It’s easy to love our parents as kids because we live with them and because they take care of us for our essential needs so that we can grow to be healthy and strong women. But when we get older and go through life transitions such as going to college, moving out, or getting married and possibly starting a family of your own, it gets harder to do and easier to neglect and forget about them.
The thing is, our parents will never forget about us, no matter how old we are or where we are in life. They’ll call us to see how we’re doing or they’ll send a care package filled with our favorite treats every now and then. Though some of you may see it as a bother, many of us are probably touched by their small but great acts of kindness. So how can we love them while living our own busy lives?
Here are some practical ways that I’ve found to be the best and most meaningful gestures to communicate love to my parents. But every person is different so try a variety of things and when you find one that makes them feel loved the most, keep doing it!
1. Carve out some time to connect with them
More than money, gifts and fancy jewelry and gadgets, many parents cherish quality time with their kids, because it gives them a chance to connect with you. There’s something loving about intentionally setting everything and everyone else aside to have undivided time eating, talking and doing things together.
I’m fortunate to live with my parents after college, but because I work and maintain a life of my own, it’s hard to have something as simple as dinner with them. When I decided to spend one or two days of the week with my parents and then set that time aside for them, it was easier for me to commit to it and to not bail on them.
2. Express your gratitude
Many of us are quick to assume that our loved ones know how much we love them, instead of actively expressing it to them consistently. Saying thank you or telling your parents how much you love them and being specific about why you do, it can have a very positive effect on your parents but also on your relationship with them.
I think that the best way to do this is to find out what their top love language is. Because gratitude is another way of showing your parents you love them, doing something that aligns with their top love language is an incredible way to express how thankful you are for them.
3. Harbor forgiveness instead of bitterness
Parenting is tough, exhausting and there is a lot of room for error because there’s no right or wrong way to raise your kids, only healthy ways and only based on what kind of people you want them to grow up to be. That’s a big part of why parenting is a controversial topic and why parents get hit with criticism for their kid’s mistakes.
The best way to help out our parents in the midst of criticism is to learn how to forgive them when they mess up because let’s face it, it happens to the best of us. Though severe mistakes such as abuse and neglect can be harder to forgive, it’s not impossible, but that’s another article for another day. You can seek professional or pastoral help in order to be able to forgive your parents if you have the desire to do so but are struggling with it.
Remember that forgiveness is more for you than for them, and that it doesn’t mean forgetting their mistakes but choosing to look past them so that you can be at peace and so that you can love them better.
4. Honor them with your words and actions
Honoring your parents means you speak well of them in front of them but, more importantly, when they’re not there. It also means you treat them with respect, which includes appreciating their advice and wisdom even if you don’t agree with them, or even praising their strengths instead of dwelling on their weaknesses.
Loving my parents didn’t require me to always agree with their perspectives and advice, but to respect and admire the wisdom they acquired from years of experience and from years of making mistakes and learning from them.
It’s not always easy, but if you want to love your parents, a big part of that is honoring and respecting them for who they are, even if they’re different from you.
5. Take on a couple of household tasks
Even though many parents think and maybe even act as if they’re still in their 20s or 30s, the reality is that their bodies aren’t. That doesn’t mean they’re weak, but that does mean that they aren’t as physically stable as they used to be.
Taking on a couple of household tasks off of their hands is a great way to show that not only do you love them but you care about their health.
Earlier this year, I came to realize that my mom is getting physically fatigued and needs to rest a lot more in order to maintain a clean bill of health. So I decided to wash the dishes and to do the family’s laundry so that she wouldn’t have to worry about it and compromise her health over it. Since I’ve taken on those responsibilities, she has more time to relax.
6. Share your life with them
Just like your friends, your parents want to be kept in the loop about what’s going on in your life! Share it with them, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal. This is a big way to connect with them, especially if you and your parents have different interests. Your parents want to celebrate and mourn with you, but they can’t do that unless you tell them what’s going on.
I’m not saying you have to give them a play-by-play of your day all the time or of your relationship, but to share with them the important and big things going on in your life. If you got a new job, tell them! If you made a new friend or got into a serious relationship, tell them! Without knowing, your parents may not feel like they’re really a part of your life, just watching from the sidelines.
Many of our parents have dedicated a good chunk of their lives serving and taking care of us so that we can grow up to be healthy, successful and great people. Growing up and becoming an adult doesn’t and shouldn’t change how we see and how we love our parents. We should continue to love them for who they are and embrace them despite their flaws.
How do you love your parents as an adult? If you’re married and have kids, how do you love your parents in the midst of being one yourself? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below!