In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions podcast, I talk about those annoying and hurtful comments that our parents make about us and our life choices that leave us believing that we are a disappointment. I delve into some of the ways our parents’ often unrealistic expectations manifest themselves and some of the reasons for this communication pattern. I also share tips on how to evolve our relationship with our parents’ expectations so that we don’t have to feel bad about ourselves or our relationship with them.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • Part of transitioning from childhood to adulthood is disappointing our parents due to establishing our own identity. Living our lives happily and authentically might not look the way our parents envisioned.
  • Barbed, judgmental and inappropriate comments about our relationship status, career, sexuality, how we run our lives, etc., are hurtful. They can create the impression that we are wounding our parents with our life choices.
  • Some parents not only feel entitled to their expectations but to also make demands. When we’re unable (or don’t want) to comply, they then judge our life choices. e.g. They demand that we give a large amount of money to a relative. We say that we can’t or don’t want to, and then it becomes about how we’re a ‘failure’ and ‘disappointment’ for not having this amount of savings on hand. The comments roll in about our choice of career or lack of a spouse or how we’re bringing shame on the family. At no point do they acknowledge that their expectations are unrealistic and inappropriate.
  • There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do things for our parents but we need to be aware of our ‘why’. If we do things, not because we want to but because we feel obliged, it breeds resentment. We also need to acknowledge where we behave as if we’re in permanent debt to our family. Sure, we can be grateful for what a parent did, but we don’t owe them our life choices.
  • When we remember that we’re grown-ups and accept our parents for who they are, we can develop a sense of humour about their comments. Or, we can address their comments by asking what they meant or letting them know how they came across.

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