Just like he had when he was 6, Julie’s 35 year-old son still tried to force her to do what he wanted by:
- Beating her into submission with rage, tirades and vicious verbal attacks that stimulated her guilt.
- Looking so hurt and crushed that she felt sorry for him. She felt compelled to rush over, tell him she loved him, kiss the boo-boo and give him whatever he wanted.
- Giving her the very loud, silent treatment until she capitulated.
She was so exhausted and depressed by his endless selfishness and relentless criticism, she gave him a deadline to move out at the end of the month. There was nothing physically, mentally or emotionally wrong with him except that he still wanted to be taken care of and get his way about everything like a spoiled little boy. He’d been living off her and much too close for too long. She wanted her own space and her own life – peace and quiet at last.
But she was tormented by:
- Guilt (”Mothers love and take care of their sons forever”).
- Fear (“What if he failed on his own or wouldn’t let her see her grandchildren after he married and had kids).
- Shame (How would her friends judge her; maybe as a mother who’d failed).
Finally, she was so tired of the endless negativity, harassment, bullying and abuse that she’d had enough.
She found the key to success in standing up to him was to let go of the responsibility for making him happy and for making his life work. The only way for him to stop being a little child was for her to stop being the mommy who protected his feelings and made his life work.
Some of the attitudes and tactics that helped her were:
- She never justified, debated or argued about her reasons for setting the deadline. She simply said she wanted it that way.
- Her spirit soared when she started mocking him, with a loving tone, when he acted like a little boy. She kept smiling as she said, sweetly, “Stop throwing a temper tantrum” or “Stop throwing a hissy-fit.” And then she calmly asked him if he needed a “time-out” in his room or she walked away. Those childhood words made her point.
- When he broke his silent treatment in order to criticize her, she laughingly reminded him that he was giving her the silent treatment.
- Her gentle mockery became a challenge to her son. And she also used those words, “I’m challenging you to act like an adult. I know it’s hard for you to grow up, but it’s time. You’re a guest in my house. Act like a good guest for your last days here and maybe I’ll invite you to dinner sometime.” Also, she said she’d like a loving, adult relationship with him, not a “mommy with a little boy” relationship.
- She never to asked him about his plans or reminded him of the looming deadline. He’d only interpret that as weakness on her part. She had to follow through even if he had nowhere to go; no extensions. And she had to convert his room immediately into something else so the message was clear.
- She told him repeatedly she knew he could do it. He’d faced and overcome many challenges before and this was simply another one.
Her good cheer in the face of his childish attempts to force her into submission showed him his old, childish tactics were no longer effective. Previously, he’d been the one who persevered longer, but now she had more tenacity and determination.
Her friends congratulated her for finally throwing him out, like they wished they’d done earlier with their children. The child had to be kicked out of the nest in order to learn to fly.
The best way to create a space that uplifts your spirit is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to deal with the specific situation you’re in.