Tips to Help You Establish a Healthy Relationship with Your Parents
Each family has particular ways of getting chores done, choosing activities, spending free time, and relating with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These systems are hard to change. Family systems of communication are developed over many years and are often passed down from one generation to the next.
Changing the way young adults relate with parents can be difficult because they have been practicing the old way for at least a couple of decades. The good news is that people can change. It takes learning a new style, making an intentional effort, and practicing persistence. There are many great communication tools you can pass on for them to learn and use. Here are a few tips to get young people started in communicating effectively with their parents:
Keep in Touch
Text, email, message, write, call, and video-call your parents. Tell your parents about your life—your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and things you're learning. Dialogue—don't just report.
Ask About Their Lives
Ask about their lives, too—about your siblings, their projects at work, church activities, their committee work, etc. Pursuing a relationship with your parents by proactively sharing your life and asking about theirs can go a long way toward strengthening your relationship and helping them to see you as an adult and to treat you like one.
Express Your Gratitude
Be specific about your thanks for their training, time, memories, affection, skills, and blessings from your past. They appreciate hearing you say that you recognize the impact they've had on your life.
Go Home and Take Friends
Once in a while, plan a trip home. Take friends for the holidays, if you live close by. Be prepared to engage with your parents' friends, too. Knowing each other's friends can help you see each other as individuals—instead of just family members—and can help you to be more connected to each other.
Seek Their Counsel But Assume Personal Responsibility
Process decisions with your parents and be willing to ask for their advice and opinions, especially for major life decisions, but take responsibility for your life decisions and the consequences.
Practice Basic Acts of Courtesy
Respect and kindness are always appreciated. Where possible, say "yes" to their requests and honor them cheerfully. Say "no" to unhealthy, inappropriate, or unreasonable requests, but do so gently.
For additional resources on how to maintain healthy relationships in your life, check out our Relationship IQ module on "Adulting in your Family Relationships". The module is also available within our full Relationship IQ Leader's Manual.