We all had a very different childhood experience. For some it was incredible. Their parents were consistent, loving, and honest. For others, it was the opposite, they were absent, abusive, and broken.
Wherever your story lands, we cannot deny that our parents, are still our parents. Our Mothers birthed us. Our Fathers (in most cases) supported us. They changed our diapers, listened to us cry, fed us, worried about us, and ultimately raised us.
If you're reading this post, there is a chance your parents are still alive. Now, I'm not sure if this list should be shared together, individually, or over some period of time. But as a man who studies the relationships between people, there is not a closer bond than the child parent relationship. It calls for a level of respect and honor that others don't. As both a parent and a child, I am convinced it's critical that at the right time, we share these 5 things with them before they die.
Disclaimer: These items will not pertain to every family. But they will for most. Don't be the person who leaves a comment saying, “this doesn't apply to me!” as if it couldn't for someone else.
- The Truth: Let your parents know how you really feel. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell them where they succeeded, where they failed, what you loved about them and even what you didn't. It's a tough conversation. But we only have so much time… and in my experience, people regret it if they don't.
- That You Understand: Let them know you recognize their humanness. Take the opportunity to step back, look at each other eye to eye, adult to adult, human to human, and say, “I understand”. We all go through struggles. Divorce, abuse, failure, and pain. Your parents, just like us, were not immune to this. They too had broken parents, a rough past and likely a cause for the things they brought into your life. Let them know you “get it”. You may not approve of it. But you understand.
- That You Appreciate Them: Let your parents know you're thankful. At the bare minimum, we must admit that without them, you would not be here. Thank them for keeping you alive. There are many countries with many parents who cannot even provide life to their children. Tell them you're grateful for the good memories and their ability to continue to love you even when you weren't very lovable.
- That You're Sorry: We tend to view apologies as a sign of weak character. But in fact, they require great strength. We've all been harsh. We've all been mean. At the end of the day, let your parents know you're sorry. A genuine apology offered and accepted is one of the most profound interactions of civilized people. This will be hard, but you will not regret it.
- That You Forgive Them: One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Forgive them even if they're not sorry.” We must remember they, like us, were doing the best they could at the time. Holding on to pain does nothing on your journey to creating a purposeful and happy life. To clarify, the act of forgiveness is by no means giving them permission to hurt you again. It's quite the contrary. It's giving you permission to let go and release both the pain and the anger – and hopefully, restore a relationship in the process.
Add something to the list? What would you want to share with your parents before they die? Let me know in the comments below.