“You need to respect me! I brought you into this world!”
“I didn’t ask you to!”
And we didn’t ask them to feed us.
Or deal with our antics for free for 18 or more years. Parents do a lot, and they go through a lot, too.
In a recent Time article, parents reported more anger and depression than non-parents, and the anger increased per kid. Non-parents generally reported having more satisfying marriages than parents. Having children costs much more now than it did 30 or 40 years ago.
And have I mentioned the stress? In completely practical terms, raising children is an insane occupation. Why would someone do it? Why would they put themselves through the economic and emotional strain that is raising a human being?
Any parent would answer: for the rewards not seen on paper.
Spending time with your children.
Seeing them grow and develop.
Watching as they shape their personalities.
Experiencing unconditional love.
Parents sign up for a big job from day one, and we don’t always make it easy.
We’ve all had the discussions about grades, excessive TV or video game use or the visibility of the floor in our bedrooms.
Friction can be expected during the young adult years. Teens try to assert their independence and individuality while still living with their parents’ rules.
However, excessive friction is another story. Every time someone fights with their parents over cleaning their room, doing their homework or turning off the lights for the millionth time, they are simply adding unnecessary stress to their parents’ lives.
On top of work, bills, taxes, extended family and taking care of their child, they have to worry about whatever mundane task the young adult in the house is too lazy to do. Every time we refuse to clean because we ‘like it that way’ or ignore our parents’ lecture because we don’t really care that we have a borderline grade in a class, we’re adding one more thing to their to-do list.
Surely that’s nobody’s idea of a good time. Now, I’m not saying we need to completely re-work our lives to become perfect little Stepford children.
I’m not saying we need to be at our parents’ beck and call.
However, I am saying we need to show our parents that we appreciate the fact that they are taking the time to care for us and help us grow as individuals. We need to give them rewards that they don’t have to find on their own.
Tidy up the kitchen one day.
Make dinner the next.
Offer to help your mom figure out how to sync an iTunes library.
Do some yard work for your dad, if spring ever comes.
Little things make a huge difference, especially when the people you’re helping already think the world of you.