I have noticed that a favorite question of mine to ask people when there is a lull in conversation is “what are you thinking?”
I find this hilarious, because I know I get it from my mom, who would ask me that question every day in the car on the way home from school. The most aggravating thing about it was that she would never take “nothing” for an answer.
“Nothing??” she’d ask in disbelief, “How can you be thinking nothing? You must be thinking something!”
And she always found a way to get it out of me. Growing up, I had no secrets from my mom (which also meant I had no secrets from my dad, because she would tell him everything I said).
I know to a lot of people this sounds absolutely awful. Being completely transparent with parents is just not something we do. Everyone keeps stuff from their parents, right?
Well I am not claiming to be a perfect child by any means. I have most definitely made mistakes when it comes to my relationship with my parents. But those mistakes, along with the times I did the right thing, taught me that it is always so much better to be honest and upfront with your parents. I have found two main reasons for this:
1.) Living two different lives is exhausting.
Most people my age keep their parents on a “need-to-know” basis at best. They may not lie to their parents, but they reveal as little about themselves as humanly possible when they do interact.
I have tried this approach to a relationship with my parents on occasion and, quite frankly, I hated it. It is nice not having to censor myself around my parents. It makes life easier; and I’m not constantly trying to cover up lies or keep a story straight. The same Mary that my friends know is the same Mary my parents know.
2.) Contrary to what we may think, our parents actually give really good advice.
It sucks to admit because I know that I, at least, like to think I know everything, and that my situation is “so much different” from anything my parents ever went through. Truthfully though, that is usually not the case. And I can’t say how many times I have had to learn the hard way what I could have learned simply by listening to the advice of my parents from the start.
Real relationships are scary—especially when they are with someone as close as a parent. Real relationships change you as a person, for better or for worse. A parent, because they love you, will usually work to change you for the better. But change is scary, and it is hard work. I think we tend to shrug off our relationship with our parents because we don’t want to have to acknowledge our shortcomings or work on our problems. But this is exactly why we have parents. They are there to help us become better people.
I think the truly mature adult is not someone who foolishly thinks he or she “doesn’t need” parents to tell him or her what to do. The mature adult recognizes what a gift parents are and respects them.