I’m not one of those people who eat up celebrity gossip magazines like fries. The only time I even glance at one is when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, and only because they’re so conveniently located near the cash register – and because the headlines honestly make me giggle. I do, however, love reading stories about celebrities who have overcome great odds and achieved greatness.

Specific to today’s blog, I did a little research on celebrities who allegedly had an unsupportive family environment. Singer Katy Perry, for example, is said to have greatly disappointed her Christian parents when she chose a career in singing. To this day, it is alleged that her parents still disapprove of her, in spite of her success. Edgar Allen Poe and Kris Kristofferson were both disowned because of their career paths. Ditto for Heather Graham.

Stories like these depict how indomitable the human spirit can be, but they also emphasize the importance of having family support. Would Perry’s, Poe’s, or Kristofferson’s life been better if their parents had been more supportive? It’s difficult to say. What I can tell you, or show you, is what data from our Ambition Test reveal about the impact of a supportive family environment on a person’s aspirations. Here’s what the stats show:

For those who grew up with parents who were supportive and encouraging…

  • 64% make it a point to learn new skills on a regular basis
  • 85% are highly motivated to continue to improve themselves
  • 71% set high expectations for themselves
  • 84% believe they can achieve whatever they set their mind to

For those who grew up in an unsupportive environment:

  • 42% have turned down opportunities in the past because they didn’t think they could live up to the challenge
  • 32% will give up on a goal if it is too difficult or isn’t progressing as quickly as they’d like
  • 49% are actually surprised when they do well on a project or assignment

Queendom’s stats also reveal that a supportive family environment can have a positive impact on a person’s level of drive, ambition, persistence, and self-efficacy. Essentially, kids who grew up with supportive and encouraging parents were more likely to set high aspirations, to push through obstacles, and to believe in themselves.

It would be foolish to deny the impact of parenting style on a child’s well-being, psychological health, social skills, academic achievement and general success. But I don’t condone blaming our parents for our failings…even though I can trace a lot of my idiosyncrasies, hang-ups, complexes, and other issues to the way I was raised. Blaming my parents would be easy (and probably quite accurate) but then it would take away the incentive and the power to change my life. And that’s the problem with blame: You allow others to dictate how you feel about yourself. The truth is, if I don’t take the steps necessary to change my life (seek the guidance of a therapist, for example), then I only have myself to blame for my discontent.

If you didn’t receive the encouragement you needed growing up, then surround yourself with people who do support you. While the caveat that you shouldn’t depend entirely on others to motivate and push you to greatness still stands, knowing that others are behind you if needed can be a great source of inspiration. Join an online group that shares your passion. Read biographies of great achievers who struggled, but still made a name for themselves. Director George Lucas described himself as a terrible student. Business mogul and talk show host Oprah Winfrey came from humble beginnings, but always told herself she would be someone great. Antonia Novello battled illness and an overly strict parent to become the Surgeon General of the United States. These people also serve as a reminder that persistence is the key to success. If you keep hanging on just a little longer when you face obstacles, you can accomplish amazing things.

There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you.”

J. K. Rowling

Insightfully yours,

Queen D