How to act around your girlfriends parents

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Tips for Meeting Your Girlfriends Parents

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2016-11-24 Jessica MacCleary

HI INTERNET PALS! Happy (slightly early) Thanksgiving! 😀 Today’s video is 10 tips for meeting your boyfriend’s / girlfriend’s / significant other’s parents and .

How to act around your girlfriends parents

Dress appropriately
First impression may not be the last, but it does leave a lasting image. Reserve those sexy clothes for dates, and go for something more old-school. At the same time, you don’t have to dress to the dimes. A pretty kurta teamed with tights is your safest options. The look is simple and chic.

Take a gift along It’s your first time at their place. You don’t want to go empty-handed. Parents want to feel respected for their position. So take some time out from your schedule, and go gift shopping with your guy. Buy them something they would use or need. Don’t opt for something exorbitant or fancy. Like your clothes, keep the gift simple. You don’t want it to come across like a bribe.

Go prepared
The aim of this meeting is to win the parents over. Treat it like a job interview. Do your homework. If you can, find out more about them in advance. Get a sense of the family’s culture. Ask your boyfriend about their likes and dislikes, so that you know what direction to veer your conversation in.

Let them do the talking
Once you’ve exchanged the pleasantries, follow their cues and let them start the talking. Avoid being overfriendly or too restrained. Sit back, and learn more about your ‘to-be’ through them. Once you have warmed up sufficiently, start sharing stuff about yourself. Although you may be awkward in a situation like this, you don’t want them to think you are withholding information. A good idea is to rehearse a mock conversation with your boyfriend.

Spare the man
Chances are that most of your conversation will revolve around the boy. Sharing stories and wanting to know more about him can be tempting, but see to it that you don’t get together with his parents and pick on him. His parents might want you to spill the beans about his quirks, but respect him and avoid it.

Don’t be a know-it-all
So, you know everything from the colour of his favourite shirt to how he loves mixing sauce with anything that he eats. Good for you. But don’t be Miss Blah-Blah in front of his parents. Understand that they know him better than you. Families can get fiercely protective. Even if you’re truly-madly-deeply in love, they’ll feel like they’ve got years on you. So relax, and go with the flow.

Refrain from PDA
Sit next to your guy, but avoid holding hands. Don’t even think about cuddling. Sure, their parents aren’t stupid and know that the two of you may have been up to mischief. But don’t flash it in their face. Be graceful.

Watch his ways
He may not be the otherwise loony-puppy-in-love around his parents. Instead, he may behave like a tantrum-throwing teenager. As long as he isn’t being a brat, you can relax. However, if he’s being too evasive or mean to you, have a chat with him post the rendezvous, and tell him that you didn’t appreciate his behaviour. It’s important that he treats you well in front of his parents.

Ignore the ex-factor
Okay, so they may have been completely smitten by one of his ex-girlfriends. Perhaps, your guy even brought her home. But don’t be too bothered. It’s the story of his past and doesn’t matter anymore. If his folks bring it up, don’t dig too much. Smile and simply change the subject. He loves you and they love him.

Another chance
And if you don’t hit it off with them at the outset, don’t beat yourself black and blue about it. Give them the benefit of doubt. Perhaps, like you, they too were shy and needed time to open up. Remember, there’s always a second chance.

Consider how long you’ve been divorced, your children’s ages, and how committed you are before introducing a new partner. Waiting will pay off for everyone in the long run.

How to act around your girlfriends parents

One of the most common questions divorced parents ask me is: When should I be introducing a new partner to my children? My best answer is to take your time dating after divorce and don’t introduce your new love to your kids if you are dating casually.

While it’s normal to seek solace, companionship, and a sexual relationship after a breakup, it’s crucial to take it slow so you can assess whether this relationship is casual or might be permanent.

When Introducing a New Partner to Your Kids, Timing Is Key

The number-one thing to keep in mind when deciding when to introduce a new partner to your kids is timing after your divorce. What’s the hurry? Even if both of you are in love and seem to have a lot in common, breakups are common and kids get caught in the crossfire. Next, the setting and length of the first introduction is crucial to success. Meeting in an informal setting may help your kids feel more relaxed. Rather than planning a long visit, it’s best to have a brief, casual meeting with few expectations.

Another important consideration when introducing your kids to a new love interest is their age. Truth be told, younger children (under age 10) may feel confused, angry, or sad because they tend to be possessive of their parents. Renowned researcher Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., who conducted a 20-year study of children of divorce, concluded that most children find their parent’s courtship behaviors confusing and strange.

On the other hand, adolescents may appear more accepting of your new partner than younger children, but they may still perceive that person as a threat to your relationship. Dr. Ahrons also found that teenagers may find open affection between their parent and a partner troubling – so go easy on physical contact in front of them. Do you want your teenager to model their behavior after you? If so, you owe it to yourself and your kids to build new relationships thoughtfully.

Introducing a New Partner to Your Kids Can Be Painful If the Kids Are Hoping Their Parents Will Reconcile

I’ve witnessed many new relationships go sour when a partner is introduced to children too quickly. It can cause anguish for everyone – especially children who are probably holding on to the idea that their parents will eventually get back together. It may take time for your children to accept a new person in their life.

For example, Caroline, a 36-year-old teacher, described her new partner Kevin as thoughtful, affectionate, and a great match for her. They had been dating for a little over two months and she was head over heels in love with him. But she began questioning their relationship when her daughter Baylie, age eight, starting complaining about Kevin coming over – especially when his nine-year-old son, Ryan, came along for the visit. She didn’t understand why Baylie didn’t share her enthusiasm for Kevin because he was so perfect for their family.

As Caroline spoke, disappointment was apparent in her voice: “Kevin’s just so ideal for our family and I can really be myself with him. He has a son and is a great dad. I figured that Baylie would like him because he’s a lot of fun and I was blindsided when she started complaining about him.”

During our second session, I asked Caroline if she had thought through any disadvantages of introducing her daughter Baylie to Kevin so soon. She paused and said “not really” and so I asked her to write down a list of pros and cons for her homework assignment. When Caroline arrived for her next session, she reported that she was having second thoughts about whether she had rushed into including Kevin in so many activities with Baylie, and she realized that Baylie was seeing him as a rival for her attention.

Here are the 5 Rules for Introducing Your New Partner to Your Kids

  1. Timing is essential to healthy family adjustment after divorce. Children need time to adjust to their parents’ split and it can take a year or two for them to get over anger, sadness, and other emotions. If you introduce your children to someone who you are dating casually, this may complicate their adjustment to your divorce.
  2. Keep in mind that your kids may view your new love as a rival. Just because you are smitten with your partner, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your positive feelings.
  3. Consider your children’s needs for security and reassurance. Introducing a new partner to your kids too soon can increase stress in the house and take energy away from your kid’s ability to grieve the loss of their intact family. Be sure to give your kids lots of reassurance that you have plenty of love to go around.
  4. Ask yourself: Is my love interest a good fit for my family? After all, you might have great chemistry with someone, but they might not be best suited to become part of your family.
  5. Invite your children’s feedback for ideas about how and when they meet your new partner for the first time. If you’ve been dating someone for a while and feel relatively confident that you are heading toward commitment, talk to your children and explain that you are dating someone who you care about and that you’d like to introduce to them. Ask them if they have any questions. Keep the first meeting short and low key. Going to a restaurant or neutral spot for the first meeting is best. Ask your kids where they’d like to go and don’t invite your partner’s children to join you on the first few visits.

Be sure to be careful about sleepovers with your partner when you have children living with you. It’s not wise to plan an overnight with your new love interest in your home right away because it can increase rivalry between them and your kids. If you co-parent, it should be easy to spend an overnight with them when your children are with your ex. Having your new partner spent the night should only be an option once you are fairly sure that your relationship is permanent or you are engaged.

Let your children know that you have an abundance of love to go around. It’s crucial that you assure your kids that your partner will not replace their other parent or change your relationship with them. Don’t be surprised if your children reject your new partner at first. Some kids express anger or defiance and may even threaten to move out – or go to live with their other parent full-time. Adopt realistic expectations about your children’s acceptance of your new partner. Just because you are enthralled with this person, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your enthusiasm.

Wait Until Your Kids Have Healed from the Divorce Before Introducing a New Partner to Your Kids

In sum, the key to successful parenting post-divorce is helping your kids heal from your breakup, and introducing them to a new love too soon might complicate, delay, or damage this process. You can simply tell your kids that you’re going out with a new friend and that’s enough information. Consider the amount of time since your divorce, the age of your children, and the level of commitment to your partner. Waiting on introducing a new partner to your kids will pay off for everyone in the long run.

How to act around your girlfriends parents

When you’re younger, you pretty much assume there must be a parenting guidebook, or at least a class, that taught all parents-to-be the rules and privileges they would allow for their kids. But as we get older and interact with more "adults," we realize that parents can come in all shapes and sizes, and some parents might be toxic when they’re meddling in the relationships and decisions that their grown children make. How many times do you hear about someone whose partner has toxic parents, or someone who has been forced to end a relationship due to a mom or dad who didn’t think they were the right choice for their son or daughter? Or, for those of you who are on the way towards marriage, how much unwanted input has your future mother-in-law offered that didn’t fit your vision or budget?

We’re taught to love and respect our parents through the good and bad, but unfortunately, some people have parents that are so toxic that they unknowingly drive their kids away. While it’s ideal to always have a great relationship with mom and dad, sometimes it’s just much easier said than done.

When it’s your significant other that has the toxic parent, things get a bit more muddled. While you don’t want to be the person to suggest they go no-contact, you’re also tired of seeing your partner’s parents boss them around and cause them a bunch of distress. There’s a good chance that your significant other is in denial over the relationship, since face it — nobody wants to officially come to terms with the fact that they’ve been raised by narcissistic or cruel people who may not have their best interests at heart.

If he or she is on the fence, here are some signs that your partner has a pair of toxic parents.

1. They continue to ask for financial help.

Helping out your parents financially is a nice thing to do. After all, think about how many expenses they covered for us back before we had a job. Of course, this kind act can quickly turn messy, since hello, money is involved.

If your significant other is helping with some bills, that’s one thing. But if the money given is never enough, or being spent on frivolous, questionable purchases, he or she is being taken advantage of. If you’re strapped for cash yourself, you should always remember that your financial stability is your top priority. Both sets of parents are, obviously, adults, and should know how to budget their own money by now.

2. They constantly make your significant other feel bad.

Whether it’s a set of snarky comments or making them feel like they should be doing better, your partner always seems to feel a little down after a visit. There’s a good chance that your guy or girl tries really, really hard to please them, but nothing ever seems to be good enough. Parents might not always like the actions that their kids take, but they should at least acknowledge all of the great accomplishments they’ve achieved.

3. They act like your significant other just isn’t around enough.

His or her parents live a distance away, and you always try your hardest to visit during special occasions. However, this isn’t good enough for them. Since they made an effort to live close to their parents, they expect you to drop everything and move closer to them. While all parents wish their children were closer, you feel as if this exchange isn’t necessarily because they miss your boyfriend or girlfriend’s company — they just want to have the security of knowing they’re easily around if they want or need something. They don’t seem to realize that the distance isn’t a personal diss, it’s just where their job was located.

4. They’ve already planned out your future.

They have a say on the amount of kids you’ll have and when, even if you’re really not feeling children. They also want to invite their 50 church friends to their wedding, not because they like these people, but because they want to gloat that their child is getting married. Even if you wanted a small wedding, it’s impossible with a demanding future mother-in-law. Even if she’s not financially supporting the wedding, it’s her word over all others.

5. They constantly compare your significant other to his or her siblings.

Everything’s a competition in their house. If your partner failed to do something, no doubt about it that their little brother would have had no problem with the task. It’s gotten to the point where the relationship that your partner has with their siblings is a little strained, as well. Parents should never compare kids. Plain and simple.

6. They judge your parenting, and often bring it up.

If you’re a parent, you know it’s hard work. You also know that your significant other’s parents don’t agree with any of your choices on the matter. In fact, going to visit with your little one is like a fail compilation. It’s tough, since you want your child to have a good relationship with their grandparents, but you also don’t want your kid to grow up and think that they could have done a lot better with their grandparents in charge.

7. Visits lead to more awkward moments than happy moments.

When you go to visit, you can guarantee that there’ll be at least one argument. In fact, you’ve started resenting the visits, since you’ve developed anxiety about when the explosion will be happening. Your partner’s parents, in your eyes, have a list of things they’ve been waiting to start fights about, and feel more comfortable airing their grievances when they know you’ll have difficulty escaping the situation. While all parents often argue with their kids, it’s not normal to expect to walk into a disagreement every single time.

8. Nothing your significant other does is good enough.

He got a raise at work, but it wasn’t a big one. In fact, if only he became an accountant like his dad, he would have had a much easier time paying the bills and supporting himself. Even though he had no interest in balancing books, it was the right path for him to take, and his parents will never let him forget it.

Parents who have unrealistic ideals regarding their kids love to pull the "I’m right, you’re wrong" card, which can really be a blow to anyone’s self esteem. No matter how proud you are of his or her accomplishments, you know their parents won’t understand the significance of these minor successes. It’s just really tough to navigate a relationship where parents just can’t find a way to be happy for their kid.

So, what’s your role as the significant other? Be supportive. If your partner decides to go no contact, it’s a choice that they have to make. If the "grin and bear it" technique works best, make sure you know that you hate seeing them so unhappy, and always have their back. When toxic parents are involved, it’s best to work as a team to navigate the obstacles ahead.

Our children are the lights of our lives. We all start off as parents envisioning nothing but success, love and happiness for them. However, these dreams often do not manifest because they are not getting the important things they need to become disciplined, mature and motivated adults. The following are eight parenting f*ck-ups that will guarantee your child will suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, tense family relationships, problems with friends, low self-esteem, a sense of entitlement and chronic emotional problems throughout his or her life.

1. Ignore or minimize your child’s feelings. If your child is expressing sadness, anger or fear and you mock them, humiliate them, ignore or tease them you minimize what they feel. You essentially tell them what they feel is wrong. When parents do this they withhold love from their child and miss opportunities to have open and vulnerable connections teaching them to bond and to know they are loved unconditionally.

2. Inconsistent rules. If you never talk about your expectations, you keep your child from knowing how to behave appropriately. Children live up or down to what you expect. Rules give them guidelines and boundaries to help them define who they are, good and bad. If you keep your child guessing and life is vague, they will begin to act out to find the boundaries themselves, which leads to low self-esteem and problem behavior.

3. Make your child your friend. Never share all your worries, concerns and relationship problems with your child or ask their advice. If you act helpless and defeated to your children they will never learn to respect you and will treat you as an equal or an inferior because you have used them for your own therapy. You must show your children you can stand up to problems, face your challenges and handle life through all the stress and come out on the other side. Be real, have your emotions, but do not burden your children.

4. Put down your child’s other parent. If you never show affection and love to your partner/spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. If you are always putting your spouse down and rejecting him/her, threatening divorce, you create a chronic state of anxiety for your child. If you are already divorced and you remain cold, distant, bitter, angry and blaming of your ex-spouse, you are sending the subtle message to your child that your ex-spouse is the cause of the divorce and you need to be the preferred parent. This is parent alienation.

5. Punish independence and separation. When we punish our children for growing up, we make them feel guilty for having normal developmental needs and desires which often causes deep insecurity, rebellion, cutting and other forms of behaviors that indicate failure to be able to branch out and be themselves as independent people.

6. Treat your child as an extension of you. If, as a parent, you link your own image and self-worth to your child’s appearance, performance, behavior, grades and how many friends they have, you let them know they are loved not for who they are but for how well they perform and make you look good. This turns them into pleasers rather than doers, and they will always worry about being good enough.

7. Meddle in your child’s relationships. Directing every action your child takes in their relationships — from friends to teachers — inhibits their maturity. For example, if your child gets in trouble at school and you immediately rush to talk to the teacher to get them off the hook, or you are constantly telling your child how to be a friend, as your child grows he/she will never learn to navigate the sharper edges relationships bring on their own.

8. Over-protect. When we protect our children from every problem and emotion, it creates a sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem that often crosses the line into narcissism. They expect life to be easier than it is. They want everything done for them no matter how they behave. They then become depressed and confused when they don’t get what they believe they deserve.

How to act around your girlfriends parents

1. She’s not trying to compete with you for his attention.
Actually, you’re probably last in the line of her competition. Sad but true, she’s more worried about other girls her age getting in the way, than you spending time with him every Sunday afternoon.

2. She’s not a carbon copy of his ex-girlfriend.
So please don’t expect her to be as perfect or as horrible as the one who came before her.

3. She desperately wants to impress you.
If she seems awkward and shy or she accidentally talks too much, it’s probably because she’s beyond nervous. Meeting you solidifies the connection she has with your son, but it’s nothing if she doesn’t get your approval. Plus, nothing feels better than hearing, “Oh my God, my mom loves you!”

4. She wants to be friends.
In her ideal world, it wouldn’t feel awkward to text you and ask what you plan on getting him for Christmas, or what she should wear to the family wedding she’s attending as your son’s guest.

5. She knows that you know better.
There are times when your son is sick and she’s not sure how to help him get better, or needs advice that only a mother can give. She knows where your territory is, and when you can do a much better job as his shoulder to lean on than she can.

6. She could be a good ally.
Even if you talk to your son every single day, there are probably some things that he tells her but never tells you. She’s in the know and you can be, too, if the two of you get along. If he’s going through something and she’s not sure what advice to give him, she might turn to you—if she’s comfortable enough to do that.

7. Your words are really powerful.
Being that she wants so badly to impress you, she pays attention to everything you say, and how you say it. If you mention that you hate tulips, she’ll remember that for your next birthday. If you compliment her hairstyle, she’ll wear it like that more often. Chances are she’s internalizing most of your opinions, so be mindful of how you present everything, from criticism to praise.

8. Don’t baby him.
When you consistently cook and clean for him, even if he didn’t ask you to, he gets accustomed to full-on mom treatment. She can’t keep up with this when you’re not around, so please let him pack his own suitcase for that upcoming trip.

9. She wants what’s best for him, too.
When he’s happy, she’s happy. She’s rooting for him to get that promotion, too. She wishes he would go to the doctor instead of being stubborn. She knows he needs regular time with the guys. These are things you will probably agree on more often than not.

10. She’s just like you.
You were once a young girl in love, were you not? Try to remember that feeling and make things easier on her by giving her a chance. You’ll suddenly realize you have at least that in common.

Sometimes I find myself acting like an entirely different person when I’m around different people. Some of my friends bring out the “tomboy” in me, while I act like a “girly girl” around other friends. And this really confuses me.

I feel dishonest about the person that I really am, and I feel as thought I don’t really know myself. I’m afraid if my friends notice these changes in my behaviour, they’ll think I’m “fake” or “two-faced”. This discourages me from going out, meeting new people, and letting my true personality shine.

If you’re like me and are confused about the person you really are, and if this confusion discourages you from socializing and bonding with people, do not be alarmed. You probably don’t suffer from bipolar or multiple personality disorder or such. In fact, it is normal to have contradictory traits.

You can be outgoing and shy.

You can be patient and impatient.

You can be caring and uncaring.

But then with all these opposing traits, how do we even function? We must seem like a big mess to everyone around us! Well that’s not true.

Think of your traits as a big filing cabinet. Your mind organizes your traits into files. Psychologists call these files schemas.

Schemas are mental structures that guide how we think and what we do.

Each one of us has a number of self-schemas. I personally have a student schema, a daughter schema, a friend schema, a girlfriend schema, employee schema and many more.

You might feel like you have contradictory characteristics because you have multiple schemas.

Your brain needs to pull files out of your mind’s filing cabinet depending on the situation you are facing. This file gives you the information you need in order to deal with that specific situation.

I used to work as a cashier in a very terrible shoe store. There were tens of people coming in everyday, complaining about the low quality of shoes and high prices. Although I was not responsible for the company’s mistakes, the job required me to be patient when a customer was being difficult. My “employee” file included my patient self.

On the contrary, when I’m having arguments with a close friend, and when he/she is hurting my feelings, I react differently than when I did at work. I become impatient, jump in the middle of their sentences and point out their mistakes. My brain pulls out a “disagreement with friends” file that includes my impatient self.

But don’t worry. This doesn’t mean we’re two-faced or anything. In fact, researchers say the more schemas we have, the better!

Why is it Good to Have Multiple Schemas?

Having multiple schemas means that if you lose one, it won’t feel as bad as it would have if you had fewer schemas.

Our romantic-life schema is a BIG one. Many people who spend a lot of time with their partners and pay less attention to their immediate family, work and hobbies become devastated following a break up. They feel a great void in their lives, because they are used to being a boyfriend/girlfriend and nothing else. This is why it’s so important to work on your career, stay in touch with family members, meet new people and participate in physical and artistic activities.

Having multiple schemas means you will be able to deal with new situations better.

If all you have is a ‘student schema’ and an ‘at home schema’, you will not know how to socialize with people you’ve never met before.

If a stranger starts a conversation with you, you will not know how to interact with that individual verbally or physically.

When there’s no “how to interact with a stranger” file, you are left stuttering, looking afraid and confused. Or maybe your mind will pull out your ‘at home’ file, in which you will be too friendly and you end up revealing all the embarrassing events of your day. They will probably be turned off and back away.

Instead of letting these schemas confuse you, use them to your advantage.

Go out and create new schemas. Get an “at gym” schema, an “at art class schema”, an “at a music festival schema”.

Not only will you have more fun, you will explore who you are and discover your capabilities. You will add more files to your “me” cabinet, and get to know yourself more.

When you engage in more activities and put yourself in different situations you will also find a pattern in your behavior. As we grow older and our life experiences increase, we learn more about our identity. Hence we experience less confusion. Also, we will learn how to deal with different situations better.

Please take a minute and share this post with your friends. Chances are, they might be as confused about themselves as we are, and would benefit from reading this post.

Remember that many people feel the way you do, myself included. So don’t be afraid to be your many amazing selves.

It's more comfortable for a child to be cuddled by a parent than for a teenager.

Separating from childhood to begin the journey of adolescence (around ages 9-13), young people reject many childish ways—interests and likes—in order to act more grown up. In the process, they may elect to give up the expressing and the accepting of physical affection with parents (sometimes just the expressing, sometimes just the accepting, sometimes both) in order to show that they no longer want to be defined and treated as a child.

In doing so, adolescents can create a loss that they never quite get over—the letting go of a powerful non-verbal intimacy with parents.

What parents may encounter at this juncture is a more standoffish and physically unresponsive son or daughter who shies away from the old contact because now it feels inappropriate, even embarrassing, diminishing the older status that they seek. Also, after puberty, when the need for physical privacy is increased, the teenager often wants parental touch to be more circumspect so it is not, however unintended, experienced as sexually obtrusive. An affectionate parent can pat, physically play with, and wrestle with a child in ways that are simply off-limits with an adolescent.

Sometimes you can tell how much they miss the old parental touch and hug and kiss when they get angry seeing a parent cuddle a much younger child. “Why don’t you stop hugging on her?” Or, “You’re going to spoil him!” And a little later, the teenager engages in some age-inappropriate teasing of the much younger sibling. Why? The answer is because it’s painful to witness what he or she has forsaken, but is still missing. Growing up requires giving up, and ceasing physical affection with parents can create a hard loss.

It helps ease and lessen the loss when parents can do two things: continue to offer a lesser form of physical affection, and provide expression of caring through words when acts of physical affection are disallowed. Patting your teenager on the back or giving them a side hug can often get through the painful wall of refusal that is keeping the teenager from the primal parental touch that they still miss.

Remember, if you can keep some level of physical contact in place, then as the teenager grows older, and becomes more confident in being older, the acceptance, expression, and reciprocation of physical affection can open up again.

Verbal contact that conveys caring is more important the less welcoming of physical contact the adolescent becomes. Using words to convey sensitivity, empathy, support, interest, attention, approval, and appreciation can all communicate the emotional warmth that physical affection so efficiently conveys. And never underestimate the power of a friendly smile to warm a beleaguered teenager’s heavy heart, as well as laughing with each other and making time to have fun together.

Adolescent boys are particularly susceptible to giving up physical affection from parents because not only does that demonstration of caring feel childish, it also feels unmanly, at least according to the notion that to be a man means being proof against the childish need for parental touch. In response, parents usually back off to respect the more physically aloof definition he is after.

Then, what I sometimes see happen in high school age young men going through a romantic breakup is greater difficulty processing the devastation than for young women, who often seem better emotionally equipped to process the loss than young men who can silent up or even act out the pain—young women often seeking and finding emotional support, young men often going it alone.

Fortunately, there are many cases of teenagers, including young men, who keep the door to physical affection with parents open all through their growing up. They are mature or wise enough to understand how forsaking this primal connection is not some adolescent obligation. They do not treat it as a necessary loss. For most others, however, the degree of giving and receiving a loving touch, or hug, or kiss with parents is intermittently permitted depending on mood and circumstance, perhaps accepting and giving it more on close family occasions, for example, and resisting it when in front of friends.

So physical affection from parents with their adolescent can be a hit or miss proposition. And when it is a miss, and the parental overture is turned away, it’s important that parents don’t take that as a personal rejection. It’s better, when refused to just assume the time or mood or circumstance isn’t right, take a rain check, and try again another time when, weather permitting, conditions will be more favorable.

In the meantime, never forget to use that old verbal substitute for physical affection that never goes out of style and that is almost as primal as a hug or kiss in its way—those three little words that you can never tell your teenager too often: “I love you.”

Learning how to sidestep guilt and be a positive influence for your adult child.

You see your son’s phone number (from the line you are paying for) come up on your Caller ID. It is your day off from work and you planned to decompress. But it is, after all, your child, and you love him, so you accept the call. As you hear his voice, you have conflicting thoughts including, “What the heck is it now?” immediately followed by your guilt for being wary of, and anxious about, what your son is seeking.

Your son goes on a 20-minute rant about how his former boss was a jerk and that he still can’t find another job. He mentions that he has no money for his car payment. You start to explain that you have financial pressures too and he immediately says, “Fine, don’t worry about me!” You then say, “Only this time,” but you know your words have a hollow ring, since you’ve said this so many times before. So, with mixed emotions, you agree to go by his apartment later to “loan” him money to pay his rent. As usual, he promises to pay you back, but you know that will never happen. You think about how this chaos is unsustainable (your son is 29) and wonder when he will ever learn to stand on his own two feet.

Do You Enable?

Enabling, is fixing problems for others and doing so in a way that interferes with growth and responsibility. Do you create an enabling dynamic for your adult child? If he, for example, buys a new audio system for his car instead of paying rent this would result in a consequence of losing an apartment. An enabler rushes in and removes the consequence, giving the adult child no reason or opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.

Helping Your Adult Child Without Enabling

Does helping your adult child tend to become a pattern of unhealthy rescuing? If you try to “save” your adult child every time he or she is in trouble, you may be making things worse in the long run. Do you struggle with knowing where to draw that fine (or not so fine) line between letting him learn how to stand on his own two feet and bailing him out? Parents, for sure, need to be thoughtful about how to assist their adult children without enabling them.

Adult children who remain overly dependent on their parents often are allowed to get into this situation because their parents enable them, as discussed above. Perhaps this relationship dynamic stems from parents who want to be needed. Setting boundaries with your adult child can sometimes be the best thing to do, even when it is hard to say, “I am here to listen and here’s what I can offer, but I also think you will feel better about yourself if you figure this out on your own.”

Whether you’ve got a 35-year-old daughter who keeps asking for money while falsely claiming she will pay you back, or a 25-year-old son who just can’t keep a job, adult children who behave immaturely can be stressful. I have seen many sad stories in my office of families with children over 21 (in one case 44!) who still are overly dependent on their parents. It can be very challenging for parents to set limits with adult children whom have become overly dependent. The parents often feel drained and emotionally depleted. They want their child to be happy on his own, yet they live in fear of not doing enough to help their child get there. This is by no means an easy situation!

In some cases these adult children may have significant mental health issues, including addictions, which need to be addressed. At the same time, mental health treatment does not have to be mutually exclusive from the adult child contributing to their recovery in any way they can. Too many times, however, I see parents overly rescuing their children from their problems. While it may feel good for parents to do this, the implicit (or even explicit) message to the child is, “You’re not competent to make it on your own.” Parents in this situation can help themselves to be mindful of enabling their child by being carefully considering the following questions:

  • Does your child now act entitled to, and demand, things you once enjoyed giving—car privileges, gifts, perks at home, or rent money?
  • Does it feel like you are living from crisis to crisis with your adult chld?
  • Do you sacrifice too much to meet your adult child’s needs?
  • Are you afraid of hurting your child?
  • Are you feeling burdened, used, resentful, or burnt out?

Encouraging Them to LIve in Their Own Skin—Skin That’s Also in The Game

As children either graduate or quit school, they need to increasingly have “skin in the game” and strive toward being self-sufficient. This does not mean parents should abruptly put their adult child on the street. At the same time, the adult child needs to “own” his or her goals and plans to become self-reliant.

Sometimes, crises occur that send children back home such as a bad breakup, problems at college, or health issues. This is acceptable as long as there is a plan in place for the adult child to become independent.

Try not to be adversarial as you encourage your child to become more independent. The goal is to be supportive and understanding with a collaborative mindset. Be calm, firm, and non-controlling in your demeanor as you express these guiding expectations below to motivate your adult child toward healthy independence: