You’re a grown-ass adult. So why do your parents treat you like you’re still a kid? You need to set some boundaries ASAP.

Are you tired of your parents always butting in?

Do they ask prying questions? Tell you how you should be doing things? Insist that you should dump that loser boyfriend/girlfriend? Let you know that you’re doing it all wrong with your own kids?

You love your parents, but they seem to be popping in with surprising frequency at your home. And, my goodness, do they really have to guilt you into spending every holiday and every celebration with them?

There’s no reason for that business.

While you’ll always be your parents’ child, the fact of the matter is that you are also a grown-ass adult and you have your own life and your own values. Your parents shouldn’t be steamrolling you.

It’s time to establish boundaries. For the good of your relationship.

How it helps your relationship to establish boundaries.

You probably want to maintain a good relationship with your parents. If so, you need to establish boundaries. Stat.

Interestingly, boundaries in romantic relationships actually help the situation. That principle also applies to other, non-romantic relationships as well. Boundaries can help you feel safe.

Plus, think about how much you hate it when your parents are too pushy and interfering. Don’t you resent them a bit afterward? Are you reluctant to see or talk to them in the future? That’s not good for your relationship.

Establish boundaries that are healthy and that work, and you will be happier to interact with your parents and your relationship will improve. It’s important to understand this as you move forward.

Remember: you’re coming from a place of love and you want to strengthen the relationship.

Good relationships aren’t about being inseparable and being up in each other’s business all the time. All healthy relationships require space for individuals and room to be yourself and make choices.

Figure out your boundaries.

You can’t just rush in and tell your parents that you hate what they’re doing. Especially when you aren’t exactly sure what your boundaries are, or why you’re upset.

So, take some time to yourself. Think about what has been bothering you, and dig into why it’s been bothering you. What can you live with? What can’t you abide at all? What have you been arguing about?

This is about constant demands for time or things that you can’t or don’t want to give. Or perhaps it’s about constant discussions about topics you wish were off limits, like your S.O., how you parent your kids, or your weight.

It’s one thing for your parents to offer you a bit of advice and let it go. My own parents have expressed things to me in the past. However, my parents are awesome examples of how to give space to their adult children. They said their piece in a loving way, and, satisfied that they had fulfilled the dictates of conscience, never pushed the issue again.

Sometimes you need your parents’ input. So carefully think about the boundaries, and why you’re setting them. Once you have that down, you can draw the line.

Be clear about what’s off-limits.

If your parents consistently do things that you find intrusive, demanding, and inappropriate, you need to be clear about what’s off-limits.

“I’m sorry that you feel that way about [insert boo’s name here], but I really like our relationship. I won’t talk negatively about it or him/her, and I won’t tolerate you saying bad things, either.”

“I understand that you don’t like how I handle discipline, but our family is doing what works for us, and I’d appreciate you not telling my kids that I’m not doing it right.”

“I love talking to you, but I also need to be able to rest for work, so I’d appreciate it if we could limit call times to an hour.”

Express empathy, and be polite and calm. Let your parents know you care. You can even thank them.

“Oh, thank you for inviting us. However, we have other arrangements for that night. We’ll see you another time.”

If they keep pressing, you can say something like, “We enjoy spending time with you, but we also have other obligations. We appreciate invitations and hope we are always welcome. However, we also don’t want to feel guilty if we can’t make it. Please know we will come when we can.”

In most cases, when you establish boundaries this way, your parents will respect that. Unless they are totally toxic people. But that’s another problem.

Stick to your boundaries.

Of course, once you establish boundaries, you need to stick to them. That means you need to walk away if the line is being crossed.

This is easiest to do when you’re on the phone. If your parents are pressuring you to come to a family event, but you have already said you aren’t coming, and expressed that you don’t like the guilt trips, you can just say, “I’m sorry, but we’ve talked about this. I love you, and I need to go.” And then you hang up.

That phrase works for just about everything, whether you’ve said you don’t want to talk about your S.O., your parenting style, or your job prospects.

It’s harder in person because you have to say that and then either stare them down or leave the room. But stick to it. If you have to leave, do so. Eventually, your parents will get the hint and start respecting your boundaries.

This is especially true when you have kids. There are times I think my parents’ amazing restraint and boundary-respecting comes from the fact that they don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize their ability to see their grandchildren.

I don’t have to say anything to my parents, or threaten to withhold my son. They just assume that if they make things unpleasant for me, I’ll visit less — and that means less face time with their eldest grandchild.

You have to give, too.

When you establish boundaries, it’s important to give as well. Know what you are willing to give. Maybe instead of coming on Christmas, you share dessert on Christmas Eve.

My ex and I had a firm policy of not going anywhere on Christmas. So our holiday visits were made the week between Christmas and New Year. Interestingly, my son and I still spend Christmas with my ex — and we still spend the Christmas Day just us, and then go visit the ex-laws afterward.

Figure out how you can remain positive and give, even as you set up boundaries. This can include saying something like, “I love to talk to you, but talking every day is starting to impact my school work. Can we talk every Sunday morning?”

Offering positivity, love, and a compromise is a way to establish boundaries while still maintaining the relationship. Once you start doing that, your parents will start treating you more like an adult, and everyone will be happier.

What’s your biggest challenge when setting boundaries? Share your struggles or your tips that others can use in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Ready to take things to the next level with your S.O.? Not until you have the money talk. You need to make this happen.

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Any relationship requires work. There are plenty of situations that can stress you out. But nothing quite matches the stress that comes when you talk money with your boo.

Are you ready for that talk? Do you know what you will say? And how can you make it less stressful and contentious for everyone involved?

Concepts

  • How we handle money reflects our values.
  • Why it’s so hard to talk money with your S.O.
  • The ways money goes beyond just spender vs. saver.
  • Different styles of money management.
  • How to pinpoint what matters most to you.
  • Tips for setting the tone before you talk money with bae.
  • Suggestions for money topics you should be discussing.
  • When it’s time to start talking about money.
  • How to gauge your partner’s money values before you talk money.
  • The importance of setting shared financial goals.
  • Tips for setting time to talk money so that you are both more likely to be open and willing.
  • What to do if things get too heated during the discussion

Our “do nows” this week focus on actually getting the money talk taken care of. Figure out your own money values, review your financial situation, and schedule a time to talk money with your S.O.

This week’s listener question deals with someone not really ready to trust bae with joint accounts. We look at the pros and cons of granting your S.O. access to your money.

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Resources

How money stress impacts relationships

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Fighting with your S.O. and constantly exchanging verbal barbs is a quick way to a short, unhappy relationship. Get beyond that.

Relationships are all about communication.

Deep bonds don’t form from nothing. They’re a result of a continuing exchange of ideas, emotions, and synergistic thinking. Even people who don’t share a common language can find ways to meaningfully interact.

If communicating is central to forming relationships, why is it so damn hard? The fact is, human minds are so unique that finding common ground can be like putting together a puzzle without a picture of the finished product.

That’s why long-term relationships are so special. When you spend enough time with someone, you can start to see how your personalities fit together harmoniously – or not so harmoniously. Sometimes you can see that the puzzle pieces fit, but struggle to put them together.

Ready to get beyond the drama? Here are some ideas for solving communication problems with your significant other.

Aim to understand.

One of the most frustrating moments in a fight is when one or both people aren’t listening to the other. It’s impossible to solve a disagreement if you’re not trying to see your partner’s point of view.

Your goal during an argument should be to understand your partner better and find some common ground. Learning how your partner thinks and feels is the key to a closer bond.

Too often, we treat the situation as if the goal is winning. Once you’re in that mindset, you both end up losers.

Solution: When your partner is talking during a fight, concentrate on what they’re saying and not how you want to respond. No matter how inane or illogical you think their argument is, try to listen before you say anything.

Let your guard down.

Getting defensive is a natural response if your partner brings up a difficult topic.

Does anyone really feel comfortable discussing something difficult, even with the person they love?

But defensiveness can close you off from the conversation. Instead of hearing what your partner is saying, you’ll only hear your skewed interpretation of what they really mean. If your husband tells you, “You forgot to take out the trash again,” you might hear, “You’re so irresponsible and don’t do enough around the house.”

Solution: Don’t project your own feelings onto what your partner is saying. It’s not fair to assume you know what they’re saying, and it can only lead to more discord.

When your partner is talking, listen to only what they’re saying. Get away from what you’re feeling. If you need to, repeat it back to them so you clearly understand. Then, calmly respond to the statement they made or question they asked.

Don’t use “all or nothing” language.

When trying to win an argument, you want to present the strongest case possible. But you have to stick to the facts. If you exaggerate or overstate something, it’s hard for the other person to take you seriously.

It’s also unfair to generalize your partner’s behavior as all-around bad. Behavior exists on a gray spectrum, and living in a black-and-white world during a fight reduces their actions to a trope.

Plus, you shouldn’t be trying to “win” anyway. This should be an exchange of ideas with the intent to understand.

Solution: Don’t use words like “always” and “never” in an argument. It’s easy for your significant other to argue against that, because there’s always an exception. Those types of words can and will make them make feel defensive. 

Solving communication problems is about helping each other understand, not forcing each other into semantic battles.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Communicating with your significant other is like taking out the trash. If you wait until the bag is overfilled, it’s harder to get it out the container. You find yourself wishing you’d dealt with it sooner.

When you get upset at your partner, bring it up that day. If you wait, the issue can fester and rot like the trash in my analogy. The sooner you broach the issue, the less upset you’ll be.

Solution: Bringing problems is hard to do and easy to avoid. Practice saying something beforehand so you feel more confident in your message.

You can try writing a script before you talk to your partner, or ask a friend how you could better phrase the issue. After doing this a few times, you’ll see that mentioning something in the beginning is much easier than waiting until you’re ready to explode.

Avoid name-calling.

Some people assume it doesn’t matter what they say in the heat of the moment as long as they apologize for it later. But apologies are like knee replacements: they temporarily fix the problem but don’t erase the damage.

Name-calling can be tempting when you’re in a screaming match, but doing so can lead to hurt feelings and resentment that isn’t so temporary. Your partner might never really forget the day you called her a stupid bitch.

This does nothing when it comes to solving communication problems.

Solution: If staying cool during a fight is too hard, take a walk alone and collect your thoughts. If your partner name-calls, don’t try to one up their comment. Use that moment to explain that you don’t appreciate what they said, or find it helpful.

It’s never easy to work through these issues. However, if you want a better relationship, solving communication problems with your partner is vital. Otherwise, you end up in a situation where you end up with someone you hate — or you break up to get away from the problems.

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Don’t sabotage your relationship with trash talk about your S.O. No matter how tempted you are to rag on your partner, keep it to yourself.

It’s a common TV and movie trope: there’s a woman sitting around with her girlfriends complaining about her husband. Each woman takes a turn talking bad about her man, all the while refusing to talk to him about it.

While it looks like harmless fun, this behavior is actually destructive for relationships.

Talking crap about your S.O. isn’t a fun pastime to do with your best friends. It’s a toxic habit that can destroy the foundation of your relationship.

Talk to your spouse, not about them.

You reinforce negative opinions.

You ever notice that the more you complain about something, the more negative you feel about it?

I’ve noticed there’s a huge difference between how I feel about something depending on if I’ve ranted about it for an hour or if I’ve simply let it go. Every sentence I say reinforces the negative thoughts in my head.

Marriage is also susceptible to negative talk. The more you complain about your spouse, the more your brain will reinforce those opinions — and the harder it will be to see anything positive.

If you want to have a happy marriage (or any relationship), you can’t inflate the negativity.

It’s O.K. to ask for advice from your friends. But it’s another thing altogether to trash talk your S.O.

Remember: this is the person you chose to be with. If you have respect for them and your relationship, you should keep quiet.

You make other people dislike your spouse.

Have you ever had a friend share something bad about their partner? What was it like the next time you saw them together? Did you think about what they’d told you? Were you able to look at the person the same way?

Every time you complain about your spouse to your friends or family members, you tarnish their perception of your partner.

Not only are you hurting your own opinion of your spouse, but you’re also ruining their relationships with other people without them knowing it.

That isn’t fair to your spouse, especially if you’re not bragging about them getting a raise at work or making a delicious cheesecake.

You’ll hurt their feelings.

Everyone has experienced finding out that someone they trusted was talking bad about them behind their back.

I can still remember every time someone close to me has done this. Imagine how your S.O. would feel if they found out what you were saying? Would they feel hurt, embarrassed, angry, ashamed?

If you think your spouse wouldn’t mind what you’re saying, then go ahead.

But if you have even the smallest inkling that your words could hurt them, you should stop. Long-term relationships are built on trust, and knowing that your partner is betraying you behind your back could destroy it completely.

When you get married, you enter a partnership that it’ll be you two against the world. Don’t break that agreement with trash talk.

It doesn’t help you figure it out.

There have been a few times when talking about my relationship problems with a friend has helped me see my husband’s point of view.

But unless you’re actively looking for a solution or a way to understand what they’re thinking, talking openly can make it worse.

The next time you feel tempted to dish about your S.O., question your motives. Are you trying to get an honest perspective from your friends or do you want someone to agree with you? Are you looking to see their point of view or for someone else to shit talk?

If you do get a friend’s advice and they disagree with what you’re thinking, don’t try to convince them. They might be seeing things from your partner’s point of view.

Talking crap to talk crap doesn’t help you work through the relationship issues. Any committed relationship takes work. And you don’t need to make that work harder.

What to do instead.

When I’m feeling upset, the first thing I turn to is my journal.

Writing out how I feel is the easiest way to let out my emotions without them affecting anyone else. I try to write down specifically why I’m feeling upset and then examine if what’s bothering me is worth bringing up.

If you’re having trouble articulating your problems, talking to a counselor can help. You can see one individually or as a couple. An objective third party can help you decipher what’s going on and how you can fix it together.

Anyone struggling to avoid complaining about their spouse should tell their friends why they’re trying to avoid it. Asking other people to help keep you accountable can make it easier to stay on track. Plus, it might help your friends to avoid repeating the habit.

If you’re complaining about the same topics, it’s likely time you discussed them with your spouse.

It’s easier to let them stay in the dark about what’s bothering you, but that’s a fast way to build a marriage full of secrets and lies. And that’s not a relationship that’s fulfilling on any level.

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Not excited about a long-term relationship with your partner? Up your breakup game.

Some people love falling in love and being with just one person.

Then, there are the people who love to “hit it and quit it.”

We don’t think much about another category. This third category of dating is evident when you’re just not as excited about the person you’re with. You’ve been clear about it and they just don’t seem to be getting the message.

You’re just not that into them.

And you certainly don’t want a long-term relationship.

The fun beginning.

In the beginning, it was great to have someone to do something with.

After all, normally you’re at home with the cat or the dog. On the one time you ventured outside of your home, you ended up meeting someone.

They seemed really nice until you went out to eat dinner and you were appalled by their table manners and how they treated the wait staff. At this point, you’re kind of turned off. But, you continue to hang out anyway, even though you’re just not that into them.

Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster.

If you’re not sure about how all of this will play out check out the following movie: He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s basically the Cliff Notes of what to look out for when you’re confused by what your boo is doing.

You’re a pretty nice person (you think) so you decide to cool it off because they aren’t the one for you. But, they just don’t seem to be getting the message.

What to do?

Be honest.

There’s nothing worse than being strung along in a one-sided relationship.

As kindly as possible tell them the truth. It’s not you, it’s me.

List all of the reason why you’re just not the right person for them or why you’re just not in the place to date them. Maybe you’re just not ready for a long-term relationship.

When you have this conversation, don’t leave the door open for confusion. Be clear that there is no possibility for you to be together in the future. Ever.

The real story.

We’re all adults here.

So the next one is all about asserting your awesome sexual self.

Maybe it has been a long time since you had sex. Your temporary partner fits your booty call requirements but not your long-term bae needs. Be clear that you just wanted to “hit it and quit it” and that nothing was going to happen beyond that.

Don’t be cruel, though. You may be the best that they’ve ever had, so understand why your persistent lover may be unwilling to get the hint, especially if they have been hoping for a long-term relationship.

Don’t be mean about saying you’re not the one for them, but do be firm about the fact that you are moving on and that you won’t be moving on with them.

Don’t be stupid.

It’s at this point when the dumper sometimes makes some ill-thought out mistakes.

One of the worst mistakes is taking back the annoying previous lover because you just got tired of them bugging you (which was probably what they were hoping for).

Don’t do this. It just creates an endless cycle of crazy that you are a willing participant in. You said you don’t want a long-term relationship with this person, so don’t encourage them.

Don’t accept any gifts your old bae wants to give you. It’s confusing to them and inconsistent with the message that you’re moving on.

Things to keep in mind as you press forward.

When it’s time to communicate with the persistent person who just doesn’t want to let you go, take a look at the entire situation.

Are they acting crazy? If that’s the case you need to keep your safety in mind and let your friends and family know that you’re becoming concerned about the situation.

Trust your gut. Do you feel like your safety is threatened because they just can’t let you go or they don’t seem to be responding to the message that you’re communicating? Get law enforcement involved if you feel like your safety is at risk.

Finally, if you’re not dealing with someone who is crazy but just not picking up on your message, don’t be mean. Ghosting? Not cool. The slow-fade? Not so cool either.

Just balls it up, meet for coffee, and get it done.

Move on.

Finally, don’t feel guilty about moving on.

We have all been on both sides of the dating coin. It’s a natural part of the dating process. Sometimes the person is just not right for you and that’s ok. Like the Bachelor, there is always another person out there waiting in the wings to find you.

Create that space by letting go of relationships that just aren’t working. That way you will be able to welcome the amazing new person in your life.

That might be the right person for you.

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You either gave your child some genetic material or chose to adopt. That means you’re a parent. Time to act like it.

Parenting is difficult.

It’s rarely fun.

And it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be the “cool” parent or even of wanting your child to think of you as a “best friend.”

However, the reality is that your kid doesn’t need another friend. What s/he needs is a parent. Technically, that’s what you are. After all, you either gave some of your genetic material, or you chose to adopt. When that happened, you agreed to be a parent.

Now you need to act like one.

Stability is important for children.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is provide a stable environment for your child.

Some research indicates that stability is more important than family structure. This is a huge relief to me since my son is now in a single-parent home.

In order to be a parent and provide stability, you need to have a schedule and rules. Children sometimes whine about rules and structure, but the reality is that they need it.

Structure, and a supportive environment that helps maintain that structure, are necessary for children to thrive.

Your child doesn’t understand why bedtime is important, or why you need to limit their screentime. You might feel mean for sending them to bed or making them eat dinner with you at the table, but the reality is that’s what it takes to be a parent.

My son chafes at the idea of going to bed between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. But if he doesn’t get to bed during those times, he turns into a monster when it’s time to get up between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

The structure and stability in my son’s life means he knows when it’s time to do homework, when he can hang out with his actual friends, and when it’s time to go to bed. He feels safe, and he has a sense of what’s next.

These are important things for children, and the research bears it out. That’s why, when I travel for business, I rely on my parents to keep some amount of structure in my son’s life.

The stability he experiences, whether I’m here or not (I’m mostly here, though), is good for him.

Your child isn’t your confidante.

When I took a court-mandated parenting class as part of the conditions of my divorce, one of the concepts they pressed home was this: your child isn’t your confidante.

We like to think that by telling our children how we really feel, we’re being honest and straightforward.

The reality, though, is that your kid isn’t emotionally prepared for you to hear about your problems with your parents. They aren’t ready to hear your deepest, darkest secrets.

If you’re looking for a buddy, look for an adult.

I have friends my own age that I can talk to about relationships issues, how much I dislike one of my son’s teachers, and the challenges associated living where I live. My son doesn’t need to be burdened with that shit.

The good news is that you can be open and invite your child’s confidence without trying to be their friend.

Establish a pattern early on of listening and engaging with your child. Be open and honest in an age-appropriate manner when they ask tough questions.

When my son complains about our least-favorite teacher, I empathize with him, but I don’t bad-mouth the teacher. “I know it’s hard sometimes. I had teachers that I didn’t get along with, too. But you still need to do your work and do a good job. You’re smart enough to get through this.”

What I’d really like to say is, “I know your teacher is being an asshat and that’s a dumb assignment. Let’s skip it and go do something fun instead.”

My son and I have talked about thorny issues, from politics to his friends to *gulp* sex. He knows I don’t shy away from the tough subjects, and I take him seriously. He knows I’ll be honest and straightforward, even if I won’t give him details I don’t think he’s ready for.

Invite your child’s confidence, but do it from a place of teaching and guidance, not from a place of peer-like friendship.

Your child needs you to be a parent. You can help and guide them in a way that is more likely to result in long-term success for life. But not if you’re more concerned about being your child’s best buddy.

You can still be “cool” and be a parent.

While your goal shouldn’t focus on being cool, you can still be an awesome person, and be a parent.

My son and I love a lot of the same geeky things. His friends know that when they come over here, I’ll make popcorn and play Rock Band with them if they invite. They also know that if they have a Batman question, I’ll have the answer.

While I still make them go to bed when they sleep over, and I won’t let them just roam the mall aimlessly for hours upon hours, they do think I’m cool — at least for now.

If you can provide a safe and comfortable environment for your children and their friends, and you make a little effort to get to know them, you’ll be considered cool, even during times you have to be a parent and say no.

Walking that line can be challenging, and you might have to experiment a bit to find it. But the important thing is that you be a parent by setting expectations for your child, teaching life lessons, and enforcing consequences.

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It’s hard to say no, but sometimes you have to for reasons. You’re still a good person.

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How many times have you said yes to someone — and then wished you hadn’t?

We all want to say no when we feel overwhelmed, or really don’t want to do something. And yet, we find ourselves saying yes.

It’s even harder to say no when you are facing a request from a loved one.

Sometimes, you need to say no to protect your sanity, your health, and your time. If you have an addiction to saying yes, it’s time to break it. We’ll show you how.

Concepts

  • Some of the reasons it’s difficult to say no to loved ones.
  • Concerns about how you look to others, and why that makes it hard to say no.
  • The problems with saying yes just to avoid conflict.
  • Ways that saying yes all the time can actually hurt you — and your relationships.
  • The important role saying no has in self-care.
  • Dealing with saying no to your kids and being a parent.
  • Practical tips for how to say no to loved ones without offending them.
  • Strategies for buying yourself time and space to say no.

This week’s “do nows” focus on how you can get a better handle on your situation. We offer tips on how to say no, and strategies for practicing saying no. You can make an effort this week to stop saying yes to everything. Stick with your priorities and say no to things that will just add stress to your life.

Our listener question deals with the thorny issue of making accommodations in a relationship. Should you say yes to avoid being dumped? Or is it time to make serious changes to your relationship so you aren’t being steamrolled all the time?

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Resources

Why is it so hard to say no?

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