*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
The love between parents and children is unconditional and is often given as an example of pure affection, a bond that can't be broken. The love will be there for life but is that compatible with living separately?
What if the parents always expect their kids to be there, in the same space?
My friend Alicia is dealing with a particularly difficult situation with her dad, Aaron. She's 20, and she wants to start living on her own, but he won't hear of it.
"I can't even start to explain why I need this change. He will instantly get defensive and tell me he took care of me all these years and that I'm ungrateful," she said.
Alicia's mom passed away ten years ago, and since then, it's always been her and her dad. They've made a great team, with him coming to all her games and plays, taking her to practice, riding bikes, and going on mountain trips.
"We've always been close, and I value his advice and all the things he taught me. I just want to see I can stand on my own feet and build my own life. And I'm not going to disappear; I will always visit and go for picnics," Alicia explained.
Her dad doesn't feel positive about her idea at all.
"I don't want her to be too independent. Who will take care of me?" Aaron said.
While it's true he was always dedicated to buying her treats, the best organic food, adding presents whenever she wanted something, or just enjoying nature together, Alicia feels she's missing out on life by staying home permanently.
"I want to be close to him, but I also want my friends. And I'm dating someone, and I want to see where that leads. I can't stay at home all my life, and that doesn't mean I don't love my dad. I will always help whenever I can," she shared.
Alicia feels this might be a reaction connected to losing her mom.
"It's like letting her go all over again. But he doesn't understand that I won't leave him, just sleeping in a different house. And he can come over too for as many visits as he wants. We can cook together, and I'll bring him takeouts from the places he likes," she said.
Aaron got very upset about her idea and has been getting annoyed a lot whenever she tells him she's going to check out places to rent.
"He hasn't ever wanted to come with me to look them over and won't offer any advice. I can only count on my friends for this move, and it feels unfair. I thought we were together for everything," Alicia said.
She plans to move out in 2 months, but it might be sooner, depending on how many arguments happen.
"I can't stand arguing for every little thing. I feel it's on purpose, and I want this change in my life to be positive. If my dad doesn't feel up to being a part of it, I will probably stay away for a while until he calms down. I do hope we can have fun again," she concluded.
Do you think it's ok for parents to demand their kids stay at home when they're older in case they might need someone to take care of them? Does that take into account their kids' needs or just their own?