Unsolicited Advice

Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay

She really didn’t want my advice, which was unsolicited in her unexpressed opinion towards me. However her mother insisted that I talk to her about how to improve her English and how to incorporate new methods of learning.

So I was obliged to share with her methods like “comprehensive input”, listening, dual subtitles. Whenever I paused, she would insert her attack on each of my methods, using phrases such as “I’ve already been good at that”, “I am too busy”, or “that doesn’t apply to me”. I should have given up within ten minutes, since she was impervious to any advice, but I continued. I could be quite stubborn sometimes. Whenever I face resistance, I tend to double down my effort. At length, she gave a jeering comment, “you are quite passionate about my study.”

Let’s say her name is Riri, who’s a teenager and a new immigrant. I didn’t really mind if she was unwilling to listen to me. I was as sulky as her when I was her age, or probably even sulkier. After our conversation, I learned more about this girl and her family. Apparently the mother and the father have very different opinions about the girl’s education. The father wants to take it easy, but the mother wants to push hard and spend as much money as possible for the girl since she’s their only child. This has caused serious family tension and unhappiness.

Actually Riri is not the first girl I have observed the family tension caused by a girl’s upbringing. Many parents have different opinions on their daughters’ education. And this difference of opinion doesn’t really matter for parents who don’t have extra money, or for those who have a lot of disposable income. The former can’t afford to spend money on their daughter’s education even if one parent has such a wish–thus there’s no argument; the later can afford the money comfortably and consequently the parent who wants to help the daughter to advance can do so without causing friction with the other parent.

However the problem becomes serious for parents who have some money but not that much. Riri’s parents unfortunately fall into such a category. It is said Riri’s parents have fights and arguments about her education all the time–the mother wants to spend the money to send her to after-school training while the father doesn’t want to do this. I can imagine her parents antagonizing each other in many different ways (just like my own parents). This is why Riri learns (or even enjoys) antagonizing me even if I was a stranger. Actually at one point, Riri told me that she antagonized her teacher who was giving her an oral test just two months prior. She was afraid that she was going to get a bad score on her test, but the teacher was pretty lenient. Apparently she got away with it (probably many times before) for being antagonistic and contentious.

Actually I heard of many instances of parental disagreement on daughter’s education. In three cases, it is about fathers who want their girls to be musicians and spend a lot of money on music lessons, which makes the mothers quite angry. In two cases, it is about the mothers who want her daughter to go to private schools, for which the fathers disagree.

At the end of my conversation with Riri, I somehow sensed her stressful upbringing and her guilt. She felt very guilty when she spent money to go to a training school–I guess she felt that she made her father unhappy for spending the money. And she also felt quite guilty about her unwillingness to study hard– I guess she felt guilty that she was disappointing her mother. So I said to her, “you can improve your English by watching videos on psychology since it will help you understand yourself and your family.” She immediately replied, “I dislike psychology. I took one psychology class and I hated it.”

Well, teenagers can be porcupines. I don’t really know this little porcupine named Riri very well, but I feel sympathetic. It is not easy to grow up in a contentious family and I hope she will eventually grow out of her family and grow to be normal, healthy, and happy.

13 thoughts on “Unsolicited Advice

  1. I can’t judge because I was awful as a teenager lol. I was so rude and surly. And also because she probably had a hard time with her parents and that’s why she’s so reluctant to accept your advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I think too that she had a hard time growing up in a combative household. And there was another layer of complication, which I was not at liberty to disclose and which forced the mother to use more family fund so that the father couldn’t take care another relative he wanted to take care. Anyway, when money is tight, a family can run into a lot of arguments.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, often finances are such a contentious issue in a household. If one is married to a partner who doesn’t really like to share, it will be a continuous issue…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I taught 16-18 year olds for 34 years, so this certainly rings a bell. There were some who were prickly with me and their parents, but also quite a lot (probably more) who were prickly with their parents but not with me.

    As a teenager I was anxious to please and not at all prickly – which may not be entirely healthy either. However I do remember feeling a certain impatience with any kind of gradual or incremental improvement. I wanted a quick fix and probably would also have been quietly sceptical about any advice given. I remember once my parents gave me an oil-filled radiator to heat my bedroom. It didn’t get very hot so I didn’t believe it actually did anything. I wanted the one that blasted out hot air.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. When I was a teenager, I tried very hard to be a “grey rock” and silent. I tried hard to please my narcissistic parents by not saying anything or expressing anything so that I would not be shamed or ridiculed. This girl is different from me, but more likely she is like what you described–wanting a quick fix and being skeptical of anything else.
      A radiator that burns oil? I’ve never seen one like that. I learned that some of the houses around here are heated by oil tanks buried underground, which was really … surprising. One of my acquaintances bought a house with such a contraption and he didn’t realize it until several months after the closing day. Removing it will cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I get Riri and I was and am the same exact way. I hate it and I’m changing because it’s manipulative, but it’s something I do because I don’t feel like I can do anything better.

    Hopefully she’ll like you in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Well, teenagers can be porcupines sometimes,” is a really great line and very true.
    You tried to help her but you can only do so much. If you are approachable she may come to you but not necessarily. I know I was a horrible teenager and wouldn’t listen to anybody.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, me too. I would listen to anybody either since my narcissistic parents were always lying and manipulating. I couldn’t listen to them unless there was absolutely no alternative.

      Liked by 1 person

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