Piano Black – Parents Don’t Understand

Being a teenager, I wonder about my parents a lot. I wonder why they just don’t understand the situation I am in. Sometimes I even wonder if my parents were even kids. I’m sure they were, they just don’t care to tell me their little stories. Often times, I think parents try to create this “ideal” child in their head, and when the child is not even close to the image they tried to project on what would be a blank canvas, they are disappointed. But why is it difficult to see their child as their own person? I think this is the trouble I face a lot with my own parents.

I believed they wanted to me to be an honor-student-god-fearing-forever-young-superstar. Well, I was the honor student, for a while at least, and I’d like to believe I’d be forever young. But I never wanted to be a lawyer, and engineer, or mother Theresa… So I think to some degree I disappointed them. I want to be a professor, an educator, and most importantly, a good person.

I’ve gone through the usual phases, from “I want to just make my parents happy” to “I’m not a little girl anymore” to “I am so angry at the world” and lastly the “I am just trying to figure this out, but I think I know everything” phase, but honestly, I’m just a kid growing up.

Personally, I don’t think I make it very easy for my parents to understand me. For one, I am pretty private person, and I tend to not let them in my ever growing private world. As good typical parents, they would worry if their child was staying at school almost 10 hours a day, and seeing her face 2 inches away from the computer writing my heart out hours at a time. Although they don’t understand me now, I hope one day I have the courage to show them all of my work and that it all wasn’t for nothing. My parents did help me explore, and to form my own thoughts, and gave me a lot of free will(at least for plausible ideas).

It wasn’t until very recently I made a promise to myself that I was going to be honest with my parents in whatever I decide to pursue. I am coming of age, I can’t hide who I really am anymore, because I am the only one who is responsible for living my life, the way I want to.

First off, I told them I didn’t want to stay in the same state for school, and maybe not in the same country. I also told them I wanted to get a doctorates degree in whatever I pursue, and I didn’t even know if I was going to have kids (very radical I know, but things are subject to change, they always are). One thing I know is understood between my parents and I, and I’m sure for a lot of other cliche dysfunctional families, there is much love for the other. I guess what it gets very complicated.

Parents just don’t understand their kids, kids will never understand their parents either.


  1. TGAP Dad says

    As the father of three, the youngest being a high school freshman, I can assure you that the divide is definitely bi-directional. While my kids will all say that they are not understood, or misunderstood, by my wife and me, our perspective is one of having no idea what our kids are up to. It’s ke they take privacy to paranoid levels. There were times when literally, I’d ask my son (when he was in high school) what was going on, and he’d angrily snap at me to stay out of his private life. They all three post things on Facebook, for the entire f-ing world to see, but somehow see it as intrusive if we ask about any aspect that they willingly post. (They actually think it’s creepy and stalkerish of me to even HAVE a Facebook page.)

    I think it’s a fair assumption that for most parents to say that they just want to know who you are. In my case, I really don’t care about what hides in the dark recesses of their minds, but I WOULD want to know if they are behaving responsibly when engaging in behaviors involving risk: swimming with a buddy; wearing a helmet when biking; use condoms during sexual encounters, and so on.

    And we just want to know who are kids are as people. You are all so cute, and we love you so intensely, the very suddenly about 6th grade, you all begin to treat us as pariahs. With wallets. Just knowing what things you like, who you hang out with, what you think of your teachers, what you might want to study in college are not particularly invasive issues.

    One of the things that baffled all (reasonable) parents, was how the two Columbine shooters could have built bombs and amassed the arsenal they had without their parents even noticing something was amiss. Had they even had the most basic notion of who their sons were, that incident may possibly never have happened. We’ll never know.

    So go ahead and tell your parents who you are. Keep the deeply personal stuff to yourself, but give them a sense of the adult you’d like to become.

  2. Thorne says

    Parents just don’t understand their kids, kids will never understand their parents either.

    I don’t think either one of these assertions is true. My wife and I raised two boys, and despite everything we all managed to make it through their teenage years. Chances are that you, as well as your parents, will survive your teens as well.

    Don’t automatically assume that your parents don’t understand you. They may understand you more than you understand yourself. But if you don’t talk to them, keep the lines of communication open, you’ll never realize just how much they do understand.

    And eventually you will learn to understand them as well. Chances are they are doing the best they can to provide you with the tools you need to move out into the world. They are also trying to protect you, not only from outside influences, but from yourself. Sometimes the hardest thing for a parent to do is to sit back and watch her child stumble, knowing that she’ll learn more from the mistake than she would ever learn from the warning.

    Of course, I don’t know what the situation is within your home, but don’t make your choices for college based on how far away from home you can get. Decide what you want to do with your life, with the understanding that your decision will likely change at least once in the coming years, and make your choices based upon that. Select the school with the best curriculum for your needs, whether that school is halfway around the world or right down the street.

    And at least acknowledge how much your parents have sacrificed in order to get you where you are now. That doesn’t mean you owe them anything, of course. It was their choice, not yours. But chances are they deserve at least a modicum of respect for the efforts they’ve made to make your life bearable. And as you get older you just might learn how smart your parents have gotten over the years.

    Or not.

  3. piano black says

    @TGAPdad I can tell you right now that being a teenager in this generation is pretty tough but not for the same reasons why any other generation would be tough, our struggles are different.the biggest stifle we face Argos tender age is a sense of acceptance and not feeling alone, we are definitely at an awkward stage and we just don’t understand that our parents are humans too and they do just want the best for us. I think once your son comes of age,he will think you and your wife as people too and give a lot of thanks to you.

    @Thorne while every family is different, maybe your children and you just established a better relationship early one, I do see my parents as people and I do understand they care. I honestly thought I was making fun of myself throughout the passage. And I understand the schooling thing as well, but my best option happens to not be in the state that I am in. I don’t see myself doing things in spite because I know in the end it is my life and it will is the weight I will have to carry myself. I understand, maybe not fully, my parents are intelligent people and do know a lot more about life than I do, due to age alone. But I appreciate your different perspective on the topic of parent child relationships.

  4. Indigo says

    I’m not a parent, but I teach teenagers. I’m often regarded with a certain cautious attitude by my students – they can’t quite decide if I’m An Adult, and thus not to be trusted because I don’t Get It, or Someone Cool, who Understands. I’m not so far out of adolescence that I’ve utterly forgotten what it was like, but I’m old enough to feel that my perspective is different. It’s a balancing act. Nobody wants to patronize, but there are things that I want desperately for my students to understand. And for what it’s worth, I still have the urge to keep things from my own parents out of a desire to have a life outside of their control. Your parents – and mine! – are struggling to understand that their children are whole people in their own right, when for so long your identities were absolutely entwined.

  5. Piano Black says

    @indigo what great sentiments. I’ve had a few teachers like you, I think those teachers are the ones I feel most comfortable with. I’ve had a lot of teachers who were out of touch with the children by simply being from a different time or trying to be so like us it’s just weird. I agree with parents trying to see kids in their own right, I mean we are a part of them, so it must not be very easy for everyone to completely separate themselves from one another.

  6. beelzebubba says

    @Piano Black
    I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said. I’m a college student right now and in my experience it got better once there was some physical distance between me and my parents. My parents’ experience with me was a lot like TGAPDAD’s. They weren’t used to seeing me as an adult and had no idea how to relate to me as one because they had been used to relating to me as a child. I also wasn’t sure how to relate to them as an adult either so in high school our relationship was a lot of messy emotional improvisation. Neither me nor my parents had any clear idea on what our boundaries were. Boundaries got cleared up once I had been away from home for awhile and my parents and I both got used to the idea of me being an adult. It just took some time.

    Having said that I don’t know your situation. This is just what worked for me

  7. Ysanne says

    Seconding the “don’t worry, your parents feel the same way”, and I might add that it’s probably your turn to try and change this, if you want more mutual understanding.
    Growing up and becoming a person obviously includes learning to be independent, and that unusually includes some measure of shutting out and severing ties to people one used to depend on as a child, most notably one’s parents. It feels just so grown-up and smart and you can do everything alone and have it all figured out, and all these old people are so slow and couldn’t think straight for two seconds to save their life… You’re not alone with this.
    And it’s true, adults usually can’t really understand — even though they may have clear memories of having thought similarly to you way back when, one’s thinking evolves a lot even through one’s 20ies and 30ies, and looking back to one’s teens can be quite cringe-inducing.
    Also: There comes a time when one’s kid is not this cute little darling anymore whose every word/move/thought you just can’t help but find endearing, but starts to become a grown-up with their own grown-up personality, and while the parental love is unbroken, there arises the question whether the parent actually likes this person… as in, enjoying spending time with them, understanding them, having something in common, etc. Conversely, there’s a point where kids realize that their parents are actual people with needs, wishes, flaws, interests, etc.
    So to build a functioning relationship between your parents and yourself, you need to get to know each other as grown-ups, in addition to the level you already know each other on. They’re probably quite keen to do so (most parents I know are), so I’d say just go for it and see what they’re like — maybe they’re quite likeable people after all. ;-)

  8. Thorne says

    I understand, maybe not fully, my parents are intelligent people and do know a lot more about life than I do, due to age alone.

    LOL! Playing the age card, eh? Well, I’m glad your parents are intelligent, and that you can recognize that. Hopefully they’re intelligent enough to know that they don’t know everything. Hopefully you are, too. The hard part for you will be when you begin to understand that your parent’s don’t know everything.

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve thought about which schools you want to attend with more than just an eye for getting out from under your parents’ thumbs. I think you’ll do well.

  9. rhennthyl says

    I know that feeling very well, especially since I just finished experiencing them (college freshman here). That pressure to be their perfect everything gets very old very fast. The more physical distance I put between my family and myself, the more I think it’s unconscious – trying to compensate for what they didn’t have. And it is really hard to deal with that pressure pushing down on you. In their hearts, they want what’s best for you – they just have a different way of showing it. A particularly poignant quote from Mass Effect 2: “He was trying to help you. It’s not perfect, it’s not what you wanted, but it’s the best he could do.”
    Do what you need to do, but don’t forget – or be afraid – to show them parts of yourself. It doesn’t have to be everything, or all at once. It sounds like your parents are like mine. Do your bloody best at whatever you pursue, and they will be proud.
    Oh, and psychology is awesome, especially doing research. I think it’s a great choice, but I’m slightly biased as a psych major. ;) Cognitive psych has a lot of fun research. Right now I’m working with virtual reality tech, and it’s a blast, from the research to the participants to everyone in the lab.

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