Psychological Self-Help

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Between 11 and 16, we prefer to be with friends and we seek support
from peers when we are upset, but parents are still providing us with
basic security. By age 17, most of us are enjoying friends more and
seeking support when feeling down more from friends than from
parents; moreover, over 50% feel friends (more than parents) will be
there when we need help. In the 1980's, more and more college
students have expected their parents to pay for their college
education, at least to the BA level. In hard economic times, many
college graduates return to live with their parents until they get a job.
So, becoming independent of our parents is a 18 to 25 year process.
Even after becoming independent, powerful emotional ties remain
For most of us, loving a child is one of life's most beautiful
experiences; giving someone life and helping them mature give
profound meaning to our life. Letting go of the loved child or parent
can be very hard. As Evelyn Bassoff writes, "A mother's tasks are to
create a unity with her child and then, piece by piece, dissolve it." But
all the ties can't be dissolved. Mom and Dad are embedded inside us
forever; they have enormous power over us. But we have some ability
to choose which ties to keep and which to drop. 
The process of leaving home is, for some, easy, smooth, and
exciting; both parents and children are ready for the child to mature
and become independent. Obviously, if the relationship has been
enjoyable, both children and parents will miss the closeness and good
times but realize "we can't go back." For others, leaving home is a
trauma or "just too hard," either for the child or the parent, so the
young person stays in or near "home." For others, they have to get
away; leaving home is an emotional necessity for the child, the parent,
or both. In short, there are a variety of problems when leaving home
and during the years thereafter. See chapter 9 for a general discussion
of family relations and for generally useful references. 
In recent years, there has been an avalanche of books about abuse
within the home and how to deal with the after effects (see chapter 7).
But there also has been some attention paid to the other end of the
spectrum, namely, being too loving, too protective, too indulging, too
smothering. These are parents who simply want their children to
become happy, well adjusted adults but they want it too much or give
too much in the process. Some parents worry constantly about their
child; they will do anything for their child (forgetting themselves, their
spouse, their own career, friends, other needy people); they become
frantic when the child has a problem; they are crushed if the child
rejects them or their values. In their desperation, such parents may
become demanding dictators, demeaning critics, indulging protectors,
smothering best friends, needy don't-abandon-me parents, and so on.
All designed to bind the child to them tightly. There are books for
over-involved parents and their children (Ashner & Meyerson, 1990;
Becnel, 1990), for mother-daughter relationships (Bassoff, 1989;
Caplan, 1989), for mothers when their children become troubled
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