The Games People Play
Parents being manipulated by their adult children:
What to do about your adult child who is pushing your guilt buttons to get their way. It is important to set your own limits about what you are and are not willing to do. You may be happy to speak by phone or spend time together, but have a prepared exit strategy if a pleasant interaction turns abusive or toxic. You may not be willing to stay with them if it is upsetting each time. Shorter visits may be preferable or you may even have to limit your interactions with an adult child, if they are not respecting your boundaries.
Changing the dynamics between the parent and adult child requires changing the way you interact together. Clarity is very important. The very nature of the interaction between the parent and adult child is a crossing of healthy boundaries. So, change the dynamics to help your boundary setting. Interact less often. Meet up at a neutral location, such as a restaurant for a meal. Prepare a broken record response if they begin to verbally attack you, such as, “I understand that you are unhappy right now but this is not ok and I am going to leave ”
You may be willing to help your adult child by talking and spending time with them regularly but if it ends in repeated upsets and hurt feelings that lead to the blame game or harsh words, you may want to rethink your strategy.
Not tolerating verbally or emotionally abusive behavior from anyone, even your child.
Your boundaries will also include:
Giving less of your, time, attention, financial support.
The adult child must earn time spent together.
Love is a gift not something that we are demanded upon to give. This can be a new way for both the parent and the adult child. Braking old patterns may take some time. Progress not perfection, patience is often required. The parent is actually helping the adult child, because the behavior that the adult child is displaying is one that is unacceptable and allowing it or asking others to go along with it is a bad habit that the parent is part of.
Parent, you have certain rights as a person. When you had children, you didn’t give up your need for personal dignity or respect. You have a right to move closer emotionally to people who treat you well and are supportive. Put more distance between yourself and people, including your adult children, who mistreat you. You have a right to peace, and not being anybody’s emotional punching bag. Some adult children have unrealistic expectations. You are not meant to be always at the service of anybody, not even your child.
Remember, you are a part of the problem if, you enable bad behavior.
It’s a healthy response to develop the backbone to not be an enabler. This is reworking your part of the parent-child dance, doing your best to help your adult son or daughter stop blaming, and start addressing the issues in their own life. This takes strength, but it’s really the most loving and helpful thing you can do for your adult child: loving them, but stepping away from the drama, setting firm limits, and not feeding the problem. Maybe you’re still parenting, but shifting to an appropriate stance for your adult child’s situation, and encouraging their strength, health, and emotional growth.