Now that we have become adults, our parents are our children now! Let us give them that same love and care which we once received from them.
I myself am in a job where I have to stay away from home for extended periods of time. Yet the relationship with my parents remains untainted. I wish to provide a few insights to how that becomes possible.
If you can get inside their minds, no matter what the distance, you will always find a way to make them feel happy.
Whether you have been raised by a single parent or both, they need much more of you than a mere phone call at the end of the week. Yes, even now! You may have settled down in life by yourself, but your parents still miss you. Here are a few actionable tips you can start doing right away!
Let us start with a few extremely important things which really can shape your relationship with your parents, followed by gestures which will make them feel special.
1. Realise that no matter how high you reach, you will always be their Baby boy or girl
Never be too old to get scolded. If they are scolding you, you can tell that your happiness and well-being matters to them, even if that’s their own way of thinking. It means that, in their own way, they love you. Do not take that love (Or any other love, for that matter), for granted.
Never be too old to get advice from them. They really may show you things you have not considered.
2. Learn to forgive
This is something which many of us go through.
I do not know how to emphasize this enough, but if you hold a grudge against your parents, you MUST find a way to let that go! Believe me, it is depleting you every day more than you think it is affecting them. There is no upside to holding a permanent grudge against anyone, let alone your Mom and Dad. No matter what they have done, if you keep that grudge in yourself, you will regret it one day.
I can tell you from my own experience, there is an immense peace in forgiving your parents for what they have done to you. Besides, you exist because of them. Nothing can possibly surpass that!!
If you do not, one day when they are gone, it may become very difficult to forgive yourself.
3. Live close enough
If you are an adult, in all probability you do not live with your parents.
Live close if you can. It helps your relationship in a lot of ways. While you have the absolute independence to design your life in a way you want, you also do not live too far apart to be disconnected from them. We live in an apartment which is close to my parents. We meet every day and chat with each other just like old times. Yet, we sleep in separate apartments and enjoy our complete freedom.
Live close, drop by often, have meals together, let them play with their grand-kids, laugh with them.
4. They need their freedom too, understand that
When you were younger, your father was the king of his house. You are the king too, now. You have your own identity, you need your own space and you do not want to be dictated there. That’s why you need to move out whenever you can. If you and your parents have their separate establishments, each can have an empire of their own. This keeps both happy in their own diocese, and relationships remain beautiful.
They magic balance for a healthy relationship: do not live too close, and do not live too far!
5. Realize that you are lucky
There are millions of people around the world who does not have a parent. They may have lost theirs, or have never seen them. Please remember to feel lucky to have your parents in your life. Having a father and a mother is not a birthright for all.
It is a gift – remind yourself that as often as you can.
6. Share with them every achievement
Your parents are always going to feel proud of you. Let them feel that way!
Every time you win in life, a part of them wins. A big part of what you are is because of how they have brought you up, or the things you have been taught. There is no one better qualified to claim credit for your achievements. Allow them the satisfaction. It does not cost you.
7. Learn to hide things when needed
Your parent did not come home from the office and discuss their every decision with you when you were a kid.
As an adult, you often have to take decisions which do not necessarily match with your parents’ ideas. They may be having a different way of thinking. Do not get confrontational or try to change their ideas. There is no upside to that. After a certain age, they will believe what they want to believe.
Either take heed of their suggestions and use them. But if you think you are right, just do it your way and do not tell them about it. I do this very often when my parents are strictly opinionated about a certain thing. White lies are important!
8. Do not be too old to put your head on their lap at times
It is a gesture which can melt even the gravest situations. Your parents love you in a way you can only understand when you are a parent yourself. Enjoy that love!!
9. Let them enjoy the company of their grandchildren
When your parents see your child, they remember you. Please let them have that young version of you which they loved so dearly. You may not be able to give them that version ever again. You are now too mature, too busy or too smart for that!! Yet there is your child who can make your parents feel young again. Let them enjoy that.
Find ways to bring your kids to meet your parents as often as you can.
10. Apologize for your mistakes
At times, you may lose your mind and lose temper. There can be certain things you say which you do not mean.
You may feel a resistance in apologizing if you have not done it before.
Well, here’s the thing. With parents, they have perhaps forgiven you already, no matter how bad they felt. Yet, say that you were sorry! It makes a huge difference. You will always be a bigger person to admit your mistakes, and with parents, the inherent love is so strong that it can turn a relationship around!
11. Do not be formal
Try to be that kid to them when you can. You do not need to be too sweet or too harsh with them. Just let them feel the way they felt when you were twelve, only in a more mature way. In your corporate life you may be a tiger, but at home with your parents be your old self.
Laugh with them, at silly jokes too. If you do not like something, point it out, but take care not to get personal. Hit the problem, not the person. Ask for suggestions and really listen to their ideas – let them relax in the thought that they can still affect your life.
12. Realize their wrapping up phase
This is rather painful, but they are trying to wrap up their life.
They are trying to make sense of what they did right and where they went wrong all these years.
Unlike you, they cannot mend most of their mistakes. The time has gone. Even if they want, they cannot turn it back.
You are their biggest achievements or their biggest failures. Every time you fail, or every time you hurt them, their balance sheet shows a deficit. It is more painful to them because unlike you, they cannot make up for it anymore.
As much as you can, give them a sense that they have done something right in their lives. That will give them an unfathomable peace.
If you can make your parents happy about the way they have led their life, to make sense of their decisions over the years, there is no greater gift.
Years later, when you have finished the race that you are running now, you will be in their place and you will also try and wrap your life up. At that time, the greatest regrets will be those things which you could have, but have not done. A happy man is one who can make sense of their decisions after many years.
13. Act on your plans!
If you want to do something for them, and if you can, do it TODAY! Do not wait for the next year, or the next increment, or the next best opportunity. It may be too late by then. If you have some plans, execute them. Do not hold it back. You will feel a different kind of joy inside, this satisfaction cannot be explained. Many people I know have lost the opportunity to do anything for their parents ever again. That is one of the biggest regrets in life.
14. If you are angry at them, do not talk
It is in general good practice not to talk to someone when you are angry.
Talk to your parents only after you have cooled down. Let certain things go. They have earned their right to be wrong at times.
Never try to show them a certain path because you want it. Do not get personal.
15. Make them feel that their existence matters
For any person who has taken care of a family at one time, the most painful feeling is that they do not matter to anyone anymore.
Ask for their suggestions, let them help out, give them a sense that they really matter.
Ask them if they can join you for dinner today, tell them that their grandchild talks about them all the time, let them be with their grandchild for a day, and impress him or her.
Tell your mother that you really miss her food, ask her to cook for you and visit them for a meal.
16. Protect them, shelter them from troubles and worries just like they did once
When you were a kid, your father did not tell you about the various problems he has been having in life, your mother did not make you sit and listen to all the adjustments she has to do. It is their turn now to be that child!
Your problems are your own. You should be able enough and old enough to handle that. When they ask you how you are, give them a wide smile and tell them everything is fine.
Of course, if there are things which concern them, it must be told, but while doing so, take care of their emotions too.
17. Protect their confidence
Do not take away their confidence. Avoid saying – “you are too old for this”
Do not prevent them from everything that is fun, just because their doctor said! Sure, it is important to listen to your family physician. But at times, it is important to let them cheat.
If your father wants to take the dog out for a walk, let him do it. If your mom wants to have a bite of that cake, even though she has complications, allow her that freedom at times. In fact, encourage them to break rules at times.
Buy a flight ticket for your parents and send them to a place where they can be completely alone for a few days, free of any responsibilities. Make sure everything is arranged for them there.
Let them be confident and young at heart. I do not know if they will live longer, but they will live more.
18. Keep them financially independent
Let this not be a big deal. If your parents need it, know that well in advance and help them out financially.
Do not wait for them to ask you. Very often they will not.
If you regularly help them out financially, make sure the money reaches them before they need it.
If they refuse your help, just tell them it isn’t a big deal. Tell them when you were young and wanted a toy, they did buy it for you. You never thought that it was not your money, you never complained. Tell them they cannot start complaining now!
19. Listen to them closely
Take time out to listen to what your parents have to say.
Pay close attention to their worries and try your best to get rid of such concerns.
Make sure they understand that they can come to you if anything goes wrong. As a family, be approachable. This applies to your spouse too. If you are not, their ego will prevent them from reaching out to you in times of need.
20. Take them out on a vacation
Once every two years, I try to take my parents on a vacation which spans a week at least. It makes them rejuvenated and fresh again.
They forget that they have knee pains, high blood pressure, and several such complications. Those problems actually vanish! That’s the power of placebo. If you can make them feel young again, their bodies will comply.
Sure, when you are taking your parents do not plan for extremely hectic schedules. Rather, keep it simple and relaxing.
21. Take them out on a surprise long drive
Once every six months, have a weekend reserved for your parents. Take them out with your family on a long drive, reach some place far away, stay for a day or two, and come back.
22. Take them out for a meal
Let the whole family enjoy a great lunch! There should be a lot of laughter and fun. Make it a memorable day!
23. Give them a gift which is personalized. Here are Few of my ideas – just imagine, and you will have your own
Buy a bookshelf for your mother with a collection of books which she likes.
Buy a chess set for your dad if he likes to play chess. Let it be a fancy wooden set with carvings.
Give them a Mug saying: “Best Dad in the world!!” Or “To the greatest Mother of all times”
Buy a scarf for your Mom with her name inscribed on it.
Get them a watch with a note saying: “You get younger with time”.
If you know your parents well enough, and if you care enough to think, ideas will simply flow out of you. They don’t always cost a lot of money. It’s the thought that counts.
24. Take it easy with them
Send them a joke or a limerick once in a while, even a naughty one if you think they are up for it. Keep it cool with them. The feeling of being a friend to your grown up child is priceless.
25. Give them the pleasure of helping out
Tell your mom you want to take that book which she was reading for a day, tell your dad you are stuck in an office problem and would like to discuss that with him.
Let them feel that there are still things they have which you need. They will again feel that their existence matters.
Featured photo credit: Your parents are your Baby via freeimages.com