Flash Friday: How Do Family Relationships Change As You Get Older? (Part I)

Today is Flash Friday – when 40:20 Vision tackles an issue from both the 40-something and 20-something perspective. Joining me on this mission is Molly Ford of Smart Pretty and Awkward. We’ve had a great response to this month’s topic of how family relationships change from 20 to 40. It’s certainly something every woman can relate to.

Today I’m sharing the 20-something perspective from Molly’s side –how family relationships fit into the evolving view of the 20-something self. For this month only, I’m sharing the 40-something perspective next Friday…so tune in to find out what’s ahead. I have to confess…I have some wonderful answers from the other side but being away with family for an extended holiday I will have to summarize the response next week. And I love the insight that Molly brings forth…so I’m happy to let it stand on it’s own!

The 20-Something Perspective, by Molly Ford

Family plays a changing role in our lives as we age, ranging from caretakers to role models to friends to dependents.

For 20-somethings, who are in various stages of transitioning from teenage dependencies to adult independence, relating to your family in a decade of change can be both challenging and rewarding, and varies greatly based on simply who is in your family and who you consider close to you.

Many 20-somethings are discovering that family relationships are cyclical. Mandy, 23, a freelance writer, says:

“When I was about 16, going through my crazy teenager phase where I knew everything and wanted little to do with my parents, my stepdad sat me down at the table and said, ‘You know, daughters leave their parents when they’re about 14 and they come back at 24.’ I’ve never known something to be so true. I’m turning 24 this February and I have to say, I’m growing closer to my parents every day.

I see our relationship changing from this awkward, trying-to-figure-out-how-we-fit-since-we’re-now-all-adults thing to a comfortable, easy sort of relationship where there’s a lot of support from both sides. My parents ask me for an opinion. They share more things with me. There’s a different kind of friendship that creeps in.

As I get older, I know that things will become more equal. Instead of being the taken care of, we’ll take care of each other. We’ll share more. We’ll be more honest and less afraid of saying how we feel and what we think. And then, a long ways down the road (I hope), it’ll turn into me taking care of them, giving guidance and the support that was once given to me.”

The cyclical pattern of being cared for to being friends to being the caretaker starts to become clearer in your 20’s.The middle stage of becoming friends is how many 20-somethings describe this decade of family relations. Juliana elaborates on this positive approach towards family relationships as she gets older, saying “I have an incredibly supportive relationship with my fam. They are my best friends and I can only see us getting closer [as time goes on].”

The 20’s decade is also the time when many 20-somethings leave the nest for good, and may be moving to other areas of the country. The trouble with being far away from family is you can lose the day-to-day trivia that comes with living or seeing people face-to-face each day. Video chatting and frequent phone calls can help bridge the gap, but Lora concurs with the trouble of being so far apart, saying “Family relationships are great now, but hard with everyone being so far apart.”

Lora anticipates further changes will happen when career and children come into the picture, and family relationships can get more difficult as everyone has to adjust to new roles. The child usually begins to become a manager of others (like their own children), and the parent stepping into retirement or stepping aside into the grandparent and a secondary role.  It is an evolving process.

Forty-somethings: How have your family relationships changed as you aged?

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