Becoming One’s Own Mother and Father: The Difficulty of Growing Up

The most challenging aspect of individuation, of growing up, is the groundlessness breadth our feet, the fact that the universe, existence itself, doesn’t give us a blueprint for our lives; it’s our duty, and our burden, to create it for ourselves. And, that is absolutely terrifying! Jean-Paul Sartre called this existential dread: the fear of freedom.

As we get older and separate from our parents, we begin to form our own opinions, our own ideals, and our own core system of values, basing them, in part, off of the knowledge imparted to us by our parents, while founding them in our newly constituted abilities to reason; we decide what’s right and what’s wrong for ourselves, creating the cores of our identities. But, this is when it happens; it’s when self-doubt creeps in. At this juncture, we become aware of the groundlessness; we realize that our parents are no longer there, not like they have been in the past, to guide us in our most desperate hours, no longer there to make our most significant decisions for us, ceasing to shoulder the responsibility for our biggest mistakes.

Until adulthood, mistakes appear to be more tolerable and our choices less influential; but, for each of us arrives a point in which we leave the ground, springing into the cold and unforgiving arms of uncertainty. We enter a world of chaos and danger; reality sinks in. And in this moment, in this most important period of our lives, some of us run; we run as fast and as far away as we can, hoping to never return. We decide never to decide again, creating a world of suspended animation, where we take solace in our bubbles.

Avoidance is one of the major issues that I attempt to help others overcome, and it’s a major struggle for those battling depression and anxiety; avoidance, by granting the illusion of safety engenders a sense of comfort whose affect is difficult to mitigate. When we’re children, our parents tend to raise us in one of two major ways; they can help us explore the world around us, while teaching and guiding us in our mistakes, or they can overprotect us, preventing harm and, consequently, the opportunity for growth. While helicopter parenting can appear to be optimal (who doesn’t want to make sure that their children are always safe?), in reality, it stunts childhood development, preventing children from becoming the people you know they could become.

I would argue that helicoptering is a form of mistreatment, as the child is precluded from her or his natural right to grow, to individuate, to become who they have the possibility of being: the well-adjusted, self-doubting (in a moderate and healthy way), explorative, confident, loving, risk-taking, independent, moral, thoughtful, caring, person that they potentially are. True love, like Mother Nature, allows its children to grow; true love believes in them, experiencing joy in their freedom, savoring each special moment of their journeys.


  1. As someone with overprotective parents, it’s tough getting away from their grasp on you. You know, wanting to break away but realizing you do not know much about life because they never let you learn much outside the confines of their protectiveness

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I needed to re-read this today. I’m having a crisis weekend and hoping like hell I can make some changes that help me more than someone else for once. Adulting is hard, but harder when no one really lets you do it and you’re at the mercy of others all the time. Time to stand on one’s own two feet.

    Liked by 1 person

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