1. You more than likely develop a different kind of respect of your parents than the one you had in childhood. You no longer just respect your parents because they’re your parents. You’ve now gone through some of the things that they went through. Perhaps not in the same way, but you have. And this makes you see them in a different light – a light that beckons a certain admiration in the relationship you have with them.
2. You see your parents as people, and not just as your parents. When you’re younger, you don’t really see your parents in all their entirety. As you get older, you realize that your parents were people before they were your parents. They had their own hopes and dreams and desires, some of which came to fruition and some of which didn’t. And there’s a compassion that you have towards them when you realize that they are complex and complicated human beings too.
3. You realize that your parents don’t have all the answers. Notwithstanding you might have had your fair share of disagreements with them especially in your teenage years, it becomes especially clear that your parents can’t make all the decisions for you. And perhaps this, more than anything, is the painful tragedy of growing up: Having to rely on yourself to make and live with your decisions. And not simply having your parents make them for you.
4. You actually listen to your parent’s advice even if you don’t agree with it. Despite realizing that your parents don’t have all the answers, you do come to appreciate the fact that they simply have more life experience than you do. And that they know you in ways other people don’t. So even when you might disagree about little things and big things in your life decisions, you pay attention to their advice.
5. You feel like you have to actually build a relationship with them. When you’re a child, the parent-child relationship can so clearly defined that it come naturally. As you get older, you realize that you have to work on and make time for your parents, like any other relationship. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just something you didn’t particularly foresee happening.
6. You will become friends with your parents…sort of. Now I am a firm believer that your parents are your parents and with that, there is a certain level of respect that is due to them. Yes, I was raised in that sort of “old-school environment,” and I truly think those who are, are better people in adulthood for it. That being said, your parents will not feel the need to protect you quite as much from things. And in some ways, they will confide in you and ask you for your advice. And from this, you will not only have a parent-child relationship, but a friendship in adulthood.
7. You learn to forgive your childhood for its mistakes, and your parents, for theirs. It’s no secret that your parents aren’t perfect at this point. And as you get older, you learn to realize that many times, they did the best they could with what they had, and all they knew. And while it’s easy to go through life holding onto things from the past, it’s a much better path to forgive your childhood and your parents for being imperfect. Better still, find peace of mind and solace in the joyful memories.
8. You’re grateful for having them now, more than ever. It’s interesting that as you become someone who can take care of themselves to some extent, and you rely on your parents less, you develop a great sense of gratitude towards them. The gratitude comes in little ways such as asking for their opinions on things, or reaching out to them on unexpected afternoons, etc. You realize that you often didn’t stop and think too often in your childhood about how blessed and lucky you were to have them.
9. You start to take care of your parents, and worry about them too. When your parents call you unexpectedly, your heart starts to race because you wonder if something bad has happened. And you also start to see yourself as someone who supports your parents, and not just the other way around. It makes you feel a weird sense of responsibility. But you also gain some humility that you get to do something kind for them once in a while.
10. You begin to understand parental love more, even if you’re not a parent yet. This hits you especially when your parent’s parents start to pass. Now to you of course, those are your grandparents and it hurts. But to your parents, those are their parents. And there’s a deep sadness that you feel not just for yourself but for your parents. And you realize that they too are someone’s child. And they must feel a sense of loss from not having that parental love in the flesh anymore. Your compassion grows for them.
11. You want to listen to all their stories from their childhood. When you start getting older, you realize that your parents have had a wealth of life. And maybe it’s the desire to keep your family history with you, or simply that you want to understand them better. Either way, you have a strong desire to really get to know the parts of their lives that you weren’t around to see.
12. You recognize that your parents, like you, are still growing. We might often think that at our parent’s age, people are set in their ways. But chances are, that’s not true. It might be a lot harder to change as one gets older, but your parents are probably still open to life and learning. And that means that they are still growing. In this way, you realize that you also have to give them space to grow too, and not just the other way around.
13. You realize that somehow, you love them more now when you see their weaknesses and failures. As a child, you more than likely think of your parents as some kind of superheroes. As you get older, you realize that your parents are still superheroes, just not in the way you thought. You see the humanity in your parents that you sometimes missed as a kid. And you feel a little sorry for not being a better child at times. But mostly, you realize that seeing you parents with all their imperfections, makes you love them more.
14. You want to spend as much time with them as possible. Somewhere in your adulthood, you will realize that you have a limited amount of time with your parents. It’s not a fun realization. It kind of makes you sick to your stomach every time the thought creeps in. But it’s the truth. And so you want to really take advantage of the time you have with them. And above all, you want to make sure they really know how much they mean to you. And how much is that? More than can be put into words.