Welcome to Day 22 of #write31days!
For more information check out the series’ page.
Saying NO to the people closest to you – your family – is probably the hardest. But saying NO doesn’t mean cutting off all ties or breaking off relationships. Setting boundaries means to change relations a little bit for the better.
Honor Your Parents but Don’t Be Your Parents
As I grow older I am especially intrigued to see how the relationships to my different family members change. My parents – the heroes who took care of me and my little world – are fellow adults with normal problems, normal jobs, and normal joys. My siblings – little kids I used to read to and feed – are now grown up with own lives, own apartments, own opinions.
Even though we have no problem living and acting as adults every day we seem to undergo a strange transformation as soon as we enter our parents’ house: we once again become children with our specific role within the family. May it be the caring eldest one, the rebellious middle-child, or the spoilt last one. I guess we can never fully escape our roles, but maybe we can learn to break free from certain limitations these roles bring.
Yes, we are supposed to honor our parents. We follow their advice while we live with them, and many times I still appreciate calling my mom about a recipe or relationship advice or doubts in my faith. Does this mean I have to do everything they say and talk to them every night? No.
Yes, we should invest in the relationship with our parents, we have the chance to gain wonderful friends with them. Does this mean I have to listen to every single problem of my parents? No.
Yes, we should love and care for our parents since they have taken care of us for a long time. Does this mean I have to be my parents’ marriage counselor and fix their relationship problems? No.
Honoring your parents can mean to say NO sometimes. Allow yourself to get some distance and love them still. Allow them to take responsibility for their lives and actions. Being there for each other does not mean taking over each other’s lives and problems.
Sometimes we also have to say NO to brothers and sisters, who expect us to solve their problems. We don’t say NO to them or our relationship. We say NO to a certain behavior that renders them helpless and us pressured.
Move Out and Move On
We are all born into families to parents and siblings we can’t choose. For a certain number of years they take care of us and teach us everything we need to know about life. But then it’s time to move out. Part of growing means cutting ties with home and creating your own home. Some can’t wait until they finally have their own place, others really struggle.
Cutting ties with home is far more than just having a new address in a different town. I guess especially as a student you feel like in between as you don’t have your own family yet, but you don’t fully belong with your parents anymore. This in-between stage somehow keeps us from becoming our own people, making our own decisions, even though they might not always be what our parents might envision.
Moving on doesn’t mean cutting all ties. We will always be connected to our family and eventually we’ll just add more people to the family by getting married and having children.
Nevertheless, we need to create a life of our own. Instead of going home every weekend we need to become comfortable in our own four walls. Make it cozy, decorate the way you want. Make it a home you enjoy coming back to.
We need to make our own decisions. We all appreciate our parents’ advice, but sometimes it’s all on us. Our names on the papers, our money at stake, our final say. Growing up comes with a lot of burdens, but also freedoms. Let’s accept both.
We need to take responsibility. Don’t cry for Mom and Dad as soon as a problem arises. Experience the joy that comes from persevering until the end and growing along the way.
I guess many of us can say that moving out has changed a lot in the relationships with home. Mostly for the better. We meet as fellow adults. Whenever we get together, we focus on the precious time, the important things, the blessings.
Of course it’s not easy saying NO to the people closest to us. We don’t want to insult or upset anyone. Yet love and care do also mean honesty and courage at times. Setting boundaries does not kill relationships, it refines and redefines them. They help us to enjoy our families again.
How about your family? Are there areas where you need to say NO to parents or to siblings? Do you have to cut some ties with your family and actually move on?