I’ve always envied people who’ve managed to form great friendships with their parents. I love both of mine dearly, but they were definitely always authority figures and disciplinarians to me, not my friends. Part of this is cultural (I’m American-born Vietnamese), and while my parents will probably always see me as The Child (even though I’m an adult with a child of my own), we’ve become a lot better at being friends as well. Here’s how we swung it.
TAKE AN INTEREST IN THEIR LIVES
Sure, I always knew that my dad played guitar, but it wasn’t until I was older that we had conversations where my dad and I could weigh in equally with our different perspectives on the Beatles. And sure, I always knew that my mom took great pride in being a parent and the caretaker of not just our immediate family, but of her immediate family as well (as the second of seven siblings), but it wasn’t until I was older that my mom began confiding in me about drama that was upsetting her. My parents aren’t just my parents, but individuals with their own quirks, interests, and insecurities in their own right. And for that matter, as immigrants they come from a very different background than I do, with a very different life perspective. When I was younger, our generational and cultural differences were a source of frustration and conflict, but as I got older, I found myself wanting to know more about them and their story.
LET THEM IN
When I was younger, I was terrified of getting in trouble and of my parents getting angry with me. (Though, that didn’t stop me.) I hid a lot of my thoughts and feelings because I didn’t want to risk their disapproval, and this stopped us from having a closer relationship – I was a silent, obedient child. (Well, I wasn’t always obedient.) As an adult, I’m a lot more honest and open now, whether it’s about little things like why I don’t think my mom should buy that sweater, or bigger things like why it’s off-putting when my dad greets every piece of good news with some sort of “downer” comment. I’m more comfortable now with expressing who I am to my parents, silliness, sarcasm, and all, and it helps them get to know me as a person, and not just as The Daughter.
STILL HOLD BOUNDARIES
In the end though, parents are still parents, and there are just some things I opt not to share with them so that they can sleep better at night. I have other friends with whom I can share my deepest, darkest secrets; maintaining some sort of healthy distance between me and parents helps keep the friendship going, instead of pushing them to switch back into parent mode.
My friendship with my parents is still a work in progress, but it gets better as time goes by.
Are you able to be friends with either or both of your parents? Feel free to discuss in the comments below!
(Featured Image via Pixabay)