Your parents don’t hate you, you’re just entitled


Illustration by Hailey Akau

By Hailey Akau, Assistant Multimedia Editor and Magazine Section Editor

Ah, yes, the cool rebellious teen trope. The “nobody understands me” loner with undoubted swagger and a “fuck authority” attitude. A figure that has been adopted and embodied by my peers at Emerson College—and a figure that is, at the end of the day, just an insufferable hipster. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not the exception. My adolescent years were filled with sass and a desire to be perceived as a baddie by my classmates. It was cool to talk back to your parents and even cooler to ditch school. But that was ten years ago: when we couldn’t watch R-rated movies and when a sip of beer was a rite of passage. 

Now, as twenty-something-year-old college students, it shouldn’t be “cool” to talk shit about your parents—especially not if they are funding your roughly $80K a year education at Emerson College.

Time and again, I have overheard conversations between my fellow Emersonians about how their parents just don’t “get” them. Maybe it’s because of your decision to pursue film or performing arts as a major and career. Maybe it’s the generational divide that prevents them from truly understanding your artistic passions or political viewpoints. Maybe they secretly hate you. 

Or maybe, just maybe, you are entitled. It’s as simple as that.

I once recall a conversation with someone who complained about the fact that their parents had asked for them to stop ordering takeout on the credit card, and instead actually use the dining facilities included in our tuition. This person seemed to believe their parents were forcing them to eat inedible, disgusting meals on a daily basis, when in fact the dining hall is actually a wonderful option for a variety of diets. I don’t care what you say, the Puerto Rican pernil pork is undeniably tasty. If you have the audacity to complain about our top-tier dining options, you are simply entitled.

Now, as we all tread closer toward true adulthood and independence, it can be difficult to maintain the parent-child relationship we may have had in our younger years. No longer do our parents treat us like their greatest gift; instead, they recognize us as functioning adults with our own set of responsibilities. 

It can be a frustrating change to deal with as we grow into ourselves and find new cracks in our once-smooth relationships. And I understand that it’s easy to find others who can relate to our own parental troubles. I recall cracking up at a scene in Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird”—a perfect representation of a turbulent mother-daughter relationship—in which Saoirse Ronan’s character jumps out of her mother’s moving vehicle and breaks her own arm, purely out of spite. 

Even as my parents are over five-thousand miles away from me, I still find myself frustratedly reliving our fights and playing out scenarios where I hurl insults at them like there was no tomorrow. If I had been as bold as Lady Bird, I definitely would have broken my arm to try and prove a point to my mother.

But at the end of the day, I know that my parents continue to slave away at their desk jobs to give me the opportunity to go off to college and pursue what I love. They stress during tax season, and still find the time to put together and send me care packages.

I understand that everyone’s situation is different. Not everyone has the luxury of knowing their education is fully paid for or that they have a guaranteed  place to stay over the school breaks. Some may be children of divorced parents and have had to deal with arguments between the two people who were supposed to put you first. Some of you may have learned at a young age only to rely on yourself. And to those, I commend you.

But to pretend that the described encounter is everyone’s situation—that all of us have the same struggles and conflicts and pain—only cheapens the truth. I want to focus on the people who specifically feel the need to bitch and moan about every little thing their parents do that may not align with exactly what they want. It’s the entitled mentality that really gets to me—the mindset of “they owe me.” I’ve met numerous students who seem to take their education for granted whilst complaining that their parents denied them Eras tour tickets or a spring break trip in the Caribbean with friends.

There’s a difference between healthy venting and being ungrateful.

For example, I met someone during my first year at Emerson who complained about the fact that their parents gave them a weekly allowance of only $100 per week. Yes, you read that correctly. They spoke as though their parents had condemned them to a horrible life of poverty when, in reality, they were attending a prestigious university in a major city in the United States while also being given money to spend on whatever they wanted, no strings attached.

I was raised in a household that emphasized filial piety. A prominent concept in Chinese culture, filial piety is an attitude of respect toward your family, specifically your parents. While the most common form of filial piety is caring for your parents in their old age, the concept generally covers having basic respect for them. Regardless of your cultural beliefs, I think we can all see the value in being respectful to your parents.

Blatantly bad-mouthing them while they are miles away, unable to defend themselves, is a clear violation of this tradition.

I’m not saying you have to place your parents on a pedestal and worship the ground they walk on—that’s not the same as appreciating the sacrifices they made in order to get you to where you are today. At the very least, don’t air your dirty laundry with them to your friends, especially if it was never even “dirty” in the first place. 

I know my parents have given me immense opportunities that they could not have even dreamed of when they were my age. While they may never truly understand me, they have done everything in their power to give me a better life than they had. I’ll never feel as though I’m able to repay them for helping me become the person I am today.

And the thing is, they don’t expect anything in return for the life they have given me. That, to me, is love.

All I’m hoping for is that, like Lady Bird, we can find it within ourselves to call our parents once in a while and thank them for everything they have done for us. Because, to me, respecting and appreciating the relationships you have with the ones who love you is what really makes you cool.