You're Grown. Stop Letting Your Parents Treat You Like You're Not.

Your parents still trying to parent you? If so, this is especially for you.

Love & Relationships

Whew-whee. You know, you would think that an article that has a title like this would be strictly for people who are still in college or something, but nah. Unfortunately, I personally know individuals—some who are even in their 30s and 40s—who are still out here letting their parents run their lives, far more than they should. If their parents don't approve of a decision, they change their mind. If their parents get mad at them, they do whatever they can to appease them. Oh, and if they do try and speak up for themselves, they immediately let their parents subdue—and by "subdue", I mean manipulate—them into thinking they are somehow being disrespectful.

It's common in Black culture to believe that our elders, especially our parents, deserve a certain amount of respect, no matter how "grown" we get. I don't pushback on that in the least. But if you're out here still letting your parents have a greater say in how you live your life than you do? That isn't healthy. It's hindering your progress. And, to a certain extent, it's keeping you in a "child status" in their mind as well.

If your parents were being responsible when it comes to their role in your life, they would know that it wasn't about them turning you into what they want you to be or making you feel like you've still got to do what they say you should do (you absolutely don't). Healthy parents celebrate their adult child's independence. Yet if somehow that sentence sounds foreign AF to you, then know that I wrote this with you totally in mind. You're an adult now. Your parents shouldn't still be parenting you. Here's how to make sure that they finally stop doing just that.

Cut the Financial Strings


While I wouldn't actually call myself an avid fan of the show Greenleaf, I do have a bit of an inexplicable crush on Keith David. So, when I'm in the midst of researching for an article, an episode can catch my attention. Since I knew this last season was the final one, I was a little more intentional about checking it out. Anyway, someone who I've always found to be absolutely gorgeous, while her character was quite the spoiled brat is Love Simone (who plays Zora Greenleaf). A particular episode that I watched was the next to the last one of the series. Lord. Now that Zora is 18, she wants to move to New York. When her parents gave her pushback on that, she immediately went in about how "grown" she is and they can't stop her. Oh, but in basically the same breath, she wanted them to pay for her apartment there. This? This is a teenage mentality. Unfortunately, a lot of people, some even twice her age, have it too.

While many folks are technically adults when it comes to their age, their parents are still paying rent, cosigning loans and/or lending them money—if the adult child isn't still living with their parents (plus not paying any household bills). Yet when the parents say or do things that make the adult child feel like they still see them as 15-year-olds, they get offended. It's a classic case of wanting the benefits of adulthood without the responsibilities. And that? That is straight-up childish.

And when you really let these points sink in, why shouldn't parents see their adult children, ones who still rely on them in the same way as they did when they were younger, as not mature human beings? A part of being grown means being independent. A part of what comes with being independent is standing on your own two feet, including when it comes to your finances. There are plenty of articles out in cyberspace like one that I recently read—"A shocking number of adults are still mooching off their parents". Pieces like these are a glaring reminder that it's hard to expect to be treated like a complete adult when you're sending mixed messages by being all up in your parents' wallets—still. Them offering seasons of support (like during this pandemic of ours) is one thing, but be real with yourself—if you are still hanging onto your mom and/or dad's financial strings, they are never going to see you as so-called grown until you cut those off. To tell you the truth, they are going to have a hard time completely respecting you, as being your own person, too.

Break the Psychological Stronghold They’ve Got over You


It always tickles me when I see a 6 feet-plus man getting chewed out by his barely 5-feet mom as he cowers while she scolds him. It has nothing to do with the fact that he thinks that she can literally do him bodily harm; it comes from the psychological hold that she's got on him from when he was little. The same point applies to a lot of us. I remember when one of my parents did something that I clearly said I didn't want them to do. They first disrespected my boundaries by doing it anyway. Then they tried to intimidate me so that I wouldn't bring to their attention that they violated me (any boundary that is consciously broken is a violation). When I told them that I wasn't fearful or a child anymore, it was amazing how their face had shock on it, but nothing else happened. Well, nothing other than me realizing that speaking up for myself and being expected to be treated as an adult wasn't "disrespectful"; it was accurate. And justified.

I know people who have gone into careers that they hate and, shoot, even married people that they don't really love, all because they were afraid of what their parents would do if they didn't. The reality is, what can they actually do to you? Be mad. Try and pull a perpetual guilt trip. Not speak to you for a while. OK, but are any of those things so severe that you should make choices that will alter the quality of your life in order to keep them happy; especially at the expense of your own happiness? I promise you, I know from very up close and personal experience that when you stop letting your parents get all up in your head, like you are still 12-years-old, you'll realize that, unless they are mad crazy and abusive (which means you need to do a whole lot more than break psychological strongholds), all they can do is present idle threats. And if they truly love you, even those won't last for long.

Remember That Setting Boundaries Isn’t Disrespectful


Author Brené Brown once said, "Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others." That said, it's pretty much in a child's DNA to want to please their parents. When they don't, it can almost break their heart. If you feel that way for 18 years of your life, it can be hard to get out of that mindset, once you're an adult. At the same time, your mom and/or dad spent 18 years (hopefully) "training you up in the way you should go" (Proverbs 22:6); it can also take some "mental undoing" for them to accept when it's time to get "off of the clock". One way to get both of you used to you not needing them to parent you anyone—but instead, they need to support you—is to set boundaries. All boundaries are, are limits. Boundaries are about letting your parents know what you will and won't encourage them to do when it comes to you and how you choose to live your life. If the thought of setting said boundaries is already freaking you out, you are the main one who needs to establish some. Because if you happened to grow up with a very controlling, emotionally manipulative or narcissistic parent, they don't really have a filter to let them know when they are going too far. It's up to you to draw the line. Now that you are an adult, you are not a bad person (or child) for doing that.

One thing about parent/child relationships is, as both parties grow, the expectations shift. While there is a type of respect that you should have for your parent for birthing you and taking care of you up until you became an adult, that doesn't make you obligated to let them run your life, for the rest of your life. Now that you are indeed grown, they need to show you that they recognize that fact. A part of how they are able to do that is by respecting your boundaries.

Also, Remember That You’ve Got to Live with Your Choices Now. NOT THEM.


There is someone I know who absolutely did not marry a woman who he was in love with. So, why did he do it? Because his parents wanted him to. They told him that she was who God told them that he should be with. They bought him things. They put into his head that the kind of women he was actually attracted to were bad choices. And they did these things, on repeat, until he finally conceded. Sure they got their way. Sure he is still married to the woman they wanted him to be with. But he's miserable. He cheats too.

Something that is very ironic about parents who try and treat their adult sons and daughters as if they are still kids is they oftentimes bully their children into making choices that may make them feel good, but they don't actually have to live with—and that is selfish as hell. Another example? There is one guy who my mom has liked since he and I were little. The only one who liked the idea of us being together more was the guy himself. When I kept telling my mother that I had zero attraction to him, she just kept going on and on about how nice he was and how much she liked him. Lord. If I had let her insistence get to me, I'd probably be in a miserable sexless marriage right now. Or divorced. Meanwhile, while I was picking up the pieces from a decision that I never wanted to make in the first place, my mother would be in her bed, sleeping like a baby.

Based on how you perceive your parents or if you've mistaken fear for respect, it can be difficult to tell them "no" to what they think is right or best for you. But you've got to always remember that you've got to live with your decisions at the end of the day. So, no matter how much in your ear (or head) they might be about something (or someone), never forget that you will be the most affected by what you choose; not them.

Don’t Be Afraid to Establish Consequences for Violated Boundaries


Until we die, we are ever growing, right? OK, so you remember how you learned a lot of things as a kid, right? You were given rules and, when you broke them, there were consequences. Based on either how severe or consistently implemented the consequences were, that is how you started to make different decisions. Listen, just because your parents happen to be older than you, that doesn't make them perfect or exempt from needing to learn more things in life. Since they used to be the one who gave out consequences and there wasn't much that you could do about it, it might not even cross their mind that now you can hand out a few consequences yourself.

Oh, but you can. If you tell your mom that you'd prefer to not be called early in the morning or late at night, yet she keeps doing it anyway, a consequence can be that you don't pick up the phone. If one of your parents is constantly telling your personal business to your relatives or other friends, after you've asked them not to, a consequence can be to tell them less. A very controlling parent will try and convince you that you have no right to give them consequences for disrespecting you. That couldn't be further from the truth. Again, you needed consequences to learn…sometimes parents (of adult children) do as well.

Give Your Parents Some Mercy. And Grace.


When the Bible tells us that "love is patient" (I Corinthians 13:4), it's not specific about what type of love or relationship patience applies to. Hopefully, your parents went into raising you with the mindset that they wanted you to become a healthy, thriving and totally independent adult. But sometimes, realizing that you are that individual can take some getting used to. So, make sure that you extend a little mercy (you forgive them when they do dishonor your boundaries) and grace (you showing kindness) when you can see that they are trying. This includes when you hit new milestones like buying your own home, getting married, having children, etc. If they are coming from a place of love, eventually they will learn how to back off some. If they are coming from a place of control? Well, the only way they are going to learn how to stop trying to control is if you stop letting them do it. If that requires you going to therapy or seeing a life coach to get some tips, please do it.

It does no adult children any good to let their parents keep treating them like kids. No one can evolve that way. Anyone who tells you otherwise is hindering your growth and remember, in the wise words of author Alice Walker, "No one is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow." Your parents are actually working against, not for you, if they demand to have a louder voice than you have about your world or deny your right to grow by not feeling like they need to have a run or say in all of your decisions.

I'll be the first to say that bringing parents into the reality that you are good and grown can be trying and uncomfortable. But the freedom that comes as a direct result makes it worth the transition. The title of this article is how this piece needs to end. Sis, you're grown. Stop letting your parents treat you like you're not. Real talk. STOP IT. Your parents will adjust. And you'll feel freer for it. TRUST ME.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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