If you ever need advice about anything, ever, ask my mom. She knows everything. (Hi, mom! I love you!) She’ll tell you exactly how to handle any situation and then follow up to make sure you followed her directions, then demand to know why you didn’t follow her directions, then explain again why her directions are the best solution. As the child of a state trooper and two licensed ministers, I followed those directions to a T. So when I became an adult, I felt at a loss for what to do if/when I disagreed. How do you transition to an adult relationship with your parents? And how do you get your parents to accept you as an adult?
It’s even more challenging when you get married and start a family of your own. All of a sudden, the people who are used to having the first say in your life are third in line, after you and your spouse, or even further down the list!
Have you ever struggled to get your parents to accept you as an adult? Here’s what I’ve learned through trial and error (lots of error) over the last 17 years.
Help Your Parents to Accept You as an Adult By Acting Like One
- First of all, if you want your parents to accept you as an adult, then act like an adult. This is easier said than done, considering more 20- and 30-year-olds are living with, or dependent on, their parents than ever before. But it’s going to be hard to insist on being treated as a fully-functioning adult when they’re still paying your bills or doing your laundry or feeding you every night. I know, I know, that’s really sweet of your mom to continue paying your cell phone bill into your 30s. But every bill they pay, and every grown-up task they complete on your behalf, takes a little more footing out from under your adult stance.
- Second, if you must live with your parents, then do your fair share as a roommate. I understand finances often keep us from living independently from our parents. But again, every bill they pay, and every grown-up task they take on for you, undermines your adult status. So offer to chip in toward your part of the groceries and do your fair share of cooking. Pay your own phone bill, car payment, and insurance. Treat your parents just like you would an adult roommate. That includes doing your part in home upkeep and contributing financially whenever possible. However, unlike an apartment roommate, if it’s their house, it’s their rules. You expect to call the shots when you own a home one day. They expect the same.
Help Your Parents to Accept You as an Adult By Talking Like One
- Third, if you want your parents to accept you as an adult, don’t simply go along with advice or instructions you don’t agree with. Children dutifully act on their parents’ every command, whether they agree or not. It’s a tough transition, for both children and parents, but becoming an adult means cultivating the ability to respectfully disagree. That means that when your mom insists you choose a certain degree, take a job (or leave one), or move to the place she suggests, and you don’t agree, you speak up rather than resentfully following her plans. I like to thank my mother for her input, tell her I’ll be praying about the best decision for myself and my family, and leave it at that. You might be tempted to just agree with her to make her happy, then make your own decision. The problem is that the more you act as if you’re eating up someone’s advice, and depending on them to make the big decisions for you, the more advice they’ll give and expect you to follow.
- Fourth, with that said, don’t start conversations where you don’t want their input. One of my friends was once frustrated with her husband’s behavior. In an attempt to defend herself from his family’s judgement (who didn’t know the entire situation), she asked his mother to pray for her husband and their marriage. Guess who’s still in the middle of their marriage ten years later, constantly offering unsolicited advice? You guessed it! Parents (and parents-in-law) love you and want the best for you. And if you share an area where you’re struggling, you’d better believe they’ll be offering their best advice and support, and following up on it down the road. If you don’t want that kind of involvement, don’t open that door. After all, you can’t rightly push someone back out after you’ve invited them in to help you.
Help Your Parents to Accept You as an Adult By Respecting Your Spouse
- And finally, if you want your parents to accept you as an adult, demand respect for your marriage and your own family. I understand the sweet, eternal bond that you have with your parents. But when you start your own family, your spouse needs to know you value their input over your parents’. After all, they’re the main person living with the repercussions of any decisions you make for your family. That’s not to say that you can never ask your parents’ advice. But if your spouse feels their opinion doesn’t matter because you and your parents have already made the decision? I guarantee you and your parents will feel the backlash of your spouse’s resentment. I’m a Christian, so I wholeheartedly believe Ephesians 5:31 (ESV). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Your parents (and your spouse’s parents) should respect your marriage.
Wrap It Up
You are an adult, and you can help your parents to accept you as an adult by acting like an adult, speaking up (respectfully), guarding where you invite their input, and protecting your marriage from intrusion or resentment.
How did you get your parents to accept you as an adult? Be sure to share your best tips in the comments!
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