Hey friend! I’m glad you’re here.
If you clicked on this post, chances are you’re a young adult craving a sweeter relationship with your parents. First, I want to tell you that my relationship with my parents isn’t perfect. We argue and disagree and fuss sometimes. But despite occasional hiccups, my parents have become two of my dearest friends, and I want you to enjoy that closeness too.
Second, I understand that you may not have been raised in a Christian home, or that your parents may be distant. And if you have a difficult home life, I’m so sorry. I wish I could fix things for you. But, while this little post is all I can do right now, know I’m praying for you and your parent(s), that God’s grace and love will cover you.
Side note: Not every tip in this post is a straight-cut-and-proven way to better your relationship with your parent(s). I understand there may be exceptions—But these are things God has written in His Word, and ways He’s used to help me get closer to my parents.
I was almost 14 when my parents and I moved from Texas to New York, into a 780-square-foot apartment. Freshman year was upon me, and I was already dying to move out of the house. Our relationship wasn’t great (thanks to me), and I felt irritated, resentful, and closed towards my parents. All. The. Time.
As stubborn as I was, didn’t want to be at odds with my parents all through high school. We were stuck in a small apartment together, and I knew my attitude (which also hindered my relationship with God), needed to change. I didn’t want to look back on my high school years and cringe. I wanted these years to be sweet. I wanted to be friends with my mom and dad. So I made our friendship a priority.
Time. Effort. Prayer. Humility (I still struggle with that one.). Here’s an idea of what that looks like…
1) Prioritize your relationship with God.
My feelings towards my parents didn’t change until I started spending time with God regularly. Because really, our relationship with Him sets the tone for every other relationship in our lives. If we’re at odds with Him, we’ll struggle to love the people He put in our lives. But if we’re unified with Him, loving becomes easier and relationships grow sweeter.
Do you love the things Jesus loves? Do you want to obey Him? Are you willing to sacrifice, not just an hour of your day to study Scripture and pray, but sacrifice your comforts, your pride, and your plans—to follow Him? Our heavenly Father cherishes you, friend. Run into the arms that love so freely and ask Him to draw you nearer. A healthy relationship with the heavenly father will help you strengthen your relationship with your earthly parents.
2) Honor your parent(s)
After we moved here and I was struggling with my parents, it seemed like everything else in my life was a mess of uncertain chaos. My emotions were on a constant roller-coaster, and everyday things just wouldn’t harmonize.
I remember on several occasions, calling my best friend and crying to her about my little problems, and she always gave the same response: “How’s your relationship with your parents? Are you honoring them?”
I would brush her off and deny that how I treated my parents had anything to do with other areas of my life. But, when my problems didn’t change, her question started to nag me. So, I opened my Bible to Ephesians 6…and there it was…
“Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land)” (Ephesians 6:2-3, ESV).
Did you see that? Honor them…That. It. May. Go. Well. With. You.
It’s so important to God that we honor our parents, that He made a promise to us, so we’d be encouraged to obey His command.
But, what does honoring your parents look like?
Well, if you’re still under their authority at home, it means obeying them (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20). Yeah, even as a high-school student. Even when the rules seem strict or unreasonable. Even when it’s hard.
The main reason I struggled to enjoy my parents before was because I hated the rules they set up for me. I felt misunderstood or mistrusted instead of loved and protected. So I resisted. And I was miserable.
Don’t get me wrong—obeying still isn’t easy for me, especially since I’ll be leaving for college soon. But I can’t tell you how much freer and content I feel when I obey my parents. Sometimes it’s a task, but I choose to submit to their guidelines because I’m under their authority. And I’m so much happier when I do. Sure, submitting doesn’t always mean agreeing, but that’s how life works. Life has rules, and we only help ourselves to follow them. And y’know what? Rules really aren’t that bad if you have a positive attitude about them. 🙂
Obedience. Submissiveness. Humility. All uncomfortable words. All 100% necessary.
If you’re at home or out of the house, honoring them means respecting their opinion. It means asking for, valuing, and considering their input into your life (Proverbs 13:1). Honoring them means not talking trash about them behind their backs (Proverbs 11:12). It means being mature and patient in your conversations, and agreeing to disagree on certain things. It means choosing to love them and be grateful for all they’ve done for you. And if it doesn’t seem like they’ve done much—especially if they’re distant or uninvolved—start making a list of reasons you can be grateful for them. Even if it’s small. Even if it’s generic. There’s always a reason to appreciate the parents God has given us.
“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22, ESV).
3) Do your part
If you have difficult parents or parents who are unwilling to pursue a better relationship with you, still, do your part. You may be surprised at how healing this can be for you, and how it inspires your parent(s) to put effort in as well. Your effort may be just what this relationship needs.
But what does “doing your part” look like? It looks like forgiving when you don’t feel like it. It means admitting when you’re wrong, even if you feel like the blame is mostly on your parent. Doing your part means being honest. Being brave enough to open up and share your feelings or ask for advice.
You can start small! Start by letting your parents in on little details of your day, telling them about the things you’re learning, or laughing with them about a funny experience. Just talk to them.
When you make a habit of talking to them about the little things, conversations will get easier, and, hopefully, mature into something deeper. Keep in mind how you would treat a friend, and treat your parents (respectfully) the same way. Initiate outings with them, make a point to play games or sit at the table and enjoy a hot drink together. Even if they’re hard to get along with, choose to enjoy them and reminisce and laugh with them. I promise it will do your heart, and hopefully theirs, a lot of good.
Even if it may not always feel like it, your parents do love you. They care about you and want to be a part of your life. I know there are exceptions, and I sure hope that’s not the case for you. But God gave us parents not just as authorities to help us grow and teach us how to live, but as friends and mentors and blessings.Make the most of the years you have on earth with them. Regret is a crushing emotion. You don’t want to experience that when you look back on these years.