Disappointing parents: the fear that hinders growth

Disappointing parents: the fear that hinders growth

There are several factors that can prevent us from achieving the goals we set in our life. Among these, the fear of disappointing parents.

Disappointing parents: the fear that hinders growth

Last update: July 18, 2022

There are several factors that can prevent us from achieving the goals we set in our life. Much has already been written about some of them: procrastination, lack of clear goals, laziness… But there is one that is not particularly well known and which, however, strongly compromises our long-term happiness. We are talking about the fear of disappointing parents.

For many people, the opinion of others is fundamental to their self-esteem, but if there are two people whose way of seeing us particularly affects us, they are undoubtedly our parents. Thus, some people never make their dreams come true for fear of not being up to their eyes.

In this article we will analyze the reasons why the fear of disappointing parents arises and what effects it can have on growth. We will also see how we can react to address the problem when it arises.

What is the fear of disappointing parents?

For most people, what our loved ones think about us is very important. Consequently, to a good extent, our self-esteem is based on their opinions about us. Of course, this isn't the only aspect involved, but it can be really hard to love yourself if we surround ourselves with people who don't consider us up to par.

In the case of our parents, it gets a bit more complicated. In general, what they value is not what we want for ourselves. Most likely, there are evident differences in opinions, tastes and personalities between the two sides; consequently, at times, decisions will have to be taken that will generate conflict and, therefore, the risk is that they will not be appreciated.

At first, the fear of disappointing parents should have no reason to exist. Their love is supposed to be unconditional, but that's not always the case. Sometimes the way they express themselves or treat us may give us the feeling that we can count on their support only by doing what they would like for us.

According to psychologist Isabel Menéndez Benavente, parents today want their children to be well educated, competitive and get good grades. They demand a lot of them, ignoring whether or not they can achieve what they want and, furthermore, ignoring that they may not be interested in it.

What effects does this fear cause

For some people, the mere thought of losing their parents' affection it prevents them from doing what they really want. Each person will express this fear in different ways; to follow, we will see some of the most frequent.

  • Choose a “safe” job. In order not to disappoint their parents, some people will pursue careers in an industry they are not really attracted to, but which they think will offer them greater stability.
  • Avoid taking risks. Do you have a wish that you have not tried to fulfill for fear of failure? To a large extent this is due to the so-called social sanction principle.
  • Restrict their emotional freedoms. One of the most serious effects of the fear of disappointing parents occurs when a person avoids creating emotional or sexual bonds for fear of what the parents might think. This is usually typical of homosexual people, but it can also occur in heterosexual individuals.

As you may have noticed, the fear of disappointing one's parents can affect almost any aspect of our life. Fortunately, however, there are some ways to work on it. In the following paragraph you will discover some of the most effective.

How to silence the fear of disappointing parents

  • Try to please yourself. It may be that disappointing your parents is painful, however, in general, not meeting your expectations is much more painful. How would you feel if in ten years you found yourself not having fulfilled any of your wishes? Ultimately, the only person who can choose how to live your life is you.
  • Remember that your parents are different from you. As much as they try to help you with the best of intentions, the reality is that many times they don't know what is right for you. Due to different factors, such as your different personalities and tastes or the social changes that have taken place in recent decades, it is very likely that their experiences are not really valid when applied to your life.
  • Take advantage of assertiveness. If you have decided to face this fear and start living the way you really want to, chances are you will have to confront them sooner or later. To do this in the best possible way, it will be very helpful to develop skills such as empathy, persuasive communication and emotional control. This is all part of the so-called concept of assertiveness.

Coping with the fear of disappointing parents can be tricky, especially if you are still living with them. However, doing so will likely be one of the actions that will bring great satisfaction in life. After all, only we know what we really want and what is right for us.

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