Why do you need to let go of your parents’ expectations?
How do you stop always being worried about what your parents will think?
Parents typically make up a large portion of their children’s lives. Though it’s not always the case, most parents are the primary providers for their children and their main influence.
With that being said, it also means parents often have certain expectations for their children. They want what they believe to be best for them.
It can be hard to live up to the expectations of others, even if they are your parents. And it can be even more challenging when the expectations your parents have for you don’t align with what you want for yourself.
It’s impossible to live your own life, be who you are, and accomplish your own goals when you’re living for your parents. You have to live for yourself, you have to set boundaries and be who you’re meant to be. Only you can decide that!
Is there a way to let go of your parents’ expectations without harming the relationship? And if so, how can you do it? Let’s discuss healthy ways to let go of the expectations of others, even if they’re your parents.
Why are Parents’ Opinions So Important?
The struggle many people face when it comes to their parents is the deep-seated need to make them proud. This need and desire to impress the people who raised you are not uncommon, and it can stem from many sources.
Some people may downright fear their parents and the reaction they will get if they do something their parent disapproves of. Some might never have felt good enough to their parents, so they desperately want to prove that they are worthy of their love and admiration.
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Dealing with Your Parents Disapproval
The list goes on as to why people feel the deep need to care for their parents’ opinions. But the truth is, after a certain point, it shouldn’t matter. Once you’re an adult and living on your own, you truly become your own person with your own life.
You want their validation of your choice and you likely believe their opinion to be the one that matters most. However, you have to remember the decisions for your life are not theirs to make.
The thoughts and ideas your parents may have had for your life don’t fall in line with what you truly want. And that’s okay. It will always be okay.
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How to Deal with Your Parents Expectations
There can be a massive amount of pressure to live up to what your parents want you to be, even if you know deep down it’s not what you want out of life.
You may wonder to yourself, “How can I ever be what I want to be when I’m always worried about what my parents will think?”
It’s difficult to know how to deal with high expectations from parents. The weight of their hopes for you can be extremely heavy to carry, and it’s crucial to figure out a way to lessen the burden.
#1. Make a List of All Expectations
Making a list is a highly recommended way to compare differences. Start by making a list of all the things you know your parents expect from you: the career path they want you to choose, the life they want you to live, and any and all expectations you know they have for your life.
Then, create a second list filled with your own expectations compared to theirs. The career you want might not be anything close to what they think you should have. They may expect marriage and children from you when deep down, you don’t think that’s the path you want to take.
#2. Figure Out What Will Make You Happy
You can also write down the reason your expectations will make you happy. There are many instances parents or even society expects people to be a certain way, but not everyone fits into a specific mold.
Remind yourself why you believe doing the things on your list will make you feel happy with your life.
#3. Compare Expectations and Decide
Take your lists and compare. You may be surprised to find at least a few similarities between them. You also might find few to none. And that is okay. Remind yourself that they will not be the ones living your life; you will be. Your choices need to be things that make you feel happy and fulfilled.
When you feel doubtful, remind yourself of the list you made and why you made it. It’s not a bad idea to keep the list of your parents’ expectations either. You can remind yourself that it’s okay not to be the person they expected you to be. Focus on who you want to be.
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#4. Let Go of Your Parents Problems
You might often find that the expectations your parents have created stem from issues of their own. Most parents want certain things for their children because they did not have them.
Your parents have expectations for you to get a high-paying job because they struggled with money their entire lives. They want you to choose a reliable career field because they were laid off from their job. They worked a difficult manual labor job, so they want you to choose a job that’s easier on your body.
The intentions of parents are not always to simply make your life harder. Sometimes, they do believe they are doing things to make your life better.
It’s essential, however, to still remember even if the intentions of your parents are good, their problems are not your problems. Altering your life to fit their worries will still land you in a potential position of unhappiness doing a job or living a life you don’t truly want.
Remind yourself to be grateful for all your parents did for you and the struggles they faced. However, their problems are not your burden to carry. They should not affect the choices you make in life and determine how you decide to live. You can still be thankful without making their problems yours.
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How Do You Detach from Your Parents?
Without disrespecting or ruining a relationship, how can you set healthy boundaries with your parents? Or your overbearing, yet well-meaning family?
Having parents who insist on being present for your major life decisions or having a say in them can make it difficult to detach yourself. However, if you never do things for yourself without their opinions in your ear, you will never fully feel independent.
Start with making a decision for yourself without first consulting your parents. Take when to buy life insurance, for example. You may think this is something you should first speak with your parents about. They have likely done it already and are able to guide you in the right direction.
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Do Your Own Research First
But, in order to gain a step towards independence, you have to be able to figure some things out on your own. Begin doing research on when the best time to buy is, how much you should have a policy for, and what factors affect your policy.
In the day and age of the internet, you can look up just about anything with a simple click. This makes it extremely easy to do your own research and find the information you need. Have confidence in yourself to find the information you’re looking for without the safety net of your parents.
This isn’t to say you can’t still ask for your parents’ opinions. The knowledge they have gained throughout their lives is still valuable, so you don’t have to shut them out completely if you don’t want to. However, having all your information before speaking to them allows you to have your own opinion and evidence about the topic.
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It’s Okay If Your Parents Disagree With You
Don’t be afraid to state your opinion either if your parents have thoughts you don’t agree with. Explain in a calm manner why you don’t agree with them and why you’re choosing the option you decided on. Though they may have some pieces of good advice, you still should stick to what you believe is the right choice for you.
Making decisions on your own and gaining independence for yourself from your parents is the first step in detaching yourself from them and learning to let go of their expectations for your life.
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How To Set Healthy Boundaries with Parents
If you have older parents, this is especially challenging to set boundaries. Parents who have children older in life may have more free time when their child is an adult. Depending on the age, they may already be retired by the time a child is ready to make their own decisions for their life.
Though retirement is supposed to be a golden age, parents who have high expectations may spend their retirement years worrying and meddling more in the lives of their children.
Setting boundaries with parents is an important part of adulthood. Parents need to be aware that just because they have the time to be involved in their child’s life doesn’t mean it needs to be their main focus.
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Speak to Your Parents, Set Your Boundaries
Having a conversation with older parents about being able to live your own life without them involved in every aspect is a great place to start. Be sure they understand you’re not saying you don’t want them involved; you’re simply creating boundaries now that you are an adult with your own life that is separate from theirs.
Some parents may accept this and understand. Others may try to disagree and argue they are doing what’s best for you. It’s important to hold your ground and explain that as an adult, your life is not theirs.
It’s okay for parents to care. That is a natural thing. However, there is a difference between caring and overstepping boundaries—parents who do this need guidelines about what their children will tolerate and what they won’t.
Without set boundaries for the parents who need them, they may still try to control aspects of their children’s lives. It’s important for them to understand their place and know there is such a thing as surpassing simply being concerned and moving into the territory of controlling because of their expectations.
Extreme Cases Only: Disowning Your Parents
This is clearly an extreme circumstance. You wouldn’t be wondering if it’s okay to disown your parents if it weren’t. However, breaking up with toxic parents is sometimes the only route to take.
If you have tried every other option, from having civilized conversations to standing your ground for what you want out of life, and your parents still refuse to be okay with your decisions, then you may not have another choice.
Allowing toxic people to stay in your life, even if they are your parents, only drains your mental health. You can’t live the life you want if you are continually being brought down by your parents’ opinions and expectations about your life.
If you do feel this is the route you have to take, make sure you can walk away knowing you did all you could. Don’t put the blame on yourself if you tried your best to make the relationship work.
Your parents may need the wake-up call of you walking away before they even see an error in their actions. It could cause them to want to come back into your life after some time apart with a new outlook and work on rebuilding the relationship.
On the other hand, they may not want to see the error of their ways. This is something you must be prepared for if disowning your parents is the route you want to take. Some will never understand and therefore refuse to fix the relationship. Be prepared for this possibility but still do what you must live a life you love.
Your Parents’ Expectations Don’t Decide Your Life
It can be challenging to know how to let go of expectations set by your parents. But it’s important to keep in mind that no one is living your life but you.
Living your life for others, rather than yourself, will likely only leave you feeling empty. You have to make the choices that benefit you and your future. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your parents, you are simply doing what makes you happy.
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Having those conversations, doing things for yourself, and standing your ground help you create a sense of independence from what your parents expect from you. With effort, you can hopefully reach a point where they understand who you are and what you want out of life.
Some parents may never reach that point. It’s okay for you to cut them off if they can’t accept your life and your choices. In the end, you need to do what’s best for you.
You’ve got to live your own life, and pursue your own dreams!
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How do you let go of your parents’ expectations?
More About Guest Contributor
Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the car, home, and life insurance comparison site, USInsuranceAgents.com. She has first-hand experience letting go of a parent’s expectations and learning to live a life she loved.