Our parents are people too
While many cultures tend to honour their elders and praise them for their knowledge and experience, contemporary western culture often views our older population as nothing more than an embarrassing burden. Similarly, when we consider the concept of ‘respecting our elders,’ we tend to think about having to thank our shrivelled grandmothers for their tacky presents or loathingly eat their undercooked potatoes. However, rarely do we ever consider applying this concept to our own parents.
Nearly every awkward teenager has gone to great lengths in order to protect their image by pretending they have no parents.
This often entailed being dropped off at school around the block, cringing when you had to go in public with them and ensuring you never, I mean never, visited a movie theatre or mall with them on a weekend. It was easier as an insecure 14 year old to pretend a stork gracefully laid you on a stranger’s doorstep than to admit you have old parents who discipline you, govern you and most embarrassingly, love you.
Once you age and mature, the embarrassment may subside and you feel it has become more acceptable to enter the public sphere in their presence. This realization however, often accompanies the time when you leave the nest.
While you may feel more comfortable acknowledging their existence, living apart often leads you to forget to appreciate them not just as parents, but as people of value. Even once you’re in university, there is a considerable stigma surrounding the relationship you have with your parents. There is a fine line between spending time with your family and becoming a complete loser.
It would be more acceptable to spend a Wednesday night eating dinner with your parents than spending New Year’s Eve celebrating together. In the midst of this social stigma, most 20 year olds feel compelled to identify themselves as an individual and often forget to appreciate the selfless care their parents have continued to provide during the course of your life.
We tend to rely on our parents primarily for financial support and following that, random favours, rides and other problems we know they will be able to solve for us. It isn’t until much later in life – perhaps when you have a family of your own – that you realize just how important they are and unfortunately, this realization often comes far too late.
Witnessing my own parents struggle to accept the deterioration of their parents has awakened an appreciation most people my age unfortunately lack. When you observe the passing of a grandparent and have to slowly watch your grandmother lose her memories and basic understanding of mundane activities, you realize just how precious and fleeting the time you have with your parents is.
While the inner 14 year old in us may feel compelled to reject our parents and limit the time we spend with them, we need to remember, parents are people too.They have lived a life full of experiences that give them the qualification to give us good advice, problem solve and tell stories.
We can learn from their mistakes, but also, get inspired by their carefree past of hitchhiking and travel to take risks of our own. It may be easier to take our parents for granted than to take the time to appreciate them. But, it’s important to realize that they won’t always be around for us to ignore.
So don’t feel ashamed by watching movies on Friday night with your family rather than bar hopping. You may only be young once, but you also only have a select few precious years to enjoy the company of your parents.