Getting Along With Mom and Dad as an Adult Child

Reviewed Jan 20, 2016

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Summary

Working together to manage and resolve conflict will result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Many adult children avoid confronting their parents. Some fear being treated like a child, while others fear the pain that family conflict can bring. But working together to manage and resolve conflict will result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Barriers to resolving parental conflict

Growing up, your parents played an important role in teaching you how to get along with others. Emotional and relationship issues, however, can impede your ability to resolve conflict with your parents. Keep these barriers in mind:

  • Not communicating. Do not assume that you know your parents so well that making an effort to talk and listen to each other is no longer necessary. Similarly, do not assume that your parents can read your mind and feelings.
  • Stereotyping. Remember, your dad and mom are also a man and a woman with individual feelings that matter to them. Also, adult children frequently define their parents by their negative habits and tendencies. Instead, focus on your parents’ positive qualities. For example, your mother may be stubborn and hold a grudge, but she also is a great listener.
  • Pushing buttons. When communication breaks down, avoid making the conflict worse by focusing on issues you know will escalate the problem.
  • Routine. Time and again, you and your folks probably argue and resolve conflict the same way. Identify and avoid patterns and tendencies that weaken your ability to resolve conflict.
  • History. How you treated each other in the past can affect your desire to work together to solve a problem. Agree to respect each other and work through the problem rationally. Also, do not assume that you will not be able to come to consensus because you have not been able to resolve similar issues in the past.

Resolving conflict step by step

No issue is too big or small to bring up if you feel angry, hurt or unfairly treated. Follow these steps:

  • Cool off. Emotions can keep you from identifying the real issue.
  • Identify the problem. Often, small incidents are symptoms of a larger, central issue. Identify your needs: Are they being met?
  • Change your perspective. How might your parents feel? Are there underlying issues or needs that are not being met? Did you say or do something that could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
  • Communicate. Make sure your parents have your full attention and understand your meaning. Telling your parents enough about the way you feel will help them see you as an independent adult, like them, and improve their ability to empathize with you. Be aware of your body movement, voice inflection, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.
  • Avoid involving or asking other family members to take sides.
  • Listen. Do not interrupt or make assumptions. Avoid being critical or defensive. Listen for what is behind the words: the feelings and ideas.
  • Be willing to apologize and forgive.
  • Solve the problem. Be flexible to work out a compromise that meets both you and your parents’ personal and relationship needs. Focusing on such needs will help you deal with the issue at hand as well as your overall relationship.
By Christine P. Martin
Source: Resolving Conflict: How to Turn Conflict Into Cooperation by Wendy Grant. Vega, 2003; Resolving Conflict with Others and Within Yourself at Work and in Your Personal Life by Gini Graham Scott, PhD. CreateSpace, 2011; The Coward's Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run than Fight by Tim Ursiny. Sourcebooks, 2003; Messages: The Communication Skills Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 2009; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You're All Adults by Deborah Tannen. Ballantine Books, 2002.

Summary

Working together to manage and resolve conflict will result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Many adult children avoid confronting their parents. Some fear being treated like a child, while others fear the pain that family conflict can bring. But working together to manage and resolve conflict will result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Barriers to resolving parental conflict

Growing up, your parents played an important role in teaching you how to get along with others. Emotional and relationship issues, however, can impede your ability to resolve conflict with your parents. Keep these barriers in mind:

  • Not communicating. Do not assume that you know your parents so well that making an effort to talk and listen to each other is no longer necessary. Similarly, do not assume that your parents can read your mind and feelings.
  • Stereotyping. Remember, your dad and mom are also a man and a woman with individual feelings that matter to them. Also, adult children frequently define their parents by their negative habits and tendencies. Instead, focus on your parents’ positive qualities. For example, your mother may be stubborn and hold a grudge, but she also is a great listener.
  • Pushing buttons. When communication breaks down, avoid making the conflict worse by focusing on issues you know will escalate the problem.
  • Routine. Time and again, you and your folks probably argue and resolve conflict the same way. Identify and avoid patterns and tendencies that weaken your ability to resolve conflict.
  • History. How you treated each other in the past can affect your desire to work together to solve a problem. Agree to respect each other and work through the problem rationally. Also, do not assume that you will not be able to come to consensus because you have not been able to resolve similar issues in the past.

Resolving conflict step by step

No issue is too big or small to bring up if you feel angry, hurt or unfairly treated. Follow these steps:

  • Cool off. Emotions can keep you from identifying the real issue.
  • Identify the problem. Often, small incidents are symptoms of a larger, central issue. Identify your needs: Are they being met?
  • Change your perspective. How might your parents feel? Are there underlying issues or needs that are not being met? Did you say or do something that could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
  • Communicate. Make sure your parents have your full attention and understand your meaning. Telling your parents enough about the way you feel will help them see you as an independent adult, like them, and improve their ability to empathize with you. Be aware of your body movement, voice inflection, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.
  • Avoid involving or asking other family members to take sides.
  • Listen. Do not interrupt or make assumptions. Avoid being critical or defensive. Listen for what is behind the words: the feelings and ideas.
  • Be willing to apologize and forgive.
  • Solve the problem. Be flexible to work out a compromise that meets both you and your parents’ personal and relationship needs. Focusing on such needs will help you deal with the issue at hand as well as your overall relationship.
By Christine P. Martin
Source: Resolving Conflict: How to Turn Conflict Into Cooperation by Wendy Grant. Vega, 2003; Resolving Conflict with Others and Within Yourself at Work and in Your Personal Life by Gini Graham Scott, PhD. CreateSpace, 2011; The Coward's Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run than Fight by Tim Ursiny. Sourcebooks, 2003; Messages: The Communication Skills Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 2009; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You're All Adults by Deborah Tannen. Ballantine Books, 2002.

Summary

Working together to manage and resolve conflict will result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Many adult children avoid confronting their parents. Some fear being treated like a child, while others fear the pain that family conflict can bring. But working together to manage and resolve conflict will result in improved communication and a better, more enjoyable relationship.

Barriers to resolving parental conflict

Growing up, your parents played an important role in teaching you how to get along with others. Emotional and relationship issues, however, can impede your ability to resolve conflict with your parents. Keep these barriers in mind:

  • Not communicating. Do not assume that you know your parents so well that making an effort to talk and listen to each other is no longer necessary. Similarly, do not assume that your parents can read your mind and feelings.
  • Stereotyping. Remember, your dad and mom are also a man and a woman with individual feelings that matter to them. Also, adult children frequently define their parents by their negative habits and tendencies. Instead, focus on your parents’ positive qualities. For example, your mother may be stubborn and hold a grudge, but she also is a great listener.
  • Pushing buttons. When communication breaks down, avoid making the conflict worse by focusing on issues you know will escalate the problem.
  • Routine. Time and again, you and your folks probably argue and resolve conflict the same way. Identify and avoid patterns and tendencies that weaken your ability to resolve conflict.
  • History. How you treated each other in the past can affect your desire to work together to solve a problem. Agree to respect each other and work through the problem rationally. Also, do not assume that you will not be able to come to consensus because you have not been able to resolve similar issues in the past.

Resolving conflict step by step

No issue is too big or small to bring up if you feel angry, hurt or unfairly treated. Follow these steps:

  • Cool off. Emotions can keep you from identifying the real issue.
  • Identify the problem. Often, small incidents are symptoms of a larger, central issue. Identify your needs: Are they being met?
  • Change your perspective. How might your parents feel? Are there underlying issues or needs that are not being met? Did you say or do something that could have been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
  • Communicate. Make sure your parents have your full attention and understand your meaning. Telling your parents enough about the way you feel will help them see you as an independent adult, like them, and improve their ability to empathize with you. Be aware of your body movement, voice inflection, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.
  • Avoid involving or asking other family members to take sides.
  • Listen. Do not interrupt or make assumptions. Avoid being critical or defensive. Listen for what is behind the words: the feelings and ideas.
  • Be willing to apologize and forgive.
  • Solve the problem. Be flexible to work out a compromise that meets both you and your parents’ personal and relationship needs. Focusing on such needs will help you deal with the issue at hand as well as your overall relationship.
By Christine P. Martin
Source: Resolving Conflict: How to Turn Conflict Into Cooperation by Wendy Grant. Vega, 2003; Resolving Conflict with Others and Within Yourself at Work and in Your Personal Life by Gini Graham Scott, PhD. CreateSpace, 2011; The Coward's Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run than Fight by Tim Ursiny. Sourcebooks, 2003; Messages: The Communication Skills Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 2009; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You're All Adults by Deborah Tannen. Ballantine Books, 2002.

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