You Can Still Love Each Other and Disagree
Child and parent relationships are some of the most powerful relationships there are. If parents and kids don’t get along, or if that relationship is toxic, it can cause great pain to everyone. Yet, it can be a source of great love and fulfillment if the relationship is healthy.
There are times when you can strengthen your relationship with your parents by finding a way to resolve a disagreement. Or maybe you realize, after a while, that you actually see things more similarly than you thought.
But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, even if you love your parents dearly and consider yourselves very close, disagreements can seem to take over.
Does this email I received sound familiar? “I want to be close to my mom and dad, but ever since we’ve talked about having differing views on political and social issues, things have gotten tense. It seems like we can’t have a conversation anymore without it turning into an argument. My beliefs are important to me, but I also don’t want to ruin my relationship with my parents. I’m not sure what to do.”
If you feel frustrated and confused about bumping heads with your parents over your differences, you’re definitely not alone. Differing with the family that raised us is one of the growing pains we all have to experience as we figure out who we are.
I’ll be honest. There are times when my children and I have disagreed. That was frustrating for all of us. If you’re troubled by disagreeing with your parents on certain issues, I hope to reassure you that you can disagree and still have a meaningful relationship. It is also O.K. to have differing views to those of your parents without compromising your beliefs. Here’s what I suggest in order to maintain a loving relationship while staying true to yourself.
How to Love Your Parents when You Disagree
Ask Them Questions
Have you ever asked your parents questions?
- About their life?
- About their upbringing?
- About things they’re proud of?
- About things they’d like to do or try?
Learning about people can help us feel more connected to them, and it is a caring act to show your parents you are interested in getting to know things about them that they may have never shared with you before. Sometimes understanding where someone comes from can give you a sense of why they think and feel the way they do, and why they prioritize some things over others.
Even if talking to your parents about their lives doesn’t change your views, you might learn something interesting or remarkable about them, and your conversations may help you shift your perspective, or at least love them as the human being they are.
Your disagreements with your parents probably have an edge to them because they feel very personal. It can seem, in the moment, like you’re being attacked for who you are or what you believe. But understanding the situations and challenges that shaped your parents and the way they think, might help you remember that you’re all unique people whose lives have informed your beliefs in different ways, rather than two opposing sides of an argument.
Share Your Favorite Memories
When you spend time with your parents, take some time to share your favorite memories. Look through old pictures or videos or watch a movie you loved growing up.
Remembering good times, you shared together doesn’t erase tension for good, but it can be a good reminder that your family has been through a lot together. Ups and downs, good times and bad, you’ve all grown and changed a lot over the years. Hopefully it encourages you to see how you’ve come together, and how you were able to do so as uniquely different people with different ways of looking at the world.
Do Fun Things Together
Family traditions can be a great way to come together and build a strong connection. Even if you didn’t grow up sharing traditions, you can try new things together, and build new traditions. You might do things like:
- Cooking a meal together
- Having a family game night
- Doing a gift swap
- Making a scrapbook
- Going on a scavenger hunt
- Taking a road trip
- Seeing a play or a drive-in movie
Traditions have a way of bringing people closer and reminding us what we love about our family. Maybe you will find something fun or relaxing you can do together that will become a tradition you share for years to come.
When I am struggling to understand someone I love, or to navigate a challenge in our relationship, it often helps me to think through what I am grateful for about them. Think about your relationship with your parents for a moment:
- Have there been times they supported you when you felt like no one else would or could help?
- Have they given you advice in a tough situation that helped you get through it?
- What have they taught you that you carry with you today?
- How can you see their love for you in the little things they say and do?
There are many ways we may not even realize that our parents, and how they raised us, have helped us become who we are. Finding a sense of gratitude for that whenever you can, and expressing that gratitude to them, can do a lot to strengthen your relationship as you come to terms with your differences.
There are probably things you don’t talk about with everyone you’re friends with. Some friends are a great fit for talking about work or school pressures. Some are great for hashing out how you feel about life and the world around you. Your parents have those preferences, too.
Respecting their boundaries if they don’t want to talk about complicated topics like social, political, or religious views with you, can actually make your bond stronger. Honoring boundaries is kind, respectful, and cultivates trust. And that’s a definite plus when you’re learning how to better relate to your parents.
Along with maintaining healthy boundaries, taking a break from difficult conversations can ease the tension in your relationship, and open the door to talk about and do other things.
Don't Give Up
I know it’s daunting to have issues in a relationship that’s so important in your life. But don’t give up. Just because you don’t see things the same way now doesn’t mean you will always disagree. Tension doesn’t mean a relationship is ruined, and arguments don’t put things beyond repair. There is hope for a stronger, healthier, happier relationship with your parents, differences and all.
Do you have faith things will improve? If you’re open to thinking about God, remember to think about how He has made everyone unique, with their own views, their own strengths, and their own path to growth. When I need to think about my bond with others, remembering this gives me more hope for the future of my relationships with the people closest to me, even if we see the world in very different ways.
If you’re discouraged about where things are, you don’t have to deal with these difficult feelings alone. You can talk to a HopeCoach anytime to get answers to tough questions about parent relationships and figure out how to move forward with a greater sense of peace. We are here to listen and help without judgment, and I have faith things will continue looking up for you and your family.