Living Gracefully: How to Raise Your Parents

Grace Coberly It’s only the third week of my junior year at Latin, and I’m already stressed. I know most of you feel the same way. There are essays to write, tests to study for, lines to learn, games to win… And I still haven’t decided what I’m going to be for Halloween. But we’ll survive I know we will! We’ll get through this year one obstacle at a time. Let’s start with something that everyone can relate to, a constant blessing, and an occasional curse: parents. First of all, you must always remember to treat your parents like children. That’s all they are, really—very tall children in suit jackets with electric bills to pay. They have dreams and regrets, friends and enemies, and even the occasional acne outbreak. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Of course it does. You’ve done all of that before. So treat your parents like you would treat your closest friends: with patience, sensitivity, and plenty of well-timed criticism. At some point, right around the time when you get your braces removed, your parents start pretending that they could control your life. Don’t panic! They create the illusion of power to assure themselves that your life with them is far from over. You appreciate it, sure. But let’s be honest—you’re leaving home as soon as you possibly can. So for now, stay home from those parties. Don’t date that boy. Pass your parents the metaphorical reins and enjoy the ride. Because you’re a teenager, your parents will go out of their way to pick fights with you. You need to work harder! they’ll say. That shirt is too short! Those shoes look ridiculous! These are all common examples of comments that can spark lectures. Don’t let the tension bother you. If you stay level-headed, they’ll calm down quickly and listen to your more reasonable approach to the issue. Try not to let their absolute lack of fashion sense sway your argument; if you fight back, you’ve lost the battle. As you grow older, make sure you give your parents time to experiment with their newfound independence. They tend to feel lost without a baby to carry around, without spills to clean up or Legos to step on. So let them go out with friends. Let them go to bars, let them drive over the speed limit. (Not at the same time, of course. Make sure they understand the importance of having a designated driver.) Don’t worry if they seem distant—the process towards self-discovery can be a painful one. If you find yourself drifting too far away from them, it can often be helpful to look for the answer in yourself. Parents tend to take cues from their children when it comes to the modern world. You should become a role model for them. Be strong, passionate, and optimistic. Don’t be too modest; if you aren’t proud of yourself, they won’t be proud of you either. (They’ll say they are, but keep in mind that you left teeth under your pillow for money until you were ten.) As you probably know, there is one aspect of today’s society that your generation understands best of all: technology. When your parents ask for help, teach them everything you know. Is mom having Facebook trouble? Set her up on Instagram. Show her your favorite filters and teach her how to do hashtags. You’ll know you’re doing things right when the care-taking comes full circle. Remember, your parents nursed you for the first eighteen years of your life, but as soon as you leave home, the tables will turn and you’ll find yourself nursing them. Your parents, as mentioned before, are nothing but children playing an elaborate game of dress up. Although they seem older and more mature to a toddler’s undeveloped mind, you now know that they’re just as lost in the world as you are. They run home from work every night in the hopes of finding their own mothers waiting with outstretched arms and chocolate chip cookies, but their parents are far away, weary and wilting in their own confusion. And don’t worry—in thirty years, you’ll be doing the exact same thing. Tread carefully, and don’t try too hard to grow up. If you have a problem you want me to help you fix, email me at [email protected] Or get your mom to message me on Facebook; I hear she got the hang of it. Now quick, read another article so you don’t have to do your homework!]]>