zondag 19 april 2015

Dealing with immature adults

Helping emotionally immature people

Insecure and emotionally immature people are often bullies and employ many techniques to get their way. Bullies and harassers have the emotional age of a young child and will exhibit temper tantrums, deceit, lying and manipulation to avoid exposure of their true nature and to evade accountability. How does one respond? The worst thing one can do is to become their apologist. To accommodate and cover up their wrongs and pretend they are not there. You do not help them grow up if you help them avoid the consequences of their behaviour and allow them to do as they please. They may be happy if you do so but deep down they know that their behaviour is wrong and they will resent you for facilitating it.

When Jesus says "let no one call you father for you have only one Father in Heaven" he is addressing the human tendency to become someone's parent, taking away part of their responsibility and allowing them to remain irresponsible and use you and others. Usually the fear of being alone or abandoned causes us to be weak in this area. We need to be needed so someone doesnt leave us. However God wants us to be guided by faith and His love, not fear of being abandoned for irresponsible persons will use it to manipulate us.

God want all people to be responsible for their own lives and not be dependent on people but live in healthy interdependency as brothers and sisters who share responsibility for eachother while depending on God as our parent. So do not give in to their dysfunction, whatever it may be. It does not help them grow up. They won’t attempt to change their ways until they are faced with no other choice because right now, they are getting by just fine manipulating, bullying etc. Why change if it works for them? Remember, you can’t change a person. But remember only they can change themselves.

We cannot make people grow up but what you can do is to learn how to say “NO”. But do it in a respectful and firm manner. Work on your self and protect your boundaries. Change how you interact with them and do it only on your (adult) terms, not their (childish) terms. Don’t react to them if they are being irrational. Develop an arsenal of phrases like, “Look, I don’t want to discuss this anymore. Let’s talk about it another time when we’ve both calmed down.” or “Sorry, I’m not comfortable doing that.” or “It’s clear we don’t agree but we aren’t communicating effectively.” Another way to communicate is to simply state the facts. How they chose to respond is really up to them. It’s a good idea to write a few phrases and practice them so you have them at your disposal when necessary.

Change will be very slow. Believe that changing how you respond to things will be the catalyst of change in how you are treated. So long as you behave like the adult in the room, you keep your dignity. Eventually, the other person will learn they cannot get their way acting like a child. However even after all of this, your relative may not change and you may need to maintain some emotional distance in order not to get harmed by their behaviour.

Now if you are in a relationship and your partner shows some immature behaviour do not right away refuse to parent them. We all sometimes are weak and seek a bit of parental love and nurturing. What should not happen is that one partner has to be the parent in the relationship most of the time and the other the child most of the time. The parent in such a relationship does not have his/her emotional needs met, is required to be strong all the time and may be punished and eventually abandoned if they fail to meet the need of the demanding adult-child. This is a burden too heavy for anyone carry and is not part of Gods design for marriage.

For another perspective see:  http://www.systemiccoaching.com/sw_articles_eng/immature_adults.htm

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