Ways We Could All Be Kinder To Our Parents
Everyone’s parents know how to get under their skin. They don’t mean to, but boy are they good at it. No matter how confident, cool, powerful, and collected you feel, with just a few words your parents can have you whining and squirming like a little kid throwing a tantrum again. They can undercut all of the BS you’ve built over the years and walls you’ve put up. They still see you as the little kid who ate crayons and potty trained a bit longer than the other children, and so they can make you feel like that kid, too. Hey, our parents don’t mean any harm. They just spent 18 years (or perhaps more, seeing as many millennials are moving back home after college) feeding us, rearing us, keeping us alive, and tending to our emotional wellbeing. Are they just supposed to stop because we claim we’re adults? Go easy on them. Here are ways we could all be kinder to our parents.
Let their little comments slide
Their comments about your clothes, your hair, your apartment décor, your car…just let them slide. You don’t need to fight back every time they tell you that you should keep your car cleaner. It’s just a kneejerk reaction for them to comment on every little thing because you’re still their baby. The interaction will go much smoother if you just shrug those comments off and change the subject.
Help them with technology
To you, it’s inconceivable how somebody could be so inept at using a computer or the Roku. But you have to remember that you learned those things as a child, when it’s easiest to pick up tasks. They have to learn as adults, when it’s really hard to learn a new skill. So help your mom understand the difference between posting on someone’s wall and direct messaging them.
And be patient about it
Don’t lose patience with your parents if they need you to show them how to use the same technology, multiple times. They taught you how to ride a bike for as long as it took and they taught you how to drive a car. They taught you how to use the toilet and do your laundry, over and over again. You can teach them how to navigate Netflix.
Call more often
Calling doesn’t have to be a whole thing. You don’t need to wait until you have a full hour to talk to them. It makes them happy just to know you were thinking about them. So call them if you have five minutes to spare. You’re their baby—it’s just nice for them to hear your voice and confirm you’re still alive a few times a week.
Invite them into your life
You don’t have to quarantine your parents to just your family life. If they live nearby, invite them to a dinner party that you’re hosting with friends. Invite your mom to get a pedicure. It doesn’t have to be family life separate from social life.
Celebrate their birthdays better
Even though we’re used to them making a fuss over our birthdays and they don’t expect anything big on theirs, just surprise them anyways. Offer to take your mom to lunch for her birthday and get her a little gift.
Ask for their advice
Send your mom photos of your outfit options for the wedding you’re attending and ask for her input. Ask your parents for advice on how to ask for a raise or handle an upcoming job interview. They want to feel like you value their opinion.
Ask for their help
Ask for your parents’ help, too. Even if you don’t need it. Working on a new recipe? Call up your mom and ask her how to handle one of the steps. Call your dad and ask him to take a look at something broken in your car.
See how you can help
Even though your parents don’t need your help—even though they can hire a professional to paint that room or look over their tax return—if you have a skill that could help them today, offer it. They’d much rather spend time with their kid while working on something than spend time with a stranger.
Forgive them for your childhood
If you’re a parent, I promise you that you aren’t perfect. Your kids will, one day, blame you for their shortcomings and flaws, just as you now blame your parents. It’s the circle of life. Forgive them. You’re an adult now. If things aren’t going your way, it’s just on you now. So forgive your parents so you can get onto enjoying the relationship.
Thank them for your childhood
Focus less on what they did wrong and think of all they did right. Like saving you from every time you almost walked into the street, ran into a sharp corner, fell into a pool, got in a stranger’s van…they saved you from a lot of danger when you were little. You don’t even know about it!
Thank them for their input
They probably start a lot of sentences with “You should.” They tell you that you should really buy organic produce and you should really sew up those holes on the couch. You can just thank them for this input. You don’t need to defend it. Rather than see it as a critique, see it as them trying to improve your life and experiences.
Stop roasting their style
Go easy on them. Yes your mom wears all beige and your dad is really rocking those boxy dad jeans. Let them be. This is the way they have always dressed and the way they look cute and young to one another.
Reinterpret their accusations
When they tell you that you work too much or you go out too much or you don’t care about family, know that all they’re saying is, “We miss you.” So rather than get angry, just call more. Visit more. Include them more.
Agree to disagree
Stop trying desperately to get them to see things your way on one thing or another. Let go of the anger surrounding the fact that perhaps their political views are different from yours. It’s better to have a nice, loving interaction with them than win that battle.