My parents were always trying to control and govern my life.
They’d hackle me to come home early whenever I went out with friends, dismiss my opinions, and forcing me to study on me when my heart wasn’t in it.
They weren’t empathetic back then either. Even though I was bullied in Form 1 and 2, my mom told me to just “let it be”.
Also, my dad and I never saw eye-to-eye, to the point I avoided him and just referred to him by name.
I used to hate the restrictions, and some of you probably can relate – no one likes feeling like our freedom is being encroached.
But for anybody who’s felt suffocated or is currently dealing with strict parents, here’s how I realised I should appreciate them.
I Regret The Things I did Behind Their Backs
I used to not care about education and thought I would never gain anything out of it.
And when I got a part-time job I had to stay back till at least 11 p.m. My coworkers would sometimes ask me to go out with them after work.
I naively looked up to them because of how much they said education was useless. I wanted to hang out with them because I thought they were my crowd.
My parents, however, never supported me choosing work over academics – but I reassured them that I was doing fine in my studies even though I wasn’t.
It got to a point where I would lie to my parents that I was just staying back late at work, but instead I was out neglecting my studies in exchange for a dead-end life.
When my dad started working in Sibu, it was just me and my mom. And because my mom wasn’t at home when school started, I skipped over half of my Form 2 classes.
But as I grew older, those “cool” guys left my life. And when I tried getting my life back on track, it was difficult to try and keep up with my studies. I had to live with those bad life decisions.
More importantly though, I realised that my parents were trying to protect me from making wrong life choices too early in my life. They were trying to cultivate a sense of responsibility in me.
But I took that lesson for granted because I wanted to fit in.
It Was Their Way of Caring for Me
Parents aren’t perfect – they don’t always know how to express their emotions with you or explain why they have restrictions for you. But who is?
No one is taught how to be good parents – that’s why there are some parents who shout at their own children in public and others who let their kids do whatever they want with no repercussions. I’m glad that my parents were neither of that.
What I saw as them restricting my life was really the only way they knew how to protect and care for me.
They weren’t expressive. They never explained why they did what they did, or empathise with me when I opened up to them about my bullying or depression. But they always interpreted what they did and said as care, and it was.
I learned how to put myself in their position and take it as a good example of how to care for myself and my own children in the future. And as for what they lacked in raising me, I took it as a learning curve on what not to do as a parent.
They may never express how they feel or explain to you about their style of parenting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. After all, they are from a different generation.
I Realised How Much I Needed Them
“Blood runs thicker than water,” is a good phrase to describe why family should mean more to you than friends.
We’ve all befriended, gotten close to, and worked with hundreds of people across our lives and hundreds more to come in the future. They say things that make us feel valued, spend a lot of time with us and make us develop this impression that those good times will last forever.
But really, those good times, and most friends, don’t last forever.
I’m not saying “don’t have any friends”. But the fact is, you’ll only meet maybe 10 people in your life who end up being actual lifelong friends. The rest of them will eventually leave.
I’ve personally experienced that. I thought the people I worked with and saw almost everyday were going to be lifelong friends. But a few weeks later either the friendship soured, or they walked out of my life all of a sudden and moved on.
The same thing happened with my secondary and primary school friends. I know it’ll happen again once I meet new people in college and work.
I’m not being pessimistic, but unlike everyday encounters, your parents will never leave you. They’ll always care and be there for you no matter what.
And while they may never give the best advice, parents will always be there for you. Those momentary friends on the other hand, could give you the most inspirational advice today, but you may never see them ever again tomorrow.
They Shaped me to Become a Better Person and They Were Willing to Improve
Lately, I feel more cared about by my parents and that I actually matter in their lives. And they show it, too.
The once strained relationship I had with my dad is strong now. Even though he’s still working in Sibu, he puts in an effort to call and check up on me once a week – and I make an effort to be with my mom as much as possible and get involved in her life more.
We’ve grown closer, and I realised how grateful I should be for my parents. Although they’ve always imposed restrictions on me, I realise now that it’s for the best.
If they had given me an allowance whenever I needed it, I would’ve ended up like a basic bitch expecting everything out of life and not working hard for anything.
And not to be judgemental, but looking at my peers right now, I’m glad I never ended up like that.
I feel way better now knowing that having strict parents made me a better person today. What I wanted most when I was 15 – to be given freedom and be pampered in life – is what I’m most glad of not getting now that I’ve grown up.
If you’ve ever had strict parents or are currently dealing with them, take a step back and ask yourself – what are their motives and reasons?
Maybe they’re trying to protect you from the harsh realities of the real world and don’t want you to mix with the wrong crowd. Maybe they don’t want you to be spoilt and demanding. Maybe they’re trying to teach you humility.
I don’t know what their motive is, but because of my strict parents, I’ve become a better person today.
For more articles on parents and family, read Being a Stepmom : 5 Tips on How to Cope with the Reality, and Dating 101 for the Single Dad (And the Woman Who Wants Him).