5 Tips for Getting Your Parents to Treat You Like an Adult

We've all heard it: “But you’ll always be my little baby…” yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Here’s how to help your family understand that you’ve grown up.

A very frustrating thing for burgeoning adults is how parents and other relatives still view them as little kids. Children can be rebellious, shy, inconsiderate or irresponsible, etc., but despite the fact that they grow out of such phases, parents often seem to continue to expect these behaviors, even as their child moves on into adulthood.

I was very shy when I was a little kid and, as I got older, my shyness receded. Yet, my relatives still treated me as shy. I would never talk to them at family gatherings before, so when I became more comfortable with them as an adult, they wouldn’t really try to talk to me, thinking I was still just as shy as I used to be.

So, how does a person show their parents that they’ve become a different person as they’ve gotten older? Being restricted by your parents’ outdated perception of you can make any growth in your life a challenge, so even if it’s difficult to have this conversation with your parents, it’s not just helpful, it’s necessary for your self-growth.

So, here are five steps you can take to help your family see that you’re ready to be treated like an adult.

1. Stay calm.


You probably shouldn’t raise your voice to your parents. I mean you could, but acting like a little kid isn’t the best way to prove to your parents that you’re not a little kid anymore.

I understand people get passionate when they’re frustrated, but try to think rationally when speaking to Mom and Pops. Tip three will help even more if staying calm is a problem of yours.

2. Writing down what you want to say can help.

When I try to speak, sometimes my words can come out mumbled and strange, making it difficult for me to convey my thoughts and emotions. Try writing down what’s bothering you and then reading it to your parents. If reading a letter to your parents is strange, then just use a writing space to vent your frustrations and later speak to them calmly.

3. Do nice things for your parents.

If you want to show Mom and Dad that you’re not a little kid anymore, then do something nice for them, like paying for dinner on a night out or—for the broke kids—offering to do the dishes when they don’t ask. Especially when they don’t ask. They might not be expecting it, so they’ll be grateful that you are helping.

Teen and parent arguing (Image via U.S. Health)

In a similar vein, being more productive can do wonders for proving to your parents that you’re not the same little baby they remember driving to first grade. I’m all for taking a lazy Sunday like the rest of humanity, but binge-watching Netflix all day while not doing anything else, like school work or work work, probably won’t be changing your parent’s perception of you anytime soon. So relax, yes, but in moderation with other productive activities.

4. Show that you can take of yourself.

I confess, I’m the worst at this. If you’re terrible at cooking or don’t understand how to pay bills, then have Mom and Dad teach you. Showing that you want to learn will impress them, and you might even impress yourself. If you’re already a master chef, then make your own lunch for the day. If you have a job, then show your parents you know how to save money.

Also, while making sure that they don’t confuse you for a stranger in the house, a little respect can go a long way. Show that you can stay in for a night. I can’t be the only dork that likes family game night. If you’re not shy anymore, then go out and do something that shy people wouldn’t normally do. Karaoke night sounds fun, right?

5. Be patient.

Okay, this one is tough. You might just have to be patient and wait for your parents to come around, as well as face the fact that they might never see you the way you want them to. But if they do notice the positive changes in you, it might take a while. So, in all its cliché glory, remember that patience is a virtue.

Even if it feels like all hope is lost and they’ll never stop envisioning you as a crying baby, remind yourself of all the positive changes you’ve made in your life and in yourself. It is easy to get caught up in trying to change people’s opinions and perceptions of you to the point where you forget who you are making the changes for—yourself.

Trying to change people’s perceptions, especially when it comes to parents and other relatives, can be a real pain the ass. But if you stick through it and let the new person you are shine through, those pesky parents of yours will come around.

Megan Schnese, University of Alaska, Anchorage

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Megan Schnese

University of Alaska, Anchorage

1 Comment

  1. […] As tough as it is to relinquish your freedom, remember that your folks get to make the rules in their own home. Talk to them ahead of time. Do they still want you to have a curfew? Do they mind if you eat all the food in the cupboard? Knowing what your parents expect can help you avoid unpleasant surprises during your visit. Also, taking the time to ask about (and follow!) their rules shows them that you’re responsible. Doing chores is another way to win brownie points. Hopefully, in time, they’ll treat you more like an adult. […]

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