Nest not quite empty

- Dear Mary Jo,

I recently let my daughter and her fiancée move in with me while they’re purchasing a home. How do I not take on their stressors as my own?

Thanks, Missy

Missy,

The tension and stress you’re referring to is common with most couples during the first years of their life together. It’s important you don’t get involved because your daughter and her fiancée will gain confidence in each other when they work through it together. It’s important you practice self-care tips, such as getting out with friends, staying active in your own life, and enjoying time with your daughter and her fiancée as a couple instead of your kids. Be there to listen, but don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. As much as possible give them space to be a couple and figure it out on their own. It’s normal to worry about her; reminding yourself of the importance of letting them work it out will work better for your relationship with her.

Dear Mary Jo,

My daughter has not grown up. She’s 37, still lives with me, and whenever we talk about it she gets really mean and cuts me off. What do I do?

Thanks, Sheila

Sheila,

You’re not alone, but you’re being held hostage by your adult child’s attitude. She’s manipulating you with her anger, which induces feelings of fear, exhaustion, and guilt. Here are some suggestions:

  1. You need to step back and take control, making steps to separate from her. Understand how you got here and begin setting boundaries. The current situation is holding you both back and destroying your relationship. 
  2. A therapist can help you set a step-by-step plan. Write an email if you can’t talk to her about the new plans and outstanding bills; be prepared for her to not be happy.
  3. Make plans to spend more time with friends and family and do the things that make life worth living for you. Comfort yourself by remembering the importance of raising self-sufficient children. Parents who set strong boundaries teach their children to accept responsibility and follow through.
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