How to Walk Confidently In Your Independence, When Your Family Still Thinks You’re a Kid Terri September 20, 2015 The past two years have brought about monumental life changes for me. But to my surprise, these great life changes were followed by challenging experiences that I thought would break me! My husband always jokingly says that my family thinks I’m baby Jesus. They are extremely proud of me and they let me and everyone else know, any chance they get. I’m very close to my family and although I’m not the baby, I’m treated as such. Probably because I’m my parents’ first born and everyone sort of watched me grow up. The constant reminders about how I used to sleep on my uncles chest as an infant or how I used to run up on the pulpit with my grandfather when I was a toddler, never gets old… and I get it. I didn’t always get it, but watching my siblings (aka my babies) grow up, has given me a glimpse of what my parents, grandparents and close family members see when they watch me flourishing into a woman. The Engagement It all started when I got engaged in 2013. A few of my family members had some unwarranted and unnecessary comments about my engagement and my fiancé, which I sort of delved into on the blog. That was nothing compared to what I faced next! About 6 months after I got engaged, I decided to move in with my fiancé because of some work issues that I was experiencing on the job and plus we felt ready to make the big move. Initially I didn’t share this with my family because I just knew that I’d be judged. I’d get unsolicited comments and I didn’t feel as though I needed their approval. I come from a very religious family and… you know how that goes. The Wedding Date In the fall of 2014 when I told my family that my fiancé and I had chosen our wedding date, all hell broke loose. The two people that I counted on to be in my corner weren’t. To make a long story short, my mom was still in jail at the time and most likely wouldn’t be released in time for the wedding. Being the respectful daughter that I am… I wrote her a heartfelt letter explaining to her that I didn’t intend on putting my life on hold and waiting until she was released to get married. No one had any idea when she’d be home and my fiancé and I started mapping out our future. In addition, I really wanted to get married on July 21st since it’s my dad’s Death Anniversary. Re-purposing that day meant the world to me. The Drama Needless to say, my mom didn’t receive my message well. She called my grandmother and they were both extremely hurt and disappointed with my decision. They felt as though I should have waited until my mom got home to get married. I remember second guessing myself, wondering if I should change the date. My mom didn’t call me for months and my grandmother wouldn’t answer my phone calls. I was so hurt and I felt so alone. At a time when my loved ones were supposed to be celebrating with me… they shunned me. After a month or so I finally spoke to my grandmother and had a heart to heart. I’d had one of those “I’m grown” talks with my mom when I was 18, but I never really needed to have one with my grandmother until now. The Talk The talk was so awkward, so tense, so real but so necessary. Through tears I told my grandmother how her actions made me feel and I explained some of the points that I’m going to share with you below. My mom and I finally spoke and a few months after my wedding date announcement, everyone started to come around. It was a long, depressing process BUT I’m so glad that I was steadfast in my resolve to have my wedding day on July 21, 2015. Ultimately, my family understood where I was coming from but it took me having difficult conversations and reminding them of a few things before they got to that point. If you’re in a similar space in life and it seems that your family is constantly babying you or trying to control aspects of your life, take a look at the tips below. Sometimes it’s necessary to stand alone in your independence in order for your family to respect you and your decisions. 1. Your family will only treat you the way that you demand to be treated Now don’t get it twisted, I have the utmost respect for my parents, grandparents and the elders in my family, however, I do believe that as we grow older, there’s a certain level of mutual respect that should be reciprocated. In one of my previous posts I briefly touched on a situation where a prominent male elder in my life would joke around and call me ugly. Being as though I struggled with low self-esteem and considering the reverence that I have for words, their power and their affect on my life… I had to pull him aside and ask him to stop. I’m not confrontational and I’d much rather avoid conflict but in order for me to walk into my independence confidently, I had to become comfortable having difficult conversations with the people that I love. 2. Go With Your Gut and Stick to Your Guns Whether you’re deciding on a new career or a relocation, trust yourself and be steadfast in your decision. If you change your mind that’s ok but be sure to be true to yourself. Sometimes you have to stick to your guns in order to gain their respect. If you follow your heart and seek out happiness, I’m sure they’ll come around eventually. 3. Humble Yourself and Pick up the Pieces On your journey to walking in your independence there will be times when you make mistakes and that’s ok. Just be sure to humble yourself, take responsibility and move forward gracefully. When I was in college I was in a very unhealthy relationship and as you can imagine, my family was very vocal about their opinion on my relationship and my boyfriend at the time. In this situation I actually knew that dude wasn’t good for me but I wanted to prove to my family that I could make decisions on my own and I wanted to force them to respect me and my relationship. I was dead wrong. I burned a lot of bridges trying to prove myself. Once I finally broke up with oh boy, I had to pick up the pieces that I had scattered behind me. The craziness that this relationship brought into my life is now a running joke between my friends and family and I. Remember that mistakes can be stepping stones in your journey. They don’t define you. 4. Remind Your Family of the Following If you’re looking for just the right words to say when confronting an overstepping loved one, try these: “You raised a competent woman who is more than capable of making good decisions for herself. I appreciate your concern but I can handle this.” “I appreciate you but I can assure you that I’m ok. If I wasn’t I promise, I’d let you know.” “You’ve always been a great role model and this is my chance to walk in my independence and make decisions for myself. If I need you or your advice along my journey, I’ll be sure to reach out. I don’t want to be robbed of an opportunity to grow and learn.” Shoot if worse comes to worse just say, “I’m grown.” Let’s Chat: Have you ever had one of those “difficult” conversations with a loved one about overstepping their boundaries? How’d you handle it? What advice do you have for someone trying to come into their own in the midst of entitled family members?