In this blog, I’ll be sharing my experiences with being given the silent treatment
by my adult children, what I learned, and how.
From ‘I hate you’ to not speaking at all
When my 5 year old didn’t get her way there was some huffing and puffing, even an “I hate you”, slamming of a door or two, and no communication from her for twenty minutes or so while she cooled down.
What happens when they do this as a 15 or 16 year old? They are by now master negotiators and budding lawyers as they talk their way around all the holes in your reasons why their curfew should be later than 9pm.
You inevitably say “because I say so!” to end the conversation, and if they disobey there are consequences like grounding or no electronics, to which they respond by shutting you out of their room and not speaking to you for a day or two.
What about when they are 21? They are at home from college breaking some standard household rules and you remind them. Or on the flip side, they are upset with something you did! Like posting too much personal information on their social media? My kid was furious with me for stalking them on Facebook when I thought it was my right to snoop. Either way, do they shut down and withdraw their communication?
A friend of my mother's left her emotionally dead marriage to live a fuller and happier life. Her then 20 year old child didn't speak to her for over four months. She was at the point where she would do anything to get back the lines of communication (other than return to her marriage). My mother's friend was hurt and at a loss for what to do.
Emotions run high
No matter what age your kid is when they decide you're not the perfect parent that they held you up to be, their only way to react and cope with their disappointment might be by withdrawing emotionally, physically, and verbally. For us parents this pain and disappointment shows up too in different ways, and we may be at a loss.
It’s easy to then go to a place of defence and judgement. Perhaps you may think:“They have no idea what it takes to raise a kid. They have no appreciation for all the work, energy and love I have put into them."
Feeling helpless or like a victim of the situation is another reaction that can often be experienced. Maybe we think that they will never hear us or understand what we do is for their own good.
Sometimes we will (like my Mom's friend) plead and offer anything to get the lines of communication back, becoming childlike ourselves.
Unlike when they were little and told us they hated us because we made them finish their meal before having dessert, now we may really believe that they do not like us as a person and face a real sense of loss.
A way forward
As our kids mature and turn into adults, sometimes we need to pull up our own boot straps and ask the question: “Which of us is being the adult in the room, and what has really caused the communication breakdown?”
Between the ages of 15 and 25 our kids really step into who they are becoming and test all sorts of boundaries.
They are becoming mentally equipped to handle the truth of human nature and set down the pedestal they put us on when they were kids. I still well up when I think of the days when my son (now 28) used to tell me he was going to marry me. He had me up high on my Mommy pedestal until he kicked me off so hard at 15, that I still feel the bruises from the fall!
What I learned
I can admit now, that I spent a lot of the next ten years holding on to that pedestal waiting for him to put me back on it. Back then, I couldn’t see that he needed me to be less of a parent and more of an adult treating him like an adult, in order to move our relationship forward.
Questions to reflect on:
How does it feel when someone in your life parents you?
Does your boss or spouse treat you like their child?
Or do you treat employees or strangers like they are children?
How would you like to be seen and spoken too?
In an honest and open hearted relationship, nobody is on a pedestal, commanding respect, or pleading for a relationship.
There is acceptance of where you and they are emotionally, acceptance of the need for the time it takes
to process feelings on both sides, and a whole lot of truth telling about yourself without any expectations or judgement.
This journey takes time, accountability, and some new tools in our toolbox.
A new path forward for you
My new Parenting 2.0 program will provide all you’ll need to enhance your communication with your young adult child.
You’ll get the new tools I mentioned, accountability, a supportive environment with like-minded parents, and so much more.
Click on the link to join the next group of Parents looking to transform their relationship with their young adult child.
Schedule a call with me to find out more about the P 2.0Program
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