Gaining independence from your parents is one of the final steps toward adulthood. It typically takes several years and begins in the teen years. Teenagers frequently must demonstrate their ability to make good decisions to their parents. College-aged adults often must strike a balance between receiving financial assistance from their parents and governing their own lives. Young adults frequently struggle with detaching from their parents even after they become financially independent. To properly assert your independence, it's important to realize that independence frequently comes in stages over several years rather than all at once. How you assert your independence depends largely upon whether or not your parents are still financially supporting you.
Parents Providing Support
Demonstrate good decision-making. Parents often interject themselves in their children's lives because they worry that their children can't function without them. Rather than angrily rebel against your parents, work hard to excel in school, drive safely and behave respectfully toward them.
Talk to your parents about your own independence. Explain to them that you think you're making good decisions and that you'd like to have more trust and freedom. Avoid yelling or calling them names, even if they insist on continuing to make rules for you.
Establish a zone of privacy. This is easier for students in college. Keep your parents informed about your life, but avoid telling them every detail. If you are a teenager still living at home, the best way to establish privacy is to show your parents that you can make good choices even without their supervision. Be honest with them about where you are going, but avoid overly involving them in your life. Many teens rely on their parents for emotional support and advice, but then become angry that their parents are overly involved. Lean on your friends more and your parents less.
Not Receiving Support
Talk to your parents about your need for greater privacy and independence. If you are supporting yourself, there's no reason you have to abide by their rules or report on every activity to them. Explain to them that you need some space to live your own life, but that you're immensely grateful for all they have done for you.
Draw clear boundaries. Avoid behaviors that allow your parents an opportunity to interfere. For example, if your parents receive some of your mail or bills, change the billing address. If your parents have a key to your house, ask for the key back, explaining that you need to know before they come over.
Communicate differently. It's easier for parents to interfere if they talk to you daily, so try reducing phone calls to once or twice a week and e-mailing more. You can then talk to them longer during these phone calls. If your parents live nearby, let them know that you love seeing them but don't have as much time for outings now that you are a busy adult with your own life.
- Child Psychology: Development in a Changing Society; Robin Harwood, et al.
- The Cultural Nature of Human Development; Barbara Rogoff
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