Life is busy – you may have a partner, kids, a job, friends, sports team to follow, and TV shows that you just have to watch. In an ideal world, your parents would be a regular part of the mix, visiting them once a week or having lunch on a regular basis. But in reality, this is rarely the case.
To help you maintain a lasting relationship with your parents (or at least be polite), we’ve compiled some tips.
Avoid calling your parents when you’re already doing something else. They’ll hear that you are rushed, and you probably won’t be listening to what they are saying. When you visit, try not to text or check your phone while speaking to your parents. If you aren’t a big talker, that’s fine, and chances are your parents know that already, so even it is a brief conversation make sure it’s the only thing you are doing.
Share something about your life
By sharing information about your life, your parents will have a better understanding of the decisions you are making. Don’t just discuss the family and your childhood; instead, you can talk about your job or the sports team you are part of on the weekend. You may even find that you have more in common than you thought.
Do what you love together
Do an activity that you both enjoy doing. It can be something from your childhood like cooking together, or it could be going for a run or playing a puzzle.
Don’t constantly assess their situation
When your parents get older, you may be concerned about whether they can still live independently. When you visit, you may be tempted to check up on them – check the fridge for expired food, assess the cleanliness of the house – but your parents may feel that they are being criticised. Try to enjoy the time with the time, ask about their week, and make fewer suggestions on what they should be doing.
Of course, there will also be situations where you do intervene in an ailing parent’s life. These discussions can be hard, so you may want to ask open-ended questions. For example, “How are you managing your medication?” or “How do you feel about driving?”
You are an adult
It’s tempting to turn back into the child again when you’re around your parents. But if you want to be treated as an adult, then you need to act like an adult. You don’t want to revert to the frustrated child who doesn’t like being told what to do.
If you feel like your parents don’t respect your choices and pass judgments on your decisions, such as a career change or finances, it may be time to set some boundaries. You can set which topics you won’t be discussing. You can respect your parents’ choices, but you need some space to build your confidence to make decisions.
Your parents and your family are likely to bring you joy and frustration, but hopefully, these tips can help you to achieve a healthy and balanced relationship.
If you need to talk to a professional counsellor about any relationship concerns you have, call MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.