It is a common expression for my young adult clients to say that they want their parents to participate more in their life. “I am 32, where are my parents?”
“I don’t want to sound like a spoiled child, but I want my parents to be more involved in my life,” a client shared with me recently.
Adult children’s desire for parent involvement is very common, especially if the person is the youngest in their family and if their older siblings have established marriages, growing children, and careers,
One of my clients, *Lisa* has been living with her parents her entire life and had a very tumultuous time in her teens and 20s. Her career got off to a good start, but she battled substance abuse and was in a violent relationship where her partner also abused drugs. That relationship ended and it took her a couple of years to create the stability that she wanted.
She was able to get a new job and for the first time in her life was saving, investing, and planning for the future. She started going out more and met someone that she plans to marry later this year. She feels that living with her parents gave her support and the stability that she needed.
During recent sessions, Lisa has been discussing her parents and why they put so little focus on her and her upcoming wedding. Her two older sisters have been married for 7 and 10 years respectively and have children and careers that have been stable for 20 years. She feels that her parents are always focused on her siblings and pay little attention to her and her fiancé or their upcoming nuptials.
Lisa will communicate with her parents regarding their plans for the wedding and they never say much, but if they do, they want to know if Lisa and her fiancé have consulted her two older siblings to make sure the plan works with their schedule. She often says that she doesn’t want to seem ungrateful, but when her siblings married, had children, and celebrate milestones, Lisa was expected to “just go along with it.”
Lisa wants her parents to show enthusiasm for her wedding planning and to prioritize her needs around this occasion.
I have tried to help Lisa come up with a way to get her parents on board and more engaged with her life, but the only way that she can do that is to speak up.
Lisa would like to tell her parents, “I know that you are close to Jean and Janet and their families, but this is my wedding and it is a big deal even though you have been through this before. I would like you to be more involved in our plans.”
Lisa has agreed to speak up more to her parents and siblings and to continue to work on communication in her therapy with me.
Lisa admits that she hasn’t communicated to her parents and that she needs to try to give them gentle reminders more often.
The relationship between adult children and their parents can be challenging to navigate. If you or a loved one is struggling with this professional support can help.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.