When It Comes to Your Goals, Sometimes Parents Just Don’t Understand

goal setting + family

When you step out on faith and do something that seems counter to the norm, you will have some critics. For the most part, and if we’re lucky, these people will be outside of our circle. But far too often, when we strike out on our own and make a break for our dreams, those most skeptical of our choices are the ones closest to us.

Recently, I decided to “unschool” my son. While I had made the choice to homeschool him this school year, I decided to make the switch to unschooling when homeschooling just felt like busywork at home. After jumping into the curriculum I didn’t feel like le kid was really learning anything, but rather just doing worksheets for the sake of doing worksheets.

Being a teacher taught me how well (or rather how horrible) worksheets for the sake of worksheets can be for a student. Many of my middle school students had probably completed hundreds, if not thousands, of worksheets by the time they made it to my classroom in the eighth grade and they still couldn’t read. And what’s worse? They hated school.

So when we got caught in the homeschooling worksheet matrix, I knew we needed something else.

I began doing some research and came across “unschooling,” which basically means letting kids learn what they want, when they want. Radical, I know.

While I’ve been reading as much as I can (and learning from those on Twitter) to wrap my brain around “unschooling,” my mother just doesn’t get it. While she was cool with me homeschooling and sticking to a prescribed curriculum, going off the grid and unschooling is hard for her to take.

Almost everyday she asks Le Kid how was school, and of course, his response is: “School? I didn’t do school today!”

She gives me the WTF are you doing to my grandson look and asks, “Soooo….what are you guys doing?”

Last night I finally “came out” to her. I told my mother—officially (not merely hinting around)–that we were unschooling, and explained what it was.

Her response? “Well, he’s going to be behind.”

Normally my confidence would have been shaken and I would have plunged into the depths of self-doubt, but I know that he won’t be behind. I know that if other kids can be unschooled since birth and still go onto college and have “successful” (in the traditional sense of the word) lives, then so can my son. I just need to trust him and myself.

And here in lies the problem with most of us.

Maybe you want to quit your job and start your own business, or perhaps you want to live abroad and work for a NGO. If your family or your friends don’t support your decision (or don’t understand it), however, it often forces us to question our goals, and sometimes, we give them up completely.

But we’re not about that life anymore (yes, you AND me). We’re not going to diminish our dreams and goals to make other people happy or comfortable, right?

So I might as well tell you this: Everyone will NOT be on your team.

Read that again. While we want our family and friends to be as happy and excited and supportive as we need them to be, often times they won’t.

It’s not their fault, they don’t quite understand what drives us to what we do, but if you’re basing how you move forward on whether your people have you back…then you’re going to be let down.

I love my mother and she has supported nearly everything I’ve done in my life, but this…she just doesn’t understand it (yet), so I can’t let her resistance to unschooling stop me from doing what feels right in my heart. While I know her concern comes from a place of love, I also know I’m my own woman and I’m raising my son in my own way.

Sometimes you have to stick up for your dreams. Sometimes, you have to tell your parents or your boo or your girls that no matter what they say, you’re going to go for it anyway and they can either stay along for the ride or step off, because you’re moving ahead.

Is it easy? Certainly not. But just like overcoming fear, ditching regret, and believing in yourself—it’s very necessary if you plan on reaching your goals.


Have your friend and family ever made you second-guess your goals? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. 

* Want to hook up with a supportive group of go-getters? Join us over in the #GOALdiggers Facebook group

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  • http://www.jessicasimien.com Jessica

    I read the article from Zen Habits about unschooling. If I ever decide to homeschool my future kids, I will definitely use that method! It is exactly how we learn as adults, so why not teach our children that as they develop and come into their own. I can only imagine what type of thinker I would be if I was exposed to unschooling.

    My career goals and dreams have ALWAYS been given the side-eye by my mother, specifically. I came to terms with the fact that I’m different and that she will never understand what its like to be fueled with a passion that won’t let you do anything else. I gave up trying to explain my career (and life) decisions to people who just don’t get it. I realized that if there is something I want to do in life and all the stars are lining up for me, I’d be a damn fool to let someone else’s doubts make me second-guess what I see for my future.

  • Leiyza

    Thank you I needed this! Seems my Mom is always trying to talk me out of ALL my goals that have to do with moving away. I’m in my mid twenties and enough is enough. I love my Mom but she’s just not adventurous as I am, therefore she does not understand my drive. I need to live life for me, mistakes and all.

  • Rachelle Monique

    My family wants me to have a safe job. Safe meaning, a government job, teacher or working in a hospital. I’ve never wanted to do that, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but they don’t support that. That’s fine with me. My mom trusts me, she knows that whatever I choose to do, I’m going to make it happen. I’ve never been conventional or satisfied with the norm. I’ve just decided to do what I want. I refuse to live with the what ifs.