Conflicting relationships between parents and children had always existed, and if we ask those around us what might be the reasons, we will certainly get a wide variety of answers. For example, children (who are now adults) would say that their parents still ask them to do what they want, they don’t agree with their life choices, or they are too critical or intrusive. Parents would say that their children "upset" them because they have some strange ideas of independence, or because they "don’t understand / don’t do anything of what I say," "they don’t listen to me anymore."
It’s interesting how we have to obey our parents even if we are 30, 40, 50 years old, when we should be assumed persons and aware of our own values, goals and desires. We can actually talk about a mentality problem. The mentality itself, as far as children are concerned, is fundamentally wrong, and that’s why so many conflicts and problems arise between children and their parents. Many people bring children into the world to live through them, to give meaning to their life, to be there for them in old age. They don’t want their offspring to become autonomous adults or have their own lives because that would mean that the most important role in their lives is over. In addition, they lose the sense of power and control.
Because they don’t have a life of their own, interests, hobbies, and most of the time harmonious and satisfying couple relationships, they live and define themselves by being parents. And when this role should end and the parent-child relationship should become one adult-adult, they are not willing to make this transition.
Thus, some of them, cautious, have been programming their children since they were little by instilling the idea that they, the parents, will always remain the most important. Not the spouse or the children of their offspring, but the parents. All their life must obey, they have to listen to them (because that is, in fact, respect), live according to their desires and whims, meet their expectations and be manipulated or emotionally blackmailed for how long the parents want.
The child thus turns into an instrument, living to satisfy their parents’ whims, needs or desires. But the child, especially when he has grown up, has no obligation to make his parents happy. Parents should find their fulfillment and happiness by themselves, not through their child.
The parent who accuses their child of disappointing them because he doesn’t live the way they want, who emotionally blackmails him when he doesn’t make the choices and the decisions that the parent wants, who say that they suffer when the child doesn’t meet their expectations, doesn’t show love and good intentions, but egocentrism and selfishness.
The parent who always wants to be first in their child life, even after he makes his own family, who tries to burden his child with feelings of guilt, pity, shame or fear when they don’t receive the attention they want, shows emotional immaturity and, above all, a lack of respect for their progeny. Because of these beliefs, many families are falling apart.
Because of this mentality there are so many conflicts and unhappiness in families, between generations. The mother / father, mother-in-law / father-in-law want to have the power and to take the lead. They have no regard for the newly formed family and, under the pretext of wishing their best, they do nothing but destroy and create a multitude of problems. The mother feels jealous if her son loves another woman. The father doesn’t believe that the man chosen by his daughter is worthy of her.
Many would change in the relationships between already grown-up children and their parents if we worked on this mentality. If we didn’t bring children into this world to fill our inner voids or to have a being with us all our life. If we learn to respect the individuality, authenticity, personality and boundaries of our children once they, as normal, leave the nest.
Everyone has the right to create the life they want, whether or not their parents agree, whether or not they agree with their choices and decisions.
Even if some parents make children to turn them into instruments, anchors, or extensions of their ego, the child has no obligation to obey or comply with their selfish expectations. Some parents struggle to keep next to them their adult "child". Mothers, but also fathers, who don’t accept that they can’t stop time nor can they turn back time so that their baby always remains dependent and close to them.
Other parents want their child to live exactly as they did, despite the fact that they didn’t live a life worth copying. They had abusive relationships, they were dissatisfied with their living standards and their socio-professional status, their choices they made in life, but somehow they survived, and this argument is enough to feel entitled to give advice and directives in life.
The child, growing into an adult, is normal to become an autonomous being who follows their own dreams and goals. And the parent, if they really wish them well, supports the child unconditionally (as much as they want), without asking for anything in return, without dictating him, manipulating him or emotionally blackmailing him. And truly wise parents become friends with their children and seek to have with them an adult-adult relationship based on mutual respect.
Respect your parents, but don’t allow them to dictate or to impose the way you live. They don’t know better than you what fulfills you, what makes you happy or what it means for you a beautiful life. Your duty is first of all to stay loyal to yourself and to create the life that you desire.
Dr. Ursula Sandner