Your mom didn’t walk to school uphill both ways in Ugs or Toms, but she did wait for the bus in platforms. She also harbored a secret crush on that cute boy in math class, and she fought with her mother, too. And your dad? He broke out in a sweat when he first asked your mom out, and he desperately wanted to fit in (hence the sideburns).
You may not realize it now – but your parents were just like you at some time.
At some point, your mom and dad were right where you are now. It’s hard to picture them as young adults with the same worries, concerns and fears you have, but even though it may have been 20 or 30 years ago, they did. They had lives before you, and they shared a lot of the experiences and situations you are going through right now. Scary teachers, first dates, bad grades, peer pressure, sex, alcohol, drugs… they’ve been through it all.
Remember that next time you argue with your girlfriend, have a problem with your coach or fail a test. Instead of clamming up and thinking “my parents just don’t understand how I feel,” remember that they honestly do. Your mom and dad know what it is like to have their hearts broken, be embarrassed, fail or be scared or worried. They are also living proof that you can come out better on the other side. Going through those experiences has taught them lessons that could help you.
When you are dealing with something big, instead of burying your emotions and thinking you are alone, talk to your parents. If you feel nervous about bringing up a sensitive topic, say so. Instead of letting those emotions stop you from communicating, acknowledge them and bring them into the conversation. It’s ok to say you are embarrassed or afraid of disappointing your parents.
Once the conversation gets going, be clear and direct about what you feel and think. It will help your parents better understand your situation, and believe me, they want to. Be honest, and try to understand their point of view. If you can’t – say so, but do it calmly. And remember to listen – they’ve been there, done that.