When you hit your 20’s, your relationship with your parents hits this weird place. Having been away from home for a couple of years (especially if you’ve went college), you’ve tried to reconcile what your parents have taught you with what you’ve learned on your own about society to develop your own worldview. Being successful at reconciliation alone can create this abrupt, invisible, insidious wedge between you and your parents that you maybe didn’t anticipate. Suddenly you have less in common with your parents than you did before and the vast difference in opinion incites frustrating arguments and debates. If your disagreements are about sensitive issues like religion, sexuality, politics or race, they can likely lead to the reception of value or character judgments from your parents that hurt your feelings or anger you, causing more friction. Understanding that your parents think they’re doing what’s best for you with their idea insistence and imposing beliefs, you struggle to remain respectful when voicing your feelings; even though you don’t feel particularly respected or understood yourself. When you were a minor, you couldn’t wait to become a young adult because you thought you’d be able to have a more honest and open dialogue with your parents about any topic, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. Even though you’re ready to talk, they aren’t necessarily ready to listen. You keep thinking that you and your parent’s life stages will one day complement each other and you’ll meet in the middle. Here’s to hoping.
This experience leads to what I call “hero disillusionment.” If you had a decent relationship with your parents, you viewed them as near-perfect all-knowing heroes with the most appropriate beliefs and standards. The bright and shining image you once had of your parents starts to dim as you come in contact with their human side, more clearly realizing their biases and selfishness. Although you’ve known these people your whole life, you have moments where you look at them and go “who are you?!!” What you learn about their opinions and personality might be shocking, as it may contradict how they’ve raised you. On the opposite end, what you learn can answer long-held questions about your upbringing; resulting in resolve or anger (“They messed me up!”). Ultimately, you will either understand and appreciate your parents more, or come to dislike and break from them. “Hero disillusionment” tends to be more of a challenge for those who live at home or in regular physical contact with their parents because they don’t have the built in space to recover from divergence as those that they live away from home.
Seeing as how I’m still navigating this period of my life, I don’t have any quick solutions or tips. This article serves primarily as a forewarning. What I CAN propose is therapy (if you can access or afford it), if you find yourself in anger or sadness as a result of “hero disillusionment.”Anger and sadness are very powerful, potent emotions that can spiral out of control if they aren’t regulated. Guardian discontentment can seep into other areas of your life that can be hard to notice. That’s my offering.
Since I’ve decided to NOT be a traditional therapist, I’ve been considering other career options. It’s been a confusing and stressful time choosing a course, so when I have a concept of what I MIGHT want to pursue, it’s a real downer when all my mom can say in response is “will that pay you anything?” Granted, income offering is an important factor to be considered when seeking employment opportunities, but I would think my mother would be remotely elated that her vocationally discombobulated child finally decided on something. Instead of asking questions that would incite a conversation, like “what appeals to you about that field?” or “what’s the best way to attain that type of position?” she’s all about the pay. Lord forbid I say “I don’t know how much it pays, I have to look into it,” and a lecture ensues about how she wants me to be financially stable, as if that’s not something I desire. By that time, I’m no longer interested in sharing my excitement about my new professional plan of action.
I try to be understanding of fact that my mother wants me to learn from her mistakes and not have the same financial struggles that she has, but I would like her to be more understanding that it’s important to me to find meaningful, purposeful work that is both fulfilling and lucrative. One day, I was telling my mother how the young people I meet online via promoting J.Says seem to all be in crisis. In one week, I met a 13 year old that had a miscarriage, a 16-year old that was self-mutilating and a 14-year old with an eating disorder. I expressed my interest in taking a position at a non-profit organization for girls and told her that positively influencing young women is something I’m passionate about. What did my mom say? “Can you get paid well working at non-profit?” I was so frustrated. Not only was that statement slightly off topic (we were talking about youth), but it devalued a position I deem to be important. When my mother mentions pay off the cuff, it makes me feel like my goal isn’t good enough. Wanting to make a positive societal impact isn’t good enough unless the position pays well. Strippers make a lot of money; maybe she’d be more excited and pleased if I hit the pole.