time to move on from your parents? break free and start living your OWN ADULT life
Some time ago I was talking with a friend, who was disheartened as her apprehensive mother keeps treating her like a little kid. The more we talk the more I find myself in her words too. And then it strikes me that the majority of the people I know have similar kind of unsolved problem with their parents.
So many close friends shared with me how they can’t connect with their older ones. Even the 30-something feel a strong emotional burden, to say the least, when they confront their parents. It seems that parents do not quite get that their ‘kids’ are now grown up, and are (hopefully) independent.
It’s like if you were driving a tricycle toy (like in this pic), where it looks like you manage the steering bar, but actually your parents still want to control the actual direction by holding the longer bar behind your head.
I bet, their intention is good, and they just want you to be safe. And you got to understand that there is nothing personal, they may have never considered a life different from theirs.
If your parents are like mine, they were born in a wealthy country, in a time of economic boom, where the best thing one could possibly do in life was to ensure long term security for them and their family in the form of a secure job, a family, a house. This is the blueprint they have for you too.
They also never prepared for being parents for millennials, who grew up seeking purpose rather than security; who grew up rejecting the moral of a society that swapped its spiritual connection for financial wealth, which didn’t even work. They never learned how to support dreamers in taking the necessary risks to transform their vision into reality.
And similar differences affect parents and siblings born in other times in history because fundamentally they all have gaps in the values that each generation considers important.
There is lot of ‘you should’, ‘you must’ from parents. Every thought or suggestion is a command. That’s probably exactly what they learned from their older ones. In psychology this is referred to as the ‘Parent – Adult - Child’ framework. In most cases parents and their siblings are stuck in a ‘parent – child’ type relationships where the former want to impose rules and the latter just want to do the opposite.
However a much healthier frame is the: ‘adult - adult’ , where both parties treat the other as peer. Hint: you can change your attitude for your own relationships. At least your side of the story is under your control.
The first step for me was to become aware of my reaction (often exaggerated).
I then learned to stop reacting and rather treat my parents as any other respected adult. I would simply listen to what they say and force myself not to react to the big weight they would sometimes throw on me.
I would perhaps respond with ‘thanks for telling me what you think, I appreciate it, however I will stick to my guns because I thought about it and believe that’s what I should do’.
I started considering them as if they were clients or other new people I met, whom I give respect and good manners. This was phase two and it took so much mental energy, but it was necessary for me to move forward.
Lately, actually during Christmas 2018, I finally moved one step beyond. I started loving them without pretending them to be like I expected them to be. And here was the biggest realization for my emotional independence: I had to release the expectation for them to agree with my point of view.
It felt liberating to love and not try to control. Finally, I was free to be myself without having to defend or justify, but also I broke free from trying to change their behaviour. Jackpot!
Parents may never change and may keep treating you like a kid, they may not understand you and even try to impose on you what you should be, but that will not touch you anymore, as you decide to be your independent self.
I am sure you are a grown up yourself and, on your path to be the real you. If your parents are somehow getting in your way, just realise that your way is different from their and carry on.
Love you grown up kid,
If you found this interesting and valuable and want to stay in touch, subscribe form below
The Basics on parent - child - adult framework https://www.emotionalintelligenceatwork.com/resources/parent-adult-child-model-basics/ (some hints on the reaction / action things that go on)