The Realization That Your Parents Are People

The last step of growing up is learning that your parents are just like you and everybody else

Photo: Caroline Hernandez/Unsplash

It’s in those moments when they need your shoulder to cry on, that stage when going home isn’t to their house, those times that dinner’s on you — ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ becomes just another word.

Realizing that your parents are people is the ultimate step in growing up. Only when you experience that change in perception do you fully grasp that you’re an adult — you and your parents are equals. They’re not some invincible, all-knowing breed of superhuman. They’re real people, with real struggles and anxieties, real hopes and dreams.

It’s weird, that shift in perception. It doesn’t seem like it should make sense — your parents are the people who brought you through this world, after all. But it’s not something you can control. As life progresses, so do our relationships, and as we lose our innocence, we lose our concept of parents.

I’m still undergoing this process. Lucky for me, I realize I actually like my parents as people, but there’s still that part of me that hasn’t been fully able to separate them from the role of caregivers and providers. Perhaps I won’t be able to let go of that perception until I become a parent myself or something else happens, or maybe I’ll always see them in that way.

Regardless, what I have come to learn about my parents has given me the ability to build a more balanced relationship with them. And that balance is providing me with the confidence to keep moving forward with my life.

So, I want to share my experience so far. Maybe you can relate to it or make you look at your relationship with your parents differently. All I hope is that it can give you some assurance during this journey to adult life as it has for me.

Adulthood scares them too

Paying the bills on time, looking after your own physical and mental health, planning for the future, managing a household — we have the same worries. My parents are just as scared of adult life as me.

Knowing that those things don’t get easier as time goes on, but seeing that my parents have been able to survive them and raise me in the process, I feel encouraged. Being an adult is tough, and it’s ok that I don’t feel ready for it, my parents don’t either.

They need my help

I’ll never forget the first time my card got declined — I was trying to buy a bus ticket to get to a new job (the irony, I know). I called my mother for help, and she had the money transferred straight away. I needed her help, and she was there.

The other day I was with my mother while she was doing her grocery shopping, and her card was declined, so I paid instead. This time, I was there for her.

There’s something empowering about being able to help your parents — that role reversal. I can’t help but feel this strange sense of joy when they need me for a change. It’s like receiving confirmation that I must be more than capable of looking after myself if I’m capable of looking after them.

I don’t agree with them

As I become my own person, I find myself questioning my parents’ beliefs and actions more and more. Even looking back at some of the decisions they made for me as a child, although I respect their choices, I don’t agree with them. There’s a lot I would have done differently to my parents, and there’s a lot I will do that they won’t agree with.

Often, these different opinions are a cause of contention, but that’s not necessarily negative. As we continue to disagree on things, I can see how my character is separating from them. Of course, they’re probably the people who’ve had the biggest influence on my life and who I am, but regardless of that, I am an individual.

And in being an individual, my life is mine and mine alone. My parents can advise me as to what to do — and I most certainly will be coming to them for advice — but at the end of the day, decisions are mine to make.

They’re fundamentally flawed

Despite our disagreements, I don’t hold any resentment towards my parents.

I did at one stage — I’ll admit as a teenager I didn’t like them mainly because of our fights over different opinions. But growing up and removing them from the pedestal I subconsciously put them on has allowed me to accept that they are flawed humans.

Viewing them as anything else is destructive. Holding someone to a higher standard puts pressure on that relationship. They make mistakes, and they can be mean, but I can forgive them like I can forgive anyone else. Understanding that my parents are flawed has strengthened our relationship.

They know how to have fun

Being busier with my own life, I have to make time for my parents. Naturally, I try to make the most of this time by trying to do things that are a bit more interesting than ‘tea and a catch-up.’ This has sparked the discovery that my parents actually know how to have fun — or rather, I now consider them fun.

That separation of parent and child has been mainly due to our interests becoming more similar. I’ve changed, and so have my interests. Younger me would have been appalled by the idea that my Saturday nights are dinner and drinks with friends rather than clubbing.

Seeing myself enjoy the things that my parents enjoy is a relief. All those fears I had back in the days, scared of becoming my parents and being ‘boring,’ is gone. Developing with adulthood and doing the things that my parents do is not boring; it’s subjective fun.

Being forever young is overrated.

The Takeaway

When you realize that your parents are people, you might like them or might not. You might keep them in your life or push them away.

I’m aware of and grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to develop a positive relationship with my parents. But even if things hadn’t progressed in that way, I wouldn’t have been able to prevent my change in perception, and I don’t believe I’d want to.

It’s only when we separate ourselves from the role of the child that we can fully become our own — be it with or without our parents.

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Currently on a break to focus on academia. A work in progress. Find me on Twitter @LouiseMorris_98

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