No matter how old you are, your parents will try to parent you. They’ve done it for many years, and switching roles to that of a friend more than a disciplinarian can be challenging. It’s imperative that you set boundaries with your folks. Even adult children should let their parents know what you expect from them.
Some folks can transition seamlessly from being a hands-on parent to allowing you to try your wings in the adult world. Other folks will struggle greatly with this transition. It’s often easier to make such a shift if you’re married or in a committed relationship with someone to take care of you.
You’ll make many mistakes when you’re single and trying to find yourself. Parents find it challenging to stay back and remain silent. Still, if you want a quality relationship with them, you must show them how you want to be treated.
Ten Ways to Set Boundaries in Adulthood with Your Parents
Your parents will inevitably cross the line a few times once you become an adult. They may give you an opinion you didn’t ask them for, or they might try rearranging your home when they visit.
While their guidance is helpful in some instances, you don’t need help with food choices, cleaning tips, or what time you go to bed. Some people find it challenging to let go of the control they had over you, and now that you’re grown, they get less say. Here are some ways for you to navigate the process of setting healthy limitations in adulthood.
1. Have Difficult Conversations About What’s Best
Before you start the process of setting limitations, you need to have a meeting of the minds. You need to see their position and openly state your feelings. When your parents feel like you’re excluding them from your life, they may be more eager to call or show up at all hours of the day or night.
Having some challenging but honest conversations is the best place to start. In many instances, the parents struggle with issues like empty-nest syndrome and finding their purpose in their life. However, if you want to navigate the situation effectively, you’ll both listen to each other and compromise.
Empty-nest syndrome is an actual condition that can cause devastating symptoms. According to a study cited in the National Library of Medicine, depressive symptoms and cognitive impairments have been linked to the common middle-aged condition.
2. Confront Issues Directly
Remember that your parent will forever look at you as a child. It doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or 50; you’re still their kid. It’s challenging for them to realize your independence, so you need to confront issues as they come.
If you push things under the rug to avoid conflict, you’re only delaying the trouble for another day. Most times, parents have issues understanding and respecting your wishes for personal space in adulthood, so you must remind them firmly but politely. Emotional transparency is an essential part of any relationship.
3. Take Their Advice as Suggestions Not Law
When you set boundaries, it doesn’t mean that your parents won’t give you unsolicited advice. It’s something that parents do and will forever do until they leave this earth. You must realize that these are suggestions and not the law.
You are under no obligation to follow their advice, and you won’t be in trouble if you don’t do it. You get to make the ultimate choice for your life and happiness. Consequently, most of their advice comes from a place of love and concern, and many of the roads you’re walking they’ve already been down.
Use the advice to help you make better choices and tune out the nagging and things that cross boundaries. Parental gaslighting is a growing issue, and you have a right to put strict limitations on toxic people in your life.
4. Establish Physical Boundaries Between Parents and Adult Children
Setting physical boundaries means your parents can’t show up to your place of employment or home anytime they want. Some people have a rule that you must call before you come over.
If they stop by, they have no idea what you’re doing, and you might be exhausted from work and not feel like company. Set boundaries for your physical person and property so they know what’s acceptable to you.
5. Adult Children Must Break Dependency by Cutting Financial Ties
Perhaps you’re to blame for some reasons why your parents are too involved in your business. If they’re financially supporting you in any way, you must look at things from a different perspective. You need to realize that there must be financial boundaries. People who give you a place to live or pay your bills will always feel more entitled than if you stand alone.
You must pay rent if you’re living at home while saving for a house. Don’t run to them each time you need a dime, as this is another way you build dependency. Finally, pay back every dime if you get a loan from your folks.
6. Frame Limits with Gratitude and Appreciation
Please know that when you set boundaries, you must do so in a pleasant way. Conversely, it would help to put your expectations on the table with respect. You don’t want to hurt your parents, who love and care about you deeply, but you want to establish some guidelines or rules for the relationship.
For instance, your mom brings you a burger for lunch. You’ve told her many times that you observe a vegetarian lifestyle now, but she’s crossed the line. Rather than being rude and not appreciating her gesture, try saying something like this:
“Thank you so much for thinking of me and bringing me lunch. However, I told you that I’ve switched to a plant-based diet, so I can’t eat it. I don’t want you to waste any hard-earned money in the future.”
Using a statement like this allows you to get your point across in a healthy manner.
7. Let Go of the Fear of Failure and Stop Trying to Please Them
Everyone wants to please their parents, as it’s something that’s just born into you. You want your folks to be proud of you and your accomplishments. Sadly, many people live their entire lives trying to please others, which is unhealthy.
It would help if you cut the ties that bind, or the proverbial apron string, as it’s often called. Your definition of success should never relate to pleasing anyone but yourself. Sometimes they’re disappointed and hope you will make a different choice, but you must remind yourself that you don’t need to earn their love or approval to be happy in adulthood.
8. Stop Guilt Trips Immediately
When you set boundaries with your parents, they may be inclined to guilt trip you. Your folks are going through many changes, and they’re probably lonely. Assume your mother keeps showing up at your door unannounced, and it’s bothering you. When you confront her, she may use guilt-ridden statements like:
- “Well, I had to come and see you because you never come over anymore.”
- “I’ve raised and loved you for many years; how can you treat your mother this way?”
- “Do you not love me anymore?”
- “It seems you’re never there when I need you these days.”
While it’s hard to set boundaries into adulthood, you can’t let them guilt trip you once you’ve laid down the law. Don’t accept these statements; you must counter the need for her to consider the limitations.
9. Adult Children Should Enforce Healthy Emotional Boundaries
Emotional boundaries are just as important in adulthood as physical ones. A significant issue most people face is their parents interfering with their relationships, which is challenging when they think they know better than you. Emotional boundaries will help you to keep a healthy connection and have fewer grievances.
10. Develop Consequences for Not Following Set Boundaries
Adulthood is rough but trying to keep on good terms with your parents and having limitations can be tricky. These issues always increase when there are children, as they feel like experts. You can ensure you will get plenty of unsolicited advice regarding kids.
The boundaries you’ve set are not negotiable if they’re in a place to make you happy and keep drama to a minimum. If your parents can’t respect you enough to follow your guidelines, there must be consequences. For instance, your daughter loves to stay at her grandparent’s home, but every time she goes for the night, they let her watch movies that are not appropriate for her age.
She always has nightmares after a visit. The best way to handle this is to tell them that she can’t come back for overnight stays until they learn to respect your boundaries. Yes, punishing your parents seems a bit harsh, but there are consequences for poor choices.
You’re the parent, so you make the rules for your child. Toxic grandparents can cause a lot of issues.
Final Thoughts on Ways How Adult Children Can Set Boundaries
Boundaries and limitations are a critical part of your life. The Rocky Mountain MS Center referenced Dr. Nedra Glover Tawwabit’s view on healthy boundaries and self-care. Her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace states that the very root of your self-care starts by setting healthy limitations in your life. You should never feel guilt or feel like you’re being selfish when you impose such restrictions.
You set boundaries for your peace of mind and not to harm anyone. Of course, most parents mean right and would never deliberately hurt their adult children. Nevertheless, it’s good to set boundaries. You let them know what you expect, and they have limitations to follow. By establishing clear guidelines, you can enjoy a happy and healthy relationship with your parents early in adulthood.