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• This is normal for the teen years, when you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do ‘when you grow’ up, that you’re not a carbon copy of your parents (yuck), wanting to be part of your peer group….
• In a reasonably healthy family you’re given a certain amount of leeway in this, to grow & stretch. Healthy parents are not threatened by this stage – even if it makes them uncomfortable & a little nuts. They know you’re a separate person & will find out for yourself
• It does not mean they neglect you, ignore what you’re doing or just can’t be bothered. It means they’re watching & waiting, and caring, but not overly imposing themselves
• When you’re allowed to be different from your folks, can disagree with their politics, religion, philosophy of life, or just plain – what to wear – eventually you get to find out what you really like & don’t like, who the real you is!
• Kids with this kind of freedom eventually (usually by their 20’s) find they do in fact agree with much of what they grew up with – the values, tastes, lifestyle… even if expressed in their own personal way. AND ways they are different from family is accepted & maybe even admired – or at least respected.
However – if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t grow up in that kind of family! As ACoAs:
a. Neglected : if we were ignored, unguided, un-nurtured – we would, of course, be left with a lot of anger, sadness, loneliness & a deep sense of hopelessness. As kids, we would conclude that we didn’t matter, were invisible, had no reason to do anything for ourselves & are incompetent anyway.
• Maybe a relative, a neighbor or teacher took an interest in us & helped some – but it’s not the same as having our parents explain thing, show us by example & help us try out things. Everything from personal hygiene, cooking, house repairs, arts & recreation, social skills – to homework, relationships, spiritual practice….
✶ Our Reaction
THEN: We spent a lot of time alone, daydreaming, hiding out, reading, studying, maybe hanging out in the library, with a friend – but not likely.
NOW: ACoAs in this group don’t accomplish as much as they could, rarely pursue dreams, goals, talents, interests … in spite of being just as talented, intelligent & capable as any other human being. After all, if our parents couldn’t be bothered to teach us how to do all the things kids need to know, so how can we possibly manage anything ourselves!?
• This may not seem like rebellion – but it is. It’s passive resistance: “If they didn’t take care of me, I’m not going to take care of me!”. True, there’s fear, a deep sense of not knowing how, but the refusal to try comes from rage, which underpins passivity.
Even so, some of us were told that they love us – even though they rarely or never acted like it. In stead, WE are the ones who love them – desperately, no matter how cruel & neglectful. We’re the ones who don’t want to let go!
b. Over-Coerced : At the other extreme, many of us were bullied, over-controlled, manipulated – forced to do & be whatever one or both parents (& other caretakers) wanted, with little or no regard to our individual personality.
• As kids we were considered ‘tabula raza’ – that’s Latin for blank slate. Parents of the baby boomer generation (& before) were taught that children come into this world with no identity or personality & it’s up to the parents to form them according the what’s ‘right’ – to write on the blank slate as they wished.
• Alcoholic & other narcissistic parents, who by definition had low self-esteem & fear of abandonment (FoA) themselves, could not tolerate any sign of individuality in their children, ⚡️which was stubbornly assumed to be disobedience, deliberate disrespect & even perversion!
☀️Such parents / family ruthlessly suppressed the reality that every child is born with their own specific personality type, & genetic makeup (even twins) – which needs to be nurtured.
NEXT: Rebellion vs COMPLIANCE (Part 2)