How To Understand Your Parents
How to Understand Your Parents
Understanding your parents comes with many benefits. You’ll improve your relationship with your parents, learn things about them, and have the opportunity to enjoy their company. In order to understand your parents better, talk with them about their lives and opinions and spend time together.
Having Important Conversations
Ask your parents about their childhoods.You weren’t there for your parents’ childhoods, and you might learn something especially interesting or cool about your parents’ experiences. Knowing about their experiences and childhoods will also help you to understand them better currently. Here are some questions you could ask:
- What was your childhood like?
- How would your parents have described you when you were in high school?
- What advice would you give to yourself when you were my age?
- Which family tradition did/do you love the most?
Ask their opinion.Exploring your parents' beliefs and opinions can give you insight into how they see the world. If you are watching the news together, try asking their opinion about some of the stories. Find out their political views and their stance on current events. If something is going on with a friend or at school, ask what they think about it. For instance, you could say something like, "There's a new rule at school that says girls' skirts have to go past their knees. What do you think about that?"
- Don't stop at asking their opinion — ask them why. Understanding why they take a certain position can give you more understanding on how your parents reason through things and how they see the world.
Ask for their help and advice.Your parents probably would love to help with your problems, from your relationship troubles to what you’re wearing to the office Christmas party. But you first need to tell your parents that you want advice from them. Getting your parents’ perspective on one of your problems will both help you with your problem and help you understand your parents’ point of view more.
- Try asking about career advice. You could say, "Dad, how did you decide what you wanted to do with your career? I'm feeling lost."
- Or you could try something like, "Mom, I feel like my friend Annie is upset with me. What do you think I should do?"
Try to understand their stresses.Your parents might have bigger problems than you think they do, and these problems could be affecting your relationship. Whether they are having trouble at work, are worried about something, or want to lose a little bit of weight, you should ask your parents if anything has been on their mind recently. Hearing about these problems will help you understand your parents better.
Ask people who know your parents to talk about them.Another way to truly understand your parents is to learn about them from a different perspective. Talk to your grandparents, your siblings, your parents' siblings, other family members, and your parents' friends. Ask them to tell stories about your parents, and ask them questions.
- For example, you could say, "Grandma, do you have any funny stories about Dad from when he was little?"
- Or, you could ask your mom's friend, "Sue, do you think that my mom likes her job?"
Spending Time With Your Parents
Spend quality time with your parents.Living in the same house as your parents is very different from spending quality time with them. Instead of watching TV together or just hanging out in the living room, ask your parents to do an activity with you.Here are some suggestions that might help you find something fun to do:
- Go out to eat.
- Go bowling.
- Play mini golf.
- Play a board game.
- Do an arts and crafts project, like painting pottery.
Do what they love with them.Your parents probably have things that they love to do, whether it’s playing the guitar, taking spin classes, or gardening in your backyard. Spend some time doing what your parents love with them. Taking an interest in their passions will help you get to know them on another level. Here are a few examples of things you might like to do with your parents:
- Cooking or baking
- Listening to a book on tape
- Playing musical instruments with them
Spend time doing everyday things with them.Sometimes the smaller moments, like going to the grocery store with your dad or helping your mom water the plants, will help you understand more about what your parents’ day-to-day lives are like (especially if you don’t live with them). Here are some examples of little things you can do with your parents:
- Give your dog a bath
- Cook dinner
- Water the plants
Getting Along With Your Parents
Empathize with your parents.Empathy is a hard skill to learn, but it is rewarding because it allows you to gain a deeper understanding of other people. Here are some ways to cultivate empathy:
Use the PEN method to talk with your parents.The PEN method — Pause, Empathy, Need — is good for having difficult conversations with your parents. If you feel yourself becoming upset with your parents, first you should pause. Don't say anything you will regret later. Then, empathize with your parents. Think about how they feel: if you were in their shoes, what would you be thinking and feeling? Next, express your needs to your parents. Say that you want to understand their perspectives, but you also have your own needs that you must express. Communicate calmly with your parents if you're having a difficult conversation.
- Try saying, "I understand that you are worried about my safety when I stay out late, but it's important to me to socialize and go out with my friends."
Think about your role in getting along with and understanding your parents.Rather than focusing on what your parents could do better to improve your relationship, focus on whatyoucan do. Could you help with the dishes or call a little more often? Brainstorm ways to get along with your parents that will also help you to understand them.
- For example, you could offer to cook dinner for your parents, or plan a hiking day with them. Take care of all of the logistics.
- Help with the housework, or offer to do them a favor around the house. Ask if their fence needs painting or the family dog needs walking.
QuestionMy family and I disagree all the time. I struggle with self-harming thoughts and constant anxiety. My parents have high expectations for me and I don't know how to take it. What do I do?Community AnswerI have been there before. Parents can be tough to live with at times, but they are only doing what they think will help you. Try to seek therapy to solve your anxiety and soothe your feelings. As for your parents, I know it will seem hard to do but you need to talk to your parents and tell them to stop pressuring you.Thanks!
QuestionI'm not positive, but I think my dad read my diary, in which I wrote about trying to commit suicide. Now he's acting really weird, like I'm a baby. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerConfront them about what you think they did. If they don't confess to reading it, ask them why they are treating you like a baby.Thanks!
- Ask your friends if they’ve done anything recently that has allowed them to get to know their parents better.
- Ask your siblings to embark on your journey to understand your parents with you. It’s always good to have company!
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