What can you really say when your aunt tells you you’ve gained some weight when you arrive home for the holidays?
This was me two years ago. I was infuriated and on the cusp of popping back with something unbelievably disrespectful, but thankfully I kept my thoughts to myself. For one, I knew she might have a point. And two, even though I could probably argue she too had gained a pound or ten, I had been raised with all kinds of home training, and saying anything about her weight would have been out of the question.
The truth is—I was hurt. Hurt because like so many of us, I still want to impress my family. After all these years, they’re approval still matters most.
Why is that? Why is it so important that we still have their approval?
I’ve concocted two theories, neither of which are grounded in empirical studies, though I’m sure I could uncover some supporting data. Nonetheless – here they are. For one, I think we want to affirm our parents parental efforts. They worked hard as parents and sacrificed on countless occasions. The least we can do is to come home as shinning examples of their (literal) blood, sweat, and tears. We want our parents to know that they didn’t fail. The numerous weekends they spent at our soccer games, dance recitals, or the carpools to after-school programs paid off. “Look Mama —I made it, and so did you!”
Secondly, in some weird way, perhaps we will always want their affirmation. We were raised wanting to please them, so why should that suddenly change with age? With the same enthusiasm we had running into the kitchen to announce we had made the honor roll, we’ll want to return home for Thanksgiving with an attractive mate, flat stomach and impressive job. Their continued affirmation lets us know we’re on the right path. And after all, couldn’t we all still use some guidance? When it comes down to it, some of us are still the fifth graders who want to hear our family say, “We’re so proud of you!”
We will always need our family’s support. We need them to encourage our healthy eating habits, or to question the latest guy we’re dating. As many of us begin to start our own families, let’s hope we too can set examples that are worth our children’s life long admiration.
Jovian Zayne is a writer, photographer and occasional radio co-host in New York City. Read more from Jovian on her personal blog Word Up Haay! Join her on twitter via @jovizi for laughs, encouragement and your daily dose of quick wit.