Parents Just Don't Understand: Readers Share Their Stories

Remember back in 1988 when DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince sang a catchy little ditty titled, “Parents Just Don’t Understand“? Me too. At the ripe age of 12 I was pretty sure this anthem was the most genius thing I had ever heard. Well, next to “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul anyway. 

Despite the blessing of having two great parents I often felt misunderstood. All kids do. It’s just a thing we all have to go through for a while and yeah, it sucks.

I’m reminded pretty often by Boy Wonder to just “never mind”. That’s code for “Mom, you just don’t get it”. I guess I just can’t wrap my brain around why a 4th grader needs an iPhone or a pair of death traps Heelys. Not understanding the superficial wants are one thing, but I worry about my ability to understand the big stuff someday – because the big stuff is coming. 

When I asked you beautiful readers for your childhood memories of being misunderstood, you were quick to offer the sincere and the heartbreaking. I want to personally thank all of you who contributed because your answers reminded me to keep trying to understand, and when I find myself unable, to keep trying anyway.

  • My Pony 1 of 13
    My Pony
    "Why I always wore my hair in a ponytail. Every day. for 15 years. What can I say, I'm a woman of efficiency!"
    @azimm via Twitter

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Dream 2 of 13
    My Dream
    "I always knew I was going to be a writer. They didn't understand how that could be a career. Now they do."
    @SarahWCaron via Twitter Sarah's Cucina Bella

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • The Girl I Really Was 3 of 13
    The Girl I Really Was
    "I was a tomboy and my parents insisted on pink everything and ballet. It just wasn't me and I could tell they were disappointed."
    via Amber

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • So Many Things! 4 of 13
    So Many Things!
    "My clothing, my hair, my music, my friends.... heh!"
    via Jamie A Dash of Domestic

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Ideas on Education 5 of 13
    My Ideas on Education
    "That a swap from a Montessori school to a public school was not a positive change. I am not an SRA machine!"
    @SaraRyan38 via Twitter

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • I Was Different 6 of 13
    I Was Different
    "That I'm nothing like them!"
    @ericabz via Twitter Sitting Around

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Needs 7 of 13
    My Needs
    "That I needed structure. My mom gave me free reign to do whatever. I started working at 14 & was able to have great mentors."
    @cupcakekellys via Twitter Cupcake Kelly's

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • What I Needed to Hear 8 of 13
    What I Needed to Hear
    "Even high-achievers need to be told 'we're proud of you'/'great job! Don't assume that a kid just knows."
    @nattymichelle via Twitter natty michelle

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Friends 9 of 13
    My Friends
    "That you really can be a good girl who is friends with bad girls. Honest."
    via Jessica Sassafrass

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Struggle 10 of 13
    My Struggle
    "Depression, non-existent self esteem due to abuse, and now they don't understand my child's autism or adhd either."
    via Adventures of a Military Family of 8

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Grades 11 of 13
    My Grades
    "I tried my best in school and often got bad grades. I wasn't diagnosed with my learning disorder until I was much older. My parents just thought if I 'tried harder' I could do better. It was so much bigger than me."
    via Kristyn

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Loneliness 12 of 13
    My Loneliness
    "Toys and stuff were great but I just wanted more attention from both of my parents. They both worked a lot and had lots of stuff going on the side. I just wanted to feel like a priority. Maybe I was a needy kid? I don't know but I needed more."
    via Shondi

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
  • My Sexuality 13 of 13
    My Sexuality
    "That I was gay. I knew from a really young age that I was a boy who liked boys. The one time I tried to talk to my mom I was about 13 and she changed the subject. Shut me right out. I never talked to her about it again. I'm a grown man and we still haven't talked about it. I know she knows but still. It changed our relationship the day she shut me out forever."
    via Anonymous

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

What didn’t your parents understand about you growing up?

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