Visiting Your Parents

Posted on:
By Christen A. Johnson – Contact Reporter, Chicago Tribune
Contributor: Deborah Olson, M.A. LPC
March 2019
Visiting your parents but don’t want to stay with them? Here’s how to let them down easy.

Q: You’re going home to visit your parents, but you don’t want to stay at their house. How do you tell them without hurting their feelings?

A: The dynamic between adult kids and their parents can be tricky as the rules of engagement change; a shift in attitude, expectations and approach from both generations is required.

If you are planning a trip to see your parents but don’t want to stay with them for whatever reason, frame the news in a way that works for you both. For example, say that you will be arriving late and don’t want to keep them up past midnight. Offer a time to meet for family connection. This will make your parents feel relevant and loved.

Communicate with each other, and be honest and respectful. As parents and adult children are moving through this developmental phase, emotions get revved up. Parents should respect their adult children’s decision-making, and adult kids should respect that their parents will always be in a nurturing role.

— Deborah Olson, professional counselor

A: If you usually stay with your parents, the first time you tell them you’re staying elsewhere will be hard or confusing for them. Let your folks know that you are excited to spend time with them, then share one of these reasons for not staying at their house:

“My childhood bed is just not very comfortable, so I’ve decided to stay at a hotel.”

“I’ll be visiting some friends, and if I stay out late I don’t want you worrying.”

“I don’t want you going all out prepping the guest bedroom like you usually do. I know how much time that takes you.”

“It’s time I act like an adult and let you two have your space. We can focus on quality time versus quantity time.”

Most likely your parents will push back and insist that you’re no trouble, or that they won’t fuss. While you are eager to spend time with them — even pre-plan fun activities for you all to do together — make it clear that you will be staying elsewhere.

— Arden Clise, etiquette trainer

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