What not to do (that you’re probably doing).
Whether or not your child is a narcissist—and whether or not you’re joking—it’s only your own behaviors that you have agency to examine and change. If your adult child bugs the hell out of you but you can’t not do something for him (that he could very well do for himself), you, ahem, might be the one with the bigger problem. Namely, how to get your own life back.
Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W. worked in direct healthcare for more than two decades. She makes complex topics accessible, bringing right-brained creativity to left-brained concepts that often baffle. The goal: Creating connections between human beings and their patterns of behavior, the universal and the personal, the heart and the mind.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
Here are 10 things to think about stopping immediately that might not only help you regain your sanity, they’ll help your adult child grow up:
- Waking him up in the morning
- Fixing breakfast or lunch for her to take to work
- Reminding her about errands
- Driving him to work because he’s too late to take the bus
- Doing his laundry; folding her clothes
- Not having he or she pay rent when they are living with you
- Figuring out her schedule
- Filling out job applications
- Assuming their chores
- Not giving them chores
- Calling into your adult child's work to say she's sick because she doesn't want to and you're afraid she'll lose her job if she doesn't
- Trying to be popular with your adult child
And here are 5 more hot-button behaviors to think about … not continuing, or to ask yourself why you are doing them:
13. Loaning money (that you know won’t be repaid because no loan has ever been repaid, though you keep hoping it will be repaid)
14. Paying off your adult child’s credit cards
15. Cosigning for a car or apartment loan (for some kids it might appropriate to help out, but not if it’s to “take care” of them)
16. Finding her a job
17. Taking the bait. There is a saying that goes: “I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.” Arguing with your adult child about how unfair it is that you stopped doing these thing would classify as that type of argument. Instead say: “You may be right.”
Determine what is appropriate, and under what conditions, to lend a hand. Practice asking yourself why you want to help your adult child so much, especially if you you can’t seem to stop. Don’t judge yourself too harshly, for that serves as a distraction to making changes.
To fill the space as you sort out why you've done these things for so long:
Name three things you do for your child that you now have given yourself permission to stop doing (perhaps uncomfortably or hesitantly) .
- Create a new list of three things you would really like to do for yourself instead.
- Do the three things you would really like to do for yourself.
Remember, even when your child tells you to get off his back, he may react negatively when you finally do (you’ve disrupted a cycle to which they’ve grown accustomed to). That’s ok. Don’t react or fight back. without someone to argue with, he will slowly accept your new behavior, though he may not like it.
Final note: speaking with a licensed therapist is a wonderful way to gain perspective on your behavior and help you get back on track to living your own life.