I am always asked, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” I remember daydreaming about being grown. I realized at a young age that being an adult meant being able to create the life you wanted to live. It felt like being grown meant that you could do whatever you wanted to do. You didn’t have to ask anybody for permission, you could just do it.
Now I live my life in that spirit, and it feels so good. The challenging part of living this way is that it requires us to set boundaries with our families and especially our parents. Although we are adults, our families may still see us as the younger version of ourselves, which makes it necessary to renegotiate our roles within our families, and step into ourselves more.
When asserting yourself as an adult within your family it can be helpful to remember the following:
Live your life without asking permission. You don’t have to ask your family members to affirm every choice that you make. Lean into what you think. Give yourself permission.
Find the supportive people in your family. Not everyone will take issue with you being grown. There are probably plenty of people within your family who have already gone through this transition. Learn more about their stories. Spend more time with them. Figure out how they were able to create the life they wanted without succumbing to pressure from the family.
Use the mantra, “I’m an adult.” Allow it to be a reminder for you and take the time to really define what that means for you. What is an adult? What is that level of autonomy? What do you want to carry with you and what do you want to leave behind? You have this beautiful opportunity to make those decisions for yourself.
Hold yourself accountable. You are the one creating your life, not other people. So often we will get into this mode of “I can’t do this because my mom/dad/guardian won’t let me.” But you’re grown. What a family member is going to think about what you do shouldn’t stop you. You are the decider. Don’t give power over your decisions to someone else.
It’s ok for people to be mad. When you make choices that family members don’t agree with, they may be angry with you, but that’s not a reason not to make the decisions that you want to make for your life. Sometimes you and your family members won’t agree. They may get mad at you. You may get mad at them. And that’s all ok. As long as the love is still there, you can withstand folks being angry.
There is a fear that our family members will judge us and not accept us as our adult selves. That fear is real, but we have to find ways to assert ourselves as grown people in our relationships with family members. Ultimately asserting yourself will help you to create a more fulfilling relationship with yourself, because you won’t feel the need to shrink yourself, or put yourself inside of a box when you’re around them.
In the movie Uncle Frank, Frank has stepped away from the family because he is gay. The film takes place during the 1970s, and Frank can not trust that his family will be welcoming and accepting of him, so he has chosen to live apart from them. But he has a niece who loves him dearly and wants to get to know him better, and through that relationship you learn more about Frank and the family. You can watch Uncle Frank on Prime.
In Why Couples Need to Make Invisible Labor Visible In Their Relationships, licensed psychoanalyst Jordan Dann, discusses the importance of acknowledging unpaid work that often goes unnoticed.
What does being an adult mean to you?
How have you solidified your role as an adult in your relationships with your family?
How do you become more of an adult? What are some boundaries you need to put in place to be more of an adult?
Did something in this newsletter speak to you? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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