At some point, many of us have the goal of trying to make our parents proud. Perhaps there was a time in elementary school where you handmade a craft for Mother’s Day that you just couldn’t wait to bring home to show your mom. Or maybe you got the lead role in the high school play, and you knew that your parents would be there, front row, anxiously awaiting the lights to dim. Or maybe you received a substantial promotion at work that would surely give your parents bragging rights. Whatever the highlight of your life may be at any given moment, we hope to gain our parents' approval, but that is not always possible. Even as adults, some of us make decisions based on what our parents may think and end up denying ourselves what we truly want. It’d be great if we always see eye to eye and agree with our parents, but it’s okay when we don’t.
When people have children, they start to daydream about the person their child will grow up to be. Sometimes they even have ideas of what they want their children to do with their careers, not necessarily to be controlling but possibly to fulfill indirectly some sort of missed dream or goal in their own lives. For example, if your parents were star athletes in school but a torn meniscus and having children kept them from going pro, they may wish that their children will share their passion for sports. They may start them off in little league sports, take them to every high school and college sporting event, and have them train at the best training camps. They do all of this just to find out their child is actually more interested in music than sports, and all of their dreams for raising the next Tiger Woods come crashing down. They try to be supportive, but still find themselves bringing up sports in every conversation, hoping they can somehow influence a change of heart.
Throughout adulthood, it is okay if there are things in your life that your parents don’t approve of. Maybe you chose a different career path than they hoped for. Maybe you decided to move out of state when they wanted you to stay close to home. Maybe you don’t have the romantic partners they think you should have.
Whatever the disconnect may be, remember that the goal is to live your life so that God gets the glory. Following different life goals than the ones your parents may have had for you is not a sign of disrespect or dishonor. Thinking in this manner can contribute to why people make certain life choices and sometimes end up unhappy.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:23-24).
God has given you your own set of gifts and passions. God wants us to live a life free in him, and that includes following the plans that God has specifically for us. That means that those plans may differ from the ones our parents had set out for us and that is okay. The goal is not making sure that we meet the approval of our earthly parents, but making sure that we live the lives set out for us by our Heavenly Father.
It doesn’t matter what career pathway you follow, where you decide to live, or who your romantic partner is. Your personal relationship and collaboration with God is what will determine your life path. It can be very easy to fall into the habit of making life choices with the thought of your parent's approval at the forefront of your mind. Instead of making decisions based on what your parents may think, make decisions based on the conversations you have had with the Holy Spirit. It’s a natural feeling for many people to want to have the approval of their parents. However, in adulthood it is not a requirement, and permission nor validation is not needed to live a life free in Christ.