Sounds to me that it's not so much genuine fear spooking, but spooking as an excuse. OP, you don't sound terribly experienced and as he is your first horse, may I STONGLY suggest you follow your parents suggestion and find a horse that is more suitable for you, or find yourself a very good trainer to help. Rearing at you is 100% agressive, intimidation behaviour. The horse has not a scrap of respect for you, and that puts him in a precarious situation. He HAS to be the leader now, and the leader does tend to be spookier - he has to notice everything around him and react to it. The other horses in a herd to this horse to see whether they will run, or stay.
You need to turn this mentality around. The horse needs to see YOU as the leader, and in turn he will begin to follow your lead. You are the decision maker of the partnership and if you don't react to something, he will follow suit.
My horse is a very reactive type as well. Things that he's seen a million times still worry him. A few weeks after I first got him, he spooked violently and bolted on me when he saw a couple of miniature ponies standing beside the arena. On the ground, he would throw his head up, tap dance, neigh and swing his body around, his brain totally gone. His reactions were genuine fear responses, his whole body would shake, his jaw would clamp and his eyes would roll.
Since then, I have instilled a few coping techniques into him. On the ground, I have developed a very good 'head down' cue, which creates a safe place for him when he gets worried. This is even beginning to be effective when he is at his worst on the ground - seperation anxiety when his 'friends' are out of sight. I put my hand on his poll, if I can reach, and he drops his head immediately. If I can't reach, I put downward pressure on his halter and he gives to that. Once his head is down, and I keep my hand lightly on his poll, it takes all of 10 seconds for him to completely recover. He stops shaking, his body relaxes, he releases his jaw, and he willingly keeps his head lowered. Then I can do what I like with him.
Under saddle, I have taught him a one rein stop. It's not something that can be used effectively if the horse has already bolted, but if he gives you warning and you feel him ready to go, a one rein stop is great for clicking his brain back into place.
When he is feeling tense and wanting to spook, I will ride either leg yield, or shoulder in with a little too much bend to the inside. Keeping him around my inside leg gives me that bit more control if he decides to do anything, and it keeps him thinking. I'll keep him in this position until I feel him relax, then give out the reins and ride on.
Be mindful that you don't make a huge deal out of the spook itself. When they're spooking, their mind is on nothing else but the object/noise that is scaring them. If you react agressively, by kicking/hitting/pulling/yelling, the horse will associate that with the object, and react more violently - you have effectively given him a reason to be scared.
On the other side of the coin, if you pat and soothe him, you are reqarding the spooking behaviour.
Your best bet is to centre yourself in the saddle, keep both legs on, and ride forward confidently. Don't look at what he's spooking at, but each time you go past try to ride a little closer until he deals with it.