Get Off My Back, Mom and Dad: A guide for grown-ups with overbearing parents

Helicopter parents and boomerang kids = a bad combination. (Photo: Universal Pictures)In the old days, parents would breathe a sigh of relief when their teenagers left the family home. But it's become very common for college graduates to return to home to live with their parents. After all, Millenials are the most stressed-out generation. The combination between hyper-involved parents and young adult children is a recipe for disaster. But now kids have some ammunition to tell parents to lay off: actual scientific evidence.

A new study from Virginia’s Mary Washington University found that children whose parents are guilty of “helicopter parenting,” being overly involved in their kids’ affairs, are more likely to be depressed. A whopping 55 percent of young men aged 18 to 24 have become “boomerang children,” moving back in with mom and dad after college. Even if you are technically an adult, if you live at home, you might find yourself with a bad case of over-parenting deja-vu.

We spoke to psychologists Dr. Gerald Grosso and Dr. Elizabeth Waterman of Morningside Recovery for a few pointers on how young adults can (politely) tell their parents to back off.

Problem: Your parents are constantly telling you they are "worried" about you. 
Solution: Set emotional boundaries. It’s important for children to remember that “an over involved parent may feel anxiety or worry about their child’s behavior which may or may not have anything to do with the child,” Dr. Grosso told Yahoo! Shine. “Therefore, an empathic but assertive response to a parents question about love life, career, or personal style can diffuse the parent’s emotion and promote healthy communication between the two.”
Example of an "empathic but assertive response
": “Mom, I know you are worried about me and I appreciate your concern.  Please know that I have taken the following steps in order to make sure that my choices remain healthy.”

Problem: Mom wants to know why you came home in the same clothes you were wearing last night.
Solution: Volunteer information.
Worries and anxieties are often caused by an overactive imagination. If you use direct communication with your parents, volunteering information about your personal life, they are less likely to invade your privacy. Communication “decreases defensiveness,” according to Dr. Grosso. It also “eliminates personalization of issues that do not belong to the parent.”

Problem: Your parents don't believe your aspiration to become a paranormal romance novelist is a good idea.
Solution: Let your parents know you can handle it. When you have a parent who is too eager to give advice or too controlling, respond by asking him or her to “take a step back and let you figure this one out,” Dr. Waterman told Shine. “You can say, ‘Thanks for the advice dad, but I really just need you to listen to me right now,’ or, ‘Maybe I can just bounce some ideas off of you rather than you trying to solve this problem for me.’”

Problem: Your parents think you are a slob, and they are right.
Solution: Contribute.
If you are a boomerang kid, make sure you're contributing to the household. "Even if their expectations for you don’t include cleaning the house or making dinner, by stepping up and cleaning the kitchen when you see it’s dirty or cooking dinner once a week, your parents will be much happier to have you back at home," Ashley Jacobs recommends at U.S. News. A simple "thank you" can go a long way.

Related on Shine:
The Advantages of Having Your (Adult) Child Move Back Home
How to Make it Work When College Grads Return Home to Live
Are Parents Setting Kids Up for Failure by Pushing Too Hard for Success?