Detaching From Your Parents’ Expectations


Dear ol’ Mom and Dad.  They expect the best from us.  They know what we’re capable of and want to see to it that we live to our fullest potentials.  But along with this sentiment can come a whole lot of nagging, questions, pressure, arguments, and resentment.  At the quarter life stage, when we’re flying the coop, getting on our feet, and taking aim at the world, it’s tricky to navigate these unfamiliar waters with our parents.

Speaking from my own experience, I am incredibly grateful for the lessons, love, and support that my parents have provided me with over the course of my childhood and adolescent years.  Even now, they are an endless source of unconditional love and advice in many areas of my life.  I am beyond thankful to have two people in my corner who have never questioned my path, given me grief about wanting a creative career, or imposed their ideas of the ‘right future’ on me.  I know that this sets me apart from many people and so I just want to put it out there.  The advice I’m giving here is for folks who are looking to gain independence from their guardians – my parents gave me independence in the most loving way possible and I’ve been relishing in it ever since.

For many young people, the transition into independence isn’t so smooth.  Maybe they still support you financially or make a point of expressing their opinion about your every choice.  I’m not promising that this is going to make the process seamless but perhaps it will provide you with insight and/or give you a new strategy to try when wriggling out from the grips of your parents’ expectations and control.

Before we go any further, let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a moment.  For approximately 18 years, give or take a few (or 10), most of our parents have had their nose in absolutely everything we’re up to.  And it’s their job as a parent to do so.


Imagine raising, nurturing, and providing for a living being and then one day they decide that your ideas are nonsense and they’d rather not let you in or consider what you have to say anymore.

Sounds tough, right?

I think the first step to detachment and independence is really giving true effort to understanding the motivation and reason behind your parents’ actions and opinions.  This sets the tone for you to be more level headed, understanding, and act from a place of compassion instead of defensiveness.

One of the problems that young people face when transitioning to independence is that we feel as though we owe our parents something or that we need to make them happy due to all of the time, money, and love that they have put into making us who we are.

The short answer is that you don’t.

You owe your parents respect because they love you and they are human beings, but you don’t owe them any control over your life or decisions.  Parents choose to have children knowing one day those children will grow up to be adults with their own ambitions, values, and beliefs.  I’m not saying this an easy thing to accept but it’s true.

So tip #1. Don’t succumb to guilt when you choose a path or building block that your parents may not agree with.  This is your life.

Another hurdle is exactly what comes up when you’re navigating your new independence from your parents and how this relationship will now look.  In my experience, my relationship with my mom and dad improved significantly once I moved out, graduated, became completely financially independent and started making decisions entirely on my own.

Wanna know why?

Because now there is no part of my relationship with them that involves cleaning my room, doing the laundry, putting gas in the car, or paying my phone bill.  We no longer share the petty things in life, just the important things – like family, friends, memories, future plans, and heart-felt talks.

Tip #2.  When you’re talking to your parents about difficult decisions or your desire to be independent, come to the conversation with two things on your mind:  their perspective, and all of the good things that come with your independence like I described above (especially the ones that benefit them).

And tip #3.  If there are still things that you need to rely on your parents for – like help with rent or filing your taxes – sit down with them and have a grown-up conversation about the arrangement.  This is the first independent thing you’ll do – initiate and have the conversation, that is.  Write up a little contract if you need to or just map out what things look like now and where you all agree things will be in 6 months to a year.  Having an understanding and taking the time to get on the same page will alleviate some stress and give you all the goal of independence to work towards.

In the end, be kind to your parents.  Most often, their inclination to control you or expect certain things from you comes from a place of love or fear or both.  Your parents are human and the truth is that things will be resolved far easier with some compassion and love as opposed to spite and anger.  It’s up to you, as a blossoming, independent adult to let them in on the fact that you can handle things from here on out but will still lean on them when you need to.

If you are looking for more growth and independence, consider personal coaching.  It’s a chance to get some one on one advice and insight around the issues you are facing.  If this post resonates with you, I would recommend the Courage Coaching Package – you can check it out here on my website.

Happy independence making!



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