Image by Shakeelgilgity

I love it when something smacks you in the face. I’m talking intangible things here, not hanging signs or flying fists. It could be a lyric, a poem or a line from a book. It makes you feel like you’re not such a mystery walking around inside an enigma. Where have I heard that before?

I’ve been reading ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ by Marina Lewycka. It’s a quirky little number. It’s about family dynamics. A father finding a new young, young bride and the adult daughters (who are in constant conflict) fighting his decision. So far so good. There was one section that word-slapped me square in the jaw because of the truth of it and now, I will share it with you. Prepare to be flawed… (or was it just for me?). Here is the exerpt:

“Every time I phone my father or my sister, it is like crossing a bridge from the world where I am an adult with responsibilities and a measure of power, to the cryptic world of childhood where I am at the mercy of other peoples’ purposes which I can neither control nor understand.”

SLAP! Who hasn’t felt like that? Everyone must go through a process of separation from the family unit into independence and, if it’s for you, a family of your own. It can be a difficult transition for everyone concerned. Sometimes the parentals are happy to be rid of the little ducklings, others hold on for as long as they can. There are naturally independent children turning into independent adults and those who can’t quite cut the cords.

Some are forced to grow up before their time and some right on time. But it is a process that often takes years for everyone to accept. So you can have a man who is a father, a provider, whose mother still sees him and treats him as a little boy. She still wants the control over him and he may rebel or revel in it.

Or there may be the adult child who is still affected by the glares and stares of her parents and lives her life in full fear or what they will think. There also may be parents who care what their kids think of them and in turn live their lives to please them. It is a vicious circle and wherever you fit in, whatever habits your family has built up, they are hard to break. Some are great, lovely, loving patterns and some can be deeply hurtful.

There is no perfect way to grow up, to walk that bridge.  Everyone has to negotiate the journey between their childhood and adulthood with their families. It is a rite of passage.

Do you have any tips for those on the bridge?