Being an adult living at home with your family can be challenging as parents tend to view you as a child or a teen. Your parents may sound intrusive toward you, asking what you are doing, where are you going, and so forth. Even though they mean well, you may feel your privacy is taken away. To develop a healthy relationship with your family at this  time, it is important to have personal boundaries that are comfortable for everyone. You may be aware that you have no power in changing your parents, but you do have the power to change yourself. Below, I have created and shared a few tips to help you develop these skills.

Develop Healthy Boundaries

Set a time to have a full-blown conversation on your need for boundaries. It’s best to deal with the issue as soon as it arises as this will prevent the build up of tension and communication will most likely be easier. Don’t expect to develop boundaries as you give out hints, it will not be nearly as effective. As you express yourself through this conversation, make an effort to think about what you want to say before you speak. Doing this will help prevent impulsivity and encourage you to be more conscious and aware in your wording. Keep things positive, be aware of your tone of voice, keep it upbeat and select your vocabulary thoughtfully.  “I” statements are great to describe your current feelings and emotions. When you explain how you feel by using the word, “I”, you are more likely to be heard by the person that you are communicating with.  Each of these elements will help family members to listen with a more open mind. 

Be Specific in Your Needs

Clarify your needs as specifically as you can. For example, ask your parents not to call you between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, and if they do, you will not answer the phone. Or they are not allowed to comment on your weight, what you eat, how to work on your job, etc. Make it clear that you will not answer or tolerate the crossing of these boundaries.  Of course, your parents may not like your boundaries, but they must obey them. Your parents may continually resist to gain the old relationship back, because that is what they are comfortable with and are more familiar with. If the boundaries are not followed, respond by making it clear that you are not wavering in these boundaries. Your challenge is to be persistent and consistent in your behavior. Remember this can be challenging and change will only come if you follow through. 


Communicate As an Adult

Communication is a core foundation of a healthy relationship. Relationships are built on the ability to effectively communicate through verbal and non-verbal skills, including body language, eye contact, and verbal expression. As you relate to your parents, be confident and communicate as an adult to an adult, even if your parents don’t respond to you as an adult. Communicating as an adult means you present yourself as confident and solid in your own right in what you say and feel, which can be independent from your parents’ thoughts and opinion. Allow for them to respond and share outside of your point of concern prior to returning to your main point. This will allow for open communication on both ends and for your parents to feel if they are able to express themselves as well.


Act With Emotional Responsibility

In order for you to continue to support your parents treating you as an adult, you need to show them that you are emotionally responsible in the relationship. This means that you do not blame others for your mistakes. You can take criticism, own up to the behavior and say, “I will need to reflect on it and try to change”. This gives your parents an understanding that communication is a two-way street rather than feeling as if either one of you is reacting, which may lead you back into a childhood parental relationship. Show them that you can solve your own problem rather than asking them to do it for you. 

With these boundaries your parents may feel that you are moving away or rejecting them by asking for space, especially your mother. This does not mean it’s wrong to do so. Asserting your needs is essential, even if your parents do not see eye to eye on this matter. This is one of the hardest and most necessary things about becoming an adult. In order to establish your adulthood (moving away from the role of a child in the eyes of your parents), it needs to be communicated clearly that these are your choices, preferences and capacities. Healthy adult boundaries create a new relationship where both of you have to relate to each other differently than before. When that happens, the relationship improves and actually grows closer rather than further. As for your parents, you need to give them the space to adjust because they love you and will adjust to all the changes you have made in time.