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I Can’t Pursue My Passion Because My Parents Don’t Approve

Having recently seen the movie “Brave” I had to blog about this topic.  It’s also one I’ve struggled with (sorry mom, and dad, if you’re reading this – I love you, though!) 

I believe it’s natural for us to want our parents to approve of what we do, and feel we are doing something “wrong” or “Inappropriate” if we do not.   I also believe that our parents love us deeply.  Even if they might not show their love in a way we understand, they usually want for us to succeed, and do well in life.

The conflict arises, however, when their idea of what will make us successful differs from our heart’s yearning.  Our parents are thinking long term – they have planned our life out from beginning to end, know which schools we need to attend to get to the right college to get to the right job, and so forth.  We just know, from a certain time, that we want to draw circles in the sand, and then be in a rock band, and then perhaps, be an actor, a writer, or an artist. 

We are focused on the now, on our beating heart’s excitement at doing an activity.  Our parents want to be sure we will make money at it, be able to afford rent, have health insurance, or be liberated from providng it for us!

At some point, there is a choice to make – do we follow our heart and risk our parent’s disapproval, or, do we give up on our heart’s desire in favor of pursuing the path our parents have laid out for us?  (Those of you who had parents that encouraged you to follow your heart from the get-go, bravo!)  The two are conflicting thoughts; satisfying one is at the demise of the other.

In the movie “Brave”, our heroine Merida is a teenage girl full of energy and hutzpah!  Her mother is intent on making her into a princess and arranging her marriage so that she can step into her role as a future queen.  Merida wants none of it, and so begins the conflict.  Merida, however, is hell-bent on having her way.  She fights tradition, forges her own path, and then seeks to manipulate her mother’s point of view on her arranged marriage.  Her mother fights her tooth and nail – feeling that she knows what’s best, and though she loves her daughter, and sees that her daughter is not happy, opts to attempt to stifle her spirit into a gown and a marriage.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but the conflict is all too familiar for those of us who feel called to perform a duty quite different than the path our parents have planned for us.  Unfortunately, at the moment of this realization, it is a harrowing choice – whether to gain our parent’s approval, or whether to forge our own path, normally involving an activity that our parents don’t understand or condone.  Because, it is impossible, in that moment, to do what we want, if we are tied to gaining their approval.

Ironically, it is only when we take the risk to lose their approval in pursuit of our dreams, that we have any chance to truly earn their approval.  Because, up to that moment, they are not relating to the person we are, but, rather, the person they have sought to create.  So, the truth of the matter, from my point of view, is that if you really want your parent’s approval, you first must approve of yourself.  And, how can you do that if you’re trying to forge someone else’s path, rather than your own?

So, your call to action, if you have read this, and seen yourself in this article, and know that you are called to something different than the goal(s) your parents have set for you, or struggling with pursuing a passion in the face of parental resistance, is to begin to forge your own path.  Here are some starting points to do that:

  1. Notice where you are seeking guidance and counsel from your parents and being talked out of your ideas.  Begin to stop talking to them about these ideas.  Do not stop talking to them, just stop seeking their guidance on this idea you have that they don’t seem to like – you are probably asking them to help you in areas they simply don’t understand enough to provide you direction.
  2. Take a tiny step towards your goal.  If that means quitting a day job, stop spending, and start saving, and determine when you can safely take the plunge.  If it means transitioning to a completely different line of work, research that new direction to learn what you don’t know, and take measures to start filling your knowledge void.
  3. Have faith.  Believe in yourself enough that you can make this change happen. 
  4. Visualize success.  Know that at the end of the struggle lies a newly formed relationship with your parents where you get to shine in your heart’s calling AND get their approval!

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  1. Mirror, mirror on the wall do you approve most of all? :-)

    • LOL – good question! ;-)

  2. Mirror, mirror on the wall I see in you the best of all!

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