We all live in a world where culture dictates that as children, we must listen to our parents, our guardians, our elders. In our home we say yes without a question, we may attempt to rebel only to fulfil their wishes.
I’m 20 and I’m still abiding by the laws of my parents just like my 27 year old cousin who asks his mum whether it is ok to go to London with his mates, just as my 59 year old uncle looks amongst the scarce number of family members older than him to tell him when he should eat and ask whether he can talk to his to be ex-wife. Perhaps my family is extreme, but I doubt I’m alone.
Quarantine has placed many back in the homes of their parents, returning us back to a place where we are forced to use a second persona, back to the place of initial inspiration. Prior to moving away our lives are focused on growth and development revolving around the ways of those taking care of us. They were our main source of learning how to be us. I spent 18 years of my life being what my parents wanted me to be and I thought it was me, in those years I had focused on moulding myself around my parents needs and I became who they expected. Until I left for university.
I first returned a stranger to my parents facing their anger as my attitudes meant I turned away from doing things as I once did. I had spent a month asking the question “am I doing this for myself or for them”. I questioned my career, my aspirations of having a family, my religion and so much more. I began experiencing things my parents would never have let me for fear of corrupting me or just thought to have shown me for the first time and I still am experiencing. I don’t mean having my first kiss or my first alcoholic drink, I mean going to London with friends, spending stupid money on food I’ve never had before etc, living a life not central to the needs of my parents. But still I made sacrifices.
Despite doing what I want to do I still twist reality to protect them and tell them what they want to hear. I only talk when I have something they want to hear; I only expose a small percentage, so they do not see me for who I am in order to protect myself and them. I love my family, and my aim is to save them from the side of me they do not expect, at the expense of sacrificing myself.
But the question arises as to why this was the case. Why was I spending so much time on making sure my parents were happy with my actions whilst my true self spent hours in the shower crying as me. I know parents should love children unconditionally, but they can love and make a child’s life miserable by constantly disagreeing with their actions (actions like going on holiday with friends, moving out, not planning a life they have imagined for you) and making it known. They only want to ensure my safety, but in doing so they push me away.
I can assure you my parents give me all the love I need, and support in certain ways. I only mention this to ask at what point do we become adults? And why do parents have children?
Parents often say that the hardest part of having children is to see them grow up. perhaps it is, but it is the inevitable and so why then do some make it impossible for you to learn and accept they have to let go. do parents only have children to stand by them? To show them a solid success, that they have achieved birthing a creation? To have them as their personal support? We are bound to parents and guardians by love which gives so much yet culture has us at their knees.
My closest cousins currently endure the heartbreak of divorcing parents. They are 20 and 23. The typical steps of a divorce means anger, and for some reason it became their duty to mediate conversations. both have sacrificed their needs and aspirations for their parents, they have numbed their emotions, both are contemplating halting a year of their degrees and so much more. Essentially, they have sacrificed their lives to ensure the happiness of their parents. Currently they live at their disposal. Despite their age meaning technically they can walk out culture and love has her in chains. Although this is for a specific reason, do we not do this to an extent every day? Are we not aspiring to make them happy and live by their rules, even as adults? Despite them being adults, they reach for their children for support, just as they once reached for their parents.
As much as we may rebel against the need of a parent, as much as I often have the regretful thought of the freedom, I would have without them, we all need support. I am not saying we should not love our parents, I am saying they should allow us to make mistakes live a life and not tie us down or abuse their power. It is imperative we learn to live without them, as much as they want us to be dependent, because we will only long for them in impossible ways, just as my 59-year-old uncle does, and become useless beings as adults who rely on our children. It is a cycle.
Perhaps my mum is right, and I am naïve and young and that everything I have said is a result of immaturity, but how will I learn with her laws binding me to an ignorant life? I suppose every child will have secrets and a second persona. Every child will love their parents and aim to protect them as much as they have protected us. But we must not forget to protect ourselves and be who we are, rather than who we are expected to be.