Like all relationships, parent-child relationships can't thrive without open and honest communication. It might take some time to figure out just how open and honest you want your relationship with your parents to be, and that's fine. Moreover, since no two families are the same, only you can decide which things you should open up to your parents about. If your parents are toxic, then you might not want to be close with them, and that's also more than OK.
That said, if you want to be close with your folks, then you're going to have to sit down and talk to them about some grown-up things. It will probably be uncomfortable at first, but as long as everyone is respectful, opening up to your parents can change your relationship with them in the best ways.
If you're tired of feeling like you can't be yourself around your folks, then maybe there are some things need to talk to your parents about the next time you're all together. Personally, I talk to my parents about almost everything, and even though we're very different, I love how close it's brought us. Here are a few things you should consider telling your parents about, if you haven't already.
1. What Kind Of Relationship You Want To Have With Them
Even for close families, conversations like this can be challenging to respectfully navigate. That said, if you want to have a close, healthy, mostly drama-free relationship with your folks, then you need to make the time to sit down with them and discuss what kind of relationship you want to have with them. Decide how open you want to be with your parents — and how open you want them to be with you — and then talk about it.
Be respectful, express your boundaries and familial relationship goals as clearly as possible, and do your best not to be judgmental. You and your parents will probably never agree on everything, but if you can learn how to respectfully communicate with each other anyway, you might be surprised by how little your conflicting ideals matter to your relationship. If you can help you parents understand that you don't need them to approve of your lifestyle, but you can't be close with them if they don't respect you, you just might be surprised by how accepting old people can be. At least, that's how it's worked out for me.
2. Your Sexuality
Your sexuality, or lack thereof, is 100 percent your business. If you never want to open up to your parents about it, or you're just not quite ready to yet, then don't pressure yourself to tell your parents about your sexuality just because I think you should. However, personally, I think it's a good idea to at least consider being honest with your parents about your sexuality.
That said, I don't know your parents. Personally, I've only really opened up to my mom about my sexuality, because I think my dad would prefer not to know that I'm genuinely attracted to both men and women. Even talking to my mom about my sexuality is super uncomfortable, so I'll admit I still try to avoid the topic. I'm not sorry that I've opened up to her about it, though, because it means a lot to me that I'm not hiding that part of myself from one of my favorite people in the world.
3. Your Spirituality
Maybe you and your family have the same spiritual views. If that's the case, congrats! You can skip over this item altogether. However, if you, (like me) hold different spiritual beliefs than you parents do, then you should consider opening up to them about it. It won't be easy, and it will probably get weird, but I really don't think you'll regret it.
My parents raised me to be a fundamentalist Christian, but at this point of my life, agnosticism is the best spiritual path for me. Fortunately, my parents have been very understanding and supportive of this, and it's made all the difference in our relationship. Again, maybe your parents aren't as cool as mine, but I would still advise that you give them the chance to surprise you. Make it clear to them that you don't disrespect their spiritual views, (or lack thereof), but that you can't practice them yourself and still be happy. Tell them you don't need them to agree with your beliefs, but that their respect on this issue is crucial to your relationship. They may not react the way you want them to, or they may just need time to process everything. Either way, being open and honest with your parents about your spirituality will probably feel really good.
Whatever your feelings on spirituality and religion are, you shouldn't feel like you have to hide them from your parents — and unless your parents just suck, they probably wouldn't want you to anyway.
4. Your Political Views
Unless you and your parents have the same exact political views, it can be super tricky to talk to your parents about where you stand politically. I think it's worth trying, though, because avoiding the topic altogether isn't a good long-term solution. You also can't expect your parents to patiently listen to you explain why you feel the way you do if you aren't willing to respectfully listen to them talk about their own political views. So if your parents are super conservative like mine are, but you're progressive AF, don't get mad at your parents for telling you why they can't agree with your politics. Respect goes both ways, so don't punish your parents for their openness by freaking out on them.
When I was younger, being open about my political views hurt my relationship with my dad a bit because we weren't being respectful towards one another about our conflicting ideals. Fortunately, we've since figured out how to disagree respectfully, and it's awesome. There's no way I could be as close with my parents as I am now if we weren't able to disagree non-judgmentally. So definitely open up to your parents about your political views, but don't do it if you can't do it nicely.
5. Your Mental Health
Opening up about mental health issues is really hard, especially if you come from a family of emotionally strong people. Trust me, I know. But unless you have toxic parents, I really think you should consider reaching out to them about any mental health struggles you've been experiencing.
I recently visited my hometown, and while I was there, I told my parents that I needed to see someone about my anxiety. I expected them to tell me something about how mental health meds are poison, or a cop-out, but what they actually did was urge me to make an appointment with my primary care physician to talk about my treatment options. If your experience is anything like mine was, then you might find that, with your parents' emotional support, getting the help you need isn't quite as scary of a process as you thought it would be.
6. Why You're Proud Of Them
Hopefully, your parents tell you that they're proud of you and why. In my opinion, though, it's equally important to tell your parents the same thing. It's easy to think of your parents as perfectly self-assured grown ups who don't need validation from anyone, but parents are just like anyone else, so they would probably appreciate you verbalizing why you think they should be proud of themselves as both parents and humans.
Of course, if your parents have done little to deserve this, don't feel like you have to praise them. If your parents are nice people and good parents, though, then you need to open up to them about why you're proud of them. I know this can be difficult, especially if your family isn't typically up for emotional conversations, but you don't even have to make a big deal about it. Simply saying, "I'm proud of you," to your parents can suffice. They deserve to hear it from you as much as you deserve to hear it from them.
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