I have to admit, I was not looking forward to writing about this particular topic. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with my role in my family! 😦 It’s gotten worse for me now that I’m “older” (I’m 27) where I feel incredibly lost trying to figure out how I feel about my own family and the intricacies and complexities of being in a family where I’ve perceived that there are so many things going wrong with not just me but my immediate family too. No one has a perfect family but I don’t have a ton of experience talking to other people about the struggles they face with their parents or siblings so it’s hard for me to believe that this kind of situation is common for most families.
My role in the family is neither a caretaker or a provider. A leadership role has never been my turf, and even more so because I’m the youngest child. I wonder if I would have turned out any differently had I been an only child or if I was the oldest child. I was very dependent on my parents when I was a child because of being conditioned to it without my parents realizing it. For example, it seemed like my parents never instilled a sense of independence in me from an early age. For them, it was more about getting stuff done and having one less problem to worry about. But also, I sense that they didn’t know how to let go and stop doing stuff for me and start allowing me to do things on my own. Something as simple as picking out my own clothes was a foreign concept to me. As late as 8 years old, I was already feeling slight anxiety if my mom wasn’t the one to choose my outfit because I was scared of doing it myself. I recall in junior high school, my dad was still helping me tie my shoelaces.
I will probably never have children of my own, so I will never experience what other parents go through, where their babies grow up and become of legal age but they still cannot help but treat them as they are five years old. I can rationalize why my parents have a hard time letting go or why they have a difficult time with abstaining from doing things for me as if I were still a little kid. They’ve had years and years to get accustomed to being habitually parental. Once I complained to someone about how irritating my dad can be with his constant mollycoddling, and this person pointed out that perhaps my dad is so used to being that way it’s not easy for him to change. I doubt he will change because it seems like the idea of change is non-existent to him. In my dad’s own words, he’s said that “I’m just too used to being this way”.
The one thing I am always in conflict with is being depended on by my parents. I wonder if I would feel differently about this if I were the eldest child instead of the younger child, or if I were their only child. At the end of the day, I know my parents can’t help but depend on me for certain things and I can’t begrudge them for it. An example is my parents don’t really speak English. My mom can speak basic English, but reading and writing it beyond the basic level is difficult for her, so there are times she prefers to ask me if she doesn’t understand something. My dad is almost completely illiterate and speaks broken English. Most of the freelance construction work he does is for Jewish people, and he often has me help him type English messages via text to send to his bosses. It’s not that I don’t want to help them. My concern is that they’re dependent on me, but I don’t know what will happen in the future where I could someday move away or no longer see my parents on a daily basis like I do now. So it’s like… I can’t always do this stuff for them when I might have bigger obligations of my own someday.
This prompt originates from this list.
Write about your role in your family.