Problematic parents

Living at home makes great financial sense. But on the emotional front, it can cause problems. Here's how to get on under one roof.

Middle-aged couple in gothic clothing and make-up

Are you going out dressed like that?

Problem 1: They treat me like a kid

You know it’s been a long time since you last had scabs on your knees and fish fingers for tea, but sometimes it’s hard for parents to accept you’re no longer a kid. Tensions can easily crop up when you’re keen to enjoy the independence you deserve, but they still insist you’re home by sunset.

Solution: It’s tempting to think you can simply tell your parents that you’re all grown up. The fact is you have to show it through your behaviour, and let them draw their own conclusions. It really boils down to a sense of responsibility, which means proving that you’ve earned the right to make your own decisions in life because you’re capable of thinking things through.

Problem 2: We fight all the time

It’s easy to feel suffocated when surrounded by family. You’ve shared so much in life, and learned to relate to one another with no sense of hesitation or shyness. The upside means you tend to be honest with each other. The downside is that tempers can flare if you’re feeling hemmed in.

Solution: That you’re able to blow your stack with family is a sign that you’re on familiar terms. In many ways, it’s a healthy sign that problems can be sorted. The key is to draw on your communication skills to negotiate in advance, rather than doing your nut when things don’t go your way. Sit down and identify common flashpoints together. By talking things through sensibly, you can agree on a way forward that doesn’t end in slamming doors.

Problem 3: I get no privacy

In a place of your own, you could eat breakfast wearing nothing but socks, whistle away on the loo with the door wide open, and enjoy a specialist film without any fear of being interrupted. In the family home, that kind of freedom is often hard to find, which can leave you feeling on edge.

Solution: Even if you’re sharing a bedroom, it’s still possible to establish boundaries. Everyone has a right to some personal space, after all, so lead by example and show respect to the privacy of those around you. Also choose a good time to discuss the issue, and agree on some rules you can all live by.

Problem 4: I want to bring someone home for the night

Whether you’ve been seeing each other for a while, or it’s someone you’ve just met and you’re hoping to see them naked, bringing anyone back for a night of sheet action is often problematic. It isn’t just the fact that family members are trying to get some shuteye in the neighbouring rooms. You could find resistance from parents who still think of sleepovers as something that involves bags of popcorn and a chick flick.

Solution: Forward planning is the key here. Just creeping up the stairs with someone on your arm and a condom in your pocket doesn’t say much for your sense of consideration. No matter how embarrassing a conversation might be, it’s vital that you talk things through long before you get to this stage, and establish some rules. Even if they don’t respond well at the beginning, stress that you’re sussed about safer sex and leave it at that. It may not get instant results, but this show of maturity can only increase the chances that they’ll relax about the issue over time.

Problem 5: My parents embarrass me

Chances are most sons and daughters can name an episode when a parent left them feeling speechless with shame. Then again, they can probably reel off plenty of incidents when your idiotic behaviour left them wishing the ground would swallow them whole.

Solution: Your parents accept you as an individual, so aim to do the same with them. Even if there are aspects about their lifestyle/dress sense/behaviour that you find sad, it’s healthy to respect their individuality. Make a big fuss and people will think it’s you who has the problem not your parents.


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Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of couple by Shutterstock.