I believe any successful relationship starts with an honest and open friendship. A friend is someone who you connect with personally, mostly on some level of affection. A friend is meant to assist you and give you support in various situations. This connection you build with different people you interact with on a daily basis is based on trust. The closer you become with the person, the more you learn to trust them, even with the most vulnerable parts of you.
In our lives today, we see the relationships between parents and their children becoming almost impossible to maintain. We often fail to connect with our parents because we feel they don’t ‘get us’. We feel that the gap between our generations is too wide to relate with each other on mutual regard.
On the parent’s side, it becomes even more difficult to communicate with us because we have already put up our guard, ready to block them out. But this problem could also result from the fact that some parents do not avail the opportunity for their children to open up to them. Some parents choose to take on the ‘dictator’ role and enforce rules on everything their child does. Often, this results much chaos and quarrel. Because having so many rules, a few are bound to be broken. I believe that it is this kind of approach that drives many children to rebel. It creates a feeling in the children’s minds of being imprisoned in a world of their parents, and the only way they believe to be able to enjoy life, be free, would be to break a rule here and there.
Before we know it, the parent-child relationship turns into ‘WE versus THEM’. We get too caught up in the hierarchy of the relationship and forget to establish actual friendship. This unhealthy environment is what creates the huge barrier between parents and their children.
Do we have a solution to this? - most definitely - and here is how.
In the last quarter of 2010, I had just graduated high school. I was in a relationship with a girl. We had been together for almost a year at the time. I was feeling very grown-up and responsible, and thought that it wouldn’t be right to keep it a secret from my parents anymore. Having been brought up in a Christian family, I knew that going behind my parents’ backs with this would dishonor them, and in doing so, I was disobeying God. So then, the woman I thought I’d marry and I discussed about it and agreed to let our parents in on our secret.
There was only one problem here. She was not saved, and I knew that my parents would never approve. But either way, I was going to have to tell them. In my view, the girl would change eventually.
I was nervous because I had no idea what their reaction would be. So I came up with a brilliant plan to ensure the safety of my life. I asked dad for a few minutes alone. He called me to his study to ask what it was that I had to say. I said to him, “Dad, I need to make an agreement with you. I want to be more open with you about what is going on in my life. But you have to promise to be open-minded about everything and hear me out.”
He smiled at me. I’m sure he was wondering what I could have possibly done that I was begging for mercy before he even found out. He agreed to my proposition.
I did not tell him just yet about my relationship. But after that deal we made, I began to notice a change in how dad and I related. It became easier to talk to each other, we shared jokes more often, and he found it easier to entrust me with more responsibilities around the house.
About a month later, I told him everything. To my great surprise, he did not tell me to end the relationship, nor did he say what was wrong with it. Instead, he let me express how I felt and advised me on a few realities of my situation. What he said later brought me to realize that the relationship was not beneficial to me or her. Eventually, she and I decided to part ways. I was happy because it ended on our terms, not dictated by what dad thought was best for me. He gave me the opportunity to decide for myself and trusted that I would make the right one. What he did helped me learn for myself that God should come first before anything.
As a result of all this, friendship started to grow between my parents and me. Our level of trust in one another strengthened. It also opened doors for us to discuss more issues the youth today mostly struggle with. It became easier for my parents to discover my passion and support my dreams. They were then able to understand me.
This new growing friendship helped them respond better to situations and easily guide and advise me. Our communication was enhanced.
I believe that we youths have the power to make the relationship between our parents/guardians stronger. I recommend others to give it a try; make an effort to better your communication. To parents, I advise against using other people to deal with your child on your behalf. Reach out to them. Take time to understand them. Nothing is more important than the bond between parents and their young. This bond will only develop as a result of the hand you stretch out to them.
This does not only apply to the Parent-Child relationship but also that with teachers and other significant figures in the older generation. Together, we can break this barrier.