[ 4 min read ]
It’s ridiculous when parents feel intimidated by their own children. By their need to impress their elementary, high school, or college peers.
Of course, young adults have this need to impress their peers and to belong to a group. Sure, that’s a legitimate need. I won’t judge this need, because I too was a young adult and not much different. Actually I was the same. I saw other children brag about their parents (family) and I too bragged about mine. It was our way of establishing our position in a group. An important thing in each group, regardless of age.
We didn’t have impressive achievements of our own (or those weren’t good enough, or, simply, we didn’t pay enough attention — we didn’t look at them, we looked at our parents and other adult members of our families and searched for something we could brag about / use as our social currency because other kids looked at their parents and other adult members of their families and searched there for something they could brag about / use as their social currency), so we used the successes (the obvious successes) of people who belonged to our clan.
If your clan (even one person from your clan) has clout, then you can use it — you’re associated through your name and you can brag almost as if it was your own achievement (as if you did it — because you are also called Kennedy, Hanks, Musk, Branson, Churchill or whatever).
Don’t we all do it in adulthood? When we brag about the successes of the people who belong to the same family. When parents or grandparents brag about the successes of their children or grandchildren, or when spouses (partners) brag about the successes of their other halves. When spouses brag about their other halves it’s not their kin they feel proud of but the fact that they became their partners (which they see as their achievement — Look who I married).
But whether it’s our kin we brag about, or our marriage, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter when we look at the world populace even only 10000 years ago and understand that we’re all kin (technically), only we don’t see it that way. We look at what is today (at different families — sometimes families which hate each other) and we protect our own clan and we want our own clan — distinguished by name from the general mass of human beings — to be in some way special (better than or at least just as good as other clans). It’s a silly thing to do when we consider the history of our species (and what the society is composed of), but because almost nobody considers it most people do this silly thing.
I almost feel embarrassed that I was so dumb as to do such thing. But that’s how most young adults behave in this world, so I won’t beat myself up for being one of them. For mindlessly following the flock. I can’t turn back time. It happened. I didn’t know better. Now I do, but 25 or 30 years ago I didn’t.
So what that my child wants to brag about me and I’m not (in his opinion) giving him the possibility to do so? Maybe he could brag about me, but he doesn’t realize it (his understanding of success is screwed up)? Maybe he sucks because he can’t see it, because he mindlessly follows the flock?
Should I follow the flock because it would make it easier for him? Because then, and only then, he would know how to brag about me? This is one of the most ridiculous ideas ever!
Should I (as a parent) make my life decisions contingent on this need? Of this fleeting (or not) bullshit need?
Should I give up on my dreams because my child might feel embarrassed that other fathers have so called “serious jobs”, good income, better cars, nicer homes, or can afford something I can’t? Because almost nobody looks at a human being as a whole (and ponders his existence) but wants a quick and easy answer to the question Are you successful (in the conventional sense)?
If I let something like that play itself out then I’ve lost.
It’s ridiculous, but it is also the most common scenario.
I’ll never allow it to happen.
I’ll never allow it to happen because I know that in order for it to happen my understanding of ‘success’ and ‘life’ would have to be totally different from what it is today (it would have to be in line with the conventional crap) and if that was the case my son would naturally become my reason to brag (as is the case in most families) and that’s the worst. This would create unhealthy expectations on both parts.