Dealing with Parents

When you undergo an intestinal transplant, your primary caregiver is most likely your parent. In order to qualify for intestinal transplant, you must have an individual that agrees to be your 24/7 caregiver, making sure you attend all appointments, follow all medication regimens, and doctor’s orders. Because this becomes the job of your parent, it often can make the day-to-day relationship between parent and young adult very difficult. 


As a young adult, you probably want your own independence and to have the ability to live your own life without your parents breathing down your neck; however, your parents feel as though they have to ‘be on your case’ all of the time because they have accepted that role as the primary caregiver of a transplant patient.


How do I tell my parent (s) what I want?


As you get older, it is natural to want to be independent and have more control of your health and healthcare decisions. Just because you would like more control, does not mean that you do not need some support from your family, but there can be a balance. You have to remember that parents aren’t mind readers and they are trying to do the right thing, even if it comes off the wrong way. Communicate with them. Don’t’ be scared to talk about it. Because your parents care, they want to know how you feel.


Sometimes young adults are afraid to tell their parents how they are feeling because they don’t want to upset them, but you are still their child, and it is not your job to make sure they are happy. Your parents love you and would much rather know how you feel rather than you bottle up your feelings inside.


If you have a difficult time talking to your parents about challenging issues, try talking to them during an activity, such as while riding in the car to an appointment or when painting your nails. Sometimes it is easier to do when all the attention is not directly focused on you.


How can you convince your parents to let go and give you some independence?


1. Manage your illness. This means get to know your medication regimen, appointment schedule, your medical history, information about your diagnosis, and information about intestinal transplant. Adhere to your treatment regimens. If you show your parents that you are responsible and can take care of your own health, they will feel more comfortable loosening their tight grip and giving you some independence.


2. Peer pressure. As a young adult you will have situations in which you may be offered to participate in risky behaviors such as drinking or using drugs. In these situations, if you make the decision to not participate and remove yourself from the situation, it will show your parents your level of maturity and make them more comfortable in giving you independence. If you find friends that align with your values, this will also show your parents you are mature and thinking about your situation.


3. Stay honest. Lying may work the first few times, but eventually your parents will find out. If you remain honest, your parents will feel more comfortable letting go.


4. Respect. Remember that your parents have done everything in their power to help you through your illness and transplant. Yelling at them or name-calling is not going to get you anywhere and does not support your claim that you are growing-up and deserve independence. If you disagree with your parent, calmly have a productive discussion.