Finally Being Adults Around Parents

One of the underlying reasons that we have problems with our in-laws could be that we have a problem with the authoritative parent figure.

Most of us have not come to terms with our relationship with our own parents – we still have a problem with being overly obedient to them, still being in “child” mode. Doing whatever they say, and not being able to say no. What often happens is when your own parents gets you to do something you don't want to do, after decline the first few times, we eventually flip and have a tantrum... back to ‘child’ mode. When we had tantrums as children, our parents would eventually come round and agree to our way of thinking, and we are still carrying that habit on into adulthood, regardless of the fact that our parents are now in their 60s.

If you do have this kind of relationship with your parents, it will only get worse with your in-laws, in fact it may snowball out of control, due to the fact that they are not your real parents, and you will always be thinking ‘I don't have to take this rubbish!’

Thus, when they try their normal ‘parental tactics’ and get you to do things (asking in a nice sweet way, of course), you agree, and do it in order to keep the parental figure happy. They ask a couple more times, and your patience starts to wear thin. Eventually, they ask (now making you feel guilty) on a day when you have a lot on your mind/plate and you *snap* and unleash your animosity at them, and they look absolutely bewildered at what has happened to you.

Unfortunately, we didn't get transition manuals on how to act like and adult once you have left your parent’s nest – but the truth is, we still haven’t learnt to how to grow out of our childish behaviour, and it is now spilling over onto other relationships, which is a deep shame.

Perhaps we as adults need to understand that we have indeed left the nest, and we have our own voice and opinion, and it does count. When our parents would like us to do something, and unwittingly (?) use guilt to manipulate us into doing something we don't really want, we need to grow up and politely decline! Just as we do to the salespeople who stand in the market place trying to get us to donate to a charity! Smile, say no, tell them you’re busy, and that’s it!

What about the guilt and manipulation – the possible tantrum that they throw, and the tears that follow, the asthma attack? Be patient, and weather the storm. This too shall pass. But don't forget to keep smiling (and breathing) and continue to do what you want to. By doing this, you will be sending out the message that

1) you love them, you really, really do.

2) you want to do this your own way

3) If they react badly to that, then you feel very sorry for them.

4) you are still going to do this your way.

How many of us have kids who have reacted so badly when we declined that extra sweet, television program that they cry blue murder until their faces are scarlet and they are trembling? What was the right thing to do – give in? No. The right thing was to say to them “your making an awful fuss about nothing, and when you have quite finished I will be here, waiting for you. My terms have not changed, and I still love you, very, very much.”

And the same goes for all the other people who you can't stand. This could be a sibling, or even a sibling-in-law. If you have mastered the art of saying no to your parents, without being manipulated into doing things you don't want to, you will have the skills to keep all manipulative people at bay.


Parental Figure: “Please come over to my house, I have seen you since three days ago, I miss you.”

You: “I would absolutely love to, *smile* it so much fun when we do that. But I’m really busy this week*sad face*.”

Parental Figure: “There must be a way you can fit me in, you do too much! You should make some time to fit me in!”
You: “I'm so sorry, I can't do it this week... Perhaps we can do it next week?”

Parental Figure: “Why did you cook today? I already cooked, who’s going to eat that? You must come over straight away!”

You: “Oh dear, I would love to, but I really want to stay at home today, and enjoy what I’ve cooked. ”

Parental Figure: “That's it! you’re so happy in your own life, you don't care for us anymore do you?”

You: “It’s not that! I do care about you *emphatically*, it’s just that I really enjoy cooking my own food, I’ll come over another day.”

Parental Figure: “You have phoned since last week! You have forgotten about me! You don't care!”

You: “Oh mum! I could never forget about you! I have been meaning to call but just didn't get round to it!”

Parental Figure: “Yeah right! If you missed me you would have called!”

You: “Oh I did miss you. How are you anyway....”

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