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How Your Relationship With Your Parents Changes As You Age

This is something that I have recently experienced. As I am beginning my adult life and leaving behind my childhood (cue the tears), I am finding that the parent-child dynamic is changing since I am now the adult-child.

When we are younger, our relationship with our parents is pretty crystal clear. Cut and dry. These people are your parents, and you are supposed to listen to them and do as they say; follow the rules. But as we get older, and move away to college and start our careers/lives, we find that this relationship that we once thought was black and white, is now changing. Evolving.

I remember joking with my mom over the phone after my first week of college, telling her that everything she had taught me when I was younger was thrown out the window in a matter of a week on my own in the real world.. “Hey, Mom…remember when you told me not to talk to strangers because you know, stranger danger, and to not go walking at night by myself, and do not….” Well you get the point. But either way, I told my mom that I had never talked to so many strangers in my life, how I had to walk by myself at night to get back to my dorm room after class or go get dinner, etc.

Well after being on my own for a few years — living away from my parents, going to school, and working — I found that I really grew up. And now, my relationship with my parents has changed.

Here are 12 ways your relationship with your parent’s changes as you age.

You find out that your parents are real people.

Gasp. What?!

I know, right? But when we were younger, we just saw our parents in their one particular role: our parents. We didn’t actually think of them as Susie or Bob as their own, individual person. Then we grew up and realized that they actually had lives before us, and well, were other people besides “mom” and “dad.” They were once and still are…wait for it…just like us.

…And you actually start learning about them as real people.

Now that we are all grown up, and we realized that our parents are people, too, we get the opportunity to learn about them as individuals. They had their own life plans and, well, basically had a whole life before we came into the picture. Now, we get to learn about all the different things they did when they were our age. And it’s really cool, even if some of the stories are shocking. You did what, Mom?!

Your parents aren’t perfect. Neither are you. 

In learning that your parents are real people, just like you, you learn that they aren’t perfect. They are far from it. They have made their fair share of mistakes in the past. And at the same time, we, as the children, aren’t perfect either. We are just all figuring this out and making mistakes together.

You don’t have all the answers, but your parents didn’t either.

One thing that we know for certain about ourselves is that we are new to this whole adulthood thing, and adulting is hard. And we don’t have all the answers to life, even if we like to think that we do. But you know what? Neither do our parents. That’s right, you heard me. Our parents don’t have all the answers either. As much as we like to think that they do/did, especially since they always seemed to fix everything when we were kids, they were just figuring out things as they went along. They still are. We all are. So, perhaps, the one thing that is a total downer is that when we turn to our parents for adult help, they might not have the answers and we will have to figure it out on our own. Did I mention that being an adult is hard?

You realize that just like you, your parents are still growing, too.

I know what you are thinking: since our parents are, you know, older, they are definitely done growing as individuals and are pretty much set in their ways now. But that’s not true. Okay, maybe just slightly in regards to some things, but overall, our parents are still experiencing life and thus are learning from it. We are always learning as people — learning how to be a better version of ourselves and improve. And just like us, our parents are doing this, too.

You’re more like your parents than you realized.

I can still hear myself, just like any other normal, red-blooded, breathing teenager: Please don’t let me end up like my parents. Well, I hate to break it to you, but you are probably already more like them when you realize. I remember that not that long ago I was talking to my dad in the kitchen and I said a phrase, and my dad just stopped and remarked how he always says that exact phrase. I just about near lost my stuff. Are you meaning to tell me that I sound like a 50-something-year-old, white man?

Just kidding. But really, though. Even in my normal, everyday life, I see so much of my parents in me. As much as our teenage selves tried to prevent it, it was inevitable.

You become friends in a way.

Upon entering the unchartered waters of being the adult-child, you realize that you and your parents will now get to know each other as adult individuals. And with that becomes a whole new, more mature, dynamic to the relationship. Suddenly, you are both on an equal footing, and you find that you are actually becoming friends with your parents. And that’s really awesome.

…And with that, you have to actually work at that relationship.

You know how you have to make time for your friends or significant other? Well, the same applies to your parents. I know, I know. When you were a kid, your relationship with your parents just, well, was. It happened naturally because, after all, they are your parents. But now that they don’t have to be around 24/7 to watch over us and help us, we actually have to work to make time with our parents. I guess we should go send a message to our parents now.

While you still ask for their advice, they now ask for yours.

When we were younger, you could definitely count on your parents for not asking you for advice. I mean, who could blame them? We were young with barely any life experience. But now that we have some adulthood years under our belts, our parents realize that they can turn to us.

I remember when my parents started turning to me for advice — and actually listened to it! — I was dumbfounded. While we still turn to our parents for advice — and we probably always will — our relationship becomes more reciprocal and our parents understand that they can solicit our advice.

You can be more honest about your feelings.

As a kid, it might be difficult to open up to our parents about our lives. You don’t have to worry about what your parents’ thoughts are or them judging you (okay maybe only a little), and your parents don’t have to worry about shielding their poor, innocent baby from the harsh realities of the world. Now, you can be more honest about your feelings.

They really did, and still do, want the best for you.

Now that we are adults, we finally realize that all the things our parents did for us, whether we appreciated it or not, were done with their best intentions. Our parents just wanted the very best for us. They wanted us, young kids, to learn and grow and become successful and capable adults. And, even now as we enter into adulthood, our parents still want the best for us and will be cheering us on the whole way.

And despite it all, you’re glad for your parents. 

Despite all of the fights in your childhood, the things you disagreed with them on, the rules, the everything…you are still glad that they are your parents. Sure, they may be difficult at times or drive you crazy, but they are your people. They will always be Mom and Dad.

Emily Veith

Emily has her bachelor's degree in Political Science, and has always believed in helping and serving others. She wants to make the world a better place, and aspires to be a politician someday to do just that. She is an old soul who loves Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Glenn Miller. When she isn't writing about imperative news- and political-related, she can be found attempting new recipes, playing her guitar or reading a good mystery book.

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