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Supposedly, when we’re adults, long gone are the days where our parents dictated who we marry or which profession we choose (for some of us). Yet, despite the changing times, helicopter parents are still on the rise. These helicopter parents tend to, unhealthily, spend too much time focusing on managing their children’s lives and goals, when they are now adults. Thus, this can lead to young adults experiencing parental pressure.

Nowadays, adults of this the young generation are already facing pressure like never before. Whether it being the pressure to be successful, make more money, keep up with social media, and so on. Therefore, with all these pressures, the added expectations of their parents can make it the toughest pressure of all. Having said this, there is a fine line between overbearing parents and caring parents who don’t cause as much pressure. The following signs will help you determine whether your parents are overbearing or just caring;

  1. Pressure you to make certain decisions – An example of this would be when instead of listening to your decisions, they immediately dismiss you and tell you “listen to us, we know what’s best and you don’t understand enough to make that decision.” They don’t understand that you’re now an adult who can make your own decisions.
  2. Have complete disregard for your privacy. This happens, for example, when they open your mail before giving it to you or barging into your room without knocking. Doing this might be understandable when you’re a child but when you’re an adult, having your own privacy is of utmost importance.
  3. Belittle your ideas as too “immature.”
  4. Guilting you or shaming you to do something – This occurs when you tell them “no” for something and they immediately come out with the statement “you’ll regret not helping me when I die.”
  5. They keep repeating the same issues – An example of this would be hearing them say these words on a constant loop “when I was your age, I was already married with you. What are you waiting for?”

A licensed family therapist, Dan Neuharth, found that from 40 adults, 91% felt that their parents didn’t really know them. The same study also found that the parents of these adults were a 100% not aware of the pain that they were causing their children. Hence, after having identified whether your parents are just caring or too overbearing, then you need to see how to gain your freedom from the overbearing ones.

  1. Believe in your own decisions. Don’t let your parents’ ideas influence what you truly want.
  2. Set clear boundaries with them to start protecting your privacy. Explain to them that you’re your own adult and they can’t keep barging into your room without knocking or opening your mail without asking.
  3. Show your parents that you’re doing well on your own. Their overbearingness does come from their genuine concern for you. Addressing and putting their concerns at ease will go a long way to improving the situation.

Now, I can understand parents wanting the best for their children, but, forcing beliefs onto them is never the best for anyone. It adds more stress for them to live up to expectations they do not even want. Ultimately, children, and even more adults, should be free to choose the life that they want. It is your path that you’re going to live on your own terms and no one else’s. Parents do have a strong influence on their children, but, in the end, you can agree with what they think if you want to, take only parts of what they say, or forge a completely new path for yourself. Just remember, the choice is yours.

Mandy is a Gestalt psychotherapist who enjoys working therapeutically with adults on various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing. She also has experience working with anxiety, victims of domestic violence and eating disorders.

References:

  • Neuharth, D. (2007). If You Had Controlling Parents. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins e-books.