Reddit User Asks What Is ‘A Disappointment To Your Parents?’, Results In Epic Kids And Marriage Discussion

mother and daughter 1950sA parent’s love many be consistent, but their approval is a mighty, mighty fickle thing — and can usually come in two prominent flavors of concern: kids and marriage. Such is the essential takeaway from a fairly open-ended, yet swelling Reddit thread that was prompted with a simple question, “What aspect of your life is a disappointment to your parents?

After an exploration of sibling rivalry, gender expectations, and career choices, the online conversation gets down to the real parenting doozies. The classic and timeless “settle down and gimme grandkids STAT.” One commenter writes:

[My parents] won’t admit it, but it’s that I’m single at 26 and most of my friends and family are married and popping kids out. They just discreetly ask if I am seeing anybody when I go over for dinner and looked crushed when I say “not right now”. I am pretty sure they think I am going to die alone.

Edit: Just to clarify, my parents know that I want to get married and have kids (at some point) and are just worried that I will let work get in the way like it has in the past. That and they want grandkids :)

And that was the floodgate:

My mom recently told me to “get my shit together, I want to have grandkids.” I’m 23. Apparently graduating from one of the best universities for my degree, having a 6-figure job and paying off of my student loans is not “having my shit together” since I’m single. Haha

From there, the dialogue predictably turns the avenue of when is the “right” time to have kids:

 I don’t even understand this. I have friends married and having kids at 26-27, and I’m only like “WHY SO YOUNG YOU CRAZY!?!?” My parents weren’t married and having kids until their late 30′s early 40′s. This is the only age where it gets to be all about you, and not about several little people.

Mageboy adds:

In my opinion, having kids younger means that you won’t have them in your house as you approach retirement, a time when debts are generally paid off and there is a lit more expendable income. I don’t want to be having kids in my 40s, I want them moving out. 

And Firmly_Grasps_IT rounds it out nicely:

As a person who will be thirty five when her daughter goes to college and or moves the fuck out at 18, don’t stop believing.

And there we have the full circle of life.

(photo:  Nava Atlas)

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  • Andrea

    How come so many people want grandchildren to the point where they are almost bullying their children for it? I don’t understand this.

    I mean I have children. I wanted them and I had them. While my parents were happy, I didn’t feel I owed it to them. I personally have ZERO problem with my children remaining child-free. If they have children, awesome, I will love, adore, and spoil them and help as much they can/I can. But if they don’t, awesome, more adult type activities in the future.

    • NicknamesAreDull

      I think some families/culture put a lot of stock in continuing the family bloodline. I guess continuing their line is more important than the happiness of their kids.

      My parents never really mentioned the subject. For a while, I wasn’t sure if I wanted them, and when I decided I did and only wanted one, they were happy and supportive. I don’t really care if my daughter has no kids or 20 kid, if she’s happy, that’s the important thing.

    • Andrea

      I’m right there with you. I have no problem either way. Because at the end of the day, it’s them that have to deal with the kids day in and day out and feed them, clothe them, educate them, and wipe their asses and clean up vomit at 3am

    • Valeri Jones

      Two words: Baby boomers.

    • Andrea

      I still don’t get it. Is it because, in a way, they felt pressured? Kinda like if I had to suffer then you do too?

      Cuz the way I feel about it, raising children now is a million times more expensive, and (yes I am gonna say it) harder. Because there is more pressure, more dangers, more distractions, and let’s face it: mom not being at home makes it harder.

    • Valeri Jones

      I wish I could find the source because I’m not sure how accurate this is, but I’m on my phone. Anyway, I read somewhere that Baby Boomer grandparents tend to be more selfish because they had so many siblings growing up. This is true for all 3 of my parents (mom, step dad, dad) because they all come from huge families. My mom is the worst offender on the selfishness scale, and I have read others from her generation have the same mindset. As grandparents, this translates into not offering to babysit or help financially (because their time and money is theirs), being more controlling and forceful towards their children as to their ideals of raising kids, and not putting the well-being of their kids first by asking them forsake their lives to go ahead and give them grandchildren, because they feel they are owed to them. Also, you may be right in the pressure aspect of it. A lot of people my mom’s age felt pressured to marry young so they could move out and away from the financial strife of having so many younger children. And now they want their kids to do the same because they figure they survived it, so why shouldn’t we go ahead and try.

    • Andrea

      Man that’s fucked up.

      But honestly, something I have come to expect out of that generation. No offense, but I think they have a hell of a lot of nerve criticizing the millenials considering all the crap they had going for them that they don’t.

    • EB

      I think as some parents age and their kids grow up they a) often feel like they’re no longer “needed” and having grand kids would give them that sense of purpose. And I think that urgency is exaggerated if they either never had a fulfilling career or are at or approaching retirement and b) as parents age they (like everyone who approaches old age) start to face their own mortality. Having grand kids is a way to feel like the family line is continuing etc. That’s my theory at least.

    • Surly Canuck

      I think for some, it’s also a chance for a do-over. You get to be the “fun” person instead of a provider, rule enforcer.

  • Valeri Jones

    My parents were just the opposite. When I made the decision to start trying for my first son at 25, I got a lot of, “You aren’t ready,” and “How are you gonna afford a kid?” Fast-forward almost 3 years and they are ABSOLUTELY, head over heels in love with my son. The sun rises and sets in this boy’s behind, people. And, according to them, my husband and I are the greatest parents ever and they are so proud of us. However, I am pregnant with my second and I am getting the same old story about not being ready for another kid. Fickle.

  • Momma425

    I’m really glad I had my daughter young. My husband wants to have a child, and I told him I am not having kids beyond the age of 30. He has 4 years before the kitchen is closed. Because I like the idea of being in my early 40′s when the kids move out. I want to be done while I am still young.
    My parents are probably mostly disappointed that I didn’t finish a 4 year degree. I think they would have preferred that I be more linear with my life…college -> married -> baby, instead of the order I went with… baby-> college -> married (not to baby daddy).

  • alice

    With my mother, I wouldn’t call it disappointment, but more of a sadness that she is getting older. Every year that I don’t have children, is another year that she loses time with my future kids, and that special “mother/daughter bond” still eludes her.

    I had a strained relationship with my mother for most of my life, and I know she is hurt and wants to be closer than we are. i *KNOW* she thinks that my becoming a mother will change everything about our relationship.

    so much pressure. le sigh.

    • Andrea

      It can go either way though. It can make you closer (it does happen) or it can make you even more strained because now you totally see how she was wrong. (Not saying this is your case, I’m saying it happens)

    • alice

      As long as I do everything baby-wise exactly as she recommends it be done, im sure we’ll get along swimmingly. :)

    • Surly Canuck

      My mother’s mother died at 55. When my mother turned 50 she started freaking out. I was three months into a relationship, and she wanted to know our timeline for kids. I know she’s worried that if we wait too long, she’ll never meet them (even though her health is much better than either of her parents). Oh and I got pregnancy tests in my stocking last x-mas.
      Pressure. Le sigh, indeed.

    • DMH

      Pregnancy tests in your stocking?! WTF???

    • Surly Canuck

      Yea, mom has some boundary issues. =)

  • NicknamesAreDull

    I can’t really think of anything I’ve done that disappoints my parents. I mean, I was a stripper for 5 years. If that didn’t disappoint them, I can’t really think of anything that would.

    • Koa_Beck


  • Nico

    My almost MIL is crazy-insistent that we have kids yesterday even though I know I’m nowhere near ready. She has been tolerable since she has a grandson from her other child to focus on, however, her other son’s family has decided to move across the country which means she won’t be near her grandchild for more than a week a year during holidays. Faced with the idea that there will be “no grandbabies to squeeze” she’s been ‘hinting’ to anyone who will listen that my dude and I should be going half-sises on a loin-fruit and that we’re “wasting valuable life by not having a ‘blessing’ to share it with.” (I’m not kidding; this is a quote. It makes me physically ill to even type something so ridiculous.) Long story short, I’m so freaked out by her level of commitment to filling my uterus that I have been having really vivid nightmares where my MIL has convinced herself that I’m pregnant and she is chasing me around with a speculum screaming, “I NEED TO SEE THE BABY! LET ME SEE THE BABY!” Her crazy is honestly making us rethink kids altogether and stick with cats.

    • Koa_Beck

      Cats are fabulous.

    • alice

      this is where you fiance needs to step up, and tell his mom to cool the fuck out.

    • Nico

      He’s tried. Many times. He’s as weirded-out by her current baby-obsession as I am (maybe even more so since it isn’t exactly comforting to know your mother puts that much thought into the sticky naked-penis sex you are or aren’t having with your lady).

  • LiteBrite

    I’ve always been grateful that my parents took a rather hands-off approach to my adult life. I know my questionable financial decisions early on disappointed my dad, but he never made me feel as if I was a complete failure to him.

    And they never pressured me about getting married or having kids. Then again, with eight kids between them, they were probably wedding and grandchilded-out by the time I actually did both.

  • StealthGent

    I did really well for a long while, straight A’s, Summa Cum Laude, artist with gallery opening and a kick ass publishing job.

    Then I came out as transgender, and just as the shock was wearing off and the ” I need grandbabies/nephews/BABIESDAMMIT!” screams started, I got firm about the fact that I am not Thomas Beatie, or a seahorse, and my uterus will be barren until It gets the yoink.

    Bam, black sheep. Though a bit less so now, my mom, who’s a minister, just did a sermon on loving and accepting her trans son, and it made black and cynical my heart turn to jello.

    Also, my in laws are flipping the fuck out that now their super effeminate closet bi son is “gay” and act like I’m some sleeper agent of the gay agenda converting nice straight boys to my wicked homo ways.

    It’s a mixture of sad and fucking hilarious.

    • meteor_echo

      Ohgod. I wonder if they actually realize how dysphoric would pregnancy would be to a trans guy. I really don’t think they do.
      Also, unrelated: could I per chance look at your art, if you don’t mind? It’s always a lot of fun to find other artists here and connecting through what we do :)

    • AmazingE

      Not to make light of your struggle or anything, but the idea of “gay sleeper agents” cracks me up.

    • ElleJai

      I’m with AmazingE, most of that sounds difficult if not downright impossible and I’d like to punch several people on your behalf.

      That said, the idea of a gay sleeper agent (literally) just cracks me up :P

  • meteor_echo

    My not having children ever would be a disappointment for my parents. In fact, I’m not going to be “out” to them about it before I move, because my father is big, loud, abusive and might actually physically harm me. Part of the reason I’m not reproducing is to not spread his genes around – he’s bad, but his mother is a fucking bipedal carcinoma. I hate her.

    They’re also disappointed in me because I’m not social. As for my mother, I’ve been a disappointment to her simply on the basis of being born.

    • Cee

      Yea. I stopped saying I don’t want kids, period. I’m forced to say “maybe later” because everyone FREAKS OUT. They think I’m some child hating, barren, angry lesbian. I’m thinking “hello, I work with kids and have never done anything but educate, tutor or babysit them, don’t hate kids, just don’t want them in my house, permanently”

    • meteor_echo

      Hahah, I just nod to those assumptions in agreement. Child-hating? Sure I am! Barren? Well, hopefully so, and if not, then I’ll pay to become such. Angry? Yep, at you annoying twits who keep poking your nose into my uterus. I guess it sort of stops them in their tracks.

    • Cee

      lol. Even though I can be sarcastic at times, I can’t do it on this case because it broke my heart when my cousin recoiled and clutched her baby like I had slapped it when i said I did not want kids. :/ Depends on the person. Maybe I’ll try it an see if it works.

  • Cee

    Wow. Where do I begin…lesbian, my girlfriend is “too tomboyish and white,” not ascribe to Catholic beliefs, majored in something unimportant, I’m still in school at 27 (past my man marrying, baby having prime), can’t get a more stable job, meaning I can’t give them enough money (yea, they like me to hand half my check to them), yet they never support me in getting a job further than five miles away from them, I don’t dress like my cousins (aka a mini Kardashian), I have anxiety issues, am interoverted and lately I’m getting “very hefty.”

    Pretty much I’m the black sheep of the family…

    • Valeri Jones

      Wow. That is seriously all I can say. I am so sorry that your parents are such jerks. It just makes me wanna hug you and tell you that you can have my SIL (who is very close to my mom’s age – largeish age difference between my husband and I) because she is WONDERFUL and always wanted more kids but was physically unable to have them.

    • Cee

      Awww. *hugs* I’d LOVE to be adopted even though I’m an old. I always say I’m waiting for my real parents to show up, lol. It used to confuse my friends before. I gotta say, I always envy people that have good relationships with their parents and they never seem to understand how parents can be not so nice. But eh, I have a wonderful girlfriend and we are working toward a happier future so it evens all the yuck out!

    • Valeri Jones

      I am glad you are able to look on the bright side of things and I sincerely hope that you get your happy future, because you deserve it! But I gotta say – and I hope this doesn’t make you feel bad – but this totally makes me feel terrible for getting angry with my mom over petty crap. Things could obviously be a lot worse.

  • DMH

    Eh… I’m sure I’ve disappointed my father on some level, but he’s a prick so I really don’t give a fuck. My mother and stepfather, though.. They’re pretty proud. And even though they never pressured me about grandkids, they’re pretty ecstatic to have a grandson.

  • keelhaulrose

    I think my parents were originally disappointed that my husband and I failed at the whole home thing, though they eventually recognized that we had made the choice of living in what was once a thriving city that suddenly went to shit when the major employer decided China was the way to go, and that started the shit-storm that led us to moving in with them with our young daughter.
    Even though we all know it’s going to be a few years before our credit has recovered enough to get a place of our own I think we’ve gotten to the point where our being here isn’t the horrible situation it once was. The kids (yeah, we had a second… oops) adore their grandparents and I think they take some stress off my parents in return. My husband and I care for the house and do the errands, which helps as my mom is crazy busy with work and my dad has health issues. And we live in a much better school district than we could have ever hoped to afford. So, it’s not going to be this way forever, but I don’t think it’s as disappointing for them as it once was.

  • anon87

    I’m a Behavioural Therapist for children with Autism with a health organization, and my mother is NOT okay with how little I make. My dad always tells me how proud he is of me, but not mom. Doesn’t matter what I do, it’s all about the money.

    • Jack

      That’s how women are, son. That’s the just the way they are.

  • Emmali Lucia

    I have disappointed my mother so much and so often I just don’t think about it.

    The only University I got accepted to was halfway across the country, when I realized I didn’t want to be that far away my mother talked me into going to a community college 3 1/2 hours away so that I could live in a dorm and have a “college experience.” She’s still really disappointed that I left after a semester, never mind I was having panic attacks all the time, was nearly suicidally depressed, and was making no friends.

    I decided to be a physicians assistant, she was really excited, told me it was what she wanted to do with her life. Then I realized I’d rather get into the bar business. She’s a little disappointed.

    I told her I didn’t want to finish getting my bachelors degree because in this economy going further into debt getting a totally useless degree (A bachelors in either sociology, psychology, or anthropology. They’re the new English degrees) doesn’t make any sense. I’d rather go be a secretary or bartender until I figure out what I want to do, or save up until I can make a down payment on my future bar. She’s EXTREMELY disappointed.

    Oh well, I’m the family screw-up.

    • Rachelle

      And she can tell you all about it one night sitting at your bar asking you to fill her up. ;)

  • Fammomma

    Approximately four hours after DD1 was born, my MIL was in the hospital demanding we start trying for #2 (like, why hadnt we started yesterday?) and immediately berating my husband who was on his way out to get me my favorite pizza. “The baby eats what you eat, how could you!”

    This coming from the woman who stocks my fridge and cabinets with sodas, hot dogs, and various other processed foods. We, btw, live on a farm and raise our own food because we believe in the health benefits of *not* hot dogs. But after 18 hours of natural labor, I’M GONNA EAT MY PIZZA and afterwards, I’m going to discuss birth control options with my OBGYN ;)

    Now we’re expecting #2 in March. DDwas 1 in July so 20 months apart. My family is all “WOW girl you’re CRAZY, what do you want, like 7 of them?”… And DH family “Oh what a shame they won’t be able to bond, being so far apart. Better late then never, hopefully you learn from this mistake so the rest of your kids don’t suffer”

    Cruel, mean, selfish mommy.

  • TngldBlue

    My dad is by far the biggest baby pusher in our family. I’m certain my mom secretly prays to the fertility gods but has the good sense to keep her mouth shut. In his effort to convince us to have more children he comes up with gems such as “when you both die, she will be completely alone” or “when you get Alzheimers she’ll have no one to help her care for you”. Thanks Dad, glad to know you have already planned for our early, tragic demise.

    • Surly Canuck

      Wow. That’s an interesting PSA.

    • ElleJai

      “I’m certain my mom secretly prays to the fertility gods”

      This made me giggle :)

  • Helen Hyde

    My dad was majorly disappointed when I got married and had a kid – he was expecting me to travel and be a rock star or whatever. But I showed him! I’m totally domestic goddess and rocking at the same time.

  • Surly Canuck

    Yeah my FIL has been actively campaigning for a grandkid. There have been long awkward conversations about how we’ve traveled enough, I’ve furthered my career as much as it needs to go (bc I’m going to be a SAHM, right?), it’s time to get down to business. I probably would just roll my eyes, as I do about most of his edicts, but we *are* trying for a kid. Which he knows. So really he just doesn’t think that we are trying hard enough, and that makes me want to throat-punch him. Just a little.

  • corastacy

    truthfully if I had to pick something it would be that I’m not working as an actress/ writer or teacher. Instead I work at an insurance company. Or the fact that I have had a very intense battle with depression.

    But, they never say any of that. In fact, they make it very clear that my sister is 32 and just got her shit together in the last year… So I’m good for now.

  • BubbleyToes

    I’m a licenced master social worker and as you can imagine, I am not rolling in the dough, especially with all of the student loan debt I now have (more than my yearly salary-before taxes) from getting my master’s degree. My mother is none too thrilled. She has always wanted me to make a ton of money because she never did. I get that in a way, but I love what I do more. Also, I have been married for 4 years and *gasp* still have not given her or my mother in law a grandchild. Sucks that we actually have been trying for almost 2 years, but that’s probably because as atheists, god just won’t hand over that child of ours he is hoarding. Sigh.

  • Alanna Jorgensen

    I would say they’re disappointed that I dropped out of college back when my OCD was completely out of control and had a major panic attack related to my disorder and never went back to classes. Now I live in an old townhouse and my fiance and I both work blue collar jobs to make ends meet and support our kids. We live a little above poverty level, and have little luxuries. The kids have what they need and lots of toys, but we are not “successful” by societal standards, or my own for that matter. Money is very important to my dad, so I’m sure he’s bummed.

  • Peneloope

    Can I just take a minute and brag on my mom? Not only has she never once hassled me for kids (I’m mid-30′s, husband’s early 40′s) she insists on my giving her pictures of our dogs – all SIX of them! – to be displayed on her grandbaby shelf next to my brothers’ kids. That, my friends, is how to be an AWESOME grandma!