Dealing with negativity from family

  1. Hi all,

    I'm currently in my first semester of an accelerated BSN program. I'm doing well and I am *loving* what I am learning. I can honestly say that I have never gone to school and became excited about studying. However, I have been dealing with a lot of negativity from my family because of my decision to become a nurse.

    Long story short, I failed out of an doctorate program (for another health profession) a couple years ago. I look back and see that I was not mature enough, and I got distracted. I also know that I was not happy during the year that I was in the program, nor was I as excited to learn the material as I am now. I realized that I had to re-evaluate my motives and choose a career wisely.

    What had inspired me to do get into nursing was when my dad was sick with cancer. My mom had to work, and my brother started pharmacy school. So, I did a lot of the caregiving. I won't say that it was not difficult. My dad was angry, grouchy, and very irritable a lot of the time. However, there were several times that we shared our laughs and bonded with one another. He ultimately thanked me for my care, and that was what made me the happiest. A part of me went with him when he passed away. I am grateful for the nurses who cared for him and us during the difficult time. I know he was not cured; he was healed and the pain is gone now.

    So now, my family has been giving me grief that I am lowering my standards. They say I'm "too smart" to be a nurse and that I should be using my talents in some other profession that is "better (in their definition, something that pays more $$ without a lot of the physical labor)." Last night, they had mentioned that this was not what my dad would have wanted me to do (it's true; he wanted me to pursue medical, pharmacy, or dentistry instead). Therefore, they feel that I'm being very selfish by disobeying his wishes. They would ask questions like, "Do you want to wipe asses for the rest of your life? Are you trying to break your back?" It just seems so hypocritical to me. They *say* they respect nurses and what they do; it just seems that they won't respect ME if I become one.

    I'm just hoping that this may all change once they see that I am serious about school. I barely go out anymore (probably 1x a month), I study for the majority of my time, and I either help around the house or shadow a NP whenever I have free time. For what it's worth, my mother is only supporting me through my aBSN because she is hoping that I become a CRNA.

    Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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    About bonjournurse2b

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 14; Likes: 2
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  3. by   zoe92
    Your family sounds way too judgemental. It is unfortunate they did not become as appreciative of nurses as you did when your dad was sick. Do not let them affect you. You learned from your previous mistake of failing out of a doctorate program and if you really feel a calling for this, then do it.
  4. by   nurseprnRN
    The best thing to do would be to keep going and do well. I don't know what it is about people that the first thing they think of when they think "nursing" is "poop" and that they think physicians and dentists are automatically smarter than nurses. Ask them if they'd like to be cared for by a stupid nurse. This won't cut much mustard if they think all nurses do is "follow doctor's orders," which you are just beginning to grasp is completely untrue, and if they think physicians make all of the decisions and do most of the important work related to patient care. You might tell them if they think that, they are watching too much commercial television. Do NOT let them watch "Nurse Jackie" for a few years, though.

    There's no point in trying to explain the richness, variety, strength, and autonomy of nursing to someone who is clueless and wants to remain so, but you could consider leaving a copy of the ANA Standards and Scope of Practice around. It's an eye-opener. They will come around. It will take years, I can tell you from personal experience with the same kind of family, but they WILL get it.

    (Tell them that one of your friends is a nurse with an IQ of over(goodish number) who runs her own business and is doing pretty well at it. We're friends now, right?)
    Last edit by nurseprnRN on Sep 24, '12
  5. by   bonjournurse2b
    Thanks for the advice, both of you! I'm really glad that I found this forum.

    I will not give up on this and I know I will go far in this profession. It is burdensome to have a family that is unsupportive, though. I *know* they care for me and want the best for me. I feel guilt-tripped from time to time because they worry about the physical demands (I'm a smaller girl) and the emotional hardships (angry patients/families/physicians; I'm a shy and somewhat timid person) that come with being an RN. I never wanted to bring shame or anxiety to my family. But in the end, I feel that it takes creative, intelligent, and brave people to be a nurse. I stepped up to do it, and I'm even more motivated to make something out of myself and do great things. I hope that I can get through this.

    Also, GrnTea ... do you mind me asking what kind of nursing practice you're running? I ultimately want to be a NP (haven't decided which specialty) after I work as an RN for a few years.
    Last edit by bonjournurse2b on Sep 24, '12
  6. by   cathering
    Wow, I am sorry that you're going through this, its so tough when its your immediate family. I can imagine somewhat what youre going through because my family is very similar (Asians..) however my parents always believed that nursing is an RESPECTABLE job.

    You just have remember that this is YOUR life, not theirs. at the end of the day, its YOU who need to put in the time, its YOU who needs to retain the information, YOU who is running around caring for patients, and its YOU who feels proud and accomplished at the end of the day. It seems that your family has a lot of love and care for you, I am sure that once you do become a nurse and show them that you are HAPPY to be doing something that you feel rewarded for at the end of the day, I am sure that they will come around. And if you're genuinely happy and satisfied, your dad will be as well! Your family just dont know yet! However, until you get there, look for support from your friends, peers, fellow nursing students, you DEF do not need the negativity.

    Also remind them that there are so many different paths/fields of nursing. I don't know how you feel about this, but if you really love nursing, there are so many ways to further your knowlege/education on nursing and medicine even after you become an RN (ex. nurse practitioner). Maybe you and your family can find something common to look forward to.

    Good luck!

  7. by   prmenrs
    I don't think they make you study stuff like pathophysiology, chemistry, pharmacology, several versions of psychology, etc., if all the job entailed was simple hygiene w/specific reference to fecal matter.

    You might share some of your books and study materials w/them under the guise of helping you study? Just a thought.

    Keep your mind and heart focused on why you are doing this. It could be exactly what your Dad wanted you to do! Hang in there, 'k?
  8. by   laurie0313
    Actually, yes, but in my case, my family did not feel it necessary to go to my graduation, and always expected me to fail. Try to surround yourself with those that are positive and are supportive of your decision. For the longest time, I felt it necessary to try to win my family's approval, when I should have been happy with my own. I have had to move away from my family in order to grow in confidence, and self esteem. I met a wonderful man that is very supportive, and encourages me to better myself. He respects my decisions and encourages me to go for my goals. I am lucky to have my rock and be his rock in turn. Take a step back from your family, it takes guts, but you have to live with the decision yourself, are you happy with it?