I ADORE my parents with every fiber of my being. The reason I am the way I am today is because of how they loved me as a child, tolerated me as an adolescent, and how they encourage me today as a woman. I owe a lot to them and plan to spend the rest of my life reciprocating their love and their emotional and material support. Experience has taught me that I can love them without needing their approval regarding everything in my life. I want to teach you how to love your parents without needing their validation.
Let’s face it: most of how we have defined ourselves is based on approval. Subconsciously or otherwise, we are the result of the positive reinforcement that someone gave us, somewhere along the way. Although it has shaped us, I’m here to tell you now that it isn’t necessary. Approval, validation, permission are all things ingrained within our DNA that alert us we’re doing something right. Growing up in a structured society, we’re all taught to carry ourselves a certain way; there are rules and regulations. And by the way, don’t you dare operate outside the edges of established propriety. I’m telling you now, as an adult, that’s bullshit.
I’m not saying become an impolite outcast and go against everything you’re taught. I’m telling you to fine-tune who you are by playing by your own rules. Is it acceptable to intentionally hurt others? No. Is it OK to get ahead by stepping all over people and taking advantage of situations? No. Is it OK to remember the important lessons you’ve been taught throughout the years and embellish them so that you can live your happiest and most fulfilled version? Absolutely, baby!
Here’s where the parental aspect of this comes in. Recently, I was chatting with an old friend who expressed to me that the only thing she cares about in this world is the approval of her parents. She pursued the career they insisted upon, and felt guilty as all hell for dating a man they didn’t believe was good enough for her. As much as she loved him, she began seeing fault in him because of the seed they planted in her head. I was asking her questions about what she wanted out of life and all she could talk about was making her parents proud. Poor girl. I thought to myself.
There’s a distinction between love and validation, and it’s a blessing of adulthood that we can pave our own paths beyond the ones our parents have held our hands and directed us to walk upon.
If you grew up in a conservative household and many things were off-limits and forbidden, you probably either grew up to be curious about what you were missing out on, or remained the same. Let’s say you always wanted to celebrate Halloween but was never allowed to. If you decided to indulge in your freedom as an adult, you were probably understandably reluctant at first so as not to raise your folks’ eyebrows, or, you showed up at your first Halloween function as a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
They forbade you because they were trying to protect you. It’s up to you now. They may not agree with your choices, but they should still love you.
I always say, “I do not take advice from those whose lives I do not wish to live.” I apply this to career and business advice. If you come from a family of business owners, lawyers, doctors, rocket scientist or the like, chances are they have all but insisted you carry on the tradition. Take into account how happy they are with their career choices and think of what would bring you fulfillment while you make your living. If it involves opening up your own dance studio as opposed to what you were brought up to believe you should be, then by all means, start getting your permits together to open up that studio!
I’ve been told that an average person should have around three careers in their lifetime in order to avoid burnout. If one thing doesn’t work out for you, move on to the next one. If you’re happy with your career and it’s earning you a decent living, who wouldn’t be proud of ya?
This is a tough topic to cover. Religion and spirituality are very touchy subjects, so I’ll be as gentle and quick as I can. Whatever you were forced to believe in as a youngster that didn’t feel right to you, you have the choice to dismiss as an adult. Explore other methods. There is no one correct way to go about tapping into the spiritual fulfillment all humans seek.
If you have parents or family that make it hard for you to love them, always remember this. You don’t have to like someone in order to love them. Loving from a distance is healthy and necessary sometimes. Show respect when they’re around then live your life on your terms, because if you don’t make the decisions that will ensure your happiness, who else will make them for you?