Summer will soon come to an end, students will return to classrooms, and a new phase will begin. While many young adults are excited to head out to campus, a small population of them may be overwhelmed with the guilt of spreading their wings. Parents are preparing to let offspring go into the unknown without a compass, but how do the kids get over the guilt of leaving home and family to find their passion?
In the Latino culture, it isn’t uncommon to find children caring for their parents somehow. Personally, it isn’t easy to believe that it is my child’s responsibility to take care of me. The decision to have her was made long before she came into the world. It seems unfair to place demands on her that don’t necessarily put her best interest at heart. As an adult, it should be on me to create a life that nurtures my needs. I am the only person in charge of my happiness; therefore, I act from that belief as much as possible.
My daughter is leaving home for the first time this year. We raised her in a close-knit family community. Since the divorce, her father and I have shared custody, and she has reaped the benefits of successful co-parenting. It has taken years to create an environment to make her feel supported, secure and confident. She has been brought up to respect, value family and tradition. Although we want her to be responsible, we have been careful not to influence her to think she owes us. Instead, we encourage her to spread her wings and fly in the direction of dreams without burden.
While there are students happy to embark on a new chapter, there will be some trying not to be consumed by the guilty feeling of leaving parents behind. Mom and dads can make things difficult for children leaving the nest — guilt trips can play a role in these situations, and reasons vary from case to case. Parents can be emotionally or financially dependent, afraid to be alone, or operate from a selfish place that hinders them from cutting the cord. It can make a child feel coerced into making decisions for everyone other than themselves, producing irreparable damage. But children must learn to overcome these feelings, so here are a few thoughts to consider while working through these painful emotions.
Own Your Individuality
Understand you are a separate person from the people that raised you. Parents give life to their children, but it does not mean they own them. It is important to know that you are not responsible for their happiness in life. In fact, each of us is responsible for our own joy.
Choose a Life that Honors You
We owe it to ourselves to live a great life. Striving to be the best includes doing the things that make you a better person. Whether done through education, financial, emotional, or spiritual work, self-improvement is critical for meaningful growth. You cannot sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. Ultimately, you will never be truly happy.
Build Your Dream, Not Someone Else’s
Whether you are 18 or 40, don’t build someone else’s dream. Your parents have lived their life. It is your turn to live yours. They may feel hurt, disappointment or resentment, at first but will get over it. Love is forgiving. Acceptance will come for parents, then self-respect follows, helping you flourish as an adult. However, that cannot happen if you do not show up for yourself. Adulthood comes with the responsibility of speaking up for the things that matter to you. Only you know what is right for you, own it, and go and get it!
Overcoming guilt starts with forgiveness for yourself. Unlock the gift of authenticity and create a life you love. It may not be easy at the beginning, but worthwhile things never are, so don’t fear making the tough decisions. Stand up for the things worth fighting for in life. If you leave with the certainty that you are doing the right thing for you, eventually, loved ones will embrace it. Believe in all the amazing things you are capable of!