It’s really rare these days to find a child whose needs and interests align so perfectly with their parents’. What a simple world that would be, right? Your dad wants you to become a lawyer? Well, good thing you wanted to be a lawyer since birth? Your mother wants you to join a gym because your lazy ass is always at home? Good thing you’ve been a bench freak and weight control wizard since you could walk?
Funnily enough, most kids tend to be different from their parents in the most frustrating way. Oh sure, your DNA coincides with theirs so you may have the same eye colour but where things start to get different, that’s where the tension starts. Maybe Dad believes that modern day technology is just a distraction and that “working” on them for school is just a cover-up for Procrastination of the Ages. But you think that it honestly helps with your studies and it is the best way for you to learn. All that information just a click away and Dad just needs to understand this is how learning works now. Maybe Mum thinks that you’re just a teenager going through your rebellious stage and that you were raised to not fall into that trap and you should show more respect, but all you can think about is why nobody ever listens to your side of the story and that your greatest efforts are never appreciated, prompting you to think when was the last time my parents ever congratulated for getting to the stage you’re at and that when you have kids, you’ll never treat them like that.
If it wasn’t painfully obvious, I’ve pulled those out from some real life circumstances of my own. My parents love me so much and want the best for me in school and career and success. I sometimes feel though that not enough attention is given to the present. I didn’t want dinner conversations at the age of 12 to be, “You’re going to be a doctor when you’re older.” I wanted them to be about how was school, do you want help with your homework, how are you friends. I spent so much of my teen years fearing the future because I wanted to make my parents happy. They deserve that.
I scraped my way to a course I never imagined I would settle for. My life became a mess so quietly that it still shocks me. And it makes me so angry. I’m angry at my parents for putting me through that, for setting me up so much to be this perfect son that, at the time, I thought I wanted it to. Then I realised I didn’t and it fell apart. Sixth form was a joke, I made few friends, same story at university. I’m doing a course I don’t like and only because it was close to the standard of the job my parents desired for me as I could get.
People will say that teen years and early twenties are the best years of your life. They are right and I found out the hard, painful way. I need to get a job in three years, maybe married soon after that, kids after that. I threw away these years, these amazing years to make my parents happy. At the time, I thought that was what I wanted, after everything they have done for me.
Now, I see there are other ways. Don’t live the lives your parents want to make them happy or proud, it doesn’t work. Learn to do what you love, love the life your parents have provided for you in the way that makes you happy. Cherish the years you have of your youth with your parents, they’re the best memories with your family that you will get. Ultimately, Mum and Dad want you to be happy and maybe at times they won’t understand. Have faith in yourself and they’ll have faith in you. Love yourself a tenth of the amount they care for you and you’ll be fine. Don’t live in their image, make your own.
Love you, Mum.
Love you, Dad.