A lot of us look to our parents for the answers in life. We grow up looking up to them, partially due to height, but also due to natural instinct — they raised us, so we naturally think they know how to guide us into the world and into our lives. Our parents are our mentors, they're our teachers, they're our go-to vessels for insight into the universe. At least, that's what we grow up wanting them to be.
But as we get older, we start to realize that our parents are not all professors of science and psychology. They don't all have doctorates in relationship advice and internal medicine. They can't always explain to us why people behave the way they do and they can't fix everything, though they might try. They're just people. They make mistakes, they say the wrong thing at times, and sometimes they don't even know what to say. And sometimes, the things they say to us in passing stick with us for a lifetime.
If you often find that your parents end up insulting you when they're trying to encourage you, these two-toned phrases will probably stir up some angsty teen memories for you:
"You Have To Get A Job"
When you talk to your parents about how frustrating your job hunt is, they'll throw in a reminder that's so obvious that it's insulting. You're an adult now. You know you need a job. You're looking for a job. And you're talking to your parents about it because you want their advice, not for them to tell you what you already know. It can be hard for them to remember how difficult it is to find a job and because they're not in the current millennial jobscape, they don't know what the competition is like. You know you have to get a job, that's why you called!
"Do You Really Need That?"
When you tell your parents that you've decided to purchase something or tell them about something that you've already purchased, you're not asking for their advice. If anything, you're asking for their validation. When they ask you if you really need it, their subtext is: I don't think you're a good judge of your own priorities, and I disapprove of this purchase.
"You Don't Really Want To Eat That."
When your parents find you snacking on crackers between meals or munching on cookies while you watch TV, they sometimes assume that you're in a trance, unaware of what you're doing and need to be reminded that you don't have to be eating. But you know what you're doing, and you want your parents to know that literally any comments or implications they make about your eating habits are going to stick with you forever and render you insecure about something that should only exist to fuel you and bring you joy.
"Are You Sure You Want To Put That Out There?"
You parents probably still don't understand social media, and while in many ways that's a good thing, in other ways it's an annoying thing for you. It's like they don't know how to send a text message but they know how to look up all of your profiles and critique you on the way you represent yourself online. If you posted something, it's what you wanted to share with the world. If your parents question that decision, they're basically just saying that they don't agree with it. They're being judgmental whether they intend to be or not.
"Do You Think This Is A Good Look For You?"
Have you ever asked your parents how you look before heading out only to be greeted with a vague and psychologically challenging question like, "What does this outfit say about who you are and how you value yourself?" If they question the message you're sending, they disapprove of your instincts. They think they're being helpful by encouraging you to think about your objectives and they don't realize how insulting it is to condemn your personal style — it's a reflection of who you are.
"I Think You Can Do Better."
Your parents might say this to you a lot and think that it shows that they think highly of you, but usually it just translates to "I don't approve of what you're doing right now." Whether it's a partner you've brought home, a job that you've been offered, or a decision that you've made, you're obviously sharing with them because you want them to be proud of you and you want their approval. When they tell you that you can do better, it makes you feel like you're not trying hard enough or that your best is not good enough for them.
"If You Like It, That's All That Matters."
We all want our parents to believe in us and support the choices we make, but we also know that sometimes we're just not going to be on the same page and that's OK and natural. But sometimes this statement can come off as passive-aggressive. It can sound like a cop-out rather than a thoughtful, non-judgmental answer. We know that our opinion matters the most, but if we're asking our parents, we want to hear theirs.