By law, teenagers can independently get a job from the age of fourteen and become fully capable at eighteen. Despite the fact that adult life is just around the corner, not everyone can muster the strength to move away from their parents and start living separately, even if they really want to. Aif.ru talked to family psychologist, gestalt therapist Ekaterina Kalinchukto understand why it is so difficult for teenagers to separate from their parents.
Separation from parents
The issue of separation is a rather large topic not only about the teenager himself, but also about his family, about society as a whole. In Russia, an atmosphere of togetherness has been maintained for many years. People lived according to a clear, predetermined plan: kindergarten, school, college, university, then work. A dentist came to school and checked the condition of the teeth, and the whole class of teenage girls and boys went for an annual medical examination. At work, a person was put on a waiting list for an apartment, and he just had to wait in the wings. All previous generations lived in fusion not only with their parents, but also with society as a whole. Today’s youth have no one to follow as an example in this matter. Add to this a huge selection and a market economy. All this adds uncertainty and increases anxiety.
If you look at the past from the other side, then before people did not listen to themselves. Now reflection is actively developing and adults are beginning to understand themselves more. This has its downside: parents pay a lot of attention to understanding their children, abandoning their desires. This gives the child the illusion that all the blessings of the world are prepared for him. Because of this, he is not very eager to face difficulties and go out into the big world. To understand separation, it is important to understand: parents hold their children or the children themselves hold on to their parents. Depending on the scenario, necessary decisions need to be made.
How can a teenager separate from his parents?
This question requires specific action from the respondent: “Teach me what to do. Where can I get money? How can I earn money? Give me clear instructions.” It’s like going up to your mother and saying: “Mom, rent me an apartment. I want to live separately.” The production itself already contains a passive position of the questioner and an attempt to shift responsibility for his life to another. At such a moment, it is important to take a step back and look at what is currently happening to the young man. To do this, you need to answer a number of questions: “How do you feel next to your parents? Why do you want to move away from them? What are you ready to do for this? What benefits and disadvantages do you have in the current situation?” This is important to do in order to separate an accomplished teenager from one who is not yet emotionally ready for adulthood. The first one already has all the answers in his head: “I want to be an astronaut, for this I need… Therefore, I will do…” Then he will begin to do something to implement his plan. The second one tries to say through his questions: “I’m still small. Take me in your arms.” This is precisely what does not need to be supported, but it is worth dealing with what does not allow the child to rely on himself. Otherwise, adults risk creating a codependent coalition with their child, which will never allow him to grow up.
How can a teenager become an adult?
In order for a young man to separate from his parental family and become independent, he must develop an internal understanding of himself: what I am, what my character is, who I am as a man or as a woman, what suits me, what doesn’t suit me, what I love, what I have boundaries, how I communicate with other people, whether I can ask, take, hear, give, how I can earn money and how much, how I am useful to other people, and so on. The more a teenager understands about himself, the more clearly he sees himself and his needs, the more fulfilled he becomes inside, and his boundaries become clear both to himself and to others. He clearly understands what skills he still lacks for independent living. Such a teenager will boldly tell his parents: “I went to try. If anything happens, I will signal you so that you can support me.” This state is characterized by inner calm. There may be fear, but it does not prevent you from moving forward. If a teenager doesn’t know anything about himself, then most likely his desire to move away from his parents will be accompanied by a strong feeling of unbearable anxiety.
I want to, but I DO NOT want to leave my parents!
The main feature of today’s generation is that young people do not want to grow up and take responsibility, despite the fact that they actively talk about how they would like to move away from their parents as soon as possible. They grumble but do nothing to separate themselves. Quite often this is supported by the parents themselves. They cook breakfast, wash their children’s clothes, give them money, saying: “How will you live alone? You can’t handle it. You are still small.” It scares. The young man would agree to move out, but on the condition that his parents rent him an apartment and pay for his life. This suggests that the child has not yet gone through all the age-related crises within himself. And history will confirm this when you start offering him options, and he finds reasons not to leave his parents or throws up more problems that someone should solve for him.
I would move out, but I don’t have the strength
When a teenager says that he has no strength and desire, a lot of anxiety and worry arises for him. The first thing you want to check is whether all his needs, desires and feelings are not suppressed. To do this, you need to answer the questions: “What does he feel? What does he want? How does he independently satisfy his desires? Are there suppressed feelings that take up all your energy? How hostile does he see this world and people? Does he have friends and adults other than his parents that he can lean on?” A teenager’s state of lack of strength may be due to the fact that adults completely ignore the needs and interests of their child. Any healthy person has a lot of energy to satisfy his desires. When this happens, the body gets high and says: “Let’s do something else.” If a teenager resembles the heroine of a Russian fairy tale, who repeated: “It’s all the same whether it’s will or not,” then you should deal directly with his condition, and not try to find the answer to the question of how to move away from his parents. Ideally, you can seek help from a psychologist to support and rule out depression or a depressive state. If there is no such opportunity, then you need to start asking yourself questions: “What opportunities are there around? Who can you ask for help and support? What do I know about myself? What can I already do? What skill do I still need to develop? What beliefs do I have about life without parents? What am I afraid of facing? Do I believe in myself or do I think that I can’t handle it on my own?” A teenager needs to explore himself a lot to make his self-image clearer. This will add clarity, courage and strength.
Is there a difference in the separation of a guy and a girl?
There is a difference in raising a boy and a girl. When leaving the parental family, it is important to look not at what gender the child is, but at how full the teenager is internally. The process of separation is accompanied by the process of individuation, filling the image of “I”. If mom and dad raised a child anyhow, and at eighteen they pushed him out the door with the words: “You are already an adult. Live on your own,” this is about some abandonment and possible traumatization of a teenager. He, of course, will survive and somehow cope with this, but in reality he is not very ready for adult life. It’s much better not to throw it away, cutting off the ends, but to leave some possibilities, saying: “You can handle it. You can do it”. Before doing this, do not forget to check how much the child can serve himself in everyday life: cook, clean, wash, iron, and so on.
If we look at an example, we can say to the young man: “You are already a grown-up boy, and I don’t want to endure your nightly parties. Let’s decide. I am ready to give you x rubles per month for the first year. During this time, we will see how you get on your feet, how much you earn, because then I will gradually begin to cut this amount.” The process of smooth separation is similar to the zone of proximal development for a small child: first the parents do everything together with the children, then they only help, then the child does it and the parents watch, and only then the child does everything independently without supervision. The most difficult thing in the process of gradual separation is not to start acting on the child’s complaints, helping him every time, but to remind him: “I believe that it’s difficult for you, but you can handle it.”
What to do if your parents are tired and you don’t have the money to move out?
If a teenager really wants to move away from his parents, he works, but there is not enough money, then you can prepare an escape plan: “What amount do I need? Who can I rent an apartment with? How many years will it take? Understanding the situation will support and motivate. In order not to go into a depressed state due to constant containment of negative feelings, it is necessary to enlist the support of other people to whom you can come and complain: “How they got me!” Then continue to think what else can be done to speed up this process. To justify the unbearable situation in the family, we can say that such an environment is more favorable for quickly separating a teenager from adults than an overly nice and caring environment. You can’t say to “kind” parents: “You’re sick of me. I’m leaving.” The various hooks of parental care impose on the child a feeling of shame and guilt, from which it is difficult to separate. This is how forty-year-old daughters or sons live with their parents, serving their fears and hopes.