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How an adult can fix a bad relationship with parents

Writes: dr sci. med. Petar Vojvodi─ç


  • In most bad relationships with parents, the parents don’t treat their children as independent, adult people.
  • Warning signs: emotional blackmail, blaming, and using manipulation or guilt.
  • Getting rid of bad relationships with parents may include a strategy without reacting and not taking things personally.

A bad relationship with parents is a burden that holds back a lifetime, no matter how old an individual is. True, some people are “difficult” and therefore unprepared for change and insight, but what you can do is the following: to become more mature than your parents, first through understanding the situation, and then through adequate behavior.This transition shouldn’t be easy and be prepared for conflict situations.

The relationship with the parents can be incredibly fulfilling when it is actively worked on. But all too often, old habits and interactions stand in the way of creating and maintaining such a relationship. Here are five ways you can improve your relationship with your parents as an adult.

#1 Talk like an adult

After decades of communication with each other, parents and children run the risk of falling into patterns of communication that are no longer age-appropriate. Adult children can speak and behave younger than they are, especially during disagreements. Parents, in turn, can talk to adult children as if they were talking to a small child. They may make inappropriate requests or offer unwanted advice. When this happens, both parents and children should remember that it is time to talk like adults.

#2 Take responsibility for the relationship you build

Both parents and children in adulthood have a responsibility to establish, shape, and maintain a relationship. That effort includes making contact, compromising, negotiating, and finding comfortable ways to connect. Otherwise, when a child or parent is waiting for someone else to take the first step and make an effort to build and maintain a relationship, resentment can arise.

#3 Let the conflicts be constructive

Unhealthy styles of conflict can harden during childhood and are difficult to revise later. Ignoring, passive aggression, raising your voice, ignoring problems, and finding the culprit are just some of the destructive patterns that negatively affect a relationship. Part of taking responsibility for the relationship you are building is that each side sees their role in the conflict and begins to think about how they can react differently. In order for change to happen, it is necessary for both sides to ask themselves why the same conflicts are constantly happening, and to want to find new ways that will enable a supportive community.

#4 Respect each other’s boundaries

Boundaries exist on both sides – both parents and children may feel dissatisfied when their boundaries are violated. Parents must decide how much access the child will have and what level of support they want to provide. Adult children need to decide what level of privacy they seek and to what extent parental involvement is acceptable, especially in the areas of career, personal relationships, lifestyle, and finances. It is necessary for both sides to establish their borders and respect others.

#5 Accept feedback

Relationships are strengthened when both parties are able to accept feedback on how the other person feels about their relationship. A parent can tell a child to call earlier in the evening, express frustration with the presence of a telephone during a live conversation, or indicate that they would like to hear questions about their life and daily life. In return, the child can tell the parent what conversations are pleasant and what are unpleasant, or ask that a certain tone of conversation be changed. Accepting feedback means accepting responsibility, which is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship.

Change is not easy

All these improvements require both the parent and the child to look at their relationship and ask themselves, “What can I do to make this relationship work better?” It is much easier to maintain an unchanged status, even when it leads to frustration. Change is always a harder choice, but it is also the right path to greater satisfaction. Towards a life in which an adult child and a parent stand side by side as separate individuals. Although less present in the child’s daily life, parents will never be less loved.

It is necessary that the priority of a young person be to create and lead an independent life. And when there is a balance between maintaining family relationships and self-sufficiency, the newly transformed relationship and closeness will never have to suffer. It will flourish.

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