My parents expect me to look after them but they don’t appreciate anything I do.
It’s time to put your needs first, says our elder. Study for your future, and take care of your own wellbeing.
I am a community college student living at home with my parents. I was committed to my dream school but got rescinded due to poor grades my senior year of high school. My sister was put into a psychiatric hospital and I had to spend much of my time there translating for my immigrant parents who don’t know any English about what was going on. I don’t deal with stress well. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety but I always put my education and goals for the future first no matter what. I feel like my parents don’t really recognize that. I am sure they love me or whatever, but today felt like they didn’t appreciate the work that I already put in. They expect me to buy a house for them when I am older. I don’t mind because I do love them and would rather have them live with me than a retirement home, but it is a lot of pressure. My brother and sister are both autistic so my parents don’t believe they have any potential (sucks, I know). They put this burden of a responsibility on me; I have to be the one that carries the family. This is a lot of pressure since I feel like I have to graduate at a specific time.
I am currently going to a local school that offers me free tuition, meaning I get to save money. I thought that my parents would have wanted this, but they’re ashamed. My dad said that he lies and tells people I go to some prestigious university in LA and tells me to not tell anyone about it. My mom says I am lazy and I should consider getting a job. However, she also says that I shouldn’t get a job or else I’d dedicate too much time towards that and flunk out of school. It makes me feel bad when she says this because I feel incompetent. It’s never been what I want. For instance, when I told them I wanted to become a psychologist in the future, they said no. I don’t really know what to do. I don’t expect any solid advice. Some words of encouragement would suffice. Thanks.
Thanks for trusting the Elders to listen to your concerns.
I am sorry to hear that your family is not supporting your educational goals and is placing so much burden at your feet. I understand that there are many cultures where parents expect their children to take care of them after the child reaches a certain age. It’s too bad that they don’t see the link between you getting a degree and being able to help them out in the future. I am especially sad that they don’t seem to value your past or current contributions to the family, but again, this may be a cultural mindset based on their upbringing. So, here you are caught between the old culture of the grown child still expected to earn their parents’ approval by following their cultural expectations and the newer culture of following your own goals and dreams into a career and life of your choosing. No wonder you feel stress and a lack of confidence, especially as you become more aware of the new cultural freedom of choices around you.
There are many compromises and trade-offs normally in life but none that you should allow if they truly make you miserable. I personally would encourage you to continue to work toward a college degree and a profession of your choice, but only you can decide how much family drama is tolerable if you maintain this priority. I know that you love your parents, but if you cannot love yourself because of your parents’ attitudes toward you and your status in the family, it will be very challenging to feel satisfied and fulfilled as an adult. Being true to yourself is one of the biggest continuing challenges we have in adult life because we are pulled in so many directions, but it has rewards like self-respect and satisfaction. The cost is that the actions to honor our true feelings sometimes result in guilt or the disappointment of others we care about. I believe that those who deeply love us understand our truth, even if they disagree with our actions. This is something for you to think about as you make the choices ahead of you.
I sincerely hope that you and your family can work this out; in the meantime, my advice to you is to care for yourself above everything else. Worrying yourself into poor health will just make life more difficult. Eat healthy, get regular exercise of some kind, and take some time each day to de-stress. De-stressing may include the exercise since physical activity is often a good release for tension and stress, but it may also include taking 15 or 20 minutes each day to listen to music, or create a new recipe, or just sit and let your mind go blank — whatever gives you peace and joy. I have found throughout my life that if I can step outside of the stress and ignore it for even a short time, a solution or resolution of an issue often presents itself. Caring for yourself should be your first priority always, but it is especially important when you are feeling unloved or unappreciated — it can help tremendously. Also, taking care of your own well being is one way of loving and accepting yourself, which will boost your confidence in making your choices, as well as help you physically.
Finally, let me assure you that we Elders are always here to listen if you need to blow off some frustration or want additional advice. I hope I have given you some food for thought as well as the words of encouragement you were seeking. You deserve to have the life you want and choose. I have every confidence that you will find your path through this challenge with hope and determination to be true to yourself. Best wishes to you on this journey.
Letter #: 452151