The house was silent. All the lights were out. I had just fluffed my pillow into the ideal position. My blanket was pulled tightly around my body.
My eyelids were just starting to shut when my bedroom door creaked open, and I heard a soft whisper coming from my door. “Lydia?” It was my mom. “Goodnight honey. I already prayed for you, so I’ll head to bed-Unless you want to talk?” To be honest, the thought of staying up late to talk with her wasn’t something I was either used to, or necessarily wanted to stay up for. However, I felt something prodding me to at least try to talk. So I did.
During this time, I deep-down knew that I should have closer a relationship with my family. My parents especially! But even though I was blessed with parents who worked hard to have that, it was still hard, and sometimes it felt like an uphill battle against the normal flow of things.
However, because of this simple effort on my mom’s side, each night we talked longer and longer, and each night we grew closer and closer.
If you don’t have a close relationship with your parents now, I get that! I’ve been there, and I know the feeling! I know the struggle between simply knowing the things you’ve been told your whole life (in this instance the importance of having a good relationship with your parents), and actually taking steps in that direction! The thing is, it’s possible! I was in that same spot, and was able to take action, and you can too!
If you find yourself in that position, here are some of the top pieces of advice I’ve gathered from my mom, sister, other godly young ladies, and my own experience, for starting to have a better relationship with your parents:
1. Respond to their attempts to build a relationship. Most parents do want a close relationship with their kids, and your parents are probably already making efforts to foster that. Look back over the past week . Do you remember that conversation dad tried to make in the car, or at the table? Do you remember mom asking if you would like to run to the store with her, or keep her company while she folds the laundry?
Even though their efforts might seem strange or completely un-amusing, the best first step toward growing closer to your parents, is to respond to these efforts.
So next time they ask how your day was, tell them! “Fine” is not an answer, but sharing something funny that happened, or admitting your worries about an upcoming test, is! If they ask you to go to the store with them, it’s not some strange way of torturing you, it’s an effort to spend more time with you amid your busy lives.
2. Spend time together, and TALK. This probably goes without saying, but any relationship is impossible without spending time together.
Spend time just hanging out and doing things with them. When you start to think of them less like your parents, and more like your best friend (while still respecting them), this whole relationship will be much smoother!
Spending time talking together is also essential. My mom realized this, so every night when she came in to say goodnight, she started giving us the opportunity to talk to her.
As I said above, at first it was hard coming up with things to talk about, but I quickly realized that I needed to be more open and personal with my mom. So I came up with this personal guideline: If I would share this with my best friend, I will share it with my mom.
3. Accept them for who they are. Acceptance. That’s a big word. One that’s easy to talk about, but hard to actually live out. We as humans are full of unrealistic expectations, especially when it comes to our parents. And let me say: expectations will always disappoint.
If you try to conform your parents into your expectations of the “perfect” parent, you will never have a healthy relationship with them, because they will never meet those expectations.
The key is to meet them where they’re at. Throw away your expectations, and love them for who they are. Flaws and all.
We are all guilty of doing this, usually without even realizing it, so if you catch yourself comparing your parents to imaginary standards, try this: Look at them through the lens of gratitude! Notice and appreciate their efforts and sacrifices. Focus on the things that they are strongest in, instead of their weaknesses! Gratitude changes everything.
4. Ask for godly advice. This one might just be the hardest one yet! Why? One word: Pride.
Accepting other people’s advice (especially if we know they are right, but we’re still in that denial stage), is flat-out HARD! However, when you ask for your parent’s advice, this shows maturity, and a respect for their opinions.
The key to this, however, is not in the actual act of asking, but more importantly in the response. When your parents do give you advice, if you show consideration for their opinion, and do your best to apply it, they will respect that!
People like knowing that their opinion matters to you (especially your parents), and they will respect the maturity that a godly response shows.
5. Expect time to heal. Let’s face it. Your parents are human, and as humans, they have feelings. If you and your parents have had a rough relationship in the past, all these sudden efforts to create a closer relationship may be a bit hard to accept. It will take time for them to realize that this is a genuine desire on your part.
Like you, there may be things that they will need to heal from. Things that they need to forgive, and trust that needs to be rebuilt. So expect this. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while for them to respond to your efforts.
The best things you can do if this happens is to:
- Keep it up, be patient!
- Pray for them. Pray that God will help them forgive and forget any past issues. Pray that He will help you both rebuild that relationship.
Difficult family situations:
Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on family relationships. I know that you can’t have a “one-size-fits-all” mentality when it comes to dealing with life in general, much less life inside the home, because God gave us all very unique stories. Any advice that I’ve given up until this point has been taken from my own experience. However, I know that not all young ladies have been given such a smooth home life. So while I personally have not experienced any difficult family situations, I will do my best to wade into these waters equipped with both the advice of women who have been through this, as well the things God commands.
To start, God’s command to obey still applies, even in a difficult home (unless of course it is directly against something God has said in the Bible). To show this, let’s look at Ephesians 6:1-3 which says:
“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother… so that it may go well with you, and that you may live long upon the earth.”
One thing about this verse is that it says to obey them “for this is right.” Not based on any thing that they have personally done, but rather because it is what we should do. Obedience honors God, even if our parents are not “deserving” of it.
Our parents are no doubt a God-given authority in our lives, and another verse that helps solidify the fact that we should honor and respect them as such, is Romans 13:1-2:
“Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
So while if you are in a truly difficult family situation, and a very open and intimate relationship may not be the best option, they still deserve honor and respect because of their God-given role as your parents.
The second point I would like to make is that if a close relationship with your parents is just not possible, remember that God will not only be a “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5), so wherever your parents fall short, He will step in and fulfill that need in your life.
Also, if your parents are either absent, or unable to fill the much-needed role of a godly authority, ask God to bring along an older woman, to take that place in your life. Just make sure that she has proven to faithfully serve God, and is able to give godly advice.
In the end, I remind you that if we want to be a generation that is used by God, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of excellence, and strive for that God-honoring, healthy relationship with your parents!
I would love to know your thoughts on this subject, so be sure to leave a comment 🙂
Pssst! This was the last post in a mini-series on developing close relationships with our parents. Last week I talked about the significance of this relationship. Since understanding this is fundamental for having a good relationship with your parents, if you missed that post, check it out here .