Parents Choosing Their Kids’ Lives

I’m sure most of us have experienced this growing up in one way or another.  Your parents want you to join the math/science club in high school.  Your dad wants you to join the football team to be a star quarterback.  They want you to become a doctor, or a lawyer, or perhaps an engineer.  To do that you need to get into these prestigious universities.  Maybe your mom has someone in mind to be your future spouse?  They have this perfect life laid out in front of you to follow step-by-step for you to become successful.

Doesn’t that sound just dandy?  To have your parents choose everything for you in life?  After all, they simply want their child to become successful.  But what is successful?  For some parents, and society in general, success is measured by how much money you make, the status of your profession, a certain life path or religion you follow, or even simply by the worth of the person (or gender) you decide to marry.  And to achieve these things, they want you to follow this perfect plan.

But as twenty somethings, we learn that we’re not perfect.  We make mistakes and we do a lot of dumb crap.  That night you partied with your best friends til 5AM and missed your morning exam.  Or time you dated that bitch or douchebag for longer than you would have liked.  Whether our parents like it or not, it happens along our journey in finding ourselves and what truly makes us happy.

 And that’s a key element that parent’s seem to forget for success is happiness.  What makes our parents happy doesn’t necessarily make us happy.  Our parents’ idea of a perfect husband or wife isn’t our vision of perfect.  A great example of this is my friend Ashley.  She is pressured to become a doctor, when she simply wants to be a teacher or social worker to help little kids.  To her parents, not having that M.D. in the name isn’t good enough.  She pursues being a doctor because it’s what her parents do and it’s what they want for her.  She loves and respects them too much to disappoint them, so she goes with it despite how unhappy she tells me she is every week.  When she accomplishes one achievement, it’s not met with praise, but with: “You need to do better” or “now it’s time to do this.”

 I know my parents have had their own plans for me.  They wanted me to go into a certain profession which did not make me happy.  Since then, I have pursued what makes me happy and have worked extremely hard to achieve it.  I have graduated and now have a career that I enjoy and gives me self-worth in protecting people and saving lives.  My parents have learned to accept that and respect me for my decision.  We still get along great; they still love me and I love them dearly.  However, there is still their idea of a perfect spouse for me.  My dad wants me to find a perfect church girl, probably a virgin, who she herself has a good mistake-free life and career.  All I can say is I have dated girls like that and they are not for me whatsoever.

 I guess the message of this super long confession is: pursue what makes you truly happy in life.  Work hard to obtain what you deem as successful.  Be YOU.  Hey, we’re only twenty something.  But some of these decisions such as your career, your husband or wife, your sexual preference, your religion or life path, could define who you are for the next 30, 40, or 50 years.  If you’re honestly ok with having your parents make some of those decisions, then that’s cool.  But if you’re following choices that don’t make you happy, then maybe you need to reconsider.  I know we want to respect our parents since they did bring us into this world and guide us along the way.  But that’s their job: to guide us, not choose for us.  And support us when we need them.  Trust me, your parents will still love you and respect you for your own decisions.  And for that, they’ll eventually see you not as a kid anymore, but as an adult.