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Adult child strangling on apron strings parents refuse to cut

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Independent adult child strangling on apron strings

Pittsburgh: What "rights" do parents have in regard to knowing the personal life/activities of a grown and financially independent child (26, job with benefits, own my own home)?

My parents insist they are entitled to know my every move because they are my parents. If I didn't respond to a phone message within 24 hours, they would call the police, and if I try to withhold the details of my Saturday night, they become very angry and claim I'm disrespecting them and they have a right to know as my parents. This just seems unhealthy to me, but I'm not sure what I can say to effectively draw a line.

Carolyn: You're right, they aren't entitled to on-demand access to your personal life.

But drawing lines isn't about what you say — it's about what you do. Respond only to the calls/questions you think are appropriate. If they ask how you're doing, then, sure, answer them. But if they demand a transcript of Saturday night, hold firm.

The first time, you say, "I'm happy to tell you how I'm doing, but I'm not going to answer questions that are about tracking my movements."

The next time they ask, you can answer the question you wish they had asked. "I'm doing great, thanks. How's work, Dad?"

As for their calling the police, you can't give in to parental blackmail. You're just going to have to let them face the consequences of their behavior. I am loath to encourage anything that squanders police resources, but yours aren't the first parents to have boundary issues; let the police educate them on proper use of emergency services. Return calls at your own pace.

Drawing this line won't be fun. You already know they're going to push back, hard — and they've raised you to be vulnerable to their accusations of disrespect. You may buckle occasionally. But you're independent, so their only hold over you is emotional. Not that that isn't significant, but you are more so. Good luck.

'Artistic temperament' no excuse for behaving badly

Santa Barbara: Do you think there is such a thing as "artistic temperament," and that it is okay to be verbally abusive and disrespectful to people because you have it?

Carolyn: Certainly creative people can have quirky personalities, but to generalize that artists (a) have unstable moods and (b) use that instability to excuse their abuse of other people is just insulting to creative people.

I mean, whoever tried to sell you this cow chip should spend some time with Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac comic strip) — artist, creative genius, and one of the most decent, even-tempered people you'll ever meet. Not that one person makes a rule, but he's one person who puts a cartoonishly large hole in the rule you're offering here.

There's one small disclaimer here, in that there is research to suggest a correlation between bipolar disorder and creativity, but of course even having bipolar disorder wouldn't make it "okay" for someone to be verbally abusive and disrespectful. It makes it "okay" for someone to take great care to manage one's illness.

So, short answer: No.

Adult child strangling on apron strings parents refuse to cut 11/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 28, 2010 3:30am]
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