I frequently get messages from young adults, asking me how they can gain some form of independence from their parents without seeming rude. Dear friend, if you’re in this kind of dilemma, then this is for you.
It’s been years since I was sixteen, but I can still remember what it was like. The paramount thing on my mind then, was how and when I was going to get out from under my parents’ thumbs. I was particularly worried that they wouldn’t let me “flex” or enjoy life until I was well in my thirties.
Mind you, my parents weren’t so strict. I was allowed to bring home male friends while I was in secondary school; I could even be alone with them in my bedroom and my parents trusted that we’d behave ourselves. I also made and kept friends of whom they didn’t approve. Whatever they did for me, was with my welfare in mind.
This brings to mind an important life lessons I’ve learned. Sometimes, those who encourage our stagnation and probable downfall, are our well-wishers, who do so with good intentions. If you ever discover that this is the case with you, you’ve got to rebel in a quiet and dignified way. To do so, start by pushing the boundaries on what I call “the little things.” These are things that you can do without raising too much dust with your parents. Say, something like coming home late. Perhaps there’s a curfew of 7:30pm at home. How about pushing it to eight o’clock? They may huff and puff, but if you do this consistently, they too will make the adjustment.
For me, pushing the boundary on little things was perming my hair immediately after I finished secondary school and using make up the moment I turned eighteen. Trust me when I say that on both occasions, my mother did not find it amusing in the least. For her, it was almost an abomination—especially the makeup. But it paved the way for me to use hair extensions and eventually, put on trousers.
You can also rebel by creating a physical distance. This is crucial if you want to build up your self-confidence by making, testing, and executing your own plans and decisions. Such self-assurance will spill over in your actions and words when you eventually return home. When I went away to the university in a different town helped a lot.
If you’re unable to create a physical distance, create a financial distance. I’ve noticed that many parents are more willing to give their children more leeway when they’re earning an income and not so dependent. Make a financial contribution today; it will go a long way in changing their view of you from a child to an adult.
Use dialogue. I know that many young adults do not consider this, but it’s worked for me and many others. Are your parents being difficult? Then call for a meeting; sit down with them and reason together. Present your case in a concise and logical fashion. Tell them how much you love and respect them. Enumerate why you need them to loosen their hold on the reins. Be ready, because they’re not going to say yes to all your requests on the first try. You can also offer a compromise—say, something like, “if I do music for a year and it doesn’t work out, then I’ll come back and be the manager of the family printing business.”
If all still fails after these, you may need to consider the noisy kind of rebellion. But before you do so, think carefully of the consequences, plan for the fallout and then take the bull by the horns.