Tips for making the most of your relationship with your parents
I know it’s difficult, but having lost both parents, one when my son was only two years old and the second when I was older, I look back and think of all of the stupid, petty arguments that never needed to happen. Yes, my dad and mom drove me crazy, but in retrospect, no matter WHAT was happening in my life, they were always there for me. I knew that I could turn to them whether I was right or wrong, and they’d be there to help guide me.
Looking back, there is so much that I wish I had taken the time to ask and learn, from family history to favorite recipes from my mom and to business advice from my dad. I think at this point I have a fair perspective and I know for CERTAIN that there are ways that I could have made things better/easier.
Show Them Respect
It sounds easy, but I know that I was a rebel, and would stand up to them all of the time (dad said it’s sunny out…I’d say it’s snowing). Showing your parents respect doesn’t mean doing everything they advise you to do, or tolerating behaviors that are downright wrong. It does mean honoring them simply because they are your parents. They brought you into this world and they raised you the best that they could. All you need is to show them love and treat them with kindness and consideration that you would anyone else.
Remember That they Raised You
Your parents likely made plenty of sacrifices to see you succeed. No parent is perfect, but if your parents took care of you and helped you grow into the amazing adult you are today, remember it. They love you and cared for you. Don’t forget about the good times just because you may be having a disagreement at the moment.
Learn about Their Past
Your parents will be some of the most interesting people you will meet. This is partly because they lived in a time when you did not yet exist, and partly because they hold a piece of your own history within theirs. Ask them what their childhood was like, and what prompted them to make the decisions they did when they were young. You will be amazed at the stories you uncover. I learned some incredible things from my mom that shocked me, and always got funny stories from my dad (especially about his teenaged years).
Learn from Their Wisdom
If your parents have wisdom to give, then receive it. By the time a person has lived much their life, they generally have a lot of wisdom to offer those around them. As their child, you can be first in line to glean it. My favorite two pieces of wisdom from my parents:
- Mom: You can do ANYTHING in this world if you just read the directions
- Dad: Dare to be different
I’ve said both of those many times, and they’ve been constant guidance for me throughout my life.
Make Time for Each Other
Don’t forget about your parents just because your life is busy. Someday you will be older and missing all the time you once spent with your children, and your parents likely feel the same about you. So continue to nurture this important relationship as you and your parents age together. You will always value this special time. My mother was only 55 when she passed away and I was 32. 31 years later, I still miss her terribly and wish she were here by my side.
Build the Connection between Them and Your Children
Ben was only 2 years old when my mom died. He has absolutely no memory of her, yet he spent lots of time with my dad. I see a lot of my dad in Ben and it cracks me up. There is nothing more important than building a link between all the generations in a family. Spend time as family with your parents and children. Build an appreciation for the older generation within your children. How you treat your parents is how your children are learning to treat you, and they will learn well when you are intentional. Your parents will also see, and will appreciate your efforts.
Know Their Intentions
Although your parents surely made many mistakes, as all parents do, take their intentions into consideration. If your parents made their decisions based out of love for you and a desire to do what they believed was best for you, show them grace. Believe that your parents love you, and then do your best to work out your differences. I didn’t always agree with what they thought best for me (like when I got into Julliard School of Music in New York for college and was told that they didn’t want me living in the city, so I couldn’t go there).
Relationships with parents can be complicated. There is always room for growth, and there are many ways to nurture and make the most of this relationship. Do what you can and watch your friendship with your parents grow as naturally as it began.
I hope this helps you, espcially during this holiday season when nerves are heightened and arguments can start over things as small as whose cookies are the best. Thank you.