Fight Club: Why I Choose to Fight with My Parents

You should fight with people. Especially with your parents.

There's an age-old piece of wisdom that's usually offered to us with kindness and compassion:

"your parents have been here longer than you, they're not getting younger. Please be kind to them while they're still around, you'll regret it when they're gone."

This was communicated to me by a trusted person, someone I see as a living embodiment of practicality, decisions and endurance. However, my immediate response was the exact opposite, I'll explain. Convolutedly. If you're in your early to late 20s whilst reading this post your parents are probably at least in their 50s-60s, maybe even older. All from different walks of life, some with a super healthy sense of self and togetherness, others not so much. Typically, that 'piece of wisdom' tends to be the go-to for anyone trying the non-confrontational or 'this-is-beyond-me let's leave it as it is' approaches. And we understand that everyone at some stage knows what it's like to have a head full of heat after fighting with a loved one, of whichever category/proximity of your nested circles (relationships) fall into.

That's not how it's always going to pan out? Would you apply that same logic of how you were raised by your parents on the way you'll raise your kids? Yeah okay, some might feel that firm guidance is the way; some might feel that chaotic freedom is how they'll beat stupidity (let stupidity = anything your personal definition based on experience permits or compels it to be) out of their systems. But realistically, we're all going to intervene in some way: platitudes; sagely/extra-specific instructions; slyness i.e. intervening without surveillance; chillaxed/or harsh reverse psychology. Violent confrontation tends to pop into people's minds which can be either cruelty or tough love - I've felt both coming from the same people, sometimes even simultaneously, so unless you've felt the same or if you can't relate to that last one, just look at the rest. I guess I've already addressed the how(s) of my point. Now to explain the long why: fighting. I, personally, would choose to fight with my parents over and over again. And there's a simple way to explain this - would you fight over something you don't care about? E.g.

  1. Bully spits on/tears your new jacket out of spite.

  2. Someone insults your mum to hurt you.

  3. Someone laughs at your belief in praying to ancestral spirits.

  4. Strangers attack another stranger on the train.

All of these and more evoke your anger. Obviously, how you handle your anger is dependant on the individual. But the boundary is there - what's okay and what isn't? It's like shame, but it's not inwards, it's outwards to those that triggered it. Why? Because of scenarios like those four examples that were previously mentioned, somebody or something hurt somebody or something you care about. Which means that if you circle back to your parents/kids and you fight with them - who's in the wrong? You for starting the fights? Them for kicking it off? Who cares right? Wrong. Especially when it comes to your parents.

If you live with someone you love strongly, be mindful of something. Their problems have a real hazard of becoming your own. Especially after they die. The human brain is funny like that, it's not a computer at all - that is, a sporadic analogy. Our soul is an alien computer, and when you leave things unresolved (looking at you introverts, let's be honest, the term ambivert applies to all so don't just switch off if you think it doesn't concern you) the brain will store it somewhere.

You will know what I'm talking about - things people have said, things you don't remember you said, the list can go on, but you'll remember them years later. Stronger the problem, stronger the intensity, stronger the kickback. We live in an age where the phenomena of living memes and open-mindedness are more accessible than ever before, so this idea of neurodiversity, neurodegeneration and rewiring shouldn't come as a surprise at all. If it does then just google it and become aware.

Can you imagine the horror of your parents or your relatives dying, and you being close enough for them to have shared so many intimate memories of themselves with you - then for them to die and for you, to carry stuff that isn't yours? It's called intergenerational trauma, and I'm circling back to it now so that I can get back to the point. When your parents pass away, you won't receive a second chance to do something about the issues they had. I'm going to just skim this, there's too much writing and I have a to-do-list screaming:

  • Declaration (moaning) of being too old to learn to use MS Office/anything new (declaration of brain stagnation) - Inner belief: mortality. There is nothing left for me to grow in.

  • The reluctance of reaching out/ talking/ meeting family/ believing there are no such people for you, chronically; the beginnings of loneliness.

I know this is heavy - if you're still here then thanks for bearing with me. I'm going to conclude this using a sentence that I could have used to start this: Our parents tend to piss us off at times and it will continue. But if we don't fight them about it (fighting through relaxed humour is still fighting), then after their death we're going to have to revisit some of their dialogue. Whether it's because we'll be doing our own rearing, or because we'll be in our 30s, 40s, 50s etc. By that time we'll be picking up from where they left off in the human life cycle. I'd rather be able to feel a memory and relax knowing that there's nothing further I could've done and instead things ran their natural course. Maybe I've written this poorly, maybe I'm thinking about this in a very messy way, indicating (uh oh!) I'd better sort my thoughts out on this asap - have I broke this post? [shrugs shoulders]. But I think at least one person will know this is food for thought, whether that thought is suggesting I seek professional help or whether there's some merit to examining how we interact intimately with the people who gave birth to us and happen to be a few decades ahead of us in life. P.S. Let's leave it on a light note: I like to bite my loved ones - why don't you go and invite your mum or your dad to play noughts and crosses, create some art or listen to some music with you? I've been trying to trick my dad into working out while we watch TV under the pretence that it'll ease out some of his back pain during his night shifts. Peace out.