Whether your adult child is occupying your guest room or bringing his rudeness with him when he comes to visit, it's time to discuss his disrespectful behavior to keep the lines of communication open and find a solution to the problem. Since he's all grown up, it's not possible to discipline him anymore, but you can let him know how his rudeness is affecting you and that you're not going to tolerate the behavior nonetheless.
Evaluate your relationship with your child. If you're still treating your adult child like she's a teenager, the rude behavior might be a negative response to your own behavior. If you are living with your adult child, she might be taking on a more parental role. Identifying and understanding the root cause of the behavior can make addressing it more productive.
Hold your child accountable for his rude behavior and don't make excuses for him. While you might be prone to sweep rude remarks under the rug if you know that he's had a bad day or he's dealing with a lot of stress, it only enables him to continue acting rudely with you and doesn’t address any underlying issues. Realize that you should be treated better so you can take proactive steps to correct the situation.
Make a mental or written list of the expectations you have for your child's behavior. While she isn't under your roof any longer, you are still the one who dictates how you should be treated. For example, “I don’t appreciate sarcasm because it makes me feel like my child is talking down to me,” or “It’s not OK for my child to vent her anger by raising her voice or making derisive comments.”
Make a date to talk with your child. Make it a casual get-together over coffee at your home or at a comfortable coffee shop. Let your child know how his rude behavior is making you feel, how it is affecting your relationship and how you would like his behavior to change. Try to avoid making accusations; assume that your child doesn't know that his behavior is hurting you and you're talking to him about it to solve the problem. To avoid creating tension between the two of you, use statements such as "I feel unimportant when I feel as though I'm not respected" instead of “You don’t treat me with respect.”
Take a break if the rude behavior continues. While you can't put your child in the timeout chair anymore, you can choose to give yourself a timeout from spending time together. Your time and affection are privileges that should not be taken for granted by your child. Demonstrate that she must respect you in order to be privy to those privileges by withdrawing from the disrespectful relationship. When she realizes the inappropriateness of her behavior and apologizes, you can resume a healthy and loving parent-adult child relationship.
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- Backtalk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids; Audrey Ricker
- Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents; Allison Bottke
- How to Really Love Your Adult Child: Building a Healthy Relationship in a Changing World; Gary Chapman, et al.
- Empowering Parents: Adult Children Living at Home? Part II: 9 Rules to Help You Maintain
- Do not engage in disrespectful behavior yourself -- no raising voices or name-calling. Model the behavior you'd like your child to exhibit.
Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.
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