Sep 7
Parenting Corner – My Adult Child is Blaming Me For the Past!

Q. My adult daughter is going through some emotionally challenging situations and is blaming me and her dad because we divorced when she was a pre-teen. She refuses to have a conversation about her problems and refuses to see a therapist, do you have any tips?

A. Great Question!  Parenting adult children can be as challenging as parenting little ones. With that being said, in all stages of development each of us is responsible for creating our perception of reality. As the parent of an adult child it’s not your job to “fix” her problems or help her “see the light;” when she decides she is not willing to be the victim of her story about the past she will seek the help she needs. In the meantime, below are some hints for improving conversations:

Step 1: Remove judgement about her having problems. When you believe your child (or anyone else in your life) has problems you filter conversations with that mindset which prevents you from hearing with an unbiased ear and subconsciously gives you permission to dismiss her feelings. Ask yourself, “if I didn’t see her as having problems, how else could I view her right now?” Enter each conversation with an open heart and an open mind. NOTE: She will not come to the conversation the same way, your focus has to be on you showing up as your best self unattached to how how she responds to your efforts.

Step 2: Since two people can be at the scene of an accident and recall different details about the situation, it’s important to acknowledge you hear your daughter’s perceptions of her youth and their impact on her life today. You don’t have to agree with someone in order for them to feel understood. Important reminder: It doesn’t serve the situation for you to explain or justify the past. She won’t agree with you and in most cases it will help her stack reasons to hold onto her anger and disappointment.

Step 3: Acknowledge her truth and then follow-up with questions that help her move forward. For example: I hear you and understanding that is your truth, what’s next? OR I hear you and understand that is your truth, how does that serve you? By asking open ended questions you can begin a conversation that moves her onto where she wants to go in the future. It’s easy to get caught up in defending ourselves instead of focusing on how do we get past it.

Step 4: Show unconditional love. Children of all ages MUST know they are loved regardless of how they behave. Make a point to say, “I know you are mad/disappointed (use her language) about your teen years, I love you regardless of how you feel about me or my actions in the past.” If she questions your love, it is important to ask, “how can I show you how much I love you?” OR “I can’t change the past, how can I show you I love you today?” Remember with any request you get to say yes, no or renegotiate. Most answers to this question are simpler than anticipated, however in some extreme cases a child can be demanding or unreasonable. If that’s the case, be sure to go in with curiosity by asking more questions, “What would it mean to you to have me do that?” OR “What is important about that request for you?” Remember your goal isn’t to “prove” your love, it’s to help her know you want to understand her at a deeper level.

These four steps don’t guarantee she will stop blaming you and your husband, nor does it ensure she will be open to conversations but repeating the steps will build a mental muscle in you and her that will help you face relationships challenges more productively going forward.

laughingLaura Treonze, serves as Chief Life Strategist with LMT Consulting, which helps executives and teams create massive success through self-awareness. Her life-changing approach has transformed individuals and families and has redefined the way non-profits and corporations “do” business.