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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