This is a story shared by people who work at a very good daycare with extremely experienced staff.
Usually, kids take one or two weeks to get used to daycare. At first, they cry and ask for their parents, but, eventually, they start loving their new little friends and the great activities they are offered, and you have to drag them out of the daycare in the evening, kicking and screaming. (I’ve seen this with my own eyes.)
One kid, though, just couldn’t get used to daycare. One month, two months, three months, he just cries all day long. And he’s not an infant. They boy is a toddler and his peers already talk, walk, play games, have friends, etc. But this boy just cries and cries. The daycare workers are baffled because they’ve never had such a case.
One day, the boy’s mother comes and sees that he is crying even harder than he usually does.
So she whips out her breast right there, puts it into the boy’s mouth, and starts breast-feeding him. Right there, in front of the other kids from his group, the daycare workers, and the other parents. And the kid immediately calms down.
“Finally, we realized what was going on and why the kid couldn’t get used to daycare,” one of the daycare workers says. “The boy was experiencing a cognitive dissonance that his brain was not yet ready to process. On the one hand, he was asked to be a toddler who goes to kindergarten every day, who is expected to have some degree of autonomy and toddler-level skills. On the other hand, though, he was receiving the message that he is a babe in arms who is breastfed and who has not begun the process of separation from his mother even on a basic physiological level.”
I’m telling this story because, in my opinion, it exemplifies an attitude that many parents exhibit towards their children. On the one hand, they monitor their every move, call their college professors to argue about the kids’ grades, criticize their choices endlessly and then genuinely wonder why the 22-year-old kid has planted him or herself in their basement with no plans to move out and start an independent adult existence.
Of course, this plays out the other way round, too. If you expect your parents to treat you as an independent adult, it’s really important to be one. So you’ll kind of have to move out of that basement, or at least make efforts in that direction, if you want your adult choices to be respected.