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My parents disapprove of me. What to do?

From childhood, our parents hold a special place in our lives. Whatever has happened in the past, it is difficult to be openly angry with them, ignore, or disregard them. After all, these are our parents. When we are adults, they still have great authority over us, even if the relationship with them is not the easiest.

We live our lives the way we can. Ideally – the way we want and think is appropriate. But when we face parental disapproval it can be pretty unsettling.

Elina is 26 years old. She has been living separately from her parents for a long time. She has a good job at a bank and studies at the same time. She recently got a tattoo on her arm – she had been dreaming about it for a long time and was very pleased with the result. When Elina came to visit her parents for a weekend, and they saw the tattoo. Her mother said: “I thought you were smart …”. And her father spoke no less harshly: “You branded yourself! It’s a shame that you are my daughter! “

Keith’s parents wanted him to have a career in the army. How else? His grand-grand-dad, grand-dad, and dad – all served in the army. His grand-grand-dad was even a general… And Keith wanted to… cook. Since childhood, he was making up recipes and baking cakes. But he was scared to bring it up with his parents. When they forced him to take entrance exams to the military academy, he simply returned blank forms. When his parents learned about it, they were furious. Now Keith is 28 and works as a chef in a famous restaurant. But his dad still doesn’t speak to him.

Tabitha’s parents have always disapproved of her. Her every choice was, from their point of view, stupid and wrong. The wrong university (“It’s not very modern “), the wrong profession (“Who needs psychologists now? There are a lot of them already”), the wrong man (“That’s all you could find?”), the wrong style of dress (“With your figure?”). Even her hairstyle is wrong. Tabitha is used to it. 

But whenever she hears a toxic comment it still hurts.

Does it sound familiar? Do your parents judge you?

Below are important axioms that you should write on a piece of paper and re-read regularly.

○ Someone’s opinion, even if these people are close to you, is just THEIR opinion and does NOT say ANYTHING about you and your choices. It is not your responsibility to live the way someone else expects. You only have one life – and no one will give you another.

○ Parents DO NOT KNOW what is best for you. Even if they think they do. This is important to understand. When you were 3 years old – yes, they knew better which hat to wear, which kindergarten to choose, what to cook for breakfast. But you are not three anymore, and you know better than anyone what is needed for your happiness.

Now, let’s discuss what you can do.

1. If your parents judge you, stop sharing the details of your life with them. The less they know, the fewer unsolicited comments you will get. These comments can only upset you.

2. Talk to your parents about “safe” topics. Perhaps you can safely talk with your mom about TV shows and health. But if the topics of your personal life make her uncontrollably want to intrude into your personal space, then these topics are not for her.

3. It makes sense to tell your parents once and for all what is unacceptable to you. For example: “Mom, we will no longer discuss the topic of choosing a kindergarten for Billy. George and I have chosen it – and we like it.”

Or: “I ask you not to speak on the topic of my appearance in general, and my body in particular. Otherwise, we will have to communicate much less often.”

4. Stop waiting for approval. It’s sad, yeah … ☹ But it’s time to accept the fact that your parents cannot give you what you need. Being supportive is not something they are capable of. The longer you wait under a pear tree for an apple, the more you will be disappointed.

5. Control your reactions to the situation. Learn not to react to trigger words and phrases. Take care of yourself.

6. Most likely your parents think that they are acting in your best interests (“We love you!”). But it does not mean that you must listen to them or do as they say.

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