Oh Mother - Are You a Natural Born Meddler?
Here's advice about sticking your nose in! A big problem for grown-up children is a meddling mother - and I'm not necessarily talking about the traditional mother-in-law type problems, but problems with their own mother. With more grown-up children moving back home because of the economic situation, this is an increasing problem. However mothers can meddle just as easily down the phone.
When you suddenly have your adult-child around it seems quite natural to ask about their lives. And even if they don't live with you, communication with them seems much easier now they’re part of the "real world" - and you have more in common. They seem more like your friend than your child. Yes, your relationship does because more of a friendship - but this doesn't give you carte blanch to know as much as their own friends do about their lives.
Take Allison, 27, who recently moved back in with her parents. They've met her boyfriend Tom and Allison's mother, Jackie, 51, really likes him. Jackie told me that over coffee recently they were discussing how Allison and Tom seemed “very much in love”. Jackie wondered if things were good "in bed" and was shocked by Allison's response that she described as like a drawbridge going down.
Jackie felt a bit hurt but as I explained, Allison undoubtedly wanted to enjoy friendly chats but didn't want to cross into the ‘TMI’ area - too much information. It was important Jackie thought about such boundaries.
Are you a natural born meddler with your adult-child? Take my quick quiz to find out:
1/ They seem a bit stressed, is it "50 questions" from you about why?
2/ Their mobile goes, they've left it in the kitchen, do you answer it?
3/ The minute they open-up about personal things, do you try to dig out as much as possible?
4/ Do you drop hints that you want to know more about their life?
5/ They go out after work, do you expect them to tell you where they're going?
6/ Do you feel hurt or angry when they let you know they don't want to tell you certain things?
1 – 2 Yes answers: Mini-Meddling
Okay, you're excused, as you're obviously selective about when you meddle or pry. That said, it’d benefit your relationship if you read the advice below.
3 – 4 Yes answers: Moderate Meddling
Your level of meddling could jeopardise your relationship with them. It's crossing over to the territory where they probably roll their eyes and complain about you to their friends. Take on board the above advice below.
5 – 6 Yes answers: Massive Meddling
Your meddling is a big problem and you obviously don't know how to set your boundaries. Before this destroys your relationship do the following.
The Five Firm Rules Of Engagement With Your Grown Children:
1/ Accounting for Where They Are –
Fair enough, you're living together and have every right to ask certain things like that they text you if they’re going to be staying out all night. Rightly you'd worry otherwise. But it's not your business what they're doing. You wouldn't know if they lived away from home. And as long as they're being grown-up and, e.g., paying their share of the bills, they have every right to be treated like an adult.
2/ Personal Information –
Of course you'd love to know the little things like how their last date went with that new boyfriend or girlfriend. But unless they feel like telling you it's not your place to ask. The more you demonstrate that you respect they have a private life the more likely they are to share with you anyway.
3/ Sticking Your Two Pence In –
They've brought home some friend/s and are having a coffee. You pass by, overhear the topic they’re discussing, and join in. Suddenly you're giving them your opinion about it even though this was their conversation and you've simply elbowed in on it. Think again, if you’re having a private conversation with one of your friends would you necessarily want someone to elbow into it? I'm sure the answer would be No and you need to respect this with their conversations.
4/ Being Overly Protective -
You hear them talking to a friend/work colleague on the phone about their boss telling them off. As soon as they're done you jump in with loads of advice, claiming their boss can’t get away with "this bad treatment of them!" If they wanted to consult you, they would’ve! That's exactly the reaction - overprotective - they don't want as an adult. Remember they’re not child who needs such protecting.
5/ Your Privacy –
Just as they don't want their privacy invaded, be careful how much you volunteer about your own private life. They may not want to hear it! You can be over-involved with your adult-child in many ways, including expecting them to listen to you or be a "shoulder". Use your partner and your own friends for that unless you know they want to be involved.
A similar article was published in the Express Newspaper