I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a dad and daughter on the train the other day. The daughter was working full out to impress her dad on her achievements at Uni but he was preoccupied with his IPAD and the comments he did make were hardly encouraging. I can remember so many instances like this growing up, I so wanted my dad to be proud of me, but no matter what I did he never expressed any positive emotion and my need for validation from him eluded me. I can recall my excitement at sharing my MBA success with him when he simply replied ‘Oh, so you are not a doctor then?’ Talk about bursting my bubble!
Do we ever stop searching and hoping for approval from our parents? I wonder… A few weeks ago I watched John Bishop, the successful Liverpool comic chatting with Graham Norton, on the sofa about his success. He recounted the story of the moment he thought he had really made it, in his father’s eyes – the call to host the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium, surely one of the top honours for an entertainer? He couldn’t wait to share this news with his Dad so he called him and with excitement suggested he could also get the family a VIP box to watch the show. His father’s response ‘oh sorry son, is that in London? Too far for us to travel just for a show.’ Classic eh? Good job he could laugh about this, great material for his stand up.
I am sure we all have similar stories we could share and not just related to our parents. Waiting for others to validate us, or give us permission is a malady we all suffer from, from time to time. But eventually we all realise the only person in charge of our highs and lows is us. We need to lift and inspire ourselves to greatness and enjoy the journey. Of course recognition is important but we cannot control where and when this presents itself, nor can we delay our progress waiting for it to show up.
And let’s make sure we do not repeat the parental apathy, our children need to know we see them, we hear them and what they say matters.