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How do you cope with being a disappointment to your parents?

spiralcloudspiralcloud Registered User Posts: 887 Member
edited August 2009 in Parents Forum
I'm a rising senior. And here's my story.
I get straight A's. Well, I mean there's an A- here and there. but you know what I mean.
I got a 2220 on my SAT and a national merit thing.
So I'm good right? Wrong.

My parents call me a disappointment for 3 reasons.
(a) I will not become a doctor or engineer. I don't want to be. I dislike biology and I don't care for engineering. I want to be a lawyer or a economist.

(b) I don't want to go to college where my parents want me to go to. My parents think that the only reason I should leave potentially going to ASU is if I go to yale.
But I don't want to go to yale. I want to go to cornell. Which is a big problem. I want to go to chicago too but my parents said they have medical licenses in chicago (so they can be practicing doctors in illinois) and would come with me there.

(c) My parents hate my extracurrics. I like speech and debate, mock trial, enviro club, and working with charities). They would rather me enter in bio club, research team, science bowl, etc.
I don't like those sciencey things. Fine, I get A's in them, but I don't give a care. whatsoever. Consequently, they don't let me go to speech and debate/mock trial until I lie and tell them I'm going to the library instead.

So what do I do? Not care that they are disappointed in me? Or do I try to change myself? I think my morals are getting in the way of my life plans.
Post edited by spiralcloud on

Replies to: How do you cope with being a disappointment to your parents?

  • 4gsmom4gsmom Registered User Posts: 548 Member
    You sound like a fantastic person, one that 99.9% of parents would be thrilled to put their arm around and brag to their friends: "this is MY kid." I'm so sorry your parents can't seem to do that.
    They would rather you go to ASU than Cornell? Wow. They won't pay for Cornell if you get in?
    Follow your dreams - if you have to go to ASU, go there and excel in pre-law. Go to law school and stop trying to ever please them.
    But do know that you are a great kid and you have much to be proud of. Hopefully they will realize that.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Registered User Posts: 16,871 Senior Member
    If you try to change yourself to please your parents, you'll fail at two things -- pleasing your parents, and changing yourself. At the end of the day, the only person you have to live with is yourself.

    You will never be able to make them happy unless you do everything they want.

    You are the most important person for you to please. Focus on that.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    You learn to live your life to make yourself happy. Even though I have a Harvard undergrad degree, and an earned and honorary doctorate, until she died a decade ago, my mom was still disappointed that I didn't, according to her, live up to my potential. She was encouraging me to become a lawyer!

    I am so glad that long ago, I learned to follow my own path and to define success for myself! Until I learned that lesson, no matter what I did, I was miserable and felt like an abject failure.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    I'm guessing your parents are immigrants with the focus on success being defined as only the doctor/engineer career path and the parents following you to college to keep their eye on you. There have been a number of posts from kids of Asian and Indian immigrant parents with these same attributes and even some posts from the immigrant parents who were planning on being similarly controlling and hovering by restricting them and following them around as if they were young children who couldn't go to college on their own. If you search on this forum a bit you'll see similar stories. IMO it's sad for the kids to be subjected to this.

    IMO you need to break that mold and do what 'you' want if at all possible. It's your life, not theirs. By now you realize that their measure of success is simply not valid in this country and people from many majors and virtually any college can become successes - even people who choose to enter a field that doesn't return a high income - if they're happy in it and can support themselves, it's a success.

    Although it causes you angst, I don't think you should be concerned about 'disappointing your parents' since they have what's in this country an unreasonable, rigid, inflexible, unrealistic, unnecessary, and uninformed set of expectations.

    The biggest hurdle you'll have is that they likely control the purse strings and can therefore refuse to pay for colleges/locations and restrict you. However, with your performance it might be possible to get a full ride at a reasonable college and go it mostly on your own.

    It's sad to me that some parents are this controlling and put their kids through this kind of angst and say hurtful things to their kids like 'they're a disappointment' - especially when the kid has actually been quite successful and any parent should be proud.

    Educate your parents on what can be done in 'this' country and what defines success in 'this' country as best you can. Point to the endless numbers of successful business owners and leaders who have all different types of majors and are from all kinds of colleges. Try to educate them that college time is a normal and good timeframe for kids to use their own wings and have some amount of independence from their families so going off to college helps them mature and become self-sufficient. If they follow you around to college it's not just unnecessary - it'll be stifling for you and cause you even more angst.
  • sunshowers23sunshowers23 Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
    Wow... story of my life.

    I had to deal with parents who wanted me to be exactly like my older sister. I ended up outperforming her on tests, in school, etc. but they still "blame" my Ivy-league rejections on my extracurriculars (which they didn't like) my essays (which everyone who read them loved, except my parents) and the fact that the schools I liked were the ones they hated, and vice versa. (UChicago included...)

    It sucks. It's life. But once you're off to college, you're done with it.
  • Biggie_SmallsBiggie_Smalls Registered User Posts: 587 Member
    Dude, same here. My school honors students ranked in the top ten with awards and a whole bunch of stuff. I'm 14, and my parents tell me I'm a failure. And I've become President of a bunch of honor societies and such, but they just go on to ask why I wasn't president of some other club. And they always seem bent on me not getting A+'s in everything and being valedictorian. I'm a rising senior as well. Can't wait until I go off to college!
  • spiralcloudspiralcloud Registered User Posts: 887 Member
    yeah, maybe you guys are right...do you think there's another chance that maybe some people would say I should change because they're my parents?

    thanks so much for all your advice. oh, and also: again today my parents officially refused to let me go to a mock trial day camp fifteen minutes away BUT they are lettting my ten year old brother go to a sleepaway tennis camp for 3 weeks in NY (we live in az!)
    and he's not even that good at tennis! (he's never played before)

    yes, they're immigrants

    365 more days
  • crzymomcrzymom Registered User Posts: 235 Junior Member
    Spiralcloud, my heart aches for you. Unless there is something else about you that your parents know and we don't it sounds like their world-view is quite narrow and will be difficult to change. Aside from being immigrants, I am guessing that youmight be a girl which might be influencing their view as well. Coming from a competitive hs, perhaps your gc or college counselor could be of help to you or perhaps another adult who understands the situation. If you do go to ASU, you will certainly be in Barretts honors college and will be able to pursue the majors you want probably with a minimum of tuition as the merit aid there is generous. Although you might be in a tight spot re: financial support by folks now, do what you want to do in whatever school you are in and set a course to complete your own journey. Good luck!
  • icanreadicanread Registered User Posts: 508 Member
    At some point, it's just not your fault. Your parents are being morons for feeling any sense of disappointment toward you simply because you are not the cookie-cutter vision of a child that they have in their heads. You are obviously a smart, accomplished kid with lots of potential. Don't let them get you down for that.
  • HighlandMomHighlandMom Registered User Posts: 1,010 Senior Member
    The parents of both Michaelangelo and Leonardo di Vinci wanted them to be lawyers. The world is a better place because they chased their dreams.
  • EngProfMomEngProfMom Registered User Posts: 257 Junior Member
    Given your grades and test scores, you have some options open to you.

    1) If you apply to ASU first, (and why not also the U of A) you will have a safety school, and your parents will know you are making a good faith effort.

    2) Why not take a look at Arizona's Flinn scholarship page while you're at it? Just think: getting a Flinn, you would not have to ask your parents for any money for college, at all. Further, some Flinn scholars have done speech and debate. Why not show their bios to your parents.

    an aside: I can sort of sympathize with your parents. When DD started doing speech and debate I thought that it was pretty strange stuff, a whole subculture, spouting strange terms, learning to talk so fast that no one would understand them, etc. And from what I've seen, I'm pretty easygoing. Trust me, the whole speech and debate/mock trial thing takes a little getting used to. You might think about educating your parents -- gradually, bit by bit, in what speech and debate is about, in terms of current events and the like.

    3) Third, you might consider, do research on and apply selectively to a few other schools that give merit money. You will either have to pay your own admissions fees or get your parents to help you with this. So you need to show that you are willing to listen to them

    If you think you might want to become a lawyer, approach this in a lawyerly way.
    If you think you might want to become an economist, you might also think about taking some additional math classes.

    Good luck!
  • kelsmomkelsmom Super Moderator Posts: 14,558 Super Moderator
    How do you cope with being a disappointment to your parents? You remember that it is THEIR problem. Do not make it yours.

    You should definitely respect your parents. However, refusing to be affected by their disappointment is not disrespectful. Repeat over & over to yourself: It is my life. I am a wonderful person. I am happy with myself. I love my parents, but I will not let their views affect my life.

    I did not disappoint my parents, but I did grow up with a father who was less than encouraging. A couple of my brothers have self esteem issues resulting from this. I do not ... because I have always been firm in my belief that I am exactly who & what I am supposed to be. I do not look to my father to validate my self image. I love him, but frankly, I don't listen to him when he puts me down. Never did, never will (and I am 50). It works well for me. Hopefully, you can learn the "not listening" thing ... let it go in one ear and out the other.
  • spiralcloudspiralcloud Registered User Posts: 887 Member
    yeah, I'm a girl.
    and about speech and debate--they only don't like it because its science-ish. Oh yeah, its weird that's for sure haha. So strange. But mock trial isn't weird! It's just not sciency enough

    thanks everyone! you guys rock and apparently nobody disagrees which is interesting...

    oh and about $$
    my parents will pay for what they don't like. they just won't do it happily. they'll still claim I'm a disappointment anyways. So, if I do magically get into cornell, they'll pay for it. but they'll still complain about it.
    and even if I go to asu/u of A; I'm pretty sure it will be free...I got "exceeds" on all of my AIMS stuff so that shouldn't be a problem.
  • lilmomlilmom Registered User Posts: 3,400 Senior Member
    spiralcloud, sounds like you've got a good plan. At an exciting/stressful time in your life, it be nice to have our parents' support, wouldn't it? My dad wanted my brothers to go to the naval academy and neither one of them was remotely into the military life. But they went ahead with their plans and dad learned to accept it. They're both successful and dad is proud. BTW, you're not the only one who's posted here with this problem. Be confident - you'll be fine.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,430 Senior Member
    Everyone has given you good advice and I also agree that you need to continue to pursue that which motivates you. Many decades ago my best friend was in a similar situation but because of her parents religious beliefs. Her parents paid to college educate her brothers but not her. She managed to put herself through college and land a decent job and buy a house all on her own and all with the disapproval of her parents and then she almost put them in their grave by gasp...dating and eventually marrying a divorced guy who was not quite divorced when they started dating, but throughout it all, throughout all her parents proclaimed "disappointment" her parents never stopped loving her and I have no doubt your parents love you, so keep forging forward as best as you can.
This discussion has been closed.