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Meet Shayna


Getting Along With My Parents


How Can I Get Along Better With My Parents?

Shayna Answers:

Dear Reader,
We all have problems with our parents sometimes. Even as an adult, you’ll find that parents will never stop being parents. And to a degree, we will never stop being kids.

By the time you reach adolescence, most of the disputes you have with your parents have to do with trust and boundaries.
“Can I stay out late?”
“No. I don’t want you and your friends acting like hoodlums.”
“Can I borrow the car then?”
“Why? So you can go pick up some girl?”
Parents often formulate these worst-case scenarios in their head based on what they see on the news or what they know about society. Two keys to establishing (or reestablishing) trust in your relationship with your parents are: demonstrating that you’re a worthwhile young person, and communicating with your parents.

Be responsible in school, at work, and at home, and tell your parents what you’re doing! Being honest will show them that you have little to hide, and it’ll also stave off temptations once you’ve made yourself accountable to them.

Second, pay attention to what your parents consider important. For example, if having dinner together as a family is a big deal, rearrange your schedule around theirs. They might say yes if you ask to skip dinner a lot, but remember that they’re watching what you do. If you show them that you value the same things they do, your parents will be more likely to trust you and give you more freedom.

I tell you this because it’s easy to become unconsciously passive-aggressive. Then your parents might be unnecessarily hard on you for minor things that they think you’re not taking seriously.

The last part of my advice is going to be the hardest to follow, but it’s essential. Be respectful to your parents, even when you don’t want to.

When I was at home for the holidays last year, I wore a dress made of thin material out one night. My mother called my cell phone and left me a long voice mail, telling me that I wasn’t dressed appropriately, and that I needed to change into something warmer. I kind of wanted to scream, “You do realize that I’ve been living on my own for five years now!” But, of course, I didn’t.

Parents almost always have good intentions, even when it doesn’t seem like it. They will always think of themselves as the parents no matter the situation. If you can create a normal flow of dialogue between you and your parents, your relationship will almost always get better. Let them feel like it’s OK to ask you questions about what you’re doing without your getting upset. Initiate the conversation with them if you have to. Just start talking and wait for them to listen.

It may take a few conversations for them to actually listen and not yell at you or twist what you say. Parents prefer to hear the truth, even when it’s bad, rather than have to sift through lies to figure out what’s going on.

If you demonstrate that you’re a worthwhile young person, if you communicate, and if you respect your parents, eventually they’ll come to the realization that they can trust you. As a result, they’ll give you more space to be yourself.

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