In the spirit of moving out, I thought I’d create a blog on a subject I haven’t really touched on before: parents. I’m going to miss my parents a hell of a lot when I go off to university because I feel like I’ve really created a good, more mature relationship with them over the last year. Parents are tricky things. They’re people you’ve known your whole life, who in any other circumstance, you may never have chosen to befriend. But, having a good relationship with your parents can be extremely rewarding, so if you’re looking for tips on how to get along with your parents, you’re in the right place.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” – Richard Bach
1. Find common interests
As you would with anyone, be they family or friend, it’s really helpful to find common ground to help you bond. It’s a conversation starter and something you’ll both enjoy investing in – investing in each other will come naturally. Try to find some common interests and make an effort to reach out with them. Have conversations about your common interests, get tickets to an event (sports game, a film, etc).
If you can’t find many common interests, go for conventional things that most people like that’ll allow you to spend quality time together, meals out, walks, city breaks, etc, or start a new hobby together. Making an effort and changing the location and habits of your relationship will help you create new memories, new bonds and if you’re coming up with the ideas, will put you on a more even playing field with your parents. It’s opening the door to a deeper connection.
2. Spend time with them
This might seem obvious, but I think this is an underrated tip for anyone wanting to build or strengthen a relationship – the key ingredient is quality time. Make an effort to spend time with your parents, even if you’re not doing much. If you live together, hang out in the same room, even if you’re doing separate things. If you don’t live together, reach out regularly to make small plans like dinners or popping over for coffee. If you live far away, call often and spend time talking about what’s going on in your lives. Regular quality time will help you to build a strong, meaningful relationship with your parents.
3. Ask questions
An important part of learning how to get along with your parents is showing an interest in their life and interests. You might think you know your parents, but you probably only know a fraction of them – they had years of life before you. My simple tip here? Ask more questions. Be curious and reach out to learn about your parents. Knowing them better will help you understand and connect with them on a deeper level.
A situation I see often in the parent-child relationships is a lot of questions and conversations coming from the adult. This is understandable as that’s the way it’s probably been for a really long time, but breaking that mould and opening up your relationship to be more balanced will help you connect in a more mature way. You’re an adult (or almost an adult) now too!
4. Be realistic
Forget the ideal child-parent relationship you see on TV. This stereotype can make it difficult to be realistic about what to expect from your parents. They’re just average people too. I think it can be a tricky lesson to learn that your parents are real people, with feelings and problems and fears just like you have. Often in childhood, we look to them as wise heroes with all the answers and knowledge, so when we find out that they’re just as mortal as us, it can be a hard pill to swallow. Equally, it can be difficult for your parents to recognise your growing older.
A few tips here are to try and separate yourself from your parents to be your own person (with your own ideas, interests, values and beliefs), accept that they are just people, remember to look at things from their perspective, and build confidence in yourself to have your own personality, be confident in your adult choices, and not be too affected by their opinions (take them into consideration – they probably have some wise advice – but remember it’s your life now).
5. Create boundaries
This is a really important part of growing and developing any relationship. Especially if you’re building a relationship from scratch or repairing a difficult relationship, it’s important to create boundaries. Take the realistic thoughts from our last step and use that to shape the relationship you want (that’s realistic to have). If you feel it’s right to, sit down with your parents to talk about your desires or if you feel it’s better, just start acting in the way you wish to act and asking to be treated in the way you wish to be. Remember that this may be difficult for your parents, especially if they still see you as a child. You’re both working on this relationship, remember you’re on the same team and try to help each other out.
If you have old feelings and issues you need to get off your chest, share them – you might be surprised at how unaware your parents are by how you absorbed the ways they treated you. Parenting is a difficult job and nobody does it perfectly – sometimes that’s not an excuse, but it is something to keep in mind.
A quick point: Sometimes relationships with parents aren’t healthy and can’t be rebuilt. In these cases, it can be really helpful to talk to a professional to get specific advice about how to approach your relationship from a healthy standpoint. You can’t do anything more than trying your best so put in the effort you can (healthily!) give and remember your value – you are defined by your actions, not the responses of others.
I think the three key things in learning how to get along with your parents are maturity, confidence and compassion (honestly, I think they’re the three key things to everything!), with those things in place, you can hopefully work with your parents to create a relationship you both enjoy and benefit from. Any relationship in your life can be tricky, but by being realistic and confident in yourself, you’ll create the ones you want.
Best of luck, my dears. Love, Ella Rose xx