Were Your Parents Proud Of You?

Categories: Advice

meettheparents1.jpg

Are they still?

I'm sure the answer is yes, unless you're Christina Crawford.

But we often convince ourselves that our parents weren't really supportive of us because it's easier to fall into a self-victimizing frame of mind that plays into our I-wasn't-loved-enough-as-a-child shtick.

We lose sight of the glimmers of their pride because saying "I got no validation whatsoever" makes for a better story, gets more attention from friends, and justifies all your continuing screwups and sourness.

Well, it's worth rummaging through your memory bank for some Hallmark moments that will dispel those horrid thoughts, at least until the paranoia returns.

Just recently, I remembered that my father would explode with sheer glee every time we got a notice in the mail saying that I had been named to the dean's list at Columbia.

To me, it wasn't much of an achievement -- a lot of students got those mailings, and I honestly didn't feel I was doing as well as I could -- but Dad lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the dean's signature on a letter about how I was excelling at my studies.

He would go on and on about how much it meant that I had landed on the dean's list, as if I'd cured cancer and won the Pulitzer Prize every single semester.

He was so proud! And it made me feel so good about myself -- and about our relationship!

Does that make up for the time he cheated to beat me at cards?

Yes!


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12 comments
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AnonTWO
AnonTWO

in a word "no". Although I won a full scholarship to college and was the first of my fam to get to college my mom made it clear what was wrong with me and not what I was doing right.Whenever I hear Prince's "When Dove's Cry" it reminds me of mom.

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

My folks had some Joan Crawford in them. I always blamed it on the Cold War. Nothing I did was ever good enough, though later I figured they probably just didn't want to be upstaged by their own spawn. In their old age, when everyone around them kept complimenting them for having me, they came around. One of those little family tragedies ... it was just too late for me to meet them even halfway. My small evil mind went, Yeah right - you talk that way now because if you did like you used to everyone will think you're the wrong one. Now they're gone I just keep telling myself: don't have kids of your own, don't step on the downtrodden, and hope you get a better deal out of what's left in life.

Michael, what is this you've opened up in people? Thanks anyway.

Ron Bruguiere
Ron Bruguiere

When I told my parents I wanted to go to Emerson to study acting, my father said, "Be a gym teacher like your Uncle Harold."

So, when I began forging a successful career in the management side of NY theater, my parents asked me if I could get my brother involved. OY!

Read about my parents in my theater memoir, COLLISION: when reality and illusion collide.

MSpeer
MSpeer

Yes, ultimately they were/are. There were bumpy times back there in the late 60s but we persevered.

Regarding the bumps, there are some answers you will never have or even if you did you wouldn't be satisfied with them. When I approached my Dad about some of the more unhappy decisions that were made along the way his very truthful response was "It seemed like the best thing to do at the time." What could I say?

Troofire
Troofire

My mother took me to my first Broadway musical, The Music Man, and beamed at all my theatrical endeavors.  My father just tagged along.  He couldn't understand why I didn't play football, like he did.  When I won my first $20K NEA Fellowship in Fiction, all my father said was, "Jesus Christ!" as in "what a waste."  He didn't live long enough to see me win my second.

Sasquatch
Sasquatch

Even if they were grudging in their praise, it's important to hold on to the times they gave it. And when they weren't so forthcoming, it might have been out of some misguided but well meaning idea that they didn't want to swell your head. Most  parents do mean well.

Savannah Montgomery
Savannah Montgomery

You've tapped into a well Michael...I, [my mother died when I was 6 yrs old and spare me the bathos, thanks]...was raised by my uncle and aunt [mom's bro and sis] and yes, I strove to be the "best little boy in the world" because of that...and yes, did the "honor roll" thingy before it was "bumper sticker worthy"...BUT...my greatest "proud moment" was over-hearing my uncle brag about my performance as Snoopy.

[Full Disclosure: I was the only black person in the show...in South Carolina...1970's]

Melinda9
Melinda9

Short answer - no. (But I'm over it now)

Movielover
Movielover

Parental approval means a lot when you're a kid and also how you feel in general about yourself as you get older.  When you're fairly grown up you realize that however good or bad your parents were, they were simply people, just like the ones you see all over the place, and they probably had their foibles as all humanoids tend to.  My dad died when I was a kid, so all I had to do was be bright and cute for him to be proud of me.  He laughed when I (his son!) made a bikini out of plastic wrap from the dry cleaners.  Mom was proud of me for a lot of reasons though maybe because I was hers, not because I'm so great, though I have my moments, so I've been told.

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