Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Living with parents


QUESTION: Hello Dr. Auerbach,
Thanks for taking my question. I am 31 years old. Moved back in with my parents in August and will need to be here for sometime before I can afford to move out again. I am finding it hard to maintain focus and stay positive in their home. Both my parents are very negative and argue often. Even when I spend as much time away from home as possible, one very negative interaction with them still impacts my day. What approach would you advise for addressing my conundrum? Advice like, "Don't let it bother you," has not been helpful. One thing I saw as a benefit in moving back home was becoming closer with them and I don't want to squander the opportunity. Rather than simply keeping the peace, I want to actively strengthen these bonds.

Thanks in advance for your help.

ANSWER: Not my field, Sid, so don't take my answer as coming from an authority but from, say, just a friend, neighbor, or relative.

People don't change. You won't, they won't. So don't waste effort trying.

It's not like marriage, or like (as was the case with them) having a child. It's temporary. That realization should make stressful relationships easier to tolerate.

You don't say who they argue with, but if it's you, if you accept what they say (with apparent sincerity) and don't argue back, then there's no argument.

To make the interactions less annoying, focus on the fact that they will be around for not that much longer, and when they're gone, you should not regret not having been more tolerant and forbearing.

Try to see things from their perspective.

Be pleasant and helpful. Contribute to expenses if possible. Do what you can to facilitate their valuing your company rather than resenting it.

Besides not pressing the wrong buttons (like arguing), think about which are the right buttons, and pay some attention to those. Think about what they would like from you, and try to offer it (without seeming obvious). Do they like it when you ask for advice? Bring an unexpected gift? Cook the meal? Repair broken things?

And if all else fails, the next time they upset you, think "Well the rent is good, and the place is safe."

Hope that helps a bit, thanks for asking, and good luck with it all.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Pardon me for my misunderstanding! For future reference, if I am seeking guidance on how to improve relationships with family, and reduce stress/cope better, then what field would that be? If any?

Not sure what you feel you misunderstood; it's a good question.

A registered clinical psychologist or maybe a clinical social worker -- who specializes in family matters (possibly termed marriage and family counseling).

You could go online to your state's site for Psychologists (and for Social Workers) and ask for names of practitioners in your area with that specialty.


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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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