Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Divorcing Your Parents

Let's be clear I am not talking about 16 year olds who think their parents are ruining their life-ah. Actually I am not talking about children at all. I am talking about those of us who have reached adulthood, who have at least one living parent, and maintain some sort of relationship with them.

I will be clear it is not a bad thing to be close to your mom. It is normal to seek your dad's approval. Sometimes though it becomes unhealthy. It is not normal for a mom to want to control every decision her 23 year old makes. By 30 your parents shouldn't be making any decisions for you or with you. Sure seek their advice and opinion if it is important to you, but ultimately you have to make the decisions.

Recently I have encountered several people who are adult children dealing with issues with their parents. Way more people than you would think one would encounter, more than five people. All of their respective issues are different. Many I can relate to, many I can not. One such person I am married to. He recently had to make some tough decisions about his family. The same is true of me, over the years I have had to make some tough decisions about family. I only have one parent so maybe it is a little less complicated for me. I do however make up for lack of plural parenting in siblings. What I am saying here is I am not merely writing about an idea, I am writing from experience.

I swear if I hear one more time, I can't do that because my mom, my dad or my parents, wouldn't approve, would freak out or wouldn't let me, from an adult child, I might flip my lid! Secondly, your parents (or anyone for that matter) can only continually hurt you if you allow them to. Those are some hard words to swallow but they are true. I need to repeat them to myself often.

Here is what I am thinking, at some point we all need to divorce our parents, emotionally. At some point in growing up we realize our parents aren't perfect. We tend to over look that. At some point though we also have to emotionally detach ourselves. This doesn't mean never talking to them again unless maybe the situation requires it. Parents if you have done your job you have raised a fairly well adjusted responsible being whom you have taught to make good decisions. Trust that those decisions are good and let your little birds spread their wings and fly, especially if they are in their late 20s or early 30s!

Adult children, you are a grown up. You can in fact function with out your parents. Your parents might not be ready for it, but you can tell them how you honestly feel. It doesn't mean you will get the results you want. They may shun you or shut you out or claim your spouse is mind controlling you. They may not actually hear a word you are saying, they may cry foul and hurt. However you can't let them continually hurt you.

You also can not let your parents control you or your family. Some times parents are so over involved that they try to control your friends. I recently had a parent that was not my own try to guilt me into killing my dreams, living here for ever and staying close to the people I already know. Now I know this parent was speaking from their own fear and maybe feeling a little protective of their own adult child. I was a little appalled though. I answered very clearly that I did not feel guilty for leaving and that I was making decisions that were going to help my family, meaning Paul, Lilia and I. I would miss people terribly but I will not feel guilty because I am leaving people I love. I would hope that just about anyone would leave us in a heart beat to pursue their dreams and make choices that will help their family thrive.

Here's my point it isn't easy, ever. At some point though you have got to stand up to your parents and hold your own. This is something I wish I had learned a little sooner. It worked out well for me, for the most part. I still have my moments. However I can make my own decisions and live my own life on my terms.

Today I am grateful for rocky territory gone by and the wisdom to know that any new such places will provide growth and be passable.

May you be blessed with being heard by your parents and having a healthy two way relationship.

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