Advice 2: How to get along better with your parents?

5:05 PM

As promised in my Advice Column, here is Issue 2: How to get along better with your parents? Unfortunately, I don't have many photos taken with my parents (as they tend to shy away from cameras), but this recent photo shall do for now.

What does family mean to you? Usually, the definition of family is influenced by how well one gets along with their parents. So it's very important for people to have a strong bonded relationship with their parents. Family is supposed to love and be there for you no matter what, especially when you need them to fall back on when life gives you lemons. But how do you get along with your family? Well, it starts with your parents.

However, many have trouble getting along with their parents. It boils down to two main factors:

01. Age or Generation Gap

For example, in my case, both me and my mum have a 36 year age gap between us. She's part of the Baby Boomers generation, while I clearly belong to the Generation Y. Due to the experiences and privileges we had while growing up, we were brought up in a different environment which influences the way we think and perceive the world. So to speak, how can I possibly get along with her if we share so many differences? How can we get along with each other?

Once again, as mentioned in 'Advice 1: How to last long in a relationship?', it was mentioned that understanding was very important to maintain a good relationship (this can be referred to spouses, friends and even family). So how can we apply this in real life situations? Well, I'll explain it in terms of a real life situation for better understanding.

A few years back, my parents couldn't understand why I would rather communicate with them via text messages as opposed to talking to them on the phone. They thought that it was much faster to get the message through to the other party over the phone. (They probably thought that I was being disrespectful?) It was only until I explained my side of the story before they came to understand that people in my generation prefer communicating by means of text messaging, Facebook and other social media. By the way, neither me or my parents were wrong to have differing opinions regarding this issue. Having grown up in a distinctive environment, we must learn to understand and embrace generation differences in order to compromise.

Side note: Click here to read more about generation differences.

02. Assumption that people are mind readers

It is evident that every individual has their own needs and wants, likes and dislikes. However, the common reason why people have disagreements and arguments is all because of assumption. People tend to assume that others understand what they need or want in life, and when they don't get them, they get highly upset. We must grasp the fact that no one is a mind reader. Explain your perspective, not forgetting to listen to what others have to say as well.

Be understanding.

There was a period of time that I decided that I wanted to do some travelling in Asia, so I took up this issue with my mum. She disapproved of the idea as soon as she heard about it. As a result, I was very upset as I didn't get the support that I wanted. It took a few hours for me to cool down before re-discussing the issue with her again. I tried to put myself in her shoes in order to try seeing things from her perspective. "If I were her, and had a child who wanted to do what I would do, what kind of worries would I have? What would make me say no?" Everything started to make more sense after that. Getting a clearer understanding of the issue at hand, I brought up the topic one more time so that we can talk things out.

Differing Perspectives

Mum - I just want you to study hard now and get a good job. Once you have a stable job, you can do anything you want. I want you to save money for your future. You're at that stage in your life and have to start saving for a car, a house and your future family. When you get a stable job, you can travel wherever you want. So just concentrate on your studies first.

Me - Well, if I travel after getting a full time job, I would probably only get two weeks leave and wouldn't be able to travel much. Neither would I have the same experience travelling if I were much younger. When you're young, your interests when travelling would be so different as opposed to those that you might have if you're much older. For example, at this age, I would be more interested in shopping and food if I'm on a holiday. But in 5 or 10 years' time, I'll probably be more interested in scenery and tourist attractions more than anything else. I really hope you can understand that I want to have as much fun as I possibly can before taking up a full-time job. Once my full-time job starts, I'd be tied down with more responsibilities to even think of travelling anywhere in the world. Can you see things from my perspective?

After much discussing and contemplation, we finally came to the conclusion that it would be alright for me to travel as long as I have the finances to do so. However, travelling must not be a distraction or affect my job in any way. In other words, travelling must not be a priority in my life and I must never put my job on the line to make allowances for travelling.

"We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves." - Henry Ward Beecher

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