Sunday, September 23, 2007

Your Parents Must Be So Proud...

Skipper at My Life Starts at Forty has written a post with the title "Your parents must be proud..." in which she states that she believed she could never live up to the expectations of the comment and as a result rebelled to make her own way.

I lived with people saying much the same thing to me as a kid or having Mum in particular saying that other people had told her she should be proud of me. I was never sure why that was the case. But I did feel the weight of expectation, always scared to speak my mind or disobey. If I was told to be home at 11pm I made damn sure I was.

But was it really fear or a desire by me to live up to the expectations of other people? I was told around 10 years old that I was the man of the house and I had to look after my mother and sisters. I have spent the last few years trying to figure out what that meant. Unlike Skipper I didn't rebel, I conformed, maybe that made people proud of me, maybe it turned me into the boring anti-social nerd I sometimes feel I am.

Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
Charlotte Bronte

And perhaps not only the event but the life itself will not match the expectation in the long term. I find myself wondering about how my kids will turn out, whether they will succeed or not in whatever they may choose to do, and I try very hard not to put the weight of my own expectations on them like I had placed on me. Whilst I hope that things will turn out better for them than perhaps they have for me, we all make our own way, with our own mistakes. Hopefully when we fall someone will be there to offer their hand and help us up. But only if we want it.

So whilst I think that, unlike Skipper, I tried way too hard to live up to other people's expectations with a desire, if not to make them proud, at least not to disappoint them, I hope that my kids escape the need to think they owe me that. At the end of the day I'll be proud of them anyway.


Beth said...

Beautifully written - and I think you turned out beautifully. I wish that people could see that it is a burden to carry when you are expected to "be" someone or live up to the expectations of others...God Bless you for not doing the same thing to your children

Josie Two Shoes said...

"Boring anti-social nerd"... only in your eyes, Loz! I think we have to revisit how our society defines those things. I'm certain anyone who knows me in real life would call me that, but deep down, I don't think I am - I am just different from them, that's all!

I found this post very thought provoking, reflecting on how I didn't live up to my parent's expectations, and how the weight of disappointing them has been carried heavily all these years.

While both of my now grown children know that I am indeed very proud of them, not just for what they have done with their lives, but for who they are and what they stand for, they also know that regardless of any changes they make or anything that happens, I will still be behind them and proud of them. Sometimes life is not so much about "success" as it is about courage and facing each day.

HollyGL said...

You're hardly boring, Loz. Nor do I think you are anti-social. You're just selective with whom you spend your time. I know that just sounds like I'm putting a certain spin on things w/vernacular, but there's definitely a difference between the two.

It was impossible to live up to my mom's standards as she was an extreme perfectionist. I, too, rebelled. Then just when I started to come around, things didn't play out as one would expect. That's life and we deal with it as best we can.

I've said this many times, but I think it bears repeating. Your kids are so blessed to have such an accepting parent in you.

Unconditional love is the ultimate inspiration to strive to be the best person you are capable of being.

Gypsy said...

We all want our parents to be proud of us but sometimes that isn't always possible. My Mum and I are close but I have always thought she would like me to do better/be better. I let go of her expectations a long time ago because to not do so would have made me constantly dissatisfied with my own choices.

I tell my daughters all the time how proud I am of them. I hope they will always feel my pride.

Random Magus said...

In this regard I consider myself really lucky. My parents never put any pressure on me or expected me to be something. Of course what was a prerequisite was being a 'good' person. The only expectation they had of me was to be a decent human being.
Your kids are lucky that you give the the freedom to be who thy want to be without any burden!

Laurie said...

I don't know if children can ever escape the need for approval from their parents. My husband often asks himself outloud, if I think his Dad would be proud of him. His father passed away when he was only 9 years old. There was never any expecation put on him, yet he still feels the need to make his Dad proud. Knowing this, I have tried to convey to my own children that I may disagree with some of their actions, more than anything, I want for them to be proud of themselves. If they can manage feel proud of whatever they do in their lives, then I am proud of them no matter what.

Finn said...

I think your mom would be very proud knowing that you are constantly striving to be a better person, to improve yourself. Most people don't even bother.

kellypea said...

Hmmm...As the oldest, when my mom became single again when I was in high school, I sometimes felt like the "man" of the house. She'd disagree with me because she worked very hard all day and made time for her fun at night -- which she deserved. But I was home with my younger brother and sister -- not too much younger than I. We all conformed and did what she had taught us, while doing quite the opposite herself. The epitome of "do as I say and not as I do..." Yes, we were all three conformists, but with respect to myself, I figure out the rules (others' expectations of me) and then I figure out how to avoid them or bend them, and still get where I want to go. It's the best I can do...

Sueblimely said...

This post has caused me much thought. I told my son yesterday how proud I was of him not considering that it may put pressure on him in the future to perform up to the same level. He is in his 4th year at uni, finishing at the end of next year and has just been accepted into a highly sought after summer holiday cadetship program after 3 lots of interview sessions.
Mentioning it here also makes me think that I am placing to much emphasis on the importance of such things and that I should let him know that I am proud of him for who he is, no conditions attached.

Loz said...

Sue - I do think we need to let our kids know that we love them. Telling them we are proud of them is not exactly the same thing. In the right context pride in their achievements is not such a bad thing and sometimes its nice feedback.

Dorothy said...

My mom brought us up with guilt and the fear of God. I did the same with my children, Sherry was a little less strict and tells me looking back being tougher was better.

Regarding expectations from parents, tell them you love them..and hope they say it goes farther then what you do in life. Or what you've accomplished... it can be gone in a heartbeat..your feelings respect and family memories..they are forever.

Dorothy from grammology
call your grandma