In an ideal world, parents would offer unconditional love and support to their children regardless of what they want to do. In this beautiful reality, every child could grow up to be whatever and whoever they wanted, or at least give it a try. They would be able to know the answer to “what if” without risking the acceptance and support of the people who brought them into this world.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t have parents that offer that to them. Most of us have met at least one person, adult or otherwise, who had unsupportive parents. Having parents that don’t support your goals or life decisions is heartbreaking at best, and potentially life-ruining at worst.
I’ve personally seen the damage that it does in people I know. It’s brutal.
I’ve seen the up-and-coming model whose parents called her a loser cry her eyes out before a shoot. I’ve seen the young urban man whose parents told him he would never get into college because he was too stupid almost give up on applying. I’ve seen the young boy who wanted to be a dancer get kicked out of his house by parents who insisted on him being a doctor.
If you have unsupportive parents, the one thing that can console you is that you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are ways to handle chasing your dreams when parents don’t support your goals. People have overcome the naysayers, and so can you! This advice below can help you live your best life and possibly gain your parents’ approval later on.
Before you do anything, try to figure out why your parents don’t approve.
Most parents I know want their kids to be happy, financially stable, and successful. In many cases, parents won’t support your dreams because they feel like it may hurt you in the long run or because they legitimately feel like it’s not a good fit for you.
In the case of the model, her parents knew that models were likely to be sexually assaulted. In their days, they heard rumors of models trading sex for shoots. They also worried about the girl being able to support herself as she aged. They heard about scams, eating disorders, and other problems in the industry. They were spooked.
Talk to them, but don’t blow up at them.
Remember that model I told you about? In her case, communicating her full plan worked wonders. They didn’t know that the girl wanted to use her modeling career to become a major player in fashion, nor did they know that she wanted to get a degree.
Talking to your parents, educating them about how you’re making your goals happen, and actively trying to show them that you know the risks will help in most cases. This is especially true with parents that are willing to hear you out.
It is a good idea to have a backup plan before you take any action, too.
A common mistake people make with this issue is not understanding their parents’ concerns. When chasing your dreams, you have to be rational about it. There is a good chance that you will fail, and if you do, you should have something to fall back on.
Don’t take offense to a parent who asks you to get a degree or learn a trade while you pursue your ideal career. They’re looking out for you. Many people got their dream careers started as side gigs while they worked a job to support themselves.
Watch for signs of abusive or controlling behavior, and cut ties if necessary.
If there’s one thing that therapists can tell you, it’s that most abusive parents don’t support their children’s dreams. Or, if they do, they insist that their children achieve it on their terms. This is especially common with narcissistic parents, “helicopter parents,” as well as parents who belong to extreme religion.
Parents who don’t support your goals for malevolent reasons choose to keep you down as a way to keep you dependent on them. It’s a method of controlling you. It’s a way to take away your power, hurt you, and keep you under their thumb.
Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Unfortunately, children of controlling parents often need to escape their grips and go no-contact in order to achieve their dreams. Should you find yourself in this school, you need to consider calling professionals for help and asking for escape methods.
In most cases, abusive parents will typically use one of these methods to keep control of you while you try to achieve your goal:
- Negative talk. Abusers will often tell you that you’re not good enough to make it. They may also say that you’ll never attain your goals, belittle you, mock you, or otherwise make it clear that they don’t approve.
- Financial withholding. Many parents that don’t approve of dream-chasing will withhold funds for college until their child capitulates to their major or school of choice. Some will also threaten to evict young adults who are still trying to make it in the world.
- Withholding documents. To prevent children from leaving, some abusers will hide documents that allow them to get a job.
- Career sabotage. Did your parents sabotage your career by showing up to work or complaining to a boss? If so, you should get a restraining order.
- Emotional withholding. Conditional love is often used by abusers who have “people pleaser” victims.
Lower contact if your parents can’t stop trying to convince you.
You cannot control how your parents react to your life. You can, however, control your reaction to them. If your parents constantly badger you about your dreams and lifestyles, going low to no contact is often the healthiest decision.
Establishing boundaries and standards goes far here. In many cases, parents end up learning to accept their children’s choices when they realize that refusing to cease bad behavior could cost them their relationship.
Avoiding negative people can help you become happier and more successful. Lowering contact also helps you reduce your exposure to negative talk, which in turn, can help boost your confidence and keep you focused on the goal.
Recognize that it’s your life to live, not theirs.
You are the only constant you’ll ever have in your life. Your friends will come and go. Your jobs will change. You might move once in a while. You, on the other hand, will always be with yourself. You need to be good to yourself.
Everyone will have a different opinion on how you should live life. Some may even take offense to you choosing a different path than theirs. However, they are not you. They do not have to live with the consequences of your decision. You, on the other hand, will.
You are responsible for your own happiness in life.
People will always judge you, no matter what you do. Trying to live up to others’ standards will never lead to happiness, nor will living a life based on what others think. Other people’s inconveniences are not your emergency.
I have met a lot of elderly people who looked back at their lives and regretted their careers, their spouses, and what they did to get others’ approval. You do not want to be a person who wonders what could have been when they look back at life.
Chase your dreams. Live the way you want to live. Even if you fail, you can say you tried and learned some cool things along the way.
Get support from others.
I’m not going to lie; chasing your dreams is not easy. Most people will shit on them. You will get a lot of rejections. You might also make a fool of yourself, even when you do your best. However, if you look really hard and network your ass off, you will find people who support your endeavors.
When your parents don’t support your dreams, all the support you do get matters even more. Show gratitude to those who encourage you. Keep your friends close by. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel.
Give them a reason to believe in you.
The best way to win other people’s support is to show them that you are serious about your goals. For people who want to chase their dreams, this means that you will need to work towards your goals and provide visible results.
If you’re a hopeful writer, start getting bylines in magazines or blogs. If you’re an aspiring model, book TFP shoots with talent and work on your look. If you’re a future CEO, start putting together your business. The more people see you work on something, the more they’ll believe you.
Most parents, even stubborn ones, will eventually approve of you if you show them that you can make your dreams real. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t you think you should do something to further your goals today?