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Individual vs. The Family


New member
I'm an Asian American in her early twenties, and I'm currently trying to figure out how to deal with a sudden clash of values between me and my mom. She expects me to stay and support her as her daughter now that I've graduated college, especially since she's going through some tough times right now. However, I would much rather get as far away from home as possible, to put it bluntly. She doesn't agree with my priorities, and I'm stuck struggling with how to balance my need for individuality with my responsibilities to my family. I remember learning about a study once; it stated that people who live under their parents' roof for an extended period of time are more likely to become depressed. This is probably affected by our culture. It is not uncommon for Koreans up to their thirties to keep living with their parents; whereas for Americans, people are expected to move out sooner rather than later. No matter the culture, however, I think this is a conflict most people probably face at least once in their lives. So, to those people out there: how have you overcome this? How do you strike a balance between growing into your own person and making sure your family doesn't feel left behind?


New member
I can appreciate that challenge. I'm American, so we were encouraged to move out as soon as we wanted to really, and it was pretty clear that my mom was ready for it, too. haha! I was 21 when I moved out.

But even after moving out, I felt the pressure of family obligations. I did get tired of going to every holiday and birthday. Too many of us and I was changing. Eventually, I moved to take work out of the area, and that is when I really began to grow exponentially. It really took that separation to make it possible to think without the family filter. I was 30 years old and it was the best thing I had ever done for myself up to that point.

I think that you're in a situation where its not really about balance. It's about staking out some territory in your own life. There is no easy way to do this, or right/wrong way. It is just going to be uncomfortable no matter what you do. Whether you stay or go. So accept that part. It's better to get comfortable with the uncomfortableness - if you get my meaning.

But I don't recommend that you deny your own heart felt desire. So I would recommend that you brace yourself for going through the process of disappointing and angering and being manipulated by your mom. It's just the situation that you're in and no way to avoid it. And to do that I would just allow that reality to sink in without even making a definite plan for how you will approach it. Just let your whole being in on the awareness that this is going to be a bit of a struggle and that's healthy and natural and definitely a positive. You'll learn and grow from it, so embrace it and let it be a powerful experience for both of you guys.

Honestly, the whole meaning in life is about you coming here to shine your own light and to become who you really are. We were not meant to be extensions of our parent's lives - unless that's part of the plan for you. The very fact that you are filled with the desire to leave means its not part of your plan. For some people it would be, but not you.

I have learned to live by a calling - which means that I honor my desires. Desire is the way your own soul speaks to you about who you specifically are how you are meant to express. You must honor and trust your own desires. YOU MUST do that. That is the mandate for each one of us.

As for practicals, I find that when I have important things that need to be said, I put them in writing. That way I can express my best self and it leads to less misunderstanding later. Also, a piece of paper allows your mom to process things over time. She can return to it a few times while she goes through the accepting process.

You'll need to listen and acknowledge her concerns, of course. The process of doing that is necessary, because you are going to demand that she do the same for you. You can understand and acknowledge all that she feels, and still go our own way. If you want her to understand you, do that for her, too. But neither of you have to submit to the other - you can understand each other and also agreed to disagree. One thing that she has to accept, even if she doesn't like it, is that this is your life to live, not hers.

I hope I've offered something of value. I wish you the best with that.