Last week I had a conversation with my friend about helicopter parents. Her helicopter parents. They won’t let her have a boyfriend (she’s a sophomore in college) and they force all of their values onto her. They feel a need to be in control. She wants to abandon her religion, but she can’t. She has to please her parents; she doesn’t want her parents to be disappointed in her.
Her behaviour is completely normal; no one wants to disappoint other people, especially their parents. But disappointing others happens. And it’s okay that it happens. If your parents love you, they won’t care what path you take. If they can’t accept you for your true self, then that’s on them. If you show your parents who you truly are; if you make an effort to have a relationship with them and they still don’t accept you, then that will be their regret. Your regret will always be not being true to yourself.
My parents were raised during the Cultural Revolution. Back then, you were told what to do and you didn’t question it. So they — along with many other Chinese parents — took this mentality with them as they raised their kids.
But I don’t like being told what to do. Whenever I was told to take out the trash, I would fight them. It takes two minutes to take the trash out, but I would spend 20-30 minutes arguing with them. I didn’t want to take out the trash. Especially not after they told me to. I’m really rebellious.
From an early age, I established my individuality. I wasn’t afraid to fight my parents. I wasn’t going to settle for their vision of me, I needed to be who I really was. And I have a good relationship with my parents. We talk every couple of days and I tell them things most kids wouldn’t tell their parents (like going out and hosting parties). I don’t hide anything from them. Our relationship is so good because I don’t need to constantly please them, I just be myself.
You can’t let other people define who you are, and what makes you successful. You have to define those things. You have to be the hero of your own story. You create your own identity. If there’s something that you really want to do, then do it. Do what feels right. We’re all born with innate interests, find out what yours are.
When you get the courage to step up to whoever is defining you, break their definition and create your own, then you’ll be much happier in life. You’ll do things that you truly want to do and not things that others want you to do. You’ll be more successful, you’ll have more fun, you’ll live a better life. Life only lasts so long. Don’t waste it on pursuing other people’s dreams, pursue your own dreams.
Today, the friend I talked to about helicopter parents told me that she’s dating someone. It’s against her parents will, but she has to please herself. It’s a good first step. Be like her; do what you want to do. But eventually, she’ll have to face her parents and tell them how she really feels, what she really wants to do. When that happens, she’ll have finally broken their definition of her and she can finally create a definition of her own.