How to Set Boundaries with Your Adult Child
Living with You Now
At this challenging time, relationships are strained to their limits.
Living with others feels like a gift – or a curse – depending on who it is and the day and time of your interactions.
However living with some people can be more frustrating or depleting than living with others. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
You have your rights to
- feel respected in your own home.
- live peacefully and happily.
- ask for what you want and need.
- leave or ask someone else to leave.
You do not have the right or power to change someone else – but you can change yourself, your expectations, your agenda, your judgments, and your reactions.
Step One – 12 steps of Al Anon
Whether your housemate is your spouse, your child, your parent, your significant other, your roommate, or your friend, there are specific ways to relate to each, and different challenges in the types of consequences or outcomes you choose.
This article is going to focus on your adult child living at home.
There are many reasons that you fall into habits of communication that may not always be coming from your best SELF.
- You may feel frustrated by all the household duties that fall on you.
- You might be watching your adult child revert back to teenage disrespect and behavior.
- Your parent may be getting too difficult to care for by yourself.
- Perhaps your spouse/roommate/significant other is being disrespectful in their tone, attitude, or even being emotionally, verbally or physically abusive.
Go back and read again all your rights.
Now read again out loud. “I do not have the power to change someone else.”
So now what?
- First of all, decide what is truly important to you.
Write it down. Make a list. Add everything you want. You won’t get it all, but rate the preferences and the non-negotiables. You would like your ADD adult child to take out the garbage (which he/she may or may not remember to do), but you can’t stand to watch him/her sleep until 2, not shower, or leave the bathroom a mess.
You may not care if you’er are the only one emptying the dishwasher or even cleaning up after your adult child, if he/she is living as a competent adult and treating you with the respect you are due.
- Next, write down what you think needs to happen if the other person is not willing to meet you on the needs that are vital.
Do you take away his ipod? Do you stop paying for food? Do you stop driving him/her to work? Do they have to move out?
If it’s your partner, you have many more options to explore, but the important thing to remember is that you don’t have to stay stuck – no matter how vulnerable, powerless or afraid you might feel.
(3) Look at your own motives, behaviors, expectations, judgments.
(4) Recognize your child’s real limitations. Is he/she
- ADD or ADHD
- an addict
- oppositional defiant
Do your research on whatever is relevant, and learn some of the symptomology that goes with each situation. Your child might be doing the best they can do according to the limits of the condition or disease (and yes, addiction is a disease).
But that doesn’t mean you have to LIVE with it all.
Realize that compassion is not capitulation and codependency is not a substitute for appropriate SELF care.
(5) Talk with your spouse and get on the same page.
(6) Plan a time to talk with your child. PLAN:
- what you will say and who will say it
- what you want – what are your must-haves
- what you are willing to negotiate
- what is no longer acceptable
- a time frame that works for you and is fair
- to listen and discuss
- another time to talk
- how and when you will put your boundaries into place – for real!
How do you set boundaries?
If you are codependent, it’s very difficult.
Are you a Codependent?
- A Few Symptoms
- need to fix, save or rescue
- avoidance of conflict
- difficulty saying no and setting boundaries
- people pleasing
- sacrificing your own needs to care for others….
- Having an “external locus of control” instead of an “internal one”
- Difficulty with anger
- Melanie Beattie books
- unburden pain from your past
- don’t make your child’s behavior a referendum on your parenting
* you didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it
* But you can stop enabling it!
What about your expectations?
- they are unrealized resentments – premeditated resentments
- they come from your ego and your needs
- you don’t know God’s plan and their soul’s plan – so let go and let God.
What are your consequences
- If you don’t want to live this way, it is not your business where your adult child chooses to live.
- If you don’t want to give more money, they may have to suffer more and hit their own bottom before they are willing or ready to become an adult.
- If you don’t want to “live this way anymore,” they have a right to live where and how they want.
– and how do you deal with your own guilt/worry/fear/sadness.
- go to Al Anon
- get counseling/therapy
- talk with supportive friends
- focus on your own life
It’s not about someone else respecting my boundaries, it’s about ME respecting my boundaries. The respect and empowerment are on ME.
Five Steps to Receive What You Want and Need
- REMEMBER – lose sight of what we want to please other people
- DESERVE – know you DESERVE to have your needs met
- ASK – When you KNOW and DESERVE, you request, not whine, nag, or give an ultimatum)
- RECEIVE – Be willing to RECEIVE.
- GRATEFUL – STAY GRATEFUL.
One day at a time…. doing the best you all can do.