Things you should never say to your adult child

Parents mean well. They really do.  But when you become an adult and they ask you things like, “Have you gained weight?” or make statements like, “You’re  better off without him!”  …That can be very annoying to an adult child. According to Linda Bernstein, adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, and contributor to Next, there are certain things parents should never say to their adult children, if they want to maintain a happy and positive relationship with them.

Linda says she’s spent several years doing the research, discreetly.  Most of her data was collected by simply observing young adults on the phone, and learning what triggers an adult child to slam the phone down on their parents.  After careful observation, Linda’s come up with a list things you should avoid saying to an adult child.

[Related: Empty Nest? How To Handle Your Kids Leaving Home]

First on the list of things not to say (or ask), has to do with appearance. Linda says, never ask, “Have you gained weight?” Adult children do not need their parents to point out their imperfections.  If a child is noticeably larger, Linda advises saying nothing.  (There’s no need to ask the obvious.)

Another thing to avoid: speaking negatively about your child’s partner when they split up.  They may get back together, and the negative comments will be remembered.

Asking adult children why they never call or text is also not advised. Linda says, don’t take it personally. Kids have their own lives. If you haven’t heard from them it’s probably because they are super busy. They will call. Eventually.

And finally, stop judging the way they live says Linda. “You never say, ‘How can you live like this?’  Even if there is a sink full of dishes, and dirt on the floor.  You have to remember, it’s your child’s home. It’s not your home.”If your asking: Why do our parents sometimes insult us, or say wacky things to us? Linda says it’s because they love us. “We want our words to be a magical boundary around you that’s going to keep anything bad from happening to you. That’s why we say these crazy things.”