Having a productive, healthy relationship with your adult child can sometimes be difficult, especially if you two have a history of power struggles. But as your child moves into adulthood, it's essential to prioritize building a dynamic based on open communication and mutual respect. Here are some tips for navigating this new phase and reducing tension.
Remind Yourself of Their Autonomy
It's important that you keep internally reminding yourself that your adult child isn't just an extension of you. They are their own individual with their own beliefs, values, and needs. Even if you know this logically, many power struggles come from an underlying desire to have control.
As much as possible, it's important that you grant your child the freedom to make their own choices. After all, they're legally an adult. You won't always agree with their logic (or the outcome), but families can reach impasses when the parent tries to do everything themselves.
Adult children also need to be fully aware of their independence. If they know they can rely on you to make decisions for them, they won't necessarily feel incentivized to think critically for themselves. This can create a problematic, enmeshed dynamic resulting in everyone resenting each other.
Prioritize Open and Honest Communication
Healthy boundaries start with a foundation of active listening. It's possible that you and your child have objective differences when it comes to life values, but you may need to work together to come to a middle ground.
With that, you need to try to be honest with your child about your feelings and concerns. What do you make of the current relationship dynamics? What are your concerns about these unresolved power struggles?
From there, it's also important to understand what's going on with your child. Do they depend on you for financial or emotional support? Are they struggling with mental health issues that are blocking them from
Check If You're Scapegoating
Sometimes resolving power struggles comes down to recognizing your own tendency to judge or demean your adult child's behavior. Family scapegoating refers to assuming that one person is responsible for the rest of the family's dissatisfaction or dysfunction.
Scapegoating often happens unconsciously, but it's often a manifestation of several years of power struggles. Untangling yourself from this belief requires:
recognizing how and why you might scapegoat your child's behavior.
genuinely acknowledging your own patterns of judgment, infantilizing, or other problematic responses.
continuously reminding yourself of your child's inherent strengths and goodness (even when you get frustrated).
taking accountability for your own emotions.
Set Clear Boundaries
Undefined boundaries often perpetuate power struggles, especially if you assume that your adult child can read your mind. They also become problematic when you fail to enforce the limits that matter most to you.
Keep in mind that there isn't a standard set of boundaries that works for all families. It's more important that you focus on which needs feel most important to you. Then, consider if and how your adult child oversteps your current limits. Spend some time reflecting on what you truly want before saying anything to your child.
Boundaries should be specific and consistent. For example, if you want your adult child to start working, it's far too vague to say, "I need you to support yourself!" Instead, you might say, "In two months, I will be charging you rent to live here. It will cost X dollars per month."
You also have to set reasonable consequences and outline them in advance. What happens if your child doesn't get a job or can't make rent? The most important part of boundaries is the actual implementation, so don't set limits that you can't keep.
Consider Family Therapy
A family therapist ultimately helps families manage power struggles.
In their work, they provide practical support for family members without taking sides. Even attending just a few sessions can be profound for establishing equal responsibility within your family.
You may also want to consider seeking individual therapy for yourself. Many parents struggle with power dynamics because they have low self-esteem or symptoms of codependency in their relationships. Even though you may have the best
Prioritize Other Relationships and Hobbies
Many parents greatly sacrifice their emotional well-being when they're in the middle of a power struggle phase. But regardless of what's happening with your adult child, you need to also take care of yourself.
Making a more conscious effort to focus on other relationships or passions isn't just about distracting yourself. Some parents become so enmeshed with their child's actions that they lose objectivity and exacerbate depression or anxiety.
If you want to end the power struggle phase, you need to take ownership over your own life- despite what your child is or isn't doing.
How Resurface Group Supports Ending Relationship Power Struggles
At Resurface Group, we understand that negative power struggles occur out of the best intentions. Parents want to see their children succeed and be happy, and young adult children may lack the confidence needed to launch into adulthood.
That said, power imbalances cause resentment, and it's possible for everyone to learn to communicate effectively and respect each other. We are here to here help you build a more harmonious relationship with your child and avoid the constant battle of control.
Contact us today to learn more about our program!