How the transition from ‘teenager with parents’ to ‘adult with parents’ is like playing Xbox on Level: Hard

Sometimes the transition into adulthood, especially in a family environment, is long and gradual. Other times, I feel it is more of a sudden lurch as if I have suddenly missed a step and am attempting to find the ground. It is, as it was said previously, like a Rubik’s cube. Yet I feel it necessary to make this more relevant for generation Y and instead liken the transition into a complicated game on Xbox.

Have you ever stood in front of a television and attempted to mirror the movements of a figure on the screen while playing one of these games? Each time you complete something correctly you are rewarded with points, but fail to match the screen and you are left with nothing.

Actually, this is not true. If you are playing with others you will probably be left with some embarrassment, laughter and possibly a vendetta against the rest of your friends as you look forward to watching them misstep to Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ on Dance Central. Ultimately, until you have practiced these movements over some time, you will look more like a duck rather than a competent dancer.

I feel as though transitioning into the mindset of an adult within your own family is much like this. Both the young adult and the parent will inevitably face the task of copying each other’s movements. Often the other will be perceived as old fashioned, too provocative or even shameful.

Yet we are given the task of learning to appreciate and at times mirror these movements- these differences that now define these individuals in the family unit as their own person. They determine their own movements and choose how to respond to those of their family members.
This transition will take time, much like the time it will take as you increase your ability to mirror the movements on a screen. Sometimes these movements we are each trying to replicate or even understand are slow and gradual.

We understand how they have developed and why they are being performed in such a way. When this occurs, it is perhaps simpler to appreciate our parents. We see them as separate entities to ourselves, and so we must learn to be gracious and appreciative of the differences in their actions and words. Perhaps we will even notice similarities in how we both do things. But still there are other times this transition is more like dancing to Nicki Minaj on level: hard. In other words, members of the family are asked to pop, lock, push, pull, jump, punch and kick intensively, sometimes without warning; and they are asked to do it together.

There will inevitably be conflict in these times. The parent may want to jump when their child insists on doing a back kick combo. Other times the parent may feel completely dumbfounded as they watch their child complete these new, somewhat questionable movements, without any thought to what their parent’s opinion is. As a young adult baring a different colour on the Rubik’s Cube to my parents and as the choreographer of my own life, I would agree that a successful transition involves both courage and humility for both child and parent.

The Courage to:

• Dance to the beat of your own drum and navigate life on your own terms, rather than by your parent’s expectations.

• Speak up for yourself when you feel you are being treated as a child rather than an adult.

• Admit your struggles to your parents when needed and listen to their advice.

• Physically and mentally remove yourself from the home and begin to form your own life.

• Determine your own values, actions and behaviours and take responsibility for these.

The Humility to:

• Listen to your parents and allow them to express themselves, even when you might disagree with them.

• Have a conversation so you might understand their point of view.

• Accept that this transition is hard for your parents, be kind and work with them as you both seek to navigate it.

• Accept that in some capacity your parents will always see you as their ‘baby’. This does not have to make you dependent on them; it means they have a unique and intimate connection with you. Respect this and allow them to be a part of your life. Learn the healthy medium between the role of child and self-sufficient adult.

• Befriend your parents and get to know them as adults.

• Be gracious when they fall into their old patterns or behave in ways you don’t understand or disagree with.