'My parents don't see me as an adult'

'My parents don't see me as an adult'

"So frustrated" wants her independence and to find her own happiness. but her parents don't recognise that she's all grown up.

Dear Thelma,

I'm 28 years old and the only daughter. I feel very annoyed and frustrated because of both my parents. I'm not given any independence despite my age. Every time I want to do something, my mum would put an obstacle before me and she never explains. I'm looking at other mothers and how they get along with their children. Mine would sometimes even curse me and say things like, "You will never come up in life," and she has told me to "go die". I'm getting quite depressed. I want to be able to do stuff like go for a permanent hair removal, body scrub, facial, wear contact lens, cut and straighten my hair, ice-skating and buy a small puppy for companionship.

Sometimes, I feel like taking revenge on my mum. Do you know how angry I am with my mum? Sometimes, I feel I want to run away from home. I wasn't even able to attend my own graduation as my parents didn't want to accompany me. We were supposed to go to Johor Baru for the graduation ceremony. I was really looking forward to it. I cried the whole day. It's because of the way my mum was brought up. Perhaps, she's trying to bring me up the same way. I prefer to be independent and want to be happy. Could you please advise me what to do? - So Frustrated

Dear So Frustrated,

Your frustration is understandable. To be an adult and yet be constrained by your parents' rules is not an easy situation to deal with. You are right in pointing out that perhaps she is reacting this way towards you because of the way she was brought up. She is sticking with the tried and tested, because she thinks it works. Perhaps, she is doing what she knows best, because she is afraid of what may happen if she doesn't. Modern life is difficult sometimes. There are so many new things out there. Many people find it hard to keep up and prefer to stick to ways of old.

Your parents not granting you "freedom" may just be a symptom of that. If you continue to do the things that you do; if you don't do anything new, which they may not have enough information about, the situation will remain the same. When things are predictable, there is less anxiety and less fear.

The crime rate is very high these days, and it is understandable why your parents feel they need to envelope you further in what they think is protection. This affects your life and makes you angry. But before you "take revenge" or do something drastic like run away from home, perhaps you could try putting yourself in your parents' shoes.

Yes, it is normal to desire cosmetic procedures like permanent hair removal or chemical hair straightening. But perhaps, your parents are worried about the processes involved such as exposing yourself to chemicals. Or, they may be trying to teach you to value your natural beauty. Maybe they don't want you to become too engrossed in vanity lest you forget the things that really matter like strength of character.

This is all stipulation, of course. The point is it seems to you that your parents are stopping you from doing what you want just because they want to make your life miserable. However, they may have some valid reasons.

Have you ever asked them about that? Being an independent adult is more than just being free to do what you want to do. It comes with responsibilities and taking responsibility for your actions.

Perhaps your parents don't want you to have a puppy, because they know it needs a lot of care and attention. Are you able to provide this for a dog? Perhaps your parents doubt that you can. They may not want to bear the responsibility - many people have dogs and have others look after them.

This does not mean that everything your parents did is right. Your mother should not have cursed you or suggested that you commit suicide. They should have made an effort to attend your graduation ceremony. But, these are harsh decisions and it is difficult to give you advice without knowing the context. What led your mother to utter such strong words? What happened that made your parents decide against attending a ceremony in which they would have been proud of their only child?

An important aspect of being an adult is being empathetic. That means, the ability to put yourself in another person's shoes to understand what they are going through. That would help to provide an insight into why people do the things they do. Maybe, in your journey to win your parents' trust in your adulthood, you should do this more. Try seeing things from their perspective. Ask them why they made certain decisions about you.

The way you do this is very important. Do not ask them in a way that is confrontational. Instead, start a discussion. Tell them you would like to understand them better.

Speak with a calm tone and don't be aggressive. Be watchful of the words you use. These can make a difference between having a discussion and an argument.

Another aspect about being an adult is being able to resolve arguments amicably. That means being able to have a discussion without resorting to emotional threats or manipulation. Running away is not going to help, neither will revenge.

Do remember that she is your mother and you are her only child. She must love you immensely and will only have your best interests at heart. She would never want to see you hurt or upset. Perhaps, that is why she is overprotecting you. Because, since you're an adult, she can no longer really protect you. You will have to learn how to do this on your own. And, you have to show your parents that you are capable of being a responsible adult. Only you can know how you can show them that. - Thelma


Samaritans of Singapore (SOS):1800-2214444
Singapore Association for Mental Health:1800-2837019
Sage Counselling Centre:1800-5555555
Care Corner Mandarin Counselling:1800-3535800

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