Whether you’re 18, 30 or 50 years old, your habits and relationship with your parents are probably more or less the same. What does that mean exactly? I quite often meet families where grandparents or parents interfere in both their lives and the way their children are raised. There is nothing strange about it, since it has been happening all my life and my parents allowed such interference.
And why is this happening?
Not usually by chance. Two people get to know each other and fall in love, creating a relationship. Their parents are present in their lives, in the strong sense of the word, until their relationship develops and they start, as they say, to leave the nest. Yes it’s about the moment of moving out, which is very painful for every parent. It is a signal of resourcefulness and a desire for greater freedom, which translates into isolation and reduced contact with parents. And then what do parents do? They often disagree with the process because they feel they are still needed and feel that they can help with certain things. The relationship of young people develops at some point and becomes a marriage in which children appear.
Suddenly it turns out that young parents want to raise their children, but due to their parents they become limited in this discipline. Grandparents, because now they can be called that, try to impose their upbringing and consider it very good. One that does not require changes and corrections, they have finally brought up their children and it worked out well for them so they also try to raise their grandchildren. Here a problem arises because the generational difference is too big to work properly. Grandparents, who were of course younger when they had children, were living in a different world then to the one they live in now, meaning their comprehension of cultural changes can be very vague. The development of technology, the development of science, the general development of the world is a novelty for them which they can treat and perceive as an evil that they have to face. There may also be an educational conflict, through two different theories of the world, depending on the adjustment to the existing times and as I have outlined earlier, ages. Young parents will have different priorities from their grandparents, so there may be a clash and a lack of mental alignment between them.
We’re talking about a conflict between children and parents who are divided by the difference of one generation. And what about grandchildren? Here the hard case starts because the difference becomes twice as big as in the previous case. The difference in thinking, as the child develops, will start to be diametrically different and it will be difficult to achieve reconciliation.
Some time ago I was talking to a nice woman who might have been around 60. Since her early life until the present moment she lives in the same house as her mother, except that the entrance to her apartment is on the left side and the entrance to her mother’s apartment is on the other side. I wondered what it would be like to live with my parents for so many years, so I asked her a question about the existing relationship between them. The woman answered:
“This is a terrible thing, never do it. Run away while you can or it will be too late. I’ve always wanted to move out, but because my mother is alone, I didn’t want to leave her alone, because I know she would feel that way. I met a guy I was supposed to start my own independent life with, but it was different. Mum offered to split the house and live in it together – she would take over one part and we would take over the other. She was never a pushy and hard person to live with, so I decided it was not a stupid idea. I was wrong. If I could go back in time, I would never agree to such a move. I didn’t know what it involved, so I said I agreed to the idea, and my passive husband agreed with me. From that moment on, our life looked like Mom would come to us every day. I felt not at ease, I felt a lack of privacy and personal space. Imagine a situation where you talk on the phone about private matters and your mother sits next door. You go out with the phone to finish the conversation calmly and when you come back you hear resentment and complaining about secrets. Yes, at 40, I couldn’t have any secrets from my mother, she wanted to know everything, she wanted to hear everything and she wanted to see everything, and when I didn’t tell her, she ridiculed me. She asked me why I was hiding things from her without thinking that she needed more personal space. She didn’t understand this even when I was directly saying such things to her. In fact, I don’t know why I’m talking about it all in a past form if it’s still happening to this day!”
I thought a lot about these words and realized that no matter how wonderful our parents are, how much we love them and how important they are to us, we should not decide to spend our whole lives with them. I also noticed that a relationship becomes healthier when we are separated, when we have time to miss each other and when we don’t see each other all the time. I have talked a lot with people who rarely see their parents. These people are always happy with their relationship with them, which means that at some point we should cut off the umbilical cord and go into the world without a helping hand of mom or dad…
It might be too late for that at some point