8 Things That Don't Make You A Bad Child, So Don't Let Your Parents Guilt You About This Stuff

When you become an adult, your relationship with your parents has to evolve. When you’re a child, you depend on your parents for everything, and it’s their responsibility to make decisions for you that will make you safe, healthy, and happy. When you get older, that dynamic shifts: Suddenly, you’re in charge of your own life, and it’s up to you to make good choices. It’s understandable that a lot of parents and children struggle with that change – many parents still feel responsible for their kids, and have a hard time letting go, and many adult kids want to strike out on their own. The result? A whole lot of guilt, and a whole lot of feeling like the things you say and do make you a "bad child" and that you're basically breaking your parents' hearts and putting them in an early grave, etc. Trying to figure out how to be your own person, and have an adult life, while also not being negligent and awful to the parents who raised you, is a challenging balance to find—and you're probably going to feel really guilty a lot of the time, even when you shouldn't.

Every person has a different relationship with his or her parents, and some of those relationships are easier than others. Some adult children feel a lot of pressure from their parents to act in certain ways and to follow certain paths. That expectation can be a weighty burden, and, when you feel like you’re not meeting it, it’s easy to feel guilty and anxious. The thing is, most parents don’t want their kids to feel this way. I think that what most parents want for their kids is the same: happiness, love, and the ability to make good decisions. But, of course, there can be misunderstandings, and lapses in communication, and different points of view, and, before you know it, everyone is hurt and angry. It happens. It literally happens to all families, and it doesn't mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with your relationship with your parents, or that either of you is doing anything "wrong".

The truth is, no relationship is perfect. We know that. We tell ourselves that all the time when it comes to romantic partners and our friends; we always strive to be able to accept flaws in other people and ourselves when it comes to those relationships. But with our parents? Whether we admit it or not, there are even more intense emotions involved in those relationships, so our subconscious pressure to get them right is even heavier. Try not to let yourself get caught up in drama; instead make the best choices you can make with the options you have. Parents and their grown-up children owe each other love and respect, but they can’t control each other. Here are 8 things that don’t make you a bad child—so don’t feel guilty!

1. Moving far from home

It’s natural for your parents to want to keep you close to them, so that they can keep an eye on you and make sure you’re healthy and safe. But we all have to spread our wings and fly eventually, and sometimes that means moving far away from home—to work, to study, or to have adventures we haven’t even anticipated. Your parents might be sad to see you less often, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about trying to live your life to the fullest. To make things easier, be sure to call and email often, so they can feel like they’re still involved in your life. And when you visit home, make the most of it!

2. Body modification

Some parents are horrified at the prospect of their children getting tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, or engaging in any other kind of body modification. They have the right to express their opinions, and you should do them the courtesy of listening to what they have to say. But at the end of the day, it’s your body and you get to decide what to do with it. Period. The End.

3. Not going into the profession that your parents wanted for you

It’s normal for parents to fantasize about what you’ll grow up to be like as an adult, and that can include dreams about certain professions. However, these fantasies don’t get to dictate the choices you make in your real life. Your parents may want you to be a radiologist so badly, but ultimately it’s your life and your choice. Do what makes you happy, without guilt. When your parents eventually see you doing something that you love, they’ll come around.

4. Keeping some things private

Some people feel comfortable telling their parents everything, and some people just...don’t. You don’t need to feel guilty about keeping some things to yourself when you talk to your parents. You certainly shouldn’t lie to them, but it’s OK if you don’t want to discuss the latest dramas in your sex life (and, frankly, most parents would probably thank you for leaving them out of that loop).

5. Making mistakes

We all make mistakes, large and small. And while there might end up being a lot of things to regret in your life, you shouldn’t feel guilty about your blunders. I think we have this idea that our mistakes somehow reflect on our parents, which is unfair. Part of growing up is making mistakes, learning from them, and moving forward. When we were little, our parents were there to help us navigate those waters; as adults, we have to learn to do that on our own.

6. Not getting married

I think it’s safe to say that most parents imagine their children getting married, but if this isn’t your path, that’s OK. I think that what parents really want is for us to be happy, and many people (including your parents) have been taught from birth that marriage = happiness. When they see you living a happy, fulfilled life as a single person, they’ll (hopefully) come to realize that that equation doesn’t work for you, and celebrate the fact that you’ve built an awesome life on your own.

7. Not having children

Choosing not to have children can be a fraught thing when it comes to parents because your decision might mean that they don’t have grandchildren (depending on if you have siblings, and if they want kids, etc.). That might be something that is legitimately sad for your parents, but it’s not something you should feel guilty about. Let them mourn that loss, if they feel loss about you not having kids. You shouldn't shame their feelings about this. But you also shouldn't let their feelings define your feelings, or make you feel bad about your choices. Choosing to have a kid is possibly the most important decision you can ever make, one that will affect every other part of your life, for the rest of your life. You can’t make that decision based on what other people want.

8. Practicing self-care—even if it means pushing them away

It’s a painful truth that some parents are simply not good parents. No parent is perfect, of course, but there’s a difference between a mom who doesn’t "get" you sometimes and one who is abusive. If being in contact with your parents acts as a poison in your life, you have every right to cut ties. You may feel guilty, but you have to take care of yourself first and do what you need to do to be happy and fulfilled. If limiting or eliminating the time you spend with your parents is what you need to move forward, then do so and try your best not to feel bad about it. You’ve done nothing wrong.

Images: WB; Giphy(5)