Episode 85 When your adult children are disrespectful
Welcome to the podcast, loving On Purpose. I'm your host, Bonnie Lyman. If you're having trouble navigating through your relationships with your adult children, if you are struggling to connect with them or having specific challenges, you're in the right place.
Hello everyone and thank you for listening to me today. I am airing this podcast from Hawaii, and I have to admit, when I come over here, we probably come twice a year, maybe once a year. It's probably more realistic, but there's always a pain in my heart that not everybody is able. To get away and, um, come enjoy a beautiful place in the world such as our world is created.
And I know that there are many more places on our earth that are just as beautiful and not as expensive to come and enjoy. But I'm here with my family. We usually go to the lake, but in our neck of the woods this week, the third week in August has always worked out to be the best. And we can't always count on the weather cooperating and being warm, and we kinda like to go someplace where it's warm.
So I'm here with my family in Hawaii with three of the, um, Children and their families, and so that's what we got. Didn't get 'em all, but we're taking what we get and we're loving spending time with them. I have to admit, it's never without some drama and it's never quite as you would expect it, but I have had enough of these vacations that my expectations are low, and in order for me to fully enjoy my time here, that is my responsibility.
I am not going to put that on to my kids. But I wanna thank you for listening, for listening. Many of you I know have listened to many of my podcasts. And I appreciate that and I appreciate the feedback I get. And if you do write me a review or check those stars, apparently that's important for getting this podcast out to more people.
I would like to help more people, but I don't wanna burden you with trying to figure out any more technology than is necessary. But I do thank you for sharing certain episodes with your friends and maybe other relatives. If you're not on my email list, I suggest you go to bonnie line.com to sign up and I send a big, extend, a big thank you to all of you who have sent me such encouraging replies to.
Um, my emails of how they have helped you. I have some, hopefully some inspiration. Sometimes my Tuesday is Tuesday tidbits. It's just some fun ideas. This week it was on 10 different ways to use a waffle iron, and, um, I should be sharing more personal stories, but some of those words are, uh, stories are maybe too personal to share, and I feel like I end up sharing a lot of those in my podcast.
Um, but I, I believe that there is a great benefit in women and parents supporting each other. So if you find my podcast or my email to be helpful to you and know of somebody, it might be helpful. Thank you for passing it on. You may think that all is well in my life and that my struggle with my relationships with my adult children is over.
Well, it's never over. There is something very personal about relationships in the dynamics of a family. Because humans are dynamic, families are dynamic, meaning our lives are always changing, which causes our perspectives about what these new happenings in our lives mean causing us to have different feelings.
Before these happenings changed in our lives. So if our, if our child starts acting toward us in a different way, if all of a sudden they cut us off. If a child goes, goes through a divorce, if a child loses a job, if a child starts asking us all the time for money, if a child won't accept money when they really need it, this is dynamic changes that happen.
And it, uh, it affects our thoughts about what's happening. And so this affects our feelings. And so the struggle for me, It's still there to always do the work, to choose thoughts, to feel love toward my children in whatever situation is going on. It's easy not to judge them when it comes to decisions they make regarding their personal life as to who they marry, what kind of job they have, whether they quit their job and they didn't have a new job.
And yeah, I may have a thought or two about that, but I, I've really gotten to the point where they're an adult, that's their business, and I've gotten where I trust my kids on that. But where I struggle is when a child. Starts treating me differently. They start being curt with me. They don't, uh, my perspective is they're not showing as much love or respect, um, to me.
And so there's always the work to, to find peace and also to be able to accept that this is who they are right now to choose. Love over judgment is always placed before me, I would say on a weekly basis, and it kind of changes from child to child. I have two children that I am seem to be a little closer to right now.
That five years ago I wasn't as close to, and I have two other children that, um, I felt I was very close to and were, the conversations aren't quite as comfortable as they were. But, um, what has helped me is that I'll never be at the point where I never have to do the work to choose love over judgment, but I have the tools to know how to pretty quickly feel acceptance of them, of how they're acting and love or compassion and understanding.
And so it doesn't keep me stuck. I am able to find. Other ways to fulfill my needs that perhaps my adult chil child was previously fulfilling. And I believe anything in this world worth doing, worth achieving it. It takes some practice. It's exactly like riding a bike and you learn how to ride that bike, or you learn how to drive a car.
And it feels so freeing to be able to do that, that you can do that. And it's the same thing with having the tools. I know that at any time I can feel the way I want to feel. And you know, there are times I just wanna feel hurt. I just wanna feel sad. Maybe I even wanna feel resentful, but I don't like feeling those negative feelings.
So, I, I tend to allow myself to feel it and then move on and accept them, and my default thought about my adult children, and no one will convince me otherwise, no matter how they're acting toward me, that I know my children love me and they're just not showing it. If you haven't had a strategy call and you're struggling in a relationship with an adult child, what do you have to lose?
To schedule a complimentary call with me? Go to the show notes or go to my website, bonnie lyman.com, bonnie lyman.com, and you can book a call there. So today I want to talk to you about when your kids are disrespectful to you.
I know this is happening with a lot of you out there who have been listening to me, or maybe this is the first time listening and I welcome you to have found my podcast. We have to remember that we don't have control over another person. We don't have control over our children once they become adults.
All of our friends could agree with us that our children are being disrespectful, but that doesn't solve the problem, or it doesn't make us feel any better. The only thing you have control over is you. You can feel better without giving up, wanting them to be kinder or more respectful to you. So first you need to own that you feel hurt and you go through the process of feeling a negative emotion.
We don't resist it. We don't try to avoid feeling that feeling. If we are willing to feel the negative emotion and process it in the right way, it will decrease the intensity of it. And if you don't know how to do that, listen to my podcast practice feeling your negative emotions. It's kind of in the first one third of my podcasts, I give you the number.
On Apple Podcasts, but Apple decided this year to quit numbering their podcasts. And I don't know why it's harder to find. You can choose the feeling you want to have when they are rude. And in order to change that feeling, you need to change your perspective and your thoughts about why they're being disrespectful.
And when you change these thoughts, that will cause you to have a different feeling, then hurt.
And so an example of this, uh, one child I have that is being, I could say Curt with me, is sharp short answers. Uh, uh, tends to avoid me. Doesn't have a lot of engagement with me, but I still know she loves me. But anytime anything like that happens or we're criticized, it still hurts. You know, that's just who we are.
I'm not a robot. It still hurts, but I remember that she is struggling with some things that she hasn't resolved yet, and so I can go to compassion and there's something in me that triggers her to cause her to remind her that she is hurting about something in her life. So this is how she decides to handle it.
And I don't have any control over that, but I love her enough that I can have compassion that she is struggling and that is why she, um, is, is Kurt with me. Hurt people, hurt other people, which you've heard me say probably a hundred times. You can also go to the land of curiosity and be curious as to why they are acting this way.
And also though be curious as to why you are hanging on so tight to all those judgmental thoughts you're having about their behavior and that. You know, what do they think they're doing acting this way toward me. So be curious as to why you're being so judgmental, because we're either loving someone or judging 'em, and anytime we judge them, we don't feel good.
So I'm gonna give you some examples of disrespectful statements, the way kids are disrespectful, um, to their parents. Um, I am, I'm going to give you some actions you can take and I'm gonna give you some boundaries that you might wanna be thinking about so that you just aren't a continual. Punching bag to take their hurt on.
A lot of times our children hurt us. They take out their frustrations on us because they feel safe with us. They know deep down their mom is always going to love them. My actions have been nothing but love, so why wouldn't they think that? But that also compounds them to feel guilty that they shouldn't be so disrespectful to me or rude to me.
But it takes courage to overcome that. So I have a lot of empathy for my children when they are disrespectful to me. It's not like I just sit there and take it as a punching bag. I do things to, um, avoid the interaction or to set some boundaries. So again, we're, we're gonna talk about how they show their disrespect, what actions can be taken and what boundaries.
And these are things I've just gotten from my studies. If you have better ideas, please email me at [email protected]. Um, I would love to hear. How you have lovingly been able to deal with this or just emotionally been able to deal with this so that you are not always hurt, hurt, hurting, you're moving on in your life.
So here were just five examples of disrespectful statements that adult children might say to their parents. Number one, I can't believe I have to deal with your outdated to opinions. Number two, you just don't understand anything about my life. So stop pretending you do. Number three, why do you always have to meddle in my affairs?
I'm perfectly capable, capable of handling. My own. And sometimes this comes out to me from my children by just saying nothing, just not answering my question or giving me a one word answer. I almost wish they say something like that. Number four, you're so outta touch with the reality. It's embarrassing.
Number five, I don't wanna hear your advice anymore. Your constant nagging is suffocating you. And you know, what they see as nagging or what they see is, um, being touched out of reality, what they see as meddling in their affairs. Is their perspective. From our perspective, most of us might just be thinking, I am just taking an interest in their lives.
But I learned a long time ago, I do not give any advice to my kids unless I have permission to do so, or they ask me for it. It's just a pretty safe way to go. I mean, we did, we raised good kids. I'm gonna admit that I, I raise them to embrace their problems and to figure things out, and so I need to have a little more faith and trust that they will, but we'll, we'll get into some reasons.
Why they feel this way. And I forgot to mention that before the actions we take, we're gonna talk about the reasons they're doing this. It's important to note that maintaining respect and open communication between parents and adult children is crucial for a healthy relationship. So you have to be careful in determining, uh, how much of their life they're gonna stay out of.
You know, I've had some clients say, Nope, they're outta my life. I can't deal with this at all. I can't do that. I can't give up on my child That. Things might change because I love them so much. Disagreements and conflicts are natural between child and parent at this stage because we got two adults now, but before we had a child and a parent or a child and an adult, now we have two adults looking at the same, uh, happening in an adult stage of life.
So we need to find constructive ways to express thoughts and emotions that can help further damage to the relationship. So
disrespectful behavior. From adult children towards their parents can stem from a variety of factors. Number one, we can't overlook that they could have been treated disrespectfully as a child. And I really give my clients who I deal with on this basis, the benefit of the doubt that there wasn't any disrespect, but sometimes being a helicopter parent, as it used to be called, following every mood, checking up on every little thing they were involved of.
The child didn't even know, but it, it could have been stifling to them, and I sometimes refer to it, the tether between parent and child was so short that they have some resentful memories. Number two is they have a growing independence at this time in their life. They, and they exercise that maybe by becoming more assertive and challenging their authorities.
This can sometimes lead to, um, an exhibition of disrespectful behavior. Another one is the Generation Gap. We just do things differently. The way they do them and most of their peers do things, and that's, I find my kids counseling with each other. It, it may have nothing to do with their, their respect or wanting to know our opinion, but they really kind of think that we, you know, things were done differently and they were, and I get so many clients say that they don't do anything the way I raised them or the way I handled things.
But I think we need to accept that, that that's more natural than what we think. Generational differences include attitudes, beliefs, and values. When these are different than our, it can cause friction. And if they know that we're we're causing some friction or not accepting them for having different attitudes, beliefs, and values, then they, um, it can lead to disrespectful comments.
Number four is a communication breakdown. Poor communication skills can result in misunderstandings in a re and resentment.
If a family has a history of avoiding difficult conversations and pen up frustrations can man manifest in disrespectful behavior. Um, and as we talked before, there may be some lingering con conflicts or unresolved issues from childhood that resurface in adulthood. Um, and these unresolved emotions could contribute to disrespectful comments when, uh, triggered by something that comes up.
I think of a thing about I didn't allow my kids to participate in sports on Sundays, and because of our faith and our way of honoring God by honoring this Sabbath day. And they, they still have the same faith, some of them, and follow these values. But I think they're resentful that we did not allow them to make the decision on their own, whether they wanted to follow that value.
But when I had a fourth grader, I, I felt like he wasn't old enough to, uh, make that decision on his own, that, um, I, or me and my husband, felt a responsibility to guide him. And not allow that. And actually we didn't get a lot of resistance at the time. Number six is pressure and stress. External pressures that our adult children are under, such as work stress, stress or financial burdens, or personal challenges or marital problems can inadvertently lead to taking frustrations out on their loved ones, on us, their parents, because they do, and it's a wonderful thing, and I'm glad they do that.
They feel safe, that they know I will always love them. So we kind of end up being the. Punching bag, and we're gonna talk about boundaries in a little bit as to what extreme you allow that to happen. Number seven is that I feel real strongly about they are seeking autonomy. They, when they feel the least little bit of threat that their parents are attempting to control their lives, then disrespect is, is going to come out in some sort of Kurt disrespectful, uh, conversations, answers, reactions, you might say.
Number eight is personality conflicts. And I can see this with one of my children. There's just a personality clash there besides some other things going on of her not, and him not being able to resolve some issues in their life. But even differences in communications styles between parents and adult children can contribute to misunderstandings and disrespectful exchanges.
Number nine is negative influence. Sometimes peer groups might promote disrespectful. Behavior, but I haven't seen that one show up quite as often.
Um, number 10 is emotional ex expression. Some adult children might resort to disrespectful language as a way to express some very strong emotions they are having, especially if they are feeling unheard or misunderstood. Their, they're going to show up as being disrespectful and then we cannot forget that there might be some mental health issues, some challenges such as anxiety, depression, or maybe some unresolved trauma.
That we know of or we don't know of. I have several clients who have children that when they were kind of in their teen and children either age of that age bracket, that uh, their father passed away suddenly. And so this, this could be unresolved in their life and it impacts how they communicate, how they relate, how they treat the, you as the mom, as a surviving parent.
So, one way to deal with this is to, um, um, we're, I guess we're gonna go into the actions first. I was gonna talk to you about the boundaries, why I'm gonna talk to you about the actions and what you can do. So one of the things that we need to do is make sure we have open, honest, calm communication with our adult child about their disrespectful behavior expressed to them.
Other words or actions have affected you. The only way we can do this, that's not gonna cause an argument. We don't ever wanna be defensive, but we use I statements to, to communicate your feelings without blaming or accusing them. I feel hurt when you accuse me of having never loved you, and that's all you have to say.
You don't have to be defensive and prove all the things you've ever done to show that you love them. But just use these I statements and when you use an I statement, it's always I feel, and you name the feeling when. You do or say this, and they just can't argue with your feelings the other way. Uh, other actions we can take to help remedy this perhaps, or at least help them know that you're trying to understand and you love them, is to set some clear boundaries regarding acceptable behavior and communication within the family.
But the boundaries need to be realistic, flexible, and mutually agreed upon. And so that may be like a. Say you belong to one church and some, uh, that you feel very strong about, that those values from that particular faith should be followed. And you have children not following that faith, but you disagree.
You're never gonna talk about church. Or maybe it's politics or maybe it's, it's something else, but you set a boundary that everybody agrees with. We may even have to go as far as to say when we get together, um,
we can only say things that are factual. Or that are kind. Now your, your child may not agree with that, but you can always speak that way. And I, I suggest that you do. I mean, we're the adults here and let's set the example. So that's number three is lead by example, is by modeling respectful behavior with your adult children.
Show them how you expect to be treated by treating them with respect and um, empathy and you can have more influence over, um, changing. Their behavior than you think by you setting the tone for improved communication and understanding. Another thing is to acknowledge the feelings. Try to understand the underlying emotions that might be contributing to them being so disrespectful.
Sometimes disrespectful behaviors can be a mask for deeper issues, such as frustration, insecurity, or unresolved conflicts, and that goes back to hurt People hurt other people acknowledge that it must be hard to be going through what they're going through, and you're so sorry that they have to be going through that.
Their lives and then we create a safe place for them to express themselves. Remember, building a healthy relationship with an adult child is gonna take some time and effort from both sides, but we can't control their effort. We can only control our own. So be willing to be patient and to make compromises.
It is so essential to foster an environment, a mutual respect, at least you showing respect on your side of you trying to listen more and understand more. That in time. Hopefully this will strengthen your, your relationship. So let's just talk a minute about boundaries. Setting effective boundaries can be really important in addressing and resolving disrespectful behavior.
And here are seven boundaries parents can consider. Remember, these are just ideas. Some of them are my ideas and some of 'em I have found from 10 different articles I read to improve the situation. So here are seven. That's what I said, right? Seven boundaries. So first is one about time and space.
Establish boundaries about when and how often you communicate. This can help prevent misunderstanding and provide time for emotions to settle before addressing any issues. So this is a boundary you're going to set with yourself. If I get a text or my child says something that pushes my button, I'm just gonna be called and I'm not gonna say anything until I've processed just feeling that negative emotion and I've calmed down.
Number two is you need to set boundaries on criticizing I.
Always offer constructive feedback rather than criticism, and if you can't come up with any constructive feedback, then don't offer any at all. You can also request this from your adult children to letting them know, I'm trying to understand you, but I've gotta have a little bit of positive feedback. It can't be all criticism.
I said to my mom once, who always told me everything that was going wrong. I can't say she criticized me, but she never complimented me. And it was really kind of wary to have conversations with her. So I finally said, mom, is there anything you can share with me that's going right in your life? And it actually changed her behavior.
So you might say, you have a right to have whatever feelings you want to have about us, but is there anything that we're doing right or ever did right in your life that, um, you could share with us? The other thing is kind of called number three is kind of the no blame game. So this would be, and I would set a boundary.
That we and you are never going to blame each other for past actions or situations. Let's focus on moving forward and if, if the past experiences are so severe, let's go get some outside help. I get a lot of clients that say, I just want us to all meet together and wait everything out on the table that has ever been offensive to either party, and I don't think that's healthy at all.
I think the only time you can do that is if you have a third party. That is completely, um, objective to the situation. Number four is personal space. Respect each other's personal space and privacy. We need to avoid getting too inquisitive or making too many comments that are kind of personal about personal matters unless the other party freely shares it and, and I'm talking about us and what's going on in our adult children's lives.
We don't want us to know everything that's going on. My kids don't, they don't even share with us about how much money they're making. They don't share to us, with us when they're looking for a new job. There's a lot of things and do, do I make that mean? They think I'm gonna criticize that. Maybe they are, but I don't.
I I just make it mean that's personal and they don't care to share that this is another boundary that you may find hard and limit your involvement in your adult children's lives. Respect their autonomy that they wanna govern their life and how they live their life and how much time they wanna spend with you by.
And we do that by reframing from excessive to being involved or giving too much unsolicited advice. So I feel I have clients that say, well, that was not the way it was when I was growing up. I always shared this with my parents, but this is what happens. I can remember even with my mom every time I got pregnant and I shared with her.
I was expecting another child, which we were excited about, and apparently she wasn't. It was always, oh, you are. And so what did that make me do? I didn't wanna share anything personal with my mom. Was that being disrespectful? I have to admit, I grew up with the feeling that I was a disrespectful daughter to my parents because I withdrew from them because the judgment, judgment was expressed much more often.
In fact, I can hardly even, I. I can't give you a specific time when I was outwardly shown love, and yet I knew my parents loved me 'cause they clothed, they fed me, they gave me shelter. My mom would drive me and my friends to ski trips. But aside from that there, there wasn't much love shared in my home.
So I felt like the disrespectful child, and yet I never had the desire to show disrespect. But perhaps I limited too much my involvement with my child. So listen to your gut feeling on that. Um, and I have one child in particular that we have a better relationship when there is lots of space between us.
Have respectful communication. Set a boundary that requires all action to be conducted in a respectful and civil manner. Disrespectful language, shouting or general attacks should not be tolerated. Now again, we don't have control over our children, whether they're, they can do that. We can make a request, but a lot of times it comes back as, who me?
Uh, I'm not doing that because they don't see themselves as being the problem. So you can set the boundary for yourself, and I'm telling you, it has more influence than you think to always conduct yourself in a respectful civil, and I like to say loving, kind manner. Another way is to be an active listener and when we are active listening.
We are listening to the other person without trying to interpret what they're going to say and allowing each person to express their thoughts and feelings fully and honestly. But you have to be very careful here. And so to be an active listener, I think the best gift we can offer our kids is to be a good listener, is to listen more and talk less.
Listen. And then express back, this is what I understood for you. Um, this is what I understood that you just told me. So most of the time I ask my clients, when they tell me that they're dealing with children that are very disrespectful, and this is what I ask 'em, what do you want to do? And will this achieve the feeling you want to feel?
With my experience in dealing with disrespectful children, I have decided ahead of time I still want to love them. So I allow them and myself to have space in our relationship space. And how much interaction they want to have with me. Is it what I want? No, not exactly, but I don't like how I feel being in a toxic environment, environment when my child is really not listening to me, not showing me much attention, not asking me questions.
When I ask her a question that they're very court, Kurt, and, and short. I kind of feel that punch as if I'm the punching bag. But what I can do, Is, do some mind work and remember that, that she's not, this is not about me and how she feels about me, but it's really about how she's feeling about herself and she's not feeling very good so I can feel compassion.
I, I don't think it's emotionally healthy for either one of us to spend a lot of time together. I accept what I cannot change. I engage with her children and I move forward with my life maybe accepting this. Maybe the only kind of relationship I am I'm going to have with this child
thinking the thought. This might only be temporary because things never stay the same, serves me well and I, I can feel some peace reminding myself I don't have control over her or her feelings toward me being grateful that I had the opportunity to raise her and be an important part of her life for a period of time.
This allows me to drop the judgment. And choose love for her. I can hate the behavior and love the person. There are many, many wonderful, outstanding, good things, Christ-like characteristics that my child has. And like I said, maybe it's a personality conflict. Maybe it was how she was raised. Maybe there's a little known health issue going on there.
But love always feels better than judgment. So why would I choose anything differently? All of us really want. The only thing we really want is just to feel good. We can't be dependent on anything outside of us to make that happen. Part of being an adult is being responsible for our own happiness. I know this was long.
I hope you played this on a faster speed, and I hope you have a great week and I'll talk to you next week when I'm back in Spokane, Washington. Thank you for listening.
If you like this, be this episode and you felt it was of benefit to you, I ask you to share it with somebody that perhaps it could also benefit. But if you're still feeling kind of stuck in that you don't know how to apply, what was talked about or where to start on on changing your thoughts, on changing your perspective, on bettering your relationship, get on a call with me and we can have a discussion.
And I can tell you how to apply it and where we start. And then you get to decide what you want to do about this relationship that maybe you're struggling with with your adult children. There's no reason to go on the rest of our lives struggling with our relationships with our adult children. Let's assume the best.
Let's assume that we all love each other and we're just trying to figure out how to maintain our own boundaries and respect another ones. But I can help you with everything. So just go to bonnie lyman.com and book a call. I can't wait to hear from you.