9 Times it’s Not Smart to Take Your Parents’ Advice

posted on September 30, 2019 | by Niala Kalola

9 Times it’s Not Smart to Take Your Parents’ Advice

I’ve spoken to my own parents as well as others about this and it seems, almost universally, these are the things people hope for their children:

– Happiness
– To be a good person
– To be better than they were

I remember when a former senior executive told me, “My daughter is going to be in a great position with the financial and career success my wife and I achieve. I don’t want her worrying about that, I want her to do something amazing, like become US president or a world-class athlete.”

This is one example of what drives parents to expose us to sports, religion, different cultures, extracurricular activities, a good education, a value system, and all the other developmental constructs that make a decent and accomplished human. But most importantly, it’s what compels them to share their pearls of wisdom.

But PLOT TWIST: what about when their good intentions go awry? I asked my friends for times when their parents’ advice steered them wrong, and here are the [maybe not so] surprising times we just should not have listened to our parents.

: Cue DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Parents Just Don’t Understand :

1. Saving money is more important than spending in moderation

I KNOW… I just doled out 4 steps to saving money but hear me out. A girlfriend of mine shared this with me and I thought she had a very interesting perspective.

If you’re a Friends fan, you’ll remember that episode where Monica breaks the news to her parents that she’s lost her job and this exchange goes down:

Monica: Um, yeah, so uh, uhh, listen, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this before but umm, I, I’m no longer at my job, I, I had to leave it.

Mrs. Geller: Why?

Monica: Because they made me.

Mrs. Geller: You were fired? What’re you gonna do?

Mr. Geller: Judy, Judy, relax, this is our little harmonica we’re talking about. We taught her well. Ten percent of your paycheck, where does it go?

MONICA and Ross: In the bank.

Mr. Geller: There you go. So she dips into her savings, that’s what it’s there for. She’s gonna be fine… aren’t you sweetie?

Sound advice, yes? Yes, BUT, the reality is that most parents are more aggressive about savings goals with their kids. To the point where we’ve created a ‘Treat yo self’ culture fueled by extreme savings, cost-cutting and frugal living.

One of my favorite financial bloggers has said that spending gets a bad rap, but it’s not spending that’s led to financial downturns — it’s not being conscious of your spending that can lead to unhealthy financial habits.

What our parents did not tell us, is that if you have good financial habits: i.e. you’re contributing to your retirement, have a healthy savings, and have money left over, it’s completely acceptable to splurge on a vacation, a pair of designer shoes, or upgrading your living room sofa, as long as it’s done in moderation!

2. Don’t get a pet, it’s too much responsibility!

This may be a hot take, but I really appreciated this one from my other friend.

I’m actually guilty about giving this advice to people about waiting to have a pet, but I think saying not to get one is an entirely different ballgame. In fact, there’s an entire meme culture around Dads who say they don’t want to get a dog.

The point here is, people are having kids later, buying homes without having a partner, and are demanding more work-life balance from their jobs. While yes, they are a ton of responsibility, at the end of the day, if a pet makes you happy and you have the means and capacity to care for it, why say no to that?

3. Trying to force a timeline on you

This one hit me HARD. Whether your parents are (with the best of intentions) advising you to take on one thing at a time or on the flip side pressure you to do things earlier than when you feel ready, this is a big no-no.

This friend explained, if your parents are suggesting that you take on working, graduate school, purchasing a home, etc. people are waiting a lot longer to do all of these things, so if you take it one at a time, these things can happen much closer together. And, depending on the person, can be incredibly overwhelming and leave you at 40 years old checking off all the boxes but wondering if you ever really lived.

On the flip side, if they drive you to do these things before you’re ready, you may end up with an investment you’re unable to handle (someone else told me about a home they bought in Ireland at their dad’s recommendation that turned out to be a terrible investment, yikes!), a relationship you may have to end early (hello pressure to get married), or just generally making a decision that looks good on paper but ends up hurting you because you did it before you were ready!

Needs no explanation…

4. You should have kids or on the flip side, you shouldn’t have kids.
5. Anything finance-related, and I quote, “When they were kids you could go to college and buy a house for $20 and a Snickers bar”.
6. If a boy buys you a drink, it’s like saying yes. :Cringe:
7. Soak a cotton ball in alcohol and put it in your belly button to cure a cough. (Yet to be tested, but sounds solid to me!)
8. Don’t exercise too much (because it will stunt your growth), also, play basketball and do pull-ups to get taller. (What??)
9. Get a job, keep your head down and work hard, you’ll get there.

Our parents certainly do have our best interests at heart, but sometimes their advice and wisdom can be straight up, off the mark.

Have your parents ever given you bad advice? Share in the comments below!