Editorial Note: Coastal Lifestyle Magazine reached out to a local millennial dealing with the burgeoning pressures of young adulthood. We asked this person to write a straight-from-the-heart letter to their parents explaining, in their words, how they feel about growing up in today’s society, and what they need from their parents to continue their journey through life.
It is one thing to read similar thoughts in a medical journal or another article, it is another thing to hear the voice of the person writing this letter to their parents. As you read this letter, listen from the perspective of this being a letter to you from your child.
Dear Mom and Dad,
First off, we love you both very much and are grateful to have you in our lives when many people the world over don’t have that luxury. We understand how difficult it must be to raise a child and can’t imagine the levels of responsibility and stress you must have looking out for our well-being. Always wanting to steer us in the right direction, telling us right from wrong, what we should and shouldn’t do – essentially directing our lives.
This works during our infantile and childhood stages of life when we have yet to develop real cognition and a sense of self. Inevitably, as we grow into adolescence and young adulthood, so do these previously undeveloped feelings of our own person. With our newly developing self-identity, we become aware of our likes, dislikes, goals, aspirations, hopes, worries, anxieties, etc. Simultaneously, we are dealing with pressure and stress yet – from the parent perspective – what pressure could we possibly have to deal with at our young age, especially when compared to the pressures of child-rearing.
To us, these pressures can seem overwhelming. Aside from obvious pressures from school and perhaps work, we have to deal with pressure from our peers, any sports or clubs we may be affiliated with, parental expectations, and now – more prevalent than a decade ago – the pressures of society.
The pressure placed on us from society is daunting, especially with the explosion of the Internet and social media, which continually inundates us with what they deem as societal norms. We constantly compare ourselves against sometimes unattainable or unrealistic imagery. The combination of all of this creates a climate within us that can easily lead to high anxiety and depression.
A cathartic and positive way to deal with these feelings is to express them verbally with another person, which is why therapy has been a beneficial tool to help cope with growing depression. But why should we have to go to an outside source for solace when we should be able to find it at home with the people we’ve known the longest – our parents?
One of the keys is to transition from that parent-child mentality to one that is more person-to-person. When we express our feelings, we want to have a conversation with someone who is open, understanding, and empathic without harsh judgmental, negative, and/or commanding overtones. A surefire way to infuriate and deter someone from ever opening up and sharing their feelings is to tell them what they did wrong, or what they should have done, or make any comment that causes a sense of inferiority.
Pointing out a person’s flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings when they are attempting to express their feelings of anxiety and depression only compounds the issue and raises their sense of inadequacy. Instead, be a person who listens, is emotionally and mentally supportive, connects with us eye-to-eye, and offers advice when asked for advice. Sometimes, we just want to feel what we feel, and we don’t want anyone to try and fix or give their opinion about the issue. Just the thought of knowing that there is someone who we can talk to freely and honestly without judgment can be comforting enough to quell some of these anxious thoughts – and what better person than our parents to be one of those people.
Please realize that we are transitioning from the child you used to direct into a young adult who needs to live their own life. We will eventually want to have meaningful conversations with you on the same level instead of the parent-kid dynamic. Sure we will make mistakes along the way – who hasn’t – but realize that they are our mistakes from which to learn. Trust that you taught us enough in childhood to be successful in adulthood.
Read more from Coastal Lifestyle Magazine’s Millennial Mindset Series.