Advice Male Perspective

The Male Perspective: Dealing with Parental Expectations

Most parents only want the best for their children and everything they can to provide them with the best opportunity for a bright future.  Where things differ is the approach each parent takes in order to ensure their children have a good life.  There are often examples where parents try to push expectations onto their children of what they should do for a living, who they should marry, and how they should raise their own children.  For the child this can lead to the questioning of their self-worth, confusion, depression and resentment towards their parents.

Figuring out how to deal with parental expectations can be one of the most difficult things you ever do because often you feel torn between the love you feel for your parents and wanting to please them, and wanting to follow the path in life that you know is right for you.  Which is the right answer?  Well the thing you have to keep in mind is that you are the one who ultimately has to pay the price for any decisions made in your life, and if it is your parents making those decisions you will usually always feel resentment towards them for the sacrifices you have to make.  Most people will also fail to put their whole heart and soul into an endeavour that has been forced on them and will be generally unhappy.  So really the only choice many are able to make is to choose their own path and not the one their parents wanted for them.

Making this choice will sometimes lead to parents openly criticizing their children and even attempting to berate or guilt them towards what they see as the correct path.  Yet, it’s vital to stay firm on your decision for your own self-worth.  By doing so, you are not disrespecting your parents, but rather trying to become your own person.  You need to remember that you shouldn’t be ashamed for making such a choice no matter what your parents say.

However, to reach a more harmonious situation with your parents you need to critically look at why your parents are trying to push you down a particular path.  Is it because of something that happened in their lives?  Is it because they want you to take over the business they started so they can retire?  Do they want you to date someone because of pressure from one of their friends?  Are they pushing you down a path because it’s something they weren’t able to achieve during their own lives?  Understanding your parents’ motivation will give you a greater opportunity to be able to figure out how to respond in a way that won’t lead to a fight or an argument.

Once you understand your parents’ motivations, you can look to see if their ideas have any merit.  Try to look at your parents’ ideas for your life objectively as possible.  It could be you’ll find that you’ve actually already adopted some of their ideas, in your own life, in your own way.  If so you’ll be able to provide your parents with a response that should hopefully satisfy both of you.  If not, you may want to see if there is a way to apply your parents’ suggestions to achieve your own goals in life.  Your parents have the benefit of a great deal of experience so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you might be able to use their suggestions to reach your goals in a quicker and more efficient manner.

After you’ve had a chance to both look at your parents’ motivations and ideas, you can sit down with them and discuss matters.  When doing so, if there is an area that you feel should be out of bounds, such as your dating life, you need to tell them so and provide them with a reason of why you feel that way.  From that point you need to be polite, but firm and focus on the areas of your life that you’re willing to discuss with them.  It’s unlikely that everything will be resolved in one conversation, and many subjects thought solved may be revisited, so be prepared for that.  It’s simply the nature of parents to revisit issues long thought done.  However, by discussing things calmly you will demonstrate to your parents that you have heard what they had to say and considered their suggestions.  Doing so will demonstrate that you respect them and allow for a healthier family dynamic.

Lastly, your parents’ perception of you will change over time as you age and so will how they relate to you.  Often parents will try to steer their children in a particular direction so they will avoid making the same mistakes that they did.  Yet, ultimately most parents come to the realization that they cannot protect their child from doing so, and can only be there with love and support when their child stumbles.  In fact, many parents come to understand that trying to do so can be detrimental to their child’s development because they won’t have learned the necessary life lessons needed to be able to be a fully functioning, happy, human being.

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