Last night, one of my friends said that he doesn't think parents understand how much power they have over their children, and how much their opinion means to their children. He has a father who sounds very...well, narcissistic might be a very strong word, but I've been reading about narcissistic parents through morbid curiosity, and the things my friend was describing are very keeping with narcissism. Because he, my friend, is doing things that his father doesn't agree with, his father is withholding rewards, or love and affection, and no matter what, my friend feels that he is wrong, and that he needs to apologize. He is defensive.
I wish my friend's dad could really see my friend the way he is. He is someone to be proud of. He is responsible, a homeowner, a teacher, and he has a heart that is so beautiful and loving, he almost seems unreal. He is a people pleaser because he's spent so much time trying to please this unpleasable person, and I wish I could show him the image that we, his friends, see of him so that he no longer sees himself skewed by this man.
But I can't because this man is his father, and let's face it: the entire world can think you're Superman, but if your dad looks at you like you're Gollum, you will always feel like you're Gollum.
Parents don't understand the power they have over their children. They don't see how their opinions affect us.
I met a girl the other day who was going to college for the exact same thing that I am (hey, I worked it in!), and she asked me if my parents were upset that I won't be making as much money as if I became a full-fledged veterinarian. I told her that my parents would rather have me making less money, but being happier than making more money and miserable. She smiled sadly and said she wished her parents would feel that way, too. They want her to be a lawyer or a human doctor. I laughed and reminded her that human doctors aren't rich anymore, and that she's better being a veterinarian. She thanked me for reminding her about that, but I know it has to hurt.
My dad still sees me as an immature little girl. Not a teenager, but a little girl. He will acknowledge that I'm thirty, but if you ask him about my tastes and hobbies, he'll mention the things I did at the age of five or eight. How do you grow up when one of your parents is convinced that you are a little girl?