When parents won’t let go

Another call from the ’rents? Talk to them in person about how you feel.

The question:
I’m 28 years old and my parents still treat me like a kid, calling me every day to “check in” and constantly asking my whereabouts. How can I get them to let up?

Every adult was once somebody’s child. Consequently, it’s hard for many parents to accept that their children are grown-ups. While your parents’ behavior might be appropriate for a teenager, it’s a bit extreme at your age. Before you say something to them, I suggest that you examine your own attitudes about your parents’ behavior. For example, do you feel somewhat reassured that you still have loved ones looking out for you? Are they the first people you consult when you have a problem or decision to make?

If the answer is “yes,” then you may want to explore your own reservations about feeling completely independent. You could be subtly communicating to your parents that you need their support.

Once you’ve checked in with yourself, and determined that you are ready to fully embrace your independence, then arrange a time to speak with your parents, preferably in person. Tell them that while you love them and appreciate their concern, you would also like them to stop calling and checking in on you so frequently. Explain that it undermines your sense of confidence and independence.

You might want to suggest an actual number of times a week when they can call, or promise to call or text twice a week or every Sunday to say hello. If they refuse, or don’t listen, you can exercise your right not to answer the phone every time they call.

Honoring one’s parents shouldn’t come at the price of honoring yourself.

– Kim Schneiderman, MSW, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and former journalist with a private practice in New York City. She is currently working on her first book, “How to Be the Star of Your Own Story: Writing the Path to Personal Transformation,” based on the therapeutic writing workshops she’s taught at the 92nd Street Y and JCC in Manhattan.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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