Can You Truly Live if You Live with Your Parents?

Click on this picture for an article by Psychology Today

I watched the Black Swan recently and Natalie Portman’s performance has pirouette-d me dizzy. What I liked most about the show is the portrayal of the relationship between the character’s mother and daughter. The character’s mother personifies many of the traits that I observe in some of my client’s parents. Love like a rose vine, beautiful yet constricting.Look at your life, your job, your work, your school, your beliefs. Are they yours? Do they truly resonate with you? Or are you living the dream of your parents? By the way, its absolutely fine if you enjoy what your parents expect of you. I know many people do, after all, if you have grown up in a certain environment, some people are bound to grow to love it. If you’re such a person, this post is not for you.

Many people are driven by expectation from their parents to do great in school and then go on to do well in life (i.e. have a Ph.D, MD or JD). When the child protests and spout dreams that defy the laws of logic to parents, the phrase “It’s for your own good” is often whispered with the utmost care and concern, almost like a gun barrel to the head. The child is bent with guilt for having dreams of their own that they fear emotional rejection if they persist. When these children grow up, they fulfill their roles out of filial piety, many grow to accept life as it is, yet deep in the hearts of some lingers a forlorn regret for not having tried. Could life have been different? Maybe…maybe even better?

Fly safe or your dreams might get shot down

Growing up in an environment that demonstrates too much care and concern all the time does not leave space for the individual to experiment with and experience life.  Even chit chat over dinner has to be censored, for the parent full of expectations actually cocks her rifle, leaving it ready to shoot down any thought balloons that contain ‘unrealistic’ ideas. Many of you have experienced this; lucky are you if you have never been through it. Little is left to chance and every thought is closely monitored by the eagle eye of their parents.

We as children have to understand: Our parents grew up in a harsher environment and did their best to provide for us for they fear we might go through a harsh time as they did. For them to want the best of us is a natural response, and we can only show them gratitude for it. Yet a sword is not made without fire. For us to self-actualize, we have to go through our own kinds of trials too. How then can we experience our own moments?

It may be hard for Singaporeans, especially when the culture is for us to live with our parents inevitably until we get married; but the solution is SPACE. Find space, personal space. Time and space to let our own thoughts incubate and hatch to something much more than just a thought. If your environment is suffocating you quietly, then move out. Don’t wait till your flame is snuffed out.

If you can’t move out due to a lack of financial resources, then take time away from home. Declare to your family your sacred time. Spend time alone to contemplate what your life is really about. Allow yourself to enter an environment where dreams can just leak and colour the grounds about you. Find your own space. Liberate your mind.

And when you do find the peace in your heart to be honest with yourself. That moment is such a liberating moment that there is nothing short of a spiritual supernova that can describe it. Take courage.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose” – Robert Byrne


This link details the relationship of the Parent and Child in detail:

2 responses to “Can You Truly Live if You Live with Your Parents?

  1. Thank you for writing this post! I’ve been following your blog for a while now, but this was the one I probably needed to read the most. I live in the US, so finding space is not necessarily a problem, but the fear of creating space is. As in, the physical capability of moving out is not as hard as the fear of what will happen to the relationship with my parents if I move out for any other reason than one they approve of (which would be for some sort of MD, masters, etc). It is getting harder and harder now that it is time to decide what to do next in my life, especially when trying to take everything into account: what my parents “advise”, parents aging, financial dependence, social/moral obligation, what I want, the guilt, and much more. I also agree about what you said regarding how we see pieces of our parents in The Black Swan- the cake scene came to mind for me.

    • Hi lily!
      Thanks for reading! It must be hard to find a clear direction when so many forces gravitate you toward them. I have talked to friends who were doctors n quit to pursue art, lawyers who became make up artists, accountants who became bakers etc and the one thing that they all have in common is the passion in their hearts. They all shared with me that in order to find out what we really want, we need to things:
      1) To listen to our hearts
      2) to experiment
      3) To give our experiment a chance
      For sometimes without trying out something, we never know whether we really like it or not and even if we try it and our first impression didn’t meet our expectations, give it a chance, for time will truly tell if you enjoy what you do.
      Think about it this way, would you rather feel guilty for not becoming the perfect child or guilty for not living life the way you want? (:

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