Hey @Katy_G ,
Welcome to the wonderful world of adulthood.
I’m in my early late 40s (read that as 58 years old) and seriously my Dad still gets in “Dad Mode” every once in a while. About a year ago or so I was cleaning up both the dishes after a family gathering and my Dad’s tendency to keep a less than clean kitchen.
My nephew (in his middle 20s) and I were loading the dishwasher, cleaning counter tops, and putting items that my dad had not put away in the cupboards. So, basically being productive and nice enough to clean his kitchen in the process.
All of a sudden, I got a “Dad Blast” from the living room, “turn that water off in the kitchen, what are you doing?”.
OK, when I was younger I’d have tried to explain myself, “geez, we’re working in her cleaning dishes and counter tops” or I’d have just shut the water off.
But, since I’m an adult, have lived with my partner since I was 21 years old and have managed to keep myself employed, clean, fed and living indoors with my own income I took another tact.
First, I quietly said to my nephew, “if you’ve ever wondered when your father will stop yelling at you, I’m 57 years old and he still yells at me.” Then, I turned my attention to my father and said, “The water is on because I need it on”.
That was that. He neither asked questions nor made any more demands. I’d also point out he failed to say thank you for cleaning up his kitchen counters (which desperately needed a wipe down in places and the full scrub in others).
My point, for me the “change” in the way I’m treated by the adults in my life happened not when I changed the way they behaved. Rather, the “change” came from inside me. When I had the confidence and conviction that as an adult I seriously don’t need to explain myself.
Now, keep in mind, it was his house, his kitchen, his water. But, my sister in law had brought the meal she’d made at her house, we all enjoyed it and I and my nephew were cleaning up. My dad was just along for the ride.
Another example. My partner and I have a strict rule in our house. Excluding a grave national emergency, we either mute or turn the tv machine off when we eat. My partner and I go to my dads by ourselves for lunch or dinner every other week or so. Most of the time we bring the meal (like take out chicken or pizza and salad) with us.
When it comes time to eat, I turn the tv machine on mute. My dad keeps the volume up so loud. I don’t complain about that. When I was a child, he was working around loud industrial machines that have left him very hard of hearing. He doesn’t put his hearing aids in when he’s alone, he just turns the volume up.
Now, this started years back. Even when I lived on the other side of the country, I’d come to visit my mom and dad before my mom passed. Then I was in my early late 30s (read that as 40s). When dinner time came, I’d mute the tv. My mother was grateful for that. But, my dad would say, “why did you turn that down? I can’t hear it.”
I’d answer, “Because I came to visit with you two and it’s not ‘breaking news’ if I read it in yesterday’s paper. It’s nice to have conversation at dinner.”
Today, my dad will mute the tv and come to table when we’re ready to eat. See? They can be trained, it’s just taken my dad 80 some years – to be fair TV wasn’t invented for the fist quarter of a century he was alive.
I don’t know if that helped. But the TLDR is this – I couldn’t change the way my parents look at me or speak to me, I can change the way I interpenetrate what they said and how I react to it. The change was in me not them.