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Family Issues

March 17, Q3

I know I am entitled to being angry towards my parents after being let down emotionally, but I want to move on and heal. How do I do that when I still live with them? Communication is extremely difficult with them. 


I applaud you for wanting to move on. You say communication is really difficult. And living at home often makes it a lot more challenging. Until you can move out, and can throw out some of those old scripts that you guys use, it might help to try to see your parents not as parents but as two human beings struggling and unable (rather than unwilling) to move forward. If they can’t show you who they really are, you can unmask them—maybe even feel some compassion for them in their inability to do better.

It might also help for you to focus on who you are and who you want to be. Every time you react to something your parents do or say, you’re giving away your power and potential. Nobody should have the power to make you less than. And even if they have the right to speak their minds, not everyone should have the right to vote in your world. And in YOUR world YOU hand out the ballots. That doesn’t mean you can’t still be respectful towards your parents. Listen, thank them for their opinion, but do your best not to engage. Imagine for a second that you’re playing tennis. Instead of hitting the ball back over the net, let it fall to the ground.


Trying to maintain your own set of standards can be challenging. But I promise you, it’s almost always worth it. Because once you have moved out you’ll be happy you managed to stay true to who you are.




How do you make your parents happy and proud?

Every parent is different, but most parents feel happy and proud when their children are happy. We love to watch our children make decisions that they themselves are proud of. We sleep well at night when we see that our kids do their best to be honest, caring, and compassionate. Most parents also love it when their children reach out to them not because they feel obligated to but because they want to. (And yes, most parents can tell the difference.)




Should I be living under my parents’ rules when I’m 25 years old?

By the time you’re twenty-five you’re usually eager to live your own life. And if your parents raised you well, they raised you with confidence in yourself and with your own inner scale of what is right and wrong. This is a good time to take all the good your parents gave you, and add to that your own set of values. Mix it all up and what you get is a confident, competent adult. Will you make mistakes along the way? I hope so because that’s a sign that you’re not afraid of trying new things. Use those mistakes as stepping stones to move forward and upward.




Is it rude for an adult child to ask a parent for money if he or she has never paid any bills while living at their house?


In most circumstances it would be rude to ask parents for money if you’re a fully functioning, working adult. It would be even worse for parents to let a fully functioning, working adult take advantage of them since this would make the child even more entitled.




What is your opinion on corporal punishment?


Hitting someone is wrong. If you hit your employee, your spouse or your dog you go to jail. Why would hitting a child be any different? There’s no reason for it and it is less effective than other forms of discipline.

The minute you hit a child you have failed as a parent, and a role model. Not only have you failed at parenting your child but you have also failed yourself. You have failed to find a more effective way to teach right from wrong. But there is help out there. There are plenty of great books on the subject of how to raise, confident, moral children the right way. The best books on the subject should be required reading. But they are not. And our children, and our society as a whole, pay a price for this.


What are some ways to react when your parents tell you to move back home?


This is a great opportunity to show your parents that you’re an adult. So without too many details of why you think moving home is a bad idea, tell them you love them but that they raised you to be a confident, fully autonomous adult and that they should be proud of that. Then, invite them to your place for dinner.


Before they get there, it might be a good idea to remove anything that can be interpreted as you still needing your mother’s care (like dirty clothes on the floor). For extra bonus points, if you haven’t already done so, strategically place proof that you’re actually maturing around your house. These things might include stuff like a salt and pepper shaker by the stove, some real plates in the cabinets, a real clothes hamper, and…a toilet bowl brush for the bathroom.



What is the etiquette for paying for groceries when you're at your in-laws' house?


I personally always feel better if I can contribute in some way. You can do this by bringing a hostess gift in the form of food. And if you're staying for a week or longer it's always a good idea to buy groceries and cook one or two dinners.


Being polite is never wrong. Unless your in-laws are hypersensitive and take everything you do as criticism. If that's the case, I wouldn't buy a thing and I would eat whatever was offered with a smile on my face. Even if it meant me having to sneak out for fast food in the middle of the night. 

Why does my partner always defend his disrespectful, overbearing, and intrusive parents?

Because having lived with them all his life, he might have a difficult time seeing their behavior as disrespectful. He brings a different rule book and a different decoder ring to the relationship and might not be ready to view his parents’ behavior using your set of standards.


As he gets more and more emotionally bonded with you, he might slowly discover your way of walking through life. But having said that, there is also a possibility that he will never see things your way, and that the more you point out his parents’ behaviors, the less attached he will feel to you.


I don’t know how long you have been together but if it is longer than a few years, with things getting worse rather than better, I would either reconsider the relationship or change my tactics and my reaction to their behavior.  If your partner’s parents refuse to dial it down, and you decide the relationship you have with your partner is still worth it, it might be necessary for you to dial down your own response and the amount of energy you are willing to invest in trying to change things or you will make yourself unhappy.  

What happens if you grow up in a dirty house but have two loving parents who give you everything you could ask for? Is that a form o childhood trauma and how can one fix that?

I don’t know whether you are an adult or a child and I don’t know the underlying issues as to why your parents fail to keep their house clean but I will try to answer your question. A dirty house might leave lasting scars and be considered a cause of childhood trauma if you are negatively affected by it and it leads to you feeling a great sense of shame and stress. Because what is traumatic to one person might not be a big deal to someone else (like your parents). 

You say your parents give you everything you ask for. If you were to sit down with them and tell them how you feel, do you think you could convince them to hire a personal organizer followed by a weekly cleaning service?  If not for their sake but for yours?

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