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Forging a New Bond

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FORGING A NEW BOND

Here are some tips to build an adult relationship with your parents.

Leave the past behind. Many people cling to old complaints about their parents well into adulthood, says Susan Newman, a psychologist and author of Nobody’s Baby Now. The twenties are the perfect time to bury such grudges. Instead, "Focus on their strengths and how to build your relationship going forward."

Ask your parents to do the same. If your parents still treat you like a child, don’t respond as if you were. Instead, ask them — calmly but firmly, as one adult to another — to lay off. Be specific, Newman advises: "Say, ‘Stop telling me this skirt’s too short or that I’m spending too much money on high-tech gadgets.’" Many people criticize more from habit than because they genuinely disapprove.

Accept your differences. Your parents may have married or finished graduate school by the time they were your age, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed if you don’t do the same. "Live your own life," advises Jane Adams, a psychologist who writes frequently about family issues. "Your parents’ choices and beliefs and values may be the ones you’re going to accept for yourself" — but examine the alternatives before you decide.

Establish new patterns. For example, if you’ve returned to your hometown, you may find your parents expecting you to visit more often than you want. "Set boundaries," Newman says. "Let them know you love them but you have other priorities. Say, ‘I can’t come for dinner every Sunday, but let’s make it once a month.’"

Do it yourself. After college — especially if you’re living in the family home —it’s tempting to revert to letting your parents handle your life. Instead, the experts say, view your parents as advisers and at least try to tackle your problems yourself. As Adams puts it: "Continuing to get all the answers from your parents is not growing up."

     

FORGING A NEW BOND

Here are some tips to build an adult relationship with your parents.

Leave the past behind. Many people cling to old complaints about their parents well into adulthood, says Susan Newman, a psychologist and author of Nobody’s Baby Now. The twenties are the perfect time to bury such grudges. Instead, "Focus on their strengths and how to build your relationship going forward."

Ask your parents to do the same. If your parents still treat you like a child, don’t respond as if you were. Instead, ask them — calmly but firmly, as one adult to another — to lay off. Be specific, Newman advises: "Say, ‘Stop telling me this skirt’s too short or that I’m spending too much money on high-tech gadgets.’" Many people criticize more from habit than because they genuinely disapprove.

Accept your differences. Your parents may have married or finished graduate school by the time they were your age, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed if you don’t do the same. "Live your own life," advises Jane Adams, a psychologist who writes frequently about family issues. "Your parents’ choices and beliefs and values may be the ones you’re going to accept for yourself" — but examine the alternatives before you decide.

Establish new patterns. For example, if you’ve returned to your hometown, you may find your parents expecting you to visit more often than you want. "Set boundaries," Newman says. "Let them know you love them but you have other priorities. Say, ‘I can’t come for dinner every Sunday, but let’s make it once a month.’"

Do it yourself. After college — especially if you’re living in the family home —it’s tempting to revert to letting your parents handle your life. Instead, the experts say, view your parents as advisers and at least try to tackle your problems yourself. As Adams puts it: "Continuing to get all the answers from your parents is not growing up."