Dear Miss Emily:

I need your help. I want to be more independent and trust myself with my decisions. Everyone around me is so afraid that I am going to be hurt or mess up, that I’m beginning to feel unheard and constantly underestimated.  I need to make my own mistakes and  start to be more self-reliant, because I’m almost 18, and an adult. How do I spread my wings and live my life when they are constantly trying to live it for me.  I have and older sister.
In The Shadow

----------------------------Miss Emily’s advice-----------------------

Dear Shadow:

Two things will happen when you finish high school.  You will be working, or you will be going to college.  Either way, you will be put in a position to be more responsible, and your parents will, more than likely, ease off and let you live your life.  I would plan for my future now.  I would take full responsibility for seeking out, and applying for college.  If you are planning on working,  find areas of interest to you and pursue your options on training and execute the steps  you will need to take in order to have a career.  When your parents seem not to be listening, preface your remarks with “May I talk to you about something.  Can we sit down to discuss it?”  Show maturity, and have factual information at your disposal.  If your complaints seem to center on not having enough freedom and your sister gets the acclaim and the benefit of the doubt, realize that parents don't take psychological tests before they sign-up for the job of parenting and, sometimes, they are bound to make mistakes in judgment.  They're human.  Take an objective look at  who your parents are, and see if you can understand the root of their decision making.  If it seems irrational, consider the source and vow to change these perceived missteps when you become a parent.  Showing maturity is the final weapon in your arsenal of proving you are moving into adulthood with a good head on your shoulders.  Look analytical.  Buy a book on a subject relating to “How To Manage Your Life Successfully” or “Steps to a Positive Future.” Make it appear as if you are trying to map your life in a careful way.  You don’t have to be Albert Einstein or Bill Gates in order for you to get your parents to back off, just show some sophistication and keep your anger and whining under control, and you will probably succeed in ways you never thought possible.  And remember:  It’s really common for younger siblings to feel as if they live in the shadow of an older brother or sister, but you have to learn to detach yourself from the role your parents played in this, or you will spend your life never feeling as if you measure up, when you really do.