Putting Your Parents in Their Place

I love the title of this column because it leads you to believe that I’m going to discuss how to get your parents out of your business and off your back. My intent is actually to emphasize how important it is to have your parents involved in your life as you navigate through the twists and turns that are sure to come during young adulthood.

The young adult years are usually the most exciting years of a person’s life. What could be better than gaining your independence, creating new friendships and of course, dating. It is great to be young.

While young adulthood has its advantages, it is also a time marked by incredible difficulty. Identity crises, relationship difficulties, financial problems and personal issues can besiege and challenge you in ways that you have never been challenged before. At the same time that the difficulty is being experienced, the young person is also asserting his or her independence. In some cases, this quest for autonomy hits extremes and a pulling away from one’s parents begins. During the time that you need your parents the most, you could find yourself distant from them because of your need to run your own life.

One of the things that I’ve learned through working with college students and their parents is that the vast majority of parents truly have their child’s best interest heart. Somehow the good intentions that parents truly do have get lost and are not evident to the child when there is a debate or disagreement. Yes…parents must accept that their children are adults and that it is their life. Children should realize, however, that parents have much more life experience than they do and that they are using that experience to guide and advise someone who they love more than their own life.

Your parents would never intentionally steer you in the wrong direction. They want to see you succeed. They want you to be happy. Parents are not always right, but they are telling you what they believe to be right. Because of their wisdom, knowledge and love for you, it makes sense to at least listen to their counsel. Ultimately, you will make your own life decisions. You will also celebrate the successes or have to deal with the consequences of those choices.

No matter how old you get, your parents will always be your parents. They will always feel a responsibility to make sure that you’re going to be alright. I’m in my 30’s and my mom still calls to check on me. I imagine that she will continue to do that. I appreciate it. Even now, when I’m faced with a major life challenge or decision, I call to get her advice or opinion. She has roughly 25 more years of life experience than I do and more importantly, I know she has my best interest at heart. Why wouldn’t I listen to what she has to say?

If you have a great relationship with your parents, keep it that way. You will need their support and advisement sooner than you probably realize. If your relationship with them is not all that it should be, work on it. Put your parents back in their rightful place. They are your biggest supporters— and they really do want what’s best for you.