Living for Yourself vs. Living for Others

In Korean culture, it’s common for adults to be living with their parents until they’re married or even after marriage depending on different situations.  Other times, a widowed parent may be invited to live with his/her son or daughter so that they can be taken care of.

But, I feel, in America, independence is encouraged for young adults (especially after college) as seen by many students going to distant universities and living in dorms or apartments where they’ll have to make their own decisions and clean up after themselves.  I think most college graduates jump into the chance of getting a job and living by themselves, or maybe with a roommate first, to start their independent lives. That’s great for getting a jump on building character and maturing, but what about the parents?

Some people buy homes for their parents nearby, so that they can still be alone, yet together. Our parents like to be independent too in their own way, right?  Some might be too stubborn and refuse to live with their grown children and would rather have their own space and privacy. But what about the parents on the other side?  What about the ones that refuse to let their children go and believe that the outside world is too dangerous?

I suppose if you have a good relationship with your parents, this isn’t so bad. I mean, they gave you LIFE, raised you, fed you, took care of you, and bought you things.  The least you can do is stay together right?  But what if taking care of them meant sacrificing your own life? Your dreams might be thrown away or ruined because of your parent(s), even if they probably don’t mean to hold you back.  

One might find themselves in a bad situation if they decide to prioritize their own lives before their parents’. A lot of questions come up, such as: Is it okay, if no one knows you’re not helping out your parent(s)? Does it depend who knows about your situation or how much of it they know? Would it bother your subconscious and make you worry that others might label you as a “bad child”?  What if they weren’t “good” parents?  Would reasoning it out every time you feel guilty ease your mind?

Being raised and exposed to two cultures, this is something I think about on a regular basis, especially after graduating from college and starting my career.  What will happen to my mom when she can’t take care of herself?  What if it happens when I’m not ready?