How To Please Your Parents When You Don't Follow In Their Footsteps

by Paul Hudson

We can’t do everything that we want to do in life; it isn’t possible. Our wants are literally endless. As soon as we subdue one want, we begin to want another. There are countless things to do, experience and to be. Career choices for those living in first world countries are not lacking — even though the economy is in a poor state, we can still apply for any position we would like.

However, the older we become, the less likely it is that we make a career change. Eventually we will get to the point where we either have grown into our dream or we have missed out on it. This is one major reason so many parents do their best to live vicariously through their children. A mother always wanted to be a ballerina when she was a kid, so she signs her daughter up for ballet lessons.

A father always dreamed of becoming a surgeon, so he does his best to guide his son in that direction. When people don’t end up living their dreams, they often hope to do so through their children.

But there are other reasons why parents feel obligated to give direction to their children — because they are the parents. It’s parents' job to make sure that their children grow up making the best possible decisions and finding themselves in a financially comfortable position. This is why so many parents start to weep when they hear that their child wants to become an artist, musician or some sort of entertainer.

It’s not that they don’t believe in their children. It’s that they understand that they older a person gets, the more reliant they become on working in order to make money. Such careers can bring in a nice chunk of change, but statistically speaking it’s very rare. A parent—someone who has been around for about 20 years longer than their child—understands the importance of having a safety net.

Your parents just want what is best for you (in most cases—there are the crazies too). It’s likely that they had similar dreams that growing up and somehow either lost track or failed. They don’t want you to feel that same disappointment or struggle.

Of course, there are those of us who have parents who had it all growing up—who didn’t have to struggle, but had things set up for them. There is nothing wrong with that; it’s always better to avoid struggling if possible. No matter what your parent went through growing up or during adulthood, if they love you they want what is best for you.

The issue is that they believe they know what is best for you. That simply isn’t true. No one knows what’s best for you better than you yourself. Our parents should be listened to — they have been around for longer and may have some good pointers and tips. What they believe may be the perfect fit for you is likely to be completely wrong, but it won’t hurt to listen to what they are really saying, the true meaning behind their suggestions.

Sure, some parents may have always dreamed of becoming lawyers or doctors, but most parent suggest such career choices because growing up, those were the most sought after careers. They are careers that are respected, that tend to be easily held down and that pay well. When your parents make career suggestions, consider what it is that the job itself offers that appeals to your mom or dad. Is it the job security? The money? How easy it is to get into the field and move up in position?

It is the benefits, dental perhaps? No matter how irrational you may believe your parents to be, there is some rationality there somewhere. Listen to the suggestions they make and figure out what appeals about those careers most to your parents; those characteristics are the ones your parents really want you to find in a job — not the job itself.

Then all you can do is take their advice with a grain of salt and make an educated decision yourself. How important to you are the things that your parents love about the careers they suggested? Be honest, don’t let your pride get the better of you. There is bound to be some good in your parents’ suggestions. Now, figure out a way that you can get all those benefits that are so appealing to our elders by doing something that you love doing.

You want to be a painter…great. Is there a way for you to make a good living, create a safety net, while waiting for fame and recognition to come your way? More often than not being a starving artist is — funnily enough — the result of a poor imagination. Artists are supposed to be creative I thought. Why not figure out a creative way to turn your hobby or passion into something profitable. At the end of the day, your parents just want you to be happy — which, whether or not you can admit it — requires money.

Listen and talk to your parents. Maybe they can help you brainstorm. I understand the urge to make it completely on your own, but success requires struggle one way or another. The smartest know to minimize the amount of struggling needed.

Photo credit: A Bronx Tale