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Stuck in the middle
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Stuck in the middle

Hello, hope you can help a little.

I have been having difficulty being "stuck"  in the middle of a very bad relationship between my son and my husband.  My son (27) is struggling with a few issues and is staying in our home.  My husband is very angry about this and it shows in everything he says to him.  He feels that he should be on his own and settled.  He is not.  I have asked my husband to give him a couple of weeks and his response is always angry.  He has difficulty letting things go from the past.

I can see my sons need for us at this time and find it difficult to be firm with him as he is struggling.

My question is: How do I stop feeling so frustrated towards both of them?  Thanks!

Tags: Wellness
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The good news is that you are not alone.  There is a growing trend of adult children moving back to the parents’ home.  There are many economic reasons, including the rising cost of housing and real estate.  Researchers are calling this the boomerang phenomenon.  It also represents a new pattern that adult children are having better relationships with their parents than former generations and are feeling less pressured to be on their own.  I’m sure this doesn’t make it easier, so let’s address your immediate concerns.

Let’s take a moment and reflect on what is truly going on.  What do you want to happen?  If your husband were comfortable with the scenario, would you be comfortable?  Or do you also share his viewpoint?  It is important to recognize what your real feelings are first.  This will help you better understand how you are responding.

Now, let’s look at your husband’s motivations.  What is truly upsetting him?  You referenced the past.  Is this situation creating an emotional trigger from something that happened in the past?  Does your husband want your son to solve his issues or does he just want him to move on his own?  If the issues are financial, it may take longer than two weeks.  

Next, let’s step into your son’s shoes:  he is feeling safe and comfortable back at home, back in the nest.  There are two questions you need to ask:  
1) Does your son have any incentive to solve his issues and move out?
2) What is the incentive for him to stay and not solve his issues?

Once you have a better idea about everyone’s motivations, you can clearly see the situation for what it is.  The best approach would be to help your son come up with a realistic plan of action and support him to solve his issues.  

The key here is to create a win-win situation for everyone.  How can you create peace and harmony and have everyone happy?  Take a look at the WIIFM channel:  What’s In It For Me?  It’s my favorite channel.  So, what you need to figure out is the following:
1) What will it take for your husband to be happy in this situation?  What is the bare minimum he can live with?  What can he bend on?
2) What will it take for your son to be happy in this situation?  What is the bare minimum he can live with?  What can he bend on?
3) What will it take for you to be happy in this situation?  What is the bare minimum you can live with?  What can you bend on?

Once you understand everyone’s needs, then you can act accordingly.  Here are a few more things to consider.
    
1) Your husband might feel a little more convinced that things might change if he was advised about your son’s concrete action plan, with contingencies.  Right now, telling your husband to give him two weeks is too open ended.
2) Your son may feel more secure and comfortable if he had help with creating an action plan, with contingencies, if he felt he wouldn’t be abandoned automatically.
3) How has your son solved problems in the past?  What worked well?  What didn’t work so well?  What did he learn from his past experiences?  How can he use what he learned in his current situation?  Does he have any other resources (besides you and your husband) that could help him solve his problem(s)?

Whenever an individual is stuck, it’s better to take a step back and approach it a different way.  When you’re stuck, it feels like you are spinning your wheels in snow, without securing any traction.  If you push harder on the gas, it gets worse.  

So, what is one tiny step you can take to help your son move toward solving his issues?  Remember, if you act differently toward your husband and/or son, it will automatically shift their response.  

Your Forum Coach Wanda
  
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