Pexels | Naomi Shi

I Know It's Hard To Hear But Kids Don't Generally Owe Their Parents Anything

Despite the impression you may get from this article's title, I've always been very close to my parents.

Both have taught me a lot about how to make my way in the world and the importance of showing others respect and kindness. And both before and after they helped me shape my values, they've done so much to ensure that I can safely and comfortably be myself and better yet, the best version of myself.

So with this background of love and support established, it should be understandable that one of the lessons that my mom imparted to me came as a complete surprise. Namely, that parents aren't entitled to anything from their children. Not even love.

But while that seemed radical and iconoclastic in a time when everyone else would say, "of course you love your parents" or "you have to do this for them, they're family," we're starting to hear more moderate versions of this lesson.

And while I dearly love my parents and would be happy to help them if they needed it, I've come to realize that this has more to do with who they are to me than with what their role in my life is supposed to afford them.

I hope that I've made it clear that I think it's beautiful when adult children can maintain a loving and flourishing relationship with their parents.

And as we can see in the way Hugh Jackman has reconnected with his mom after a period of childhood abandonment, this isn't impossible even in situations that often drive a permanent wedge between parent and child.

But just because attempts at reconciliation like Jackman's should be encouraged, that doesn't mean they should automatically be expected.

Unsplash | Kat J

When adults tell stories of why they ceased or strongly limited contact with their parents, it's clear in the overwhelming majority of cases that it's not a decision they made lightly.

In their upsetting and sometimes even harrowing tales, it's clear that they had little reason to feel the implicit trust in their parents that I do and the unfortunate reality is that many don't feel safe with them.

And while the case of Quentin Tarantino's relationship with his mother hardly sounded this extreme, that doesn't mean he's wrong for the boundary he set with his mother.

While the reason why she did this is arguably understandable, it's clear that his passion for devoting his life to writing was strong enough that his mother's attempts to stifle this passion when he was 12 felt like an ultimate betrayal.

So as a result, he told her at the time that when writing made him famous, he would never buy her the houses or cars that other celebrities often do. And with the exception of helping her with some trouble from the IRS, he's kept that promise.

Although Eminem has since indicated some regret over the song "Cleaning Out My Closet," the line "how dare you try to take what you didn't help me to get" showed understandably similar sentiments after his mother sued him.

And it's also important to remember that people aren't always just thinking of themselves when they become estranged from their parents.

Pexels | Naomi Shi

Certain stories have made it clear that for some, the parenting styles they experienced seemed harmful enough to them that they don't want to risk the chance of their own children being affected the same way.

Indeed, it's hardly a coincidence that so many stories of adult children going no-contact have a particular emphasis on keeping their parents' grandchildren away from them.

And even if neither parent nor child did anything to sully their relationship, there's no guarantee that they'll be particularly close later in life and that's OK.

As one mom who goes by Lisa P. said in a video discussing this possibility, "Is there a chance that they're completely not like us and don't ever want to talk to us again? I hope not but it's possible."

So while we shouldn't diminish how hard parenting can be and how sad it can feel when that work didn't lead to a lasting relationship, it's also true that the phrase "I didn't ask to be born" isn't just a bratty cliché.

It's a reminder that a child didn't enter into a contract with their parents simply by existing.

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