Want to keep it tight with your crew? It takes effort. But it’s totally worth it.

Developing good relationships is the primary reason we’re on earth.

Human contact is essential for both your mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that those with strong emotional ties are healthier and live longer than those without.

But building those bonds takes time and effort. Even if you consider yourself a good person, it can be hard to maintain relationships, especially as work and other commitments take more of your time.

As you build your squad, here’s how you can develop relationships meant to last:

Learn to listen.

You probably already think of yourself as a decent listener.

But consider this: Do you actually listen when your friend is or partner is talking? Or do you think of what you’re going to say in response? Do you really hear them? Or are you judging what they’re saying?

Hearing is easy, but listening is hard.

It’s hard to listen mindfully, without wondering how long it’ll be before you can say something. But listening is vital to developing a good relationship, no matter if it’s with a boss or the cashier at your favorite donut shop.

“I don’t necessarily have to agree with what’s being said, but acknowledgment goes a long way towards building those important relationships,” said Elle Martinez, author of Jumpstart Your Marriage & Your Money.

Listening is like meditation. It requires focusing on one singular object and bringing your mind back to that focus when it starts to drift. It’s one of the hardest skills to master, especially if you’ve spent most of your life half-heartedly paying attention to your friends.

Stay in touch.

How many relationships lose traction because one of you fails to keep in touch? Keeping track of people is hard, but it’s made so much easier now with the advent of Facebook and other forms of social media.

Try to stay in touch, even if it’s as simple as sending a text or message saying you’re thinking of them and hope they’re doing well. I even created a recurring calendar reminder to call my grandmother. I always forget to call her, so I set it for a time when I know I’ll be free. I also keep a stack of blank greeting cards handy so I can send close friends and family personal cards when it’s their birthday.

It takes little time to send them out, but means the world to get a hand-written note in the mail. Relationships are like cars. They need regular tuneups to function or they’ll die.

Bring up problems early.

I have a theory: the best friends I have are the ones I’ve had some sort of disagreement with. If I’m willing to bring up a difficult subject with you, it means we’re good friends.

But it’s never easy to bring up something with a close friend. I hate confrontation, and most people agree with me. Fortunately, every time I’ve brought something up, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the other person. It’s always led to a closer relationship, and I’ve never regretted it.

I usually feel uncomfortable doing this in person or over the phone, so I try to write it out. I can take my time writing out my grievances and I know that I won’t say something hastily I’ll regret later. Plus, then the other person has the option to respond in print or in person.

When you have a problem you want to discuss, try bringing it up with a neutral party first. A third-person can provide a different perspective and tell you if you’re actually in the wrong. I usually discuss friend issues with my husband first, since he can tell me if I’m being unreasonable.

Give feedback.

What most people are looking for is acknowledgment in this world. That’s why many of us seek validation through likes and hearts on social media.

Give that to your loved ones by commenting on their recent career news or by supporting their side business. Odd as it sounds, developing good relationships in today’s world includes participating on social media with them.

If your friend just started dating someone new, text her a few weeks in to ask her how it’s going. She’ll love to hear that you care about her relationship. Bring it up if you see her in person. One of the characteristics that differentiates a strong relationship from a weak one is if you bring up things that are important to your friend before they have to. That shows real commitment and dedication.

Every interaction you have, try to mention or ask something that the other person cares about. They’ll be delighted that you remember and care so much.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make your people feel good and they’ll never forget it.

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Whether you plan a long relationship or a short partnership, you want your family to approve of bae. Get your family on board.

The disapproving in-laws have been a cliché for a very, very long time.

If you searched through ancient Greek scrolls or Mesopotamian clay tablets, you’d probably find a joke or two about someone’s hypercritical mother-in-law. It’s natural for parents to be protective of their offspring, and not surprising when those urges carry over well into a child’s adulthood.

Even though it’s understandable, that over-protective nature can be a relationship killer, both for the parents’ relationship with their child and the child’s relationship with their significant other. There comes a time to let go and allow children the agency to make their own decisions. Some parents never really learn that.

You want your parents to like your S.O., so it makes sense to do your best to bring them together. Or at least tolerate each other. Here’s how to help your parents find the potential in bae:

Talk to them.

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Your parents might have unfounded reasons for disliking your significant other, but you won’t know unless you ask.

Sit down with them and say, “It seems like you don’t really care for my partner. Is there something you want to discuss?” Maybe they’re concerned your boyfriend can’t hold a job for more than a few months, or that your girlfriend never tries to initiate a conversation with them. Before you can fix their relationship, you have to learn why it’s strained.

Examine their reasons.

Sometimes parents have a unique way of sensing a bad relationship before it sours. Maybe they see something you can’t, or have a gut feeling stemming from years of life experience.

Before you write off their attitude towards your significant other, consider things from their point of view. Is there truth to what they’re saying? Are you glossing over unsavory aspects of your partner’s character? Talk to some close friends and get their opinion, as they can lend some perspective to the situation.

Nip it in the bud.

Parents often come around after a while, but sometimes those attitudes take root and are hard to change. “My spouse and I have been married for over 30 years, and my parents-in-law (now in their 80s) are still not sure this relationship is going to work out,” said blogger Doug Nordman of The Military Guide. Try to talk to your parents as soon as possible, before their ideas can solidify. Talking to them early on might not eradicate the problem, but at least you can make it clear that their disapproval hurts you.

Try to talk to your parents as soon as possible, before their ideas can solidify. Talking to them early on might not eradicate the problem, but at least you can make it clear that their disapproval hurts you.

Plus, getting to them early allows you to point out the potential in bae. You can help them see the good aspects of your partner.

Step in.

Whoever has the problematic parents should take responsibility to curb inappropriate behavior when it happens. If your mother starts questioning your wife about how much she’s working or how she cooks, it’s up to you to step in. It’s easier for parents to listen to their child than their child’s spouse, and it will reassure your spouse that you have their back.

You have to be a team. As long as your partnership lasts, it’s vital that you present a united front.

Limit contact.

Until your parents change their behavior, you might have to limit how often you see, speak with, or visit them. Limiting contact is one of the few ways you can prove how hurt you are, and how seriously you take your relationship. This can be done for an indefinite amount of time, or until the parents in question agree to make amends with your partner — or at least attempt to see the potential in bae.

Be respectful, but firm.

Anytime you disagree with your parents, whether it’s about the person you’re dating or where you’re going for dinner that night, you should be polite but firm.

Snide comments or rude behavior will only make you look like a child throwing a fit. Try to stay calm, don’t raise your voice and keep your argument succinct. The more mature you act, the more seriously your parents will take you. Take the high road even if they start making personal attacks.

Remember how it feels.

Nordman said he and his wife are still hurt by her parents’ disapproval of their relationship, but they’ve used that lesson to be supportive of their daughter and her spouse.

Parents, he said, should never get a vote on if your significant other is good enough. “If that significant other is important to the happiness of their adult children, then parents should be glad that their child has found happiness and maybe even love,” he said.

Live life on your own terms.

If you’ve done everything you can to resolve the rift, then it’s time to stop worrying about what your parents think.

You can only change someone’s mind if they’re willing to let their opinion change – not a common trait in older generations.

Nordman said three decades of fighting with his in-laws has been painful, but it’s taught him to not worry about what they think. “Humans want the love and support of our parents, and estrangement is painful,” he said. “We deal with it by reminding ourselves that it’s their problem, not ours.”

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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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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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Parenting is one of the hardest jobs around. It’s not any easier with your ex. But your kids will be better off if you can suck it up and coparent effectively.

Parenting is a hard gig.

It’s even harder when you do it with your ex.

Even when you get along with your ex, it can be challenging to coparent successfully.

No matter how you feel, though, it’s vital that you work on your coparenting game so your children are better equipped to deal with the divorce and with life going forward.

1. Commit to coparenting.

The very first thing you both need to do is commit to coparenting. Coparenting successfully requires solid commitment from everyone involved.

Talk about how you plan to coparent in the best interest of your child. Then both of you commit to the process. Even if you need a mediator to help you hammer out a plan, the important thing is that you are both committed to making this work.

2. Create consistent rules.

One of the most important things for children is consistency. It’s true when kids live with both parents, and it’s especially true when children split their time between households.

Come up with rules that kids follow, regardless of where they are. This might include homework time, music practice, rules for electronics use, and bed time.

While there is wiggle room for special circumstances, it’s important to be consistent. My son knows that when he goes to stay with dad, he’s going to do schoolwork and go to bed at the same time. I know he might actually get a little more time to play video games when he’s with his dad, but that’s something we’ve agreed on.

3. Don’t trash talk your ex.

Avoid putting your issues with your ex on your child. It’s not fair to use your child as a pawn in games with your ex. You don’t want to be the toxic person in this scenario.

If your child complains about your ex, don’t immediately jump in and agree. Remain as neutral as possible. Unless there is actual abuse involved, most kids just need to let off steam. You can say, “I’m sorry you’re frustrated with the situation, but they are trying their best.”

I’m pretty sure my son sometimes complains about me to my ex. When he does, my ex moves on quickly, and then lets me know about potential issues. I don’t confront my son when he’s complained about me. Honestly, I want him to share these things. Then I know what I might need to improve on.

I do the same for my ex.

Kids complain about their parents. Don’t egg them on when it involves the ex. Not only do you risk a deterioration in that relationship, but you might be surprised to realize that trash talking your ex can encourage your child to resent you as well.

4. Maintain communication.

One of the reasons my ex and I coparent successfully is that we communicate regularly. We exchange texts several times a week. We talk at least twice a month. In fact, we sometimes just talk as friends and don’t talk about our son.

You might not have that level of friendship with your ex.

Even if all you do is communicate about the kids, that’s important. Be sure to immediately share when things change that will impact the plan. Whether it’s a trip to the emergency room or a problem at school, or just an update on positive progress, it’s important to communicate.

Don’t rely on your child to carry messages. You need keep the lines open so you don’t get garbled messages. When my son wants to make a major purchase (more than $50), or if he wants to change up his after-school schedule, I text my ex and we schedule a time to discuss the merits.

This way, our son can’t play us off each other. We present a united front because we communicate. My son is used to hearing, “Just wait. I need to talk to your dad about that.”

5. Confirm what your child says with the ex.

Yeah, this goes with regular communication. But it bears repeating. Get the story from your ex. If your child says your ex said they could do something, double check.

It’s a normal part of growing up for children to press boundaries and try to get away with stuff. You did it with your parents, and your kids will try it with you. Even if you aren’t divorced, there’s a good chance you’ll hear “But mom said I could…” or “Dad lets me…”

Before you say yes to something your child claims your ex is on board with, connect directly with your ex to verify.

6. Make time to keep it simple and boring.

Don’t always be trying to have fun — especially if you’re the less-seen parent. My ex is pretty good about stuff. When my son stays with him, they do “regular” things and not just fun stuff.

Try to avoid being the “fun” parent all the time. Both parents need to be a mixture of fun and “boring.”

Sometimes what your kids need is an ordinary day in with you. There’s nothing wrong with that. You need to be balanced in your approach to parenting.

Because my ex lives on the other side of the country, my son talks to him frequently using Facetime and he stays for between one week and three weeks at a time. I often stay part of that time, too (at my ex’s invitation), and that means there is a sense of normalcy and family, even if it’s not what we consider a “traditional” family.

7. Recognize your ex’s good qualities.

Don’t forget to talk about your ex’s good qualities with your child. It’s about more than just refraining from complaining about your ex. You should also point out the good things s/he does.

I regularly direct my son to my ex if he has a question about something that my ex is good at. I also make it a point to say nice things about him when I can, and get excited when it’s time for them to talk.

I think it makes sense to encourage my son to maintain a good relationship with his dad. If you want to coparent successfully, you need to make sure that you aren’t putting wedges between your children and your ex.

8. Don’t get upset if your child requests your ex.

Sometimes my son specifically asks if he can talk through an issue with his dad, rather than talk about it with me. I know that my ex is better equipped to handle some situations than I am. I don’t get upset about it.

It’s true that sometimes we feel hurt if a child wants to talk to someone else or prefers someone else’s help on a project. However, the reality is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. There are some things that my son prefers to do with me, and some he prefers to do with his dad. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Realize that your child has needs that your ex might be better at fulfilling. That in no way reduces your importance to your child. To coparent successfully, you need to bury jealousy and work together to ensure your child has the best possible outcome.

9. Know that it will be difficult.

Buckle up. It’s not easy to coparent successfully. It’s a little easier for me because my ex and I are on good terms and genuinely care about each other still.

Even then, it’s still challenging sometimes. There are times I don’t want to discuss things with him. It would be easier for me to just make all the decisions about our son without input from my ex.

However, that’s not fair to him or to our son.

It can be hard to bury feelings and put on a civil facade, especially if you had a hard breakup. However, it needs to be done. Think about the welfare of your child.

If you need to get mediation and/or counseling, do it. In some cases, you can benefit from family therapy, even if you aren’t a “traditional” family anymore.

Parenting is rarely easy, and doing it with your ex adds another layer of complexity. However, if you are both committed, you should be able to make it work.

Do you have to coparent with your ex? What challenges do you face? Even if you have a partner, do you run into parenting problems? How do you resolve them. Join us on the #Adulting community on Facebook and share your stories.

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Disagreeing with your parents is just fine. Do it in a way that doesn’t make them see you as a perpetual child.

When you’re raising a child, arguments seem pointless.

Why should anyone have to suffer through a squabble about why their 14-year-old can’t stay out until 2 a.m.?

When you spend a good decade or so having the kinds of disagreements that make you want to scream, it’s easy to develop a dismissive attitude toward your child’s opinions.

But as parents age and children become adults, the lines start to blur.

All of a sudden, the child starts to make sense – maybe even a little more sense than the parent is comfortable with. How should that transition be handled?

Most of these conversations revolve around how the parent in question can accept their child as a bona fide adult.

But what about from the other perspective? The adult child’s role in a disagreement is just as important – and just as tricky to navigate.

If you’re ready to start parsing parental conflicts in a more effective way, read ahead for some tips on how to make it happen.

Stay calm.

There’s a reason why “Keep calm and carry on” has become a viral phrase in the last few years. Staying calm is a vital tool – one that precious few people use correctly.

It won’t help your case to yell or get emotional, even if you’re in the right. Staying calm will help you to present clear, focused arguments and avoid getting sidetracked.

Try to be the bigger person. Even if your parents are calling you names, trying to avoid the conversation or refusing to acknowledge your point of view. It doesn’t help to get worked up. If anything, it will just feed into the idea that you’re not mature enough.

When disagreeing with your parents, you need to stay on the higher ground.

Avoid all or nothing statements.

Avoid all or nothing phrases like “you always” or “you never” when arguing. Accusing your mom or dad of doing something 100% of the time is a sure-fire way to put them on the defensive.

Instead, bring up specific examples and use words like “sometimes” or “occasionally.”

When you use “all or nothing” thinking, you cut yourself off from seeing their point of view. You turn your parents into caricatures of themselves instead of well-rounded people who make mistakes.

This approach is important in any argument, but especially during a time where both parties are trying to develop a more nuanced view of the other.

Take a step back if you find yourself doing this when disagreeing with your parents. An argument can quickly turn from a productive disagreement to a petty squabble when one side or the other goes down the rabbit hole of dramatic statements and accusatory language.

Stay focused.

Family matters come with decades of baggage that hasn’t been fully unpacked. It’s easy to get sidetracked during a heated argument and think about every perceived injustice you’ve ever suffered.

Stay focused on what you’re talking about. If you’re complaining about how they forgot to ask about your recent work promotion, don’t bring up the time in seventh grade when they missed your school play.

Part of the difficulty of disagreeing with your parents is convincing them to see you as a fellow adult instead of a kid. If you bring up something from your childhood, accomplishing that is going to be very difficult.

It’s frustrating to stay on track when you feel like you have more ammo in your bag, but piling on doesn’t validate an argument. It’s only makes the other person more defensive and less sympathetic to what you’re saying.

Pick your battles.

You can’t disagree on everything if you want a happy relationship with your parents. Even though it might hurt your jaw to grit those teeth, you’ll be happier in the long run if you let some things go.

For example, if your parents eat red meat every day and you’re a staunch vegetarian, don’t bring up the horrors of factory farming when you’re visiting for Christmas. No one wants to be insulted in their own house, and it’s probably not a stand worth taking.

If they criticize or make fun of your vegetarianism, then it’s time to speak up. In general, try to notice the difference between defending your sovereignty as an adult and looking for an excuse to pick a fight.

Create and enforce boundaries.

Remember when you were a teenager and how fiercely you protected your bedroom? No one could go in without your consent. Doing so was a violation of privacy.

That’s how your mind should be. No one can make you upset or force you into a discussion without you agreeing to it. For example, if you don’t want your parents to criticize your parenting skills, shut that topic down as soon as it comes up.

Setting those mental and emotional boundaries will make it easier to stop questions from turning into arguments.

If your mom disagrees with your decision not to breastfeed your child, simply say, “This is my decision, and I’m not going to discuss it with you further.”

If she tries to keep poking you, repeat that sentence. Eventually, she’ll get the message. Parents generally mean well, but they won’t know they’ve stepped over a line unless that line is clearly and consistently drawn.

This strategy is a larger representation of how to disagree with your parents in general. Make it a habit to be respectful of yourself and your parent’s opinions, and things will get easier.

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