While my parents are very open-minded and have generally let my siblings and I pursue the career paths that we want, I have had my fair share of resistance. Like many people, growing up with old school parents meant that when it came to choosing a career, your choices were limited to being a doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse, or some other more “traditional” career. Certain professions weren’t even meant to be mentioned let alone thought about.
However, things have changed. More and more people are opting for creative careers. I like to think that most youth are pursuing their interests rather than sticking to the norm and what society expects from them. There are now more and more people opting to be writers, aestheticians, digital content creators, and they’re not only proud of their careers but they’re excelling at them.
But this shift in career choices comes with dealing parents’ disapproval. While it’s unhealthy to seek and thrive on others’ approval, having your parents on your side has its benefits. Nevertheless, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some parents stick to their guns and don’t try to hide their disapproval.
It might not be easy pursuing your dream with naysayers breathing down your neck but choosing to listen to your inner voice is a lesson we all need to learn. If you’re struggling with dealing with your parents’ disapproval, here are some tips.
1. Find out the reason for their disapproval
One of the best ways of dealing with conflict is finding out its root cause. Sit with your parents and ask them what it is about your choice of career that makes them uncomfortable.
Their reasons could be as varied as a lack of understanding to their upbringing and struggles earlier in life. Perhaps they had hoped to become a medical professional when they were younger but life dealt them a different card and so they are now projecting their dreams on you.
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Be open-minded and try to understand them. Avoid pointing fingers and passing judgement.
2. Show enthusiasm for your career
Your parents want the best for you therefore, if all they hear from you is complaints about your job, they will only have more reason to disapprove of your career. Help your parents get over their disappointment by speaking positively about your work. Share your wins and how much you love the challenges that crop up.
When your parents see how happy you are with your career, there will be less animosity towards it. They will also be able to better understand what it is that you do.
3. Put up boundaries
When there’s a misunderstanding in the family, family gatherings become harder and it might seem like any conversation you have leads to a fight. To avoid this, put boundaries. Establish what you can and cannot talk about as regards your career. Tell them what you would like from them, such as support, and what you wouldn’t want i.e. them trying to coerce you into a different career.
4. Accept that they might never understand your decision
Part of being an adult is knowing and accepting that your decisions will not be everybody’s cup of tea. Even when you go out of your way to explain your career to your parents and ensure that you have told them why you chose it, they might still have reservations and not shy away from voicing them.
Instead of constantly fighting about it, let it go and accept that you can’t do anything to waylay their disappointment. Your life choices are different from theirs but this doesn’t mean that either you or your parents are bad. You just have a different view of life. Whenever they begin to talk about why you should have chosen one career over the other, ask them why they feel that way and tell them that you understand their feelings.
Realise that if you need your parents approval, that is a sign of codependency.
5. Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers
Your parents want the best for you and thus feel like you’re making a mistake opting for that job. When speaking to them, explain that at the moment, you love your choice of career but you never know what will happen in the future. Be firm in your conviction to pursue your career but let them know that this is what you want to do for now.