Father Holding Daughter's Hand

Building an adult relationship with your parents can be a struggle for everyone involved. Keep these suggestions in mind to make bridging the gap a little easier.

1. Accept your differences & find your similarities

“It is only when you accept how different you all are, that you will be able to see how much the same you all are.” – C. Joybell C.

You probably can’t say that you and your friends are 100 percent alike, but it is differences, not similarities, that make relationships richer. The greatest challenge faced by adult children and their parents is in bridging generation gaps and the key to doing so lies in understanding. Most parents of twenty-somethings were born between 1955-1970, and A LOT has changed since then. Try to find common ground with your parents, but more importantly, try to understand why you have differences in opinion. Instead of wasting time griping and judging, bring your parents into your world. Share your fun and your beliefs. You may find that your bond is strengthened, and you’re both enlightened by the experience, and nothing but positivity can come from that.

2. Communicate

“They say communications save relations.” – Drake

You don’t want to begin your relationship on false presentations of yourself or faulty expectations of your parents. It may keep you in the clear now, but it will inevitably be problematic when you have to juggle between who your parents think you are and who you actually are. If you want to have a mature relationship with your parents, you have to 1) be honest and 2) not expect them to be thrilled about all of your feelings/choices. After all, the people who care most about you aren’t necessarily the ones who always agree with you, but those who are willing to offer an alternative angle in an effort to look out for your best interests.

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3. Build a friendship

“Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.” – Bill Gates

German professor of psychology Heike Buhl writes, “The adult development of the relationship with one’s parents is often described as a process of change toward friendship” (My Mother: My Best Friend?). Your parents were once twenty-somethings and if you give them a chance, they may prove to be fun friends. You don’t have to hit the hot party with them (because that could get a little weird), but hang out every now and then. Get to know your parents for the people they are outside of “mom” and “dad.” We are all multifaceted individuals who exist outside of our responsibilities; the same goes for your parents.

4. Accept your own adulthood

“Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Psychiatrist and family therapist Frank Pittman said of adulthood, “They [parents] can not grant you your adulthood; you must claim it for yourself” (How to be a Grownup). Seeing is believing. Show that you can be responsible and thriving without always needing a handout. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it could be a chicken in duck suit, but no one will know the difference! Behave the way you want to be perceived and remember that the primary goal of parenting is to raise children who will become productive adults. Make your parents proud by proving that they succeeded.

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Remember that your parents were the people who loved you first. Put a smile on their faces by having a legitimate relationship with them; you’ll both be grateful for a better connection.

Photo via Spirit-Fire