Dear Brainy Bethany,

I feel trapped. In school and at work I am treated like an adult but when I get home my parents still treat me like im 10! My mother makes me do random things that she can do herself, and gets mad if I do anything different from how she would do it! I know that I don’t want to drive her and my dad away but I am trying to become my own person and they aren’t letting me! What can I do!?

– Pulling my hair out

Brainy Bethany, photo by Nathan Cheatham

Brainy Bethany, photo by Nathan Cheatham

Dear Pulling my hair out,

First I want you to know you are not alone. Everyone goes through some form of a struggle for independence, even I feel boxed in by my parents some days. It isn’t easy to become your own person while living with your family. Whatever your family situation is, your journey to starting your own life is never easy.

What can we do? Should we fold to everything our parents say? Should we defy the rules we have be told to follow? No. What you should do is find a moment when you can sit and talk to your family. Even if it is just a five minute conversation in the car one day or a here and there conversation while running errands you are still communicating. And remember to listen to them too, listening is a key part of communication. Work on finding a balance that your family can agree with and you can live with for the time being. Make sure you keep working on your communication. You will never have a good relationship with anyone, let alone your family, if you never communicate. Make sure you tell them what you need them to do and they are telling you what they need you to do. Relationships are work.

Something else you may want to think about is how this affects your parents. Remember they have been there to see your entire life from your first steps and your first word to watching you graduate high school and start college. They have helped you become who you are today. Watching you withdraw from their immediate everyday lives can’t be easy. It may feel to them like they have worked hard to raise you to simply no longer need you. When you are feeling as if your family is trying to stop you from living your own life stop for a moment and think about it from their view. Put yourself where they are. One thing my mother says all the time is that even when I am forty years old dealing with my own children she will still be my mother and she will always try to make me a better person. If I think about it I would be truly hurt if my mother ever stopped mothering me.

One more thing, be careful not to make a mountain out of a molehill. The little things get under our skin very easily but when your mother asks you to help with the dishes remember she isn’t chaining you to a wall. Maybe she actually needs help. I can remember one time I snapping at my mother for asking me to make a specific meal for dinner because I felt like she was trying to make me into her. In reality my mother simply asked me to do this so my father wouldn’t have to worry about it.

So to give a basic rundown, to be able to go through this difficult period of time and yet have a good relationship with your family you have to communicate. Every once in a while try to step back and think about it from their perspective. Work together to find your balance of freedom. Good luck!