Parents are among the most selfless people you will encounter in your life, their love is abundant, consistent, and hopefully ever-present. But sometimes parents can be the very source of one’s greatest misery. It’s not that parents themselves are evil, but their expectations can weigh heavily on us, and the load is never truly lifted until the middle finger is raised to the sky.
I grew up in a household that placed huge importance on structure and discipline. My parents are both immensely successful; my mother is a pediatrician who manages over 70 doctors at the largest hospital in the US, and my father is a civil engineer who invests in the stock market and buys real estate for fun, then there’s me.
Long have I fought justifying the reasons I want to be myself to my parents. Let’s get one thing out of the way: I have loving, caring, and kind parents. They are no different than the many many parents who bring children into this world fearing for their safety and well-being until their last breath. But sometimes that fear turns into a monster, one that can stand in the way of life’s greatest joys.
Unfortunately, the sufferers are usually aspiring artists and entrepreneurs or anyone who simply doesn’t want to walk the beaten path. When I quoted Khalil Gibran’s “your children come through you not from you” to my mother one day, her response was, “his opinions don’t matter, he didn’t have kids.” My parents are wise to the point that the thought of arguing them exhausts me.
I’ve daydreamed about the day my father calls me and says, “life is too short Elsa, do what you love.” Alas, every time we speak on the phone the awkward introductory, “how’s work?” question, is never met with more than a “ummm…”
If you are the unlucky parent of a child with a spirit larger than life, here’s my two cents: stop crushing your child’s dreams.
You want realism? Job security and retirement are crumbling as we speak, oh and health benefits? My friend used a $40 Groupon for his dental work, and last I checked there’s nothing healthy about sitting at a desk for 8 hours, let alone stress, depression, and plain apathy. I’m extremely sick of allowing the voice in my head to run around in aimless circles because it wants to “keep the parents proud.”
It’s not fair, because at the end of the day I’m the only one suffering from those choices. Parents will guilt trip their children and warn them that if they quit their jobs to do what they love, they’ll end up on the streets begging for pennies in torn up rags, but that’s not true! The world is in our hands, quite literally. The greatest people in history will tell you the only limitations that exist are in our minds, but it’s so hard to believe that anything is possible when the people who gave you life, kill your aspirations.
So parents, please just try to have a little more faith in your children. Help them succeed by showing them that dream-fulfilment isn’t just for “the lucky ones” and by giving them honest feedback but also by recognizing their talents and nurturing them. Some people have made careers around making silly videos. I repeat: some people have made careers around making silly videos.
Please don’t be the parent that asks the rhetorical soul-crushing question, “do you know how many people actually succeed doing what they love?” And replace it instead with, “how do you plan to do it so I can help you?”