3 Ways to Deal with Overprotective Parents

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3 Ways to Deal with Overprotective Parents
3 Ways to Deal with Overprotective Parents

Many people believe they have overprotective parents. If your parents call you constantly to see if you're okay or bombard you with questions about your personal life, make an effort to communicate your needs in a productive way. Express your frustrations, set firm boundaries, and try to reduce your parents' anxiety to begin with.


Method 1 of 3: Giving Voice to Your Frustrations

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Step 1. Choose the time and place for the conversation

The first step in dealing with the situation is to have a frank conversation about your concerns. For everything to go well, choose a suitable time and a good atmosphere to talk.

  • Choose a place where the three of you feel comfortable, like your living room. If you no longer live with your parents, choose a neutral location, such as a coffee shop, so that no one has the "advantage".
  • Get rid of distractions. Keep your cell phone, turn off the TV and do not talk in noisy environments such as bars and restaurants. For good conversation, distractions should be kept to a minimum.
  • Choose a time where there are no external limitations, so you have enough time to talk without anyone feeling left out. For example, prefer to talk right after dinner, not when everyone goes to bed or before leaving for work.
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Step 2. Speak in the first person singular

It is very important not to blame anyone during arguments. Always start your sentences with "I feel" and variants. So you focus on your own feelings rather than judging your parents for something.

  • When talking about your feelings, make it clear that you are discussing your view of the situation, not that you are making an overall assessment of what has happened. For example, don't say something like "I think it's too much when you call me every five minutes when I'm with my friends" because you will seem to ignore your parents' side and assume things about their actions.
  • Try saying something like "I get stressed when you guys call me a lot when I'm out and about. So I feel like you don't trust me."
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Step 3. Communicate your needs and desires

Remember that your parents cannot read minds. When having a complicated conversation, try to be as clear as possible about your needs.

  • Think about what you would like to get out of the conversation. Do you want your parents to cut down on their call frequency when you're out and about? Do you want people to ask less about studies or work? To simply give you a little space? Think carefully about your goals before starting the conversation. Create specific goals and express them well.
  • Express your ideas firmly but respectfully and without judgment. For example: "I wish you guys would give me more space when I go out with my friends. I don't mind getting home at a set time, but I wish I didn't have to answer messages or answer calls every half hour."
  • Show that you value your parents. The good thing about overprotective parents is that they just want to love and protect you always. Teach them to express those feelings more productively. Make it clear that you know they love you and want what's best for you.
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Step 4. Don't belittle their point of view

As frustrating as it is to deal with overprotective parents, you shouldn't ignore their side. If your idea is to have a sincere conversation that gets results, see things from their side.

  • Feelings, especially those caused by anxiety, are subjective. As much as your parents don't need to worry about all your colds and minor problems, let them express themselves without judgment. Recognize that you understand their concerns.
  • The most important thing to understand your parents is to find out why they feel what they feel. Try to understand the issues that motivate their overprotection. If they are overly concerned about their health for example, think about whether they have ever lost a relative or friend to an unexpected illness. It is possible that they have good reasons for their fears based on past experience. You shouldn't let your parents' fears dictate your life, but it's important to understand the root of the problem in order to solve it.
  • For example, in the movie Finding Nemo, the fish father Marlin lost the entire family, except for a single egg. Because of this, he overprotects his son, Nemo. The traumatic past creates a sense of extreme fear in Marlin, so overprotection makes sense to him, even if it hinders his child's development.

Method 2 of 3: Creating Healthy Boundaries

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Step 1. Learn to make it clear when you need help and when you don't

Boundaries are important in any relationship; to become an independent adult, you need space to make your own decisions and sometimes make your own mistakes. Set very clear limits on when you need your parents' assistance and when you don't.

  • Most people seek autonomy from their parents, especially during adolescence. Overprotective parents may find it difficult to allow you more freedom, as worry is a way of expressing affection. Overprotection is usually a form of inadvertent control. Make it clear to your parents that you want to create firm boundaries.
  • Make your parents aware of what's appropriate and what's not. For example, you might say that it's okay for them to worry about your well-being, but that reminding you every day of the new diseases in the city won't help at all. Explain that they can call once a week, but that talking on the phone every day is too much.
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Step 2. Limit contact whenever possible

If you no longer live with your parents, limiting contact can be very helpful. It's good to have a relationship with them, but you may need to cut the ties a bit to reduce the anxiety problem.

  • If you left home, remember that you don't have to tell your parents everything. It might be better not to comment on the new flirtation or the party going on the weekend. If such conversations tend to result in unsolicited advice or interrogations, omit certain details of your daily life.
  • Your parents may resist the lack of contact, but you can find subtle ways to evade conversations. If they start to question you in detail about the weekend, for example, make a summary and say something like "I can't talk too much because I have to do laundry today."
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Step 3. Don't get carried away by negativity

Sometimes overprotective parents react negatively when their children start setting boundaries. Your parents may resist your desires for autonomy, but don't let yourself be shaken or into theirs.

  • If your parents make drama, try to be firm and don't let them take it out on you. If they pressure you to continue the conversation, cut them off and say something like, "Okay, I think you'll worry less next time." Then change the subject.
  • Find a friend with whom you can discuss your frustrations. Venting about the situation can greatly avoid unnecessary discussions. Express your frustrations to someone with no emotional investment in the situation so you don't end up fighting with your parents.
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Step 4. Be patient

Your parents are very unlikely to change overnight, especially if overprotection is their nature. Be aware that there will be an adaptation period after setting new limits and rules. Don't get too annoyed by their slips and remember that it may take a few months for them to adjust to the new situation.

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Step 5. Know what the proper limits are

If you want to set boundaries with your parents, you need to know which ones are appropriate for your age. For example, a teenager in elementary school will have very different boundaries than a young adult in college.

  • Remember that your parents want to set boundaries to protect you and help you grow. Sometimes out-of-control young people want their parents to set boundaries so they can feel more secure. Your parents are acting with your best interests in mind.
  • If you're a pre-teen, it's no exaggeration for your parents to want to know where you are, who you're with, and what you're doing. Be willing to let them know in a calm way. Even so, at this age there is already a greater need for privacy. For example, you can ask your parents not to go through your things.
  • If you are a teenager, your parents will expect a little more independence, after all, you are in the early stages of adulthood and will soon be leaving home. It's natural that you want to come home later and have other freedoms, and it's completely acceptable to ask them to. Remember, however, that arguing will only add stress to both sides. Be respectful when asking for more freedoms, and when you feel that the conversation is heating up, walk away and take a deep breath. Once you've calmed down, bring it up again, but ask them what their reasons are for not complying with your request. Try to make concessions and find solutions that are win-win.
  • If you're in college and have just left home, remember that your parents may need some getting used to. It can be frightening to see your child enter the adult world. Ask them not to call every day or ask very personal questions about their love life or social life, but agree if they want to call once a week to see if everything is okay.

Method 3 of 3: Reducing Your Parents' Anxiety

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Step 1. Think carefully about the role anxiety plays in overprotection

Do you consider your parents anxious people? Do they tend to worry about the small details of everyday life, in addition to worrying about you? Many overprotective parents have problems with anxiety that cause them to watch over their children even more. Try to remember that your parents always want what's best for you. Accept that anxiety, which they have no control over, is an important factor in their behavior.

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Step 2. Demonstrate that you are able to make good decisions

If you want your parents to worry less, be responsible. Make small changes to your routine to make it clear they have nothing to worry about.

  • If you still live with your parents, talk to them as soon as possible when asking permission for something. Tell me right away who will be with you and how long you will be gone. They will certainly value your maturity.
  • Adults usually follow the same rules they set for their children. For example, it's hard to disappear and not tell anyone where you're going, even in adulthood. Adults, when they are in loving, healthy relationships, let each other know where they are going. If you want to be treated like an adult, demonstrate that you are trustworthy.
  • Do their homework free of charge, eat healthy, and do household chores to reduce their anxiety about your decision-making ability. Show maturity!
  • If you no longer live with your parents, let them know your achievements and give them indications that you are capable of taking care of yourself. Did you eat well during the week? Did you clean your house? Did you get good grades this semester? Mention all of this during your weekly calls to them.
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Step 3. Be receptive to advice

Remember that parents may know more than you do in some matters. They are older and more experienced: if you are confused about something, ask your parents for advice and be receptive to what they have to say. If they sense you are mature enough to ask for help, they may be less concerned about your decisions.


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