Getting Practical #1: The Basics
Getting Enough Attention

Most of us can remember the day we grew up.

It was the day our parents did us the favor of being so unreasonable
that we said good-bye to our dependence on them forever
and entered into the adult world of choices.

Looking back, we realize that the unreasonable thing our parents did that day
wasn’t quite as awful as it seemed.
After all, since they are only human,
they had been at least as unreasonable many times before.

What was so special about that day was that we were ready!
We had finally matured enough to know
that we could take better care of ourselves than they ever could.

Before that day, we had always looked to our parents when we needed help.
Since that day, we have looked to ourselves first and to our “family of choice” after that.


Adults CHOOSE the people they count on for emotional support.

We look around and decide: “Who can I rely on?”

There are some relatives, some friends, even some coworkers and professionals
who have been kind, helpful, and respectful and can be counted on to treat us well.

We may not call these people “family,” but in an emotional sense they are.

This is our “family of choice.”


Many people are still dependent on their birth families.
They and their parents have conspired to continue their childhood into adult life.

Many other people transferred their dependence
to a spouse, lover, or a best friend.

If you are still dependent, ask yourself first:
“What do I think I still need from them?”.

Then ask:
“What price am I paying for being unable or unwilling
to provide this same thing for myself
on my own or through my family of friends?”

Get what you need on your own, and from many people
– not just your birth family or any other substitute.

Use your family of choice” well.
Then you will be able to have the best relationship possible
with your parents, with others, and with yourself.


Paradoxically, people who never let go of their parents
are usually people who never had true parents in the first place.
A true parent is someone who realizes it is their job to take care of their children,
and that it is not the child’s job to take care of their parents!

True parents enjoy taking care of their kids,
and don’t resent that their kids need them.
And they want their kids to reach a truly independent adulthood
with a good chance at happiness.

If you had parents who never grew up themselves,
they probably insisted that you “behave” or “succeed” or “stay out of trouble”
just like all parents do.
But they thought you were supposed to do these things for them,
not for yourself.

It’s as if you were their parent,
and you were supposed to take care of them
as if they were needy children.


“What would the neighbors think of me if they saw what you did?”

“If you loved me you wouldn’t do things like that.”

“Mrs. Caruthers down the street has a NICE daughter. She’s not like you.”

“You are going to make me lose control”!

“Come on, make Mama happy. Put a big smile on your face!”

After years of being treated like this,
it’s no wonder many adults try to justify their dependence
by saying they would grow up
“but my parents need me too much now that they are older.”
(Their parents have needed them too much since they were born!)

It’s so much easier to believe that you are being benevolent
than to face that you are still craving
the parent you needed, and never had,
and, sadly, that you never will have.


You will know when you’ve grown up emotionally when
it’s easy to tell the difference between what you need
– like air, water, food, and minimal attention –
and all the other things in life that you only want.

And you will know it is your own job to provide what you need and want.

After a while of seeing the world this way
you will even be glad
that all of this is your responsibility instead of someone else’s.

It’s wonderful to know that you are always with
the only person you need.


If your grandparents never grew up, your parents probably never grew up.
If your parents never grew up, you probably never grew up.
If you never grew up, your children may never grow up!

Please break this chain!

Let your generation be the one that says:
“There have been too many wasted lives.”

Don’t expect your children to take care of you in any way at all!

Do choose your own new “family of choice.”

Enjoy them!

Use them wisely and well!

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