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“My mom used to call me and say, ‘I don’t mean to criticize, but that dress you wore last night looked terrible on you.’ Finally, whenever she started a conversation with the words ‘I don’t mean to criticize’ I’d say, ‘then don’t!
'” After a while, she got the message.” “For a time,” Jennifer adds, “I had to constantly reinforce the way I wanted to be dealt with.
Life is grindingly hard — but you’re proud of the way you’re handling it. She takes half a load of classes and works part time, but still hasn’t figured out how to load the dishwasher — at least, according to her mom.
Now it’s Thanksgiving vacation, and you’re looking forward to spending a few days at home catching up on your sleep, not to mention your homework. “Every time she asks me to clean the kitchen, she tells me to take the clean dishes out and put the dirty ones in,” Lindsey complains.
And the unfortunate reality is that when your parents are still supporting you, they’re inclined to think of you as a child and want to tell you how to live your life.
(My own parents paid my expenses through my third year of college, and whenever I came home, my father expected me to come in by a certain time in the evening, get up at a certain time each morning, and expected final say on whether my clothing and makeup were appropriate.) There’s another reason why parents have trouble letting go, according to Dobson.
But if all else fails — if our parents won’t change — we must try to manage respect. American parents are, he says, “among the best in the world.We care passionately about our kids and would do anything to meet their needs.” But that very characteristic makes it extremely difficult to let go, he adds.Even when parents don’t engage in these tactics — even when they merely mean well — they have to learn to let go. It’s especially difficult when you see your parents only for short periods, separated by months or even years. Our visits don’t go well, and my parents aren’t sure why. One friend who’s been more successful than I in her dealings with her parents says it didn’t take a gentle confrontation — it took of gentle confrontations.Dobson recommends that you get together with your parents, perhaps over dinner, identify the specific problem area, and tell them lovingly, but firmly, that you are an adult now and expect to be treated as one. “My parents live near me, so we had to resolve these things,” Jennifer told me.