Growing Up Emotionally

Self-Therapy For People Who ENJOY Learning About Themselves


Most of us can remember the day we grew up.

It was the day our parents did us the favor of being so unreasonable that we said good-bye to our dependence on them forever and entered into the adult world of choices.

Looking back we realize that the unreasonable thing our parents did that day wasn't quite as awful as it seemed. After all, since they are only human, they had been at least as unreasonable many times before.

What was so special about this day was that we were ready!

We had finally matured enough to know that we could take better care of ourselves than they ever could. Before that day, we had always looked to our parents when we needed help.

Since that day, we have looked to ourselves first and to our "family of choice" after that.


Adults CHOOSE the people they count on for emotional support. We look around and decide: "Who can I rely on?"

There are some relatives, some friends, even some coworkers and professionals who have been kind, helpful, and respectful and can be counted on to treat us well.

We may not call these people "family," but in an emotional sense they are. This is our "family of choice."


Many people are still dependent on their birth families. They and their parents conspired to continue their childhood dependency into adult life.

If this is your situation, the first thing to ask yourself is: "What do I think I still need from them"?

The second thing to ask yourself is: "What price am I paying for being unable or unwilling to provide this for myself"?

Get what you need on your own. Then you can have the best independent friendship you can possibly have with your parents.



Paradoxically, people who never let go of their parents are usually people who never had "true parents" in the first place.

A true parent is someone who realizes it is their job to take care of their children, and that it is not a child's job to take care of their parents!

They enjoy taking care of their kids, and don't resent that their kids need them.

And they want them to reach true, independent adulthood with a good chance at happiness.

If you had parents who never grew up themselves, they probably insisted that you "behave" or "succeed" or "stay out of trouble" just like all parents do.

But you were supposed to do these things for them, not for yourself.

It's as if you were their "parent," and they were desperately needy children.


"What would the neighbors think of me if they saw what you did?" "If you loved me you wouldn't do things like that." "Mrs. Caruthers down the street has a NICE daughter. She's not like you." "You are going to make me lose control"! "Come on, make Mama happy. Put a big smile on your face!" After years of being treated like this, it's no wonder many adults try to justify their dependence by saying they WOULD grow up "but my parents need me too much now that they are older."

(Their parents have needed them too much since they were born!)

It's so much easier to believe that you are being benevolent than to face that you are still craving the parent you needed, never had, and, sadly but almost surely, never will have.


If your grandparents never grew up, your parents probably never grew up. If your parents never grew up, you probably never grew up. If you never grew up, your children may never grow up! Please break this chain! Let your generation be the one that says: "There have been too many wasted lives." Don't expect your children to take care of you in any way at all!

Do choose your own new "family of choice," and use them wisely and well!

next: Self-Love

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 28). Growing Up Emotionally, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Last Updated: March 29, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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