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.
Linda Kroll is an Internal Family Systems therapist, mediator, attorney, and Chopra certified Master Teacher of meditation, yoga, and perfect health.
Linda merges psychotherapy and spirituality along with her financial and legal information to provide a unique method of relationship healing and transformation from the inside out.
She has her original systems of learning, Compassionate Meditation®, and Self-led Divorce® that have helped to change the lives of many people going through divorce. She does this one heart at a time. She is also a recent international best-selling author of the book, Compassionate Mediation® for Relationships at a Crossroads: How to Add Passion to Your Marriage or Compassion to Your Divorce.
P: Linda, I’d love to start for those who haven’t had the pleasure of knowing you yet, if you could tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to your passion and purpose, because you have such a varied and distinguished background.
LK: Thank you. I appreciate that and the introduction as well. To make the Reader’s Digest veesion of a long story as short as possible, I’m going to start when I was a little girl and then go for ward. I’m just kidding, but actually that is what I’m going to do, because there’s an inner child in all of us.
When I go back to my childhood, when I was very young, I had wonderful parents. My father is gone. My mother, thank God, is 94 and still with us. My father was an undiagnosed manic depres- sive when I was growing up, so there was a lot of yelling in my little two-bedroom house that I shared with my parents and my brother.
When I was a little girl, I would leave letters on the kitchen table before I’d go to bed. “Please talk nicer to each other. Just please talk nicer.” The letters would be gone, and nothing would be changed.
Now 65 or so years later, I’m writing and sometimes people are actually reading what I’m writing, as opposed to my parents who didn’t.
It’s always been about how can we talk with more compassion to each other. How can we be kinder? How can we understand ourselves with more kindness and self-love?
Jump ahead, many years later. I met and married my college sweetheart. We had two wonderful daughters. About 20 years into the marriage, I realized I was looking at divorce for a lot of different reasons.
Right after I had graduated college, I went to law school. I was a psych major. I went to law school, but I was fortunate to be able to stay home with my children. I told people I was doing family law, but I was really being a mom.
When I was looking at a divorce, even though I had my legal degree and license, I went back to become a mediator. I thought perhaps I could mediate my own divorce, but I often say that mediating your own divorce is kind of like delivering your own baby. It might be possible, but not the way you want to go.
Shortly after that, I knew that law and mediation were good for me to offer, but it didn’t really meet the fulfillment I wanted, so I went back to school and I became a licensed clinical professional counselor and I found Dick Schwartz and the Internal Family Systems way of doing therapy.
If anybody saw Inside Out, the Disney movie, I learned that from Dick 20 years ago and have been helping my clients with it, with the idea that we all have a higher SELF.
When we’re connected to that higher self, we’re calm, we’re clear, we’re compassionate. Instead of coming from our higher SELF, we’re usually coming from the Parts that were in the movie and many other parts.
I can explain that a little bit more later, but that’s what I brought to my practice – how do we get to our highest self, speak for the parts of us that are sad and scared and hurt, and not try to manage our pain by being stoic or codependent, and not get extreme when we can't manage the pain by eating too much or drinking or having an affair or however people cope.
How do you love yourself enough to connect to your highest self, let go of any limiting beliefs that you’ve had since childhood, unburden any pain that you’ve had, and really relate from your heart?
That’s the purpose of the book.
Teach people how to do it, and teach them to do it at a time when they are most confused and most in pain. That’s when they’re considering staying or leaving the relationship or marriages that they’re in.
P: How powerful is this? What a great contribution to the world! There’s always been a lot of need for what you do, but probably nev- er more than there is now.
LK: Thank you. I believe we’re all spiritual. It’s not my quote, but I
do believe that ‘we’re all spiritual beings having a human experience.’
In our human experience, we often react. When we’re coming from our highest self, we can observe and witness and respond.
To learn how to do that more, the Chopra Center came to Chicago, which is where I’m from, several years ago. Deepak Chopra and David Simon, Davidji and Claire Diab from the Chopra Center came and taught meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda, perfect health.
It called to me because my monkey mind – that 60,000 thoughts a day, ADD-related mind – would go on and on and on without an ability to really get to that quiet center that I knew that I had.
In studying meditation, I later learned how to teach it, along with yoga and with Ayurveda. I’m very proud to say that I think I’m one of 300, maybe 350 people in the world that have reached the level of Master Teacher that the Chopra Center out of California gives.
I weave into all that do, whether it’s individual counseling, couples counseling, divorce mediation, or coaching families. I weave into all of it the spiritual as well as the psychological, and then if people need it, both the legal and financial information too.
P: It’s just really incredible. It’s such an unusual technique.
LK: Thank you. That’s what led to the book, and the full title of the book is, Compassionate Mediation For Relationships at a Crossroad. The subtitle is, How to Add Passion to Your Marriage or Compassion to Your Divorce. The reason that I did that is because I have a lot of people. I’ve been seeing private clients and couples for almost 25 years now, and when they come to see me, they’re often so hurt and so confused that I realized the people who were in the most pain were the ones that were really up in the air about what they wanted to do.
Did they want to stay? Did they want to go? I looked at why did they want to go? Was it really irreconcilable? If they learned how to forgive themselves and each other, would it be possible to create something new?
Over the years, I’ve found myself saying the same thing over and over to the people that would come in.
The first session would be all about how do you get to your higher self. I would teach them the miracle of empathy, and then I went over information they would need to know if they would get divorced, like what would they do about their property division? What would they do for maintenance? What would they do about co-parenting or child support?
Once they had those bits of information coupled with a newfound ability to really speak with empathy and compassion and forgiveness, they had the opportunity to create a brand new relationship that was out of their reach before.
I wanted to make these tools available to everyone, wherever they are, in their relationship. If an individual comes to see me alone or reads the book, they have access to all this information that i give to my clients in my office.
P: That is so wonderful and the really beautiful thing about your book is that it went international bestseller. Now these tools and this unique approach are available to people all over the world.
LK: It is, and I want to acknowledge you, for anyone reading, who wants to work and have that same trajectory for their book, to really hire Viki to give you the tools to reach all those people in a way that you wouldn’t be able to yourself.
I am so eternally grateful to you, Viki, both your wisdom and your knowledge and your personality and the late night calls that went on during the book launch. I couldn’t have done it without you, and so grateful for all your help, truly.
P: Thank you so much. It’s always so lovely to be working with a really, really fine author and information that again is so incredibly valuable for people across the globe to be able to access. I think everyone has some information in them that they need to release, but this book is really very, very special. Linda, you’ve been doing this in a therapeutic setting for a long time. What made you decide to start writing the book?
LK: The reality is I would like to eventually make the tools available to everyone because as a mediator, I have a certain hourly rate, and when people come to see me, they pay that.
What I teach is more important than me, so I would like the system out there.
I would like the system helping people.
Beyond that, I would like to train other people to deliver Compassionate Mediation so that it becomes a whole new paradigm for conflict resolution — that anytime an individual or a couple is uncertain about where to go, they seek out someone who knows how to help them do Compassionate Mediation.
That new ability which is more than marriage counseling and more than divorce mediation, is a combination of the two of them in ways that they wouldn’t normally get.
To explain a little further, usually when a couple would come to me, there would be at least one member–sometimes two–but one member who thought more marriage counseling was going to be a waste of time.
They weren’t really invested in being present for more of the same. The other party didn’t want to talk about a divorce, because they were still hoping that a miracle would happen.
What Compassionate Mediation does and what the book does is give you the framework for talking about both and at the same time you’re learning forgiveness, compassion, and empathy, and all of the legal/financial issues, and even the parenting issues, and even the sexual issues that may divide you–finding a whole new way to communicate from your heart instead of from your head that has been judging and blaming and defending for sometimes years or decades.
P: What a fantastic position to be coming from. Regardless of what the outcome is, it has to just really enrich the relationship.
LK: Not only does it enrich the relationship, it saves the children the agony of what a typical divorce, separation, or even cold war happens, because children know everything.
Even if you’re not overtly fighting, they can see when a relationship is in trouble. They can see when parents don’t respect each other, don’t get along, aren’t affectionate, have their walls up around their heart to defend themselves, or are seeing their partner through the filter of judgment, which always strains the energy between them or the tone of their voice.
This process, Compassionate Mediation, can be used at any time, before, during, after separation, conflict, after a divorce, even to heal the family in a way that allows for two people who once loved each other to co-create a new relationship, whether it’s a new marriage that’s more passionate — or a separation or divorce that’s respectful, that really heals at the same time that it transforms.
P: That’s such a beautiful picture. Linda, you are such a busy lady. How did you determine that you wanted to write a book from the standpoint of the creative side? How do you boost your creativity with all that you’ve got going and all the business that you have going on to make that happen?
LK: I’d just tell anybody out there who’s thinking of it, just don’t give up on your dreams, because I think the first draft of this particular book began in 2000, if not before.
I just always knew that the message was important to share, because I think we’re all co-creators of whatever we create, and the universe, God, the divine, will work through us if we get our egos out of the way and let it.
I always knew that the book was there. It’s not my line, but like Michelangelo with the marble – ‘You just chisel away what’s not necessary and you get to the message that’s there.’
The message is really that love is the answer, but it starts with loving yourself.
My job as a therapist, as a mediator, as an attorney, as a coach, is to help people recognize that they’re already divine.
They already have inside them all they need, and possibly from their childhood, from other experiences, they have learned a certain way to manage their lives and manage their relationships, but it’s not really from their highest. It’s not really from their truest self.
They have to learn how to love themselves enough to be authentic, the courage to speak their truth, and to know that there is a divine plan for their life.
Even if they choose to leave their partner, there’s a divine plan for that parting that doesn’t have to be what the typical divorce has been in the past, which is adversarial and antagonistic, and ultimately destructive.
P: Yes, part of loving yourself is, as you say, when you have a dream as you did to actually get this out to the world in the way of a book. It is honoring yourself and loving yourself to give you the time in a busy schedule to be able to create that vehicle, that book.
LK: It took much more focus. I often say that it was much more difficult to deliver than my two children. It took much longer. It took many more hours to focus. I’m a little ADD, so that was dif- ficult.
I had two wonderful editors, CJ Schepers and also my cousin, Leonard Sharp, both two wonderful editors who were able to hone me in and get it done.
It’s also learning how to ask for help. Anything that you think you want to do, I would say get help for it.
I took Christine’s Kloser Get Your Book Done course. I took Big Beautiful Book Plan from Linda Sivertsen and Danielle LaPorte.
I’m happy to say that my transformational author book proposal was chosen both by Hay House and by New World Library as a winner. I ended up publishing it myself so I could get it out now.
I also am planning courses around it to either help the people who need Compassionate Mediation or train the people who want to learn it.
As far as the creative process goes, it’s really just giving yourself permission instead of looking for perfection and taking it a step at a time in as bite-sized chunks as possible.
The last mentor I want to mention – not the last, but one of my major ones, is the fabulous SARK – Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy.
I had the privilege of working with her both online and privately, and her beloved Dr. John Waddell were both mentors of mine who helped me to see that if I’m coming from an energy or pushing or needing to get it done or ego driven, it’s going to be hard.
If I could really get into a flow of knowing that I am being guided, and if I just show up in what SARK calls micro movements, little bits at a time, that the “how it’s going to get done” isn't as important as taking one step of inspired action at a time. That’s how I got it done.
P: So beautiful. What do you hope readers more specifically will take away from the book? If you had to pick one or two things, what would you like to see that be?
LK: Love and forgiveness.
P: That’s so simple and yet so unbelievably powerful.
LK: What I teach about compassionate communication and empathy and loving yourself and knowing you’re divine and the five steps to getting what you want and need,
it helps every relationship.
It’s a way of communicating that honors the higher self in your child, your parent, your coworker, your friend so that communication can shift from talking at someone to talking with someone or talking from your heart and your judgement and your blame, of talking with your head with those things, to really reaching into your heart and forgiving yourself and the other par- ty for not being better, knowing you’ve done the best you could, and from this point forward, you have a chance to do it better.
Love and forgiveness are miracle changers.