Are you and your spouse united or divided in your parenting? Consider the following dialogue:
Dad: "You're letting our daughter do anything she wants."
Mom: "You're too strict with her."
Dad: "She needs more discipline and structure."
Mom: "She needs more love and encouragement."
Dad: "She's becoming irresponsible and out of control."
Mom: "She's becoming insecure and afraid."
And you thought kids and teenagers had conflicts! ...
Question: I am experiencing conflict with my in-laws about the way I raise my children. They tend to nit-pick every decision that I make. Do you have any tips for setting boundaries with in-laws?
Answer: I know it's no fun to feel conflict with your in-laws. Here are some ways to address the sensitive issue. Begin with a positive and vulnerable conversation. Simply wait until there is a quiet moment, where there's not a lot going on....
Question: What kinds of consequences are appropriate for a 39-year-old daughter who refuses to take responsibility for paying a college loan that her father and I co-signed in good faith?
Answer: First, let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I know that it can feel uncomfortable to be at odds with your adult child.
In this situation, your first decision is to approach your daughter in a vulnerable way and describe how her behavior is impacting you. You could say something like ...
When I (Dr. Townsend) guide people through a process of examining previous difficult relationships, the one question I have found most helpful is this: What was the "payoff" in your choice? In other words, what good things did you think you'd get when you began a relationship with that person?
We wind up with difficult people for a reason—there was something we valued, wanted, or hoped for. And because the need was strong, we may not have paid attention to something unacceptable in that person's character....