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I will always be a disappointment to my parents. What do I do?
I'm 16 and have been having a lot of trouble with my parents recently. There are two main issues, per-say. Firstly, I feel a constant judgment whenever I am around them, as if I will never be enough for them. Writing it it sounds silly, we are a very fortunate family and they have been kind enough to send me to a private school where I have many friends and can be happy. I am a diligent student, get good grades and always try to be a kind person. Despite all this, I can't help but feel that I'm not meeting what they want in a child, that everything I do is never up to their standards and that I will do nothing but disappoint them. Like I said, I feel bad that I feel this way, because I am so fortunate compared to others, but it still creeps in and it is destroying me. Secondly, I never feel comfortable being my true self around them. Primarily, this arises around the topic of sex. From an early age, sex and love were never, ever discussed. It got to the point where my sister (4 years younger) gave me the 'sex talk' as opposed to my parents. Very bad. I am a very sexual person, I can remember exploring myself from an early age, but never in a way that was offensive to others. Last year I was in a healthy, loving, consensual, overall good relationship with a girl my age, my parents even described it this way. Around this time last year, we decided to get more sexual and went all the way. I am sure it was done for the right reasons, not purely carnal, but also loving. I ended up having to tell my parents for reasons I can't explain in this amount of text, but they became very very angry with me. As a side note, I would appreciate it if any sex lectures weren't submitted, what's done is done. They told me that they needed me to have talked to them before doing it, but how was I supposed to do that without ever having talked to them or feeling comfortable talking to them about it. Another issue regarding sex has come up with my very occasional consumption of adult material. They never told me not to engage in that whatsoever. I'm running out of room but the gist is that I feel as though I am always failing them and that everything I do will be a disappointment to them. I think I'm a good kid, I've never experimented with drugs, I have good friends, and I'm kind, but they always find fault with me. I hope I've given enough information, all repies are appreciated, thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
Hi Tim, welcome
What an honest well written post, thankyou.
Admittedly I did fond your account of your parents judgements of you a little overbearing. This occurs with parents for reasons like- fear! fear that you'll get a girl pregnant or STD's, even honour if they are old fashioned. Soon you'll become an adult officially - 2 years isn't long. But the influence from them ownt stop, in fact in my own experience of a parent being too often in a helicopter hovering over my every move never did stop. So your options apart from eventually disowning them down the track is- distancing.
This effectively means a course of actions that will MINIMALIZE their contact with you daily. How do you go about this?
Well, less time in the living room where they have more opportunity to observe you and mention things of disciplinary content. Do your chores without fuss. Learn to ignore abuse- walk away. Plan your future- the next 3-5 years like uni, apprenticeship etc...whatever you choose study your career path now.
Unfortunately for you 16 is still officially a child so they do have a duty to guide you and reprimand you. Two year time you can make your own life choices if you, for example want to sleep with a girl. Do it responsibly and of course consensually and there is no problem, if they find out and it becomes a problem politely point out it is their problem not yours. That's when you have a right as an adult to make your own responsible decisions.
The only other option is to plan to leave home if it becomes too unbearable. I did so at 17yo, joined the RAAF. Benefits were immediate- good pay, a career, adventure, cheap accommodation and food. Plus it set me up for life with employment when I left.
Welcome to the forums and thanks for reaching out. TonyWK wrote about distancing yourself from parents in lots of different ways; was this something that you were considering?
I agree though that a lot of the way your parents reacted probably did come from fear; especially the idea that protection is never 100% effective. Even though I also totally see why you weren't able to talk about sex with your parents. I was the same. I learned about it from friends, or the internet (which was very slow in my age heh).
I wonder about the other ways you felt like you were a disappointment to your parents - where does that come from? Is that something your parents have said, or that you've felt? What do you think were to happen if you told them you felt like that?
Your answer to that probably makes a big difference. Maybe your parents think you are a disappointment (which is really sad), or maybe they don't think that and you're just getting a strong vibe that they do. Parent's don't always know how to parent sometimes. Sometimes their intentions are good, other times, not so good. I think it would be really helpful to try and figure that out.
Hope this helps,
Reading about the way you mentioned that you are a disappointment to your parents is not the greatest feeling. Feeling worthless is also not good.
I wish I could relate however from my own experience I cannot. I can only express it through the eyes of my three adult siblings. They all made mistakes in the past and as all parents are different, our mother especially remembers them and holds grudges. This can be very difficult of what I've been told. It will also dampen a parent's goals and dreams for their children when they are not achieved.
I will tell you what I told my siblings, even though mother can be cruel and harsh, you're an adult now. You can choose to endure it because at the end of the day she gave birth to us or you can have less contact and call her once a month and be polite. One day when she passes on, in your heart you know that you were nice to her till the end. After all, we are all imperfect. Mother is very private and hard to open up and, talk about her feelings so when they have a chat to her it's like talking to a wall. I feel sorry for them.
What I'm trying to say is that all parents are different in their parenting ways and skills. They try the best they can. Sometimes complimenting their good deeds and encouragement will make them feel love and appreciation. I'm turn they will return the favor, I believe in this. Work life can be busy and frustrating at times for parents, sometimes you may feel neglected as a child however giving everyone space will be a good start.
I have a good relationship with my parents. As your parents sent you to private school I believe there is love there. I went to a public school as my parents couldn't afford private school. I'm grateful I went to school and finished high school.
2 years is not long to go. Make the most of it. Make yourself happy, list goals and work towards it. Focus on that and leave the past behind. Your parents will notice a change for the better and realise they need to step up or once you move out, they would be lucky to see your happy face again. Good luck.
Take care, Jb