This subject is one area in which Disney movies hit the nail on the head. When relating to your parents, one of the most complex decisions is whether to follow your own dreams for your life or theirs.
When debating whether or not to follow your passion or your parents’, it’s essential to consider why they feel the way they do. From there, you can better understand how to respect opinions without fearing you’ll regret your choices.
Chances are, your parent’s control comes from a good place. By understanding that, you’ll be better suited to take your own steps into the world.
Understanding Their Perspective
Unless your parents have a history of abuse (in which case, ignore ALL of the advice below), deep down, they just want what’s best for you.
It’s easy to see our parents as these all-knowing, all-powerful people, but the truth is, they’re only human. Like everyone, they view the world through the lens of their own experiences. When they seem controlling, that’s because they are reacting to their own lived experiences and are hoping to help you avoid any pitfalls they may have experienced.
If you’re hoping to understand their perspectives, it might pay to examine how your perspectives differ.
Age isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. If our lived experiences shape our view, it’s important to remember how much “life” you’ve got under your belt.
So, how much “life” have you got?
If you’re a teenager, go ahead and admit to yourself that, even if your parents aren’t necessarily the authority on everything about you, they do have more experience. If the root of your argument is based on critical, life-changing paths, of course, you have a right to your own opinions. If, however, the source of the debate is a point of safety, maybe you should sit this one out.
I know you like that older guy (and his neck tattoo)… but maybe take a beat to listen to your mom on this one.
If you’re an actual, real-life adult whose parents still try to control her life, it might be time to have a deeper conversation with them about this issue.
At this point, you are going to be who you’re going to be. Just as it would be pointless for you to try to change someone else, it’s a waste of your parents’ time to try to change you.
Whether you and your parents were born into wildly different countries or regions, the world they were raised into was an entirely different culture.
Even in the deep American South, where time seems to move at the speed of molasses, change is inevitable. The world your parents grew up in as they made their own life choices was an entirely different one, and that will shape their perspective.
Maybe they don’t want you to pursue that career in art because, when they were growing up, graphic design wasn’t as profitable a field as it is now. It’s possible that they don’t want you dating that girl because they remember the hardships the LGBTQ community experienced during the eighties.
Even if you choose to disregard their advice, remember to approach their perspective with passion. They’re only trying to do what they think will make your life easier, even if their advice is a bit misguided.
How to Stand Your Ground
Once you’ve decided that your parents’ well-meaning advice is not suited to your own life, you’ve got the fun chore of expressing that to them.
How fun for you!
Telling your parents that you’ve decided to follow your passions rather than their own doesn’t have to be relationship ruining. It takes patience, maturity, and a few simple steps.
Be Kind but Firm
When expressing your passions to your parents, it’s essential not to speak to them too passionately.
Ironic, isn’t it?
For real, the worst thing you can do when confronting your parents is to show an excess of emotion. Their deepest fear is that you’re making a rash, impulsive decision. Tearfully screaming at them over the kitchen table is only going to intensify their worry.
Instead, whenever the topic shows up, take this as an opportunity to show your parents how mature you’ve become.
Is it annoying to have to address the same subject over and over? Absolutely.
Regardless, you should try your best to stay patient, keep a level head, and express your views from a position of authority. Keeping a cool head will go a long way in convincing your parents that you’ve actually put thought into this decision and are capable of making the right decisions in your own life.
Don’t Make Excuses
You don’t need to. That’s not your responsibility.
As much as you may WANT to react to their nagging with a laundry list of reasons your passion is your world, you shouldn’t. All that does is open the door to more conversation.
Whenever your parents or any other relatives launch into an attack on your goals, simply reply, “I understand your concern, but this is the decision I’ve made. I hate that I don’t have your support, but this is what I’m doing.”
If you’d like to sprinkle in a few statistics about job stability in the areas of costume design at a later point, go for it. While your family is actively warning you away, however, stay the course, stand your ground, and don’t provide them any ammunition. They wouldn’t listen to it anyway.
Alleviate their Stress
Remember, your parents’ control is only borne out of worry that your dreams won’t come true. Which, unfortunately, is more likely than not.
The best way to put them at ease is to have a backup plan.
This isn’t to say that you should go into debt getting a four-year, 100,000 dollar Harvard degree you’ll never use. If you’ve already got a scholarship to a two-year community college, though, it never hurts to take advantage of the opportunity.
Two years may seem like a lifetime when you’re eighteen, but I promise it’ll go by in the blink of an eye.
While you’re at it, look into all the avenues available to achieve your dream. Being a chef doesn’t necessarily require dropping out of high school to make homemade pasta in Italy.
It can start with a few years as a line cook at your local dive. You don’t have to get a master’s in creative writing to be the next J.K. Rowling. She famously wrote Harry Potter while maintaining multiple jobs and a busy life as a single mom!
When it comes down to it, your parents only want what’s best for you. The best way to show that you’re mature enough to make your own responsible decisions is to just do the thing. Research, have a backup plan, and approach the subject of your dreams as the patient, mature adult your parents want you to be.