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To Be Honest: Kids Are Not Therapists

Graphic by Sam '15
Graphic by Sam ’15

. However, the point at which our parents’ decisions become our responsibility is when we choose whether or not to overcome their negative impacts.

When people bring children into the world, they assume the responsibilities of shielding their children from corruption and doing all that they can to help their kids prosper. Because parents are human, however, they do not always fulfill these responsibilities, and one of the ways they fail to do so is by causing their children to assume responsibilities that should belong to the parents. Whether this is because a parent has openly blamed his or her child or simply because a parent has not put in an effort to overcome obstacles, children usually end up trying to solve their parents’ problems and blaming themselves when they cannot.

My aunt, along with many other adults, often criticizes her childhood. She lived in a household with a semi-present addict father and a clinically depressed mother. Her mother often explained her sadness to my aunt and assumed she was mature enough to handle it. This caused my aunt to feel responsible when her mother and father remained troubled, which she thought was because of her own failure to help them. Only in her adult life was she able to recognize that this was inappropriate and that her parents provided her with an unstable childhood. Emotions are never “wrong,” and my aunt’s anger at her parents is completely justified and even healthy; however, dwelling upon it is unproductive. She never had any control over her parents’ choices, and while it is tempting to wonder what could have been had she been offered more stability, it can also create fruitless bitterness and resentment.

We have an impact on many people in our lives, but that does not mean that we have the duty or even ability to change them or solve their problems. People can only be responsible for themselves. This means that while children are not responsible for their parents’ choices, they are responsible for how their parents’ choices affect them. It also means that if children have not worked or are not working through their issues once they reach adulthood, they can end up affecting their own children in the same way that they were affected. Like the environment and the national debt, one’s issues will be passed to the next generation in a never-ending cycle until someone chooses to address the problems and resolve them. Not all of our issues originate from our parents, but those that do, like all problems, must be dealt with