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I am 24 years old, financially independent for the last 5 years and I live on my own as well. I'm a straight A student, happily engaged. Yet all members of my family communicate to me like I'm a little child.

My parents only got over it that I am going to travel with my fiancee last year after numerous heated arguments. They always want to control everything I do. I still am not getting married because I cannot convince them it is not the type of wedding that I want. But because of the way they treat me, the rest of the family does the same.

My grandmother is discussing my living arrangements with them without even talking to me about anything. My cousins make remarks about my clothing, my personal things and give me advice like I'm five years old. I think there must be something that I am doing wrong, but I do not know what it is. Not sure if it matters, but in a work environment or elsewhere no one treats me that way.

How do I prevent others from treating me like a child? Whenever I try to tell them this directly they do not listen to me. Whenever I display my emotions to show that I am not happy about this they simply say I should not frown. The only thing that has worked is socially distancing, but I do not want that. I come from the Balkans.

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    Hey vojtak! You describe the problem very well, but we can only help you with your interpersonal skills, which you don't describe here at all. Can you edit this to include what you've tried yourself to solve this? How did people react to your attempts? Take a good look at all the points in the meta post I linked, there's a few others that might help your question too, like cultural background. – Tinkeringbell May 18 '20 at 9:49
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    Hello! Thank you for feedback, I've edited my post, hope this is good – vojtak May 18 '20 at 9:59
  • There could hardly be a better demonstration of the problem than the fact that they say "you shouldn't frown". Question is well-asked. – Euchris May 18 '20 at 14:44
  • You seem to be a person that is in control of what they are doing, even found yourself a fiancee. Is there anything special/unusual about you or something that differentiates you from your family ? Sorry if that is too personal but considering what you wrote there isn't anything that would explain their behavior. – hopsinat Jun 16 '20 at 12:14
  • @hopsinat Actually, there is something in what the OP wrote that might explain it: he said he comes from the Balkans, where these types of family relationships are very common (my relationship with my family is not too different). From my experience living in several EU countries, this is in stark contrast with e.g. Austria or Germany where children are often given much more independence, especially after turning 18 (while in the Balkans, in many families you will continue to be treated as a child). – penelope Jun 17 '20 at 14:50
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I'm sorry that you are having to deal with a family that doesn't treat you with the level of respect that you wish they would.

The difficult reality is that we can't change how others treat us and many times it is difficult for people to change how they treat us even after a long time has passed. This is especially true of family who saw you as a child for so long, and who have a certain idea of who you are.

You haven't included a lot of specifics in your question, but from what you've included it doesn't sound like you are doing anything wrong. You are living independently, sticking up for yourself and what you believe, making your own choices for how to live your life, and are letting them know that you don't want to be treated like a child.

The only thing you can do is to continue with that behavior, and over time they may come to see that you are indeed an adult and that they should treat you as such. I hate to say it, but that's a process that can take years or decades for some families, and some parents never learn to respect their child as an adult.

There is also something you can do internally to help yourself through it. That is to remember that they have your best interest at heart, and are doing what they think is best to help you. They aren't treating you like they should, but it sounds like they are at least trying to be helpful. Remembering that can make things more bearable because it can remind you that they aren't intending to be mean or disrespectful to you. Don't let that feeling make you complacent, you should still push back when they treat you like a child, but having empathy for their point of view can make a big difference.

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