I used to believe once we reached adulthood, things would change. We’d be afforded the responsibility of taking our own decision and discovering our own path. I thought, naively, we’d live the shadow of those that came before to, perhaps, become ourselves. Instead, I have had to realize adulthood merely means being aware that there is no such thing. There isn’t some magical change once some imaginary line was crossed, and other certainly won’t. We won’t stop liking what we did. We won’t suddenly understand concepts that never made sense before. Nor will idealism just die – it’ll just be tempered, slowly, by experience.
But, perhaps more tragically, those who were supposed to prepare us for it will either dump us before we are ready, or never let go of the power their position as parents afford them.
A few days ago, a friend told me their father had threatened them with physical violence. I was angry. Livid. I wanted to tell them to not accept it. To set strong boundaries and enforce them. To leave, for it isn’t right to hit on your own child. Much less so for an authority figure, such as a policeman, to do so. But the parents are paying for their education, and while they’d be able to find a job quickly, none would allow them to escape the sphere of influence their parents have. I stayed quiet. I listened.
I’d love to think, given we’re long past being considered legal adults now, our parents would treat us as such. But, in their case, as long as they live under their parents roof, they’ll still be treated as they were. Only distance and independence will allow for a shift in perspective. But I fear their fathers behavior, and their mothers – which follows the same vein – isn’t really about seeing a child, but instead merely somebody they can inflict their will over, presented as parenting, empowered by their status as providers.
My disillusion is further compounded by blatant displays of emotional manipulation over another friend as a means of maintaining whatever control they can over them. Calling them a whore for going out with old friends on a vacation. But, above all, is just how little options there are that don’t involve derailing whatever shot at a decent future they might have. It pains me all I can even think of boils down to “keep your head down” in hopes that a job might provide a key to freedom.
Parents aren’t a special kind of adult that magically makes them a good person, just one who legally holds power over their children. And some decide to abuse that. But being an adult is also accepting that sometimes, there isn’t anything else we can do but to endure and provide a shoulder to those who suffer.