Dilemma of Parent,Adult,Child Status

Though Eric Berne’s Transaction Analysis of parent,adult, child model may be archaic, I was stunned when a young music professional in a radio interview used the term “adult” for the older generation such as parents, teachers etc. She had traveled to South America and returned to Taiwan to promote S. American music, she chose to play a song of some S. American revolutionary and then proudly referred to the recent landslide election supported by her generation in the program.

Does  she still consider herself a “child” and not an adult? Do her parents still take responsibility caring for her? Was she involved in the Sunflower Movement whose participants were always referred to as “children” but mostly college students who cried and called their helicopter parents to bail them out at the police station when charged with destruction of public properties or violating some laws. A local English newspaper cited the movie “Rebels without a Cause” to describe their crippling of the economy and blamed the parents for nurturing irresponsible and irrational behavior and also the mirroring Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution. Regardless of the presidential, legislature or Taipei mayor election, the Taiwanese millennial generation orchestrated the victories with their social media savvy.

The responsibility of a parent is to care for the child and also to teach him or her to take responsibility for himself or herself and others in society. It’s not the age whether it’s eighteen or twenty-one, it’s when the child can take full responsibility for his or her own actions and secure independence in all aspects of life. The parent needs to let go of the child so he or she can learn to become an adult.

The majority of my friends in Taiwan have adult children living at home with or without jobs or caring for the grandchildren and still paying for daily living expenses for the entire household with “children”. I am probably the only one who had thoroughly enforced independent living and finance for my only adult child so he would take full responsibility for his own life, after paying for his taxes,bills and other financial obligations when all his bank accounts were down to nothing every now and then for a few years yet I live on less than US$3 a day for food and basic amenities even now. He is far ahead of his peers in having a respectable position as R&D engineer in a world renowned car company of his own choice despite his addictive collecting and compulsive shopping of expensive model cars. (Addictive behavior is very challenging whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex,internet or objects. Only those families who have experienced it would really know.) We avoided conflicts with the independence but he also avoided any contact with me. Most people would consider my decisions wrong, my child is just following his passion. The loss by inevitable choice is tragic.

Ang Lee, stay at home dad  Ang Lee with Oscar.jpeg

The world renowned director Ang Lee was probably a problematic child for his father, a high school principal . He was one to a few points shy of passing the college exam two years in a role and then attended a junior college of arts to find his passion for movies.To ensure a better future, his father insisted on his studying abroad later. Before his first success he stayed home for six years and took care of the family while his wife worked to support the household, he was probably considered an irresponsible adult child by parents from both families. Did perseverance on his passion, destiny or both account for his success? Ang Lee’s movies are charming just like his personality and life.

Around the world many parents struggle with adult children amidst economic slumps, high unemployment and all kinds of problems whether they are sweet or bitter burdens. There is a fine line between responsibility and selfish indulgence. What is choice and destiny? What is right and wrong? We all want to save others, whether they are our most beloved or strangers; but sometimes we can only save ourselves and that is the least we need to do in fulfilling our purpose in life.

“When the world is in order, one can fulfill (in life);
  when the world has no order, one can only survive.”
  Chuang Tzu