Parenthood is an interesting topic of discussion — at least I see it as such. I have yet to become a father — as far as I know (knock on wood) — so it isn’t easy for me to put myself into the shoes of a parent. The connection that is felt and the love that exists between parents and their child is more intensely felt by the parents than it is by the child. This is especially the case between a mother and her children.
It is clear that as human beings, we are not the property of anyone or anybody; we are our own people and do not have to give into the wants or requests of others unless we ourselves decide to do so. My question is whether or not we owe our parents something for having raised us, for having put in the time, the effort and the care needed to make us the people that we are today. Or do we not owe them anything and should do whatever we wish to do without considering our parents’ take on the subject?
With technology advancing at an alarming pace, the gap between parents and children seems to be widening. Of course, some parents are doing their best to keep up with the latest forms of communication, but even more don’t bother to keep up with more recent trends. As children learn new trades and take on new hobbies, their wants, likes and dreams of the future will often take a different shape from the future that their parents had dreamt for them. In the USA, we are not legally adults until we turn 18.
Most of us growing up in the States rely on our parents almost entirely until adulthood. We rely on our parents for shelter, for food, for clothing and for our education (someone has to pay for it). Even after we are of age, the majority of us who do go to college do so on our parents’ dime. This is undoubtedly not universal — there are families out there that function within a much different structure. There are those that never relied on their parents because they understood their parents to be unreliable.
There are parents out there who harass, abuse and harm their children regularly. There are parents that neglect their children and in a sense disown them. Under such circumstances, it is easy to say that the child owes his parents nothing. Sure, they gave him life, but they did not fulfill their duty. Human beings are different from other animals in many ways; one rather profound difference is that we — unlike other animals — rely on our parents for survival for a long period of time.
While most animals are able to fend for themselves within the first year, if not much sooner, human beings rely entirely on their parents for at least a handful of years. You can make the argument that in our day and age and in our society, people rely on their parents way into their teen years if not a whole lot longer. There are more than enough stories floating around of those who never leave the nest, but instead live with their parents until the day they pass.
If our parents are the ones that raise us, that nurture us, that guide us through the reality that we live in and do so well, do we not owe them something? Many of us will do things to please our parents because we love them — or because we feel that we are obligated to. However, if we do things in order to make them happy, are we doing ourselves an injustice? Because only we ourselves know what is best for us — something that many parents falsely claim for themselves — it is wrong for us to ignore our wants and needs in order to make our parents happy. For example, my parents would love it if I became a lawyer or a doctor.
Am I wrong to have become a writer and entrepreneur against my parents’ wishes? Of course not. I know that I would not be happy studying or practicing law and/or medicine. I know that although I may excel in the fields, I would never be passionate enough to make a real difference. This is something my parents cannot know because they are not privy to the same first-person information that I myself am.
If we have loving parents, then it is safe to presume that what they want is the best for us. They want us to be successful. They want us to be happy. They want us to live comfortably. For this reason, I would like to say that if we do owe them anything, we owe them doing our best in order to be happy. Your parents may have had very high hopes for you becoming a surgeon, but if you can’t stand the sight of blood, what good would you be holding a scalpel? If you have a passion for food and dream to one day open a restaurant, why should you give up that dream to follow the dreams of your parents?
Many parents try to live their lives through their children. Many were not able to accomplish the goals that they wished to accomplish and made many mistakes along the way. Good parents will do their best to try to ward their children from making the same makes they themselves made — however, the best way to learn is by the mistakes that you yourself make.
Good intentions are not requisite of blind obedience. Each of us is our own person and while we can say that we owe listening to the opinions and suggestions of our parents, the final decision should be our own. The only thing that we owe our parents is the unwavering promise of our pursuit for happiness. What else really matters?
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