6 Reasons Why It's OK To Disappoint Your Parents

Most people are conditioned to seek their parents approval from childhood, and for me personally, it's a habit that didn't just disappear the second I started transitioning into adulthood. But if you have a hard time with this too, you should know that it's OK to disappoint your parents sometimes. In fact, it can even be a good thing.

I don't think most anyone likes disappointing their parents, and if you grew up with strict parents, it's even harder to accept that sometimes it's OK to disappoint your folks. That said, sometimes disappointing your parents is the only way to live authentically. You can't be yourself if you make all your choices based on what you think will make your parents happy. It isn't healthy or fun for anyone involved, and your parents probably realize that. And if they don't, that still doesn't mean you should constantly worry about disappointing your parents. Because regardless of how relaxed or reserved your folks are, disappointing them from time to time is inevitable.

Hopefully, your folks love you a lot and want you to be happy no matter what. And if not, know that they should, and that it is not your fault. Here are six reasons it's OK to disappoint your folks.

1. Everyone Disappoints Their Parents Sometimes


Normally, I would never say it's OK to do something just because everyone else is doing it. When it comes to disappointing your parents, though, I think it can be really helpful to remember that even the most responsible children are capable of disappointing their parents.

I think I'm a pretty responsible kid, and I know my parents are proud of me for graduating college with minimal student loan debt, pursuing writing without having to starve in the process, and moving to New York like I've dreamed of since I was 18. That doesn't mean I don't disappoint them, though. I lose my temper with my mom almost every time I visit home, which I'm sure is disappointing. I've abandoned my fundamentalist Christian upbringing almost completely, too, and I know that hasn't been easy for either of my parents to watch.

Parents rarely agree with everything their adult children do and say, so disappointing your parents from time to time is a universally human thing to do. It's simply not possible to please everyone all of the time and parents are no exception to that rule.

2. You’re Not Responsible For Your Parents’ Happiness


I'm not saying you aren't responsible for how your actions and words could affect your parents emotionally. If you lose your temper with your mom, like I sometimes do, you're responsible for your behavior. You will never be responsible for your parents' (or anyone else's) happiness, though.

If your parents are unhappy about some of your choices, try not to feel too guilty about it. I know this is easier said than done, especially if you grew up with strict parents like I did, but you shouldn't feel like you have to work a job that you hate, live in a town that doesn't challenge you, or get into a committed relationship before you're ready to just because you think it will make your parents happy. Ultimately, the only person's happiness you can control is your own, (and even that is super hard to do sometimes), so don't waste your time trying to live the life you think will make your parents the happiest.

3. Tying Your Own Happiness To Your Parents’ Approval Is Unhealthy & Counterproductive


Trust me, I know how easy it can be to let your own happiness be dictated by your parents approval, or lack thereof — but it's super co-dependent and it will probably make you miserable. If you need your parents' constant validation, you're not going to be as happy or successful as you want to be, because you'll be second-guessing yourself constantly.

I know it's difficult, (because I'm almost 26 and I still get bummed out sometimes when I feel like my parents don't approve of my lifestyle), but learning how to be OK with your parents' disapproval is important and liberating. Plus, if they can manage to be disapproving without being disrespectful, you might find your folks' approval isn't quite as important to your relationship with them as you thought it was. Which leads us to...

4. You Can Disappoint Your Parents & Still (Sometimes) Have A Great Relationship With Them


Like I said, I think my parents are a bit disappointed with certain aspects of my lifestyle and chosen worldview. I also think some of my choices have disappointed them, too. I've seriously dated guys who weren't very nice to me. Right after I graduated college, I quit a perfectly good job as a copywriter after only one week just because I hated it. I'm politically progressive, I cuss like a sailor, I'm a bit queer, I take condoms literally everywhere, I need more tattoos asap, and when I'm not writing about health, I typically write about sex and weed. Basically, I'm a self-proclaimed "heathen," whereas my parents are practicing Christians who will probably vote for Ted Cruz.

Fortunately, none of this has kept me from maintaining a really lovely relationship with my parents, because they're amazing. Maybe your parents are different than mine, but in my experience, as long as everyone can remember to be respectful, conflicting world views, lifestyles, and even occasional f*ck ups don't have to ruin parent-children relationships.

5. Becoming A Well-Adjusted Adult Is Hard — And Your Parents Should Know That


Growing up isn't easy, and no one knows this better than your parents. This doesn't mean they won't give you hell for all the ways you disappoint them, but it should at least help them be more understanding when you do. Unless your parents were just perfect, (spoiler alert: they weren't), they're well-aware that part of being a young adult is making mistakes. Remember that the next time you start berating yourself for disappointing them.

6. Mistakes Can Be Great Teachers


Everyone makes mistakes of various magnitudes every single day — including your parents — so it's OK to make mistakes even if they end up disappointing your folks. Plus, if you're paying attention to your mistakes, they can actually teach you how to become the person you want to be.

Obviously, making the same mistakes over and over again isn't healthy or smart, but giving yourself permission to make mistakes can be super healthy and freeing. So instead of worrying about how your parents will view your mistakes, try to embrace all the ways making mistakes can teach you to be a better, braver, more self-aware person. Your folks may not love witnessing you mess up, but they should at least be able to remember how much they learned from their own disappointing mistakes.

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