything she did aimed us that direction. She taught us many things, housekeeping, cooking, balancing the checkbook, checking the oil on the car, all with an eye towards the future.
I'm sorry, but your parents are not parenting you, they're smothering you. And your poor brother, his zest and passion for living is going to be squashed the rest of his life unless he figures out how to become independent. He's going to be that 35 year old man whose mom still does his laundry.
I commend you for seeing this for how it is, that it's not right, and wanting better for yourself. You are absolutely doing the right thing. Every person must come to a point where they separate from their parents. You are definitely ready. I would not only move out, I would contact your bank and remove their names/access from your bank accounts. You are a smart, reliable, responsible adult, and you no longer need them peering over your shoulder.
Please try to ignore their doomsday warnings and do what YOU feel is right for YOU. It sounds like you live an exemplary life, and you are doing nothing wrong whatsoever by wanting your freedom. It's the natural order of things, and it's sad that your parents are not rejoicing with you at this time in your life when you get to explore your future.
I say step WAY back from them, you need to draw your lines hard at first. They are probably either not going to change or are going to change very slowly. Maintain your boundaries and like PP's have said, if they cross them, remind them or leave. Eventually, once they understand the rules, you can slowly try to build relationship with them within the framework of your individuality. It's sad, but basically you are having to be the adult here and show them by example what is a healthy life for an adult. Don't let them set the rules for you anymore...that's for you to decide now, and to experience on your own.
About the poll: My guess is that the two that voted "yes" misunderstood the question.
 
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An_216102 responded:
Your parents sound paranoid............. that's unhealthy for them and for you. Tell them exactly that.

They are trying to manipulate you, and if you let them, this will continue as long as you both live.

I am sure they want you to stay living at home, that would be another income in THEIR house.

You do your part, respect them and love them.............. but most importantly don't DEPEND on them in any way, especially not emotionally. You worry too much about what your parents think, you still have some growing up to do. You and your parents need to let go. Take care.
 
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queston responded:
I would suggest putting some distance between you and them, temporarily. Maybe in a couple years when they have had time to realize that they were overbearing and that you are doing fine on your own, you will be able to rebuild a more mutual relationship with them.
 
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happy_annie responded:
It's moving day but I'm taking a lot of crap from my mom right now (basically being told i'm a bad child, I'm making a mistake, etc. Whatever). I just got questioned over the phone about buying a TV. I told my mom that my boyfriend was coming to help move my furniture and I got a huge lecture on why he's a bad guy (he's not) and why I "can't" date him. She has called me three times this morning. It's only noon!!! AHH I can't wait to get out of here!!!
 
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cjh1203 replied to happy_annie's response:
Annie, I know it won't be easy, but if she calls again, just say "I'm sorry, Mom, but I'm really busy and can't talk right now but I'll call you tonight." If she tries to keep you on the phone, just tell her you have to go and you're going to hang up but will call her later.

And when she starts telling you what a bad child your are or how terrible your boyfriend is, just say "I'm sorry you feel that way, Mom. I have to go now" and do it. As long as you keep listening to her rants, she's going to keep ranting.

Moving is stressful enough without your mother adding to it -- it sounds like a terrible day.
 
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fcl replied to cjh1203's response:
I very much agree with cjh1203. Please do as she suggests it's an adult way of dealing with spoiled, childish parents.

It's up to you. Your parents have already given you a guilt trip - it's up to you whether you let them turn it into an odyssey or not

I am very glad to hear that you're moving. This is the first day of the rest of your life ...
 
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Idaraesit responded:
Do you have the above discussion with your parents? If not try and have this discussion with the explanation of your feelings needs, and try to understand their feelings too. You may want to write down some of your points. I think you need your space and your parents need to move on with their needs. Anyway, it seems there are good parents and your are a great child.


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