Are you that up and coming young professional who feels like he’s got it all? Or does that euphoria deflate faster than you know what in cold water when you find yourself in the same room as your parents? If you’re resigned to feeling like a bumbling kid around your parents even when you’re sixty and they’re eighty, then listen up ‘cause I’m here to tell you, Aretha got it right, baby. It’s all about respect.
Now I’m not gonna shine you on with the ‘Do what I say because I’m your Mother’ or the ‘Father knows best’ commandments. Those stopped working when you guys hit the double digits. Re-defining your relationship once you hit the far side of 21 means that you have to take another look at what R-E-S-P-E-C-T should mean. Try following these 7 simple rules:
R = REMEMBER
Parents are people, too. If you want them to respect your life and identity, then acknowledge that labels don’t define them either. They’re not just your Mom and Dad. They had a life before you came along and they have a life outside of you now as well. Ask questions about their lives and share your experiences. Maybe you’ll actually have a meaningful conversation..
E = EARN IT
Get a job. Or, in this economy, keep a job. Work on a plan to become financially independent. Remove the chronic worry that they’re still financially responsible for you and you’ve earned their respect. If you’re in a holding pattern, see rule 3. You have to take risks and you’ve got a better shot at making those risks pay off in dollars if you pursue an education so – go to rule 3.
S = SCHOOL
Parents want you to have a better life than they have. It’s ingrained in parent DNA. Better life = education so-o-o finish high school, get that CSLB license, join the military and have Uncle Sam pay for your education, be ‘My son, the doctor,’ or the best poker player you can be. It doesn’t matter what as long as you pursue some kind of training or education to reach every parent’s secret desire that their child be financially independent as soon as possible.
P = PATIENCE
Be patient with your parents. It’s a virtue. Make a conscious effort to not get annoyed, lose your temper or walk away when the inevitable questions about marriage or grandchildren start popping up – and they will, I guarantee it.
E = EXCUSES
You don’t have to make any. It’s your life so no apologizing for why you’re not married with 2.5 kids and a dog or why you haven’t made partner after six years at the same firm or won a Super Bowl ring. You’re the adult and you call the shots. Just, for heavens sake, make responsible choices. Boomerang back to parents. You don’t get to make them feel guilty for what they didn’t give you. Most parents do the best they can with what they have and they want more for their kids that they’d ever had. So, everybody deals and moves on.
C = COMMUNICATE
Adults share experiences. So take the time to talk about what’s going on in your life and listen to what’s happening in theirs. Talk. Don’t just string a series of monosyllabic words together. Call, text or e-mail once in a while and let them know you’re okay but whatever you do, don’t forget birthdays, Mother’s or Father’s Day or you’ll have a harder time implementing rule 5.
T = THANK YOU
Yup. This one says it all. Plus an occasional ‘I love you’ never killed anybody. So say ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ often and you better say it like you mean it if you know what’s good for you!