How to Love Your Parents

The relationship between parent and child can be one of the longest-lasting connections in a person’s life. Over the course of that relationship, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions, from anger and irritation to support and connection. How can you feel and express love for your parents, even when things aren’t always easy? With work, any relationship can be improved, and you can find ways to have a loving connection with your parents.

Spend time together. Shared activities help build a sense of connection. Doing activities that you all enjoy can help you see other aspects of your parents. Your parents might be worried about being less involved in your life as you grow up, but inviting them to take part with you in a fun activity can set the groundwork for your future loving adult relationship.

  • For example, if you really like rock climbing, invite your parents to an easy climbing wall with you. This gives you the opportunity to teach them something, and they may be more supportive of your hobby if they’ve experienced it with you.
  • Or, you could offer to join your parents and learn more about one of their hobbies. Spend an afternoon at the art museum together, and ask questions about why they like it. Interacting with you on an adult level will help you to develop a more mature relationship.

Talk to your parents about the things they do that upset you. If your parents don’t know what’s bothering or annoying you, they won’t be able to try to change their behavior. Choose a quiet, unstressful moment to have this conversation, and be aware that you might have to revisit these topics multiple times. Your relationship won’t change overnight.

  • Plan in advance what you want to say, so that you won’t find yourself blurting things out.  It may be helpful to talk to another trusted adult in advance. They will be able to give you an adult’s perspective on your concerns, and let you know if your parents’ behavior is typical or more serious.
Get help with unreasonable demands or behavior. Some parents really are overly strict or constantly critical. They may berate you for not always winning at your sport or push you into activities that you don’t enjoy. Other parents may be neglectful, focusing on their work or new relationships rather than their children. If you are facing these kinds of demands or issues, know that you need and deserve outside support from a counselor or therapist. Your doctor or a trusted teacher will be able to help you find that support.
  • It’s not up to you to fix your parents’ issues or problems. Your job is to take care of yourself and learn strategies for negotiating the difficult aspects of your relationship.
  • Talk to your parents about the challenges you’re facing. Your parents are likely to have useful experience and advice about topics like sex, relationships, and growing up. Open dialogue about these topics will strengthen your relationship.
    • Use an example from a TV show or an article as a way to break the ice.
    • Send a text if it’s hard to open the conversation. Sometimes it’s easier to begin a difficult topic by expressing yourself in writing.
    • Ask questions about your parents’ own experiences of being a teenager.
    Remember that quarrelling is normal. Your teenage years are an emotional time. Arguing with your parents doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad relationship.

    • Apologize if you’ve done or said something hurtful.
    • Learn other ways to express your anger, such as writing in a journal or venting to a friend before talking to your parent.
    • Practice asking for what you need. If your parent is doing something that annoys you, try to explain your reaction calmly and suggest a reasonable alternative.

    Practice seeing things from your parents’ perspective. Ask yourself: how would I feel if I were in their shoes? What might scare or worry me, if I were the parent of a teenager? Developing empathy will help you to feel compassion toward your parents, and to see when even their annoying actions are based in love for you.
    Accommodate differences of opinion. Tensions between parents and adult children often revolve around different ideas about lifestyle, financial choices, or decisions about running a household or raising your own children. While unsolicited advice can be irritating, try to find ways to understand your parent’s point of view and find constructive solutions to problems together.
    • For example, if your parent suggests something that you don’t agree with, try asking for more information. Understanding what motivates a suggestion can build empathy and show that you value their perspective, even if you aren’t going to do exactly what they say.


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