17: Why You Feel Like The Only Adult In The House

Podcast Episodes
September 25, 2022

The Authentic Wife and Mom

Beth Rowles | The Conscious Marriage Coach

Wondering why you feel like the only adult in the house as the mom and wife who everyone depends on?

In episode 17 of The Authentic Wife Show, you’ll learn why you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders and how to step out of this relationship dynamic for good.


Welcome back to the show. I’m excited that you have joined me again today, and if this is your first time listening, welcome. This topic is really fun to dive into, and I can’t wait to get started.

So today, we’re going to talk about why you feel like the only adult in the house, why you feel like you are the one with all the responsibility and I’m looking forward to talking about this again. I actually recorded this episode recently — a few days ago — and my software that I’m using did not capture it. And so here we are doing it again. And I wanted to tell you that because in the past, before I did this work, I would have been so annoyed and so frustrated and like heartbroken that that recording was gone, but now I’m at this place where I can accept that it happened and I can let it go.

And in fact, I can even remind myself that perhaps there’s a reason why it wasn’t recorded.

Perhaps, I didn’t say everything that I wanted to, or I could do a better job if I were to do it again. And I’m able to just accept that and let it go and know that I have a new opportunity to do this again, and it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. And so, if you are frustrated because it seems like the walls are closing, falling down around you, or things just are going wrong, or you have like hit after hit after hit.



Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Ignoring Your Emotions

I like to look at those kinds of situations as what’s here for me, what is the message of what is this telling me? How can I use this to grow now? Sometimes you will feel really angry when things go wrong. Like, I don’t know if I shared here, but my washing, my brand new washing machine died recently and I was so angry and there was a message in that anger that was to remind me that I had spent a lot of money, did a lot of research, and the thing that I bought wasn’t working as it was claimed that it would work. And that was an opportunity for me to hold a boundary with the company. This is not acceptable. So when we’re thinking about when we accept and let go, that’s more, when we feel sad that something’s not working. When we accept and also hold a boundary, that’s more, when something happens, we’re feeling very angry that it happened.

So those emotions are all an alert system for us. They help us understand how to take authentic action in the next moment. I have lots of resources to help you with this. The first thing you could start with is go to my website, the authentic wife and mom.com and download The Princess and The Peeve emotion assessment, or go to theprincessandthepeeve.com and then it’ll take you right to it.

So, anyway, I wanted to mention that both because it’s good for us to be able to accept and move on and choose how we react to things. But it’s also important to know that the emotion that we feel when the thing happens is guidance on what the next step is.

I remember when I was first learning from Dr. Shefali Tsabary about acceptance in this kind of, you know, way of mindfulness. And I just started accepting everything. I was like, this doesn’t really feel right. Like this, this doesn’t totally make sense. I’m not really reacting on the surface, but my body’s so reacting inside. So I just want to make sure you know, that you can use those emotions to take action.

Okay. So let’s get back to today’s topic, which is why you feel like the only adult in the house.

It Starts With Your Inner Child

All right. We’re going to go back in time for a minute. And I want you to imagine yourself as a little girl. Sorry guys over here. I’m going to speak mostly to the woman today. Cause I think this is more common with women. So we are going to go back in time to the little girl. Who was trying to get your mothers or fathers attention. You know, preferably in a good way, in a way that felt good. You weren’t trying to act out with negative behaviors. You were trying to give them some time back in their day. So that they could give you their time.

And when we go through this, when we have a, I will say distracted parent, or even absent parent or physically, or emotionally absent parent, we are trying as little children to get as much of their attention as we can. And we’re also getting lots of messages in the meantime about what it means to be a wife or to be a mother.

And we didn’t have parents who were honest about what they were going through. They would just keep it all bottled up inside. Maybe go to a therapist, probably not. And then they would explode at us randomly.

And that was our experience. So now we become these adult women who are not really adult women. We are really inner children in adult bodies. Who are quite frankly, pissed off that, at no time in our life, or for a very brief amount of time in our life, didn’t we feel that we could rest in somebody else’s care.

We’re Tired Of Being The Parent

We are, we were parentified children. We weren’t resting in somebody else’s care. We were taking care of ourselves. I have a new client and one of the stories she told me, which I’ve actually heard before, sadly, was about how adults in her life just sent her off to the next caretaker on her own. Very young, I think four or five, she’s walking down the street alone and has, you can imagine the circumstances that came up, made that a traumatic experience, because she had no idea, had never done that before and was completely lost and alone. Somewhere in between daycare school and the next caretaker.

We had parents who, I guess you could say, gave us a lot of independence, but really gave us too much independence. They were inner children and adult bodies, too. They were doing the best they could. They really had no clue. So this is not to bash our parents, or to be mad at them. There’s no value in that, being upset about what they did and wanting to take it out on them.

But there is value in going back through our traumas and understanding how we got to this place today, because we can’t change it until we become aware or conscious of it.

We’re Just Inner Children Playing House In Adult Bodies

So we get into these relationships where now we are these inner children in adult bodies. Playing house. And then we become moms and we are completely overwhelmed. Again, wishing that at some point we could just rest in somebody else’s care.

We are exhausted from this. But at the same time, We get this sense of power from managing it all. We don’t ask for help because then it wouldn’t be done perfectly. And we can’t control it. When we have issues with control, and we want things to be done perfectly, it’s because we lacked that control. We’ve lacked that safety and routine and predictability in our own childhood. So then we become adults who control everything, which makes us feel safe, but it’s all an illusion, right?

Because. I have another client experiencing this right now — no matter how much you think you can control and set up the schedule and know exactly where you’re going to be and when, life just keeps happening, kids will get sick, parents will get sick, bills will be a problem. The world will go into a pandemic. Schools will shut down. Any number of things, your washing machine will break. Your recording will get lost. We are constantly being reminded that we have no control here. Not really. We do have control, but not in everything.

We — and the more control you think you have, the more life will remind you that you actually don’t have control. And it’s important to be in flow and be in presence and be adaptable every moment. But so anyway, we think that that control is making us safe and things done perfectly will make us, safe and also make things easier on us.

Other Humans Can’t Be Controlled So They Aren’t Making Us Feel Safe

But we can’t control other humans. So for our, with our husbands, it may have worked for a while and then the kids come and you realize. I got no control here. This kid is up all night up all day crying. All the time needs to be held. It doesn’t like this milk. Doesn’t like this formula doesn’t like this, needs this, doesn’t need that. Wants more attention, doesn’t want attention.

You name it, they will remind you that you have no control over them. They’re their own person on their own path. And you are merely walking beside them, but you do not get to control who they are.

We Get Our Worth From Doing

But so, we feel power too when we are managing alone, when we’re not asking for help. Because then we feel like it earns us our place in the home.

If you go back to our very basic needs, one of them is to be accepted by the tribe, to have a place in the tribe. And so if you consider your family, your tribe, you have the sense that you are earning your place in there, that your worth comes from what you were doing. That you are only worthy because you are productive.

And you cook the kids dinner, and you kept the house clean, and you went to work, and you made an income, and you did this and that. And this, like you volunteered for the PTA and the neighbor kids came over and you, you know, gave them dinner and played games and hosted a sleep over. Whatever it is. We think that our worth is coming from our doing.

Okay. Listen to that again, we think our worth is coming from what we are doing rather than who we are being. We think that we don’t have worth unless we are productive. But if you go, if you want to go back and look at that a little bit differently, when we do transfer value, for example, income.

So if I do something for you, if I spend my time and coach you and you pay me, there’s an exchange, there is a transaction, transactionality there, which is necessary to protect our boundaries. But our worth is always there. We don’t need the money to show us that we are worthy. That is just what we use as a way to exchange our resources. I’m going to exchange my knowledge, time, and energy for your money when we have a coaching agreement and, if we even go further down, that is you showing yourself your own worth. And putting an investment into this and committing to showing up. If you didn’t put something from within your boundary, into the process, then you’re not really involved in the agreement. So I hope that makes sense. But the worth is still there.

But We Don’t Have to Earn Our Worth

No matter what, your beautiful, being self can merely exist and be worthy as it is.

Because we are all energy from the source from which we came. That is a fact. We know that there was a big pool of energy and we were pulled out of it. And so wherever we came from we know is worthy. We know that we are equally worthy. So I want you to understand that you do not have to do anything to be worthy.

To have a place in the family to feel safe in the home. You just being there and sharing who you are and your love, and like the frequency of your energy is enough now. As we have a partnership, there’s definitely things that we agree to do to run the household. And we want to find a fair balance. And then I have another show on that. So be sure to check it out.

But this idea that we need to be a martyr or be self-sacrificing for the good of everyone, that if we do it all, they’ll depend on us, and then we’ll be worthy in this equation. Then we won’t be left behind. This idea is not serving us anymore. We cannot be the martyr.

We Want Others To Feel Good So They’ll Have Time For Us

And in fact, the moms who are the most, I wouldn’t say the most.  Like, so I really had the sense of being a good person and being this martyr. I had spent much of my life before my marriage trying to take care of other people, whether that was financially or helping them out with something. Or thinking I was solving their problem. I was always, always, always living outside of my boundary, very enmeshed with other people, thinking that if I could just make them feel good, then I will feel good, if I could just make them feel good, then they’ll have time to take care of me, to give me that attention.

And if you remember, we talked about in the beginning, that comes from this wounded inner child place. This wounded place that’s like begging to be seen by the adult in our life who is supposed to love us with unconditional positive regard when our parents didn’t do that.

Our role now as adults is to do that for ourselves. To see ourselves with unconditional positive regard. So we have to go and reparent. So again, the truth is that we, we are attracted to somebody in the beginning — when we’re talking about our husbands — who is at the same level of development as we are.

Right? So it’s not that our inner child is running the show, but they’re in their adult self, it’s that we both have inner children, they’re running the show. So it’s more like both of our inner children are playing house. And neither of us has stepped into the adult self.

We Play the Role of Mother to Our Husbands

So then we get this worth. We begin to play the role of mother to our husbands. Because we are both desperately needing a mother. And we want to give those we love the mother that we never had. So whatever we felt that she failed to do, we will do to others. So if she failed to give us structure and boundaries and control, then we are giving our husband structure and boundaries and control — well thinking we are anyway.

And if she failed to give us warmth and affection, then in the beginning, we give our husband lots of warmth and affection. Whatever we wish that she had done as far as care for us, we will do for him because we want to be the good mother and we want to create the family unit that we did not have. We want it to be really beautiful.

But Our Kids Need Us To Be The Adult, But We Can’t Because We’re Still Inner Children

That mothering energy, that is innate in us as women, I believe. Once the children come, then we realized, oh, I’m supposed to direct that here, here are beautiful beings who desperately need all of my mothering energy. They need all of my care. They need me to do for them because they are dependent on me. They are literally dependent.

So now the inner child is like,  I don’t know how to do this because nobody really did this for me. And I’ve been pretending to do it all this time. But I don’t actually know how to mother somebody else. And I kind of feel like a little girl mothering these children.

Like this is not what I imagined when I was eight years old playing with a baby doll. Because this thing is relentless. This child in front of me is demanding. Isn’t happy. Can’t be controlled. Can’t be put down, put down in the crib. And let me come back to it another day when I’m rested. Now not only do I have to dig deep into my boundary and fully give so much energy to this child, I don’t know how to refill that. I don’t know how to give it back to myself.

Our Husband Is Just Playing His Role In The Parent-Child Dynamic We’ve Co-Created

So then when our husband walks in the room and he’s still playing his role in this dynamic that we have co-created he walks in as the child because up until now we have been parenting him. We have created this parent-child dynamic. And so he comes in all dependent on us because we made him that way and he’s like, “Hey I need a hug” or I need to have sex, or I don’t know how to make my own dinner. Or my own breakfast or when I should get to sleep or, you know, I’m falling behind at work.

He comes in with that dependent energy. And now, because there’s literally nothing to give, we feel absolute anger and are so upset with him and mad at him and resentful. Without realizing that we created this, without realizing that we set up this dynamic, we set him up to be dependent on us and he willingly play that role of child because he probably didn’t get whatever he needed from his mom.

He happily lives in inner child with us up until we both realize, Hey, it’s time to step into the adult self. Now we have actual physical children in our presence. Who are dependent on us for everything. And we both need to step into our adult self, but how do we do that? We can’t do that until we actually heal the inner child inside.

We Live Enmeshed, Without Clear Boundaries

And we allow her to grow in the ways that she didn’t and we bring in that adult self. Which right now is just an energy, it’s there, but we have to bring her in and love on this inner child so that we can be an integrated whole, and we can mature into the adult self that we were meant to mature into when we were children, when we did not individuate from our parents, we just lived enmeshed.

There was not that clear boundary that clear wall between who I am and who my mother is. So we have just lived enmeshed this whole time. There are no clear boundaries between us and other people that we love. And we just give and are exhausted and there’s nothing.

So now we have to heal the inner child, and individuate, and realize where our boundary is, and realize where we end and where he begins.

And Your Husband Won’t Grow Because You’ve Ensured His Comfort

And he will not grow into that adult self until he firmly feels that boundary between you. Until he is forced to individuate. Now he of course could do this work. He of course could go to a coach or a therapist or somebody and do the healing work himself, but he’s not going to because you are the mother. And he has no reason to, because it feels quite comfortable and he’s enjoyed it very much.

And you’ve met all his needs and forgotten that you have any needs. So he is not going to do it until you stop filling him up. This is why I say a narcissist needs an empath to be a narcissist. We view him as a narcissist because he is sucking us dry and using us to meet his needs. But we have made him that way. We have played our role in this dynamic. So that he will depend on us and we will feel worthy. We’ve played our role. We both played a role. So the way to change the relationship now is to step out of this role that you have played as the mother and step into the adult self. You’re going to meet adult to adult.

Why You Feel Like the Only Adult in the House by Beth RowlesYou are going to meet individuated and whole on your own, not dependent on the other person to fill you up. You are going to create that separation because yes, of course we are all one. Like I said, we’re energy from the same source. But we incarnate into these human bodies and in this human body, we are each meant to go on our own journey of evolution. Our own journey to a place where we live in love, and we cannot do that until we fully step into that separation and the separation does not mean disconnection. It does not mean that we don’t love other people, it’s just that we are protecting all of who we individually are.

And we are ceasing to play God by allowing them to be all of who they are. We are pushing them to do the growth that they actually came here to do. And they’re not going to step into the adult self and realize their full potential until we stop being their crutch, until we stop enabling them, until we stop keeping them comfortable.

I made a video the other day on TikTok. One of my clients said you should shout this from the rooftops. And so I like put myself on the green screen over these rooftops and yelled, stop making your husband comfortable. Stop making life comfortable for your husband. Stop being the mommy, on there.

Your Children Desperately Need Your Adult Self To Raise Them

You have real children that you are here to mother. And help them have this healthy process of individuation with your loving guidance and they will not do it if you refuse to step into the adult self. They need their mother to be the adult who understands that they are separate and as they grow that individuation happens.

Because when they are babies, it is like we are one. But as they get older, they need to be able to be allowed to be free, to step into their own and not feel responsible for us. Not feel like they have to make us happy. Or soothe our fears or be good girls so that we have less burden. They don’t have to, they don’t have to ease our burdens. They don’t have to change who they are to make us more comfortable. That’s all our work that we are doing inside.

And Your Inner Child Plays An Unhealthy Authoritarian Mother Role

Another thing I want to point out is that this parent-child dynamic that we have set up is an unhealthy authoritarian parent-child dynamic. It’s not like we’re a conscious parent and our husband is the lovely son getting all of our consciousness, which is the work that I help you do — actually move into a conscious partner and into a conscious parent to your children. But anyway, because we are authoritarian in this role, despite –even if we know that we are trying to be conscious parents to our children, we still hold onto this authoritarian mother figure with our husbands because it’s coming from the inner child who was probably raised that way.

So we criticize our husbands. We shut them down because the way we word things is critical and shaming. All of that energy is coming up through us through the words that we say.

They feel criticized, and they feel shamed, and then they shut down. And then they stopped taking initiative for fear of getting it wrong. They lie because they are afraid of the reaction that they will get from us. They lie because they are terrified of us. So they take the easiest path and know that in order to be themselves and not have to deal with this reaction from us, they just have to lie. They just have to do what feels authentic to them and keep it mum.

We Begin Creating “Bad” Husbands

Because then we’ll react and freak out. They haven’t been empowered. Because we are acting as this unhealthy authoritarian mother figure, but who’s really the inner child in the adult body, they are getting this image of themselves from us that is the worst. That’s called the Golem effect. We basically are telling them over and over and over through our reactions, our energy, and our words that they suck.

And they are bad. They’re wrong. They’re not good enough as they are. And as you probably know, if we do this to our children, It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we say you are a bad child, then you lose any will or reason to be anything other than what you have labeled me as, I’m now the bad child. That’s what I’m going to be. But there is another thing called the Pygmalion effect. But when we show our children the best of themselves, when we have such high regard for who they are, who you truly know them to be, who we know that they can be, then they step into that best self.

But You Can Also Create Your Husband’s “Best” Self

They feel inspired and encouraged to be their best self. And it’s no different with our husbands. When we see in our mind their best self. And when we treat them as if they are their best self, then they are encouraged and inspired to step into that best self. That healthy version of themselves.

So I’m inviting you to step out of your role in this unhealthy relationship dynamic that you have created because that’s all it is. It’s not your husband. It’s not you, you didn’t make a mistake picking him. You just have both co-created this unhealthy relationship dynamic.

How To Stop Mothering Your Husband

And if you step out of it, then you create this, a new, healthy relationship dynamic. And the way to step out of it is to heal that little girl inside, to individuate, to fully step into the adult self. And by the way, once you do, then to learn some new skills, to learn healthy way of relating to other people that is not authoritarian, you’re learning healthy leadership skills, like empathy and conscious communication and how to set an intention and be intentional and really self-regulate and control your energy.

It is super powerful. You can tell I’m wound up about this, but really, if you feel like the only adult in the relationship, that is your clue. That is your clue that this is a pattern that you have co-created and I know there are other patterns, but this is the one that I speak to. If you feel like the only adult, the only responsible one, that everybody depends on you, it’s this unhealthy inner child, authoritarian mothering little girl inside who is just trying so hard to get her beautiful needs met.

And it’s causing you a lot of grief and it manifests as enmeshment, it looks like codependency, and it’s really uncomfortable for everybody in the family. But especially you. So I invite you to step into your authentic self.

I would love to talk to you, but you can also join us in our Facebook group, Soul Sages if that feels better right now. You can come in there and start to learn more about this journey.

I think it’s so important that we take this seriously. This is the most important work that you will do. It impacts every area of your life. But most importantly, It frees your soul. And it frees the soul of your children and your husband and allows them to be their best, most authentic selves.

Thank you for joining me today and I will talk to you next week.


To learn more about having a conscious marriage, click here.

To start learning more about boundaries, take my Getting The Love You Deserve course, and that will teach you the six most common mistakes people make when trying to hold boundaries and give you a good introduction to it.



Beth Rowles
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I'm Beth Rowles, Hi!

I help driven moms use the conflict in their marriage as a feedback loop to grow in self-awareness so they can create the marriage they, and their kids, deserve without leaving the one they're in or waiting for their husband to evolve.

I'm the author of The Authentic Wife: Uncaging Yourself Through Marriage and host of The Authentic Wife Show podcast & YouTube channel.


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"Your partner is ultimately a mirror of how you feel about yourself, and your relationship will call on you to get into integrity with earlier wounds and negative life patterns."

--Dr. Laura Berman, Quantum Love

Love Queen, Enneagram 5, Child Prioritizer, Problem Solver, Book Lover, Authenticity Expert, And Your Marriage Saver

I’m Beth.
Your Authenticity
[to keep it a Family] Coach.

You and your kids deserve a marriage that brings your light to life. That may seem far away right now, but I’m proof that it’s possible and in your power to create! Stop worrying about what your kids are learning from him and let’s figure out what they can learn from you, mama!