Advice From A 23-Year-Old Orphan: 5 Ways To Appreciate Your Parents More

by Aramide Tinubu

By the time my 23rd birthday rolled around, I had buried both of my parents. Growing up, I saw my parents as superheroes. They made rules for me and supported me. They showed no fear and no anxieties; they just were.

Of course, like most kids, especially during my teen years, I rebelled mostly against my mother and the tragic 10:30 pm curfew that she insisted on enforcing. I also couldn’t watch television during the school week or go to sleepovers. As a cinephile and avid reader who hates sleepovers as an adult, I’m pretty sure I turned out okay, despite how ridiculous I thought my parents’ rules were as a kid.

More often than not, though, I had a fantastic relationship with my makers. Time spent with my mother included shopping trips and brunches, and with my father, Harry Potter premieres and random conversations on the couch. As I got older and began to see them more as real people, we formed a friendship of sorts, but unfortunately, there was no opportunity for the relationship to prosper because within the blink of an eye, they were gone.

As we move along into adulthood, our lives become more and more separate from our parents, and that’s how it should be. Their jobs are complete; they’ve raised us to the best of their ability and now it up to us to take the reins on our lives.

Still, I urge you not to forget them and all they’ve done for you -- the sacrifices they have made, the plays, concerts and games through which they suffered. When you see them during the holidays, you’ll begin to realize that they are getting older, graying and slowing down a bit. Don’t take them for granted while they are here.

Here is some advice to those of you who are still lucky enough to have your parents around:

Call Them

FaceTime or Skype if they can handle that technology. If it is geographically impossible to see your parents on a regular basis, it is important to still keep up communication. Save the text messages for your friends and lovers.

Your parents deserve to see your face and hear your voice. It will put them at ease to know that you’re doing well, and it will even alert them when something may be wrong. Do this at least once or twice a week. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but it’s important for you to try.

Remember The Important Dates

These people are the reason you exist, literally! Remember their birthdays and their anniversaries. If you can afford it, send them something — something meaningful — to let them know how much they mean to you. They’ve never forgotten your birthday, so what gives you the right to forget theirs?

Take A Family Vacation

Yes, I realize this seems rather undesirable. However, being on vacation with your parents as an adult is not the same experience you had as a child or teenager.

Your parents had a whole life before you existed and you’ll get to see a bit more of that now that they aren’t fussing over you all the time. You can bring a friend to tag along or — gasp! — spend some quality time with your siblings. It may not be the greatest vacation you ever had, but I guarantee, you will definitely have some stories when it’s over.

Ask Questions About Their Lives

Aren’t you curious to know about your mom’s first love, or your dad’s worst breakup? What about the first home in which they lived together or how they got together in the first place?

I know you’re curious about what really went down on that one Thanksgiving or where they hid your toys around the holidays. Now is the time to ask away. They may not respond how you thought they would, but this type of information is priceless.

Ask For Their Two Cents

I realize that the 21st century is doing something mean to us. We do not live our 20-something lives the same way that our parents did. This does not mean they can’t relate to our fears and anxieties.

No matter what you’re going thorough, they’ve been through something similar. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice; you don’t have to take it (even though you probably should), but you’ll feel better having asked.

Photo via We Heart It